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-   -   Just how bad is the XL1s in low light??? (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl1s-xl1-watchdog/17625-just-how-bad-xl1s-low-light.html)

Matthew Laskey November 26th, 2003 12:44 PM

Just how bad is the XL1s in low light???
Ok, so im due to be shooting with the Canon XL1S shortly after christmas, I have read many reviews on it however have never really had the chance to try it out apart from a few times briefly during shoots.

The most discouraging thing that I have read about the XL1S is its poor low light performance.

2 Questions:

With the standard lens etc. that comes in the package how good does it really perform in low light?

Im due to be recording a scene with no additional lighting in a street with the only lights coming from shop windows, cars and the odd street light. This will be at late evening, allmost nighttime. How do think the baby will do without me having to play with the gain and have any nasty grain on the image?

Many Thanks,


Jean-Philippe Archibald November 26th, 2003 01:22 PM

The XL!/XL1s is a pretty good cam in low light. When it come out, it was the best low light cam in its categorie.

Do some test, iris wide open, maybe a slower shutter speed.
You can also try to use some reflective material to redirect light from the windows.

But you must do some tests before the real thing.

Ken Tanaka November 26th, 2003 01:30 PM

I do understand your motivation for such an inquiry. But with all due respect and absolutely no sarcasm intended, these threads drive me absolutely berserk.

You're basically asking, "How high is up?" Some will envision one location or experience and say "Great!", others will imagine something else and say "Bad!". You'll get subjective opinions from a wide and unknown cross-section of camera handling abilities andexperience. For what it's worth: I say that it can do a very respectable job for a 1/3" camera in the hands of a knowledgeable camera operator.

So, in the end of this thread, what value have you?

Since you have time before your shoot why not just take the XL1s out for a test on the planned location.

Matthew Laskey November 26th, 2003 01:49 PM

Thanks for that, I am planning to go out and try the equipment with the camera man who will be on the shoot with me.

Im not working the camera, a professional with lots of experiance with the XL1S is, so im hoping to stretch the cameras capabilities to the full.

I just needed your own opinions on the XL1S in LowLight before I sign the camera down on paper above say the PD-150 or other proconsumers.



Peter Moore November 26th, 2003 01:58 PM

Oh well the PD-150 will do MUCH better. I used the PD-150 to record a stage play with typical stage lighting, and had a GL2 in the back of the theater for wide shots and let me tell you - the PD-150 in "spotlight mode" looked like it was filming studio lighted scenes, whereas the GL2 looked like it was in a theater. If you have a choice and all other things are equal I would definitely go with the PD-150 for low-light performance. Again, make sure it's in spotlight mode.

Matthew Laskey November 26th, 2003 02:06 PM

Thanks for that too.

The only problem is that the shoot budget will only cover enough for 1 camera. That night scene is the last shot of the day. There will be alot of day time shooting going on too. The XL1S won me over compleatly for the day shooting (the use of interchangable lenses, timelapse etc) however no I worry if it will be ok for the night/ evening.


Kieran Clayton November 26th, 2003 03:39 PM

Time lapse?

Unless you have your XL1s hooked up to a laptop with frame capturing capabilities then timelapse shots are difficult.

The interval record is almost completely useless for timelapse as it records a minimum of 0.5 seconds at variable intervals. That means you get 12ish frames of normal movement followed by a gap, followed by 12ish frames of normal movement. And it doesn't look timelapse-like at all.

That leaves you with recording a whole tape of stuff and speeding it up in post, or hooking up a laptop and setting that to capture a frame every so often.


Matthew Laskey November 26th, 2003 03:59 PM


Thats one of the main things that made the XL1S appeal to me. I was led to belive that it performs quite well for timelapse.

Im still drawn to using the XL1S for the shoot, im hoping to do a 4 hour long timelapse so hopefully I will be able to cram that onto one dv tape by putting the recording down to 1/3 or a similar rate. Im a little confused by the XL1S' capabilities.



PS: Does any one use the XL1S for timelapse work? How do you go about using it for this?

Kieran Clayton November 26th, 2003 04:15 PM

The easiest way to do time lapse is to hook the camera up to a laptop via firewire and then use a program like Premiere to capture. If you right click on the Stop-motion capture window then you can set it to record a frame straight to disk at set intervals, and it's very customisable. What's more you can do it with Premiere 6.0 (at least that's what I use) and you should be able to find someone with a laptop and premiere..

This timelapse shot was done with an XL1s and premiere, and then after effectsed to death, but it was at one point some clouds flowing smoothly:



Frank Granovski November 26th, 2003 04:35 PM


The most discouraging thing that I have read about the XL1S is its poor low light performance.
NO, IT'S NOT!!! The XL1s is great in lower light if you compare it with most new (and older) consumer cams. If lack of light is a concern, turn on a light or 2.

Matthew Laskey November 26th, 2003 05:28 PM

HaHaHaHa, Yeah, great thanks for that Frank.

Wow- Kieran, that was a timelapse cloud scene once? Someone has had a great time with after effects!

Does anyone have any of their own XL1S timelapse footage, or low light footage for me to take a look at?

Chris Hurd November 26th, 2003 06:30 PM

For what it's worth, no camcorder does timelapse decently. DV camcorder tape transports are not properly set up for time lapse. Despite some that have that "feature," it never looks as good as a true single-frame recorder. There are a variety of ways to get effective time lapse, one of the best of which is the FireStore FS-3 hard disk recorder which has a single-frame time lapse option.

On lighting: for the best production values possible, by all means possible, JUST ADD LIGHT. Unfortunately this concept is lost on many people... in my opinion, "low light performance" should have no bearing on a camera used for a pro shoot, because pro shoots will always be *properly* lit, that is, *abundantly* lit.

The most legitimate need I have ever heard of for strong low-light performance is certain types of event work, such as weddings. Event video is where this a proper concern; for all other types of production, do it the professional way and *light your scenes.* That's what a Director of Photgraphy does; this person is really a Director of Light. Not enough light? Add light! Hope this helps,

Rick Bravo November 27th, 2003 12:10 AM

Low Light.

The Canon cameras have always been "light hogs". The XL1s is terrific in low light if you only need a viewable, usable image as opposed to a beautiful image. The 30db gain is great for what we do operationally as opposed to what we do artistically. More gain...more pain!

My recommendation to you is to continue on with your tests, replicating your shooting conditions as closely as possible, and come up with a happy medium you can live with based on your individual needs.

As far as the supplied lens is concerened, I have some pretty strong feelings and opinions on this subject...it SUCKS!

The last time I used one of the four Auto lenses that came with my packages was last week, while shooting from helicopters. They actually offered a little image stabilization and focus was not a concern as everything was pretty much set at Infinity and manual, for the duration. If focus is a priority for you, you should seriously look at the manual lens for the XL.

Good luck, RB.

Pete Constable May 14th, 2004 05:13 AM

I was working on a News story, using an XL1 (not XL1s) alongside a bunch of Beta SP cameras & the outside Broadcast Van always took my night time footage over the SP rigs ! Make of it what you will PC

Keith Loh May 14th, 2004 11:17 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Matthew Laskey : HaHaHaHa, Yeah, great thanks for that Frank.
Does anyone have any of their own XL1S timelapse footage, or low light footage for me to take a look at? -->>>


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