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Full-field color bars are a Canon XL1 accessory function that is readily available on the camera even though no instruction is provided in the Canon XL1 manual. It is reported that these are not true SMPTE color bars, and there is some discussion as to whether these XL1 color bars are therefore even useful. It seems safe to say, however, that though they are not as reliable as true SMPTE color bars, they are better than no color bars at all, the alternative being eyeballing color correction without any video color reference at all.

Here is how you access the accessory color bars on the XL1 camera:

To Turn on Canon XL1 Accessory Color Bars
  1. Turn on the XL1 Camera in the ‘Green Box’ mode, i.e. full auto mode.
  2. Simultaneously push down and hold both XL1 shutter buttons. Do this for about six seconds.
  3. You should now have full-field color bars on screen.

To Turn Off Canon XL1 Accessory Color Bars

  1. Once more, simultaneously push down and hold the two XL1 shutter buttons for six seconds or so.
  2. The XL1 color bars should go away.

Canon XL1-S Color Bars
The Canon XL1-S camera, successor to the XL1 camera, provides SMPTE color bars which can be toggled on or off using a dedicated switch.

The Color Bar Chart, A Better Accessory?
If you really want to make use of color bars, use a physical color bar chart, instead of the XL1-S or XL1 color bars. Place the color bar chart in front of your XL1-S or XL1 camera (or other video camera) and shoot it under the same lighting conditions and using the same white balance as you expect to have for the actual video footage you are about to shoot. The color bar chart is the perfect accessory. You’ll like your Canon XL1 camera even better.

Also check out our
Canon XL1 Accessory Products
perfect for XL1 and XL1-S camera models

XLR audio adapter           LANC zoom controller

Article © 2003 Garry Hood