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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old August 28th, 2003, 12:35 AM   #1
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XL1s vs DVX100

I have been saving my money up since I got a job (end of high school 03) and I finally have baout $3200. I am taking film classes at UNLV (I live in Las Vegas) and I really want to make some shorts and a feature length movie. I'm not sure which camera to buy. The XL1s or the DVX100. I know that the DVX100 shoots in 24p and the XL1s in 30p, and I really want a great look. I plan to submit my shorts to the triggerstreet film festival and some others when I get good. If you guys could help me decide which one to get, that would be great. I want whichever one is going to give me the best look.
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Old August 28th, 2003, 07:06 AM   #2
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i would go with the panasonic 24p. if lit correctly it does have a filmic look. i mean nothing is going to give you the true look of film except...film. so i would suggest buying the panasonic cam and then dropping a little money on a super 8 camera. also i might be shooting my next music video on the panasonic to cut costs. i also may suggest dropping a few $100 on a super 8 camera and some film. after all you are trying to get into the film industry.
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Old August 28th, 2003, 12:34 PM   #3
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One of the big advantages of the XL-1 are the interchangable lens system. If you think you will never use anything more than the stock lens, you may want to lean towards the DVX.

The DVX has the advantage of shooting 24p. Its not a big, show stopping advantage but it is nice to have. The Canon's frame mode is really not the same thing, but a number of people still use it without problems (search on frame mode on this site for a bunch of thread about it).

But lets say you really, really want 24 fps. You could go with a PAL version and accomplish this too.

Another facet to consider is size. If you are going to do more gun and run shooting the DVX fills the bill more nicely. The XL-1 cannot help but attract attention.

You should also think about what cams your colleagues are using. They may be with you on shoots and having cams with similar operating specs can be helpful indeed. Sometimes having other experienced camera operators will help you with the hidden nuances of your system that only comes with experience.

You may have noticed I have not told you which one is better...the truth is they both are. You really cannot not make a bad decision.

Finally the best advice is to try before you buy.
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Old August 28th, 2003, 02:39 PM   #4
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<<The DVX has the advantage of shooting 24p. Its not a big, show stopping advantage but it is nice to have. The Canon's frame mode is really not the same thing, but a number of people still use it without problems >>

This is kind of an odd statement to me. I would guess that a majority of people shooting beyond the "video look" with the XL series use Frame Mode. Why would there be a "problem"? A major international film...one of the top releasees of the summer was shot using the XL1s in Frame mode. That's pretty definitive to me.

Also, for just about everyone in the real world, I think we really are splitting hairs when we talk about 24p and Canon's 30 frames being psuedo progressive scan etc. In a recent thread with Charles Papert that very issue came up...the ability to actually distinguish between 24p, 25p, 30p. I agree completely that it takes a trained eye to see the difference, and for me that falls into the "who cares" file.

Depending on the subject matter and ligthing and camera movement, I regularly get comments referring to Super 16 or 35mm when looking at our footage shot in Frame Mode. Granted, I'm using the Mini35 setup. But some of the work we were doing in Frame with the stock Canon lenses originally looked very filmic (again composition, lighting, movement dependent).

That said, I just received a resume and reel with a senior short film produced on the DVX100, and it looked great...I was sure it was shot in film when I first saw it. You can't go wrong with either choice. The world is a very different place than it was five or six years ago when shooting video with an $80k Beta camera setup was as good as you could do in the field.

But it still always looked like good video...even shooting with Warm Pro mist filters and sending it out to post for Faux Film processing. You're getting into the business at a very exciting time. The lines are inexorably blurred with HD, the XL1s, DVX100 and soon, affordable (the term Prosumer is becoming meaningless at this point) MiniDV fromat HD cameras with progressive scan.

Get either camera, and put any future investment into lighting, sound and motion gear. You can do wonders with this gear, and enough energy, talent and study. Go get 'em.
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Old August 28th, 2003, 07:48 PM   #5
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Byran,
You really ought to go to a video store and actually hold and use the cameras and see which one you like. Both have great features but they both handle differently.

I've been using an XL-1 for two years now and I borrowed a friend's GL-1 and Sony VX-2000 and for me going back to those two cameras was frustrating. The main thing for me is the manual zoom and focus of the XL-1. I use the 16X lens that came with the camera and even that is great. The small focus rings and the zoom rocker on the smaller camera just don't cut it for me. Plus, I can hold the XL-1 a lot more steadier than those smaller cameras, I am so used to the size of the XL-1 that I don't notice the weight anymore. These are just my own personal opinions, other people might not like the bulk of the XL-1.

Once you get your hands on both cameras and try them out, the decision will come easily.
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Old August 29th, 2003, 09:07 AM   #6
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DVX 100/XL-1s

I too am in a simliar situation as Bryan except that I've been using my XL-1 professionally for over 5 years and it's been an excellant choice. I now face the need to purchase a new camera simply as a reliabilty issue for my aging XL-1.
I'm very interested in the DVX 100 but really have enjoyed the frame mode of the XL-1. I can't help but wonder if I choose to get a new XL1s that I would be doing myself an injustice by not buying into newer technology with the DVX100.
I do a lot of hand held work and the stabilizer on the DVX100 didn't seem as forgiving as the XL-1's as I'm not the steadiest shooter any longer.
I most likely will never going out to film with my work, but do like the film look for video. I edit with Final Cut.
I like the warm look the XL1 gives especially to people and need to be able to shoot on the fly and hand hold for long periods.
Any and all feedback would be great appreciated.
Thanks, Craig Hollenbacl
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Old August 29th, 2003, 09:22 AM   #7
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Jim,

The question about frame vs progressive is that there is one that seems to be a big one for new digital film makers. In any comparison between the DVX and XL-1 that fact simply needs to be pointed out.

However, I think your post has many more important tips that I hope Bryan follows up on:
  • The most important things in getting good film look video are composition, lighting, and motion.
  • Look up posts and articles by Charles Papert.
  • A well made film regardless of the equipment can still get to the top.

I still think prosumer is valid. There are a number of things that profe$$ional cams have that these pro$umer versions do not; but that doesn't mean you cannot turnout professional work!
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Old August 29th, 2003, 10:21 AM   #8
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Sorry to not be as diplomatic as you all here, but i honestly after owning and using extensively both cameras (both PAL mind you) would have to rec. the dvx100.

I have found far too much about it to be Superior to the xl1s (which i had) to really endorse the xl1s anymore.

Forget frame modes and all that, the dvx100 is far better package as a camera.

More compact, nice big lcd, great sound features (best in it's class i would have to say), far better balanced, great lens (resolves a lot more than the standard xl1s lens) far more freedom with setup, xlr phanton inputs standard, better viewfinder, hard stops on zooms, focus number indicator on viewfinder and lcd (this feature is better than all others in it's class), far far newer CCD technology.

There are far more reasons, like the less expensive job of tooling up the dvx100, far more easy to transport, since everything gets smaller.

In 50i the dvx100 is better with low light i have found. It is true progressive scan also capable of.

Geez so much more to go by. I just really enjoy the fact it is a really nicely rounded off complete package, the xl1s is almost twice as much in reality once tooled up compared to the dvx100.

And before anyone bits my head off, sorry, but in pure semantics of everything being equal the dvx100 does have a slightly higher rez output due to being able to use that thin mode.

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Old August 29th, 2003, 11:24 AM   #9
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You have to judge each camera on it's own merits and pick the one that best meets your present and expected future needs. Hopefully, you make the decision after at least handling both cameras, but preferably shooting with both.

I find the size of the DVX100 a problem, more than a solution. But I come from a bigger camera background and appreciate the spacing and ergonomics of a larger camera. Larger cameras suit my style of shooting, but may not suit your style.

I find the lack of lens interchangeability a major draw back. I've shot with both cameras also, and do not find the DVX100 lens sharper than the Canon stock 16X lens. In fact the very short telephoto range of the DVX requires me to use a telephoto convertor when using the DVX100 and that seriously effects optical quality.

I do find the DVX has the best audio of any camera in this price range. Phantom power is a big plus also. Low light is not an issue for me, I don't do events. But it does have better low light capability than the XL1.

Support gear will cost more for the XL1, but you have a choice of more pro gear with the XL1.
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Old August 29th, 2003, 12:04 PM   #10
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It really depends on whether you're looking for "stock, out of the box" or the core of a more advanced system in this regard For instance:

<<More compact,>>

Not enough mass for me.

<<nice big lcd,>>

In my opinion an LCD isn't really a pro feature unless it's a camera mounted 5' to 7" high NIT version like a Nebtek.

<<great sound features (best in it's class i would have to say)>>

Likewise, if you're going to get quality audio on either (or any system) you're going to effectively bypass the onboard audio preamps and feed your signal from a nice little field pre/mixer. Otherwise it's a big compromise with any camcorder.

<<great lens (resolves a lot more than the standard xl1s lens)>>

I don't think you can question the quality for price of Canon glass, but again, if you're looking to do serious work, a fixed lens really isn't enough for a lot of situations. The XLs interchangeable lens system makes it unique in this market.

<<better viewfinder>>

Once again, the fact that you can add a real pro B&W high res viewfinder to the XL1 puts it in another class.

<<far far newer CCD technology.>>

If this is a qualifier, I'd reccomend waiting a bit for the new HDV models, there will always be the next higher spec waiting in the wings. But really, the XL1 is uniquely designed to use a full manual lens (which is the real way to go) their wide angle, as well as optical adapters (the Mini35), and physical adapters that enable you to use real glass. This will always make a bigger differnece than any other issue.

It's also setup for a high end VF and mount a pro on-camera LCD.

They really are 2 differnet systems unless you're only talking the stock camera in which case the DVX may be a better choice.
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Old August 29th, 2003, 12:58 PM   #11
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The biggest negative DVX has is that it is not modular like the XL-1 is. The biggest negative the XL-1 has is that it does not have progressive scan or the audio that the DVX has.

If those are the biggest differences between the two cams, you can see that one is not going to have gargantuan differences from the other. Both can do things the other system mighty find a little difficult.

You might do a little better talking to other students and find out what the good, talented students are using.

Remember you can make money with either system. You can spend some weekends shooting weddings and make a bunch of money for some nice accessories too.

Still the best advice remains, "try before you buy."
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Old August 30th, 2003, 11:06 PM   #12
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Sorry guys, i was just trying to make a response perfectly relevant to this thread.

I felt that a summer job payoff for the camera did not really allow for a $1500 viewfinder or $800 screen and $2000 tripod to be purchased ontop of the $3200 they have.

I feel with a limited budget the dvx100 wins hands down. If you have a lot of money... get whatever floats your boat.

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Old August 31st, 2003, 06:46 AM   #13
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Given the probable limited budgetary constraints, the DVX100 is probably more in line with Bryan's financial situation. But making a short or some features with out any of the necessary support equipment is unlikely. Many film schools allow you to borrow tripods, lights, sound kits and all the other necessary support gear.

Bryan, you might want to check out what gear UNLV uses in their film/video department. If they use XL1's or DVX100 it might help to do likewise. The equipment will interchange much easier.
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Old August 31st, 2003, 11:12 AM   #14
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Zac, your points are well taken. Still, that is also one of the advantages of the XL-1 system is that you can add these things as you go and not purchase them up front. Further, these accessories are much more affordable than those on more expensive systems. One of the questions XL-1 owners ask (maybe worry) about is that Canon will not radically change the system.

The thing everyone must remember is Bryan is a beginner in film making. Certainly, getting a cam that UNLV supports and recommends will help his educational career. Whichever cam he gets it will work fine.

To me when Bryan says he wants to make feature length films, I think a cam with only lens attachments would be a problem. That isn't a dig at the DVX it just means yo have to shoot differently ( a good learning experience).
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Old August 31st, 2003, 03:10 PM   #15
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The fact that we are comparing a brand new camera to a 5 year old design and the old camera is still holding up somewhat is a testament to the excellent design of the XL1.

Unless there is a budget for a mini35 rental, I think the DVX100 is the #1 choice for any indie film maker.

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.

I personaly like the features and look of the DVX100 but hate the package. It's small, plastic, and feels delicate. It also does not look like a professional camera, something that is important to me.
If I could get a DVX100 in an XL1 body? (drool....) Then I'd ditch all my current XL1 gear in a heartbeat.
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