XL2 versus waiting for an HD version at DVinfo.net

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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 14th, 2004, 04:30 PM   #1
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XL2 versus waiting for an HD version

To me this is an important question:

Would buying a group of XL2s to work now be a poor investment, considering that the world is pretty much all headed for HD? Is the picture quality good enough off the XL2 to make up the difference?

I am thinking of this in terms on investment... writing equipment off over a 3 year period can be a hassle if the equipment is out of date in the first year.

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Old November 14th, 2004, 07:21 PM   #2
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Do you mean 1080/720 HD or HDV?

How many XL-2's make a group?

I think it really boils down to your budget, what you actually need and when you really need to start doing it.
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Old November 14th, 2004, 07:51 PM   #3
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If you have something to shoot now, then "now" is always the best time to buy.

If you're waiting, you're not creating.
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Old November 14th, 2004, 08:22 PM   #4
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I think everything is out of date in a year, if not sooner... That doens't bother people that today are still shooting amazing stuff with the XL1, which is several years old and even defunct in some minds.

I'm not a whiz on high def (HD? HDV?) but from what I gather the initial consumer offerings are nothing to jump about. Unless you are willing to put down some real serious money... Willing to buy beyond the 'prosumer' Sony and JVC "I've got HIDEF!" camcorders... I'd say buy good SD and wait for HD to grow up. The world might be heading toward HD, but the world won't be there anytime soon. Half the people I know don't even have cable or dish yet, I pause to ponder how many people on earth are even aware of this "Better TV" HD technology.
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Old November 14th, 2004, 11:16 PM   #5
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Yeah where are you in you filmmaking "Career" if you're just starting out and want to learn the craft and you're not shooting for festivals etc, I'd even go for something less than an Xl2. Maybe a pd150, or Gl2 even and then wait for a HDV version of the Xl2 to come out. That's assuming you think that HDV is all that good.

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Old November 14th, 2004, 11:43 PM   #6
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Let me clarify: I already have an XL-1, and and XL-1s. No shortage of "creating tools". However, I fear that creating content, especially stuff aimed at a broadcast market now is going to be a poor return on investment because of the issues of HD.

Is the XL2 that good an upgrade, or is it only a baby step that will be overshadowed very quickly?

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Old November 15th, 2004, 12:22 AM   #7
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Well I'm no pro Alex. But as Chris says you need to work out whether you need an upgrade now or not? Are you losing business? Personally If you can keep going for a year and maintain good business, keep your money. In the next year I'm sure there will be a lot more in the HD/HDV arena happening.

Just My Two Cents.

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Old November 15th, 2004, 12:37 AM   #8
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Hi Alex,

Assuming that you know how to create content - I think you would be best off focusing upon how many times the XL2 would pay for itself while you have one (or more) in your hands.

Your ability to create and tell a story effectively in a compelling and most efficient manner is what will keep your business moving forward.

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Old November 15th, 2004, 08:13 AM   #9
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Alex,
Some of these replies are getting a bit critcal and mine was maybe a bit sharp, sorry about that I'm just getting uber tired of hearing about how hidef is supposed to flip the whole industry over by lunchtime when it's really still a year or two (or three) away from being commonly usable, let alone viewable.

It sounds like you are into broadcast or big production and you can't always get away with lesser cameras in that field. OTOH people are winning film festivals with stuff that was shot single chip, so it's good to remember you don't always need the latest buzzwords to be creative and make your point.

Good luck with your choice and let us know how it goes.
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Old November 16th, 2004, 04:51 PM   #10
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You may be interested to read this thread on the FX1
http://www.dvdoctor.net/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=8;t=003188;p=1

After a HD demo at a UK dealer one experienced cameraman commented "Well I've seen the light chaps. I've just spent all afternoon with the Sony FX1 cradled in my hands, and I'd say this - if you're about to buy a PD170, DVX100A, XL2 and so on - don't." Another said "if I was intending to buy a camera in this price range tomorrow, I don't really think the FX1 has a serious competitor."

I will probably buy an XL2 because I need the interchangeable lens facility, but it's becoming clear that it's arrived in the market at the wrong time.

If your work has any archival value then surely it's better to shoot HD now, rather than wait for Canons offering which probably won't arrive until 2006 at the earliest.
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Old November 16th, 2004, 05:13 PM   #11
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HD is not HDV. Please do not make it any more confusing than it already is by quoting users of HD when also talking about HDV. It's apples and oranges.

HDV=<25MB/s
HD=>100MB/s


To get an image to fit through a pipe 25MB/s wide that is pretending to be HD means that huge amounts of data are being thrown away to fit the datastream. It might look cool, but the image quality is being hammered.

Regardless of what new offering has just shown itself I think it is a bit rash to suggest that HDV is the new defacto standard. It's not.

If you have work today that needs to be shot and it is meant to be seen on SD televisions then there is little point to being an early adopter of HDV.

Prosumer HDV is currently a fad and it's designed to generate consumer anxiety and to drive sales. How can you make a realistic business decision based on something which is not yet a broadcast standard?

If you are going to blow up your video to film then ask yourself what you gain by working in a comprimised colour space with HDV? If you don't have the budget for 720 or 1080 HD then it really makes sense to work with proven, off-the-shelf tools (ie. SD).

Go make your film and pick a solution that works realistically with your budget today rather than what some marketing team thinks you should use.
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Old November 16th, 2004, 11:53 PM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Paul Doherty :

Another said "if I was intending to buy a camera in this price range tomorrow, I don't really think the FX1 has a serious competitor." -->>>

This is completely absurd, unless he was talking for himself only. There's no one size fits all here. Does the FX1 have progressive scan capture? 24fps? Exactly. As an indie filmmaker, I wouldn't consider this choice even if it had twice the bandwith. 60i is certainly not something I'm willing to work on for features and shorts, no matter the resolution.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 06:17 AM   #13
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I completely agree that you pick the camera that has the facilities that best suit the particular field or style of work you're doing.

Time will tell whether HDV is just a fad, but I can remember DV getting a more dismissive reception than that. Some people said that Sony were announcing the FX1 as a spoiler against the XL2 and that it wouldn't actually be available in November - that has proved to be wrong. Various of the NLEs have announced support for HDV.

I certainly understand the caution about being an early adopter, but if your material has archival value then shooting HDV gives you better future proofing than DV - you can easily downconvert to SD for use now.

If Canon had simultaneously brought out two versions of the XL2, DV and HDV, how many of us would prefer the DV version?

I'm not in the market for a new camera until next year, so there's clearly no need for me to make up my mind yet, but I honestly think HDV looks very interesting quality wise and budget wise.

If the FX1 lacks features which are on the XL2 and which you need (in my case the interchangeable lens mount) then you get the XL2. But if the FX1 has all the features you need and after a hands-on demo with a dealer you feel that the picture quality is superior to DV then you get the FX1 (and save money!). Or you wait a couple of months and look at the Sony HVR-Z1E HDV which has more features, including being PAL/NTSC switchable.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 07:14 AM   #14
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If we're comparing the XL2 with any of the HDV camcorders, then we should at least be comparing it to the Z1. The FX1 may shoot HDV, but it's a consumer camera. The feature list is devoid of a lot of standard pro features. Sony crippled it. It's much more fair to both Canon and Sony to compare camera's aimed at similar markets. The FX1 really doesn't hold its own against the XL2 in anything other than image, and even that's somewhat questionable, depending on who you talk to, and what aspect of the image you're talking about.
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Old November 17th, 2004, 09:49 AM   #15
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Well Paul, I was very enthusiast about HDV when shopping for a camera based on the theory and specs behind the format... until I actually saw the footage coming out of both JVCs. Resolution is fine, it's even great, but the image is still (personal opinion) horrible. Purple/red/green fringing all over the place (this was for the consumer version), a ridiculous lattitude and ugly videoish white clipping and mid boosting that makes you wonder if you wouldn't be getting better results by drawing your movie instead of shooting it. OK I'm exaggerating, of course, but I really fell from high when I actually saw the results of all that marketing hype.

I don't hope the Sony's will be much different. Very likely they will do better, but really, so far to me this is nothing more than a marketing gimmick, which seems to work because people get extatic thinking they might be able to shoot HD like the pros. Well these are not even close to being HD cams, they are HDVs, more resolution compressed at an insanely low rate to fit it all on the DV tape's bandwith. Means that you can now capture ugliness in all its beauty, or compression artifacts in high resolution.

Also, I'd be very interested to hear from professionals that work for the TV / video industry, where exactly IS the market for HDV? Very few HD sets in North America and globally, HD is not even a TV standard yet, only a handful of stations broadcast in HD, this thing is just getting started here, how can we expect or anticipate we'll "need" HDV in the next 2-3 years? JVC's cams have been on the market for a while and yet there's no sign of a significant shift in the professionnal industry.

Again, coming back to the marketing gimmick factor, just like they now do in digital photo, where you will see the cameras going from 3.2MP to 6MP in a year while the image, although more defined, often gets uglier and uglier (more noise, distortion, fringing, etc.). But it works because the average consumer thinks bigger means better. Well I've seen in digital photo how bigger is not better, and I've also seen the same thing with the JVCs. I'm not condoning Sony's cams, I haven't seen them yet, maybe I will see the light once the pro model (forget the consumer one) comes out, but I have seen the JVCs and read on the limitations of HDV and so far, it seems the added resolution comes at too huge of a price.

So again, I'm fairly confident in stating that:

1) HDV is not yet useable for indie filmmaking unless you want to light it like ugly flat lit high key TV shows because the lattitude is just unmanageable for dramatic work. On top of that, you really want progressive scanning for projection, so that it doesn't create staircasing effects when upresed for projection, and progressive scanning means you also need 24p or 25p because 30p isn't transferable at all to film. It will be ok if you only do digital screenings though. That's why the indie filmmaking community has been raving about the DVX-100 and the XL2, those are the tools that are revolutionary as far as filmmaking go, not more resolution (maybe if everything else remained equal, then yes, but it's not the case).

2) there is no way the XL2 will get outdated in 2-3 years. Outclassed, sure, of course, but outdated? Where it is no longer profitable to own one? Where the market has changed so much, in a 180 manner and relegated SD video to the museum? I'll bet an arm and I'll throw in a leg too that this is not going to happen any time soon. The market doesn't change that fast.
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