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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old April 21st, 2006, 12:22 PM   #1
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More on this lens - again...

Much has been written here about the quality (or lack there of) of the 20x lens. I have been shooting two documentaries (over 40 tapes so far) and have these comments for you and, hopefully, for the people at Canon too.

First, in real world shooting the image quality is superb. I can find CA when I bench test it, but it is virtually unnoticeable in actual working conditions - no more apparent than what I've seen in high-end zooms for film cameras - zooms are tricky beasts to build and have lots of inherent compromises...

That said, let me add that working with the lens is a bitch. I'm an old film guy and I've never been comfortable with automatic anything, especially focus. The viewfinder, as has been mentioned numerous times before, doesn't lend itself to fast critical focusing, but can be helped slightly with peaking.

But, for me, the big problem is the small amount of rotation between, let's say 60 feet and infinety - It is so slight that it is impossible to settle on 150 feet without being catapulted to minus infinety. (Because it is a flourite lens it focuses past infinety to compensate for temperature variations - many of Canon's lenses do this).

I shoot hand-held, mostly at 2.8 or so... As a result if I'm shooting anything farther than 20 feet from the camera I find I need to resort to auto-focus because I can't count on depth-of-field with HDV and I can't just rack the lens all the way out to inf and sneak in a little. As a matter of fact I just spent 2 full days shooting in Chinatown in SF and reluctantly used auto-focus 90% of the time. Most of the footage is fine, but I would be happier if I could make my own focus choices...

I wish that if Canon truely wants to appeal to pros they would offer us some better lens choices.. The wide-angle, of course, and a good HD manual lens that works as nicely as the SD 16x (I sold mine with my XL2 on this site and regret it - although I'm sure the guy that has it is happy)... And I've said it before and I'll say it again - PLEASE leave off the stupid image satabilization ... Steve Rosen
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Old April 21st, 2006, 12:33 PM   #2
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Thanks for the report, Steve -- I would like to point out that a slight amount of CA (chromatic abberation) is present in the lenses of all these new, inexpensive HD camcorders. The main question seems to be, is it an acceptable amount that you can live with, and the answer seems to be yes, as long as you stay out of the extreme telephoto ranges (and the Canon 20x HD lens has the longest focal length of all).

I can't wait to see what the next Canon XL HD lens offering is... hopefully it's a full manual wide.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 01:10 PM   #3
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Steve,
I agree with you about the lens and the way it focuses and I can't fathom what Canon is thinking. Unless they just want to sell us other lenses once they actually deliver them. The only point where we disagree is the image stabilization can be useful so I don't mind having a switch to turn it on and off. I don't want or need it on a manual lens but if it is there and I can switch it off then so be it.
I just want a HD wide angle lens and be able to focus, zoom and iris like my professional Canon lenses. Sounds simple
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Old April 21st, 2006, 01:57 PM   #4
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Daniel: I don't like the stabilization personally because it seems to introduce noticeable smear, even in static shots - plus it must cost more to build, and it also must add some weight to the lens.. give me a simple, clean, light, short focal length zoom optimized for T4 or T2.8 every time...

This is nothing new, we've been asking for this for six months now - if Canon wants to sell more H1s to professionals (which is their stated goal) it seems that they should support the camera with accesories that are more functional - they could at least tease us by saying that they're in the works... Believe me, I would have never given up on my terrific Sony DSR300 with the Canon (truly) manual lens if I could continue to live in a world of 4x3 SD... Steve Rosen
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Old April 21st, 2006, 05:30 PM   #5
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Has anyone had a chance to check the existing manual 16x lens with this camera? I know it's not a "true HD" lens, but I remain curious.
One of the things that I love most about my XL1 is the fully manual lens, and it's one of the things that's most attractive about JVC's offering in this category.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 06:03 PM   #6
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Pappas has done exhaustive testing with the 16x manual SD lens and it works wonderfully. I've used the 3x wide angle SD lens and have gotten good resuluts. I'm sure HD versions of these lenses will be awesome, particular a manual HD lens. I would LOVE having a 20x manual lens and 3x manual lens. But I'm sure I'm just dreaming.
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Old April 22nd, 2006, 01:52 AM   #7
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Steve,
Have you tried the fu 1000 monochrome crt viewfinder with the XLH1? I was wondering if that would help with focus, etc. I currently shoot with an XL2 with the monochrome view finder, and am thinking about moving up to the XLH1.
I tried out the xlh1 briefly at a local shop in Miami, and they let me put on my fu 1000. It looked pretty good, but I realy didn't have the time to check it out fully.
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Old April 22nd, 2006, 12:26 PM   #8
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Bruce: I haven't because I don't have one and I hadn't heard the final word on if it works well with the H1 (I'd hate to spend the bucks and be disappointed - and I live 400 miles from LA).. I assume you'd have to set the playback in the camera to SD - which would be fine if the finder's resolution is significant...

Also, in fast shooting, which I do regularly, I do like a color finder.. I was used to the B&W finders (as on my DSR300) for years, but whenever I'd go back and shoot with my super16 camera I'd be amazed at how much I depend on color when I compose shots...

Seems like I can't have my cake and eat it too... I will spring for the monochrome finder if someone (like you for instance) tells me it's a significant imrprovement... Depending on auto-focus sucks... Steve Rosen
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 01:16 AM   #9
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Steve,
I spent such a short period of time with my viewfinder on the xlh1, that I really don't know. It seemed easier to focus, but then again, they didn't have an hd monitor to check against. Hopefully, someone on this forum is using one, and can give us some real life feedback.
If I sell my XL2 and get the xlh, I'd probably sell only the basic camera, keep all the accessories and try the fu-1000 for awhile.(Like you, I'm pissed at myself for selling my 16x manual lens).
Hopefully, someone else will chime in.
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 02:08 AM   #10
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Steve the CRT black and white viewfinder is about twice as sharp as the LCD one provided with it. I love the fu-1000 and will definitely continue to shoot with it. IF you find that you absolutely must have a color "viewfinder" I purchased the Marshall HD-SDI 7" monitor and it is outstanding, and does a great job reproducing the color that you'll get in post (well obviously since it's the HD-SDI out) both of these devices will run you about 1500-1700 new but you may be able to find them used for cheaper.

Oh and you don't have to change anything in camera, the port that you hook the fu-1000 up to is seperate from the LCD port, so it gets power and optimized image all from the same place.
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 11:04 AM   #11
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Nick and all: Thanx for the repsonse(s).. I'll check into the Fu-1000... A seperate monitor is impractical for the majority of my shooting since I work handheld "verite" style the majority of the time.. I do have a varizoom LCD that I use for off-camera viewing (for framing, not for color) when I work on a tripod, and I have devised an attachment for it on my viewfinder-side grip when I don't need to be light and unobtrusive - I power it from the same big heavy Anton Bauer batteries that I use in those instances..

Okay.. the wish list goes up... WA HD lens, manual 16 lens optimized for HD, and a higher resolution color finder... Where are you Canon when we need you???
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 01:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen
...(I sold mine with my XL2 on this site and regret it - although I'm sure the guy that has it is happy)... And I've said it before and I'll say it again - PLEASE leave off the stupid image satabilization ... Steve Rosen
I wish that I could have kept my favourite 16X manual Servo lens...but just had it stolen from a van in Spain (on the way to a 3-week shoot that had to be cancelled due to the break in). They used a crow bar to get in to the vehicle and took 8 bags filled with our still cameras and video equipment, including underwater camera gear, extra lenses and flash units, cables, chargers, power batteries, a complete new Sony FX1 + AT shotgun sound system, Sennhieser radio mic system and a ton of other gear...and all of my clothes! MANY thousands of dollars/pounds of equipment gone forever…and neither of us had insurance other than for the vehicle (just too expensive to ensure for numerous worldwide trips).

I suppose that I can say that I was lucky in that one huge Kata bag filled with a new XL2 + AT mics, a complete Sony 800-series radio microphone system etc, and another large LowePro bag filled with F5 SLR system + a stack of big EDIF lenses up to 600mm were also in the van, but not taken.

We parked next to two police cars, and a security guard watched on the steps overlooking the van while we spent 15-minutes inside the restaurant...so obviously the Security Guard was part of the crime!

This has forced me to continue working with the 20X lens on the XL2 until I manage to buy another 16X MF lens. Mind you, unlike Steve, I'm actually finding that although in many cases I much prefer the manual lens, the IS on the 20X lens has come in useful for some telephoto work on wildlife when I can't use a tripod. I was going to sell the 20X lens...but I'm tempted now to keep it for some shoulder work.
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 02:13 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=Tony Davies-Patrick]I wish that I could have kept my favourite 16X manual Servo lens...but just had it stolen from a van in Spain (on the way to a 3-week shoot that had to be cancelled due to the break in). They used a crow bar to get in to the vehicle and took 8 bags filled with our still cameras and video equipment, including underwater camera gear, extra lenses and flash units, cables, chargers, power batteries, a complete new Sony FX1 +

Tony,
I was robbed as a tourist while in Barcelona going up the escalator from the subway to Guell Park. They roughed up my wife and I under the guise of dropping something at the top of the escalator. I figured out what was going on and started yelling for help. My wife was tossed to the ground but I had one of them in a hammerlock and I negotiated with them to drop my wallet (sans money of course). No one came to help.
Later when we went to the poilice station (which was several miles away) they gave me a preprinted form and said I was trapped in a Bocadillo (sandwich). They only would have made some investigation if they had kept my papers.
I figure the police or administration of the city didn't care since it was very obvious this happened a lot. Maybe they figured we would spend more money in town once we were robbed.
Unfortunately Spain has a very high unemployment rate and is known for pick pockets and petty robberries. One book recommended tourists not to leave anything visible in a car while you were driving through Seville since there are often smash and grabs.
It is too bad since it is a beautiful and interesting country.
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