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Old September 5th, 2002, 05:33 PM   #1
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GL2 Accessories

After much agonizing between the Sony VX2000, Sony TRV950, and Canon GL2, I have decided to purchase the GL2. I am an audio software engineer and this is my first venture into the world of video. The reason for this sudden purchase is the upcoming birth of my son in December. My father is footing the bill for the camera since he will not be able to attend. However, beyond the birth, I hope to use this camera for recording our lives and travels, among other small creative projects. I am not a professional videographer, nor do I pretend to know a thing about video, but I am good with "toys" and I probably will have a thing or two to say about the audio quality of this beastie :-)

I am looking for recommendations regarding which accessories to purchase with the GL2 and the various options online are giving me a headache, especially when product descriptions are frequently VERY vague or not even there for the accessories that come "recommended" from various online dealers.

So, if you have any recommendations, please speak up and feel free to include links to product pages.
I am interested in:

Battery (Canon? Sakar? Lenmar? something else? Is the 3 hour Canon BP945 the longest lasting of all the Canon batteries? Is the 5.5-6 hour Sakar battery any good? Have you found you prefer to have 2 shorter length batteries on you, or one longer length battery?)

Battery Charger (I've seen them for as little as $20 and as much as $90 or even more for "duals"... why the huge price delta? Are there battery chargers that charge from regular AC as WELL as from a car, or do you have to buy two separate chargers? Any specific models you have found to be reliable and reasonably inexpensive?)

Case (I've seen several and know I don't want a "Hard" Case but am skeptical as to the capacity/sturdiness of the softer ones... which ones fit the GL2 plus accessories comfortably without feeling like you are carrying around a suitcase? I am not planning on swimming with the camera in the case, but it rains here a lot and the camera will probably get dragged around planes fairly often, so protection is important)

Filters (how often do you use yours? what differences are there between the regular filter packs and the professional ones REALLY? which brand would you recommend and why?) I suspect I need at least a regular UV filter.

Lenses (wide angle and telephoto) (I know I probably want a wide angle lens both for indoor and outdoor work, but am not likely to be doing any desert scorpion shooting in Africa, so am hesitant about a telephoto, especially since the GL2 already has a 20x optical zoom. Also, how much better are the pro lenses over the regular lenses? Which brands should I consider? I've heard good things about the Canon 58 mm wide angle lens.)

Tripod (I wouldn't know a decent tripod if it bit me on the nose so what are the differences between them and what are your recommendations? I know I would like it to be reasonably light, stable, and have a bubble level... what other features should I care about? I've been recommended a Libac M20 so far, but $200 seems like a lot for a tripod to me, not to mention *11 pounds* is a lot for me with a baby/toddler in my arms. Is there anything out there considerably lighter and cheaper that is still worth buying and is not total junk?)

Any other accessory I should consider?

Thanks for your time!
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Old September 5th, 2002, 06:27 PM   #2
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OK, I am new to this as well, but I'll tell you waht I settled on. For a case , I went with a hard case, I want as much protection for this $$$ baby as possible. I went with a Cases Plus case, it has a fair amount of extra room, I can get the battery, charger cords, a/v cables, lens hood and 5 tapes and the remote control in it with the camera without much effort. There is definetly room for them to make some extra storage space in thsi case, but overall, it is a nice case. I opted for the Canon 945 and the Canon dual battery charger adapter. The main reason, was Brain at Zotzdigital swears by the Canon batteries and said if it fails even outside warranty he will replace it. I got the Libec M20 Tripod, not bad, I was expecting the head to be a little smoother, but it is good for the price. I am considering a second 945 battery and then using the dual adapter I figure I am set for a day of shooting. I figure the numbers Canon posts for battery life are problme a vast over statement. I am assuming I will get about 50%-70% of what they state so 2 945 batteries should give me 4-6 hours of shooting. The only thing I am missing is a supplemental light. I am considering the VL3 as a small fill light to help get rid of any shadows or dark areas for head shot shoots.
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Old September 5th, 2002, 10:05 PM   #3
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A few more thoughts after speaking with my father today:

Batteries:
I've been told that shorter length batteries are typically lighter than longer length batteries, but that actual weight can vary depending upon manufacturer. Are two 3 hour batteries of the same manufacturer heavier than one 6 hour battery? Which manufacturers supply the most reliable and LIGHTEST batteries?

Battery Chargers:
I would assume a more expensive battery charger charges the batteries in a shorter amount of time. This is rather important to me. Which chargers are quick? How much quicker? How much $ is that increase in speed going to cost me? How long does it typically take to charge a 3 hour battery anyway??? Doesn't the GL2 come with its own charger? Can this charger charger charge non-Canon batteries? If I want to charge a battery in a car, can I get away with only finding some sort of car adapter to the charger, or do I need a whole separate car charger?

Filters:
Father says all I will probably need is a UV filter, more or less as "protection" for the lens itself. He also mentioned a polarizing filter as a maybe. Any recommendations for either one of those?

Lenses:
Father says to skip the wide angle lens for now as he thinks I will be happy with the angle of sight that I get with the GL2 and that I will quickly learn to dislike wide angle lens distortion from a non-professional, lower quality lens but that I have little enough need for it right now that it is not worth shelling out the dough for a GOOD lens at this time. Any thoughts?

Tripod:
Father says "don't buy anything without quick release". What exactly is quick release? I understand it has something to do with the way you mount a camera on the tripod? I have a Nikon Coolpix 990 as well and would like the tripod to be dual-function for the Nikon as well as for the GL2. Does anyone know if the GL2 and the Nikon "support" quick release? And which tripods do? And I *really* would prefer something lighter than the Libec M20. There's got to be something out there that weighs less than 11 pounds, doesn't cost a fortune, and actually works well?

Tapes:
Father mentioned something about there being two kinds of tapes... the inexpensive kind and the expensive kind with something called ICM(???) I think. Anyone know what he was talking about? He said he wasn't convinced that he couldn't live without the expensive kind (about $20 a pop) and was actually interested in what people had to say about this.

Anyhow, thanks for listening...
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Old September 5th, 2002, 10:37 PM   #4
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Whew. Well, first off, I'd really recommend getting some shooting time in with the GL2 before deciding what accessories to purchase. But here are a few ideas.

- The standard battery charger is just fine and will handle all of the BP-900 series batteries that the GL2 uses, with the 945 being the largest capacity. It will take a couple of hours to recharge a completely drained big 945 battery. These are lithium ion batteries, not nickel metal hydrides or ni-cads. There is no "quick-charge" per se.

- A UV filter is a standard protective measure. A circular polarizer is also handy for outdoor shooting but is not an essential must-have-day-one accessory.

- Tripod discusisons go on endlessly here, and I've no intention to start yet another discussion on them. Use the Search function on the top of this page to find tripod threads...and make a pot of coffee...there's plenty of info already here on the subject. Better yet, go over to the B&H photo site (bhphoto.com) and browse through tripods rated for 6lbs.

- You probably can skip the wide-angle adapter (it's not a lens, per se) until you have a better feel for your camera and your needs.

- Panasonic and Sony are the defacto standards for high-quality tape. Which brand you use makes no material difference; both are fine. Since this is DIGITAL video, not analog, footage is recorded much like the files on your computer; in 0's and 1's. BUT PICK AND STICK. Don't switch brands with your camera. Differences in lubricants can gum-up your heads.

Since your father's footing the bill for this kit, this may be a heretic suggestion but I feel I have to make it anyway. The GL2 is an excellent camera. But might it be a bit of over-kill for shooting your new baby and future family events? I have both a GL2 and XL1s but for vacations or casual outings, the heck with those. I most often take along my Canon ZR25 which takes excellent footage (especially for a 1/6" single chipper), is extremely compact and easy to use and doesn't scare the crap out of my wife when she has to shoot with it (actually, she has her own). The ZR50 would be the updated current unit.

Think about saving good ol' dad a few bucks. It might be a very practical decision. The GL2's alot of camera for modest needs.
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Old September 6th, 2002, 02:47 PM   #5
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Thanks for all your suggestions.

"Whew. Well, first off, I'd really recommend getting some shooting time in with the GL2 before deciding what accessories to purchase. But here are a few ideas."

Granted, but I need to have a few basics to begin with, just trying to decide what those are...

"- The standard battery charger is just fine and will handle all of the BP-900 series batteries that the GL2 uses, with the 945 being the largest capacity. It will take a couple of hours to recharge a completely drained big 945 battery. These are lithium ion batteries, not nickel metal hydrides or ni-cads. There is no "quick-charge" per se. "

Ok, that answers the quickness part. What about the weight issues? Will the standard battery charger handle the Sakar 6 hour battery? If I'm on an island in the Galapagos, I'd really prefer not to have to return to my ship in the middle of the day to go recharge batteries for a couple of HOURS. I've got a charger for my still camera that charges my batteries in about 15 minutes for a little extra $, while most of the rest that were around at the time took a full 6-8 hours. Made a huge difference to me on the Galapagos. I also don't want to be lugging two 3 hour batteries around if I can get away with one bigger one(assuming someone explains the weight deltas- if the 6 hour battery makes the camera weigh 10 lbs instead of 4, I would obviously reconsider this).

"- A UV filter is a standard protective measure. A circular polarizer is also handy for outdoor shooting but is not an essential must-have-day-one accessory. "

Ok, that seems to match what my father suggested. What I am looking for is which UV filters come recommended, or is this the kind of thing where it really doesn't matter and one piece of glass is like another? What about coatings and such?

"- Tripod discusisons go on endlessly here, and I've no intention to start yet another discussion on them. Use the Search function on the top of this page to find tripod threads...and make a pot of coffee...there's plenty of info already here on the subject. Better yet, go over to the B&H photo site (bhphoto.com) and browse through tripods rated for 6lbs. "

Heh, yes, I know, I've done both already. Problem is the discussion threads I have read all seem to favor heavier tripods and ones that start at $200. I'm looking for something less expensive that is lighter. If something like that simply does not exist, then I'd just like to know so I can figure out if I want to go the heavier route or the more expensive route. I wish The B+H site had a "supports X lbs" filter on it. There are a lot of them to go through, but OK, I guess I will have to slog through more of them. What about the quick release feature? Can you tell me more about it?

"- You probably can skip the wide-angle adapter (it's not a lens, per se) until you have a better feel for your camera and your needs."

*nod*

"- Panasonic and Sony are the defacto standards for high-quality tape. Which brand you use makes no material difference; both are fine. Since this is DIGITAL video, not analog, footage is recorded much like the files on your computer; in 0's and 1's. BUT PICK AND STICK. Don't switch brands with your camera. Differences in lubricants can gum-up your heads."

*giggle*. I'm an audio dsp engineer. Yes, since we are in the digital world, that is what I thought as well, but my father insisted there was some difference. Hm, perhaps HE was thinking of analog tapes? Doesn't make sense to me. He has a TRV900, which is MiniDV as well. Then again, perhaps there is some higher class of tape that either handles error correction better (but I would think that would be a function of the camera, not of the tape?) or perhaps it has something to do with dealing with synchronicity. Do the MiniDV tapes have timecode on them already? Or is it written as it is recorded?

The lubrication issue is one I was definitely not aware of. Interesting point. Thanks.

"Since your father's footing the bill for this kit, this may be a heretic suggestion but I feel I have to make it anyway. The GL2 is an excellent camera. But might it be a bit of over-kill for shooting your new baby and future family events? I have both a GL2 and XL1s but for vacations or casual outings, the heck with those. I most often take along my Canon ZR25 which takes excellent footage (especially for a 1/6" single chipper), is extremely compact and easy to use and doesn't scare the crap out of my wife when she has to shoot with it (actually, she has her own). The ZR50 would be the updated current unit."

Definitely a heretic suggestion, but I understand where you are coming from :-) When I began my search, I was originally thinking along those lines. I visited a friend at his studio and we looked at a few of the older versions of some of the 1 chipper cameras in tandem with some quite professional beasties. I was not impressed with image quality. I am very sensistive to digital artifacts, color, edge detection and lighting (exposure?). I've also been known to stop watching movies in which the audio is not synched up with the video by a fraction of a second. My eyes are not trained like my ears are (I can distinguish pretty much any audio compression scheme out there at any bitrate and at any sampling rate and probably give you the equation for the type of lowpass filter used to preprocess the signal from listening for a minute) but I do tend to look at things actively, not passively. Lets just also say that the audio quality of the lower end cameras left a lot to be desired. Call me picky. Granted, I will START with filming the baby, but my hobbies usually turn into obsessions, so I am pretty sure it will get plenty of creative use. As a fully geek-certified wife, I don't scare easily. Hubby is also an engineer.

"Think about saving good ol' dad a few bucks. It might be a very practical decision. The GL2's alot of camera for modest needs."

I'm not too concerned with saving "good ol' dad" a few bucks, within reason. He owes my mother more child support payments than any number of GL2s could make up for and owes me years of never being there. I am trying to buy the best that "makes sense" to me, not more, not less. The GL2 seems to be that based on my research and about 6 hours of futzing with it, the VX2000, and the TRV950 in the store, though there were definite pros and cons to all three of these that have been discussed at length on boards such as this one.

Anyhow, thanks again for your input, I truly appreciate it and hope that you can give me more details about some of the other questions I raised!
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Old September 6th, 2002, 02:54 PM   #6
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" I wish The B+H site had a "supports X lbs" filter on it. "

Actually, the tripod section does have such a selection feature.
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Old September 6th, 2002, 04:15 PM   #7
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Actually, it has:
Supports up to 11 lbs
11-21
>21 lbs

Definitely better than looking at all of them, but wouldn't a tripod that supports 5 lbs would be significantly different than one that supports 11 lbs? And some of the descriptions don't include a support weight until you look at the specs page.

What we need is a real database with a Natural Language interface:

Show me all the tripods that support up to 6 lbs, have a quick release head, a bubble level, weigh less than 5 lbs, cost less than $200 and have at least a 4 star customer satisfaction rating.

[Sorry, no such item exists in this database]

:-)
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