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-   -   20x lens vs 16x manual (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl-gl-series-dv-camcorders/34577-20x-lens-vs-16x-manual.html)

Rachel Oliver November 6th, 2004 06:29 PM

20x lens vs 16x manual

1st off hello this is a great forum.
may I ask opinions on how well the new 20x stock lens for the XL2 holds up against the 16x manual lens. I ask this because I'm very interested in purchasing an XL2 and I come from shooting soley 16mm shorts so the 16x manual lens seems a little more like the lenses I'm used to, easier to pull focus etc not to mention better glass?


David Lach November 6th, 2004 07:21 PM

Not sure about better glass. The 20x lens is definitelly a nice sharp piece of glass, and I cannot find a significant difference between my 14x manual lens and my 20x as far as resolving power is concerned.

But, that being said, the 20x is an automatic lens built for run and gun shooting (AF, IS). That endless spinning focus ring doesn't make it very good for manually pulling focus. If this is your #1 concern, you'll want the 16x manual.

If you don't care about the shortest focal range, servo zoom or built in ND filters, you might also consider the 14x, which is pretty much the same lens without those features. But it is about $400 cheaper and it has full manual iris control, which the 16x does not, as you're forced to use the electronic dial on the XL2 with discreet steps.

Chris Hurd November 6th, 2004 08:05 PM

The 20x actually has better glass; some of its elements are flourite but none are in the 16x.

Mathieu Ghekiere November 6th, 2004 08:14 PM

Although I own none of the two lenses I think the 20x will be significantly sharper (I can't state this, but I thought that was one of the purposes of fluorite?) but I think that if you come from 16mm with complete manual focusing and such, you'll like the manual lens maybe more.

I think others on the board can help you more with this actually, as their knowledge about it is unndoubtly FAR greater, but maybe this helps too, I don't know.

Good luck!

Rachel Oliver November 7th, 2004 06:22 AM


Thanks guys, you've given me much food for thought. Upon hearing that the new 20x is possibly as sharp or sharper than the manuals i'm less concerned about it as I'm sure I can get around the focus ring issues by using my brain! And here in the UK it seems unlikely to find a body only kit.


David Lach November 7th, 2004 01:31 PM

Rachel, if you have the money, it would not be throwing it off the window to buy both lenses (kit with 20x and a manual lens).

Even though I have no idea what you're planing to shoot, let me tell you I'm more and more glad I bought the Canon with the 20x and a 14x manual lens.

Just in my next project, I have 2 shots that will involve huge telephotos, something I cannot get out of my 14X. I have 1 shot that will involve handlheld shooting, and I don't think I could do it to transparently match the rest of the tripod/crane/steadicam footage without the image stabilization of the 20X. I also have 3 shots in which I will be following someone walk in a parc and that person will be going from shadowed to brightly lit spots all the time, so I will absolutely need the 14x to be able to adjust the iris on the fly, something you cannot do well enough with the 20x. I also have a dozen shots in which I will do some focus pulling. That would be impossible without the 14x. Finally, I have maybe 3-4 shots in which there will be a slow crawling zoom on an actor's face. No way I could have done that smoothly with the 14x, so here the 20x will come in handy.

I could go on and on about instances where I will need one lens over the other for specific reasons, but I think you get the point. If you don't have the extra cash however, fear not, the 20x lens is an excellent piece of glass, but it has limitations, like every lens out there (hey that's why we're all crazy about the interchangeable lens feature on the XL2).

Rachel Oliver November 7th, 2004 02:35 PM


Thanks David, funnily enough this is a conclusion I drew after the other guys posts too. I think I'll get the stock lens and then add a manual as and when funds let me. Something that freaked me out in your post was the idea of racking the Fstops on the fly in and out of the shadows, on film I wouldn't dream of this as the lattitude would handle it but is this something you find you need to do alot or is it just your style? Just interested as I would have thought picking an average exposure and locking it would render a more stable look.


David Lach November 7th, 2004 03:07 PM

You can lock an average exposure and it will look fine. If you're used to doing this on film and like the results, there's no reason I can think of to change your habits on the XL2, unless maybe if you select very contrasty settings for your shot or if the difference in lighting is just too steep.

But I find it's always best (and indeed this is personal) to tweak slightly between shadowed and brightly lit areas to get the correct exposure every time, especially on faces. No need to go from F5.6 to F11 every time here. Just a little adjusting, by barely closing/opening the iris. The 14x will allow this in a smoother manner than the 20x or 16x manual lenses.

Of course, since this is video, watch out for highlight clipping. If you change the iris on the fly, you'll want to adjust for the brightest conditions first and work from there.

Mark Sasahara November 10th, 2004 08:49 PM

If you get the 20x standard auto lens be sure to turn the image stabilzation off for most of your shots.

I haven't really used the 20x lens much. I rented an XL2 with both the 16x Manual and the 20x auto lenses this past weekend to see if I really wanted to buy one (I do and I will!). One day was very windy and I totally forgot that I had the image stabilization option because I was shooting with the 16X manual lens. I could have switched from the 16X manual lens to the 20x and used the stabilzation to minimize or probably eliminate any wind buffets. The footage was pretty steady, but it there were a couple of places where I got hit by strong gusts. I am curious to see how it works for moving hand held shots. I hand held some static shots with the stabilization on and zoomed to the far tele end and things looked quite steady compared to stabilization shut off. I'll have to do some more testing once I buy the XL2.

Shaggy Franks November 11th, 2004 05:48 AM

Hi Guys,

So if I understand this correct, the XL2ís 20x Lens is backward compatible with the XL1s right?
And the New function like Focus and Zoom Preset will also work with no Problem.

If that is the case, I just might get one. I think the Preset feature would be a nice neat and helpful function.



If the Glass is as good as the 16, they the 16x has a awesome Quality and Sharp Picture.

Mathieu Ghekiere November 11th, 2004 06:42 AM

If I'm not mistaken, yes the 20x lens is backward compatible with the XL1S.

Matthew C. Abourezk February 18th, 2005 09:14 AM

Well, I just bought the 16x... it should be delivered in a few days and I will be doing a lot of experimenting to compare the 20x to the 16x manual.

For example, can you REALLY switch between the 20x and the 16x and have the image quality (clarity, contrast, etc) match? I will be pleasantly surprised if there is not a huge difference between the video "look" from each lens.

As much as I love the creative freedom I feel when I shoot with an XL series camera, I have NEVER been a fan of the lens operation. There is something wrong about not having a "real" manual focus ring, or a "real" manual zoom ring, like what you find on the XL lenses. Kind of like saying you want to drive a sports car that has automatic transmission. You just miss the tactile part of the experience. In addition, manually zooming or focussing the 20x is really slow compared to a real manual lens.

That said, in a direct contradiction of everything I said above, the XL 3x wide angle is absolutely the BEST lens I have ever shot with. Being a fan of shooting close and at wide angle, when I have the 3x stuck on the front of the camera, I feel like superman... like I can do ANYTHING and the lens will always get the shot.

I am SO looking forward to receiving the 16x manual lens. Although I admit that I am a bit bummed about the 16x not having true Iris control...

I will keep you posted about my findings.

Rachel Oliver February 18th, 2005 09:32 AM


I agree Matt, I finally got the 3x wide and fell in love immediately, even with it's backfocus issues and auto only mode it still gives a cracking image!


Charles Papert February 18th, 2005 09:38 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Rachel Oliver : Something that freaked me out in your post was the idea of racking the Fstops on the fly in and out of the shadows, on film I wouldn't dream of this as the lattitude would handle it >>>

Hi Rachel:

Riding the iris is pretty common in the film world too--not constantly, but usually when a shot will rotate through 180 degrees (front lit to backlit, for instance). I've often buried up to a 3-stop pull in moves and had them virtually indetectable. Leaving it up to the emulsion is possibly especially for something headed straight for telecine, but I wouldn't want to rely on the Hazeltine for executing a delicate exposure ride.

And certainly on video, this sort of thing is a bear because there is no way to bring back overexposure, so you are forced to underexpose the shade side. It's a bit like shooting reversal stock.

Rachel Oliver February 18th, 2005 10:57 AM


Absolutely Mr Papert! I've rarely shot in situations that needed me to do it but your right, it's more common than I made out. I think I was just a little nervous of the new format and the infamous lattitude cut off but so far it's really suprised me actually! Well that and a little help from a Tiffen soft con......


Charles Papert February 18th, 2005 11:26 AM

Cheers Olly...

I'm a fan of the Ultracons meself.

Mark Sasahara February 18th, 2005 10:40 PM

I haven't really intercut the two lenses much, so I don't know how the two compare in sharpness, color rendition, contrast and overall picture.

The 20X should be quite a sharp bit of glass with the flourite and it's a newer design. It doesn't breathe hardly at all compared to the 16x manual lens when you rack focus, but the manual lens gives you a lot more control. The focus and zoom on the auto lens are electro, not mechanical. I did some testing and posted the results:

I have both lenses, but primarily use the 16x manual. If I had to shoot lots of tele stuff, I might switch to the 20x. I have used the 20x hand held with stabilisation to good effect, but it can get a little floaty. It's good if you are static and zoomed way in on someone at a podium. The IS can be helpful and the longer focal lengths.

I will soon be getting the Century .7 W/A converter for the 16X. I have the convertor for the 20x and it's quite nice.

I'd really like to see a 2mm to 40 or 60mm zoom and some T/1.0 primes. That would be cool. And I bet they'd look soooo cute in their little case.

Marty Hudzik February 19th, 2005 01:02 AM

I have been using the 16xmanual lately and it is very sharp. I mounted the .7x wide angle on this unit and it seems to soften the image a bit. Not in a bad way...it almost makes it more film like. With just the 20x or the 16x manual I tend to want to crank down the sharpness of the camera a bit. But with th .7x I don't see the sharpness as much and tend to leave it a t default.

Now none of the images look soft....like out of focus. But some patterns that would normally exhibit moire noise seem to be less "flickery" if you know what I mean.

When you put the .7x out on the end of the 16x manual lens it really starts getting heavy!

Mark Sasahara February 19th, 2005 10:44 PM

Thanks Marty and thanks for the email. I have no doubt that the 16x is sharp, or else I wouldn't use it. I do want to play around with the .7 converter some more.

Still waiting for Canon to make XL2 primes :~). I have been tempted to buy some of the industrial ones and figure out how to make them "film friendly". Probably a lot of $$$$$ to modify them.

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