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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old March 8th, 2002, 01:40 PM   #1
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Ambitious DV beginner: Automatic or Manual lens?

Hi DV community,
I am about to buy a Canon XL1s PAL. But I have troubles deciding if I should by the Canon IS II 16x automatic lens or the Canon 16x manual lens. In addition, for editing I will get the Apple G4 dual 1GHz with Final Cut Pro 3.

My ambitions are:
- To make short films for DVD, Internet streaming and hopefully TV
- To become a sort of a producer and have more experienced people use my equipment to make low budget features to be transferred on 35mm.

My questions are:
1) I would also like to use the XL1s as a portable camcorder for e.g. documentaries and therefore I like the feature of Optical Image Stabilazition of the automatic lens. How will the Manual lens respond to that use? Or do I have to get a stadycam to do the job?

2) I read that the biggest complaint about the automatic lens is the focus. How difficult is it to use the manual lens when it comes to focus? I mean when you are shooting yourself you have to find the good shots, keep focus, direct the cast etc. Is it a must to have a focus control e.g. from varizoon.com?

3) Can someone please explain to me why the manual mode of the automatic lens isnít as good as the manual lens?

4) Any other recommendations which could help my decision are highly appreciated

Thanks,
Thomas
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Old March 8th, 2002, 09:10 PM   #2
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Manual Focus differences.

The 16x Auto lens in manual mode uses an electric servo motor to shift the focus mechanism. When you move the focus ring on the lens it sends a + or - signal to the motor and the motor adjusts the focus acordingly. The focus 'ring' on the lens is a bit confusing in theat respect. It actually operates more like a focus 'button'. That is the reason there is no stop on the ring. Position of the ring has nothing to do with focus position.

The 16x Manual Lens actually has a mechanical connection between the focus ring and the focus mechanism. So mechanism movement/focus is directly proportional to the position of the focus ring.
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Old March 9th, 2002, 02:45 PM   #3
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Go with the manual lens for sure.

(Thats my 2 cents)
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Old March 9th, 2002, 06:55 PM   #4
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As a practical matter, if I could only get one lens for the XL1s I would choose the 16x auto lens. Here's why.

1. It's focus is not nearly as poor as magnified folk lore portrays it. As with any auto-focus it can be confused when faced with poor lighting and low contrast (my observation).

2. Forgoing Canon's excellent image stabilization technology is not to be taken lightly if you plan to shoot anything handheld. My 14x manual lens is very nice but it will never take a walk with me. As soon as you try to shoot handheld with the 16x manual you'll see what I mean.

3. You can disable the auto lens' IS at any time for pans, etc.

4. The 16x auto lens can be used very effectively in manual mode if, like any other skill, you practice. Frame your subject, zoom-in, switch to auto focus to let the lens snap to focus, switch to manual, zoom to frame. Practice, practice, practice. Similarly, you'll need alot of practice using the manual lens particularly since you'll need to manage the iris as well as the focus and zoom.

5. The manual lens can never auto focus and has no image stabilization.

You should really buy both lenses if you plan to do the work you proposed. But initially, in my book, the 16x auto lens is a far better general purpose tool than the manual lens.
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Old March 10th, 2002, 07:02 PM   #5
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I am still wondering

Thanks a bunch for all your answers.

I am now leaning toward the automatic lens. It seems to be more "multi-functional" than the manual lens at least for a beginner. I think the automatic lens will serve me better in the learning period before I endeavour to more "professional" productions i.e. I can use it as a hand-held camcorder.

But I also acknowledge when shooting more seriously it becomes paramount to have the manual flexibility that comes with the manual lens.

Any other comments before I buy the camera?

PS. Will I be able to buy the manual lens in the US and then mount it on my XL1S PAL version which I most likely will buy in Europe?

PPS. I think I saw a thread here, that every accessory to the XL1S can be used both for the PAL and the NTSC version. Is that true?

PPPS. When using a manual lens, how easy or difficult is it to operate the camera and the lens? Has anyone experience in using a focus control from e.g. varizoon.com?

Best regards,
Thomas B. Petersen
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Old March 10th, 2002, 07:42 PM   #6
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Howdy from Texas,

I'd say about 85% of all XL1 owners use the standard 16x lens and will never use anything else.

<< PS. Will I be able to buy the manual lens in the US and then mount it on my XL1S PAL version which I most likely will buy in Europe? >>

Yes, guess I need to put this in the FAQ.

<< PPS. I think I saw a thread here, that every accessory to the XL1S can be used both for the PAL and the NTSC version. Is that true? >>

Yes, see http://www.dvinfo.net/xl1s.htm

<< PPPS. When using a manual lens, how easy or difficult is it to operate the camera and the lens? Has anyone experience in using a focus control from e.g. varizoon.com? >>

VariZoom makes a focus controller that works perfectly with this lens. Their series of DV camcorder lens controllers will run the zoom perfectly on this lens.

Hope this helps,
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