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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 13th, 2007, 01:52 PM   #1
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16x Manual: Is this lens still viable?

I'm thinking of getting this lens used on eBay for a pretty low price (under $500) I'll be using it w/ my XL2 but plan on keeping it when if I upgrade to a XL H1.

My question is how much detail is lossed with the 16x as opposed tp the 20x HD stck lens? And could the glass be any worse than th stock glass that comes on the HVX or JVC Fujinon 16x stock?

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Old April 13th, 2007, 02:03 PM   #2
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Keep in mind the 16x lens is not an HD lens, it is SD. I used it on the XL-H1 when we were shooting SD, and the video was better than the stock lens. By better I mean sharper. I did not use it for shooting HD though, we used the 20X HD lens that came with it. I use it strictly with my XL-2.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #3
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I can't say I have used it extensively with the H1 but I did do some tests including a spot check of MTF which I found to be about the same as the stock lens. This doesn't mean it is as good at all settings but at least nominally it is about the same i.e. no appreciable loss.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 02:43 PM   #4
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I have a feeling the will finaly introduce an HD Lens for the H1 at NAB.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 04:02 PM   #5
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The lens is great until you get it wide open and at the most extreme telephoto. It goes a little soft here. But 3.2 to 5.6 and it looks great!
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Old April 13th, 2007, 04:04 PM   #6
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It's a little soft in the corners at full telephoto, but it looks surprisingly good in HD overall. It has CA in different places than the stock 20x, but what's cool about it is it seems, to my eye, to be a bit contrasty and renders more vibrant color.

Strange, but true. I think the MTF has to be quite good for quality 1/3 SD lenses already, so HD isn't necessarily unapproachable with a good lens like the 16x.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 07:18 PM   #7
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In some ways I think the 16x is actually better than the 20x... I use it often. I agree that it's slightly contrastier - and although it does exhibit CA more than the 20x or the 6x, it's not distracting like it can be on those lenses - I'm not sure why - maybe the "NOT HD COMPATABLE" resolution of the 16x is actually working to its advantage when it comes to focusing different parts of the spectrum (softer edges blending?)...

I use a 1/2 SoftFX almost all the time (with all three lenses) because it takes the raw HDV edge off - especially with people (which is (90+% of what I shoot) and with the 16x it gives a nice creamy look to the image that I like.

It feels so nice to focus too, like a real lens - even better than some of the 16mm and 2/3" zoom lenses I've used in the past.

Oh, and by-the-way, don't be afraid of f1.6. I shoot wide open a lot and, even if the edges are soft, the selective focus at the center is terrific. And it holds f1.6 through the zoom range.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 09:05 PM   #8
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Agreed, Steve. It's an excellent lens and a pleasure to use. It's certainly HD-compatible to me!

I guess the only downside to the 16x not mentioned thus far is that it breathes a bit, but on the whole it's acceptable to me and overall the 16x is an amazing value.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 01:10 AM   #9
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Oh, and by-the-way, don't be afraid of f1.6. I shoot wide open a lot and, even if the edges are soft, the selective focus at the center is terrific. And it holds f1.6 through the zoom range.
I'm also looking at this lens for use on the H1 and was wondering how much (if any) CA was noticed when shooting at f1.6? This is a concern after coming from other manual lenses/cameras that suffered bad CA shooting wide open. Have you had a chance to look at it on a good 20 or 24 calibrated studio monitor?

R.W. Swanson, If you find another 16X with clean glass for $500 please let me know, all I see are ones in the $800-$900 range.

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Old April 15th, 2007, 11:45 AM   #10
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Daniel: It is my experience that different people have different needs, and as a result view things very differently - just look at the variation of critic's opinions of the same movie.

I do not do extensive tests on my lenses - I shoot footage in the normal way I would - and evaluate that footage. When I bought the H1 in Dec '05, I still had an XL2 with the 16x lens so I shot some interviews with that lens because I needed manual focus... The footage intercut with the 20x and it looked fine (viewing through a Black Magic card on a 26" Panasonic LCD and an 18" Sony CRT) - that was all I asked of it.

Subsequently I sold the XL2 with that lens - but missed it, so I bought another 16x (new from ZGC) and have been using that one for about 6 months now, intercutting with the 20x and the 6x.

This is more than you need to know, but the point is - you may not like the look of the lens as much as I do, depending on what type of material you are shooting.

I make (mostly) social issue documentaries, and am willing to sacrifice a little bit of chromatic aberation for the convenience of smooth, predictable manual focus and the lens' ability to hold the f1.6 stop through the entire zoom range.

In my type of films, if the audience is noticing chromatic aberation and not paying attention to the story, then I need to be in another profession.

That said, if Canon does introduce an HD compatable 16x at NAB, I'll be one of the first in line to buy it.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 03:21 PM   #11
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It's all good information Steve, I prefer a more well rounded version over short and sweet any day as I'm a "details" person.

I only wish I could shoot a little with this lens first, it might be what I need to do in order to justify my purchase. Although I'm leaning sight unseen at the moment.

I like shooting with both lens types manual/servo, although I have yet to try a manual lens on the Canon, I'm more than sure I would like the control. Some people might not agree but the servo zoom simply works better in some shooting instances, smoother and more fluid zooming. But for tight controlled shooting it's downright horrid. ;)

Steve, I would like to know how you pick your lens when shooting since you have both. You mention the manual for documentary work (understandable) but when do you use the stock lens?

Thanks for the info.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #12
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In a direct contradiction to what you are hearing, I personally tend to see "less" CA with the 16x lens in general. I do experience some with it at full tele and the aperture wide open. But I hardly shoot like this. I shoot a lot with it at its full wide setting and find this better than the 20x lens at full wide. The 20x HD lens shows a lot of fringing at the outer edges. I can see it in a lot of outdoor footage shot by others as well as myself. I just see less of it with this lens.

One other thing to know about this lens. It breathes quite a bit. When zoomed on a subject and you adjust the focus the image will slight enlarge or decrease in size. This is just how this lens is setup. I don't personally mind. I have seen this in big budget pictures too. When a person is up close to the lens and is in focus, a subject appears in the distance and a rack focus takes place. The subjects relative size shifts as the lens move to acquire the new focus. I think it looks cool myself! Some hate it. That is your personal choice but it does this for sure.

And to answer your one question (even though it wasn't directed to me), I generally always use the 16x lens unless I need long zoom and OIS. Otherwise it is this lens all the time. I have to say it produces amazing images. I haven't tested the exact resolution but honestly, to my eyes it looks almost sharper than the 20x. This is probably due to the fact that it is more contrasty than the 20x. After shooting with it the 20x seems kinda washed out....IMHO.
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Old April 15th, 2007, 10:03 PM   #13
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Thanks Marty!

It sure makes it easier to invest in one alongside the 20X-HD. I'm more than familur with breathing, rack focusing on the JVC produces a fair amount with the 16X Fujinon, it took some getting used to. It would be easier if I prefered this as you do, but it's a look that is more ENG, reality TV in my opinion than cinematic. However, I'm all too occustomed to taking the good with the bad, and less percieved CA is very good in my book.

If I can just find one that is priced right, I'm seriously well overbudget on gear purchases for the year.
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Old April 16th, 2007, 02:03 AM   #14
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If I can just find one that is priced right, I'm seriously well overbudget on gear purchases for the year.
Does that include Red #977? :)
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Old April 16th, 2007, 07:59 AM   #15
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It would be easier if I prefered this as you do, but it's a look that is more ENG, reality TV in my opinion than cinematic.
I guess I should clarify that I don't necessarily "prefer" it, but I find sometimes it looks like rack focus moves I have seen in movies. Not all movies have this obviously but I have seen it in bigger budget films too. So obviously it exists in some higher end lenses too. I will gladly take this trade-off to have true manual focus. It is going to sound crazy but this lens makes it much easier to focus with the LCD of the H1. Things just appear clearer to me and I can feel when my focus it hitting it's mark.

With the 20x lens, it feels so spongy that I have a hard time telling when I hit the focus exactly and sometimes because of it's servo design, it is hard to stop it on the exact focus point. I find myself going back and forth trying to nail it whereas with the 16x manual I seem to just hit it right the first time.

I also do a lot of candid shooting and like the reliability of being able to go full wide and just turning the focus ring until it hard stops and knowing 100% for certain that everything beyond 2 ft or so is in focus. It is a life saver when things get crazy and you are trying to keep up with unscripted action.

And I have seen in a few cases where people have worked around the "breathing" by temporarily using the backfocus adjustment to pull focus. This would only really work on a set where you could set it up.....but I saw a great rack focus using this techniquie that was maybe a 5 ft to 20 ft rack that did not breath at all. The problem is you need to reset the backfocus after doing this so it is limited to scripted controlled environment.

Peace!
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