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Canon announces new broadcast-quality digital video camcorder - XL2 (13/7/2004)

Canon leader in photographic and imaging technology, today unveils its new broadcast quality, interchangeable lens digital video camcorder - the XL2. With 3x800k progressive scan CCDs and high resolution 16:9 format recording, the professional series XL2 replaces one of the most successful and iconic products in Canon's history - the XL1s - as the company's new digital video camcorder flagship.

Key features include:

* 3x 1/3" 800k pixel progressive scan CCDs
* 50i or 25p recording for both television and cinema-photographic applications
* 16:9 and 4:3 recording
* Full manual control over extensive range of settings and shooting variables
* XL interchangeable lens system
* 20x Fluorite optical zoom lens
* Super range Optical Image Stabilizer lens
* 2 independent neutral density filters
* 4 audio channels with 2 built-in XLR connectors with 48V phantom power
* SMPTE time code with Rec Run and Free Run timer options
* IEEE1394 camera control for recording direct to HDD

"With more than double the resolution of the XL1s, the XL2 sets the new broadcast quality mini DV recording standard," said Malcolm Hills, Head of Canon Consumer Imaging UK and Ireland. "Canon expects this digital video camcorder to be immediately popular with digital film makers, wedding and event videographers, documentary makers and broadcast station producers."

Improved image quality

The 3CCD system offers 16:9 (960 x 576 pixels) and 4:3 (720 x 576 pixels) recording. The XL2's 3rd generation signal processing LSI (large scale integrated circuit) improves Signal/Noise ratio to realise higher resolution, higher sensibility and lower smear than the XL1s.


The XL2 introduces 25p recording to realize film-like expression. As well as the Video (normal) gamma mode, users can select a special Cinema mode for film like texture and tone. A Knee adjustment, selectable from High, Middle and Low, can be used to alter the shape of the gamma curve in order to prevent white clipping. Control over Black or the low brightness end is available with Stretch, Middle and Press settings, used to expand or compress the bottom of the gamma curve to either show or conceal more detail. To further customise cine-look, the XL2 provides manual control over Coring, Sharpness, Noise Reduction, Colour Gain and Hue settings.

...and Cine-feel

A range of features is included to deliver a cinema-photographic feel to footage. Colour matrix is selectable from Video and Cinema. V Detail reduces resolution in the vertical direction, while Skin Detail allows control over hue (phase) and saturation (chroma) of skin tone areas of the picture to deliver softer, warmer skin tones, reducing or eliminating the need for make-up. A Film Grain setting adds to footage the warm, natural grain and compression of film. The XL2 also provides manual control over Master RGB, Setup level, Master Pedestal and Gain settings.

Complete creative control

Two custom keys can be set to call any one of myriad manual settings within the 8 main menu functions. The custom key calls these independently of current menu selections, allowing for immediate correction or calling of settings regardless of which menu option might be displayed. Three custom presets are available, allowing users to save favourite patches or setting banks for commonly encountered shooting situations.

White Balance control

In order to provide subtle control over white balance, the XL2 allows independent control over R Gain, G Gain and B Gain settings. White balance can be adjusted to true white or manually set to either outdoor (5600K) or indoor (3200K). CCD sensitivity adjustment has been expanded, in seven steps from -3dB to +18dB.

Precision lens

To deliver the 20x high magnification zoom lens, Canon's lens designers have incorporated a fluorite lens element, as used in Canon's broadcast TV lenses and selected professional L-series EF lenses. This eliminates the increase in chromatic aberration that can plague zoom lenses at high magnification. Two aspherical elements counter spherical aberration to deliver crisp, corner-to-corner clarity. A precision circular iris provides pleasing natural background blur, while two built in neutral density (ND) filters allow the iris to be opened fully in strong light conditions. The iris can be controlled in 8 steps from f1.6 to close. Both zoom and focus positions can be preset.

Super steady footage without the tripod

Movement detection gyros and a vari-angle prism (VAP) lens group provide optical image stabilization (OIS), compensating for unwanted camera shake before the image reaches the camera sensor. IS is further extended with SuperRange IS, which examines the image after it is received by the sensor, in order to compensate for low frequency movements not corrected by the optical system.

Over 60 lenses

The XL2 utilises the same popular XL mount system as the XL1s and is compatible with all XL video lenses. An optional EF adapter can be used to connect the XL2 to any one of over 60 Canon EF lenses.

Synchronisation and Connectability

SMPTE time code is provided for synchronising with other recorders and devices. Rec Run adds a continuous time code to tape, interrupted by rec start/stop. Free Run keeps the counter running in real time regardless of Power on/off or Rec/Pause; ideal for multiple camera shooting for later footage synchronisation. The unit includes 2 x XLR jacks with 48V phantom power supply for powered microphones, and offers 4-channel recording with an optional microphone adapter. PCM digital recording is supported, while a BNC jack is provided for monitor output. An IEEE1394 connection allows for recording direct to hard disk and/or for control of the unit via PC.

View Finder

The XL2's 2,0 inch, high-resolution 200k pixel viewfinder can be used either as an LCD screen or a viewfinder. 16:9 format is displayed as letterbox. As well as right/left adjustment, the XL2 introduces fore and aft movement for ultimate camera-person comfort during extended shoots.

Shooting modes

Seven shooting modes include Full Auto, Auto, Tv, Av, Manual, Spotlight and a new Low Light mode. Shutter speed can be set in 30 steps from 1/6 to 1/16.000. Shutter speed or aperture can be varied during exposure (AE) lock, and AE can be shifted in 13 increments from +2.0 to -2.0.

Professional features

In addition to a Colour Bar, a 1kHz audio reference test tone (-12dB or -20dB) can be recorded to assist with editing synchronisation. In keeping with the professional look and feel of the unit, the XL2 is built around a robust and rigid magnesium alloy frame.


The XL2 camcorder will be available from mid September 2004.

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