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Old September 1st, 2003, 02:06 PM   #16
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<<However, the XL1 is a much more diverse package for people that can afford the extra lenses, VF, etc... and who aren't concerened with the "film look", like ENG or documentaries.>>

This still doesn't make sense to me Dylan. I've compared the two cameras, and Frame mode certainly gives a similar film look to that of the 24p on the DVX. Again, 28 Days Later IS a film in the real world sense, and I doubt that any of the millions of "non-tech" viewers knew that it wasn't a traditionally produced film.

For what it's worth, Scott Billups, author of Digital Film Makng and prolific writer in this genre (like him or not <g>) still considers the XL1 with manual lens and matte box in with frame mode, the only mini DV camera that he considers a professional rig for digital film making...including the DVX100
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Old September 2nd, 2003, 04:37 PM   #17
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Moderator from DVX100 forum here...

Irregardless of Scott Billups opinion (I sold my XL1 with manual and wide lenses to get a DVX100), side by side images of XL1 frame mode and DVX100 30p or 24p don't require a trained eye to spot the differences (my wife did right off the bat).

Especially on moving wide shots, the XL1 Frame Mode is uncomfortably softer (one of my biggest issues since I did like the 3X lens).

Furthermore, the range of image adjustments available on the DVX100 make it a far more useful and professional tool than the XL1.

Finally, it's not plastic, despite the impression people have. It's mag alloy - just the paint, finish and a couple of plastic covers have caused misreports of it being a plastic camera.

Finally, the elimination of deinterlacing in post (which I used on my XL1 as I lost less resolution than frame mode), is a big factor for lots of people as well, especially if you are going to film or DVD as 24p will always give you major advantages in post.

24p means no motion artifacts going to film or 24p HD. 24p means faster renders in NLE, DVD production, 3D and compositing effects etc.

It's hard to argue that there's a better $3000 indie production cam (especially since it shoot very nice 60i), unless you require certain specifics (very long focal lengths) or a 3D lens which will cost you a lot more than $3000.

I have not seen an A/B test, but from posted full-rez clips, the DVX100 24p also looks much better than the XL1s with the 35MM Tecknik adapter, unless you are a short DOF junkie.

It's not a perfect cam at all (the telephoto is too short, the audio pots need improving, I'd really like 16:9 CCDs, even at a premium) but until you get to the $20,000 price point, I'm not sure I would want another cam.

I'm sure it's reign (disputed as it is) won't last, but right now, it's more in tune with indie moviemakers needs than any other camera.
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Old September 2nd, 2003, 05:50 PM   #18
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<<Irregardless>>

First...if we're splitting hairs, "regardless" is the more appropriate word <g>.

Second...I intentionally said FWIW in regard to Billups.

Third...I already reccomended the DVX as probably the best choice as an all in one indie package, but specifically not if you're looking to expand with better glass and view finder.

My comment was in regard to the XL1s being good for non-film use like dicumentary and ENG. I think they're both of use for film production, and the XL1s was in fact just used for a major release...not an indie release. I think that's fairly definitive...the rest is just subjective, although valuable opinion.


<<I have not seen an A/B test, but from posted full-rez clips, the DVX100 24p also looks much better than the XL1s with the 35MM Tecknik adapter, unless you are a short DOF junkie.>>


This being the most subjective of comments <g>. The XL1s with Mini35 is a totally different animal than the DVX or any DV cam out there, and it's not just about being a short DOF junkie. Putora tests with the P&S have shown resolution increases on the scale of 2 out of 9.

Medium and short DOF are regular tools of film making as are rack and follow focus. These aren't available, to my knowledge, using the DVX...they are real strengths with the Mini35. They're a hallmark of good film making, their absence kind of screams "video production".

There are also color saturation improvements that are regularly discussed as the "transcendent" quality of the mini35. I know one film professor who speculates that it is an issue of the spinning glass, the CCDs, and color pixels.

At any rate, this ain't a war. Some of the best images I've seen so far are from the DVX and the XL1s/Mini35. I wouldn't want to try and convince someone that one is "much better" than the other. I haven't yet seen DVX footage that I would consider more film like than well produced Mini35 work though.
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Old September 2nd, 2003, 10:00 PM   #19
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Jim:

I'm sure the Mini35 is "transcendent" :) but there's one available for the DVX100 as well. Does your professor have an actual technical explanation for ground glass magic?

But by the time you've bought or rented a Mini35, lenses, and extra lighting etc. needed, it's not clear that Mini35 fits much more than a small niche.

Plus, the DVX100 without Mini35 shoot wonderful, filmlike images.

Short DOF of field is one of my rants - be warned. Short DOF of field has nothing to do with the inherent medium of film - it's about focal length and imager size. I used to shoot a ton of Super 8mm...

Short DOF is a visual tool/trend that is associated with "professional look" and IMHO way overused (especially the post version) on commercial/music videos.

Careful composition and use of lighting to emphasize parts of the frame is another tool that can be utilized to achieve similar effects.

Citizen Kane certainly does not look like video...and the irony is the anamorphic films struggle to get enough DOF, especially in low light...

DVX100 footage will emerge that will show the full potential of the cam. It's still a little new for major productions.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 10:39 AM   #20
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<<I'm sure the Mini35 is "transcendent" :) but there's one available for the DVX100 as well.>>

Yes, but the inherent issue there is that you have to add the high end glass "on top of" the fixed glass of the DVX. I can't really speak to those results, but I have been asked to do a test comparison and article of both systems. Don Berube an I have discussed doing the shoots together, which would be a gas. His and my schedules are pretty crazy, and I've got to get back to ZGC on it...stay tuned.

<<Does your professor have an actual technical explanation for ground glass magic?>>

Well, he's not "my professor" but I believe he's a CA film professor who's thoughts were expressed to me by Mizell at ZGC. Perhaps Barb could address the point.

<<But by the time you've bought or rented a Mini35, lenses, and extra lighting etc. needed, it's not clear that Mini35 fits much more than a small niche.>>

There's no question that it's a niche...so is 35mm.

<<Plus, the DVX100 without Mini35 shoot wonderful, filmlike images.>>

Which I've said all along, and so does the XL1s.

And while I respect your "rants" about DOF, I'll go with the countless examples of major film making, books, articles and my own studies and experience on that one. It's simply a fact that you can't get the "3 dimensional" feel to a scene without it, and that would be a great subject for a thread on it's own.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 12:23 PM   #21
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Please post any side by side result over in the DVX100 forum. We are also suspicious of the glass in front design.

<<Which I've said all along, and so does the XL1s.>>

You only get filmlike images from the XL1s in frame mode. Frame mode is very noticably poorer in quality than 24 or 30p in the DVX100. DVX100 wins this battle, hands down.

<<It's simply a fact that you can't get the "3 dimensional" feel to a scene without it, and that would be a great subject for a thread on it's own.>>

I will have to disagre pretty strongly on that. Many 2-D artforms (painting, drawing, photography and filmmaking) get 3 dimensional feel through lighting, composition, perspective, color and many other techiniques. I'm willing to bet $100 that very few art experts will agree with your assertion that it's the "only" or
"best" way to get 3 dimensional feel.

If fact Conrad Hall, SR, will probably be remembered as a master of lighting for depth in the frame, not a short DOF "master".

It's just harder to do with lighting, color, perspective and composition than with DOF, so perhaps that why you see less of it in low end productions.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 01:13 PM   #22
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<<You only get filmlike images from the XL1s in frame mode. Frame mode is very noticably poorer in quality than 24 or 30p in the DVX100. DVX100 wins this battle, hands down.>>

I don't know if you experienced the XL1 or XL1s, but I can tell you that the Mini35 with the XL1s gives beautiful and crisp images. Plain and simple, I'm shooting with better glass than you are, that's considered the most critical element by a good many film makers. Again, I'd say it's a subjective call and we should agree to disagree.



<<I will have to disagre pretty strongly on that. Many 2-D artforms (painting, drawing, photography and filmmaking) get 3 dimensional feel through lighting, composition, perspective, color and many other techiniques.>>

I'm talking about a specific 3D quality that comes from manipulating DOF... the other points you make are a given to me in film and photgraphy, painting and drawing are another world. But given the same lighting, composition, etc...add in the DOF of 35mm lenses and there is a 3D quality unavailable in the wolrd you're discussing. There just is, maybe you'd have to shoot 35 to understand it, but it's separate and different from those basic points of quality work.

<<No offense, but I'm not a painter I'm willing to bet $100 that very few art experts will agree with your assertion that it's the "only" or "best" way to get 3 dimensional feel.>>

No offense taken, I'm a creative director and run design, audio and film/video studios. I work in all the media we're discussing. The only thing I would take offense at is your putting "only" and "best" and indicating that I wrote that. I didn't and the debate would be cleaner without padding your argument.

As I said, I'm talking about a "specific 3D quality" that is inherent with 35 mm lenses in proper orientation to the film plane or in this case the CCD. That quality enhances the attributes you point out, but it exists on it's own and it can't be recreated by any of those points you made...not the specific quaility that comes from what photgrahers and cinematographers know as the "circle of confusion"

<<If fact Conrad Hall, SR, will probably be remembered as a master of lighting for depth in the frame, not a short DOF "master".>>

Which is great, but it's apples and oranges, but I'm beginning to get your "rant" on DOF. Hey, if you don't like it don't use it <g>. Seriously though, the DVX is a great instrument and so is the one I use.

<<It's just harder to do with lighting, color, perspective and composition than with DOF, so perhaps that why you see less of it in low end productions.>>

Again, all of these things are the hallmarks of great design, photography, videography, and cinematography. I've posted just that point to people asking about how to get a great film look...and you left out the all important "camera movement". I've specifically said that those things are the most important part of what people associate with the "film look".

That said, I've seen big production work by big $ DPs and directors shot in uncompressed 60i that looked like cheaseball, soap opera production.

IMHO, the look of 24p, 30p, or the dreaded frame mode combined with the angle of view and depth of field of 35mm glass is what takes it to another level...all other production techniques being equal.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 01:28 PM   #23
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I owned an XL1 (bought because of the orginal XL1 Watchdog site) with the 14X manual lens and 3X wide as well as the standard lens from mid 1999 to mid 2002. In the late 80's & 90's I shot a lot of Super 8mm and some 16mm and lifelong have shot tons of still 35mm.

I did not rent a mini35 for my XL1 before I sold it. I felt the limitations and resolution loss of frame mode or deinterlacing in post made differences in glass secondary.

Thus I bought a DVX100 without really considering an XL1s.

Putting Zeiss primes infront of the XL1 on ground glass I'm sure is much better than the standard or even the manual lens, but the while I agree when all other things are equal, glass is extremely important, but here they are not.

360 lines captured by frame mode is 33% loss in vertical resolution. It's gone, bye, bye. Plus, 30 fps is not that close to 24 fps.

The DVX100 in thin mode captures the full 480 lines in progressive mode with almost no artifacts (so good, that some NTSC display cannot even display it properly). Plus, the cinegamma setting and CCD give it greater latitute than the XL1.

I don't see any lens bringing the XL1 equal to the DVX100 image quality. XL2, maybe.

Per DOF etc. that's really another thread and I'm sorry if I misread your post:

<<It's simply a fact that you can't get the "3 dimensional" feel to a scene without it, and that would be a great subject for a thread on it's own.>>

Sound like only or necessary or best way to me. Plus, you might want to look at some DVX100 clips. People are getting some decent short DOF despite it's focal length imager limitations. And an enterprising Barry Green http://www.softscreen.us has developed a quick and cheap solution to fake it out for some shooting situations. It's about 1/20th of the price of the mini35.

I personally think the Leica lens on the DVX100 is superb. Certainly exceeds the capabilities of the DV format.

That's why if the only way an XL1s can get great images is with the mini35, I think it might be better spent on a higher end camera.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 01:54 PM   #24
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Howdy from Texas,

<< if the only way an XL1s can get great images is with the mini35 >>

Sorry, but this isn't true -- the XL1S can get great images with just about any glass combination, not just the mini35.

Getting great images is more about the camera operator than the camera itself. Both the XL1S and DVX100 can deliver stunning images, or absolute junk, depending entirely on the person using it.

I would caution the readers of this thread to avoid getting caught up in superlatives. To make a value judgement on the superlative term of "best camera" is a big mistake. It's like saying, can you do better work on your car with a set of Craftsman tools than a set of Snap-On tools, when ultimately the deciding factor is the knowledge and expertise of the mechanic.

If someone wants to argue that all other things being equal including operator skill, then which camera, one should examine the most obvious differences:

The DVX100 is a compact all-in-one camcorder with a 24p mode and cine-gamma controls plus scene file settings. The XL1S is a modular camera system that can be configured in a variety of different ways, including a filmmaking set-up. Both are excellent choices for low-budget independant digital filmmaking. To bestow a superlative on one seems to discount the other (or what's worse, tends to discount and therefore insult the person owning it), when the absolute rock-bottom *truth* of the matter is that either one will do, in fact, excellent work has already been done by both cameras. A choice should be based solidly on feature sets and ergonomics. After that, worry more about your business plan and the quality of your script, you know, *real* concerns. Because cameras are just tools, after all.

Ultimately, the right camera for you is the one which feels best in your hands and whose image most appeals to you on a pro video monitor (or, perhaps, transferred to 35mm motion picture film).

Everything has been said in this thread that can be said, by highly qualified proponents of both systems. Perhaps those casual readers who find threads of this kind so interesting should reconsider their priorities and concentrate more on the stories they're going to tell with these cameras. I'll watch compelling material with less vertical resolution any day, over boring material at 480 lines. Content is king, and I'm a card-carrying member of the content mafia.

What kind of work will you do with these tools, that's the real question.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 03:15 PM   #25
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Excellent points, Chris. Content is king - that's actually why I got a DVX100.

It saves my time and money over my old XL1 setup and gets a great image in a format (24p) and form factor (handycam with LCD) that I like. It does take a little time to learn the menu and settings, but that's a one-time process.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 03:33 PM   #26
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Chris always knows how to bring things back to reality :)

To quickly put my 2 cents to some of the basic points that need to be considered by Bryan.

In the end, both cameras are the same beast, each beating the other in various points.

Ergonomics, flexibility, and growth with the user are the biggest points that need to be considered by the potential customer. The DVX100 will give Bryan more out of the box, but will not grow with him as a filmmaker. The XL1s is older technology, but is unlimited in how it can adapt to ANY situation Bryan might try to shoot.

If you want to get the highest resolution image possible for film out, the XL1s is the only choice, period. It's been well documented that by taking off the XL1s lens and going directly to the CCD, either mechanically or optically (mini35), you achieve a doubling of the lines/mm resolution, going from roughly 42 lines/mm to 85-90 lines/mm. As Jim pointed out, the best example is "28 Days Later"

Resolution aside, the DVX has some nice electronic image tricks, but most of them can be achieved in post with XL1s footage.

For those who are not familiar with it, you can now get higher resolution progressive transfers, even for the DVX100, with DVFilmMaker from dvfilm.com.

Another thing to remember with the DVX100 is that it is NOT true 24p. The camera and print to tape are always running at 60fps and markers are placed on the tape to achieve 24fps. Either of the DVX100s (or the VariCams for that matter) 24fps modes can casuse problems in post, which is a big thing to consider.

The Mini35 with the DVX100 will be an interesting turn of events when it comes to the Mini35 world, and might even create more aesthetically pleasing images then the Mini35 with the XL1s, but again, if you want the resolution necessary for a good film out...

And finally, I think the best overall idea to come out of this thread, and something I've been pushing at all of my speaking engagments, is that filmmaking is a craft. Without a compelling story and proper craftsmanship, it doesn't matter what cinegamma did for ya. Buy more lights, get a tripod, and dismantle your zoom lever...ok maybe don't go that far...but bottom line is construct your films with the proper tools and techniques, don't hope that the given electronic features of your camera is going to make you the next Kubrik (hint: I mention Kubrik because he is considered the absolute epitome of the film craftsman!)

Soapbox off, Flame retardent on :)

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 03:44 PM   #27
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<<Excellent points, Chris. Content is king - that's actually why I got a DVX100.>>

Man, you do want to win...remind me not to play you in tennis <g>

The last point I wanted to make was this. I've made a good many friends at this place, some that have and are leading to real world collaboration. Some of the people who's work I respect, Justin Chin, Don Berube, Ken Tanaka, Charles Papert, to name a very few, shoot with the XL1, one with the XL1/Mini35. Their work speaks for itself. I've won a number of national awards using the XL1 and Xl1s with and without the Mini35.

Recently the director of a muti million dollar major feature that was blown up full screen throughout the world opted to use the XL1s in frame mode. Again that speaks for itself. The audience was wrapt in the story and imagery, they didn't give a diseased monkey's butt about what camera he used.

A while back in my very first studio, I used a 1/2" 16 track recorder from Fostex. Audiophiles, and musicians wrote and talked about how you couldn't produce "pro" work on it, that you needed 2" machines or the new digital technology. While everyone debated and talked and worried about what tommorow would bring, we continued to produce album after album and award winning commercial work.

That eight thousand dollar machine made me hundreds of thousands, because I was concerned with mastering the technique of recording, performance and production, not what the technophiles thought.

We're doing the same thing with the Xl1 series and I would expect to do the same thing with the DVX if that were my tool of choice. As I said at the start of this thread, when the film student that applied for an internship at my studios this summer showed me his senior short done on the DVX, I thought it was done on film.

Perhaps more importantly, he couldn't even remember the name of the camera...he called it the "Panasonic Something". That speaks volumes about what it takes to make great looking work.

I'm a writer that uses cameras and recorders and design computers to try and realize a vision. Hey... I'm the Content King here <g>
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 03:52 PM   #28
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<<<-- If you want to get the highest resolution image possible for film out, the XL1s is the only choice, period. It's been well documented that by taking off the XL1s lens and going directly to the CCD, either mechanically or optically (mini35), you achieve a doubling of the lines/mm resolution, going from roughly 42 lines/mm to 85-90 lines/mm. -->>>

Where is this documented? Was the DVX100 compared at the same time?

Plus, with the XL1s you must either capture interlaced or frame mode. Either is going to involve resolution loss and do your numbers above reflect this?

<<<--Another thing to remember with the DVX100 is that it is NOT true 24p. The camera and print to tape are always running at 60fps and markers are placed on the tape to achieve 24fps. Either of the DVX100s (or the VariCams for that matter) 24fps modes can casuse problems in post, which is a big thing to consider.-->>>

DVX100 is true 24p. The CCDs do capture at 24 fps, otherwise I could not use 1/24th and 1/48th shutter without weird artifacts or stutters. The image is placed on tape with one of two pulldown methods. The 2:3 pulldown preserves the full-rez 24 frames with the DV interlaced signal. You can easily edit it with the right program (I used Vegas 4.0c) and see you 24 orginal capture frames, one by one. Visit the DVX100 forum here for much more detail on this.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 04:11 PM   #29
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Stephen Wrote:

<<Where is this documented? Was the DVX100 compared at the same time?>>


AC (American Cinematographer) 4/2002 p.119 and AC 4/2003 p.120

And yes, the numbers reflect whatever resolution loss you seem to be referring to. The bottom line is that the XL1s CCDs are much more powerful than the video glass allows it be, and using better lenses directly to the CCD corrects this. If we've now doubled the lines/mm resolution of the imaging sensor, who cares if we do lose, say, 10% of resolution becuase we're interlaced. Are the DVX100s CCDs much more powerful then the Leica lens allows them to be...we'll never know will we unless you're willing to dismantle your camera.

<<DVX100 is true 24p. The CCDs do capture at 24 fps, otherwise I could not use 1/24th and 1/48th shutter without weird artifacts or stutters. The image is placed on tape with one of two pulldown methods. The 2:3 pulldown preserves the full-rez 24 frames with the DV interlaced signal. You can easily edit it with the right program (I used Vegas 4.0c) and see you 24 orginal capture frames, one by one. Visit the DVX100 forum here for much more detail on this.>>

I'm not a DVX100 expert and don't plan to be. Ask Panasonic themselves. I have sat through at least 3 presentations from high level Panasonic engineers. The two cameras do not run 24p, they approximate it...very well, but approximated. Ask any of your friends who have tried to take VariCam 24p footage and edit it natively and see what they tell you. Feel free to drop Adam Brooks a line at adam@mysticriverfilms.com and he'll tell you the horror story of posting Panasonic footage. He didn't believe me when I told him it would be, and then he had to call me to say I told him so.

You mention using the right software...that's the point. Same thing with JVC HiDef...if you buy their special software it's simple to edit their footage. What if the customer wants to use the software they've already invested a couple of thousands of dollars in.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 04:23 PM   #30
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<<<-- If we've now doubled the lines/mm resolution of the imaging sensor, who cares if we do lose, say, 10% of resolution becuase we're interlaced.->>>

Interlaced loses a lot more than 10% (see Steve Mullens article in Video Systems on progressive image capture and resolution loss. Frame mode loses 33%, so those are big numbers.

<<<-- I have sat through at least 3 presentations from high level Panasonic engineers. The two cameras do not run 24p, they approximate it...very well, but approximated. -->>>

It's 23.976fps technically but it's made up 24 unique frames, just like film.

<<<-- if you buy their special software it's simple to edit their footage. What if the customer wants to use the software they've already invested a couple of thousands of dollars in.-->>>

It's not special software. Right now Final Cut Pro 4, Avid Xpress, Vegas 4 all support (I believe Premiere Pro as well, but have not seen an official statement) natively editing DVX100 footage at 24fps. There may be some high end apps that Varicam users are having issues with, but DVX100 can basically edit now with any standard package at true 24fps (23.976 :)
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