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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 March 2nd, 2005, 07:46 PM   #1
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Total Newb-Looking for a start

I have been lurking your forums for a while now and have decided to climb into your community because I feel you have an awesome set of people who seem to really care about helping people out.

As the subject line suggest, I am a total newb to the digital arena and am looking for a little help deciding which software to purchase for my endevours. I have pretty much made up my mind on getting the xl2. I want to be able to record my kids sporting events, record all kinds of things and want to be able to put them onto a widescreen dvd and play it on my television. I am using a pc based computer system but am not totally against going with a g5. I realize that I am probably going way overkill with this camera for what I want to do with it but I have always been this way. I like to pay a little more now so it lasts longer (as far as the technology is concerned anyways). One other thing to add to this is my friend (who happens to be a pro wedding photographer) has asked if I would like to record some of his weddings (because customers have asked for it) because he can't do both. I could maybe make a little extra money on the side.

Thank you for your time.
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Old March 2nd, 2005, 08:51 PM   #2
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Hi Jeff and welcome,

Hey, I lurked for a long time, too, before daring to come out of the shadows...and look what ended up happening...I'm addicted! I see you're from Anchorage, a place I've always wanted to visit but never have. Almost got there last spring but work prevented it; maybe I'll knock on your door this summer! ;-)

Although not meaning to dissuade you from your decision on the XL2 -- if you haven't already, make sure you have a chance to handle one a bit before making your final decision. Compared to the palmcorders many of us got used to using, it is a monster. I do still feel quite self-conscious about the attention it draws when I'm just doing casual shooting for which other folks would use a palmcorder. Nowadays, there are much smaller cameras out there that might do well enough for the family widescreen shots. And then there's the whole HDV discussion, which I'm sure you've lurked through. Of course, only you can decide on the right camera for you. If the XL2 is it, I'm not gonna call you bad names!

And as far as doing weddings...well, let's see how many horror stories about Bridezilla's MonsterMom that the wise and war-weary folks here will post to give you pause about THAT!

But you asked about computers and NLEs. I'm not here to knock Macs; I've just never used one so am not going to go there. Personally, I build my own PC computers out of mainstream high-end parts; it isn't difficult at all. Doesn't really save money, but you'll know exactly what's in your system and how it is configured. I think anyone who has ever swapped out a hard drive or added memory is perfectly capable of building their own system.

NLE is going to be as personal a choice as the camera. Fortunately, the two biggies around here, Vegas and Premiere Pro, both have free download trials. Never used Vegas, but I get the impression that it is a bit easier to use. I've used Adobe products for several years and so have gotten to know their interface, but on balance I would NOT describe them as intuitive. If you're not used to using them, it'll take some time and effort to feel at all proficient. One advantage that PPro may have is that if you really get hardcore about this video stuff, you can spend even more money to upgrade to the nicely integrated functionality of their Video Collection. For those willing to spend more money, the capabilities are mind boggling to us amateurs. And BTW, sadly, ALL software programs have some bugs and other specific features or lack thereof that people gripe about, so I don't see those kind of discussions as especially helpful.

The cameras, NLEs, and computer systems are topics that I've touched in other threads, so if you want to dig a little deeper, just keyword on my name and any of those topics. You'll find not only my opinions, but those of the other folks with whom I was jousting.

Once again, welcome!
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Old March 3rd, 2005, 02:59 AM   #3
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Thank you for your time responding to my post Pete. I do appreciate it.

I will now be found lurking in the Premiere and Vegas forums just to try and get a feel for what is going on there.

In my lurking I have also found people talking about this new Sony hvrz1u and it looks like a promising prospect also. I have a feeling it will take me months to figure this one out. I will keep reading the pros and cons about each and then will probably just go with my original intentions (being the xl2).

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Old March 3rd, 2005, 03:58 AM   #4
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Hello Jeff!

Nice to see we have another (soon-to-be) Anchorage XL2-user, our crowd is growing!

One word of caution, using the XL2 up here (it's probably worse here than places a bit more populated with higher-end gear, I assume), as Pete noted, is very conspicuous. I've had several people inquiring as to which station I was with, kinda a fun feeling, until you tell them its just you. =(

Anyway, if you haven't yet, run down to Stewart's Photo downtown, they should still have an XL2 that they will let you fondle. If they don't have it, shoot me an email or private message on here and maybe we can perhaps find time to check out my XL2.

I still have yet to find time to get some nice shots of mountains and such, I still need to plunk down some more $$$ for a nicer tripod, but there are definitely plenty of shooting opportunities up here, it seems.

Also, as far as the new Sony HDV cam, you might want to see if Pyramid Audio/Video has one in, they had a VX2000 about 3 years ago, not sure if they still stock the higher-end gear though.

Hope that was helpful,

-Kyle
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Old March 3rd, 2005, 08:10 AM   #5
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Avid has a 'free' version of their software, Avid XpressDV Free available for download at their site. It's a very rudimentary version, but allows you to learn the interface. FYI
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Old March 3rd, 2005, 09:48 AM   #6
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If you are going to be doing basic editing of family type stuff I would not recommend any of the pro apps because as it was mentioned above they are not very intuitive. I have been editing for 10 years and am still learning new things every day. What you should look into is a mac with imovie. My brother in law who barely knows how to turn a computer on was editing away after just a few hours. If you want to go G5 that would be overkill, BUT from the sound of it you are an overkiller... So am I. You can also pick up an E mac with a superdrive for around $900, and that comes with imovie.
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Old March 3rd, 2005, 10:32 AM   #7
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Just to add to all of this excellent advice, from home and family use, I would recommend any current Canon Optura model as those will give you native widescreen and they're nice and small and unobtrusive. The new Optura 60 and 50 have Optical Image Stabilisation as well. For weddings, consider the XL2 or GL2. For less money than an XL2, you could have an Optura 60 and a GL2 and a decent editing software package such as Vegas 5. Although the GL2 is not native widescreen, you can get an anamorphic adapter lens for it. Hope this helps,
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Old March 3rd, 2005, 12:33 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone again for the advise.

And Kyle you hit on something that I was thinking of doing today at lunch break and that was to head down to Stewarts. Last time I was down there they had the xl1 and fell in love with that. I will also check out Pyramid (which I have not thought of). I also appreciate your offer to check out your system. If I end up still on the fence I will try and give you a message (not quite sure how to do that) to look at your system. That would be very cool. Maybe I could get some filming advise from you also, like how to film while going 90mph on a snowmobile or filming my kids hockey game.
Thanks again,
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Old March 3rd, 2005, 04:56 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kyle Easterly : Hello Jeff!

Anyway, if you haven't yet, run down to Stewart's Photo downtown, they should still have an XL2 that they will let you fondle. If they don't have it, shoot me an email or private message on here and maybe we can perhaps find time to check out my XL2.

Also, as far as the new Sony HDV cam, you might want to see if Pyramid Audio/Video has one in, they had a VX2000 about 3 years ago, not sure if they still stock the higher-end gear though.
-Kyle -->>>

Well I did what you suggested and you were correct. Pyramid has no high-end equipment and Stewarts had MY xl2 (lol) sitting there. I was able to fondle it for only a couple of minutes before the battery died but was able to come up with some questions from my fondling. The first question comes from my opinion of the viewfinder. When I would move the camera back and forth (not very fast at all) the whole picture would wash out until I stopped. This concerns me because I want to film my kids sports. I hope it was just a function of the battery going low and not a permanent problem.
I was happy with the feal and weight of the camera so that is not going to be an issue. He is also selling it for $4500 which seems like a good price for a local dealer. Sure I can get it somewhat cheaper online but service is a plus for a little extra cash.
Are you getting your tapes from best buy or somewhere else and do you recomend any tape in particular?
Again thanks for your time.
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Old March 4th, 2005, 05:28 AM   #10
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Hah, nice, I actually work in Digital Imaging at bestbuy!

We've got the sony premium tapes, but im running the Panasonic Master Quality tapes in mine, I got the camera/tapes from Zotz digital.

I was checking around after I had talked to Tom at Zotz and saw Stewarts had the XL2 for 4.5k.

Alllllmost supported my local reseller there, but I had already been talking with Tom, who had been great so far, and I was veeeerry close with the cash for this, so squeezing an extra $100 or so off of the camera (4300 at Zotz+shipping) helped. It is nice to be able to see YOUR camera up and running before putting the money down for it.

Not sure what you mean with the washing out, while zooming/moving yourself and the camera/panning? Do you remember what shooting mode the camera was in?

For contacting, at the bottom of a user's posts, click profile, then there should be a link to e-mail via the forum system, your email still gets to me, but hides addresses (or most forums do), so include an address I can reply to.
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Old March 4th, 2005, 08:07 AM   #11
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Yeah as far as the viewfinder, not sure what's going on there, either. I'd get 'em to charge up the battery or plug it into AC power so you can play with it again for a while. View in good light and take note of the mode and shutter/aperture settings. It MAY be that the light was low, giving a real low shutter speed? Also check the menus for the viewfinder settings.

As far as the tapes, it probably doesn't matter that much which brand you select but then DO stick with it. As you've probably seen in the Long Black Line board, a lot of people have had troubles with head clogging after switching tape brands (and therefore formulations.) I also happen to buy my tapes (and most of my hardware, too) from Zotz. I think last time I bought the 63 minute Pro Panasonic tapes from them, it was about $5 a tape in boxes of 5 tapes.
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Old March 4th, 2005, 01:52 PM   #12
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Thanks Pete and Kyle for your input.
Upon your advice I did contact Brian at Zotz and he seems like a very nice person to work with so I may actually go with him. I recieved my tax return today so I am buying as soon as I put together what I think is a fair deal and one that is done by an authorized canon dealer with full warranty. Here is the starter kit I am thinking of getting:
xl2 w/20x ntsc
lenmars extended life battery
panasonic tapes
basic uv filter
fedx 2nd day shipping

As far as the viewfinder is concerned I did not have the opportunity to fiddle with or even look at the settings but if I could explain it a little better it would be like this. When I would go left to right, right to left it picture in the viewfinder would look like somebody was making each image a motion blurr and would be like that until I stopped. It did seem as if the salesman at Stewarts really wanted me to hurry up so he could get it back in the case. He never offered to let me see it using a power cord or charge the battery. I think he wanted to go to lunch because he left the building the same time as I did.

If you have any input to this please let me know.
Thanks
jb
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Old March 4th, 2005, 03:04 PM   #13
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I could easily be proven wrong, but your description of the viewfinder sure does sound like it is just a slow shutter speed.

But, whoa, Pardner, you're not done spendin' money yet...where's that Circular Polarizer filter, 3x lens, shotgun mic+Lightwave fuzzy, wireless lav mics, and Vinten tripod?

You KNOW you'll get 'em all eventually. Enjoy!
;-)
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Old March 4th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #14
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<< When I would go left to right, right to left it picture in the viewfinder would look like somebody was making each image a motion blurr and would be like that until I stopped. >>

As Pete said, this is the signature of either a slow shutter speed of 1/30th sec. or less, or it could be the result of the actual frame rate if the camera was set to 30p or 24p. The slower the frame rate, the more cautious you need to be with handheld movements such as panning. This is not a defect -- it's just a limitation of the frame rate; you have to learn how to work with it. Hope this helps,
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Old March 4th, 2005, 05:17 PM   #15
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Ok guys I went back today to test it with a charged battery and got to play around with the settings. You are correct. The settings were all wrong on the camera. It was a low lit shop and it was set on 24p. After putting it on 60i walla, the picture in the viewfinder was nice. Makes me feel less hesitant and now have to make my purchase.

I don't know why this seems like a lot of money, i mean just about, oh, about 14 years ago I spent more that $4500 bucks on a 486 computer and it didn't phase me a bit (I think I still have the reciept for that thing somewhere) but I am ready to plunge into the great unkown to myself country of digi filming. YA!

I do appreciate all the help I have recieved from you guys and I sure I will need some in the future. The big thing is though I hope to become proficient enough to come on here and lend advise to other "newbs" like myself.

Again, thanks. It's off to the market.
jb
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