View Full Version : GL-1: Good Luck So Far

Marty Hamrick
March 2nd, 2014, 01:23 PM
Two years ago I picked up a Canon GL-1 in a Pawn Shop in Jacksonville,Florida for 20 dollars. The reason I got it so cheaply is that they didn't know if it would work or not, since it had no battery or power pack. They originally wanted 40 for it and I told them that was too much for me to gamble,so they cut it to 20 saying that it wasn't selling otherwise as camcorders weren't flying off the shelves anyway.

I tested it in a shop and it worked fine and just recently I got to try it out having just gotten a battery and charger. I'm impressed so far, what problems I've had, the lock-standby button stick and the remove cassette error were easy fixes and I thank all of you who shared such information. It's not HD, but for 20 bucks I'm not complaining and its old, but that's OK so am I.

I come from a broadcast TV news background, having worked most recently with the P-2 system,prior to that, it was Betacam SX and SP. I have very little experience with Mini DV, though I have worked with DVC Pro, when it first came out in the 90's.

Just wondering what I can expect and what to look out for. I haven't had a need to own gear since the 90's as I've either worked staff for a TV station or rented when I freelanced as back then, it was more economical as we were working with very expensive cameras, switchers and decks. I'm semi retired now and so far, I've been limited to gigs where gear is provided and I've noticed those are few and far between these days. Rental isn't economical anymore unless you're charging for it and much of what used to be done by broadcast/industrial video is being done much cheaper. I won't comment on quality.

Is there still business for this camera? If nothing else, I've got a back up and a youtube camera, but I'm wondering what is out there on the internet that doesn't require HD, but a really nice SD camera like the GL-1 will do just fine? No weddings, though.I'm thinking youtube commercials and such and possibly sports.How does it handle sports under the sometimes weird lighting conditions like stadiums at night? How good does that film look frame feature look on studio and professionally lit talent? Everything I've seen has been outdoor lit, anything that someone has bothered to light? Also, I'm sure eventually the deck will crap out and it won't be worth replacing, that's inevitable.Is it worth it to keep shooting with it and invest in a separate hard drive recorder? Eventually I'll upgrade to something more contemporary,I'm looking at the BMPC, waiting for them to settle the orb issue. I still like to shoot 16mm film and swapping lenses looks like fun. I would like to shoot a project using a BMPC and an old super 16,like a converted super 16 Eclair or Aaton, cut back and forth between shots and colour correct them to match.Using the same lens , of course. I saw a French made Eclair ACL super 16 conversion with 4 mags,motor and 10-100 Angenieus Lens on ebay for 750. Too bad I'm broke now.

Marty Hamrick
March 2nd, 2014, 06:01 PM
Are there no more money making opportunities with a GL-1?

Don Palomaki
March 3rd, 2014, 11:21 AM
From what I've seen, the main opportunities would be event-type work where the final deliverable is SD (e.g., DVD) and wide screen (16x9) is not important. Since wedding (and presumably similar events) are ruled out, it becomes rather limited. Perhaps youth events such as sports, recitals, and so on, which would tend to be more of a hobby than a living. Local cable access ads/productions might be an opportunity as well, but that is very location specific.

The GL1 is rather long in the tooth now, It came out 15 years ago (1999) and was replaced by the GL2 in 2002 after a 3-year run, so service & support are problematic.

That does not mean it can't shoot decent SD video in DV format. It is comparable to DVCPro25 except DV is not locked audio, and due to the track pitch the recorded signal on tape is not as robust.

Marty Hamrick
March 3rd, 2014, 12:33 PM
Thanks, Dan. The reason I mentioned sports is that before I left the States, I did a sports gig on a cute little system called a HiPod, the company seemed to do pretty well. A guy in Jacksonville approached me about doing some sports and he wasn't concerned about HD at all. He collected old Betacams and other SD cameras and could cover several events all over town, offering some serious competition to the local TV stations.

Right now I'm having fun with it, my dog Loki's undecided on whether he wants to be a star or eat the camera.

Don Palomaki
March 4th, 2014, 08:43 AM
Speaking of sports gigs, a puck is a small object and moves pretty fast for successful SD video.

Dogs and children will always steal the scene.


Marty Hamrick
March 4th, 2014, 11:11 AM
You got that right, that's why WC Fields didn't want to work with either.

Kyle Root
March 4th, 2014, 11:45 AM
Ahhh the good old GL1. I got it when it first came out in 1999 and used it all the way up until 2010.

Man at the time the size and 3CCD and relatively low price were simply amazing! It went with me everywhere all the time!

Sadly, I do think there are very very few places to use SD these days. Outside of having a computer with a firewire port for live streaming on the cheap...

Marty Hamrick
August 27th, 2014, 10:40 AM
Just got some of the stuff I tested on GL-1 Transferred to DVD. Will edit and upload soon. I'm pleased with the results and I like the way the camera operates. Not bad for SD at all for the stuff I'm currently shooting.

Kenneth Tong
September 2nd, 2014, 10:55 PM
Wow! I really missed my old GL1. I purchased it back in 2002 and sold it last year. It recorded my two daughters growing up! I later switched to Canon DSLRs as my kid no longer interested being video recorded. The transfer of DV to computer is also time consuming. CF / SD cards are smaller and easier to handle. I really love my old GL1 as it has a huge optical zoom, 3 CCD and well-placed control buttons. The quality of the footage is really good.