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Tim Carroll

XL2 Finally Released!

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Canon has announced the XL2, the long awaited replacement for the XL1S, and it looks pretty impressive from the spec sheet. Will be interesting to read the first reviews.

 

True 16:9 CCD's

24P recording mode

Adjustable Gamma

Compatible with all previous lenses

XLR audio inputs

New Florite coated lens, Canon L Series

 

Can't wait to get my hands on one to see how it really works.

 

-Tim Carroll

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Don't be so fast, noone has seen the camera in action yet. So far, I still have a lot of questions in regards to the XL2 before I even consider it.

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Who's being so fast. If you read my post carefully, I said it looks impressive from the spec sheet, and then said I'm interested in reading some of the first reviews and I would love to get my hands on one, so I can see if it is all that it is promoted to be.

 

Have been using an XL1S for two and a half years now and it's a great camera. Hope the XL2 lives up to it and we don't have to wait for the XL2S.

 

-Tim Carroll

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I'm just curious as to what the price will be. From the specs it sounds like a good camera. However, are they going to up the ante cost wise (which would probably send more people over to the DVX100a).

 

I would have really liked to see HDV capability with the camera. The tagline is "intentionally overengineered" but it doesn't really look like that to me. It seems like they took the step up to catch up with the DVX and then said: "Lets just make it a little better."

 

And you can add film grain in camera? Screw that! Thats just a toy. Who would really want to adulterate the picture in camera? I'm sure that someone is going to find neat little applications for all these different film look features (and I'm sure if one is creative enough good results could be produced) but I think once people start getting their hands on it there is going to be this surge of over-grained, badly shot "films" coming from a whole new set of filmmakers.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the camera (kinda pissed cause I've only had my XL1s for a couple of years now), and I can't wait to use one -- but I still think they could have taken the camera a step further if they are going to use "Intentionally Overengineered" as their slogan.

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I'm disappointed that they stuck with the same basic design. I saw several Canon reps at various conventions and they would ask "what would you like in the XL2". My answer was a better design.

 

The XL1 design was kina' cool at first because it was so different and they had this nice interchangable lens. But after a couple of years of dealing with such an unbalanced camera, I got tired of it. Now I request to not shoot with the XL because of its akwardness.

 

Well everyone wants to shoot with the DVX now anyway.

 

Doesn't look as though they came up with a focus solution like Panasonic did. Even though the DVX only gives you numbers at least you can mark someone at a number, which gives you some kind of reference.

 

I don't think I'll be using the film grain feature. I never really like the simulated film grain in softeware. It really does not replace the distinct look of Super 8.

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Still the same stupid, un-ergonomic body design. Front-heavy like crazy. Glad to see another option for 24p & 30p and very happy to see true 16:9. And they finally got the message that the old color viewfinder was absolute crap and basically worthless, so the new 2" LCD is a big improvement, but I still want a proper tube eyepiece with peaking for focus and the ability to judge contrast. I'll be checking out the XL2 in person in a few days, but I think I'll still hate the form factor too much to really want to use it.

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Guest Pete Wright

The camera with the new 20x lens is $5,000 list. The PAL version will cost more. There is a thread on the camera in the HD forum.

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Pretty sure the XL2 will be the camera peeps want to over the DVX. The lens is just to short on the DVX IMO. I just hope they have as good or better image controls then the DVX has. I mean you dont buy a $5k Canon Still camera and have the settings dumbed down. For the love of god let me screw myself with jacked up settings if thats what I want to do.

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I seem to be the only guy on the planet that loves to shoot with the XL1S. It just fits my shoulder and feels great, and I am using the crummy little shoulder support that came stock with the camera, not the bigger "balanced" support with the batteries and XLR's. I will agree that it is a little front heavy, but doing a doc a couple of years ago, I had it up on my shoulder for six or seven hours a day, and it was fine.

 

On the other hand, I just can't work with the PD-150 or DVX-100 for handheld. Holding those little things out in front of me just doesn't work, far too unsteady. Fine on a tripod, but then again almost anything is fine on a tripod.

 

-Tim

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I love shooting with my XL1s as well. I have the MA100 and it fits on my shoulder just find that way. I could never go handheld with something I couldn't rest on my shoulder, my arm would just give out.

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I seem to be the only guy on the planet that loves to shoot with the XL1S.

 

Don't get us wrong I don't think anyone is taking issue with the quality produced by the XL1. I've shot some nice video with it. The fact is too that its not the only game in town and other camera's also produce nice pictures.

 

The design of the XL is in some middle ground, its not a good palm corder, and its not a real shoulder mount recorder. It has a psuedo shoulder mount. Most of the weight is in the lens. So the part of the camera that sits on your shoulder doesn't really counter balance the lens even with batteries on the back. Well maybe if you were using an Anton Bauer brick.

 

Because most of the weight is in the lens even with the shoulder mount most of the weight rests on the handgrip which is supported by your forearm.

 

Of course the DVX and PD-150 also rest on your hand and forearm, but are much easier to hold in your palm than the XL. Even the Aaton A-minima is easier to hand hold than the XL.

 

On a tripod the XL is front heavy so you are forced to balance the tripod head for its front heaviness. I've been in the unfortunate position of working with the XL and having a lightweight tripod whose head could not adjust for unbalanced camera weight. So everytime you unlock the break the head wants to swing foreward.

 

While with real professional EFP video camera's place the shoulder mount truely in the middle of the camera. Balanced between lens and battery, little of the camera's weight rests on your hand or forearm.

 

A professional EFP video camera on its tripod is made to sit on the head in the middle between lens and battery. So balancing its weight is less an issue.

 

As far as controls I complain about the controls on nearly all prosumer cameras. The controls are all over different places from camera to camera, and are labeled differently. Often critical controls you may need to use quickly are buried in menu's.

 

While with pro EFP camera's most of the critical controls are out near the operator, and are generally in the same place and easy to find.

 

 

Given the choice I'd rather go with a better camera design.

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Guest Pete Wright

Hey guys,

 

Lets put this in a perspective. The PAL model will do 720x576 pixels. It is compressed 5:1. The Varicam will record 960x720 pixels and is compressed 6.5:1. Both are progressive. The PAL Canon will probably cost $6,000 with a lens. The Panasonic costs $90,000 with a lens. You can rent Mini 35 if you need more shallow DOF. You can change the pitch digitally from 25p to 24p.

 

The Canon costs 15x less, or you can say that ther Panasonic is 1,400% more expensive, while the Canon records with 22.5% lower resolution. It is the least expensive camera that can be used for a little decent movie production. No camera near its price or no matter how much more expensive gives you the performance/cost ratio.

 

Thank you Canon.

 

Pete

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Hey Pete,

 

Again I don't particularly have anything against the XL2, but you keep comparing it to things that it really has no business being compared to. It's much more reasonable to compare it to the Panasonic SDX900, which is currently the only other SD camera available with 24p/30p and true 16:9. Or if you're so up on the 25p thing, then there's the Sony IMX camera. These cameras are still dramatically more expensive than the XL2, around $40k when packaged out, compared to around $10k to package out an XL2. Do you get 4x the performance for 4x the price? Well, that's an argument for what one wants and needs out of a camera, but at least it's a more accurate comparison.

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To add more perspective.

 

The Varicam has larger sensors which have more pixels.

 

Records more color at 4:2:2 vs 4:2:0.

 

Has a data rate of 100Mbps vs 25 Mbps.

 

Varicam is true HD while miniDV (even at 24P) is true SD.

 

You shoot through ultra sharp HD lens (Digiprimes, Fujiprimes, Optimo Zoom).

VS. Canon's stock photography lens' which are not made to the same quality of cine lens.

 

Even though the Varicam may appear to have more compression than miniDV it is recording far more information in the first place.

 

It's fine if you go buy and shoot with the XL2, you don't have to justify by comparing it to a pricier HD camera.

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I agree with Mitch 100% Pete needs to be making a fair argument. He's literally comparing apples and oranges.

 

People need to know that the XL2 isn't going to make them a better videographer or DP.

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Guest Pete Wright

Guys,

 

The forums are full of information that the Varicam is not 100 Mbps at 24p. It is supposedly 100 Mbps at the 60p recording speed. Once you downconvert you discard bunch of frames. You end up with something like 40 Mbps. Now, I don't really know how it works, if the recoreded stream continues to be 100 Mbps and not all the frames are read at 24p or if they throw out the unused frames, but somehow at 24p it is no longer 100 Mbps. Maybe they take the 40 Mbps stream and stretch it to 100 Mbps. I don't know, but somehow you end up with 40 Mbps performance.

 

I read that when DV came out it was put down so much by the pros (like you guys), who were shooting Beta, Beta SP, or something. Then they started to slowly realize that DV had a better picture. Why put this camera down in the same way? For me it is a perfect camera because it is within my budget. If I had 4x higheer budget, I would still buy this camera. This camera is $5,000 with 20x zoom lens and the next consideration would be the SDX which would be $40K with a lens. The only issue for me would be the large DOF. For that I would rent Mini 35.

 

I bet you that excellent DP will get better images out of the XL2 than an average one out of SDX.

 

IMHO I believe that when it comes to independent filmmakers, the XL2 will outsell SDX 100:1. It is a new camera that is affordable to many people. You guys are pros. I am not. Maybe you can take the XL2 and figure out how to make it work better, help us figure out which lenses are good to buy, how to use that dumb multi speed zoom with presets.

 

I realize that the camera is not in your league and that most of these solutions will come from video people, but let's be positive. The XL2 is a great news to me and to 1000's of others. It may be a bad news to a guy who just spent $40K on the SDX because he had no less expensive alternatives, except the DVX, but he needed something better.

 

You guys rent. If you'd have to buy a camera right now, even if on credit, which one would you buy? DVX or XL2? XL2 or Sony 570? XL2 or SDX? XL2 or HD10? You know that less expensive HD is coming, so you would probably not buy a more expensive camera than the XL2. Would you buy current HDV offerings? I don't think so. Would you rather spend less money on the DVX? I would not.

 

This new camera made low end indie filmmaking more affordable. When Panasonic improved their DVX, they had to protect their SDX market. That is why it took Canon to get us the best quality prosumer camera. In the past it was always Sony or Panasonic.

 

Pete

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If I were purchasing right now, I'd opt for the DVX-100A. The XL2 does look impressive, but I've found the XL1 having a lot of annoying traits that kept bugging me in use that the DVX did not. I'd rather be comfortable with the camera than anything else.

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Hi,

 

We keep getting comments like this:

 

> IMHO I believe that when it comes to independent filmmakers, the XL2 will

> outsell SDX 100:1

 

Well, duh. Obviously. Why is that interesting?

 

Phil

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Someone on the CML posted this interesting link, an explanation by Chris Hurd about the 16:9 capability of the camera:

 

http://www.dvinfo.net/canonxl2/articles/article06.php

 

I was surprised to see that the DVX100 is the only consumer camera listed with a 12bit DSP; the rest are all 8 bit.

 

Don't know why it's so amazing to predict that a $5000 consumer camera will outsell a $22,000 professional camera -- it better or Canon is in deep trouble!

 

Peter Wright is dangerously approaching Ultra Definition's style of writing. There's no reward, you know, for making these predictions unless you are a heavy investor in Canon's stock!

 

Yes, no doubt that the XL2 will replace the DVX100A as the "next big thing" for the low-budget indie DV moviemaking crowd. It does a lot of things that I was hoping Panasonic would do for the DVX100A - like a true 16:9 capability (sort of) and interchangeable lenses. I had mentioned to Jan Crittendon at Panasonic that they needed something inbetween the SDX900 and the DVX100 -- either a super low-cost professional camera with a 24P capability or a consumer camera with 16:9 CCD's and 24P. I know that economics make this hard to happen -- what you need really is a 24P version of the Sony DSR-570 but of course, that would raise the costs up near that of the SDX900.

 

I think what people really want isn't going to happen: a PROFESSIONAL progressive-scan camcorder just like the SDX900 but priced at $10,000.

 

As for quality, the jump in image improvement by going from Mini-DV to DVCPRO-50 as with the SDX900 is quite visible, plus the larger CCD's and the better lenses help -- you'd think that the resolution would look the same both being standard def, but the SDX900 image is visibly sharper and more detailed, and less artifacty. Ultimately, there are real limitations imposed by the DV25 codec.

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I think David really pegs a lot of it, but let me emphasize one point: 8 bit v. 12 bit. That's a huge difference. It means there's so much more information being processed, so much more subtlety to the image. Again Pete, I'm not knocking the XL2 and I'm going to have it in my hands tomorrow because I am very interested in what it can do. But I also recognize technology for what it is and there are certain things that some technology is capable of and certain things it is not. I think the XL2 will fill a niche very well and it sounds like you feel it falls perfectly in your niche. But that doesn't mean it is the answer to all questions. Certainly if I knew that I had the work lined up specifically to cover the cost of buying a SDX900 or Varicam I would jump to own eiher one of them before the XL2. That's not knocking the XL2, that's just a recognition that it is not in the same class of camera. There are times when all I want is a little 2-door hatchback to tool around in and times when what I really need is a minivan. At those times one simply does not compare to the other.

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I was surprised to see that the DVX100 is the only consumer camera listed with a 12bit DSP; the rest are all 8 bit.

Another consumer camera with 12bit DSP is the GY-DV300.

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Guest Pete Wright

Hey guys,

 

Could someone please explain to me the DSP stuff. It seems that 8 bit sucs. I know that the CCD puts out analog signal. Then you have A/D converter or something, which is 12 bit or something. What does the 8 bit mean? Does it mean that you can't do as fine adjustments to white balance, etc., or does it screw up the image quality? If everything else would be equal, would the 12 bit processed DVX have better picture than the Canon? How much difference would it make?

 

Thanks,

 

Pete

 

P.S. David, Why would I be Ultra Definition? Wasn't that the Jakazami guy?

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Hi,

 

> know that the CCD puts out analog signal

 

Yes.

 

> Then you have A/D converter or something

 

Yes. Well, first you have an amplifier, but that's normally on the same substrate as the CCD, so we'll call that part of the CCD.

 

> which is 12 bit or something

 

Anywhere between 8 and 16, but yes.

 

> What does the 8 bit mean?

 

On the A/D convertor? It determines the fineness of the quantisation, that is, the amount of digital steps that exist between minimum and maximum signal. This is equal to 2^bits, or 256 for 8 bit and 1024 for 10 bit.

 

> Does it mean that you can't do as fine adjustments to white balance, etc.

 

Yes, since your minimum level of adjustment is 1/255 level as opposed to 1/1024 level, or whatever for higher bit counts.

 

> or does it screw up the image quality?

 

It could conceivably impose banding if you tried to do anything very extreme with the image.

 

> If everything else would be equal, would the 12 bit processed DVX have better

> picture than the Canon?

 

It would have a picture which more accurately reflected the light falling on the CCD with smaller quantisation noise.

 

> How much difference would it make?

 

If you're going down to an 8-bit tape format in the end anyway, not a hell of a lot, really, but there is a difference. Becomes more obvious if you start playing with the camera's settings and screwing the picture around a lot.

 

Phil

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This is the classic case where the picture looks great to people while shooting and looking at the monitor. But take that material and try to manipulate it in post and quickly it begins to fall apart. The smaller the bit rate the less information there is to play with. Similarly there is less information in the 4:1:1 color sampling of DV25 compared to the 4:2:2 of DV50 and other higher formats.

 

So forgetting the 4:1:1 part of it, it is possible that the material coming out of the DVX100A may stand up to great manipulation than that coming out of the XL2. But one would have to test this as there are many factors that effect this, including the codec programming within each camera, the refinements in the DSP, the coarseness of the menu controls and a host of other issues. This is why one cannot judge a camera on specs alone, as two devices with seemingly identical specs can have very differing performance. One of the many reasons so many DPs like Ikegami cameras, as their cameras seem to so outperform their competitors even though they are very similar on paper.

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I was reminded of Ultra Definition because he tended to make pointless predictions, especially about too-new or yet-to-be-invented technology as if there would be a reward later in guessing correctly. It's better to just stick to the facts and to what you personally have experienced rather than making sweeping proclamations and generalizations, or force an unweidly comparison (film vs. video, XL2 vs. Varicam).

 

The XL2's real, practical competitor in the marketplace is the DVX100A. Maybe you could stretch the argument to include the low-end pro cameras (DSR570, SDX900) even though this is a consumer camera, but the leap to suggest that it is a real competitor to the Varicam is too large. Were you seriously about to plunk down the $60,000 for the Varicam and now have second thoughts? I doubt it.

 

The difference with Ultra Definition though is that he was so pro-HD that he would never be in favor of a standard-def camera since he felt that the future was HD -- and SD (and film) was dead.

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