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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 14th, 2006, 06:57 AM   #16
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Mekhael,

The XL2 is a fantastic camera, and for someone who lacks experience like you mentioned you do you are probably better off with the XL2, it is a much more forgiving camera and it is much easier to eyeball the look of your footage with the viewfinder whereas the XL-H1, while capable of producing absolutely stunning footage i find to be a rather tempermental camera that is considerably more difficult to find the sweet spot with, the XL2 however is a fantastic camera to work on and much better for what you see is what you get type of work.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 08:05 AM   #17
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I'd spin it a little differently. IMO, the H1 is a better, improved version of an XL camera. Shooting the same scene under the same circumstances, I'd take the H1 every time. I would say, though, that if you decide to shoot SD, the H1 is still the better camera but then its substantial extra cost is probably not worth it for what I'm assuming is a very-low/no budget film.

The only thing that's more difficult with the H1 is that the sharpness of HD video is just not as forgiving as SD. Of all the extra stuff, the only thing that's ESSENTIAL to do your project in HD beyond what you'd need anyway to shoot your film with the XL2 is a fast computer so editing doesn't put you in the looney bin. Things like an HD production monitor definitely would help you get it right on the first take, and nobody with the budget for it would do without it, but at low/no budget you could get by.

Speaking of budgets, no money = no movie. Make sure you've actually written out a beginning-to-end budget for both SD and HD workflows and include a pad for the unforeseen things that inevitably will happen. If an H1 and a fast computer will break the bank, your decision is made: SD or find investors. If the extra cost for an H1 turns out to be a small fraction of your total budget and you can afford it, go for it...I'm with the guys that say if you're going to all this work to create a feature length motion picture for possible 35mm / theatrical release, originating on HD is far preferable.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 09:16 AM   #18
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I agree with what Pete said above. If you take out the HD portion of the XL-H1 I still believe it is indeed a better camera than XL2. Better images, better color, more control over images, more features even for SD (focus distance readout, flangeback adjustment, incremental white balance and a wheel for the iris instead of a switch) and much better in low light than XL2. The only thing that I don't like is the slight delay or ghosting in the viewfinder that appears sometimes. But in 16x9 mode the Viewfinder is about 2x bigger than the XL2 VF.

I personally never found the XL2 to be a forgiving camera. The "DVX"....yes. The XL2...not so much. The H1 seems to be a perfet medium. The resolution and clarity of an HD image with ease of use much closer to the DVX.....still not point and shoot but much more forgiving than the XL2. IMHO.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 03:50 PM   #19
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I still don't see how it's at all forgiving, i could do no wrong on my XL2 but i've stumbled once or twice using the H1, any time i'm at work and using a monitor isn't practical i am clinching my jaw, the viewfinder has no relation to reality and is wholly unacceptable for professional use, i realize that it is considerably larger but i'd still plug in the xl2 viewfinder to the H1 if i could!

also, yes the H1 has far more adjustments to make but for a beginner that's just all the more opportunity to screw up. I use both cameras and since i got the H1 in december i have used my XL2 only a few times but every time i do i think "wow this is a great camera" whereas with the H1 I use it every single week usually for 12 hours a day and i still don't always know exactly what i'm getting until i see it on playback, i never had that with the XL2. I think it might have been Steve Rosen awhile back that posted something along the lines of, "I was always in awe of the XL2's film like images and I don't feel that way about the H1" i'd have to concur for the most part, but that said HD resolution is totally worth the trouble if you know what you're doing and have a nice selection of white and black promists.

I just wouldn't reccomend the H1 to a beginner at all, it's a pretty damned sophisticated piece of equipment that you need to understand to get the most out of. the Xl2 is as well but i'd say there's a much shorter learning curve with it. and the DVX is a no-brainer camera, too bad everything you shoot will always look like it was shot on a DVX!

as for a 35mm film-out yes you would be MUCH better off with an H1 but honestly, everyone that has ever made an independent movie has worked under the assumption that they are brilliant and their film will be a hit at sundance, but around 4500 features are submitted every year and 12 go into competition so even the one percenters don't get in. so in all likelihood, while it's great to hope for a film-out one day, the odds aren't very good.
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Old July 14th, 2006, 05:29 PM   #20
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It wasn't me that said that, Jon, but there is some truth to it.. SD *is* more forgiving that HDV, and the XL2 is a terrific camera (once you get past the iris control toggle, which I hated)...

HDV is definitely easier to screw up - the exposure seems more critical, and since you don't want to fool with it alot in post, that can be a problem.

I'm also experiencing a little setback in using it for SD. My plan has been to shoot everything in HDV and down-convert either through the Sony deck or in software (FCP) for SD projects so that I have everything backed up in HDV... My initial tests in December showed good quality..

This week, however, I have been intercutting footage (interlaced) from my old XL2 with recent footage shot on the H1 .. and the XL2 stuff looks crisper to me, with noticably less aliasing (although the H1 stuff looks terrific in HD).

I have tried every method, including using Compressor (which is by far the worst) and I'm just not that happy with the result.. Anyone else experiencing this?
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Old July 16th, 2006, 06:51 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen
This week, however, I have been intercutting footage (interlaced) from my old XL2 with recent footage shot on the H1 .. and the XL2 stuff looks crisper to me, with noticably less aliasing (although the H1 stuff looks terrific in HD).
Hmm... that doesn't sound good. I have an XL2 and was planning to pair one up with the H1 for multicam SD shoots.

I noticed on the H1 brochure that in the camera is listed as shooting SD at 24f, rather than 24p. Does this mean that even in SD mode, the camera does not capture progressive in the same way as the XL2 (and will therefor lose some horizontal rez)?
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Old July 16th, 2006, 08:13 PM   #22
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I don't think the human eye can detect any visual difference between 24P from the XL2 and 24F from the XL H1 in standard definition. Try not to get hung up on methodology or numbers... all that counts is what's on the screen. 24P and 24F in standard definition are indistinguishable.
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Old July 16th, 2006, 09:04 PM   #23
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Yeah, I don't know just how the SD frame modes are processed, but starting with over 1.5 miiiiilllllllllion (puts pinky finger to corner of mouth) photosites on the XL H1's CCD compared to the 460k effective pixels of the XL2, it is difficult to see how the SD would show excessive aliasing or otherwise look bad in an apples-to-apples comparision. Steve, I wonder if some other confounding issue is at work...back focus, different presets, or some such? Of course, if you meant that you started with HDV and then down-converted in post, there's a lot of other potential causes. But I'm just guessing and speculating; I have to disclose that I have not yet shot a single frame in SD on my H1's.
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Old July 16th, 2006, 09:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
I don't think the human eye can detect any visual difference between 24P from the XL2 and 24F from the XL H1 in standard definition. Try not to get hung up on methodology or numbers... all that counts is what's on the screen. 24P and 24F in standard definition are indistinguishable.
Thanks Chris, you are always such a gentleman - eloquent, generous and informative.
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Old July 17th, 2006, 04:04 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen
This week, however, I have been intercutting footage (interlaced) from my old XL2 with recent footage shot on the H1 .. and the XL2 stuff looks crisper to me, with noticably less aliasing (although the H1 stuff looks terrific in HD).
I can second what Steve says. Recently I edited three wildlife programs in SD format shot with XL2 (PAL) in 25P mode (VDETAIL set to NORMAL) and XL H1 (PAL) in 25F mode. In total I had about 100 hours of material.

Although the XL H1 HDV image is just marvellous, what ever I did or tried (i.e., used the XL H1 directly to down convert, or converted the HDV image to CF AVI and then to DV-AVI) the XL2 DV image was crisper/sharper than the down to DV converted XL H1 image. The difference is not that big meaning most people would not notice anything. But still, if I still shot in DV format I would probably prefer XL2 instead of XL H1.

Be aware, the XL2 PAL version yields 576 lines in 25P mode which is more than half of 1080 lines. Thus, there is a difference between the XL2 PAL and NTSC models.
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Old July 17th, 2006, 04:12 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauri Kettunen
The difference is not that big meaning most people would not notice anything.
To me, this is the key point; what difference does it make. Thanks,
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Old July 17th, 2006, 11:05 PM   #27
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back to an earlier point. why do yu think you have to buy either of these cameras? IF you truely have a fixed amount of time to shoot, (four weeks?) and you have a limited amount of funding why blow it all on buying a camera? you can rent either one far cheeper for four weeks. Plus differant lenses, filters, real support. I think the options for either of these cameras is really what makes it one of the best indie camera.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 06:21 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
To me, this is the key point; what difference does it make. Thanks,
Yes, I agree, this is a sensible conclusion. Even professional colleagues have not noticed that I mixed XL2 25p and XL H1 25f footages.
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