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Old July 31st, 2003, 10:09 PM   #1
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Help with camera choice, newbie

I was fortunate enough to find this great forum, I appreciate any suggestions you might have.

I currently have a Sony TRV950, and am looking towards my next DV camera. I am limited to ordering by mail, so I can't really go and try it out anywhere close to where i live. My main goal is a better film look...the 950 is great, but I could use better picture quality(spec. sharpness), 30p/24p, more manual controls, exch. lenses,etc.

Now, I am kinda confused because I see a lot of comparisons between the Panasonic DVX100 and the Canon GL2, isn't the XL1s closer to the DVX100 in price range?

Anyway, I can afford an XL1s, but i have a feeling that the DVX100 might be better for what I want to do. From the specs, it seems like the DVX100 has sharper video, and the 24p mode is a great feature to have. I don't really care that much about the built-in gamma curves as I'm used to adjusting my TRV950 footage on the computer.

I guess one of my questions would be: it seems like the DVX100 has better overall video quality than the XL1s specswise(and from some user reviews i've read), is this accurate? If so, why the greater price on the XL1s?

I know this might be a difficult question to answer..the way I understand it(correct me if i'm wrong), once one decides to produce a 16:9 piece of footage on DV, the actual max resolution of the footage is limited by the dv format and both of these cameras already use the max resolution, but the quality of the footage itself is affected by the size of the CCD's, etc. This is why I am confused, because specswise the DVX has a very large number of effective pixels (around 480k?) while the XL1 specs list somewhere around 280k? yet the Xl1s is more expensive.

What are some aspects in which the XL1s surpasses the DVX100? The Xl1s manual doesn't seem to be very specific about some specs...does the XL1s capture 30p video in the so called frame mode? Of course, I have already accepted the fact that I can't afford true 16:9 so i'm assuming that the means of achieving 16:9 are the same as on my TRV950, just cut the vertical DV 480 resolution by 75 lines.

My impression is that the XL1s is more oriented towards shooting great video that will stay on video, while the DVX is oriented towards the film look for the most part. If there is any other camera I should be considering please let me know.

Thanks for reading, and for any input.... :)
Juan
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Old July 31st, 2003, 10:34 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum...


"I guess one of my questions would be: it seems like the DVX100 has better overall video quality than the XL1s specswise(and from some user reviews i've read), is this accurate? If so, why the greater price on the XL1s?"

There's really not that much of a price difference. Around $3500 for the XL1s, and $3300 for the DVX100, at B&H. I don't really know what to say about why it is more expensive, i'm assuming that mainly Panasonic made the DVX100 price cheaper for competition reasons, and they are very different cameras and they are usually used for different things. I'm not saying you can't make a great movie on the XL1s, nor am I saying you can't use the DVX100 for documentary/eng (etc) work...


"I know this might be a difficult question to answer..the way I understand it(correct me if i'm wrong), once one decides to produce a 16:9 piece of footage on DV, the actual max resolution of the footage is limited by the dv format and both of these cameras already use the max resolution, but the quality of the footage itself is affected by the size of the CCD's, etc. This is why I am confused, because specswise the DVX has a very large number of effective pixels (around 480k?) while the XL1 specs list somewhere around 280k? yet the Xl1s is more expensive."

I'm not sure if the TRV950's 16x9 mode works the same way the PDX10 does (i'm assuming so, since they are pretty much the same), anyway, if so, on the TRV950, it is a *true* 16x9, which means the image doesn't get cropped, it actually makes the image wider and used more CCD pixels, unlike where on the DVX100 or XL1s, you just have to crop it. So essentially, when you crop it, you loose resolution.


"What are some aspects in which the XL1s surpasses the DVX100? The Xl1s manual doesn't seem to be very specific about some specs...does the XL1s capture 30p video in the so called frame mode? Of course, I have already accepted the fact that I can't afford true 16:9 so i'm assuming that the means of achieving 16:9 are the same as on my TRV950, just cut the vertical DV 480 resolution by 75 lines."

Eh, don't get me wrong, the XL1s is a great camera, but the only advantage I see over it compared to the DVX100, is it's interchangable lenses, and that it's more of a shoulder type camera (even though it's really not if you've ever used one before...). If you want *real* 16x9 on the DVX100, then you have to buy a anamorphic 16x9 adapter, which are pretty expensive. There's some online sample tests, testing just cropping the image with the DVX100, vs using the anamorphic adapter, and unless your blowing up the image, there's really not that much difference.


"My impression is that the XL1s is more oriented towards shooting great video that will stay on video, while the DVX is oriented towards the film look for the most part. If there is any other camera I should be considering please let me know."

I guess thats one way to put it, but lets be realistic, pretty much the majority people shooting stuff on the DVX100 aren't going to have it blown up to film. I'm not saying the DVX100 isn't a great camera, because it's freakin awesome, but most aren't going to the big screen.


Good luck, I hoped I helped a little bit.
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Old August 3rd, 2003, 09:31 AM   #3
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>>I guess one of my questions would be: it seems like
>>the DVX100 has better overall video quality than
>>the XL1s specswise(and from some user reviews i've read),
>>is this accurate? If so, why the greater price on the XL1s?

Yes, I would say that is accurate imo, especially with the standard video glass.

If I were going to buy a DV camera right now,
and I wasn't shooting wildlife, I would go
with the DVX100. Very nice images.

Why is the XL1 still more money? . . . I would guess interchangable
lens ability and Canon is still selling.
(but imo, canon *video* lens can only resolve 250 lines).
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Old August 3rd, 2003, 11:51 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies...

I've been doing more searching and it looks like the DVX100 is the best option right now, but there seems to be a whole set of cameras coming out in a year or so that might include features like 24p/30p, real 16:9 etc...I guess it comes down to if I am willing to wait....

Jacques mentioned that canon video lens can only resolve 250 lines...i was looking and b&h shows the DVX100 resolving 500 lines while my 'prosumer' TRV950 resolves 530 lines according to specs? Yet the video itself is only 480 lines? I'm confused as to what's the deal with this. Does it really matter if the camera can resolve more than 480 lines if that's all that's going to be shown? Or is this extra data used to make the existing 480 lines look better?

I guess my main question would be this: we've all seen DVD's of movies made on film on a standard TV...what is the reason why a DV CCD camera cannot achieve that same sharpness? The resolution is the same...I know about CCD thermal noise but that seems to create more of a noisy 'granular' effect, not sure if it affects sharpness all that much.

Obviously, if shown on a larger screen that's another matter, but i'm not really sure why film does look so much sharp on a TV than a good set of 3-CCD's that cover the full resolution of the display...

Thanks again,
Juan
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Old August 3rd, 2003, 04:14 PM   #5
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>>Jacques mentioned that canon video lens can only resolve 250 lines.

That is my *guess*. I have not done any resolution chart readings
to verify my claim, but I bet I'm close with it.

>>I was looking and b&h shows the DVX100 resolving 500 lines
>>while my 'prosumer' TRV950 resolves 530 lines according to specs?
>>Yet the video itself is only 480 lines?

The XL1 can also resolve around 500-525(?) lines, but that is the camera
section, not the Canon video glass. When you go with 35mm or film lens,
the XL1 image seems twice as sharp to me.

>>Does it really matter if the camera can resolve more than
>>480 lines if that's all that's going to be shown? Or is this extra
>>data used to make the existing 480 lines look better?

You got it. A wide pulled out shot of a complex scene always looks better
when shot on film. NTSC video wide outs just don't have 'it.'
'It' is all that glorious extra resolution *required* to resolve fine detail.

Have you ever heard of the "Kell factor"?

Go here:
http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/kell.htm
for a good explanation of it and the answer to your question.
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Old August 4th, 2003, 06:53 PM   #6
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Thanks!

That last link was really helpful! Thanks a lot.

My main goal was to get more sharpness from my TRV950 without sacrificing the color quality...the only really drastic option was the new JVC HD camera, which is only a 1-chip camera and from what i've read not really what I'm looking for as far as colors and other features...

So after that, the best choice in my opinion was the DVX100. It should be here in a couple of days. I will be sure to do a comparison with my TRV950, and post it here. I've seen some comparison shots between the DVX100 and a sony VX2000(which is supposed to be better than my TRV950), and the DVX's shots where incredible. All I can say is it looked like 16mm film.

I'm sure about a year from now, there will be some incredible cameras coming out that will make this one look like a prototype :) But until then...

Thanks again!
Juan
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Old August 4th, 2003, 07:51 PM   #7
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Hey Juan,

you're most welcome. Let us know how you like your new baby.
There have been reports on dvinfo.net about the DVX100. One was
a test of various cameras at a NY venue including digital betacam,
dvcams, etc. The DVX100 overwhelmingly
'fooled' the crowd. Most thought it was 16mm until informed.

There is something about 24fps progressive scan that beats "video."
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Old August 20th, 2003, 09:14 PM   #8
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More questions...

I have a couple of questions that might not be directly related to the topics here, but I didn't know where else to ask..

1.When 35mm films are telecine'd to TAPE, and then the tape is used to load the images into an avid machine...is the data on the tape actually used in the final production? Or are the images just used for editing purposes?

My question arises because I don't know what kind of tape could keep up with the quality of film...like if you telecine the film to Betacam SP, isn't this just uncompressed standard component video? Wouldn't the quality be degraded by the fact that the images went through tape? Or maybe there is some really high quality format i'm not aware of...

2.Is there any advantage to recording the output from, say, my DVX100 directly on my computer with an analog capture board without recording to DV tape(i.e. bypassing DV compression)? Or does the video coming out of the analog jacks when the camera is on already DV compressed? This could be useful in reducing(eliminating) compression artifacts for chroma keying, etc.?

Thanks, and sorry if these are dumb q's :)
Juan
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Old August 20th, 2003, 11:55 PM   #9
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The TRV900 and PD100A play back is 470 horizontal lines.

The XL1 play back is 460 lines.

The VX2000 and PD150 play back is 500 lines.

The TRV950, DVX100, play back is over 500 lines.
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Old August 21st, 2003, 12:41 PM   #10
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<<<1.When 35mm films are telecine'd to TAPE, and then the tape is used to load the images into an avid machine...is the data on the tape actually used in the final production? Or are the images just used for editing purposes?>>>

It depends on where and how you plan to deliver the final product.

The video created from film (telecine) can be used for both.

An Avid Film Composer has the ability to take that NTSC 30fps
video created by a telecine from film and use that video to create
an edit decision list for the film splicers who work at 24 fps.
BUT, that video can also be cut to make a TV show.

<<<My question arises because I don't know what kind of tape could keep up with the quality of film...like if you telecine the film to Betacam SP, isn't this just uncompressed standard component video? Wouldn't the quality be degraded by the fact that the images went through tape? Or maybe there is some really high quality format i'm not aware of...>>>

The video created by a telecine is NOT as good a quality as the film itself.
They are just coming out with HD video that has close to film resolution,
BUT in general, *there are two different work flows* for making a film print
for projection and a video television program from film.

<<<2.Is there any advantage to recording the output from, say, my DVX100 directly on my computer with an analog capture board without recording to DV tape(i.e. bypassing DV compression)? Or does the video coming out of the analog jacks when the camera is on already DV compressed? This could be useful in reducing(eliminating) compression artifacts for chroma keying, etc.?>>>

No. The highest quality you have are the digital 0's and 1's that are on your
original miniDV tape. Yes, your image has been
*compressed at about 5:1 in camera*,
BUT that's the best you have. Going out composite or s video
is going to _degrade_ your picture quality further.

For you, the cheapest way to keep the highest quality is to stay
native DV all the way through editing and then "crunch"
the final finished movie sequence into a MPEG 2 file and deliver it
on DVD to the market.
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Old August 26th, 2003, 03:47 PM   #11
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Thanks! + DVX100 stuff

Once again, thanks Jacques...that's a great explanation.

BTW, now that I've been using my DVX100 for several weeks, I can honestly say that I am still in awe of this camera. It has it's (very) small problems, but right now i'm thinking that my only 'dream come true' would be this same machine but with HD CCD's. I couldn't think of anything else to ask from a DV-Cinema oriented Prosumer camcorder.

The footage coming straight out of the camera to a TV looks >at least< like 16mm footage. On a really small TV monitor, I couldn't tell the difference between it and raw 35mm footage...but that's just me.

The important issues I have noted is to immediately jump into the manual settings and play with them to achieve the look that you want. But most important of all is the lighting. I think the few people that have posted less than good reports about this camera, are expecting an instant film look in a badly lit scene. In low light, a CCD is a CCD, and it will look noisy like any other camera. But turn some lights on and adjust the settings, and this camera does some simply incredible stuff....

I wish I had a place to post large files, I have some outdoors 24PA footage taken only with a polarizer that looks amazing.

Cheers,
Juan
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