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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon XL2 / XL1S / XL1 and GL2 / XM2 / GL1 / XM1.


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Old November 11th, 2004, 10:37 PM   #1
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XL2 purchase / drawbacks

I touched and played with an XL2 for the first time today! I
wish I'd drug a studio monitor to the camera shop to see what
the picture looked like. But from what I could observe on the
fly and what I've read here, it seems like a pretty solid unit.
I'm just a camera away from getting one :} It's immediate use
will be documentary stuff and short movies. But the big secret
reason for the XL2 is I want to teach myself camera/edit
techniques and possibly earn money with it down the road (but
that's a pipe dream for later elaboration).

I've been reading about the XL2 for weeks and love it on paper.
It felt a bit wild on my shoulder (I'm used to handcams and JVC
ENG's) but hopefully mods and practice will overcome it. All
that's left is the stuff I don't love about it, which I'll post
here. Perhaps people could give me feedback as to wether these
are actual problems, possible workarounds, or are "nothing to
worry about".

No XLR line in
I take it to mean I can't plug in a mixer, or non-mic device?

Small 4:3 capture area
This one bums me out, since I do work in 4:3. Canon turned a
1/3" chip into a ~1/4". I feel odd spending $5k on 4:3 that
might be outdone by my GL2. OTOH, I hear XL2's 4:3 isn't too
bad, really. And there's the chance that one could always record
in 16:9 then pan and scan for 4:3 (but would the upres process
kill the picture?)

Tape door
I popped open the cassette door on in the shop. The mech
movement seemed nice and minimal, but I gasped when I saw the
whole head just sitting there! I always try to change tapes
quickly and stuff still gets into my GL2, even with it's smaller
door. The XL2's huge opening seems like a mistake. Still, this
couldn't have changed much from the XL1, and people have run
hundreds of tapes in those things.

Then there's the blinking tally light, no DVCam, funky body
design, no safe zones and other little niggles that exist
because no camera is perfect. But any info/opinion on the above
problems would be appreciated, thanks!
jeffm
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Old November 12th, 2004, 12:20 AM   #2
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The XLR mic in issue has been talked about before. This is not really a problem IMO. I talked to my soundman about it. He looked at me with a smile on his face when I told him I was concerned about that. He basically said there was a mic/line output on his mixer (just look for that feature when shopping for a mixer). Basically that means the feed will go out of the mixer via XLR mic out and in the XL2 via mic in. No problem there.

I know a lot of people are upset about that omission from Canon, but I really don't see what the problem is. Either you plug your mics directly into the XLR and don't need line in, or you use a mixer with mic out, which it seems is rather standard on most pro mixers anyway (just a -20db switch).

Only time where it might be a problem is for example when the sound guy at a live performance would give you a line out directly from the console, but I'd think you'll just need to bring a small field mixer with XLR line/mic in/out and you'll be set.

Regarding the 4:3 screen, it is sharper/cleaner than the XL1 from the comparisons I've seen, so it will definitelly be sharper than the GL2, no contest. Don't worry there is no way you'll get that kind of image out of the GL2 any time soon. This might not be resolution related however, since they both have pretty much the same in 4:3 mode. But just look for grabs comparing the 2 cameras, you'll see why you're paying extra for the XL2.

The CCD block might be smaller, but there's a greater resolution. And everything you'd think would normally be affected by a smaller capture element like noise or DOF don't seem to be affected negatively here, so Canon designed this capture device well. I think the XL2 does a great job in 4:3 and a fantastic job in 16:9. But if you're doing shorts, you'll probably end up using the 16:9 format sooner or later.

As for the tape door, I'm not sure what there is to be concerned about. You might want to ask this question on the XL1 forum since it's more or less the same design and those users have had their cam for a longer period of time, but I've never read or heard anybody comment on an issue regarding dirt or dust getting in and messing up the picture.
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Old November 12th, 2004, 12:53 AM   #3
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I'd heard about the audio issue somewhere, forgot the source, but it talked it up like the end of the world. Appears it can be worked around with a few grams of knowhow

Sounds like good news for the CCD. That was my own maths comparing the GL2 pixels to the XL2's. It made sense at the time but could be wrong, and I guess I'd trust a camera side-by-side over a calculator anyday. Most of my "new" projects will be 16:9, but a lot of my current work is 4:3, That's where the concern came from :}

I might (not) look into the door issue. I had stuff get into a transport somehow on location once and mess up two hours of footage so I'm always paranoid. IMO that door looks like a crap magnet but if it works and noone's complaining about it...

Thanks for all the info!!!
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Old November 12th, 2004, 01:59 AM   #4
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regarding the tally-light you can turn it off so it doesn't blink @all.
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Old November 12th, 2004, 02:40 AM   #5
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Here's a thread (link) with footage comparing the GL2 and XL2.

Might not be the best test you'll find since it's 16:9, but it's a start. I had seen some 4:3 side by side comparisons between the 2 but I cannot seem to find them anymore. Oh well. Anyway your best bet would be to go to a store and do a side by side by yourself.
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Old November 12th, 2004, 08:03 AM   #6
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The tape door has a dust seal on it, that wasn't there on the Xl1, so its actually an improvement in design.

My beef is with the battery pack adapter. Its held on by three tiny screws... so when you want to install or remove it, you need a screw driver. Im still looking for thumbscrews to replace them. I dropped a screw in the dark the other night, and spent thirty minutes looking for it in the sand.

Also, the 24p indicator turns from white to orange to indicate when you are shooting 3:2 or 2:3:3:2. This is fine, unless you are using the black and white viewfinder.

Other small details I am getting used to.
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Old November 12th, 2004, 05:27 PM   #7
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you can go(audio) line into the xl2 via the rca inputs on the side. I recorded some live music through my Mackie board directly in through the rca's and it sounds great! i took the mix from the main mix sends (1/4 inch to rca).
I also ordered two xlr barrel adaptors to step down from mic to line. This way you can go from the balanced outs of a board into the rear xlr's on the xl2. i ordered them from trew audio in Tenn., and they were $30 each.
the tally light can be disabled.
have fun
Bruce Yarock
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Old November 12th, 2004, 11:15 PM   #8
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Bruce, could you elaborate on those barrel adapters you're talking about? Is this the exact name? Are those big and heavy? How exactly do they work, does the sound remain balanced after going through those?
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Old November 13th, 2004, 07:52 AM   #9
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David,
i think the correct name is "psc 50 db pads". I didn't receive mine yet, but a friend who does sound for the big boys down here reccomended them. he called them " barrel connectors'. they are supposed to be small, and can connect to the out put of the board or to your xlr cables. If you want to be sure, call Skyler at Trew Audio. I think there's one in Toronto also.
Btw, did you try the rca inputs on the side of the camera? I ordered the pads because we'll be taping some live groups, and I want the option of xlr or rca.
bruce Yarock
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