December Computer Video XM2 Review at DVinfo.net

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Old October 29th, 2002, 03:31 AM   #1
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December Computer Video XM2 Review

This is the review I've been looking out for.

Apologies in advance for being a "wimp" on this ....

It starts with the the comparison to the XM1 and compares the value, or not, in any upgrade items from the XM1 - interesting.

Overall it gets a CV 80% success rating. Having been reading this forum for 4 months now, I was hoping for a greater CV success rating. Again, the low light level performance qualities are observed. In the last paragraph the review makes a comparison to the Sony TRV950, from the examples they had seen. It does come out in favour of the audio items - 2 dials etc - and it recognises the value of having useful transport ports - but these are now becoming standard, at this price. IMHO, it is a reasonable 5 page in depthish review. However, I'm now a tad confused!

If people can get hold of the review, I would be very interested in your comments.

I'm now wavering on purchasing the XM2 [GL2], and would truly like to read others perceptions of the review against now thier own experience of the G/XM2.

Presently the XM2 can be purchased in the UK for around the 1640.00gbp. It is not terrifically expensive, but I would like to reassure myself it is somewhere on the "money". Reasonable request I think?

Cheers

Grazie
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Old October 29th, 2002, 11:06 PM   #2
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Re: December Computer Video XM2 Review

<<<-- Originally posted by Grazie Bernard : This is the review I've been looking out for.

Presently the XM2 can be purchased in the UK for around the 1640.00gbp. It is not terrifically expensive, but I would like to reassure myself it is somewhere on the "money". Reasonable request I think?

Cheers

Grazie -->>>

How much is that in US bucks? I've been thinking along the same lines.
-Vinson
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Old November 2nd, 2002, 11:56 AM   #3
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I haven't seen the review, Grazie, but I can give you some impressions of the camera that I hope will be helpful. I am relatively new to video, but have worked extensively in still photography and am fairly experienced in computer programming and hardware issues. I'm using the camera primarily as a professional tool in an oral history project, on location, with participants who are fairly sensitive to intrusive equipment. My output target is DVD and some streaming video via web.

Here are the things I like about the camera.

1) The color balance and contrast ratios seem pretty neutral to me, which I really like. My research participants are American Indians with fairly dark skin tones, and they reproduce very well, retaining shadow detail in natural sidelight, without excessive reds (a problem I have noted with dark skin and other cameras). It is, of course, possible to alter color and saturation levels around this neutral setting with the custom preset option, which is very intelligently laid out, and SHOWS when activated in the viewfinder.

2) The manual settings are great. I can lock in on a location set up, and fully control aperture, shutter, and gain, and it SHOWS, with a meter line, in the viewfinder. It's easy to adjust the settings (I usually adjust aperture in .3 stop increments) if conditions change. In auto, the setting shifts if my subject gestures with his/her hands, but not on manual. Ditto for Manual Focus, which doesn't shift with hand movements, and SHOWS in the viewfinder, so I know it's on.

3) The audio is very clean. Even my obsessive sound man friend thinks so. I use the manual levels, which you can have SHOWING on screen, and adjust individually on the back of the camera. This is great for my work. I use two Sony lavalier mics, running through a Studio One Pro adaptor box, which I also highly recommend. I generally work on a tripod (a fairly light Manfrotto with the 501 head, which I also highly recommend), but hand held, the image stabilizer gives very steady results, and the auto settings all seem to work well when you need them. In auto, the exposure compensation works well, and is very accessible. Somebody really thought this stuff out.

4) Viewfinder: outside, the eyepiece viewfinder works great. Inside, working on an interview with the camera on my tripod, I use the flip out screen, position the camera at subject chest level, and sit on a low stool, so my eyes look either over or around the screen. I can monitor everything and adjust all my levels, and still maintain eye contact as necessary or advisable with my subject (sometimes breaking eye contact and fiddling is good as it gives them more space when talking about certain subjects). When they do look at me, they appear to be looking right into the lens, but they aren't freaking out at looking into a camera. This is a great interview tool (and a technique suggested to me by a great mentor).

5) So far, it is rock solid reliable, and with a big battery (aftermarket 945), goes pretty much all day on location.

The picture quality is excellent. I have often done interviews by 60W incandescent single sourse lighting, or window light on a cloudy day. As long as you watch the gain (30 shutter speed is ok for interviews), and maybe knock back the sharpness in Custom Preset a notch or two, there is minimal noise and grain, and the color quality noted above holds (I also have my setup level at the bottom of the range in CP). The camera is also relatively unobtrusive. It's big enough to look professional, but not be as intimidating as an XL1 would be (and no screen on that one). I thought a lot about the VX2000 because of the low light capability, but I'm happy with the GL2 in that respect, and the sound circuitry--crucial to me--was my deciding factor. Good choice for me, as every sound guy I talked to called it this way.

I hope this helps, whatever the review said.

Linc Kesler
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Old November 2nd, 2002, 05:15 PM   #4
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I read that review yesterday, but didn't buy the magazine. I also spent some time playing with the GL2.

That 80 out of 100, that's 8 out of 10, basically, or B+. Personally, I'd rate it a bit higher.

It doesn't get much better than the GL2, VX2000 and MX5000 in regards with a 3 chip hand-held. The nice thing about the GL2 is that it has great controls. It's also ergonomically sound, it's easy to hold. The VX2000 and TRV950 are not easy to hold while shooting.

You can't go wrong with the GL2 (VX2000, MX5000 and TRV950). But for a larger hand-held, you can hold the GL2 while operating, and you get that great 20X zoom---and frame mode which you won't get with the Sonys.
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 06:16 AM   #5
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That's strange Linc, I have found that bringing Setup Level a notch or two higher increases low light sensitivity, not lowering it.
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 06:33 AM   #6
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Linc & Frank,

Thank you for your replies. Very helpful indeed esp Linc's well considered response. Why the uppercase "SHOW" and "SHOWING"?

Anyway, I do have a supplemental for you both. How are you finding the autofocus response times? I understand this as being the time it takes, going from afar to close-up, and the time lag the cammy takes to get back in focus - yes? How well do you think this is achieved with G/XM2?

Oh yes, as you pan, have noticed any "smearing" of the colour with moving images?

Again - thank you. Lanc you have almost describe to the letter the type of use I wish to make of the XM2. Your info and support of the audio side is re-assuring. I will want to execute and record interviews of customer & staff reactions to various service sector organisations I get invited to work with.

Regards

Grazie
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 07:15 AM   #7
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I didn't notice any smearing---I guess it depends on how fast you pan. (Fast pans are no nos.) The auto focus works well. Keep in mind, though, with any cam in lower light, the auto focus, auto white balance with have trouble. I played with the GL2 for 2 hours in the shop, in low light. I found it performed very well. What else can I say? Is it a perfect cam? I'd say, damn near.
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 01:50 PM   #8
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I don't mind the autofocus times, the only things I feel is a bit wierd about the auto focus is that if the light's going down then it will hunt forever to try and get focus in some situations.
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 08:00 PM   #9
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In response to your questions, Grazie:

1) the caps on SHOW is just to indicate how valuable I find the info. I really like to know what is going on, and with the GL2, it's all there. I particularly like that the shutter, aperture, and gain settings all have familiar numbers from the still photo world: for me that's much more useful than an unspecified set of numbers or unnumbered scale. One feature I forgot to mention in this respect is the zebra bars. If I just used exposure metering in my situation, I'd get much different readings if my subject had a dark or light shirt, when what I really want is to set my level for the face. I could zoom in and lock a reading, but if the light changed in mid-interview, I couldn't reset easily. But setting the zebra level to a useful level (you have choices: I use 100% but some more experieced people here suggested good other options for skin tone, etc.), you get in effect a hi-tone spot meter that spots everywhere. I wish my still camera did this! Again, a really useful and flexible tool.

2) I haven't noticed any color smear. At low shutter settings (30 and below), you can get motion trails, but that's what you'd expect, and might even want in some situations. Again, if you keep the gain low (0 or 6), the look in low light seems pretty good to me. Someone else noted that cranking up the setup gave more low light sensitivity, and that makes sense to me, as it seems to affect the highs and the lows (I still don't know why, as it's theoretically a "floor" setting): I set mine low based on the helpful answers I got here as I was trying to figure out what the control did. I believe setting it low gives more overall dynamic range (esp on the black end), which can always be compressed into the broadcast range in post-production (but not put back if it isn't there). I like the look, and am willing to sacrifice a little speed if necessary.

If you are doing interviews that are sound-critical, I'd really suggest external mics and an XLR adaptor box. I really like my Studio 1, but there are a range of options. I use lavalier mics (2 Sony ECM 44b), but if I had it to do over again, might go for a more cartoid lavalier, like one of the AKGs which are a little cheaper even. Getting the mics on nervous subjects is a little tricky, since it involves some body boundary issues, but after they're on, they're very unobtrusive and give good sound for both the questions and responses.

Good luck with your work,
Linc Kesler
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Old November 4th, 2002, 12:47 AM   #10
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Linc, - Thank you for your intelligent and "focussed" feedback. Your description of the value of the zebra bars has not only stressed one of the XM2's virtues, but, for me as a Newbie, you have, in one simple explanantion, described where one uses it and why!

I understand the, "if I had it to do over again, might go for a more cartoid lavalier" - cartoid meaning the "heart-shape" spread of area of sensitivity that the XM2 could record. Yes, I think I would only use "wireless" clips on those that felt comfortable with them. There is the aspect that once the lapels are on, the subject might tend to forget about them.

Linc, you have provided a very valuable piece of feedback for this potential XM2 buyer.

Regards

Grazie
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Old November 4th, 2002, 10:26 AM   #11
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Got the review in front of me.

They also say that the sony offers better still images and has a built in flash, but hang on...

You don't use a video camera to do still images. Its main function is to record video. For the serious video maker the XM2 offers far more control, than the TRV950.

Thought I'll add my thoughts.

All the best,

Ed Smith
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Old November 5th, 2002, 01:46 AM   #12
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Hello,

Excellent responses. I still feel there is plenty of mileage in this thread.

We have had submissions from individuals that not only explain clearly their experiences with the G/XM2, but also go to great lengths to further explain where and when they use the "virtues" of this camcorder.

Maybe there is a need for a DVInfo "What do you want to do?" type G/XM2 Users "Users-Guide", where "experienced" users can post their choice tips.

I'm submitting this weblink which may provoke further responses here and providing "up-skilling" of our use of the cammy.

See what you think:

http://www.camcorderinfo.com/board/read.php?f=14&i=36&t=36

Sorry, moderator - Chris - can't remember your sage advice on creating auto-weblinks - oops!

Regards

Grazie
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