another (simple) PAL XL2 question... at
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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 12:44 PM   #1
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another (simple) PAL XL2 question...

i'm hoping to use the XL2 (if the quality is there) to make a film that will be transferred to 35mm. my question is so simple that it sounds a bit silly (i don't have any miniDV experience to speak of):

It is my understanding that the reason people in NTSC countries find the PAL XL2 so appealing is because of increased resolution of PAL recordings (I will be shooting in 16:9 format). As I understand it, PAL is able to output higher resolution per frame because they are throwing fewer frames-per-second across the firewire cable (thus keeping bandwidth nearly the same in both instances).

So, the question is: If I am shooting in progressive mode on a PAL XL2 in 16:9, will I get a resolution boost over shooting 24P using an NTSC XL2 or is that only when shooting interlaced or in a non-16:9 format? ?

I would like to buy an NTSC XL2 so that I can, in my case, have a Canon North American warrenty. But if I can get some extra bits to make the transfer to improve the final product even a little bit, then it might be worth it for me to buy it gray market -- but then that begs the question...when (if ever) will B&H carry the PAL XL2? I can walk up to the store and pick an NTSC version today.

Again, I will be transferring to film if all goes well.

Thank you in advance for your replies. - Scott
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 01:02 PM   #2
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Yes, Pal have some increased vertical resolution, 576 pixels vs 480 in NTSC. But you must be aware that if you want to hookup an external monitor to your camera, it must handle PAL format too, and you will have to convert your footage to 24 fps in order to transfert it to film. IMO, you should go with the NTSC version and avoid compatibility and waranty problems.
Jean-Philippe Archibald -
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 01:17 PM   #3
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Jean, the coversion to 24 frames from 25p is easily handled by the company doing the transfer. Swiss Effects and The Orphanage are leaders in that area, and I'm sure someone else can post a list of others. Many people still recomend PAL progressive if the intent is to go to film, but NTSC 24p progressive seems to be good enough for many.

If you plan on using the camera for non film work to help support your lifestyle(weddings,commercials, interviews...), then NTSC is the way to go.

tough call I know.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 12:38 AM   #4
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I don't quite agree with what you said Jean-Philippe. Well obviously it's true for the PAL field monitor but the increased 100 lines or so in resolution are of a big importance when thinking about transfering to film. Since DV is already a low resolution format, you must squeeze every bit of info you can get out of it on the tape and try to preserve as much as you can until it is transfered to film. And that's probably why lots of transfer houses recommend using a PAL camcorder if it's possible and anamorphic lenses (for 4:3 chips without native 16:9).

As for going from 25p to 24p, nothing easier, the footage is just slowed down to 24fps without recompression and quality degradation and the audio also slowed by 4% (this can easily be done with a preserved pitch and quality). Then you still have the option to go to NTSC for DVD/tape release with efficent conversion tools like DVFilm Atlantis.

Again, on a TV set, those 100 lines are probably not worth the hastle, but blown up on 35mm to be shown on a big screen, those 100 extra lines of resolution will be put to great use.

All depends on the use of course. If you do not plan on using the cam for anything else than film transfer or personal projects, where time efficiency is not needed (PAL to NTSC conversion apparently looks good but takes a lot of time with standard softwares), I'd say go for the PAL.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 09:50 AM   #5
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Personally, I can't find any reason why anybody would buy a $5000 "DV" cam when the only purpose you have for it is to blow up to film" YOu won't save money in the long run, and your film qualitiy will suffer for it. Having been a long time DVX100 user, this discussion has been made several times. 99% of people who think they will be transfering to film, never do. So then your stuck with a camera that isn't compatible, without a lot of post work, with all of the TV's and in the country. Sure you can buy a PAL monitor, but do you plan to lug that thing everywhere you go, like a little puppy in a pet carrier? If you live in the US, or another NTSC country, and you are Planning only to go to film EVER, get a nice 16mm Bolex and call it a day. If you live in the US, or another NTSC country and think that someday one of your projects will go to film, don't get a PAL cam just for that. I am actually in the process of blowing up to 35mm, a short film shot with the DVX100a NTSC with the Anamorphic adapter, and truthfully, I couldn't be happier with the results that I have seen. However, I have also logged about 200hrs or so of footage that will never go to the big screen, and really, I can't imaging converting 200hrs of footage from PAL to NTSC, just so I can watch it, or have clients watch it on their own TV's. So again, NTSC land, buy an NTSC camer, PAL land buy a PAL camera for heaven's sake. If your a masachist, and live in NTSC land, buy a PAL camera and call it a night.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:56 AM   #6
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My thoughts exactly. If you KNOW you're going to end up on film, you'll spend the same amount of money but get a much better blowup if you just shoot on film in the first place.

If you think you MIGHT end up on film, then the odds are extremely high that you won't ever end up on film, so why cripple your potential other uses for the camera by buying a specific-purpose cam? Buy a CP16/R or an Eclair, use it, and sell it on ebay for about the same you paid for it, your net camera cost is close to zero. Buy a PAL camera in NTSC land, and then what? Use it for this one project, and then you're stuck with a camera you can't use to make money with, you can't use for shooting home videos, and you can't sell for nearly what you paid for it because your only market for buyers will be across the pond, and why would they buy from some American and pay high shipping when there are lots and lots of cameras to choose from in their own country?

That said, I've blown up DVX/24P/Anamorphic footage to film and it looks completely acceptable. Way, way, way better than "28 Days Later", which was PAL XL1/Frame/16:9. I'm sure the XL2/NTSC/24P will do a superb job of film blowup, probably at least as good as the DVX/24P/Anamorphic and hopefully even better. These cameras provide MORE resolution than a PAL interlaced camera. Yes a PAL DVX or XL2 would provide even a bit more resolution, but the cost/reward factor (in money, hassle, resellability, convenience) starts to really come into question at that point.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:59 AM   #7
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good points


Good points, but it sometimes the choice of equipment can be project-dependent. I, for one, think that miniDV works well for documentary work because you can keep the cam running for 60 - 80 minutes at a time. I think using miniDV reduces the possibility of missing that one quote or reaction that can make the for a great doc (or, even better, a great trailer).

While it is true that the odds of anything I do making it to film are slim, I'd rather plan for success than failure.

Thanks for the feedback thus far, everyone.

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 06:25 PM   #8
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Stefan and Barry have some good points and I agree with them. But I think it all boils down to the usage. I really don't think someone who plans to only do occasional personal work with the cam would suffer from buying a PAL camcorder. DVFilm Atlantis costs $150 and can convert your PAL footage easily to NTSC for the rare occasions you'll want to export the result to tape or DVD. And although 100 lines or resolution isn't the end of the world, it's definitelly an asset when going to film.

Of course, if you have even the sligthest plan to use the camcorder for professional use (which would make sense), then don't buy a PAL version. There is no way it would be worth the hastle. Unfortunatelly us North Americans are stuck with what I consider the lowest quality standard of the two and having to convert all your PAL footage for your clients who will want NTSC would quickly become a nightmare. It would take way too much time for each project to be worth it.

Just to add on the "what is acceptable" issue for film blow up, I'd say it's all a matter of opinion and of course the nature of your project. Was the image from 28 days later good looking? I personally thought it was quite ugly, and there was quite some work done on it in post to boot, but in a way it served well the purpose of the film, where that rough image would complement perfectly that post-apocalyptic environment and really become a positive in the whole viewing experience, not a negative. But then would anybody watch Moulin Rouge with that kind of image? Also if you're wise enough to limit your shots to what DV does best, which is tight shots in a well lit low contrast environment, then you might also increase the odds of getting good results when transfered to film, PAL or NTSC regardless.

Nobody has seen the image of the XL2 shot in progressive and then transfered to film yet, but I would guess it will be much sharper and cleaner than what was possible with the lower resolution and not true progressive scan XL1, so it's not like the NTSC blown to film won't look good, it's just that the PAL blown to film will look better. Whether or not that difference is significant is up to the nature of the project and the expected standards of the one who will shoot the footage.

Scott, in the end I'd suggest to take some good looking footage shot in 24p that will soon be available on the Internet and have a couple of frames blown to 35mm diapo to see if you like the results. If you do, you've solved all your problems and saved money in the process by getting the least expensive version of the XL2. And the difference could be used to rent a nice full manual 16mm zoom lens to get all the sharpness you can get out of that tiny 1/3" CCD.
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