Help me pick my rig. HD100 or XL H1 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 6th, 2006, 11:50 PM   #1
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Help me pick my rig. HD100 or XL H1

Myself and my business associate are looking to start a video company here in Hawaii and I'm in charge of picking the gear. We've decided to go HD and I was just wondering, based on our needs, what the professional users on this forum would choose for our rig.

I was thinking either the XL H1 or JVC HD100U. 24p, HD and detachable lens a must.

Our needs are as followings:

1) ENG style shooting. No monitors, video village or fluffy studio gear. Just the basic camera with lens, tripod and wireless microphones will be what we'll have to work with. The viewfinder is important.

2) Shooting in low light and probably handheld a lot.

3) Shoot tapelessly to cut down edit times. One of our business goals is to create a monthly video magazine, so real time NLE and speed will be essential.

4) Downconversion of the footage to regular widescreen DVD.

5) Timelapse and slow motion.

6) Ability to quickly and easily mount the camera on the exterior or interior of a moving vehicle.

Tell me what you guys would pick for gear based on that criteria. I would like to hear from people who use the HD100 or XL H1 professionally and know for a fact what works and what doesn't.

Thanks

Jay Waterhouse
Maui, Hawaii
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Old July 7th, 2006, 12:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Waterhouse
5) Timelapse and slow motion.
Jay Waterhouse
Maui, Hawaii
Hi Jay,
Sorry to tell you but none of these HD cameras have timelapse built in nor do they have overcrank for slomo. These have to be carried out in your NLE as good as you can.

I had about the same preferences as you except I wanted to store on cheap tape in the first run. I went for the XL H1 based on: Better picture quality, optical image stabilizer, longer battery life, more integrated functions due to advanced connections between the body and lens and 1080x1440 pixels even if the JVC has some advantages like better focus help, clever headphone/stabiliser (!) and perhaps better placed controls and form.
Anyway, the XL H1 works fine for me but I wish a better viewfinder and focus assist. And a manual lens which could focus while zooming ...
Good luck vith your descision anyway / Johan
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Old July 7th, 2006, 01:01 PM   #3
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The optical stabilizer of the XL-H1 works well from within a vehicle.

The three lenses mentioned on JVC's site do not mention any optical stabilization. If this is important to you, I would go with the Canon.

On the other hand, this is a relatively expensive camera to be hanging off the side of a vehicle.

I just recorded some moving footage with the XL-H1. I had an almost defect-free windshield, which I cleaned thoroughly. I had to control the reflections from inside the vehicle, but it worked well. I did not have any way to mount the camera in the car, so I had to use it hand-held. The optical image stabilization worked very well.

If you have a safe way to mount the camera on the exterior of the camera, then I would go with the XL-H1 (with a good filter on the lens to protect from bugs).
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Old July 7th, 2006, 01:30 PM   #4
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I would like to add:
The XL H1 will become much better to balance with a large battery/Firestore or weight behind the shoulder. Otherwise I find it rather tiring to balance it for longer shots. Also the picture will stabilize together with the built in stabilizer and you will become lazy and not bring the tripod with you! Last week I was in Crete and walked the Samaria gorge with my XL H1. 16 km / 1200 m downhill on a dry riverbed in at least 35 °C. I was glad I didn't have to also carry the 10 kg tripod to get decent shots. /Johan

Last edited by Johan Forssblad; July 7th, 2006 at 03:01 PM.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 02:02 PM   #5
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I would like to add that I was recently in the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. They allowed me to film with the XL-H1, but I was not allowed to use a tripod for safety reasons.

I did not have extra weight on the end of the camera, but I was able to get some nice shots with the optical image stabilizer. Without it, I would have not been able to get the shots that I wanted.

I wonder it they would have let me use a monopod? They were very nice and explained that they did not want the liability or the risk of damaging a priceless painting in case the tripod fell over. I assume that they would not allow a monopod either.

It is hard to hold a 9 pound, front-heavy camera steady for a couple of hours. The stabilization saved the day.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 02:11 PM   #6
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Jay,

One other thing to consider is battery life. I had the dealer throw in 2 of the 970 batteries. Combined with the dual holder/charger that mounts on the back, you get incredible battery life and the added weight at the back balance the cam better on your shoulder. I have gone days (weeks, when not using) between charges on those batteries.

They're both great cams, JVC is cheaper, but add cost of battery upgrade. And the H1 is ready to go when portable SDI drives come out.

Also, I have hardly used my tripod. The OIS is good, some complain it's too good.

I had heard negatives about the stock H1 servo lens, and the EVF. I absolutely love the lens (despite the servo), and don't mind the EVF.

I would have likely bought the JVC if i were shooting in studio more, but most everything I do and plan to do is outside, and I think the H1 is more suited to outdoor conditions.

You won't find a perfect camera for everyone. Just one that suits your style and budget best.

Good Luck

Ken.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 02:29 PM   #7
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Battery Life - JVC by far at this point. It comes with the Anton Bauer Battery Setup Now (I got mine in about 3 weeks! Over 400 Min Runtime).

Comfort - I haven't had a Canon to test, but the JVC is EXTREMELY comfortable on the shoulder, and in the Texas Shootout, it won at being the most stable of the HD Cameras. It is setup VERY Professionally.

Slow-Mo - The HD100 also has SD-50/60 HDV (A Rather Awesome and unknown feature) that can get Upconverted to HD with great results and can be converted to a 24P/30P timeline for Undercranking.

Tapless - The Focus DR-HD100 is awesome and is available now. They are also making one for the Canon, but it is not out yet.

FOCUS-ASSIST!!!!!!! Since you are not using a monitor (neither can I), this is a MUST! In every shootout, the JVC ALWAYS wins when it comes to the Focus Assist out of the HD Bunch. It turns the viewfinder black and white, and outlines what is in focus by colored lines. It is VERY accurate. NONE of the HD Cams have enough Pixels in the viewfinder or LCD to Focus HD properly.

1080i vs. 720P - After shooting progressive, I NEVER want to go back to Interlaced again. If you plan to shoot in the 30f or 24f, they lose Resolution. The Canon does have a crisper picture, but the JVC does better with skin tones. The JVC usually comes in second out of the 4 (just under the Canon), but it is a Native 1280x720 3-CCD that does not use pixel conversions.

Go with the JVC. You will love it. I suggest posting this topic in the JVC forum as well to see what some of them say.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 02:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Diewert
Jay,
I had heard negatives about the stock H1 servo lens, and the EVF. I absolutely love the lens (despite the servo), and don't mind the EVF.
Ken.
Hi Ken,
I'm not in love with this lens. When you adjust focus in wide angle setting you will quickly turn behind infinity! (Yes that is possible.) You are at lets say 5 meter and know you need to go to 20 m then just a little turn and you are behind infinity. (This lens changes the "gear" ratio depending on the zoom setting and the change is very pronounced in my opinion.)
One feature is of course the distance (in meters or feet) in the viewfinder - great, I use it all the time.
To focus the resolution in the viewfinder is four times less than required. So it is possible to watch a sharp image in the VF and then be disappointed back home when you watch on a 1080x1920 screen.
So you need to wiggle back and forth to find the middle point with best focus. Not nice on the film if you don't want to cut away that part.
You can turn on the peaking which exaggerates all edges showing white colour when in focus. Good but then the zebra blowout warning doesn't work at the same time. And to switch that button you have to search with your left hand (from having it steady at the lens) to find that tiny button and then you will move the camera inevitably because it is not good balanced (if you aren't on a tripod).
You can turn on a 4x magnification in the VF but that doesn't work while recording ...
So for precision focus I need to zoom fully in and adjust and then choose wider zoom. This takes longer than expected because the servo zoom can not zoom and focus at the same time! So you zoom in, adjust focus back and forth for the middle point to get the best focus and then zoom out. Because the zoom is servo driven the zoom speed is limited compared to amanual performed rack zoom. No problem but costs you several seconds each time while you doesn't get any usuable pictures from fast happening action.
The JVC is probably better in this respect the little I tested it but we have chosen the Canon anyway. BTW the tele zoom is fantastic to get interesting closeup at distance! The two built in ND filters are very handy to have inside the lens too. For indoor shooting we definitely need a wider wide.
I like our XL H1 but it is far from perfect. /Johan

Last edited by Johan Forssblad; July 8th, 2006 at 04:44 AM.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Steve Benner
Go with the JVC. You will love it. I suggest posting this topic in the JVC forum as well to see what some of them say.
Uh oh! Here we go again... that's why I wasn't going to chime in.

I wondered if this thread had been posted over there.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Benner
Battery Life - JVC by far at this point. It comes with the Anton Bauer Battery Setup Now (I got mine in about 3 weeks! Over 400 Min Runtime).
Hey Steve,
I wouldn't agree. The Canon runs much longer per battery weight or size. I added the big Anton Bauer Dionic 90 (90 Wh) on the back of our XL H1. Not for the running time but we would like to have 14 V power to a light too. Filmed 4x63 minutes tapes during a full week. Turned on the camera hundreds of times ... On one charge. I wonder if the JVC could have done that?
However, I'm impressed by the small and light Canon battery which will give you a long run time compared to the size of the battery.
With the Titan 70 charger between the A/B battery and the adapter we get an even better balance and 100-240 VAC operation too. A nice but somewhat expensive combination.
It was a hard descision between the JVC and the Canon though. / Johan

Last edited by Johan Forssblad; July 8th, 2006 at 04:45 AM.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Forssblad
Hi Ken,
I'm not in love with this lens. When you adjust focus in wide angle setting you quickly turns behind infinity! (Yes that is possible.) You are at lets say 5 meter and know you need to go to 20 m then just a little turn and you are behind infinity. (This lens changes the "gear" ratio depending on the zoom setting and the change is very pronounced in my opinion.)
One feature is of course the distance (in meters or feet) in the viewfinder - great, I use it all the time.
To focus the resolution in the viewfinder is four times less than required. So it is possible to watch a sharp image in the VF and then be disappointed back home when you watch on a 1080x1920 screen.
So you need to wiggle back and forth to find the middle point with best focus. Not nice on the film if you don't want to cut away that part.
You can turn on the peaking which exaggerates all edges showing white colour when in focus. Good but then the zebra blowout warning doesn't work at the same time. And to switch that button you have to search with your left hand (from having it steady at the lens) to find that tiny button and then you will move the camera inevitably because it is not good balanced (if you aren't on a tripod).
You can turn on a 4x magnification in the VF but that doesn't work while recording ...
So for precision focus you need to zoom fully in and adjust and then choose wider zoom. This takes longer than expected because the servo zoom can not zoom and focus at the same time! So you zoom in, adjust focus back and forth for the middle point and zoom out to get the best focus. No problem but costs you several seconds each time while you doesn't get any pictures from any fast happening action.
The JVC is probably better in this respect the little I tested it but I chose the Canon anyway. BTW the tele zoom is fantastic to get interesting closeup at distance! The two built in ND filters are very handy to have inside the lens too.
I like our XL H1 but it is far from perfect. /Johan
Johan,

I agree the servo focus roll is ridiculously sensitive and tricky to get used to. The distance reader is great to use as an assist. I shoot archery targets where we estimate distances up to 60m within 5m. So it's a similar challenge.

I was filming my sons baseball game recently for practice and I pre-focussed to various fixed points (home base, pitching mound, bases, etc), and noted the distances. I could then roll focus from one to the other and get good results using the distance reader.

Instead, I should have said, I love the images that come from this lens, as well as it's range from wide to telephoto.

Ken.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 04:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Diewert
Johan,
Instead, I should have said, I love the images that come from this lens, as well as it's range from wide to telephoto.
Ken.
Right Ken, We get very impressive results with this camera and I think this is what counts. But the way to get here is not always the first way you thought about.

With this camera you pay for a lot of automatic modes. Auto-focus. Auto shutter. Auto aperture. Auto white balance. Auto gain. Auto audio level. (Did I forget any more?)

You will probably end up by turning all of them off. And use MANUAL instead for best results. I have photographed with fully manual Hasselblad cameras for years and can quite well estimate which aperture to select. A manual iris and shutter dial should have been faster than these electronic buttons and wheels without any index ...

Sorry, but these new engineers overdo their work. I am a civil engineer in electronics myself. Our camera work is slowed down because of "smart" electronics. For instance the shutter in manual mode likes to reset itself to 1/25 s. But I prefer 1/50 s. So I have to push the "increase shutter time" button many times. Should definitely have preferred a shutter dial which stayed where I left it last time.
Another example: You follow or zoom an object which moves from a dark to bright light. Now you would like to manually adjust the exposure by slowly decreasing the aperture. But the aperture control moves in steps only no matter how slow you adjust it. The viewer will see unnatural step changes in the light. With a 30 year old lens you could slowly turn the aperture over the click stops and nobody would never think that the exposure changed in a strange way ... Let me write this off topic example story to say that new isn't always better:

A friend of me called me recently. She had a new Citroen C3 car. She had run out of battery because the alternator belt was broken.
-So, lets tow it to a workshop, I said.
-Ok, she said then we need the special towing rope with the special threaded end to screw into a hole in the bumper behind a covered hole. (Isn't there any place strong enough to tie a rope on a car anymore??)
The special rope is in the trunk. Let's get it! (The trunk is electrically opened by a switch.)
So we couldn't tow the car because we couldn't get the rope because there was no power in the battery so we couldn't operate the electric lock ...
-Jesus, please help these engineers!

Still, the results are amasing with this camera. /Johan

Last edited by Johan Forssblad; July 8th, 2006 at 04:57 AM.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 07:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Forssblad
Hey Steve,
I wouldn't agree. The Canon runs much longer per battery weight or size. I added the big Anton Bauer Dionic 90 (90 Wh) on the back of our XL H1. Not for the running time but we would like to have 14 V power to a light too. Filmed 4x63 minutes tapes during a full week. Turned on the camera hundreds of times ... On one charge. I wonder if the JVC could have done that?
However, I'm impressed by the small and light Canon battery which will give you a long run time compared to the size of the battery.
With the Titan 70 charger between the A/B battery and the adapter we get an even better balance and 100-240 VAC operation too and. A nice but expensive combination.
It was a hard descision between the JVC and the Canon though. / Johan
You are probably right about efficency between the two cameras. The JVC is power hungry, but having a Anton or IDX setup is more than enough power.

I was comparing the Anton to the stock Canon Battery because there is no extra cost involved. The JVC stock battery is aweful by the way, but that is irrelevent now minus the waiting time.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 11:23 PM   #14
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Thanks

Thanks for the comments. We'll know our actual budget probably within a couple weeks.
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