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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old April 30th, 2002, 09:10 AM   #61
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I'm thinking of buying a xl1s and this black/white line really bothers me, because I will create movies to be projected digitally and the lines will be visible then unless i film 4:3 and crop to 16:9.
I think there's a lot of people who would like to see this problem solved. Lets hope Canon fixes this soon.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 04:21 AM   #62
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"He said that every camcorder manufacturer has to deal with these scanning defects and each chooses to do it differently. Some put thinner black bands at the top and bottom, some on the sides. Canon chose the bottom for the XL-1s. I asked him why have them at all, and mentioned that there was no black line at the bottom with my XL-1 (as had been confirmed in several posts here). Yes, he said, but you have them up both sides on the XL-1. Indeed, when I got home I pulled up an XL-1 frame and there was a 6 pixel-wide line up the left border, and a thinner one up the right."

Wow, this is quite a breakthrough. I went back and checked out some of my old XL1 footage. Indeed. There's a left margin of 7 black pixels and a right margin of 6 black pixels. I had done hundreds of picture-in-picture effects with this footage and the fault was too innocuous to be noticed. (There are also 3 rows of blue-tinted pixels at the bottom of the frame on the XL1.)

Still, I don't buy either of Canon's explanations for this problem.

First. Why must there be ANY issue with boundaries? I have a Canon ZR10 (a cheapie camera in comparison to the XL1) and I checked out some of the footage shot on that--it doesn't have any border pixel issues). So, again, why isn't this something that can be fixed altogether?

Second. If there must be border pixel issues, why can't Canon at least make them symmetric with respect to the frame? That's probably why I never noticed them on my old XL1. On my XL1S I have some black border line issues on the bottom of the frame, and on the left side of the frame.

Third. On the XL1S it's not just a matter of black lines. There are also some rows of pixels that appear brighter or bluish. This is probably the "pulsating" rows of pixels Rob Lohman refers to. I've run some tests, and I don't think their brightness characteristics actually change with time, but on a pan or a tilt movement they may appear to pulsate with respect to the rest of the frame. In any case, the artifacting going on here isn't just a matter of a few rows of black pixels. There are brighter ones and blue-er ones too.

I'm putting together a web site with some examinations of this problem on my cameras and some raw and close-up images that detail the problem. Will post back soon.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 08:11 AM   #63
 
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Here's another curious situation that I wonder if anyone else has experienced. I routinely leave a UV filter mounted on the front of the standard 16x IIs lens. I once mounted a polarizing filter to the UV lens so that both filters were stacked onto the lens. In the widest angle setting, I could see some vingetting of the image. This is normal. What was weird was that the vignette wasn't symmetrical around the image frame. It vignetted the top right corner, but, no other corners!! This tells me the CCD is not concentric with the optic!!! What's up with that? Is that because of the stabilization system, perhaps?

If, in fact, the lens is decentered, say from poor asssembly QA, the image will suffer from coma and astigmatism. Basically, this will degrade the image resolution, read: sharpness

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Old May 1st, 2002, 09:11 AM   #64
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Robert,

Will your pages be available for posting on the Watchdog?

The reason why a 1-chip camcorder doesn't show this problem is because there are no other chips to align. The issue seems to be directly related to the alignment of multiple layers of images generated by the three CCD's. Therefore a single-CCD camcorder won't have it. And if they *could* make it symmetrical, then they probably could have eliminated it in the first place. As for myself, I wonder if it's not related to pixel-shift.

The explanation that came out of the Jamesburg facility is something you can put in the bank; Jerry is one of the top guys there among the service techs, if not *the* top guy.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 09:25 AM   #65
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Small "defect". BIG expense.

I've been commenting on the causes of the black bars along the vertical sides or along the bottom of the full frame coming out of the XL-1 and XL-1s. So far my comments have been mainly academic, now the "problem" has turned into a huge financial loss for my company.

Perhaps Canon, along with other high end manufacturers of consumer MiniDV, DVPRO, and DVCAM, will claim these $4k systems were never designed to comply with the same strict professional standards as their $50k cameras. In many respects this argument is valid – smaller chips, more fragile construction, poor quality EVFs, inferior (by comparison) optics and servos. In the case of non-standard raster, the argument holds no water. This is simply a matter of poor quality control, or at best, an aspect not thought important enough to bother. If this is the case then we who use the XL-1 line and other “prosumer” camcorders, are justified in stopping the use of these cameras over an issue the manufacturer can easily correct without raising the price point of these systems. Non-standard blanking is simply not acceptable for professional use; it shouldn’t even be acceptable to any serious amateur (the target market of these systems) since it renders flawed any picture in picture effect.

The production we have been working on was shot with two XL-1 (a plain 1 and an S) and a SONY TRV900. The blanking for each camera is non standard in different ways. Our client has picked up on the “black bar” they see appearing, sometimes along the bottom of the frame (XL-1) and sometimes along either vertical side of the frame (XL-1s and TRV900). Since the two hour production is being released principally as QuickTime movies, there is no way to simply hide the wide blanking problems. We have to re-render ALL of our material with a slightly blown up frame (103%). This re-rendering is adding days of rendering to our postproduction. Days = money. We are now in the hole on an already ridiculously tight budget; all this, because no one has complained loudly nor frequently enough to the manufacturers. Their explanations, as cited earlier in this forum, are purely bogus. The quote from Canon is pure sales double-speak. I would have expected better.

I feel at a loss as to what action to take. Calling Canon to complain is mostly an exercise in frustration and futility. Writing letters to top management might be a better way to go but is not bound to yield any results unless there’s an onslaught of letters. Still, ultimately, I fear Canon will have the final word – a four thousand dollar camera is not meant for professional use. Pure BS and a cop out, but one that is hard to retort except with the only weapon we have – stop buying their cameras. I’m not proposing such harsh action because the XL-1 line has a lot to offer but this pesky little “flaw” is becoming a huge problem; for me, it has become a liability.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 10:27 AM   #66
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Calls and letters to "management" will accomplish nothing. Publicity about this problem, however, will have probably a significant impact.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 10:29 AM   #67
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As for myself, I'm forwarding the entire thread to CUSA's Director of Product Development, as soon as I get home.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 10:47 AM   #68
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Chris,

THANK YOU!!! I agree with Ken about bad publicity being the most effective and efficient way to go. Sending this thread to Canon is an excellent idea - not just because of what's in the thread but who's sending it and from where.

I, for one, would like to get a no nonsense and explicit technical explanation from the Canon engineers as to the source of the problem; from the development people as to why the problem was allowed to exist; and from the marketing department - what they plan to do about it. I know this is circular thinking but it gets everyone involved.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 10:52 AM   #69
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That's excellent news Chris - thanks for the positive action.

I think Canon has to approach this issue from this standpoint - In this changing world, media is being distributed in a new way through interactive multimedia, and of course via the web. It's not just a TV world any more!

Therefore, they cannot just hide things under the overscan, and pretend they don't matter any longer. Now, more of the world is seeing the WHOLE picture and not just a portion of it because of the new formats.

This is an evolving market, and one that will grow rapidly. Obviously a camera manufacturer who recognizes this, and provides a camera at this price level that can produce a "clean" image on all four sides will have a significant advantage.

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Old May 1st, 2002, 10:57 AM   #70
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Out of curiosity, has anyone seen this blanking problem (the expression makes the message look censored, doesn't it?) on the XL1s' closest competitor, the Sony PD150? How about the VX2000?

I just checked my GL1 (which I've had for 3 years) and noticed that it has two vertical bars, one on either side.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 11:04 AM   #71
 
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Great News, Chris!! Thanx for your help. Awareness of the "size" of the problem is something Canon needs to respond to positively.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 12:27 PM   #72
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Sounds Like the 'Hiss' Issue.

This has echos of Sony's hiss feature/problem. Hopefully Canon will resolve this with less grief than Sony generated. Besides this will do nothing but please the Sony philes.

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Old May 1st, 2002, 12:47 PM   #73
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Good observation, Nathan. That was a bit of a food fight, wasn't it?

In general, though, this is probably a notch lower of a problem than Sony's hissing audio. Black edges outside of the normal underscan will most significantly impact those who plan to package their video for streaming applications where the full frame is displayed (like Ozzie's project). Sony's noisy audio circuits hit -everyone- using the affeced cameras.

Also, Sony shouldn't be too smug until they can show that their comparable cams don't exhibit the same problem.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 01:09 PM   #74
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those lines

DV resolution is 720x480 which would be 345,600 pixels but, Canon has the XL1S spec listed at 270,000 pixels (250,000 effective pixels). Now, as its interlaced do they mean that we have 270,000 pixels per half frame or per full frame ? This stuff confuses me to no end. I do notice that the Sony 1/3" 3 CCD cameras list 380,000 resolution in thier VX2000 specs. Almost all the 1/2" 3 CCD cameras list 380,000 or better. I guess what I'm wondering here is do the specs say we should be getting 720 x 480 or do they say we were never supposed to. Have the lines been seen in the Sony cameras ? I still wouldn't give up changing lenses to lose those lines at the bottom but, I am curious.

btw, the only other 3CCD cameras listing 270,000 pixels I could find are the Pansonic models that use 3 1/4" CCDs and cost about $2000 less then the XL1S. Unless Canon is just reporting specs more honestly then the other manufacturers it seems like there must have been huge resolution loss somewhere. Could movie mode and low light operation features have cost resolution ?

Another edit because it just gets stranger and stranger...

Canon lists the exact same resolution for the GL-1 which uses 3 1/4" CCD. What did canon do to make 1/3" CCDs perform as bad as 1/4" ones ?

Last edited by psteinman; May 1st, 2002 at 01:43 PM.
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Old May 1st, 2002, 01:58 PM   #75
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Ken,

To answer your question I asked my friend who uses the PD150 exclusively. The answer is "no" - he's never had any such problems with the PD150. All his is work is strictly for broadcast. Although he "offlines" with FCP3, he onlines in a DigiBeta room and black bars or any frame problems have never popped up.


[editing this a few hours later]

And to add insult to injury - I just inserted the material we shot with the Sony TRV900 --- you guessed it --- NO bars anywhere.

We own three TRV900s. The oldest one which I use for my personal taping does show a bar on the vertical right side of the frame. The camera we used in the shoot we bought last year. Sony must have fixed the problem or we just lucked out.
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