View Full Version : Canon XL H1 First Impressions

04-27-2006, 02:07 PM
I finally took the plunge and bought a Canon XL H1 over the HVX200. This is a partial review because I have only been shooting for less than an hour.

First off, this camera delivers on its promise. Tweaking the camera to emulate what I'm used to on the DVX from a look and color standpoint is really easy and I don't see any great advantage with the Panasonic over the Canon.

Secondly, focus is quite easy to master using the EVF. I didn't find any problem getting the focus spot on. It's critically important to adjust the back focus correctly. It was slighty off the first time I tried it but then I used my Marshall HD monitor to do it a second time and it was nailed.

Thirdly, the image stabilizer on the lens is simply stunning. The difference between raw handheld and kicking in the stabilizer is like night and day. Some of the handheld shots I did looked like I had a steadicam setup.

All functional buttons and controls are exactly where I would expect them to be and, after just a few minutes of familiarizing myself with were they were, it was natural for me to reach out and find what I was looking for instantly.

The almighty noise problem that was rampant in most of the HVX200 footage I saw (just my personal opinion) is not even a part of the image from the Canon. Nice, smooth and relatively noiseless imagery is what I have seen so far. I took a few shots in the low light of the evening yesterday and they were still relatively noiseless.

The camera balance takes some time to get used to but I don't forsee it being problematic. If you hold it the right way, you can achieve some semblance of balance.

I didn't receive my Cineform software yet so I have no way of capturing the footage at the moment but I am using the composite out directly to my computer LCD, which is an HD 21" Gateway monitor. What's great about it is I can switch to full screen video directly from the camera and then, with the push of a button, I can view my computer screen again.

The zoom rocker feels natural to me although the zoom is a little fast...I haven't really looked into options for tweaking anything beyond the settings for the overall look of the footage.

Overall, the footage is really awesome and there is a feeling of bigness from the frame when watching it. It feels much more like footage from a large film camera than a DV camera. I guess it's both the size and the detail of the image that gives that impression. There's a "heaviness" to the imagery size that I haven't had with the DVX.

I have no regrets about this purchase and I thought I'd miss my DVX because of the uniqueness of its image but the Canon is way capable of equaling and surpassing my expectations.

The 24p cadence is very filmic and identical in my eyes to the DVX and HVX. There is a very slight amount of stairstepping in some of the diagonals but I don't know yet if that's just my monitor or in the footage itself. I'm going to be setting up a 42" plasma in the next couple of days in my studio and I'll check it out again at that point.

If you are on the fence about buying one of these puppies, get off and whip out your credit card. You won't regret it.

More later when I've had more time to play with it. I'm off to walk a trail down by a large lake in my neighborhood later this afternoon and my already trusty XLH1 will accompany me.

Brandon Rice
04-27-2006, 02:39 PM
Cool review. I saw the camera at NAB and was quite impressed. I'd like to see some footage :)

04-27-2006, 07:00 PM
Great review, disjecta. I'm glad you're enjoying the H1.

Lookin' foward to your work in HD.

J.R. Hudson
04-27-2006, 07:07 PM
I cannot wait to see what you do Disjecta ! Hurry ! I want a Pine Lakes masterpiece damn it!


We should change the name of this forum sub forum to:

Disjectas and Eltons Pub and Shootery

04-27-2006, 07:56 PM
Yeah--definitely looking forward to your new HD stuff. By all rights, you should be able to make some good $$ shooting HD stock footage.

04-27-2006, 09:27 PM
We should change the name of this forum sub forum to:

Disjectas and Eltons Pub and Shootery

LOL! We shoot the crickets in HD!!

Yas Kassana
04-28-2006, 01:28 AM
Great stuff disjecta, so we have some top brass on the xlh1, macgregor. I will take your advice and buying one of these babies.

04-28-2006, 09:10 AM
Here's a grab from some footage of my daughter:


Brandon Rice
04-28-2006, 09:33 AM
Nice grab... the resolution is fantastic!

04-28-2006, 11:51 PM
Resolution is indeed a nice thing. Here's a 24F XLH1 frame grab from a Sundance Q and A:
The lovely Alice Braga from Solo Dios Sabe

btw, those are the perforations from the movie screen behind them.

Edit: my iDisk bandwidth is tapped for the month. Should be back up Tues.

04-29-2006, 12:57 AM

04-29-2006, 04:15 AM
Keep it coming, disjecta!

04-29-2006, 03:49 PM
The zoom rocker feels natural to me although the zoom is a little fast...I haven't really looked into options for tweaking anything beyond the settings for the overall look of the footage.

The XL2 has super sexy zoom speed control - I'm guessing the H1 has the same?

04-29-2006, 10:52 PM
You are correct, sir!

04-29-2006, 10:55 PM
Yes, I have since found the zoom rocker to be extremely responsive and really like it.

05-08-2006, 07:12 PM
I think this camera makes the most sense for you. You seemed mostly focused on resolution and this really does have a major advantage in that area (much more so that the HD100 which is mostly through edge enhancment).

Carrington Benz
05-08-2006, 07:42 PM
Im blown away by the res on the images from this cam so far - I think im gonna take the plunge.

Gonna test drive both the hvx & xlh1 next week but - Im more drawn to the xlh1 since Disjecta posted those clips - the color / res really works for me & its a nice step up from the dvx. I do love my DVX tho - so will prob keep alongside.

The image & the low light is the most important to me - Im not worried about the new P2 etc - as long as Im happy with the image - I know this cam can work for me.

05-08-2006, 08:28 PM

You mentioned on some other post your concern about interlacing or some kind of quality problem with the files you have seen online (I'm sorry, I don't remember which thread you put it in) but I can guarantee you this is just an encoding problem....the camera does not display this kind of thing and when encoded using an HD codec, it looks as prestine as the original.

I'm not a mac guy so I can't really expound on that any further.

Hope this helps,


05-09-2006, 07:48 PM

Your purchasing actions have a way of disrupting the balance of HD video camera market.

Just as I was in the final stages of buying the HVX200 you publicly announced your new HD camera. Now I feel lost at sea, once again. You had mentioned in one of your previous posts that the HVX is an HD version of the DVX. But couldn't one say that the XLH1 is an HD version of the XL2, as well?

I know there's a lot more to your switch decision than meets the eye. Would you elaborate and amplify more on why you made this move?

Also, relative to the beautiful frame grab of your daughter ... how would an HVX version of that image look under the exact shooting conditions? In other words, if you shot with the H1 and HVX side by side, how would the two images appear different?


05-09-2006, 07:51 PM
I'm not even going to get into a comparison...I'm smarter than that :)

I wrote an article about some of the painstaking research I did on my web site: http://www.pinelakefilms.com/XLH1.html

05-21-2006, 04:21 PM
Gosh, have I been around the block this last week studying and researching HD cameras to the best of my limited technical abiliities, so your post was/is a breath of fresh air! (And also those of the others... Have a feeling this forum is going to expand fairly rapidly...)
As you write, "...the underdog Canon", pretty much my feelings as I eliminated the JVC, and seemed to have to end up with the HVX by default.

My primary need for a HD camera will be to start shooting stock footage, so a real lens has been something I just am accustomed to, from many years as a still photographer, shooting films, and, now, video. I have never used auto focus on my Nikons or in video.
The lack of a lens control is really a big issue for me. The P2 prices are excessive and the short time before changing them seem ludicrous to me.

So I have been in a bind. Research just did not provide what I considered a camera which would meet most of my needs.
Until this. Now, I will spend the next few days climbing the Learning Curve Ladder, so please be patient if you all get what appear to be questions which are obvious to most.
First question: Anyone in North Bay of San Francisco have one? Actually, I will post a new thread with this...
#2: What else is needed to make this camera work with FCP, and is this combination recommended?
Thank you,
707 591-9999

05-21-2006, 04:39 PM
Look at Mike Pappas' clips here: http://homepage.mac.com/WebObjects/FileSharing.woa/wa/default?user=pappasarts&templatefn=FileSharing1.html&xmlfn=TKDocument.1.xml&sitefn=RootSite.xml&aff=consumer&cty=US&lang=en

These are all shot with the 16x manual lens that was meant for the XL2. Still looks great in 1080 HD. I have one and it works great with the XLH1