XM2 for short and not so short films, or VX2000? at DVinfo.net

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Canon GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon GL2, GL1 and PAL versions XM2, XM1.


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Old September 3rd, 2002, 08:01 PM   #1
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XM2 for short and not so short films, or VX2000?

Hi everyone,
I lurked here for a month or so just before I bought my Canon XM2 a week ago. I found all of your comments very insightful and of great benefit to me, so thanks to all for that.

So I bought my XM2 for the purposes of continuing to make short films with my like minded friends, with a view to perhaps making a feature at some point (and to just document stuff in general). I have another 3 weeks or so where I can return it if I'm not happy with it.

So far I've been using it fairly extensively and have got to grips with it to a reasonable extent, but you'll have to excuse the potential ignorance displayed in my questions ;).

I would just like to ask the advice of those more professional than I, what kind of quality I could hope to achieve with the image blown up to cinema screen size? If it was transferred to film first and then blown up, would that be better quality than just blowing it up digitally? (I assume that the latter option isn't really available/viable).

(There's a reasonable chance we could get some stuff shown at some independent cinema's in london etc, and I will also be transfering to DVD).

The main thrust of this post is really to get your opinion's on the whole XM2 vs. VX2000 debacle, which I know has been flogged to death, but for some reason I'm still not really sure about. This is mainly due to my zero hands on experience with the VX2000.

I (sometimes) notice a fine grain on my xm2 footage, even with sharpness -1, no colour gain, and with good lighting. Even though I may potentially add grain in post anyway, I would still prefer the raw footage was clean so I at least had that option (and also the look of the grain is different).

Is anything radically different with the VX2000 ? Is it free from grain and sharper than the xm2 ? Obviously I've been massively influenced by the xm2's great manual controls and lens, do these make it a no brainer choice for me considering my intended use ?

That's it really, but I would also just like to get your opinions on whether it's feasible or even possible to make a short film or a feature that has the visual clarity/quality of something like Amelie at least when the video has been transferred to DVD (I know it's been heavily processed so I'm mainly talking about resolution). What about with the Xm2? or Vx2000 ?

Thanks, hopefully you catch my drift.
Alex
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Old September 3rd, 2002, 10:47 PM   #2
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Hello Alex,
Well I'll take a swing at a couple of matters you raised.

If you're seeing GRAIN in your XM2/GL-2 footage chances are that you were shooting under low light conditions and the camera automatically turned up the signal gain to compensate. (Note that this is not the same as COLOR gain, which controls chroma saturation.) Perhaps you were shooting in Auto mode or in a program mode such as Tv or Av. To see what I mean, point towards a dark subject in a program mode, let it focus and then switch to Manual mode while still aimed at the same subject. You'll probably seen the gain (as the 3rd figure in your viewfinder) cranked up as high as 18dB.

The XM2/GL2 is not in the same class as some of the larger, and much more expensive, cameras and their lenses that are more typically used to shoot top-notch features. That aside, however, there's really no reason why it could not be used. In some respects its specs beat it's big-brother, the XL1s. Certainly, there would be significant post-proce$$ing involved to render the best film transfer. But a significant portion of the results depend on how skillfully the footage was shot, how well your scenes were lit, and the quality of the sound.

Many others have compared the camera to the VX2000 and other cams so I'll leave it to you to review those threads in this forum.
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Old September 4th, 2002, 06:12 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Ken.

I pretty much always shoot in Manual now, with colour gain locked at 0db. But I didn't know about signal gain, so thanks for that.

When you say the gl2/xm2 is not in the same class as some of the larger more expensive camera's, are you referring to the ~10000 DV camera's (which are clearly ruled out for me) or are you mainly referring to other camera's of a similar price (1.7k - 3k). Camera's like the VX2000 PD150 XL1s etc - I realise they may beat the XM2 in certain areas, but I figured it was a question of the overall balance, not to mention cost.

I'm interested in what you mean by significant post processing. For example, let's say that a film on minidv was bought by a studio, presumably they would then pay for film transfers etc, so as long as the feature was skilfully shot, pro lighting and sound etc, there's no reason why it couldn't look really good on the screen?

Thanks for your comments
Alex
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Old September 4th, 2002, 11:06 AM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by AlexGingell :
When you say the gl2/xm2 is not in the same class as some of the larger more expensive camera's, are you referring to the ~10000 DV camera's (which are clearly ruled out for me) or are you mainly referring to other camera's of a similar price (1.7k - 3k). Camera's like the VX2000 PD150 XL1s etc - I realise they may beat the XM2 in certain areas, but I figured it was a question of the overall balance, not to mention cost. >>>

I was referring to the pro cameras such as the Sony DSR570, the Ikegami's, etc. These are rigs that generally run $25,000-$55,000. Also, an increasing number of features are shot with HD cams which run $60,000-$150,000. Certainly, most people shooting features will rent this equipment rather than purchase it. The prosumer equipment is simply not in the same specification class (i.e. resolution, color management, etc.) as this equipment. It's not just a matter of price. For starters, the CCD's in these cams are 1/2" or, mor commonly, 2/3" -vs- the 1/6"-1/4" CCD's found on con/prosumer cameras. Some have native 16:9 CCD blocks. This constitutes a fundamental big difference from prosumer cameras.

<<<-- I'm interested in what you mean by significant post processing. For example, let's say that a film on minidv was bought by a studio, presumably they would then pay for film transfers etc, so as long as the feature was skilfully shot, pro lighting and sound etc, there's no reason why it couldn't look really good on the screen? -->>>

Regardless of who pays for the post work, it's a challenge to make DV, especially low-resolution DV, look good on film. Film has a much higher intrinsic resolution and much wider exposure latitude than DV. Etc.

So, yes, I know that it's possible to shoot a good feature on DV. But just understand that your XM2 (and my GL-2 and XL1-s, for that matter) is -not- the acquisition equipment class commonly used to shoot "digital" features. Someone had a link around here listing the cameras used for recent Sundace Film Festival submissions. Of the digital features (which were numerous) nearly all were shot with Sony professional equipment.
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Old September 4th, 2002, 12:28 PM   #5
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Ok, thanks Ken. I guess the answer is to do the best I can do with what I've got, and if and when the time is right, to rent out the crazy expensive equipment when it is needed.

In your opinion though, Vx2000 or Xm2 ? ;-D
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Old September 4th, 2002, 01:48 PM   #6
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You could be effective with either. In my book, the GL2 wins. Better lens, and Canon's Frame mode win.

But if I had to match footage from another Sony cam I might be inclined to select the VX2000 or PD150. Look around here for other opinions.
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Old September 4th, 2002, 11:01 PM   #7
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Take a good look at this site for some useful comparisons:
<http://www4.big.or.jp/%7Ea_haru/temp020829/0208_3CCD.html>

The VX2000 and GL2's video can be seen in those framegrabs as being fairly close, but the Sony does produce a much better picture in medium-low, and lower, light.
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Old September 5th, 2002, 05:26 AM   #8
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yeah thanks, I saw those. Some of the time I prefer the Canon's pictures, and some of the time the Vx2000's.

The thing is I figure that a 3 yr old camera, can't really compete with a brand new camera in terms of features (manual controls, lens etc), so I guess I will probably stick with my xm2. Any slight increase in picture quality with the Vx2000 would probably trade off against the headaches when I find I can't do what I could do with my Canon.

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