On the Canon XL2

On the Canon XL2

I was happy to see someone of Barry Braverman’s caliber review the new Canon XL2 (December). He made several comments regarding the improved picture quality over the Canon XL1 and XL1S.

I own an XL1 and while I have been very happy with it overall, I have been disappointed in its lack of resolution and picture quality – specifically on distant scenes. Anything from 0 to about 10 feet is fine, but outdoor shots of trees in the distance appear more like green blobs with no definition. I occasionally use an older Sony DXC-537A and am always blown away by the difference in “distance definition.”

I realize that I am using larger CCDs, but the Canon XL1 doesn’t even compare. I don’t necessarily expect the XL2 to surpass the Sony 537A. But based on your experience with Canons, would you think I could expect to see improvement with the XL2? Most of the shooting I do is nature related and the compactness of the Canon usually outweighs the picture quality of the Sony. Richard Seccombe

Barry Braverman responds:

Landscapes are a notorious problem for any small-format video camera, as fine detail tends to fall inside the regularly arranged pick-up grid of the camera’s CCD. The higher density 640K chipset in the XL2 addresses the problem by reducing the size of this grid, and thus improving the camera’s “distance definition,” that is, its ability to record fine detail in landscapes without serious artifacts.

In your case, since you shoot a lot of natural scenes, the pixel shift technology used in 3-CCD cameras like the Canon XL is a contributing culprit to what you describe. The green CCD is displaced deliberately one-half pixel out of register to capture the fine dertail that would otherwise fall into the CCD’s no-man’s land. The slight loss of contrast and image definition is usually worth it, though perhaps not when shooting landscapes with dominant green tones. Even so, you will see an improvement from the XL1 to the XL2.

From a PAL down under

Thanks for the review of the Canopus ADVC300 (September, http://videosystems.com/mag/video_canopus_advc/). I have a VCR (Sharp VC-WD1) that can convert NTSC to PAL or vice versa, but it’s old now, and I would like to replace it. I’d like a normal multi-system VCR, but I still need something to convert my collection of NTSC/PAL tapes.

In Tom Patrick McAuliffe’s review, he mentions, “The ADVC300 thankfully has plenty of user-controlled options. On a mini-pad on the bottom of the unit are DIP switches. Flip them on or off to change options such as locked or unlocked, 16-bit vs. 12-bit audio, 0 or 7.3 IRE black levels, and output to NTSC or PAL.” If the orginal source is, say, NTSC, can it convert that to PAL? The article does not say if the source was PAL or NTSC. David Graham Australia

Tom Patrick McAuliffe responds:

The ADVC300 is a straight converter box that will take what it sees and convert to the same, only in DV. PAL in, so PAL out. This means the ADVC300 will not accomplish what you’re trying to do. To transcode from one format to another, I would take the ADVC and capture into NTSC format. I would then use ProCoder Express ($59.95) to convert the file to the PAL video format.

Glidecam 2000 or 4000?

Thanks for Tom Patrick McAuliffe’s review of the Glidecam 2000 (April, http://videosystems.com/mag/video_glidecam_pro/). I shoot with a Sony PD150 (weight 3lbs., 8oz.), Audiotech shotgun mic, and Frezzi mini-fill light, and would like to purchase a stabilizing system. I shoot documentaries, on the run, walking interviews, outdoor, wilderness, etc. With this weight and on camera gear, do you think I should purchase the Glidecam 4000 instead of the 2000? Juan Avila

Tom Patrick McAuliffe responds:

While the 4000 is a bit more expensive, it is able to handle the weight load better. And that’s especially important when you add those options up top (the mic and light).

You might also want to check out the Steadicam JR. If you live near a video dealer in a large city, or can attend a trade show and check one out firsthand, that would be best. One other idea for on-the-fly shooting is a monopod, which is a single telescoping stick.

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