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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old September 20th, 2003, 10:04 AM   #1
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New Canon XL1 series coming soon?

I've been looking at threads posted on Panasonic's DVX 100, comparing it to Canon's XL1s. It seems that the DVX 100 beats the XL1s hands down with achieving a film look, delivering higher resolution (over 500 lines) picture quality etc. with the only draw backs being the fact that it does not have the option of interchangeable lenses and of course does not have the charming looks that the XL1s possess!

In short the DVX 100 will not allow you to modify your camera to comply to your specific production needs, e.g. focus pulling with a manual lens which is rather important for some filmmakers who need 100% control. The XL1s on the other hand does give you the freedom to modify your camera to suit your needs, which is one of the features that I love about it, but then it does not have the 24p frame rate, film look and high resolution of the DVX 100.

Iíve started my production company with a XL1s just over a year ago and I honestly love the camera to bits. Iíve come to a point now where I need to buy two more cameras for next year (before April 2004) and whereas my choice was simple, it seem that Iím not so sure any more. My production company no longer produces just wildlife television documentaries, we have just signed a deal to produce small television dramas towards the end of next year, and obviously here a film look would really be a good element to have.

Now what really turns me off from just going ahead and buying the DVX 100 is the lack of control over the lens when it comes to manual focus for focus pulling etc. But obviously the other features make it very seductive.

What I am really hoping for is that Canon will release a new XL1 series, which will do what the DVX 100 does, and more. I know there has been lots of talk, rumours and of course a wish list that went around, what I really want to know is weather anyone knows when this new camera is going to be released and of course what some of the features will be. Maybe itís wishful thinking, but I hope this will happen before April next year. (It would really suck if I buy two new cameras only to have the new Canon released a month or two later!)

Any information (or gossip) would be greatly appreciated!
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Old September 20th, 2003, 10:33 AM   #2
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Didi,

Do a search on XL2. DVi Community even hosted a wishlist thread that was compiled and delivered to folks at Canon by our gracious host Chris Hurd.

The long and the short of it is: expect an XL2, but probably not until mid or late 2004. A sign that the XL2 is just a month or so from being announced will be an MSRP drop on the XL1s.
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Old September 20th, 2003, 10:48 AM   #3
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Thank you Robert.... will go and have a look!
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Old September 20th, 2003, 02:51 PM   #4
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The wish list idea is great, but I wouldn't pin too many hopes on it. Witness the recent Sony announcement of the PD-170. They were obviously looking at a completely different list and only included minor tweaks to the existing PD-150. This seems to have caught everyone on the various forums by surprise.
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Old September 20th, 2003, 03:54 PM   #5
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I see that the DVX offers a MANUAL PULL FOCUS option? As well as ana and widescreen adapters?
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Old September 21st, 2003, 08:40 AM   #6
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The Problem with the manual lens focus pull is that the focus ring does not have any stops on it, very much the same as the standard auto lens that the XL1s has, you can turn it around till you're blue in the face which makes marking focus points a rather tedious exercise. Fortunately with the XL1s you have the option of the Manual lens which of course gives you full control, and thatís what I like about the XL1s.

There are four basic things about the DVX100 that I do not like and which makes me wanna stick to my XL1s, 1) The focus ring that does not have definite stops, (main reason) 2) The limitation of adding "professional" accessories like various lenses. (Important, but not really that important) 3) The plastic fragile feel of the camera and it's looks. The XL1s at least looks more professional and feels like it can handle the knocks and bumps associated with normal production work. (Obviously just being picky!) 4) The stabilizer not being as stable as the XL1s's, face it, Canon's stabilizer on their 16 X IS II is as smooth as butter and I think it will be hard for any camera to beat!!!! (Something that I would surely miss!)

But then there are three things which I like about the DVX100 and which I really hope the new XL2 camera will have. 1) P24 frame rate with the "real film look" that everyoneís raving about! 2) The quality of the lens (glass) which delivers much higher resolution than both Canon's Manual and Auto lens, meaning you donít have to buy expensive third party lenses and accessories to get the same quality on the XL1s that you'll get on the DVX100 as a standard feature. 3) No quality loss when shooting in frame mode, it would be nice to keep the full quality that your lens and CCD chips can deliver on the XL1s which seems to be the case with the DVX100.

That is basically the only three things that I'm hoping for, of course all the other features that where listed on the "wish list" like the programmable flash card with tweaking camera settings, true 16:9 CCD chip capability and the XLR connectors with phantom power will all be more than welcome additions!

In short, give us a camera with all the handy features the XL1s comes with, and delivers the same if not better quality which the DVX100 delivers, that goes for the amazing film look and picture resolution.

I suppose the BIG question is when... Some say August 2004, which just makes me wanna cry, other speculate early next year... and I'm of course holding thumbs for that!!!! Only time will tell...
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Old September 21st, 2003, 05:13 PM   #7
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I think the earliest you might get an announcement is at PMA or NAB. Both are in the Spring. The earliest the camera would ship would be summer of 2004. These are just guesses based on past Canon new product releases. A rebate on the camera would also predict a new model, as Robert said.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 10:56 AM   #8
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Didi I'm in the same boat and I'm sure many others are as well.

I was dead set on buying the XL1s but I have reversed myself and am about 80% sure I'm gonna go with the DVX. As much as I love the way the XL1s looks feels and acts I can't wait much longer...Out of box the DVX has xlr connectors, stock wide angle lens, cinema gamma and full rez on movie mode... As much as I hate to say this but for my dollar the aging xl1s can't compete.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 12:44 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Didi Schoeman : 1) The focus ring that does not have definite stops, (main reason)-->>>

http://www.centuryoptics.com/products/prodv/dvx100/Manual_Focus/manual_focus.htm

Century Precision Optics has introduced a manual focus ring attachment that provides hard stops for the DVX100's focus ring, as well as industry-standard pitch gear teeth for use with follow-focus and jib head focus motors.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 03:52 PM   #10
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Thanks for that info Barry... it sure made me sit up and listen and I'm looking at the camera with different eyes!

Fortunately I still have a little time till April... not a lot but a lot can happen in 6 months. If the next XL is not on the market by then, (and of course able to compete) my bet might just be on the DMX.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 07:15 PM   #11
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another xl2 wish

This is not gonna happen, but....

I figure since Canon doesn't have a professional line to kill with any advanced features, they are the ones that could get away with this....

In addition to all the wishes everyone has noted, the XL2 should simply take 2 more color samples 4:2:2 and have a setting to ~allow~ streaming uncompressed 4:2:2 out the firewire(s) port.

I understand that this is not the DV standard and it would need a special driver/codec or program on the machine side, which would be provided by canon, for capture. All the XL2 has to do is throw away the two extra color samples to get 4:1:1, compress 5:1 with DV as usual and write it to tape. The tape would always be DV of course, but the camera would be able to output better SD video through firewire, which certainly has enough bandwidth for this.

Even if they don't want to do 4:2:2, just the uncompressed 4:1:1 output is worth it! If they keep the XL1 design, the professional setup certainly allows for mounting a harddirve on the camera for high quality, no compression capturing, or you could hook it up to a digiBeta deck when in a studio.

They do this, and every other camcorder is history, at least for indie-film production.

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Old September 22nd, 2003, 11:44 PM   #12
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Sharp thinking, Juan. XL2 + laptop = prosumer version of the Viper HD system, and Canon wouldn't even have to engineer an onboard hard disk recording system.
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Old September 23rd, 2003, 12:22 AM   #13
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exactly

Yeah, that would be fantastic. We were discussing this in another forum and the only reason why we thought companies wouldn't do it is to avoid out-staging their more expensive pro products. Canon doesn't have this problem.

I'm also an electrical engineer, and I can't see the huge obstacle in doing this. The CCD's are there, all you have to do is take a couple of more samples(perhaps faster clocking), have some extra memory to buffer them, and come up with a simple scheme to transfer them via firewire, if there already isn't one.

Canon can even include their own PC/Mac software to record video, and then you can use the output footage, or whatever. Of course, program manufacturers are sure to add support for it quickly.

Like I said, it's probably not going to happen, but I can't help saying it...it seems like so little technical effort/cost to blast every other manufacturer away. Imagine...4:2:2 uncompressed video! Even if the XL2 turns out to be SD it would be awesome.

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Old September 23rd, 2003, 03:45 AM   #14
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Re: exactly

The idea sounds awesome Juan, I'm just curious about the fire wire cable and what the maximum length of it is before it becomes ineffective? I'm not an expert but I'm sure I've read somewhere that 4 meters is the maximum length of a fire wire cable... which would be a pity really, especially in a studio set-up...

I am also curious about your viewpoint on the current Canon lenses with the setup you described, I suppose an upgrade in glass quality would be necessary to up the overall resolution of the lenses to match the output of the CCD chips (to at least 500 lines), or alternatively I suppose one could use third party lenses, but then it becomes expensiveÖ
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Old September 23rd, 2003, 02:56 PM   #15
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Yes, the firewire cable length is limited just as always...however, there are many ways to get around this. You could have a laptop to record near the camera, or you could use on of those on-camera harddisks for recording. Given the right output you could also hook it up to a D5 or beta deck and get better quality than the miniDV tape.

Since what I am suggesting is to output uncompressed 4:2:2 SD video, i am not sure if the lenses the XL1 has now would be any trouble. The advantage of this idea is that the output will be uncompressed, with no artifacts, and it will have better color due to the two additional samples. True, the resolution and general image is limited by the glass, but even with the standard XL1 lens that everyone has, the uncomp. 4:2:2 output will look a LOT better, and will make much better use of any lens upgrades.

Think about it...the data IS there..the only reason why you loose so much data is because of the DV 5:1 4:1:1 format. The idea doesn't require any changes to the lens/ccd hardware, just the software/hardware that samples the CCD voltages, and manages the firewire port, along with the standard modifications to the menus to add this option, etc.

I read somewhere that the DV scheme throws away 80% of the data that is collected from the CCD's. I think that if we pay for the CCD's and lenses, we should be able to get all that we can out of it somehow. I know why sony and other companies won't do this, but Canon has a good oportunity to do it now with the XL2.

Juan
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