Is the XL H1 viable for weddings? at DVinfo.net

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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 July 5th, 2006, 09:30 PM   #1
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Is the XL H1 viable for weddings?

I do a lot of weddings, and I would like to know if there is anyone on this forum using the XL H1 for weddings. Is the low light performance acceptable? Is the latter aspect comparable to the XL2?
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Old July 6th, 2006, 12:54 AM   #2
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We shoot weddings with the XL H1 and it's absolutely amazing. The lowlight is definately incredible.

If you do a lot of weddings and are looking to have a little 'edge' on the competition I recommend it. However, it is a lot of money to spend, just for wedding videos. We are using it for weddings, promotional videos, short films, and looking to move into the commercial market.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 12:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowell Oswald
We shoot weddings with the XL H1 and it's absolutely amazing. The lowlight is definately incredible.
How does it compare to SD cameras in low light? I used the Sony Z1U and found it very deficient in low light compared to the PD170, for example. Do you find the latitude acceptable in the Canon? Again, my experience with the Z1U was not positive in that category.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #4
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I haven't shot with the Z1U or the PD170..Although when compared to the XL2, GL2, and DVX 100A/B I find it a far better performer in low light..that's not to say that having an on-camera light or other outside lighting source are uneeded..but it can get the job done without them.

It takes a little practice though. I had to play with a lot of my settings to get it to look good. I have a custom preset for lowlight and that makes a big difference compared to just throwing it to some automatic setting.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 11:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowell Oswald
I haven't shot with the Z1U or the PD170..Although when compared to the XL2, GL2, and DVX 100A/B I find it a far better performer in low light..
Do you mean in terms of brightness or noise levels (or both)? Is the lens faster in your opinion? Ummmm... I don't suppose you could post an image or two illustrating the differences, could you? That would be of great value to a lot of people. Perhaps a low light shot comparing the DVX100a or XL2 with the XL H1 at the same gain levels?
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Old July 6th, 2006, 11:38 AM   #6
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I have shot weddings with the DVX100 and the XL2 and the DVX100 was mucho superior in low light to the XL2. Having said that I find the XLh1 mucho superior to the XL2 in low light also. Since I don't have a DVX to compare it to directly I can't give samples. But IMHO the H1 is much, much, much better in lowlight than the XL2. So I can deduct that it is darn near the performance of the DVX....with much less noise and of course.....way more resolution.

Now, I am not bashing my former HVX200 that I sold....but it was slower than even the XL2. It is not the camera to shoot with if you even remotely think you will be doing a lot of "available light" shooting. The camera creates amazing images under really well lit scenarios. But I feel it drops off fast when light starts to diminish. If there was a "curve" to plot image quality to amount of light....the HVX would fall off fast when the light starts to decrease. The H1 would have a more gradual taper that represents it's ability to still produce decent images well past the point where the HVX has become noisy and unacceptable.....IMHO.

Ok so I went off topic a little....sorry. I guess I can't say enought about how pleased I am with the performance of the H1 over my HVX. The H1 is just so much better in low light (equally lit scenes are both brighter and less noisy on the H1). However I can't comment on the PD-150. I'm guessing that camera will still be a better lowlight option. But in my mind the H1 is the low light king in HD at this pricepoint.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 12:25 PM   #7
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My brother and I compared several HD and DV cameras back in February and weren't particularly impressed with the Canon XLH1, especially considering the price. It's even harder to hand-hold than the XL1/XL2, it lacks a proper LCD screen, and in our tests the low light shots were so grainy we're still wondering if we did something wrong. See samples at the link below:

http://www.videomem.com/camera_compa...-15/index.html

It's hard to see clearly in these web samples, but the XLH1 low-light results were distinctly noisier than video from other HD cameras. And more thorough reviews than mine by some of the most respected professionals in the industry give the edge to Sony for clean HDV images in poor lighting, so I don't think I'm out of line in making the same observation. But people who own the XLH1 seem to be happy with the low-light results, so I suppose it's partly a matter of personal preference.

The bottom line for me is that the XLH1 costs too much for my purposes and isn't ergonomically convenient for hand-held videography. I've bought three Sony HDV cameras and associated accessories for about what one XLH1 would have cost, and I'm happy with the results for wedding video work. If there was an HDV version of the Canon GL1/GL2 cameras at a reasonable price I'd take a look at those, but until then I don't see Canon being very popular for HD wedding videos.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 12:37 PM   #8
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Forgive me but that test says all settings are at auto. The XLH1 will crank the gain up all the way if you don't give it enought light. I would never ever use auto for gain. At +12 it does get noisy and at +18 it is worse. But I can see how you would hate it in that example. Never, ever let the camera auto adjust gain. It will almost always ruin you images. And for the record those are unacepptable levels of noise.

I will read over the site again to see if I missed something.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 01:11 PM   #9
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Let me start by saying that the XL-H1 is overpriced if you are just doing wedding videos. I agree with that. But if you are shooting narrative work and do events occasionally then that changes.

I have heard and do agree that the FX1 and Z1 are the cleanest of the HD cameras but they are generally considered less sensitive too. They also don't do true 24fps either so they lose a lot of versatility in my book.

Anyway......the Sony could be considered the cleanest at the maximum gain settings. I have read this and concur with it. However in those shots you can see the XLh1 is producing a slightly brighter image indicating that either it is slightly faster or that it has a higher gain when in auto mode.

Either way the amount of noise in the H1 footage is not a good representation of what I am seeing in real world use with my H1. The camera is much cleaner than that in general. However if I turn all the lights off and crank the gain to +18 I am sure I will see noise. No doubt.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 01:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
our tests the low light shots were so grainy we're still wondering if we did something wrong.
The XL H1 does not compare favorably on full auto.

Best,
Christopher
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Old July 6th, 2006, 01:39 PM   #11
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Agreed that running on auto was a contributing factor here, but part of what we wanted to test was how well the cameras work when allowed to go all-out in dim lighting. If we observe that the XLH1 is more sensitive than other low-cost HD cameras but achieves that result by introducing an unacceptable amount of noise, then locking the gain to an acceptable level would restrict its sensitivity too. So from what I see the XLH1 isn't more useful in dim lighting than a Sony FX1/Z1U running at a higher gain level, which works because the images are cleaner.

Out of curiosity, what's the maximum gain level XLH1 owners find acceptable for wedding work in dim lighting? Can you post an example of some footage shot under these conditions?

As far as 24 fps is concerned, the XLH1 has to simulate that too, correct? And I'm personally not a big fan of the whole 24 fps thing, so it's an academic discussion for me. Life doesn't happen at 24 frames per second; neither should video. :-)
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Old July 6th, 2006, 03:51 PM   #12
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The XL-H1 does indeed get 24fps through an advanced algorithm in the DIGIC processor. However when viewed on screen it has a perfect 24P cadence spread evenly out across 1 second. Every frame occurs at it's natural even 1/24 of a second. Very similar to how Sony F900 achieves 24P.

The Cineframe mode of the Sony literally doubles frames or skips frame or whatever to create it's 24fps mode. You can literally see jumps or hiccups in the motion pattern. I used to convert 60i to 24 in software and it had that same jarring look of an uneven cadence. So there is a huge difference in the perceived motion to the end user from the Canon that just looks plain smoother than the Sony.

The Sony is a great camera for what it is. But it is limited by the lack of a really good 24p mode that I use all the time. Again I am talking about a camera that can do a good job at all types of things. If all you need is 60i video HD then the Sony is a good choice. And damn affordable for what a great image it produces. But I feel the XL-H1 will do a fine job in a low-light setting. Much better than the HVX200 or HD100. The Sony will probably be better....but again....it doesn't have the flexibility of the H1 or HVX as far as different frame rates to achieve different looks.

Here is how I see it.

FX1= Superior low light and great all around event camera, needs help getting a decent film-look

HVX200= Superior Film Look camera, very poor low light....wouldn't suit event video well

XL-H1= Damn Good Film Look, Damn Good Event Camera, way better low light than HVX but just a little inferior to the FX1 in low light

Overall...I get the most bang for my buck with the H1. I can accomodate many different shooting styles and look damn good at all of them. The HVX still has the better gamma curves....the FX1 has a slightly better low light event look.

And to go one last step. I have shot a lot of weddings through the years. And while receptions get very dark.....I have never seen anything as dark as that final shot with the guy and the candles. So that is indeed a worse case scenario that I doubt will arise very often. If it does.....then it is a sad state of affairs as all of the cameras look like caca to me at that setting.

Arguing over which one has slightly less noise when they all look terrible is a mute point.

IMHO.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 04:11 PM   #13
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Plus...its 1080i can make very nice 720p "overcrank" slow motion for wedding videos.

Last edited by Barlow Elton; July 6th, 2006 at 07:38 PM.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty Hudzik
XL-H1= Damn Good Film Look, Damn Good Event Camera, way better low light than HVX but just a little inferior to the FX1 in low light
Probably the reason the XL-H1 is *slightly* worse than the FX-1 in low light is because it has nearly 50% more pixels horizontally jammed into the same chip size.

It's amazing the H1 is still close when you think about it.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 06:58 PM   #15
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Well, it certainly seems that people who own the XLH1 are happy with it. My take on sub-$10K HD cameras for event work is as follows:

Sony FX1/Z1U: best overall 'bang for the buck' and the most similar to typical DV cameras in terms of design and operation. Not good I guess if you like 24 fps delivery, but other than that works well.

Panasonic HVX200: lots of potential but impractical for HD event work due to memory cost and capacity constraints. Could be used now as a widescreen DV event camera, and for HD in 5-10 years when memory gets cheaper. Every shooting mode you could possibly want, including true 24 fps recording.

JVC HD100U: best choice if you like a shoulder-mounted form factor and full manual shooting; not good if you want autofocus occasionally for run-and-gun shooting. Stock battery lasts about 20-30 minutes, so budget for a bigger battery.

Canon XLH1: out of the price range of most event videographers, especially if you need two. Too heavy to hand hold unless you're a body-builder on steroids, and even then it would probably be a stretch. No LCD panel. Good resolution but grainy in low light, similar to earlier Canon video cameras.

As other reviewers have noted, all of these cameras can produce a pleasing HD image when used properly and within their particular limitations. If someone gave me an XLH1 I'd probably keep it, but it would be my third choice of the above four cameras for spending my own money (with JVC last).
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