A comparison of the Sony EX1 and the Canon XL-H1 at DVinfo.net

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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old November 28th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #1
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A comparison of the Sony EX1 and the Canon XL-H1

Hello all,

So I have been researching a lot about the Sony EX as a good friend of mine has one on preorder for our production business. I have the Canon XL-H1 (and absolutely love it) and have begun contemplating the differences between the cams. I plan on doing a feature film around the summer of next year, and am looking at purchasing certain "upgrades" for my camera soon, including the Flash XDR HD-SDI recorder and the P+S tehcnik mini35 compact or the upcoming new LetusXL Extreme for the XL-H1, along with Primes. I've shot with this setup before, capturing fully uncompressed, and the footage is absolutely amazing.

But now this new Sony camera is very intriguing and I can't wait to test it side-by-side with my XL-H1. How would you think they would compare? The specs do seem compelling, but I can't quantify how much (if any) better overall it would be against the H1.

I guess I'm just thinking out loud. Any thoughts between the 2 cams?
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Old November 28th, 2007, 01:49 PM   #2
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Does the XL-H1 have embedded audio in its SDI/HD-SDI? I used it to feed a Sony Anycast via SDI but I had to use a SDI audio embedder and loop the audio from the XL-H1 line out to the SDI embedder. So that might be a problem for you.

Sony PMW-EX1 uses embedded audio in the HD-SDI (I guess in SDI also but haven't tried).
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Old November 28th, 2007, 01:53 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Andreas Johansson View Post
Does the XL-H1 have embedded audio in its SDI/HD-SDI?
Unfortunately no it does not.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 01:54 PM   #4
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The XL-H1 doesn't have embedded audio in HD-SDI. We have always recorded audio separately and married in post. But the new Flash XDR will solve all this.

I just know that making use of the HD-SDI output with the XL-H1, along with a great adapter like the P+S technik and great glass produces stunning results. I have stills of the setup we used on my website, and will be posting some RAW clips of the footage there as well soon to show what the camera is capable of (this is the same footage that B&H is using in their store to demo the camera with). I'm curious how the HD-SDI looks like out of the Sony EX. Early tests from Barlow Elton have shown to him that results weren't nearly as good, but I would think more testing needs to be done.

Last edited by Michael Galvan; November 28th, 2007 at 03:17 PM.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 05:27 PM   #5
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Please share your footage with us. Really looking forward to see it!
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:53 PM   #6
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Alright, I've compressed an H.264 for my website of some quick clips that you guys can check out. It is in the portfolio section, under "Uncompressed Footage."

I will try to get a short couple second clip up for download so you can see the video in full quality.

The clip posted is from a film trailer I shot back last spring. It should give an indication of what the camera is capable of when taking advantage of its capabilities.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 12:16 AM   #7
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Well if you were just shooting 1080i material I would say your H1 would be fine. If you are talking 24p however then I think the EX1 has a big advantage in clean details. High detail isn't as important as clean detail and so far from what I have seen the image is very clean and natural looking. Dump down the edge enhancement slightly and you will have some mini Red looking footage.

I have always loved the look and style of Canon video cameras but I find myself getting very tempted by the EX1.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 08:30 AM   #8
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Yes, I too am getting tempted. Though I'm a huge fan of the XL-H1, the Sony is getting very tempting. Even though I love Canon cameras, I have no brand loyalty, and will use whatver is best. I'm most curious as how the 1080p will compare from the EX to the 1080p of the XL-H1.

The 1080p out of the H1 is very tack sharp, especially out of the HD-SDI. I recently did a shoot with both the XL-H1 in 1080F24 and the HVX200 in 1080P24, and I ended up not combining the footage due to very noticeable softness of the HVX200 footage. But it has lower res chips. With the EX being full raster, it'll be interesting to compare.

My gut tells me it really won't be much of a difference, if any though. Though there have been tests showing that the F modes degrade resolution, the image remains visually as sharp as 60i footage I've shot with the camera. Don't know to sure what Canon is doing here, but it works, and it works well.

I'm going to see if any film houses here in NYC are interested in taking a quick RAW clip from this shoot and output it to film. I know I talked with someone at DuART who said they were interested.

But back to the EX and XL-H1 :)
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Old November 29th, 2007, 08:52 AM   #9
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My guess would be that the most noticeable differences will be in terms of depth of field and low-light response. I'll have an EX1 for testing soon but haven't been able to line up anyone with a Canon HDV camera for comparison - if you have one in the Sacramento area send me a PM.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 08:28 PM   #10
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Thanks for the clips - I too am at a crossroads as to what camera to invest in. Can I ask with the canon uncompressed footage on your site - did you color, grade or do anything to this or is it straight from the camera and compressed to H.264?

I would love to get my hands on a few seconds of uncompressed footage to throw in and grade to see how far you can push it...for me that’s the ultimate test, how much leeway you end up with in post.

Of course when you throw in what appears to be a massive % of faulty EX1's with the vignette issue - the canon may well end up as the only choice unless sony fix the issue ASAP!
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Old November 30th, 2007, 01:09 AM   #11
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Tonight we shot a bit under the lights at a high school soccer game just to see how the EX1 would work in low light.

Amazing well.

We played the footage back on an JVC Reference monitor via SDI off of the EX1. Very sharp. You definately can see the difference between 1280x720 footage and the 1920x1980 stuff. The 720 60P was very fluid. the 1080P stuff has so much detail. Simply amazing.

I also played back the footage running a parallel connection off of the SDI out on the JVC monitor over to my HDLINK>DVI to my 24" Dell 2405 1920x1080 monitor.

As you know, it's not a reference broadcast monitor, but looked good via SDI off of the EX1. The black level was better on the reference monitor. The reference monitor had a very clean professional look.

One issue noted with the SDI>HDLINK>Dell 2405 was the interlaced signal was showing itself (. So any time there was vertical image movement I could see the 1080i lines.

Does anyone know why this is happening with the Dell? I do not see any way of deinterlacing it. The JVC worked fine.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 06:51 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Paul Cook View Post
Thanks for the clips - I too am at a crossroads as to what camera to invest in. Can I ask with the canon uncompressed footage on your site - did you color, grade or do anything to this or is it straight from the camera and compressed to H.264?

I would love to get my hands on a few seconds of uncompressed footage to throw in and grade to see how far you can push it...for me thatís the ultimate test, how much leeway you end up with in post.

Of course when you throw in what appears to be a massive % of faulty EX1's with the vignette issue - the canon may well end up as the only choice unless sony fix the issue ASAP!
Well, according to my preorder, I should have my EX within the next week or so, then I can do direct side-by-side comparisons between the XL-H1 and the EX1. Hopefully, I will post soon in regards to that.

The footage is RAW from the camera. I have done some grading on it before, and it has amazing latitude to push the image. I will try to get a quick couple second clip up for download soon.

I really am pleased with the Canon and it can provide results that are more than acceptable for a film transfer ... just as long as you shoot knowing what it's limitations are ... I guess that goes with any camera.

Though I think resolution will be very close between the two cams, I am interested in the dynamic range and low light differences. Also, what HD-SDI capture will look like compared to the Canon. Has anyone confirmed that the HD-SDI from the Sony EX is 10-bit? That would be very interesting ...
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Old November 30th, 2007, 06:54 AM   #13
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Re: Soccer footage...

Sounds good - would luv to see some footage, world REALLY luv to get a small sample of untouched straight from the camera footage of such a shoot.

One thing I thought the EX1 was 1080P - why would interlacing be an issue?
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Old November 30th, 2007, 07:06 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Paul Cook View Post
Re: Soccer footage...

Sounds good - would luv to see some footage, world REALLY luv to get a small sample of untouched straight from the camera footage of such a shoot.

One thing I thought the EX1 was 1080P - why would interlacing be an issue?
Well I would think the reason being that 1080P is sent down through the HD-SDi as 1080i60 with the progressive embedded with a 3:2 pulldown. I don't think the HDLink does any sort of reverse telecine, so you are probably seeing the footage as interlaced on your progressive monitor.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 11:17 AM   #15
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So I went to Able Cine Tech here in NYC yesterday to check out the EX 1 and all I can say is WOW. Sony has really gotten their act together on this cam. It was hooked up to a 1080p monitor and the 108024 out of this camera is gorgeous ... and very very sharp. An HVX200 and the XH-A1 were also next to it, and while the XH-A1 looked close resolution wise, the HVX just looked soft.

Of some notes:

1. The LCD screen is in a league of its own ... it certainly is much much sharper and more vibrant than anything I've seen from these types of camcorders. Blows the LCD screen from my XL-H1 out of the water. It blows the LCD screen from the HVX200 even farther.

2. Menu system seems so much more easier to navigate through than the HVX. Seems very intuitive ... has image adjustments on the same level as the Canons ...

3. Really, really nice lens. Great controls and feel.

4. Image quality is just superb. I believe the 1080p out of this camera is the sharpest of the bunch. The XH-A1 looked really close in sharpness, but I have to assess it further ... but no doubt the EX 1 is probably sharper.

5. Wow ... the 1/2 sensors make a difference!!! I exposed both the EX 1 and the XH-A1 properly, and the XH-A1 needed the gain boosted +6 in addition to a full open iris. The EX-1 was at 0db gain, and the iris wasn't even full open!!!

6. And of final note, the guys there confirmed that the HD-SDI is indeed 10-bit. Looks like capturing this thing to a 10-bit codec like ProRess 422 HQ with an AJA IO-HD would yield incredible results.

I am going to bring my XL-H1 there next week and do side by side comparisons along with captures from both cameras. I really really love the XL-H1, but this Sony Cam is getting more and more compelling.
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