DVX vs XL2: side by side on a soundstage... my impressions at DVinfo.net

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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old March 5th, 2005, 08:44 AM   #1
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DVX vs XL2: side by side on a soundstage... my impressions

Hi all,

Clearly the whole DVX vs XL2 topic has been discussed to death. Having never been face to face with a DVX, I didn't care about the topic.

But then I had an interesting experience yesterday.

I had a very professional shoot on a sound stage yesterday, we had a crew of 12, five actors, and an incredible set. I had brought my XL2 to do 2nd camera "shaky-cam" B-roll. The XL2 was going to play second fiddle to a broadcast Sony (I do not remember the model).

ANYWAY, to make a long story short (as possible), we needed to shoot 30P and somehow DP was not given that information, The Broadcast Sony he brought would only shoot 60i. NOW, we had a problem.

Since the DP, and many of the crew owned and used the DVX professionaly, we immediately arranged for a DVX rental and had the camera messengered over. We were comfortable with being able to match image quality, or at least get it close.

So here we are on a huge and wonderfully lit set with the heralded DVX being Camera 1. (sure did look small on a 100' x 60' sound stage, but then so did the XL2)

Our first task was to get the image quality tweaked as much as possible to match between the two cameras.

As a by-product of this, suddenly we had a crowd gathering around and commenting about the image quality difference between the XL2 and the DVX. We all realized this was a great opportunity to learn something about these cameras. Very nice situation to compare these cameras, hitting the A/B switch on a super-sharp 14" presentation monitor.

At default settings, the differences were subtle, but VERY notable.

That said, the image quality of the XL2 UNANIMOUSLY won by a landslide, even by the DP and three of the crew who own DVX.

In a nutshell,
Color:
XL2 had MUCH more natural tones, flesh tone was nicely saturated. DVX had a slight greenish tint overall. Even with tweaking the DVX, it never fully matched the natural and rich flesh tones of the XL2.

Sharpness:
The DVX looks like video, the XL2 looks like film. (relatively speaking). We ended up setting the DVX "detail" to -2, and it sort of emulated the more film-like image of the XL2, but not really.

Contrast:
We did not notice a difference in the highlights, but the saturation and clarity of the blacks was better in the XL2. We ended up having both cameras set to 7.5 IRE, and there simply appeared to be more detail in the blacks on the XL2, not because the XL2 was less contrasty, but because it seemed to handle soft gradations in the shadow areas better.

Lenses...
Simply put, the Manual 16x Canon lens walked all over the built-in DVX lens. The clarity of the image, the quality of the image all benefitted greatly from the glass in the Canon lens. In addition, this shoot was one of those "set the cameras far from the action, zoom in, aperture open, no depth of field and rack focus constantly" kind of days. I never bothered to check what the zoom ratio of the DVX was, but it was not enough to get the desired effect, the DVX simply could not zoom in close enough.

In Closing...
About 30 minutes after we got the DVX and XL2 set up and started running the actors through the scripts, we decided that the XL2 should be the main camera (camera 1) and we relegated the DVX to the medium and wide safety shots.

SO, if you have read this far... thanks.

For me and my crew, this ended the comparisons between the DVX and the XL2. If NOTHING else, it all came down the the glass.

Matt
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Old March 5th, 2005, 12:12 PM   #2
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Matthew
Were you shooting 16X9 or 4X3 aspect ratio?
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Ron
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Old March 5th, 2005, 03:08 PM   #3
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We were shooting 4:3
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