XL1s + 16X Manual+ Nikkor 300mm + Nikor 600mm + OPTEX Wide converter at DVinfo.net

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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old February 21st, 2005, 06:47 AM   #1
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XL1s + 16X Manual+ Nikkor 300mm + Nikor 600mm + OPTEX Wide converter

I've just bought a Canon XL1s for a film project in USA. The main filming will begin in May and cover a 3-month period, with follow up filming if needed during later parts of the year. This will give me between now and late May to get fully acquainted with the camera, lenses and other equipment.

After a great deal of study and thought (as well as reading a lot of info on Watchdog), I finally went for the Canon X16 Manual lens (the 'black' lens). I almost bought the 14X Manual lens, but the servo on the 16X is very useful. I would have liked for it to be able to adjust the speed of the 'zoom' (although this can be done manually of course) but the 16 X servo is extremely useful for zooming in tight, adjusting focus, zooming back out to wide, and then begin filming with a finger on the rocker button - knowing that the lens will maintain focus and not constantly go in & out of focus like the 'white' 16 auto focus model.
All in all, I'm impressed with the 16X manual lens, although Iíve still got to do plenty of more filming to test just how sharp it really is (first impressions are very positive).

I've got a complete system of Nikkor lenses for my F5 SLR bodies, so I obviously wanted to use the lenses on the XL1s. A quick phone call to Les Bosher in UK (an engineer who makes a lot of extra equipment to fit the Canon XL1 system and most pro-movie cameras as well, such as the Arri system etc) and he sent me a Nikon to Canon XL1s adapter (arrived following morning in the post!).
To cut a long story short, I tested the Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 ED-IF & 600mm f/5.6 ED-If lenses on the XL1s and was very impressed with the captured footage. I also tried a long list of other Nikkor lenses ranging from 24mm wide angle and various zooms, although the superior sharpness of the fixed 300mm ED-IF against something like the 75-300mm lens could be even seen in the viewfinder.

Regarding the colour viewfinder, I was a little worried that this would not be good enough and may need the expensive B/W viewfinder, but so far Iíve not had any focus problems using the colour viewfinder with the 16X Canon or any Nikon lens. Even the 600mm Nikkor is easy to focus, although good tripod technique is needed to maintain sharpness.

Another thought was "would I need a heavier, more robust tripod than the one I use currently with my Nikon F5 system?" (I use mainly the Manfrotto 190 Pro Nat - green wildlife tripod with a large Pro ball head). To answer that question, I tried all the lenses on the XL1s with the Manfrotto tripod, and it worked a treat. By adjusting the ballhead lever quite tightly so it 'just-moved' with steady pressure, I was able to make smooth pans without any judder.

I noticed that touching the "on" switch of the XL1s would cause the whole set up to 'judder' in the viewfinder for a few seconds before settling down. Using the start & stop buttons on the WL-D3000 obviously help prevent this.

What about using the XL1s with these big lenses at times when you need to adjust controls on the XL1s with your hands? The 300mm and 600mm lenses are fairly heavy, and their tripod mounts are extremely robust, so they sit rock solid on the tripod. The main problem is the flimsy structure of the XL1s, plus the slight wobble from the mount itself. I tried to use an added monopod screwed to the XL1s, and the lens itself screwed to the tripod, but this didn't help at all due to sideways movement of the XL1s, and of course this set-up would prevent you from adjusting framing the shot if a subject moved.
I found that if I used normal long-lens SLR technique - wrapping my hand over the lens barrel, and at the same time bracing my inner arm and cheek against the XL1s body, this absorbed sideways movement and vastly improved stability.

I'm going to be doing a lot of filming in boats, and although the 16X manual goes quite wide, it doesn't really pull far back enough. The Optex Wide-angle adapter provides a better view, but even looking through the viewfinder I notice a marked difference in sharpness and contrast compared to the 16X manual alone. I'll need to do more testing, but I'm strongly thinking about buying the Canon AF 3X lens. The only questions in my mind are: will it make a marked difference in sharpness compared to the adapter? - (Because I know the 3X lens is already soft compared to the 16X manual) - and will the 16X image stabilizer+ adapter be more stable on a boat than the 3 X alone? I have a feeling that the 3X lens would be easier to keep steady, even without the IS mode.
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Old February 21st, 2005, 09:08 AM   #2
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Re: XL1s + 16X Manual+ Nikkor 300mm + Nikor 600mm + OPTEX Wide converter

<<<-- Originally posted by Tony Davies-Patrick : I have a feeling that the 3X lens would be easier to keep steady, even without the IS mode. -->>>

Having done a lot of run 'n gun with both 16x IS and 3x wide lenses, as well as onboard-vehicle shooting, I much prefer the image I get from the 3x wide. Even without the zoom range or IS, it's my preferred lens. I've never had any problems with hand-held operation either, even if you're a little shakey it doesn't show up much at all. I think Canon left out IS simply because it's not necessary.

I've been trying to decide on the 16x manual or 14x for a couple of years now, I just can't decide. I wish Canon released another manual lens with the advantages of both (16x, full manual, ring iris control, static barrel end)
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Old February 21st, 2005, 10:02 AM   #3
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The Nikkor lenses allow me to control depth of field or incoming light quickly with a touch of the aperture ring - and is second-nature to do so following decades of working with still cameras.

However, the aperture wheel on the XL1s is quite easy to use, so I wouldn't choose between the 14X and 16X by this alone. The wheel adjustments for aperture and buttons for shutter speed take some getting used to, but with practice it is OK. With the other advantages of non-rotating front element, smooth auto zoom control, and extra magnification at the long end, I'm definitely glad that I eventually went for the 16X manual over the 14X manual.

It would have been nice to also have the option of a sharp Manual 3X lens though....

Andrew, have you found the 3X lens lacking in sharpness at all? I would want to also use it for landscape work on a sturdy tripod, so image quality is very important to me.
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Old February 21st, 2005, 11:05 AM   #4
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Tony;
There is a solution to the problem of stability between your long lenses and the XL1s body, an inherent weakness. You may also be interested in my RONSIGHT to help find the subject, which is dificult with the limited field of view of the long lenses.
Check out my website!!
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Old February 21st, 2005, 02:40 PM   #5
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Yes Ron, I looked at your website a while back. Those items look great!
I especially like the look of the Ronsrail, which may help towards keeping the back of the XL1s more rigid. It's just a pity that our budget is so stretched on buying tons of other equipment, boats, cross Atlantic flights etc in making the movie, or I'd definitely be interested in buying some of the items on your website.
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Old February 21st, 2005, 06:23 PM   #6
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Tony:
Good luck with your movie!
Keep us in mind.
Best;
Ron
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Old February 22nd, 2005, 03:53 AM   #7
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Thank you, Ron, and I will keep you in mind when I fly to USA in the Spring - hopefully a lot warmer than it is now in Upstate NY!

Anybody out there used the Optex wide angle converter on the 16X manual and compared it to the Canon X3 lens? I'm still getting conflicting advice as to the quality of the x 3 lens when I read through the older posts in the forum. It would be nice to see or read some comparisons, before I make up my mind to spend extra money on the X3 lens.
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