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Please tell me I'm nuts! Canon XH A1 picture sharper than Sony EX1!

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Martin Gleeson
Please tell me I'm nuts! Canon XH A1 picture sharper than Sony EX1!
on Sep 15, 2012 at 8:05:28 pm

I've had XH A1's since 2007 and although I find them fine for most stuff, I really grew to hate them for low light performance. It was always the dream to get EX1's to replace them, but with the downturn in business, I had to put it off...until now. I got one second hand EX1 recently and have been using it along with the XH A1's

But I have been unhappy with my Sony EX1 footage (in good light) compared to the good old Canon XH A1. I was sure the EX1 footage was softer than the Canon footage. I was also sure that if this was the case, it must be operator error rather than a genuine reflection on the EX1. So, I spent the last couple of hours doing some tests and detailed comparisons. And you know what, at 1440x1080 50i, the Canon is sharper. I'm absolutely gutted! I really did not want to see that result. I just can't believe this; especially after reading over the years about how "unbelievably sharp the EX1 is". Not to mention people complaining that the footage was so sharp, they couldn't down-convert it to SD properly!

I haven't uploaded the footage, but I did take two stills. Compare the two stills in the zipped file below. It's particularly obvious when I load them onto the timeline of Edius and review on my external HD monitor. The lines on the page are similar in both stills, but the Canon clip actually shows the texture of the page. The EX1 footage does not. The EX1 was perfectly in focus. I checked it numerous times and re-did the test 4 times. Also, it is not a back focus problem. Both cameras are zoomed in (although I did re-adjust the back focus on the EX1 before doing the tests as it was out a bit).

Is this typical of all EX1's? Is it possible it is just my second hand camera? I really don't see how it could be an issue with one camera. The optics should be the same and optics don't wear out!

I was planning on buying a second one, but now I'm not so sure I should.

Thanks a lot. I'd really love to hear some views on this.

http://www.dreamscapes.ie/downloads/CameraCompare.zip


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Craig Seeman
Re: Please tell me I'm nuts! Canon XH A1 picture sharper than Sony EX1!
on Sep 16, 2012 at 12:57:44 am

The EX1 resolves close to 1000 lines depending on how one tests. Its resolution matches cameras costing many times more. There's no other camera I know of in its price range that comes close, certainly not an XHA1.

Many cameras have extra sharpening turned on in software. Often that edge enhancement makes images appear sharper but it's not actually better resolution. That can be spotted in close up images with fine detail. The EX1 is so sharp that many people will either dial down or completely disable the sharpening.


If you want to compare the cameras, disable sharpening in both. point to an image with lots of fine detail. Your example doesn't have that. It could well be enhanced by edge sharpening which might be up all the way in the Canon.



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Martin Gleeson
Re: Please tell me I'm nuts! Canon XH A1 picture sharper than Sony EX1!
on Sep 16, 2012 at 4:33:17 am

Yes, I'm starting to see that I may very well be nuts alright. I'm quite relieved! My softest footage seems to be when I'm at F11 or higher. I am reading that the EX1 can get a big "soggy" around this F-Stop. I am just looking at footage which was at around F5 or so (with ND filter on) and that is much better. But the footage at F11 is really bad!

Thanks for your response, Craig.

Martin


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Craig Seeman
Re: Please tell me I'm nuts! Canon XH A1 picture sharper than Sony EX1!
on Sep 16, 2012 at 4:52:54 am

Yes, lenses have their sweet spot. Getting up their in high F numbers is going to get soft. Exactly where and how bad can change depending on the lens (especially important for interchangeable lens cameras).
The best area would be in the F4-f5ish range. Someone might have more accurate results with a test using EX1 Fujinon lens.



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