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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
Can't find it on the XL1 Watchdog site? Discuss it here.

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Old October 28th, 2001, 03:39 PM   #16
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 1
In all probability

I have the opportunity to often talk with senior product engineers of major companies like Harry Yu at Panasonic. I formerly designed robotics and have several years experience in product development. What I mostly talk to these engineers about these days, is the development of a sub-ten-thousand-dollar, 2/3" chip, true progressive scan 16x9 camera. Panasonic presently has the only 3 chip 480p camera of that description in the world, which is intended for broadcast. The medical imaging and scientific imaging people have had them for years and years. However using these cameras for independent cinema represents a whole different ball of custard.
(If anyone is interested, do internet searches on the following cameras: RDC-A10Z-S, JAI CV-M7, the Cooke PixelFly, the Phantom V-5.0 and the Dalsa web site)
Why do I mention this in opening? I do so to prequalify some of my following statements, and to hopefully show where my background lies. I believe Canon is in the proverbial "cat-bird seat", to quote a line by the Coen Bros., when it comes to video cameras. You see, Panasonic wants $39,000.00 for their 480p camera. It also takes 60 full frames per second. There is no capture card presently that will take that. I have spoken at length to the engineering team at Aurora to modify their Igniter RT capture card's SDI signal imput. They would have to drop every other frame. It may happen, it may not. The real question is, why did Panasonic develop a camera that no one could use? The answer: "Usually capture card companies do that on their own," says my friend at Panasonic. "CineWave was supposed to, but then they backed out."
My friend Micheal Caporale is trying to sell his 480p. He lives in Cinncinatti and owns the renowned Caporale Studios. He simply up-resed his 480p footage to 720p before sending it to the emulsion. Then he got smart and bought Panasonic's 720p camera instead. Variable frame rate. It's the same story with Birns & Saywer on Highland and Santa Monica in Hollywood. They are trying to unload all 3 of thier 480p cameras due to the same issue, no damned capture card supports it, and the very cameras they are selling were just used shoot the movie "Tortilla Soup!" What will Panasonic do now?
Well, if you know anything at all about the Japenese honor system, we may not be seeing a consumer version of 480p (at 30 fps) from them for quite some time. However they do sell a "kind-of" version in other countries with a similar chipset as Canon's XL1s, called the NV-MX3000. It only has 1/4" chips, but much, much higher resolution than the Canon, and makes use of the same "Frame Mode". It is said to be superiour to the SonyPD 150. (Which is, as you know, the VX2000 and the DSR 250) I only mention this because Canon uses Panasonic chipsets in the XL1s. Somebody stop me if you think I'm mistaken. Find the MX3000 at:
So why is Canon set so well? Because Canon is not cutting its own throat or deflowering their giri, meiyo, sessou, ichibun or menboku by offering a 480p camera! They don't make 50mbps 4:2:2 cameras. They are not high def-ending themselves by not releasing one. They could very well be the first to release a true 3-chip, 16x9, 30fps, 480p (525p) camera. If any of you fine shooters out there have ever seen 480p, then you know what I mean. If you have not, go to the local Circut City and load a DVD into a 480p capable player, then watch it on a widescreen HDtv. You will instantly realize why this is better than any other standard definition format. It is better than, yes, gasp, Digibeta! (Better at what? Film conversion and initial picture quality, yes digibeta still has more chroma info and all that, but it doesn't look as good.)
The interesting thing is, Canon could do this and change only two items: the CCD chipset and the internal frame-grabbing chipset. (You have a lot more simultaneous info coming in from 3 progressive scan chips than you do from 3 interlaced chips.) The tape will hold it with no changes and everything would be ten times better in your video life as a result. Firewire would run it and if you went straight to DVD via a low-cost stamping house, you would have quite a movie. I believe that Canon has shown its hand in steering toward the independant cinema market as seen by its feature set and camera shooting modes. Therefore, to me anyway it's the next logical step, and since they have no fiscal reason not to, lets hope.
We could all only pray that they Canon will step up and be a hitter in the progressive-scan ballgame. On the other hand, they certainly will not be going to the DVD-drive format. The way MPEG 2 is compressed means it has to scan several frames in front of and behind each frame it compresses. It is slow to compress and slower to edit. The only thing that is better about it than DV is its size. Since new compression schemes are capable of delivering lossless compression greater than that of DVD, (MGEP 4 is only one of many) I doubt that Canon would lower its sights or quality to sloppy MPEG 2 compression. It just can't match native DV.
They will not have memory sticks either, since memory sticks were designed to sell memory sticks and Canon does not make them. However high-end cameras like the ones I use do have memory cards that save presets. It is when multiple users handle one camera as in the ENG field. Who knows, perhaps we will see something of that nature after all. But would it sell more cameras? I doubt it. Most users of the XL1s level don't need the "all in one" camera features that memory sticks provide. We'll see, but I doubt it.
The XL2 will probably drop the anemic 270000 pixel CCD chipset for chips that have at least twice the pixel count, and since they haven't made an anamorphic lens for the XL1S, which I suppose they shelved in order to hurry out the yippie-yahoo 3D lens!, then let's hope and pray it's because they knew they wouldn't need one. Get it?, they wouldn't need one because the next camera will have 16x9 chips.
The last thing I am pretty sure of is that the next camera will have dual drives for media storage: the traditional miniDV drive and a bracketed, removable harddrive. They already list the ability to record straight onto harddrive with the XL1s, so to keep running in that same direction, they will probably have a knew gizmo to take advantage of that. And at a very "Canon" pricerange I'm sure. Remember, right now there are firewire drives at 80gig for around $400.00. That's more than 6 hours of recording time and there's absolutely zero time logging, capturing or digitizing. And it will be dual drives because Canon does sell tapes and you really do need redundancy in highend work.
See, these are good selling points to make the camera more appealing that don't cost Canon more money. Canon has no reason to "Feature Geld" its top-end camera, because it's their top end camera. You know, like Sony does to their mid'range cameras. (And, Oh yes baby, believe me they do...) That's why I would expect to see these improvements on the next model.
Now they don't want to stop making and selling all of those XL1 lenses, but on the other hand they, hmmmmm, already make fabulous lenses for Pro cameras. Could we see an enlargement of the CCD size? Don't get your hopes up. Larger CCDs mean more cost to Canon. Keep in mind that many, many people already think a $4000.00 camera is a rediculous price for a $10,000.00 camera. So we will probably not see a larger CCD. But will we see more pixels.
Here is my wishlist. These are things that are mostly software and a few caps. Make the freaking camera variable frame rate. Let it shoot at 24fps, 25fps and 30fps. Do you know how many international travelers and photographers use this camera? I don't, I'll admit, but I read...and it seems to be a lot. Just tweak the voltage and it's a done deal. Overcranking would mean a large price jump in data-capture hardware, but undercranking is not expensive.
So if you will call Birns & Sawyer (323.466.8211) and speak to Ryan, you will understand that the first big jump in detail and quality is at 480p. The Canon XL1s is currently only lacking this one thing to deliver the quality of $50,000.00 cameras. It would thrill me to no end to see this happen. My appologies to Chris that I inferred to Mr. Pappas that he had told me things inwhich he had not.
Please feel free to e-mail me with comments, cursing or congratulations at:
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