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-   -   XL2 first impression (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl-gl-series-dv-camcorders/31360-xl2-first-impression.html)

Barry Goyette September 3rd, 2004 11:27 AM

XL2 first impression
the box is very heavy...stay tuned.


Jim Giberti September 3rd, 2004 11:41 AM

Ya know Barry, this is exactly the kind of bad information that gets everyone going. Now there's going to be a long thread over at DVXuser about how the first users compained about unweildly it is. <vbg>. Did you notice any moire on the box, and purple fringing or aliasing on the shipping label? Oh god...now I've started a new thread.

Don Berube September 3rd, 2004 11:48 AM


How about a low light test? Turn off all of the lights in the room - can you still read the shipping label?

- don

Barry Goyette September 3rd, 2004 12:21 PM


actually you can.

Ok, so my first thing was to put the new lens to the test.

-Autozoom is very smooth, with the slowest speed being off-the-chart cool...a nice creepy barely perceptible zoom. Love it.

-Low light focusing. Lens doesn't suffer from the same type of hunting that plagued the 16x auto lens. I used the default speed setting, but this lens seems to focus quickly and smoothly in good light. In a low light difficult situation (designed to cause hunting), the camera does a "micro-hunt" for about a second and then locks on to the subject. Very impressive. It seems to have a more difficult time when the gain is turned up (same lighting and aperture), taking about twice as long to focus. Help it along, and the lens stays locked on your chosen subject. This is worst case scenario...low, low, light with lens zoomed all the way in. This test was performed in a darkened studio with a little light spilling in from a distant skylight.

note: first time I turned the camera to manual focus and then back to auto...I think the camera stayed in manual focus...but it may have been the gain thing (above)...I tried to recreate the problem and the camera went into autofocus just fine...

Viewfinder...big improvement over xl1. Easy to focus, bright, nice layout. Just feels more professional. The flipped up version will make for decent viewing on a tripod.

Ergonomics...I'm not sure if I have it set up quite right yet, but my arm feels a little more cramped than with my xl1s. I'm kinda beefy though, so others may not find this a problem. I like the stop button on the shooting mode wheel...All other controls feel familiar in their placement.

More in a bit.


Jim Giberti September 3rd, 2004 02:42 PM

I had to turn the gain on the box up 12 db to read the label Don, and it was so noisy I had to turn down the stereo...I'm sending it back. But seriously...mine arrived while I was in the middle of a recording session. It's sitting here beside me still in the shipping package...until I finish typing.

The good news it's a nice long weekend to put it through it's paces, and beautiful weather forecast for the farm.

The bad news is construction is finished and this is the long weekend we're using to move into the new building and studios.

The really good news is that it came in time to use on all three of the DVD/movie/documentaries we'll be at for the next 4 months.

I'll post impressions as I get them.

Barry Goyette September 3rd, 2004 03:09 PM


Even though you were just kidding, there does seem to be a lot of noise at 12 db.(I'll have to do a comparison on that later). In progressive you only get 12db of gain...which is plenty, but I was confused at first when the camera kept resetting to 12db everytime I set it to 18db.

Lets see, other thoughts...the tape mechanism is a lot snappier and quieter than the xl1 (or any canon camera I've used).

Autofocusing is definitely a bit slow sometimes in progressive mode, a fact pointed out in the XL2 manual.

XL2 DoF seems to be on par with the DVX in 16:9 mode, a little better than the gl2 in 4:3....about what we should expect.


Guest September 3rd, 2004 04:03 PM

Thanks for the early info Barry, good reading this evening. I'm curious to know if the XL2 is about 2 stops faster than the DVX as you stated. That is a big difference! If so, please let us know if that is in progressive mode at 0db gain.

Barry Goyette September 3rd, 2004 04:45 PM

Don, note that I edited my post (probably right after you read it). It didn't sound right to me at the time, and I shouldn't have said it...as I looked at the footage it was pushing 3 stops, and I just knew that couldn't be right...I had the ND filter on on the DVX...sorry.

It would appear that the two cameras are within about 1/3 stop of each other...

The first results on the still life show that the xl2 4:3 default image is considerably sharper than the default 4:3 dvx100 image. Though this is mainly due to higher in-camera sharpening on the xl2 (which can be turned down), there does seem to be slightly more detail in the xl2 image even at 4:3. Noise levels appear about the same between the two cameras in 4:3. Depth of field is noticeably shallower on the dvx compared to the 4:3 image on the xl2

The 16:9 image off the xl2 is outstanding..it seems to have less sharpening applied, and is silky smooth with almost no noise. It's DoF is on par with the DVX image.

Color is very similar between the two cameras, not nearly as different as the last weeks posts on DVXuser would lead people to believe. (johnnie had a scene file added to his dvx which caused the difference). The blues on the dvx100 seem a bit oversaturated but otherwise the colors would appear to be about the same.

I'm gonna hold off posting images for now...I wan't to run a few more tests. Hopefully tomorrow.


Steve Hagins September 3rd, 2004 04:53 PM



Barry Goyette September 3rd, 2004 05:01 PM


I'll try to make it worth the wait..plus...I want to run all the tests again just to make sure I'm not putting out any more erroneous info. so tomorrow it is.


Phil Johnston September 3rd, 2004 06:02 PM

I note your comments about the viewfinder...on my XL1 many moons ago the viewfinder was the reason I got rid of the camera. Is it a lot sharper and punchier than the XL1...from all accounts its also a lot bigger ?

Yours Phil

David Lach September 3rd, 2004 07:01 PM

I'd love to see some footage shot handheld in 24p with the OIS on, using the whole focal range to do various types of shots (fixe, pan, live zoom, etc.). No matter the subject, I just want to know if the stabilizer is good enough to shoot quality sequences handheld without giving motion sickness to the viewer, and how "intelligently" it reacts to wanted motion vs unwanted motion.

Josh Allen September 3rd, 2004 08:06 PM

Congrats on the new camera Barry. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Keep the reviews coming.

Bill Anderson September 4th, 2004 10:06 AM

Barry, you mention "in camera sharpening... it can be turned down"
You mean the in camera sharpening is applied as default setting?

Barry Goyette September 4th, 2004 10:26 AM

So I took the camera out yesterday afternoon. I went out to the beach and shot some casual footage of the surfers, waves and beachgoers. Upon returning home, my girl and I popped open a bottle of mystery Syrah, and watched the tape. Here is what I learned

Image quality.
We were viewing the footage on a 34" sony Wega HD set. The footage I shot was primarily in 16:9, stretched manually by the monitor. Well, all I can say is I've never seen anything like it. Viewed from about 10 feet the image was remarkably detailed...but when I got close to the monitor there was almost no evidence of the sharpening, noise, and aliasing that I expected to see (from viewing a SD-DV source on a HD monitor). Much of the footage was relatively backlit surfer-in-the- water stuff, and so it had very high contrast edges...I thought for sure that this would bring out the aliasing that "the famous cinematographer" spoke of in his "report" from dvexpo. Sorry (ok, happy) to say...I have never seen a cleaner, more HD like image projected on my HD set...not from my dvx, xl1s, gl2 or the compressed streams off of DirecTV. The color seems natural, the contrast about what you'd hope for.

By accident I popped in a 2 week old tape taken from the same vantage points on my xl1s...the difference between the two camera's is, shall we say, huge.

I previously stated that the viewfinder is a big improvement, and it is. My first comments, however, were based on viewing the image in 4:3. When I switched the camera over to 16:9, I was at first excited to see that it was not the squeezed image I expected to see, but rather a nicely letterboxed 16:9 image. Well the process of cropping to about 60% of the viewfinder has unfortunately made this camera about as hard (maybe harder) to focus as the xl1s, when you are in 16:9 mode. I'm not sure whether this viewfinder image is changeable to the squeezed image (I'll check), but seeing as many users would probably want to shoot in 16:9, it would behoove canon to make this an option in a firmware upgrade if it is possible.

I haven't done any definitive testing, comparing the new 20x lens to the old 16x or the manual 16x...but my first impression is ---WOW. I don't know haw much of what I'm seeing is lens, and how much is chip, but whatever...the detail of the two together is stunning.

I'll be honest. I bought my xl1s when it came out, but for the most part it has been like a trophy in my camera safe, sitting there unused for all but a few hours of its life. I bought it because it allowed some functionality that no other camcorders in this category did. Unfortunately, the image quality was never what I had hoped it would be, and so it took the back seat to my gl2 and dvx100...I only brought it out when I needed a good motorized zoom, or to use the manual lens. I always felt bad that I bought a camera that had such great features, but I never used them because I didn't like the image.

One of the reasons I bought the xl2 so quickly was to make up for all of that. All I hoped for was that I would get a camera that was at close to the quality of the dvx100, so I would have more options when shooting a project. To be blunt, my expectations for this camera have been largely surpassed. In my limited experience with the camera so far, I think that canon has pulled 5 aces out of its sleeve. I'll continue with reports as time allows, and hopefully I'll be able to post some stuff today before I leave for the weekend.


Barry Goyette September 4th, 2004 10:34 AM


Like the xl1s and gl2 (and probably every other 3 chip camcorder) on the market, Canon applies a certain amount of sharpening at it's default setting. This typically makes the image look "better" on a SD monitor, but can show artifacting when viewed on a computer, or HD monitor.

All the canon semipro cameras offer control of this sharpening in -I think- 6 steps of increase and decrease from the default level.

I haven't experimented with any of this yet...I'm still trying to get a feeling for the default settings on the camera. Initially my recommendation would be to decrease the sharpening a few notches in 4:3 mode. 16:9 seems to be about perfect when set at default.


Mark Grgurev September 4th, 2004 11:09 AM

I would love to see some of that beach footage.

Aaron Shaw September 4th, 2004 11:26 AM

This is good to hear! Sounds like a wonderful successor to the XL1!

The detailed reports have been most useful. Looking forward to footage!

Chris Hurd September 4th, 2004 11:38 AM

You know I'd be happy to host some video for you Barry, if you need the server space. Just let me know.

Don Berube September 4th, 2004 12:06 PM

David Lach wrote:
>>>>>>>>I'd love to see some footage shot handheld in 24p with the OIS on, using the whole focal range to do various types of shots (fixe, pan, live zoom, etc.). No matter the subject, I just want to know if the stabilizer is good enough to shoot quality sequences handheld without giving motion sickness to the viewer, and how "intelligently" it reacts to wanted motion vs unwanted motion.

David, there is such footage already available for you to view. Have you not yet seen the footage of Vienna, Austria that Johnnie Behiri shot? http://www.dvxuser.com/articles/FirstXl2

As I understand, much of this footage was shot by himself with virtually no tripod at all and no crew, no big HMI lights, no permits, no PA's with walkie talkies, no big budget, etc. Strictly run and gun. Johnnie had the demo XL2 in his hands for only a couple days, but I think he did a super job at providing us a solid example of what to expect. http://www.24puser.com/XL2Video.wmv

I'd say to definitely take the time to download the "nightime" footage http://www.24puser.com/nightxl2.wmv You'll see not only fine run and gun shots but also the strengths of the clean low-light capabilities of the XL2. Johnnie is an experienced ENG shooter and his skill at acquiring wonderful b-roll and people shots is evident in the footage.

Let us know, ok David?

- don

Barry Goyette September 4th, 2004 12:19 PM

David, Don

Just from the impression side, I have to say that the OIS seems very impressive to me. I shot a little handheld at the beach zoomed to 20x, and it was very stable (and I'm not!)... a little floaty, but in a nice way...the OIS on the xl2 really is really noticeable that it is doing something at controlling larger movements, not just the jittery micro-movement that we don't know is there until we turn it off. Conversely, all my tripod stuff that I shot yesterday had the OIS turned on, and I didn't see any wandering to speak of.


David Lach September 4th, 2004 12:50 PM

Thanks for the info Barry, I was indeed wondering about the use of the OIS with a tripod as this is often an ugly combinaison.

Don, thank you for the link, I had not seen it yet since the last time I tried downloading the link didn't work. It is a quality run and gun OIS lens no doubt. Very sharp and although a bit floaty with the OIS on, certainly not in an unpleasant way. This seems like the perfect run and gun lens (especially with that neverending telephoto) for journalists and documentary filmmakers.

And you're right, stunning to say the least in low light. I sure wasn't expecting that. This camcorder might be the last SD from Canon before taking the HDV plunge, but that doesn't mean it's not a major improvment over anything on the market right now. I sure have no remaining doubts about buying this little gem. All that remains for me to do is figuring the lens combo I'll be using.

Steve Hagins September 4th, 2004 03:02 PM

Thanks Barry
Your info is great, however I could no longer wait for footage....
Had to go buy one myself! Hehe

Marty Hudzik September 4th, 2004 03:24 PM

I got mine yesterday and haven't gotten to do much testing just yet. OVerall it is well made camera and I like it. BUt coming from my DVX100 (XL! prior to that) I am a little uncomfortable with the body style. I mean...I knew what it would be like but I haven;t held the XL1 in over 2 years. I have longed for an XL series cam that did 24p the entire time I had the DVX. Now that I have it it feels wierd! Not bad. JUst need to get used to it again. I will post impressions soon. However for others who have it I have a few questions.

1) When I am in a quiet room and have the unit up on my shoulder I can hear a "ticking, clicking sound" coming out of th camera right next to my ear (no tape inserted so not tape noise). I actually sounds similar to a laptop hard drive seeking data. It is there quietly and when I do a zoom it gets even louder. Anyone else hearing this?

2) so far in my hour or so of playing with the thing I absolutely hate the iris switch! I thought that it would increment up or down faster when you held it in place. It moves too slow! If I have a person moving from a bright source into a dark source I want to be able to get from 6.0 to 1.8 in an instant. As I see it now it takes 2-3 seconds to increment across that range! I hope I just need to find a menu setting to change the speed. But as of this moment I am not liking this. Anyone finding the saem or found a fix?

Disclaimer: I have barely used it so all of my very first opinions are subject to change. I may have to get used to it.

Barry Goyette September 4th, 2004 03:59 PM


I've heard the sound you mentioned....I think its the autofocus...but I'm not sure...I'll give it a whirl and see if I can figure it out. So far I haven't heard it come through on the tape, but I was at the beach so...

I'm going to agree with you somewhat on the iris switch...I'm not a run and gun type so it doesn't effect me as much. But the simple iris wheel from the xl1 and dvx I think is a better solution, short of a control on the lens.

congratulations...I guess I should thank for for earning me my first 5 Canon All star points...when I get to 1000 I get a free tape cleaner.


Steve Hagins September 4th, 2004 04:09 PM

best program to capture video from our new camera?
I've never used widescreen or 24p before. You guys recommend anything?

Marty Hudzik September 4th, 2004 04:17 PM

I would think that this iris thing is more of an issue in a controlled drama type environment. Where you plan for and actually make adjustments to the iris on the fly for artistice reasons as well. I was hoping that there is setting to change the speed.

Also...I went out and shot some footage in my yard. A hawk was cornered in a tree and was being badgered by some bluejays. I though I was in focus in the viewfinder. When I watched on my TV the focus was very soft. Same on a scene where I zoomed into the numbers on my mailbox. Looked sharp in viewfinder.....soft on TV. This was in 4x3 mode. I had a very bad experience with soft focus issue with the XL1 and loved the DVX. I could always tell when I was in focus.

Also...the colors seems a bit.....muted. I am finding everything is kind of greyish for lack of a better word. It is not really overcast and the grass is a deep blue but from the XL2 it seems pale......kinda private ryan like but not as much. I am a little worried.

I am simply shooting in manual mode and really have left all of the defaults as is. 24p of course. Hope I figure it out! Cause I am not feeling warm and fuzzy inside right now.

And for the record I am wanting to love this camera so much! I am not in anyway trying to nitpick. But certain things are standing out to me as odd.

Aaron Koolen September 4th, 2004 04:31 PM

Marty, is the iris switch like that little flick switch on the GL2? You sort of flick it up or down?


Barry Goyette September 4th, 2004 05:20 PM


you'll capture your footage normally as this is simply a normal DV stream...afterwords you'll convert the footage to 16:9 in the software (final cut pro, or qt pro do this) for viewing on the web, or most televisions will convert it for you.

Aaron...it's just like the one on the gl2.

Marty....I've done some side by sides with the DVX100 (not the A version) with both cameras at default...the saturation on both cameras is virtually identical, and certainly within range of each's in camera controls. (I'll post stills soon.)

If you aren't doing this already...a good way to focus any DV camera is too zoom in all the way, focus and then back out and reframe. The at 20x the zoom on the xl2 requires exponentially more accurate focusing than the DVX100's 10x lens.


Barry Goyette September 4th, 2004 07:34 PM

Frame Grabs from XL2 and DVX posted
Ok. these aren't too exciting but they do provide a decent side by side comparison of the DVX and XL2 images.

Both cameras were set to default settings. Manually white balanced. Exposure was approximately f4.4 1/30 sec. Cameras were in 30p mode. Light source is daylight filtered through a skylight (glass).


Here are my observations

color on the two cameras is very similar, with the yellows on the xl2 running slightly red (part of this is due to the exposure difference detailed on the photo page). The DVX oversaturates deep blues...see the vase at center.

Both cameras slightly over-saturated the scene, this could be due to my setting the zebras at a level for minimal highlight blowout to occur.

In 4:3 mode the xl2 adds a slightly more aggressive sharpening compared to the DVX. With a prononced halo in some situations. in 4:3 mode the XL2 appears to resolve slightly greater detail. In 16:9 mode xl2 resolves substantially greater detail.

Contrast is similar between the two cameras.

I'll try to have some full resolution footage up tonite (.mac uploads take awhile, so be patient)


Barry Goyette September 4th, 2004 08:19 PM

XL2 full resolution footage posted
The full resolution footage is up on my .mac public folder...you can access it here.


If you have problems downloading it, it is also available on an Imovie viewing page (see top of page)

The shots were made at Pismo Beach, California on friday afternoon. You can see from the first shot that an inversion layer was settling in, which accounts for the lack of color in most of the images...

Lens used was the 20x Is-II lens. All shots were made with the camera set to defaults, manual exposure, and autofocus. 30p mode was used in the 16;9 aspect ratio.

I highly recommend that you download this to tape and take your vtr down to Best Buy and watch it on the biggest HD set they have!!


I'm off to San Diego for some R&R. Hopefully I'll come back with a little XL2 Shamu!

Mark Grgurev September 4th, 2004 09:15 PM

Barry, that was awesome footage!!!

Jaime Valles September 4th, 2004 09:55 PM

That looks great, Barry! Very impressive. Thanks for the footage.

Greg Boston September 4th, 2004 10:44 PM


How far away were you from the bird to get that full headshot? Was it a full 20X to pull him in?

Just curious. Thanks for posting the footage.


Antoine Fabi September 4th, 2004 11:32 PM


is it possible for you to compare footage with the DVX100A, because there is a significant difference between the DVX100 and the DVX100A (color and dynamic range).

The XL2 looks better in 16:9 than in 4:3.
I think you're right, in 4:3 mode i see a edge enhancement (sharpening).
The 16:9 is smoother, more natural luma and chroma.

do you remember what was the vertical detail setting ?


Greg Matty September 4th, 2004 11:56 PM


Regarding your still life frames of the dolls and vase:

The 16:9 image shows the tops of the vase being cropped. I always thought 16:9 was like a wider angle lens so to speak that squeezed additional horizontal information into the frame as opposed to removing vertical information.

Any chance someone can explain this to me since I now have no idea how this 16:9 on a 4:3 DV tape works???


P.S. Can someone tell me what FCP settings I need to use to get this video to play back without rendering? I have the sequence set to 16:9 and also flagged the video clip as anamorphic. I still get the red render bar!!!???

Rich Lee September 5th, 2004 01:48 AM

Yeah, the difference between the 16/9 and 4/3 stills have me stumped as well.

framing wise it looks like any sort of 16/9 frame you would get from any other dv cam that will do a crop and stretch.

would definitly like so more info on this.....

Marty Hudzik September 5th, 2004 02:50 AM

I'm guessing he reframed when in 16x9 mode to try to match the original shot horizontally. I have the XL2 and can verify that when I aim at a target in 4x3 and then switch to 16x9 the field of view definitely increases. I can see 33% more area horizontally without touhing the zoom.

Robin Davies-Rollinson September 5th, 2004 02:57 AM

Agreed on that Marty. You can see the effect here:


There's quite a difference!


Rob Lohman September 5th, 2004 03:17 AM

Greg (and others): the camera was just positioned differently or
more zoomed in for the 16x9 shot. It will definitely increase
horizontally when going from 4:3 to 16:9.

Tape is not 4:3. Tape is tape. In this case a digital DV signal is
layed down to tape. This signal will ALWAYS be 720x480 @ 29.97
fps for NTSC. Whether it is interlaced (I'm not saying your footage
is turning into progressive this way!), 24p or 16:9.

16:9 simply uses a different pixel aspect ratio but it is still reduced
to 720x480 (for NTSC). The increase in resolution (after encoded
to DV) is in the vertical, not horizontal (although it will probably
benefit from the increased CCD resolution to get a better detailed

Also see the following thread if you are going to watch the beach
footage on your computer:


p.s. it looks like the movie has been saved with the high quality
flag already enabled. So you might not need to set it, but good
to check it anyway!

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