View Full Version : is GL2 better than old XL1??? I'm talking about the image.

Mark Kubat
January 15th, 2003, 08:34 PM
Okay, know this is a loaded question - but hey, want to know if I have an option to pick up say new "old" XL1 kit for same money as GL2, which would to pick and why?

Please, somebody explain to me effective pixels vs. number of pixels etc. and what this really means when it comes to GL2 official specs vs. specs for old XL1.

Okay so XL1 has -3 db and GL2 only to 0 db...

But GL2 is better in low light????


Adrian Douglas
January 15th, 2003, 09:00 PM
There is about 4 years between the original XL and the GL2. That is a lot of development time, especially here in Japan. The biggest advantage the original XL has over the GL2 is it's form factor and modular design. If you need to use different lenses then I'd go for the XL, if not, then go with the newer GL2.

Barry Goyette
January 16th, 2003, 11:53 AM
I own both cameras(actually the newer xl1s), and I would say I use the gl-2 90% of the time, if that says anything. I think its lens is excellent, and fine detail is resolved better than with the xl1s. In low light, the gl2 produces a much cleaner, sharper result, albeit with more apparent noise, (turning the sharpness down helps to reduce the noise). Otherwise the xl1s might be 1/3 to 1/2 stop more sensitive in low light...the older xl1 is probably not as sensitive as the gl2 in low light. Additionally the gl2's autofocus system is much better in low light situations. The xl1 lens tends to hunt even in normal lighting, but in low light it can be like an acid trip gone bad (not that I would know).

In addition to adrian's comments, other reasons to consider the xl1 are the presence of manual zoom, and better motorized zoom. There is also a noticeable difference in depth of field between the two cameras due to the difference in chip size.

And, If you havent already, take a look at my review and comparison at the top of the gl-2 page.


Michael Buendia
January 16th, 2003, 04:47 PM

which one has more depth of field and what is the relation bewteen the DOF and the chip size?


Barry Goyette
January 16th, 2003, 04:57 PM
The larger the chip size, the lower the depth of field, which for most filmmakers is the desired situation. Lower depth of field allows you to control what is in focus. For instance, at normal to wide angle lens settings the gl-2 has almost limitless DoF. The xl1s doesn't have a whole lot less, but the difference is noticeable, as it is possible to throw background out of focus without being at maximum zoom.


Mark Kubat
January 16th, 2003, 07:54 PM
Barry, your comments are very insightful. I've read your articles and just can't seem to believe that Canon has made such a stride in the GL2 over the XL1s... I've been tempted because with our guerrilla style independent filmmaking, the GL2 is ergonomically more suited for our shoots.

I've rarely made use of the interchanging lens on the XL1 - in practice, it hardly seems practical unless you're into telephoto stuff for maybe nature shooting and the like. For independent film, a good wide angle adapter seems the best option...

Barry, how about the fact that the gain on the GL2 only goes to zero and the XL1 old and new both allow -3db... I keep reading that the gamma from -3db is more "filmic" with the blacks - couldn't some software tweak the look in post, though?

Is it even somewhat possible to "pull focus" on a GL2? At least on XL1 there is autofocus over-ride button which I hold down while shooting in manual focus if the framing is rapidly changing and that seems to help out...

Barry, any updates on how you find XLR adapter with your GL2...?

Barry Goyette
January 17th, 2003, 11:26 AM

Regarding the -3db gain, this has always confused's almost as if canon started with a chip that was flatter in contrast and less noisy than the original xl1, so they decided to introduce a little gain into the image processing and called that -0-, then they had room at the bottom to make a -3db gain setting. Someone with more experience than me on this subject might enlighten us on this, but essentially a -3db gain should lower the noise slightly, flatten the image slightly, and lower the sensitivity by 1/2 to 1 stop.

Now as to the gl2 not having a -3db gain: this camera has a lower contrast overall than the xl1s even at -3db. The gl2 is slightly noisier than the xl1s, although lowering the sharpness a notch or two makes them roughly equivalent. In my opinion, the lowered contrast on the gl2 makes a more filmic image than the xl1s, Although the xl1s lower depth of field can give you more of the optical "look" of film.

Pulling focus...difficult on any servo lens, but actually the gl2 is superior to the stock lens on the xl1s in this respect, as canon has given the focus ring a "real" focusing ring feel. I have the manual 16x lens on my xl1s, and this is my choice for situations when I want focus shifts to be apparent in my image.

Can't comment on the xlr adapter as I am not currently using one. Mostly my sound is coming from a camera mounted shotgun or a wireless system, neither of which require balanced inputs.

One final note...remember that the image quality of the gl2, while in some ways is an improvement over the xl1s, these improvements are really baby steps, not strides...I have mixed footage from the two cameras, and there is only a marginal difference between them, and they mix on screen very well. The xl1s is still a great camera, and is a valid purchase for those that want a more professional "system". The gl2 is a great camera in that it offers most of the power of the xl1s in a smaller package at a significantly lower price. Best of both worlds in my opinion.


Mark Kubat
January 17th, 2003, 11:19 PM
Barry, tremendous insight - thanks a lot. This was exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for - be it in favour of gl2 over xl1s or vice versa. Nice that here we can get a level of expertise that goes beyond a superficial magazine review...

thanks, man! YOU are the man.


Scott Silverman
January 18th, 2003, 03:47 AM
<<<-- Originally posted by Barry Goyette :
Can't comment on the xlr adapter as I am not currently using one. Mostly my sound is coming from a camera mounted shotgun or a wireless system, neither of which require balanced inputs. -->>>

So how do you hook up your shotgun to your camera? Just a simple XLR to mini-jack cable? I have a GL2 and want a shotgun (ME66) for mainly camera mounted shooting and thought I was going to need a MA-300, Beachtek, or Studio1. But if a XLR to mini-jack cable is just as good as a XLR box then I'll use the cable. Thanks!

Barry Goyette
January 18th, 2003, 12:57 PM
I'm not an expert on sound, by any measure, so approach this info with speculation (you might want to consider posting this question on the sound forum, as Don Palomaki is the resident guru on these matters and he's very good at explaining the ins and outs of sound for video), but as I understand it, Balanced input is necessary when longer runs of cable are involved (>10 feet I think). So for a camera mounted shotgun, an xlr to mini plug cable works great.

Equipment emporium makes a right angle to right angle version that works great with the gl2. They also have a lot of information on their site regarding sound connections for camcorders.


Peter Moore
January 18th, 2003, 02:01 PM
I agree about the GL2 being so improved over the XL1S, and absolutely can't wait for the XL2 - should be the granddaddy of all DV cameras.