16:9 aspect ratio

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This may sound very ignorant, but I am just beginning to delve into the video realm. I was wondering, does the Canon XL1 and Sony VX1000 have a 16:9 recording option. I have looked at both commercial sites, but I can't seem to come up with any answers. This is also called letterbox format, correct? the format that is used in theaters?

Thanks for future replies, J

-- J Herrig (jherrig@home.com), January 08, 1999



I can tell you the Sony VX1000 does allegedly offer a 16:9 shooting option,. However, the answer to your question is for great looking true 16:9 you need a true 16:9 camera (not the 16:9 offered by Sony on their mini DV models this is just a wee gimmick that uses less of the CCD to shoot the wider image, the 16:9 pictures are very, very soft. True 16:9 cameras are quite expensive, prices start at over #14,000 (UK pounds) and they record a horizontally compressed image onto current tape systems. If viewed on a normal TV the image is squashed with objects being tall and thin. When viewed on a genuine widescreen TV the correct aspect ratio is restored and providing you have shot widescreen on a genuine 16:9 camera it looks really great, (unless you shot it on a Sony VX1000 in 16:9 when the results could only be appreciated by Ray Charles). You would have to vertically compress the picture for viewing on a normal TV set (4:3) and this would normally give you an image with borders on the top and bottom (letterboxed) this is usually done in post production. The VX1000 4:3 picture quality is good but its 16:9 picture is dreadful  dont do it! Im sure in a year or two genuine low cost 16:9 cameras will appear on the market. Hope this is of help  Ged Yeates (Isle of Lewis, Scotland)

-- Ged Yeates (gedtv@globalnet.co.uk), January 09, 1999.

The Sony DSR200A does 16:9 aspect ratio at a list price of around $4500. I have heard that the Canon XL-1 also does 16:9.

-- Rob Doran (robdoran@ix.netcom.com), June 28, 1999.

Ged's correct, I'm afraid. The Sony and Canons are gimmick 16:9 that really result in lower image quality. BUT... Sony has a Hi-Def camera coming out very soon that will be a true 16:9 chip.... and I'm sure that pro-sumer cameras will soon follow in both the Canon and Sony lines. If you truly need 16:9 in a DV format now, I understand that there's an anamorphic lens available for the Canon that's yields wonderful results. Don't have the name here now... but it's somewhere on the Canon boards.

- Jim

-- Jim Parriott (escribador@aol.com), August 06, 1999.

Century Optics has a diopter 16:9 lens that's not cheap at around $800 but my contact at 4mc, the place that did the tape to film transfer for The Blair Witch project recommends it. It fits the sony vx-1000, and probably other cameras but I'm not sure.

-- win edson (win7@earthlink.net), September 07, 1999.

What about just shooting in the slim mode on the VX1000 and then change the aspect ration in AE? Am I a genius or what?

-- Robert Murdoch (rmurdoch@onebox.com), July 25, 2001.

The 16:9 mode in all consumer/prosumer cameras works like this: The camera captures 4:3 image. It crops the image to 16:9 and then stretches it to fill the 4:3 image. The camera then compresses the image and puts it to tape.

You have a few options if you want a 16:9 image.

1. You can shoot in normal 4:3 and crop it in post. The problem with this mode is that you can't see, in real time, how this will look.

2. You go with the 16:9 option in the camera. Some argue this is a slightly better option then cropping because the camera compresses the image after it's been cropped and stretched.

3. You could buy a conversion lens ($600-1500) which stretches the image optically. As far a quality, this is the best option and it's the only true 16:9 aspect a prosumer/consumer camera has. If you intend to convert your DV footage to film, a Widescreen Adapter lens should be your only option. The difference in quality is tremendous. The only issue I've seen with this option is slight distortion around the edges.

Between options 1 and 2 you should probably shoot simular footage and compare the two to see for yourself. The camera's 16:9 option is definitely more convenient but the look you want may be just cropping in post.

Incidently, if your shooting with a consumer grade camera ( think 1 CCD ) you might not be able to find a Widescreen Adapter lens that will fit your camera.

-- Yn Pragne (pragne@earthlink.net), February 02, 2003.

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