The Canon XL1 is helping to blur the line between consumer and professional video equipment. Though it's small enough to carry around and doesn't cost much more than a top-of-the-line consumer camcorder, the XL1 produces such high-quality results that many independent filmmakers have started using it instead of a traditional film camera.
Great movies start with great CCD sensors, and Canon cuts no corners here. For the best possible picture quality, they use three separate 270,000 pixel CCDs (one for each primary color). To further improve image detail, Canon has intentionally shifted the green CCD half a pixel horizontally and vertically. This shift allows more accurate interpolation, resulting in an image that Canon claims rivals those from cameras with 410,000 pixel CCDs. Each pixel is 72 square microns, which is about 1.5 times the size as those in competing camcorders. This increased size increases light sensitivity, allowing you to shoot in lower-light situations. Ultimately, the larger pixel size results in an improvement of 4 dB in sensitivity.
The XL1's body is based on a magnesium-alloy frame for maximum durability. It ships with a 16x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, but is also compatible with other XL camcorder lenses. With an optional adapter, you can use Canon EF (EOS) still camera lenses--some of which also feature optical image stabilization.
Though the camera's built-in microphone has a great frequency response, the XL1 can also accept balanced microphones with the optional MA-100 microphone adapter/shoulder pad. The XL1 records digital audio, with two channels of 16 bit/48 KHz sound or 4 channels of 12 bit/32 KHz sound.
The electronics of the XL1 have many advanced features, including a number of programmed AE modes, as well as both shutter and aperture priority modes. There are two different auto modes, one of which allows you to adjust any setting manually, if you want, and the other, which adjusts every setting automatically and lets you adjust nothing. A spotlight mode automatically compensates for difficulties when shooting a subject bathed in a spotlight. There are also three different shooting modes: Normal Movie, Digital Photo, and Frame Movie. Normal Movie mode is for any time you want to shoot video footage. Digital photo mode records a still image for six seconds on the mini DV tape and also captures any audio, such as a commentary. The Frame Movie Mode records 30 noninterlaced still images per second, instead of capturing 60 fps interlaced images. This mode isn't intended to be used for shooting video (playback may not look completely smooth). Rather, Frame Movie mode should be used as a burst, or continuous, shooting mode, like you'd find on a still camera.
The XL1 uses an IEEE 1394 port for digital editing and for transferring footage to and from other IEEE 1394 compliant devices. The camcorder also has RCA (composite) audio and video ports, and an S-Video out. The XL1 features a LANC terminal for editing with compatible controllers.
This mini DV offers great image quality and full digital power. The XL1's design and manual controls offer the widest range of picture possibilities. In daylight or lowlight, if your subject is near or far, this cutting edge camera adjusts its settings to offer the finest in resolution, magnification and color reproduction. Additional features include top grip with recording controls, standard optical 16x zoom lens with SuperRange optical image stabilizer and 3 shooting modes.