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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 July 15th, 2006, 11:22 PM   #1
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Is the XL2 Too Much too Soon for Me?

Greetings!

It's been about 10 years since I last purchased a camcorder (Hi8 Sony) and probably 6 years since I've used one. I was pretty disappointed in the quality and capability of my old Sony and used it just for family footage.

I've been doing wildlife photography (heavy emphasis on birds) for the last 6 years primarily for personal use, and I made the switch to digital about 3 years ago and have simply loved it. In retrospect, perhaps unfortunately, I now have accumulated quite a bit of Nikon Digital equipment and lenses.

I am an avid birdwatcher. I manage a 900 acre wildlife sanctuary (Baker Sanctuary: www.BakerSanctuary.org) for Michigan Audubon Society. I primarily want to video capture bird behavior and splendor for personal use, to document sanctuary wildlife, and to fundraise for Audubon i.e. make appealing DVDs. Needless to say, the quality needs to be very good. If money wasn't an issue, Id probably choose the Canon XL-H1 High Def 3CCD pro model. Unfortunately, I don't have the $6,000+ I would need to buy one.

Up until my first post here on Camcorderinfo.com just a few days ago, I was fairly convinced that I wanted to buy a Canon GL2. Now I'm trying to decide if I should still get the GL2, or opt for its big brother the XL2.

Initially I figured I would get a decent quality 3ccd camcorder and get comfortable with shooting video with the GL2 while concentrating on composition, natural lighting, editing, and camcorder technique for a year or two before moving up to something more capable (Maybe an XL3?), and to make sure that I really to want to commit to video before investing too much money.

I really like the 20X zoom (nearly 800mm in 35mm equivalent terms!) that both the GL2 and XL2 boast. And I especially like the lens interchangeability of the XL2.

1. Since I really don't have a lot of camcorder experience, should I invest in the GL2 now and practice and learn, and plan to move up to the XL2 or something better in a year or two, or spend an extra $1500 - $1800 now for an XL2 rig?

2. Initially, I had budgeted $2,000 for a GL2 outfit. If I scrape, I could come up with a maximum of about $3,600 for an XL2 outfit. What all, other than the basic camera & lens kit, tripod, and tape will I need, and what is that likely to cost me?

3. Since one can use Canon still photography lenses with excellent results on an XL2 (or so I've been told), would it make sence to buy a Canon 100mm - 400mm zoom (or even an old Tokina 80-400 Canon mount manual focus) and the Canon EF adapter and buy anXL2 or XL1s without the 16X or 20x lens?

4. A) Do any of the add-on 2x FRONT extenders give you acceptable quality? How about the add-on FRONT wide angle adapters? B) These range in price from about $50 on eBay to $425 at B&H Photo. Is it safe to assume that quality increases with these FRONT add-ons in fairly direct proportion to the increase in price? C) Are there good quality -behind the lens- 1.4 and/or 2X extenders available, and if so, at what price range? D) Any brand recommendations?

5. A) Any of you XL2 users looking to sell your setup and purchase an XL-H1, or know of where I might find a good quality used XL2 system? B) What would be a reasonable price to pay for a used XL2 (XL2 system?), and what should I watch out for? C) If I end up buying a new GL2 or XL2, should I purchase an extended warranty - why or why not?

I know I've asked a lot of questions but please do not simply read my post, rather, share your opinions with me. Thanks in advance for everyone who does respond.

Mike
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Old July 16th, 2006, 08:27 AM   #2
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Old July 16th, 2006, 08:32 AM   #3
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Mike,

Where to start! I'll attempt to answer some of your questions, others will help also, but you really need to do a lot of reading and researching here on your own. There's even a special forum dedicated to outdoor video etc. called Under Water-Over Land.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Boyce

I've been doing wildlife photography-----In retrospect, perhaps unfortunately, I now have accumulated quite a bit of Nikon Digital equipment and lenses.
I'm not sure why you would say "unfortunately" with the Nikons as there is an adapter for them too and they work fine with an XL2. That is what I use. This link will take you to an article by Chris Hurd with photos. Add a 1.6 adapter to a 20x and you get about a 32x lens. Put a 35mm adapter on and you get about 7 times the length of the attached lens. Ie., a 1000mm lens becomes a 7000mm lens.

http://www.dvinfo.net/canonxl2/articles/article10.php

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Boyce

I am an avid birdwatcher. I manage a 900 acre wildlife sanctuary (Baker Sanctuary: www.BakerSanctuary.org) for Michigan Audubon Society. I primarily want to video capture bird behavior and splendor for personal use, to document sanctuary wildlife, and to fundraise for Audubon i.e. make appealing DVDs. Needless to say, the quality needs to be very good. If money wasn't an issue, Id probably choose the Canon XL-H1 High Def 3CCD pro model. Unfortunately, I don't have the $6,000+ I would need to buy one.
Many wildlife videographers use the XL2, and that is what I would recommend. Again see articles in the under water/over land forum. The interchangeable lenses are the big plus. The quality is great, and the available options are numerous. The price is not that bad either. The XLH1, which you mention at $6,000+ is actually $9,000, so it is out of the budget of many, and you won't get much benefit from changing lenses, as you loose the HD anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Boyce

What all, other than the basic camera & lens kit, tripod, and tape will I need, and what is that likely to cost me?
Research-research-----! You will need a tripod, video head, lens adapters, etc. etc. All discussed here over and over, even special forums for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Boyce


4. A) Do any of the add-on 2x FRONT extenders give you acceptable quality? How about the add-on FRONT wide angle adapters? B) These range in price from about $50 on eBay to $425 at B&H Photo. Is it safe to assume that quality increases with these FRONT add-ons in fairly direct proportion to the increase in price? C) Are there good quality -behind the lens- 1.4 and/or 2X extenders available, and if so, at what price range? D) Any brand recommendations?
Front adapters work, but you get what you pay for, you must get good quality ones, and they are expensive. I prefer to put things behind my lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Boyce

A) Any of you XL2 users looking to sell your setup and purchase an XL-H1, or know of where I might find a good quality used XL2 system? B) What would be a reasonable price to pay for a used XL2 (XL2 system?), and what should I watch out for? C) If I end up buying a new GL2 or XL2, should I purchase an extended warranty - why or why not?
Wow! There are always cameras for sale, just use caution when buying. I must say that there is a special feeling in buying a brand new camera and knowing that you have a full factory warrantee behind it. For a little more I would do just that. And, don't buy someones or old body, get the factory lens with it. My Xl2, with shipping and 3 year Mack warrantee was $4,200 from B&H. I'll never regret that purchase.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Boyce

I know I've asked a lot of questions but please do not simply read my post, rather, share your opinions with me. Thanks in advance for everyone who does respond.
Others will chime in, but please do your own research here.

Good Luck----Mike too
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Old July 16th, 2006, 10:32 AM   #4
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Hi Mike

The XL2 is a fantastic camera I use one for wildlife filming and out of all the 3ccd mini dv cameras its by far the best, but you will need time to get used to the raft of settings this cam has to get the best out of it, as for the HDV model i don't know well out of my reach at the moment

Just my 2 pence

Ian
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Old July 16th, 2006, 11:35 AM   #5
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well, why waste money to practise? Just get an xl2 and start useing it. If thats your goal for now, why bother dropping money on a gl2 when your set on an xl2. Theres really not much to practise, gl2 is point and shoot from what I know. Xl2 is not poitn and shoot.

Just my advice, just get the one you want and learn as you go
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Old July 16th, 2006, 11:48 AM   #6
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I agree. Get a camera you can grow into rather than one you'll grow out of.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 05:03 AM   #7
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I would say purely from a wildlife shooting requirement that the XL-2 is definetly the way to go. You need long lenses and the use of let's say an SLR lens of around 400mm combined with the appropriate adaptor and XL-2 will have you getting those long focal length 'National Geographic' shots you desire.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 06:16 AM   #8
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Mike, I'm a wildelife videophotographer myself and I love the XL2! Its a fantastic tool to get near the action in the wild. No other camcorder that I'm aware of to that price can deliver footage compared to the quality you get from the XL2.

My advise to you is to get an ef-adapter too or if you use nikon lenses an suitable adapter for those lenses, as Mike Teutsch told you.
I'm using Sigma lenses, which is a bit cheaper than original Canon lenses. My favorite lense is the Sigma 300mm f/2.8 which gives you a focal length of 2340mm. This lense is razor sharp. It's somehow a little heavy, so you should also consider a rail to attached it to. You can view the XL2 with the 300mm lense and rail here: http://video-film.no/galleri.html (Sorry the text in Norwegian only).
A sturdy tripod is also "a must" to get rid of any shake that the large focal lenght can cause in the footage.

At my website http://www.video-film.no/ you can see some short videos of birds. Click on the links: "video her". This is all shoot with the XL2 camcorder.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 06:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan
Mike, I'm a wildelife videophotographer myself and I love the XL2! Its a fantastic tool to get near the action in the wild. No other camcorder that I'm aware of to that price can deliver footage compared to the quality you get from the XL2.

My advise to you is to get an ef-adapter too or if you use nikon lenses an suitable adapter for those lenses, as Mike Teutsch told you.
I'm using Sigma lenses, which is a bit cheaper than original Canon lenses. My favorite lense is the Sigma 300mm f/2.8 which gives you a focal length of 2340mm. This lense is razor sharp. It's somehow a little heavy, so you should also consider a rail to attached it to. You can view the XL2 with the 300mm lense and rail here: http://video-film.no/galleri.html (Sorry the text in Norwegian only).
A sturdy tripod is also "a must" to get rid of any shake that the large focal lenght can cause in the footage.

At my website http://www.video-film.no/ you can see some short videos of birds. Click on the links: "video her". This is all shoot with the XL2 camcorder.
Some great clips there Per, I particularly enjoyed the Musk Ox footage, great use of the camera and lens in a wildlife setup...
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Old August 1st, 2006, 07:05 AM   #10
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Mike, I have been doing video for many years and I say that the Canon XL series is the top of the line. As others have stated, the Canon is a "SYSTEM". Besides interchangable lens you can also change microphones. For birds you can put of a shotgun mic and capture their songs as well. In my opinion there is only one other option to the XL-2, and that is to pick up a really good XL-1s and then get the tripod (for the XL I would go with a minimun Bogan 503 head) and other toys. What ever you do, just go on out there and have fun. Bob
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Old August 1st, 2006, 01:10 PM   #11
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I think it is a lot easier to pick up a DVX and get a great image out of it. The XL2 can really be frustrating to some people but if you master it, you can get more out of it than any camera in its class.

The DVX with its shorter lens prolly wont work for you anyway, just be prepared to learn a lot of tech about the XL2 and for sure, learn to adjust the presets.



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