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Guest Pete Wright

Newly Announced Canon XL2 vs. Varicam

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Guest Frank Miller

Hi,

 

I'm a long time reader, and today first time poster.

 

Pete, you should get your hands on the camera before making these statements. How can you compare this little consumer camera to Varicam?

 

I don't know if any of you here, besides Mr. Gross, had a chance to check the camera at the DV Expo. I went there and spent couple hours checking the camera. I own Panasonic DVX100A and Canon XL1s and I did bring with me the Canon wide angle zoom and manual 16x zoom.

 

This is what I found:

 

Mr. Gross is correct of the serious aliasing in the demo footage and when I tested the camera itself. Panasonic DVX100A is a better camera and does have better picture quality. It also has better low light performance, better controls, handles better, has a sharp lens with nice wide angle range.

 

When it comes to Varicam, I used it once to shoot a music video and I must tell you that there is a big difference between DVX and Varicam picture quality. No one should even try to compare these two cameras.

 

XL2 picture improvement over XL1s? It exists, but it's nothing spectacular.

 

This is what I found out:

 

The new zoom lens is very nice and very sharp, but does not have wide angle range.

 

The two existing Canon lenses don't seem to be sharp enough. I did check the camera in both wide screen and normal modes. Actaually the sharpness was a little worse in the normal mode. Still, even in the wide mode, the new zoom gives you sharper picture.

 

I disagree with Mr. Gross about the color. It's well adjustable.

 

Would I recommend this camera to anyone? NO!

 

Pete, you can't do some theoretical comparison going by specs and formats, and try to do some wierd calculations. You need to put a camera and lenses through actual testing. It's the only way to check their performance.

 

Pete, sorry if I'm harsh, but this is reality that you gain with experience. Could you please tell me what is this Juan's DVX modification you're talking about, where can I read something about it, and where can I get it done? Does it void warranty?

 

Have a nice day,

 

Frank Miller

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Guest Pete Wright
Pete, where are you getting your lens resolution numbers from? 907 lines across the chip does not equal 907 lines on a lens spec sheet, not even close. Optical system resolution is usually measured in lines/mm.

 

 

I just realize that 960x540 is 1/2 of 1920x1080 resolution
more like 1/2 of 1/2 ie., 1/4. That was a pretty simple equation so please don't be telling us
I'm done talking to you about this. If you can't do the math, don't tell me to look up how to do it elsewhere.
Yes, your maths are flawed.

John,

 

I know that resolution is measured in lines/mm. I saw the Canon lenses tested somewhere in horizontal lines accross the CCD frame. Hurd, the guy who works in Canon booths, also quoted it as 600-650 lines. That is accross the frame.

 

960x540 is 1/2 resolution of 1920x1080. 4x less pixels, but resolution is refered to one dimention, not to area, which are 2 dimentions.

 

Sorry, my math is not flawed. I've always been good in math.

 

 

Frank,

 

So why would it be wrong to do the calcs? At least they explain what you found. What you found is interesting and it could have been expected.

 

The Canon would not be a bargain even if the wide angle lens was sharp and there were no image problems. You just have to have the wide angle. The camera with the wide angle and the new zoom costs nearly 2x as much as the DVX,

 

I agree that the Varicam reference was wrong.

 

Pete

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Guest Daniel J. Ashley-Smith

Sure it's great that the camera has 24p and 30p, but what?s the point in having it 24p? It only means that it's built for cinema, to be played on normal TV it would have to be converted, which wouldn't be perfect. I mean, cinema isn't the standard way of watching things, TV is. Why build it for cinema and have to convert it for TV? It should be kept the other way shouldn't it?

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>>Sure it's great that the camera has 24p and 30p, but what?s the point in having

>>it 24p?

 

(a) It can be transferred to film quite easily, and (b) it is the only way to get that framerate and have it look proper. When shooting NTSC, extracting a 24P stream is possible using several different techniques, but none of them look nearly as good as a true 24P stream. PAL cameras are a bit easier, as one can simply deinterlace the interlaced stream and be left with 25P, which can be slowed to 24P rather easily, but again, you lose a lot of resolution in the deinterlacing stage.

 

 

>>I mean, cinema isn't the standard way of watching things, TV is. Why build it for

>>cinema and have to convert it for TV? It should be kept the other way shouldn't

>>it?

 

No, since it is much easier to do it the current way, and the results would not be as high quality if the process is reversed.

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We're all used to seeing 24 fps movies on 60i NTSC monitors, so 24P-to-60i is familiar to us, but converting 30P to 24 frames for transfer to film does not work as well.

 

24P, 25P, 50i, and 60i capture all convert to 24 frames better than 30P, which is the worst frame rate for conversion out of all of them because 30 whole motion samples is so close to 24 but not close enough to allow a 1:1 transfer (as 25P does.) 60i capture gives you 60 motion samples to convert to 24, so you have some chance of hiding the motion problems. But with 30 reduced to 24, you tend to see the jumps.

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Hi,

 

The main reason for shooting in any 24p format has to be ubiquity. It's the one format that's accepted throughout the world, mainly because film is the same everywhere in the world and all the local TV systems have to be able to deal with it. It's not particularly easy to handle - there's a conversion step between it and any TV standard in the world - but that's been made pretty easy now, and at least that step exists without making it look horrible. You know how bad American TV looks when shown in the UK? That's what happens when you get it wrong and end up trying to do some conversion that doesn't really work. Hideous. 24p on the other hand will cleanly convert to anything.

 

Phil

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Guest Pete Wright

I don't know if anyone noticed but this is an HDV ready camcorder.

 

It is SD but emplous the pixels shift technology so the CCD block is good enough for at least 720p resolution.

 

This camcorder employs heavily Matsushita technology (Panasonic, JVC).

 

If the chips were made for this camcorder, there would be no need to use pixel shift, or as dense CCD's.

 

So we can expect is to see a camcorder with the same CCD block, but under JVC label. It will probably happen in couple months or so. JVC said that they will introduce a new better HDV model before the new $20,000 HDV camera. That one was to be introduced later this year.

 

The XL2 features are a good hint that the two future HDV camcorders (JVC first, Canon later) will likely have 720/24p mode.

 

The new 20x zoom has most likely HD resolution. We can expect new sharp wide angle zoom too.

 

Pete

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Pete, I'd like to know where you're getting your information. Because it sure doesn't match what I know. Sounds like a bunch of partial truths and internet rumors combined.

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Guest Pete Wright

Hey Mitch,

 

No rumors. There is a guy that does training on HD10U for JVC. he does it throughout the country. That is what he said right after NAB about the the two cameras that JVC will be introducing; he has it straight from JVC and is rvery reputable. He's the first one who broke the news of the $20,000 HDV prototype. I think he's also repping for them somewhere on the West Coast. I would not trust anyone else.

 

As to Canon using Matsushita technology in their cameras? Canon cameras always used Sony and Matsushita technology in their video cameras.

 

As to the Canon CCD block being HDV ready; I figured that out myself. I think it's 100% obvious, only no one thought about it. It is capable of produce higher than 720p resolution, due to the pixel shift. Even without the shift, the 3 CCD's would produce resolution that is equal to HD10.

 

There are a lot of rumors though that are not substantiated at all. I ignore those fully. There was one I read on one site that makes sense and that is that the HDV camp has a hard time producing decent HDV camcorder because of the limited recording stream of the format. I have not repeated this rumor, although it makes sense. I'm just giving it here as an example.

 

As to the lenses, we all know that Canon will be introducing an HDV camera, just like Sony. And I think that it is obvious that they will not be the first one, since they always use someone else's technology. So if they make a new lens for a camera that has an HDV ready CCD block, it would only make sense that the lens has HD resolution. I did not say it has it; I said that it most likely has it.

 

Why do I think that there will be wide angle HD resolution lens? Because Canon needs one. Normal to extreme telephoto is not enough. The DVX camera has a lot better range. You can do in film without extreme telephoto, not without wide angle. XL2 is sold as movimaker's tool.

 

As to Canon using Matsushita technology; they use their CCDs in XL1, XL1s, and in the new XL2. They use the same recording scheme as the DVX.

 

I trust what some people say, just like I trusted your opinion on the camera. I did not consider that to be a rumor; I don't think anyone else on this board would. But I disregard 95% other stuff I hear.

 

Pete

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Hi,

 

Yes, and because all oranges are round, and my beach ball is round, my beach ball is obviously an orange.

 

Phil

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Guest Pete Wright

There is this guy and he sees all the oranges and they taste like oranges but he does not recognize them as oranges because they are not stamped "oranges" only "Sunkist" and his therapist told him...

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You know, it's not always necessary to form a strong opinion on something new that you haven't seen or tried yourself -- you can take a wait-and-see attitude...

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Guest Pete Wright

Hey guys,

 

I'm in a market to buy a camera, so I naturally need to form a strong opinion.

 

I checked the net and there is all kinds of information that the 3x wide angle is not performing well even on the XL1. Here are couple of many comments:

 

I still have Xl1 with the 3x, however it seemed to give the image a very slight blur look.

 

it can get a little edge fuzz at open aperture.

 

So if the lens had problems with the old camera, it will be a worse with the new camera. So you have a camera that does not even have a usable wide angle lens.

 

Pete

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Guest Pete Wright

http://www.simplydv.co.uk/Reviews/canon_xl2.html

 

Here are is a review of the camera, with frame grabs. Just click on the pictures. It's the PAL version. The NTSC model had serous aliasing. Does the PAL model have it? Can you determine from these pictures. I guess some high contrast lines would be better to judge.

 

How does it compare to the image od SDX and DVX, from what you can tell? How does it compare it to Varicam? How much better do you think Varicam image would be?

 

If these images indicate good enough quality, and I think they do, then the wide angle is the only issue. Maybe Century Optics has a good wide angle adapter that could be used with the new 20x lens. Does anyone know if that would be an acceptable solution? How much do these cost? I guess it would also depend on performance of the 20x at it's shortest setting. Do you Mitch, or anyone, remember how the lens poerformed in its widest setting?

 

It seems that maybe the PAL model with a wide angle adapter could be very usable. Or would the DVX still have a better picture? The PAL model is 720x576 pixels. Varicam is 960x720. It is 4:2:2, but has 6.7 or something compression. The Canon is 4:2:0 with 5:1 compression.

 

All opinions would be appreciated.

 

Thanks,

 

Pete

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Can't really tell you much about the 20x lens as I was too busy analyzing the camera. It seemed fairly sharp but I would need to evaluate it properly on a focus chart to really know. I did notice that it lost at least a stop of light as it zoomed in but this is fairly common of cheap video zooms and it is noted in the Canon literature. I was just surprised by how much it lost, but then again it is a 20x so there have to be some compromises.

 

Pete, you're still comparing the XL2 to the Varicam. I thought you had agreed that it is a completely inappropriate comparison. Even if the PAL version of the XL@ performs exceedingly well it will never compare favorably with the Varicam. They are simply vastly different machines working in vastly different scales.

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Guest Pete Wright

thank you Mitch

 

pete

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I've owned two XL-1s for over 5 years and I've just recently started shooting with the Varicam and on occaasion the DVX-100.

 

First off it dosen't cost $114,000 to use the varicam. The new 1200A ($27K) deck from pannasonic allows me to capture straight into FCP via firewire. Not to mention that it will play all DVC pro, DV Cam and Mini-DV tapes. It will also pull the frame rate info for under / over cranking, no need for a frame rate converter.

 

The problem with the XL-2 is that it's still a handycam. Personally I've come to require a full featured broadcast camera. Also, the only way for me to do a music video without film is the varicam, it's the only slow motion out there. I can run it at hatever frame rate I want. And it looks great.

 

In short, I love the XL-1. Shot all over the world with it, it the most durable little camera I've ever used. But it just cant be compared to the varicam.

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When I read about people reccomending using an SD camera of any type for indie film-making, or as "being the camera of choice" for that purpose. I wonder if they have ever seen SD footage blown up to a 40' (or even a 12') screen, and compared it with similar HD or 35mm footage. The difference is night and day, and very plain for anyone with reasonably good eyesight to see. 720*480 pixels is just not enough to provide anywhere close to the image detail that we are used to seeing on a large screen projected 35mm film. It may look great on a 20" television set, but blow it up and you see that faces lack detail (unless in close-up), edges are blurry, and pixelation is very evident, just to name a few of the vey obvious problems. If this is acceptable to you as a film-maker, then I just hope that your script is so rivetting, and the acting so compelling that your audience will be blind to the obvious lack of visual quality that you have chosen to offer them to save money. If you really believe in your film, or even care even a tad for the quality of what you will ask an audience to pay to see, you will do the comparisons and somehow find a way to come up with the money to rent an HD camera or (if you're really lucky) film on 35mm, it probably won't be the largest expense on the film.

The XL2 is an SD camera, and probably quite a good one. SD can look very nice on small TV screens, but please don't try to pretend that SD can look like HD or 35mm when projected in a theater.

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Guest Pete Wright

Paul, you own the JVC HDV camera and you posted in other forums about it's "good" image qualities. I disagree.

 

PAL SD is 720x576 pixels, XL2 is compressed about as much as Varicam, SDX 900 is 50% less compressed.

 

HD Varicam is 960x720 pixels, compressed about 6.5:1; HD10 is the same resolution, compressed 17.5:1, without usable manual controls, and with edge enhancement.

 

You can enlarge the image of the Varicam just a little more than that of SDX900.

 

HD10? Forget it. XL2 image should be significantly better.

 

All these cameras are progressive.

 

Varicam is hardly sold in Europe because the difference between that and PAL SD is not that great.

 

Just because it is HD does not mean that it will look better on a large screen than SD.

 

Pete

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Hi Pete,

I do own the JVC HDV camera, I also an Ikegami HLDV7W, which is comparable or superior to a Sony DSR-570 WS, a professional level ENG camera, but it is an SD camera. The Ikegami's picture is superb on a small screen, but blow it up to anything larger than about 40" and the picture starts to fall apart, purely due to the lack of resolution that was recorded on tape. I've done a lot of side by side comparisons with the two cameras, and the difference is quite evident to anyone. I do not think the XL2's picture will be superior to a DSR-570 so I've no reason to think that the results would be any different with tha camera.

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Just to continue from my last post. I'm not trying to say that resolution is the be all and end all of picture quality, it's not. The Ikegami obviously has far superior color rendition than the JVC HDV cam, and the XL2 probably will have also, and it will also have 24p motion, which is more cinematic than 60i. My point is that when it comes to projecting on a large screen, resolution and image detail is (to me) the number one factor in producing something that can be compared to what we are used to seeing in 35mm projected film. I'm just talking about getting somewhere in the ball park here, and to me SD resolution, when it is projected on a large screen doesn't even come close. It is so obviously inferior through it's lack of detail, that I wouldn't choose to use it for that purpose. You may choose to agree or disagree with that, but I know that it is very obvious to the average viewer when you show them both side by side, as I've done.

 

All the best,

 

Paul

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B) Pete is right on all accounts. I can't believe you other guys. DV and HDV are a community, not some whiney group of wankers. I live in England and I was at the NAB when Sony rented out the MGM Grand's theatre and showed side by side 25p 50mbs 4:2:2 pal side by side with thier HD solution. No one could believe that the SD looked more like images captured on film than the HD. The HD actually looked too clean, like watching a very large television monitor. It was freaky. But SD looked just like film. Actually I took the trouble of watching a Disney film right before the show on a theatre of the same size so I could compare. It was inspiring. The American 900 SDX 24p should be pretty close, but if you have to have something to whine about, just get the PAL version and be comforted.

By the way, the XL2 does not use the entire surface of its tiny 1/3" ccd array. The lenses have a blow-up factor and that is why they get the 20x "improved" telephoto stats. The CCDs are not true 16x9 like real cameras and now it doesn't even have native 4x3 ccds either. And the lenses are not designed for the reduced chip size. All in all I think it sucks. As for shooting side by side with the Varicam, I have shot and seen xl1s footage beside the sdx900 and the varicam and know Stuart English personally and I can say that the Canon is a laughing joke. Save your money and get the Panasonic 100a!

Thanks Pete, I really enjoyed your posts!

Boguskitty.

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Pete is right on all accounts.

 

But SD looked just like film.

 

Thanks Pete, I really enjoyed your posts!

 

I really enjoyed your post, Pete! Sorry, I mean Boguskitty... :D

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Guest Frank Miller

XL2 PAL appears to have some serious image problems. I've seen the NTSC version at NAB. It did have aliasing problems. Now if you check the dvinfo thread, there is some magazine in England that is testing the PAL camera for a week and the image has some serious artifacts.

 

There is nothing special about the Varicam. It is too overated. Not all standard definition is the same. Not all HD is the same. There are various levels. The Varicam records less than the min HD level and is very close to PAL SD. This man Pete is correct. He is one of the few memebers here with some vision.

 

There will be some new HDV cameras coming out soon. It is correct what was written. If you go to the following thread in dvinfo, you can read about it: HDV cameras, thread on 16:9 - 4:3. There is a thread of a guy named Hubrich that has the inside info. The new HDV JVC cameras are on par with Varicam, at a fraction of the cost. Pete is correct. This man Hubrich is a major software developer for HDV.

 

Frank

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