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February 2, 2006

XL-H1 Thoughts

Please note, this blog has been archived and now lives at www.discretecosine.com

I'll have a lot more to say about this camera in a few weeks. We've now officially ordered three of them for the Studios, along with Firestore disk recorders and some assorted support equipment. But, I just wanted to post a few things that I found particularly interesting when playing with the loaner.

Here's my laundry list of things that I hadn't found in other online reviews:

  • HD-SDI output is really quite good. I ran it in to our Videotek VTM-440 HD/SD-SDI scope and the signal looked excellent, in both HD and SD modes. The internal color bar output is accurate as best I could see.
  • The tactile feel of the camera is excellent. Very positive feel on all the buttons and knobs, and it feels very well put together.
  • Like all XLs, it's rather front heavy. Having the integrated shoulder mount is nice, but it's not all that useful because of the weight distribution.
  • The composite out gives you a downconverted SD signal, even when the camera is in HD mode. This is nice for feeding an SD field monitor. Canon support said this wasn't the case. Additionally, you can chose to output an exact mirror of what's on the viewfinder, including alerts and everything.
  • The neutral density roll-in on the lens is a nice, physical motion. I appreciate that.
  • The focus and zoom rings on the lens have the typical lag that comes with non-mechanical rings. Not terrible, but if there was an option of getting a manual lens, I'd go for it.
  • The viewfinder is a bit lower resolution than I might hope for. Luckily, there are conveniently placed viewfinder-zoom and peaking controls, so make focusing a bit easier. Being able to set the viewfinder to black and white is helpful as well.
  • I appreciate that you're never forced to go into the menus for basic control stuff. Everything that you could need on a recurring basis has its own knob or button.
  • There is a bit of chromatic aberration, especially at the edges of bright objects, but I think it's the sort of thing that mostly gets noticed in blown up still frames. It wasn't distracting when watching any of the footage I shot.

Overall, it's a remarkable camera. It does 99% of things right, and the things that aren't right are non-critical in my opinion. I'm glad we're getting three, and I think it's going to take a lot of work for someone else to top it. Now Canon, build us a deck!

I'm not posting any sample footage yet, as everything I shot was rather boring. I'm also not sure what the point would be unless I posted full 1920x1080 video, and that gets messy.

Posted by at February 2, 2006 4:08 PM | Opinions

Comments

thanks for putting this up. i can't wait to work with this
camera. and i can't wait to see some footage! how does
this camera hold up when shooting "dark", low light?

a project coming up will require this sort of camera.

Posted by: cheryl at February 15, 2006 12:40 PM