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Old December 12th, 2008, 10:36 AM   #1
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Shopping for GL2- good choice?

Hi guys,
I'm looking to upgrade my video camera. I have a Panasonic 3-CCD consumer grade mini-DV camcorder today, and it has been reliable as a home-movie maker but as I have improved my still photography skills by learning to shoot manually and take advantage of high end optics I've become more annoyed with my video camera's limitations.

My subjects are my son, the new child we anticipate having next year, model railroading, family events, and auto projects and racing activities.

I will keep the little Panasonic but I'm considering the GL2. Features such as L-series glass, image stabilization, low light performance, and overall better image quality are the motivation for the upgrade.

I don't have a HD (Blu-Ray) drive anywhere in my home yet, but I do have a media center PC tied to our main TV in the living room, so I could at least play HD videos on it until a Blu-Ray player found its way into our home. Our TV is only 720i and we never even use that level of detail except when using the TV as a PC monitor. These are the reasons I'm not really pursuing a HD model at this time. A similar quality HD model would be nice but I don't see anything available within my budget, as for that matter I'm going to have to find a used GL2 in order to make a purchase. I'll consider HD later when the prices come down.

I don't have access to the "for sale or trade" forum on this site so I may be forced to EvilBay or pay more for a beat-up one at B&H, Adorama, or somewhere similar. A 90 day warranty isn't a whole lot more than none on a used model, but at least these two outfits do stand behind them that long. If someone here has a used GL2 in good condition available, I'd love to hear about it- please contact me via PM or email.

I don't foresee any need to swap lenses unless the macro performance of the GL2 lens is dismal.

That said, given my intended uses, is the GL2 an appropriate choice?
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Old December 12th, 2008, 05:49 PM   #2
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The GL2 has been around for a while, and while it provide great SD video, it still is SD and a 4+ year old design.

It would probably be OK for a year or two for most uurposes, but the world is moving to HD in some form or another, and once you have seen HDV on a large screen set your standards will forever be corrupted against anything that is SD.

A question to ask yourself with respect to the family and one on the way is "what will I want to have when I look at the video in the future?"

Before you invest in a GL2, new or used, take a look at the HDV offerings, watch them on a large screen, check the cost and your budget, and then make your decision.

I have a XL1 and GL1, but once I shot with the XH-A1, I have not used the others and bought a HV20 to use a a playback machine and back-u[p.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 09:37 PM   #3
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I have seen a couple things on HD, and yeah, the difference is stunning.

So is the price. The GL2 can be had used (B&H, Adorama at least) for $1350-1400. The XH-A1 is twice that and a little more (only available new it seems- is it a brand new model?)

I want an HD camera, no question about it. However, the choice in front of me is (A) a GL2 in the next month or so, or (B) save up another ??? months/year and eventually buy an XL-1A or equivalent, unless there is another HD model worth considering.

Am I overlooking something? Is there a way to get an XH-A1 for less than $3000? Is there an alternative to the XH-A1 that I should really consider, like the HV-30 maybe?
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Last edited by Douglas Staley; December 12th, 2008 at 11:44 PM. Reason: typo
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Old December 12th, 2008, 11:17 PM   #4
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Hi Douglas............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Staley View Post
Hi guys,
I'm looking to upgrade my video camera. I have a Panasonic 3-CCD consumer grade mini-DV camcorder today, and it has been reliable as a home-movie maker but as I have improved my still photography skills by learning to shoot manually and take advantage of high end optics I've become more annoyed with my video camera's limitations.

My subjects are my son, the new child we anticipate having next year, model railroading, family events, and auto projects and racing activities.
I need to take you back to your initial couple of paragraphs.

What is annoying you with your existing camera?

What is it you are trying to achieve?

I ask, as what you want, may not actually be what you need.

The "Media Centre" PC, (going to show my ignorance here) can/ could it be used to edit video of any flavour [within reason], if required?

I take on board that finance is limited and you are looking for the "best bang for buck", but also take on board that this is for the storage of memories to be viewed many years down the track.

I appologise if these questions sound intrusive, but I really need an answer in order to give you an honest appraisal of where you should be thinking of heading.

Your last post is most illuminating, at least you're thinking laterally.

Without an answer to the above questions, so going blind, I'll wager that something like a Canon HV30 with either or both a wide angle adapter/ telephoto ditto and a half decent tripod would probably get you:

a) HD on a severe budget (and with some carefull shopping, within your current budget).

b) Far greater control of shooting parameters and thus far better results than your existing Pana (good tho' they are).

c) The abilty to view either HD or SD output on your existing screen without an upgrade but full HD later if/ when you do upgrade.

d) Stop you investing hard earned dosh in a superceded technology that in 20 years time is going to be impossible to view on anything.

BTW, can't imagine why you are bothering about Blu Ray at this point in time, it's totally irrelevant to your situation, and possibly will be for a very long time.

I rest my case.

Over to you.


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Old December 12th, 2008, 11:42 PM   #5
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I neglected to thank everyone so far for your replies, so here and now, thank you!

Your questions didn't come off as intrusive at all. What I hope to achieve: clearer, less grainy video (low light performance), improved clarity and performance at higher possible ISO for less motion blur (somewhat still low light performance issue of course), and of course far higher quality optics for again a better picture. Finances are absolutely a factor, as they always are.

For a tripod I am buying a fluid head for my Bogen 3021 that I use for still photography, and I'll just exchange heads when I switch photography types. Does this seem reasonable?

As for the PC, I don't use the media center PC (just a PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition, which has a few extra bells-and-whistles as far as a Microsoft Media Player variant that is menu driven so an infrared remote works with it pretty well) for video editing. I use it more like a movie jukebox. You see, with a four year old little boy, swapping DVD's with all those kids videos just results in a whole bunch of DVD's scratched beyond any hope of using them. However, we can just play one off of the internal hard drive and keep the DVD stored safely away, so nothing getts swapped or scratched. I could just as easily transfer the home movies to this PC for playing just like the children's movies. I do my video editing on a separate desktop PC, but there's no reason it couldn't be done on the Media Center PC- except that it's in the family room with no monitor other than a TV, and the little boy is often planted in front of it!!!

The only reason I mentioned Blu-Ray is that I know nothing about how else HD video might be stored/directly played on a TV except through a PC. I've heard of HD DVD but I don't know anything about it and I haven't noticed DVD burners or blank disks for this format, but it's probably just ignorance on my part. Please forgive me for not knowing!!! I'm ready to learn.

I hope I covered all of your questions. Please "knock me upside the head" and set me straight as needed, I probably need it a lot. My wife says I do!
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Old December 13th, 2008, 02:02 AM   #6
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What I have distilled from your questions is a quest in that you are wanting/needing to balance budget<>emotional-value.

OK blasphemy here, just for the moment forget the drive towards HD - and yes it IS a remarkable format too - here, again, are three links you should really spend some time over - ALL of Sundowning was shot on our GL2/XM2. Granted a "Magic Bullet" FX was used, but Magic Bullet Looks has plummeted in price too!

Please study these clips and the words of Jim Cole - the director of "Sundowning" - enjoy! Grazie

sundowning trailer #1

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-gl2...wner-clip.html

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-gl2...2-trailer.html
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Old December 13th, 2008, 02:28 AM   #7
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Hi again............

Just goes to show, what do I know, huh?

Yep, you can shoot great video with a GL2.

Looks pretty darn good to me.

Is it HD?

Nope.

Does it matter?

Not to me.

How about to you?

Douglas, nobody here is going to "knock you upside the head", whether your wife thinks it's required or not.

Upset someone, then they'll do it, but not before, believe me.

Graham did raise something I hadn't even given a thought to: "emotional value".

I'm pondering that phrase even as I type.

I still haven't managed to get my head around that, shall give it some thought as I sleep on it.

Catch you later.


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Old December 13th, 2008, 07:51 AM   #8
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If you are content with SD video, and want the best low light performance at the lowest cost, consider the Sony VX2100 or the more professional PD170. But you are better off adding a small light because even the low light kings do introduce some unhappy color artifacts to the image. Sonys tend to turn the image bluish for example.

However, there is no substitute for adequate light.

HD matters as the image size increases and/or viewing distance decreases. Where is the break point? Depends on your eyesight.

The HD 1-CCD or CMOS camcorders are actually rather good.
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Old December 13th, 2008, 11:18 AM   #9
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But if you want tight 20x optical zooms -> GL2.

Grazie
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Old December 13th, 2008, 11:44 PM   #10
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Thank you every one for the considerable thought and time you put in to every response. I have a lot to think about.

Graham, Chris, you're right on the money. I'm not looking at the camera itself as a fun new toy, but rather I know I won't have control of lighting- such as in the delivery room when my next child is born (video from last time/my first- not bad, but due to "home video" image quality from the consumer camcorder there's a lot left to the imagination) and video in other people's homes on Christmas day, school auditoriums with lighting designed for public school budgets rather than photography/videography (we're all famailiar with that situation), model railroads (usually built in basements), and similar challenging conditions. Bringing auxiliary lighting is not an option- I have to work with what is available as these events are not conducive to such preparation or equipment.

Events like these- especially the delivery room, first moments with grandparents, homecoming, first steps- yes, these are emotional scenes. The still camera is great for freezing the moment, but the action is often more cherished. This is the emotional part of these memories that I'm looking to improve. The video I took at the anniversary party in November was like looking through a coke bottle. I'm so glad I brought my 20D DSLR, as those images are far more revealing and memorable than the crappy video I got, and the opportunity will never be there again. Two invitees passed away between when the invitations were sent and the party, a third passed away since the party- and one of the attendees delivered a baby- and it has only been two weeks (tonight). I'm sure glad I have the pictures, but video would have been priceless. This is the emotional value.

My existing camcorder is 5 years old and technology has advanced considerably. The GL2 is about as old, but far superior in quality. Quality like the Sundowner videos isn't attainable under these conditions as I don't have control over most of the lighting, but the GL2 is obviously far more capable than what I have now- so it's an option, and I believe it certainly meets the objective I'm striving for. HD would be nice, however nobody I am making these videos for- grandparents of my children or us- have a HD player (except for PC's) at this time.

I am a beginner, but my existing camera allows virtually no control over any settings- it's all automatic. I keep thinking, "There has to be a better way".

I am bouncing back and forth between the GL2 and the HV-30. Both look quite attractive. I presume the GL2 is more durable, it certainly has better optics (it's hard to argue with an L-series lens), has an incredible 20x range, less portable, more expensive, and is SD (which is the native format of everything I and my family have). Decisions, decisions...
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Old December 14th, 2008, 02:04 AM   #11
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While the 20x zoom is nice on the GL2, a used one can have issues (as with any used cam). I second the VX2100 or PD170 referred to earlier.

The only issues I've had when editing other people's work was the GL2. 90% of the time it was fine, and in sufficient light it is beautiful, but cannot touch the Sony's in lower light. Audio sync issues with the GL2 was dreadful on a couple of occasions, and typically (I've read) occurs with them as they get older.

The best buy hands down currently on the market, in my opinion, is the Canon Vixia HV30. It's less than $600, shoots unblieveable footage and is actually decent in low light. It is widescreen, has good onboard audio and a mic input and I believe a manual white balance, (but I could be mistaken about that last point). It is also tape, which I like. The one thing it doesn't have is a mount for a light...very sad.

It doesn't look like a professional cam, but man what a beautiful little camera. I played with one at circuit city and I fell in love with it. B&H carries them.

Good luck whichever way you go.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 07:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
....Audio sync issues with the GL2 was dreadful on a couple of occasions, and typically (I've read) occurs with them as they get older...
Would not expect the known XL/Gl audio issue to change with age, and the known issue relates to whether or not the NLE can accommodate the Canon. Other issues often relate to how the NLE is setup to monitor the video.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 11:21 AM   #13
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I think you guys have me convinced to give the HV30 a shot. The Sony doesn't seem to be as plentiful used, and the new price is sadly out of my reach at this time. My finances simply aren't that strong at the moment.

I do have one more question- I see the HV30 selling at $583 shipped and the HV20 at $465. Are there enough improvements in the HV30 to go ahead and pay the extra? I could put the difference into editing software, a couple lenses, an extra battery, etc. if the differences aren't significant. The main differences I've been able to dig up are 30P capability and a black exterior.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #14
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You can try a web search for HV20 Vs HV 30 and see what comes up. The better LCD display alone would make it a no brainer for me.

As far as the GL2, whatever the cause of it's issues I wouldn't want it.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 04:02 PM   #15
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Also, look into getting a small video light, about 10 watts or so. Small enough not to blind people, and bright enough to help video in poor light situations.
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