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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 October 28th, 2006, 10:27 PM   #1
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Best quality SD 3 chip camcorder?

Hope this is not cross posting, but there was not a general forum here as there is in the HD category so if this is the wrong place, please move or advise.

Is there a newer 3 chip, preferably 1/3 " chip camcorder that provides better quality than the Sony VX2100 out nowadays?

I ask because I posted in the HD general forum that I was not aware of anything in SD only, and that was why was thinking of going the HD route. But in case there is something better in SD only I would like to look into it. As I said over there I would really like to have an option of full screen and not be restricted to 16:9, unless the vx2100 is the best quality option out there for SD only. In that case I would keep it and buy the best HD in my price range.

I have heard that the Panasonic DVX100b was great but it has basically the same chips in it as the VX2100..size, resolution and so on.

I would love to jump on the canon XL bandwagon as I have read great things about it, BUT I really don't want to get into an interchangeable lens system. I have enough problems with sensor dust on my digital cameras. So that kinda let's out the XL line.

Good low light performance would be nice too.

But that being said, will Canon and others continue SD only models or will they move on to producing HD camcorders and the SD only models become obsolete?

Advice appreciated and thanks for your time.
Jerry
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Old October 28th, 2006, 10:42 PM   #2
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Sounds like the XL2 is your best bet. You don't have to change lenses at all. I only use the 16x manual lens on mine. Fantastic camera that won't disappoint you. Great low-light performance, switchable 16:9 or 4:3, 24p or 29.97, progressive or interlaced, Balanced XLR mic inputs.... the list goes on..
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Old October 28th, 2006, 11:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Winchester
Sounds like the XL2 is your best bet. You don't have to change lenses at all. I only use the 16x manual lens on mine. Fantastic camera that won't disappoint you. Great low-light performance, switchable 16:9 or 4:3, 24p or 29.97, progressive or interlaced, Balanced XLR mic inputs.... the list goes on..
Wow that sounds great. What is is your lens at the wide end? That is really the only major thing I have against my vx is not wide enough angle.

Is there a non manual lens that will word wide angle and zoom out that I can put on it and leave on it? Did you have to clean your chips or sensors when you first got the XL2 of dust? I am a little more proficient with the still camera and would be great to have a zoom lens like the still equivalent of a 24-70 or something better. I depend on autofocus more and more as my eyes aren't what they used to be, thus the need for a non manual lens.

thanks
Jerry
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Old October 28th, 2006, 11:52 PM   #4
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Jerry, you could just go with the standard XL2 package, though I don't know what the angle of view would be with that lens. If need be, you could be the wide angle lens for the camera as well.

There should be no need to clean the chips or sensors... I wouldn't touch them.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 04:11 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cal Johnson
Jerry, you could just go with the standard XL2 package, though I don't know what the angle of view would be with that lens. If need be, you could be the wide angle lens for the camera as well.

There should be no need to clean the chips or sensors... I wouldn't touch them.
The XL-2 does not have an opening shutter like an SLR so you don't need to clean the sensors which are safely internalised out of harms way.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 05:22 AM   #6
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Jerry, if you're a casual auto-mode shooter, I'd make sure you actually put an XL camera on your shoulder before deciding to buy one. These cameras are enough larger than GL2 / VX2100 sized cameras that you might find yourself shooting less because it is more hassle to take along, set up, and use than smaller cameras. Also, depending on the venue, there can be a distraction/intimidation factor when you hoist a pro-looking camera on your shoulder, or you may even be barred from bringing it into some places where a "consumer-sized" camera would be allowed.

Be aware that the 16x is a much beloved lens but is strictly manual focus -- no autofocus capability. The XL stock 20x lens is optically "long," so often not wide enough for, say, indoor family events. The XL cameras all do exhibit some "hunting" in their auto focus; I personally tend to use it when the challenge to maintain manual focus exceeds my limited abilities. So again, an "auto-mode shooter" might get frustrated.

You might want to consider going smaller and less expensive instead of larger and more expensive; folks seem pretty happy with the HV10, except as one would expect in low light performance. Otherwise, the XH A1 at $4000 might work better for you. It is larger and heavier than the GL2 or VX2100, but still a non-shoulder mount and supposedly has a much improved auto focus system. Still, if you catch the bug for a shoulder-mount, the XL2 is IMHO the best SD camera around.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 10:43 AM   #7
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Cal and Allen..
Thanks for your response and advice. That is very comforting to know that the sensors are isolated. That is a BIG relief. I will research the standard package and see what lens comes with it. At least I can comfortably add this camcorder to my possibilities now.

Pete.
You have a good point there. I have not looked into the differences in sizes. Probably 90% of the time with my vx2100 I use it on a tripod. But your point is well taken.
That the stock lens not being very wide angle puts me right where I am now..the vx2100 is not wide enough, as you said many times...I have to stand way back for it on a lot of things.
"Hunting".....chuckling....Boy you don't know how many times I have read about that on a Canon DSLR...that is not good when you rely 99% of the time on AF.

Yes am considering the XH A1....but my thing with it is that it is 16:9 only, I believe, native chips and not able to shoot 4:3.

I wish I could go to the store and test these out and feel them out, but we have one camera/video store near and it never has any of the higher end stuff.

Thanks to all for replies and advice
Jerry
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Old October 29th, 2006, 06:10 PM   #8
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The XL2 and DVX are considered the "Cream of the Crop" you can't go wrong with either- the XL2 does optical 16:9 (I believe natively) as where the DVX doesn't but has a very good "Squeeze" mode that uses the actual video and digitally anamorphs it- not quite as good as true optical but really good nonetheless. (DVX100A/B)
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Old October 29th, 2006, 06:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Nunez
The XL2 and DVX are considered the "Cream of the Crop" you can't go wrong with either- the XL2 does optical 16:9 (I believe natively) as where the DVX doesn't but has a very good "Squeeze" mode that uses the actual video and digitally anamorphs it- not quite as good as true optical but really good nonetheless. (DVX100A/B)
Thanks Steve, I think if I go SD then, from what I have learned here, I would go more with the XL2, one-to go all Canon, two-as you noted the DVX does the squeeze job and I have heard that as you said it is as good as native.

THanks.
Jery
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Old October 29th, 2006, 07:13 PM   #10
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3x wide angle or wide angle converter

Sorry to confuse you further, but the 20x lens that comes with the XL2 package is not very good for small spaces at all (sorry, don't have the exact specs). We finally decided on buying the 3x wide angle lens, and don't regret it a bit (though cost was a major factor). It's great for on the fly, run and gun interviews as well, as you can get closer to your subject without sacrificing audio quality.

Or you might consider getting a wide angle converter (like a Century Optics--for much cheaper) for use with the 20x lens.

--JA
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Old October 29th, 2006, 07:52 PM   #11
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The DVX has the widest angle lens on a stock 3CCD camera. If WA is what u crave the DVX is worth considering.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 11:15 PM   #12
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I second the rec. for the DVX. For the price, size, class, etc... it stands alone. The Canon gives you the options of both a manual lens and a good viewfinder, however you still need a big battery on the rear to make it balance at all. If you're just looking for a very high quality camera with a good built-in lens, the DVX-100 is the ticket. The 24p is a nice feature you can't get on the sony's, and the overall image quality is excellent. A HUGE amount of TV is shot on DVX, as are the majority of small "films." It has a real zoom ring, though the focus is still opto-electrically coupled.

Now, the Canon has better resolution, better lens options and accessories, but is a much larger rig. It will offer better expandability should you need it, and shoot all the same modes as the DVX. If you use autofocus, the Canon will trounce anything else out there. But, the interface is...cumbersome at best.

Not sure where you've read about "hunting" with Canon SLR autofocus, but I'd imagine the people you heard from didn;t do any exhaustive research beyond "I put a $50 lens on a $2500 camera, and the AF was slow." There are a lot of factors to consider in AF performance, and with SLR's (as with video cameras), the maximum aperature of the lens is a HUGE, if not the biggest factor. I shot sports as a photojournalist for a number of years, and I can tell you that we all switched to Canon for a reason - their cameras simply work better than anyone else's, and their glass is outstanding. And Canon correctly brags that they have the worlds fastest autofocus. So if AF is an important feature to you, rest assured nobody does it better than Canon.

Now, one other thing to note is that autofocus in Video is a crap-shoot. In still photography you focus and wait for the moment. In video, it's ALL the moment. The focus sensors of ANY camera are essentially in the center, and they are NOT smarter than you. They focus on whatever is in the middle 30% of the frame (more or less). You have to understand that what your eye focuses on in the frame may fall outside of the center 30%. If you always frame your images so the subject is punched dead-center, you shouldn't have any problems with AF on any camera. BUT, rarely do we want our subjects dead-center. As soon as you subject leaves the middle of the frame, the camera will focus to the next object it sees in that space. This is not "poor" autofocus performance, or hunting, or abnormal. The camera is exactly right, you just have to understand what it's doing and why. That's why most people choose to manually focus their lenses - because they can choose how focus will shift within a frame.

That said, SHOULD you want to manually focus, the Canon kit lens is terrible. The image it makes is gorgeous, but the manual focus ring stinks, perhaps worse than most prosumer cameras. The good news is they make a fully manual lens which is a beautiful piece and the best of the price range. The focus ring on the DVX is good - it works - but it's nothing compared to a REAL focus ring.

Between the Canon and DVX, you can't go wrong, either will make great pictures. Just understand the limitations of the systems before you go in expecting miracles, and you'll be very happy whichever camera you choose.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 04:09 AM   #13
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I've used my XL2 for everything from weddings to political to interviews...lots of run and gun. I've had it for 1 1/2 years, and have really enjoyed and learned a lot shooting with it.
It's native 16:9 and shoots in progressive in addition to interlaced.In addition, you can tweak the presets and have limitless different looks.
I'm sad selling mine, but just bought the new XLH1...
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Old October 30th, 2006, 09:09 PM   #14
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I started out using a DVX, but now I own the XL2 and it's (now) my camcorder of choice due to a few reasons. First, I prefer a shoulder mount camera, it's more rock solid and professional. At the end of a gig I get more people asking me about my camera and my card than I ever did with a smaller camcorder. Second, the lens system. With a loner zoom I can get some really interesting DOF shots that make the images feel more film-like. Third, customizing your gamma and set-up levels have neer been so seemingly infinite. Third, native 16:9/BNC connection/24p/more pixels per CCD than any other SD camcorder.

Look, DVX is a great camcorder, and is used my tons of shooters and that does help if a producer is looking to only use that particular camera. And that's where the XL2 can prohibit you from work. Yet, when I shoot for MTV we mix DVXs and XL2s all the time and you can't really tell the difference.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 09:42 PM   #15
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hey

i think you guys forgot about the PD170...

although my XL2 is the best sd camcorder as far as image quality and features, i still think the superb image quality of the 170 is way up there with the XL. plus, it's smaller, shoots dvcam, has xlr audio, very quick autofocus (vx2000 i think is quicker). best of all, it includes a wide angle adapter(which adds considerable weight).

although it has bad balance especially with the wide angle and a video light it makes up for portability. and the colors are like russian optics! super saturation. very good for tv- just dont forget to legalise.

if you're a run and gun shooter, consider the 170. the proof is in the number of users it has on the field, especially in the news.
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