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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 May 28th, 2005, 12:45 AM   #1
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About to get an XL2 -- feedback?

What better way to spend my summer than shooting hundreds of hours of video? I've got a small consulting firm and I'd like to expand it from just providing audio services (among many other things) to also providing video services such as producing commercials for local companies. Maybe the business aspect of this is just a way to justify getting a new toy -- whatever the case, I've got an itch to throw down some short films and eventually to be able to submit them to a couple small local festivals. I've got an Athlon 64 3200+ system w/ 1GB, RAID0, 6800GT on CS2, premiere, after effects pro... and access to a 2 x 2.0GHz G5 w/ final cut, motion, and CS2... all I'm missing is a nice DV cam.

Instead of going on a trip this summer, I think I'm going to spend the money on a nice camcorder and kill my time shooting around here. I've had my eyes set on the somewhat-pricey XL2 -- I figured I'd like the 16x9 for the short films and the 20x optical that it comes with would give me versatility on all of my projects. I'll buy it at Best Buy because I've got an employee discount -- and nobody else is willing to offer a 4 year service plan that covers the lens and battery for $170. I've got a few days before I put my order through... and I'm looking at all other alternatives like a GL2 or a VX2100 or even a DVX100A... any input on these? BB doesn't sell the DVX100A and I'd really like their service plan... but none of those have 16x9 (except the inferior anamorphic on the 100) and I think that would be an awesome feature of the xl2... any input on that?
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Old May 28th, 2005, 07:37 AM   #2
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It all depends on your budget, wishlist and what you are going to be shooting
with the camera. Since you work there you have a great opportunity to look
and shoot with all the camera's (I assume you can shoot some footage in
the shop if you want to).

Keep in mind that usually you want more than just a camera, depending on
what you want to do with the camera. Think about a tripod (can easily cost
$1000), lights, microphones, filters, extra batteries, perhaps more support
gear like a dolly, crane, steadicam etc. etc. It rarely just involves buying a
camera. So having a budget and a list of what you need can greatly help.

Don't get trapped by the latest and greatest camera. Other cams can still
shoot great footage!

Also take into account how a camera feels in your hands (the XL2 is quite
front heavy for example). Play around with the cams in the shop and make
a good decision. All these camera's will be there in 2 or 4 weeks as well!
(unless you NEED one now)
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Old May 28th, 2005, 10:15 AM   #3
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I wish we had these cameras in the store... they have to be ordered from one of our warehouses. (It's the biggest electronics store chain in the world). But yes -- I've got filters, batteries and tapes picked out... and a case. I get all of that stuff at cost, so they're dirt cheap... I get the best deal on accessories... as for lights, I'm going to use some cheap halogen from a hardware store. As for support gear, I have yet to pick out what I'd like -- I'm open to recommendations though!
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Old May 28th, 2005, 10:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Barabas
I wish we had these cameras in the store... they have to be ordered from one of our warehouses. (It's the biggest electronics store chain in the world). But yes -- I've got filters, batteries and tapes picked out... and a case. I get all of that stuff at cost, so they're dirt cheap... I get the best deal on accessories... as for lights, I'm going to use some cheap halogen from a hardware store. As for support gear, I have yet to pick out what I'd like -- I'm open to recommendations though!
The most crucial "accessory" IMHO is information! Run, don't walk, to your favourite bookseller even before ordering your camera and get a copy of Real World Digital Video by Pete Shaner and Gerald E Jones. I've found it an invaluable reference and should be a real help in understanding the production process and how the type of materials your going to shoot and your personal working style drives the decisions on all the rest of the gear.
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Old May 28th, 2005, 10:45 AM   #5
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I'll grab one... I've got a VideoMaker right now that I've been browsing through -- I've also got a lot of experience doing audio work and photography... this is a bigger beast to tame though! But what it comes down to is... do I need 16x9 and 24p in 1 camera? I really would like the 24p for the short films but -- how many of the short films out there are on widescreen? Most that I've seen are 4x3... hmmm
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Old May 29th, 2005, 05:12 AM   #6
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Well, the majority of shorts I've seen are either in widescreen or letterboxed
4:3 which over the internet boils down to the same thing. Almost everybody
(I think) who wants to make fictional shorts does so in (faux) widescreen.

24p also helps in getting a more filmic look since motion (at a 1/48th shutter)
is basically the same as on film (as long as they used standard shutter speeds
and framerates that is).

Whether you need is only something you can answer. Is it worth your money?

Does the increased money over a GL2 with frame mode and a XL2 with true
24p worth it? That is totally personal.

Perhaps it would be best if you explain to us what you are mainly going to
use this camera for. Any commercial work? Only fictional movie work? Or...?
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Old May 29th, 2005, 10:44 AM   #7
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Commercials for my business's clients (I'm a senior in college and run that part time) and some fictitious short films in my spare time... letterbox widescreen is just a normal 4x3 with the bottom and top cut off, right? I don't see how that could be advantageous by any means other than price. So let's say... a camera that will do a nice 24p shot for mostly short films, and a few commercials whenever I land one.
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Old May 29th, 2005, 08:42 PM   #8
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2005 is my 10th year to shoot DV and I can tell you that a camera is like a musical instrument, just because it is technically able to do things does not mean the operator has the skill to pull it off. This is the biggest misconception in our field. The XL series is a high-end instrument, not a point and shoot camera.

Your best results will most likely be from a Sony cam, which look great out of the box and have decent auto-modes until you get more skilled at manual adjustments.

The real key for growth, education and experience is to get a camera that will allow manual adjustments. This will let you learn to control and manipulate your image. Beyond that, there is framing and THE most important thing to production value, controlling the focus and depth of field.



ash =o)
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Old May 30th, 2005, 01:08 AM   #9
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I'm up for a challenge -- I'm fairly accomplished with audio and photography, and would be looking forward to mastering yet another art. I have no doubt that I will get things done. I'm in no rush to get the best shooting out of it, but I'd like something that has the potential of shooting the best. I play two instruments -- and although I realize that the music's only as good as the musician, his instruments play just as much of a role in the outcome of the piece as his talent. Amen!
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Old June 1st, 2005, 04:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Barabas
Commercials for my business's clients ...... letterbox widescreen is just a normal 4x3 with the bottom and top cut off, right? I don't see how that could be advantageous by any means other than price.
What is the main format you are going to sell to your business clients? Full
frame or widescreen? 24p, 30p or 60i? That might give you an idea what to
buy. But hey, if you want 24p and can afford a XL2, then by all means go for it :)

On cutting the top and bottom off. This has an extra advantage if you do it
in post (ie, in the edit software). You can move your footage VERTICALLY
underneath the blackbars to reposition it and choose a different framing.
This has helped me out on several occassions where the framing was a bit
off. I didn't mind shooting in 4:3 and letterbox in post since my stuff isn't
going to go out to film or anything. Looks great on TV and on the web.

So that can be an advantage... depends on your framing abilities while shooting
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Old June 1st, 2005, 04:14 PM   #11
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I wasn't really discouraging getting an XL2, only warning that it does take patience and hundreds of hours to master. I personally think it is the best film maker's camera in the DV world, just not the easiest to master.



ash =o)
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 01:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
I wasn't really discouraging getting an XL2, only warning that it does take patience and hundreds of hours to master. I personally think it is the best film maker's camera in the DV world, just not the easiest to master.



ash =o)

I was looking at the FX1 -- but I've seen the cineframe at work and it looks fairly cheesy. No 24p... and I'm not too interested in HD or the problems of converting 60i HD to 24p SD.
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