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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old December 10th, 2003, 08:25 AM   #1
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Why the XL1??

Okay, I've got to ask. . .Why the XL1? I own one, and it's great for videography, but why is everyone--from AMEX and several other big companies--trying to use this camera for "film style" production? Why is everyone concerned with mounting film lenses on it?? I mean, after adding in expensive add ons to use film lenses and whatnot, you end up with a really expensive system with 1/3" chips. It seems to me you'd be better off going with something like the jvc 700wucl which accepts B4 bayonet HD primes, has 2/3" chips with native 16:9, a cinema-like gamma curve, so on and so forth. I am chomping at the bit to really get into independent video filmmaking, but I don't want to sink a lot of money into the XL1, when there are possibly better systems out there for about the same amount of money. I mean, I'm gonna have to rent the film lenses anyways, why not buy a better camera to mount them on if it's going to cost the same??

Thanks for all your help with this question.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 08:58 AM   #2
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The word you are already using is 'rent'. Most people with 35mm
adapters are renting those as well. It is all about budget and
quality you want. For me personally DV with 1/3" CCD's is good
enough at this moment. I bought an XL1S because I wanted
the best I could afford and be able to rent stuff if I needed to.
I can rent a 35mm adapter instead of needing to buy one.

A 700wucl with a good lens will not run for the same price as
an XL1S with the standard + 16x full manual lens and all kind
of accesories.

So are you saying you don't want to own any lens at all yourself?
Because you can buy the XL1S without a lens (or (color) view-
finder for that matter) as well.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 09:07 AM   #3
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I would love to own lenses at some point as well, my point is that to use 35mm lenses, I would be renting those anyways, plus the cost of renting an adapter--which if I was going to be using it constantly I would probably buy and save some money in the long run. But as soon as you do buy the p+s, you're making your XL1 a $12K camera. And then you still need to rent lenses (or buy some old film lenses if that suits you) which will cost about the same as renting lenses for a 700wucl. Sure the body for the 700 is around $9,500--but that's $2,500 less than an XL1 with the mini 35. . . It just seems to me that you could step up a level on the camera, cut out one more adapter/layer of glass between your subject and your CCD and give yourself the ability to use DigiPrimes. . .I dunno, seems to be a better use of money to me. My question at heart is, what makes the XL1 so great? Why sink the money and time into a camera when you could spend the same amount of money and start with a better camera? I love my XL1, but I'm not convinced it's the best way to go. . . Basically, I've shown my self the cons. . .what are the pros to the XL1? People rave and rave about the XL1 for film-style production. What makes it so great when there seems to be so many obstacles??? I'm not against the XL1, I thoroughly enjoy the one I have. . .but what makes it the best use of your money for this application??
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Old December 10th, 2003, 09:18 AM   #4
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Kevin:

I can't speak for "everyone", but in the case of the Amex spots, it was a complicated issue. The intended medium for the product was the web, so much of the resolution and quality differences between the XL1 and a higher-end camera would be lost anyway. However, the depth-of-field characteristics of the 35mm lenses would be retained. It's interesting to note that it is impossible to duplicate this characteristic with any HD camera or lens combination currently available, unless one utilizes the Pro35 (2/3" version of the Mini35 used on the XL1 for these spots).

The bottom line was that DV was mandated by the production company. The irony is that the additional gear in the camera package probably cost many times more than the XL1's as a line item. Nevertheless, it would have cost substantially more to have moved to a higher end camera (I would like to have used the Panasonic SDX-900 with the Pro35, myself) considering we had four bodies on hand.

Another reason is that the DP and I both felt that the XL1s still delivers the best skin tones of any camera in its class.

It is my belief that when these spots come online, they will turn some heads amongst those who have proclaimed the XL1 series "obsolete".
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Old December 10th, 2003, 09:22 AM   #5
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IMO, The Xl1 is an relatively inexpansive cam that deliver great results for your usual work. Plus, it let you have the choice to buy or rent the mini35 and some great film lenes (10k$ or 20K$ lenes if you want) when you want the SAME DOF and angle of view of 35 mm films camera to shot the big thing. The quality of the lens and the DOF will be always better than using a 1/2" chips camera with video lens.

I think that this versatility of the cam is what appeal lot of people.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 09:27 AM   #6
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That makes sense

Wow, how nice to be on a forum with people who know their stuff! I didn't expect some one who actually worked on those spots to be on here.

I guess application has a big impact on choice of camera. If you're going straight to web and/or video, the loss of quality isn't as important (especially web). I do love the color that the XL1 captures and have been very, very pleased with the images I've captured with it.

I never really meant to imply that the XL1 is obsolete, it's just that I'm looking to spend a lot on getting my own eqiupment and I want to make sure I make the right choice.

Also, I have seen a feature shot on the XL1 with the mini 35 and the picture was horrible--all grainy and weird--is that due to a bad lens, some complication with the mini 35--or just bad filmmaking??

I'm noticing that this will probably wander slightly off topic, but I am exploring a lot of options, so. . . You said that only film lenses deliver the really shallow depth of field. I know nothing of HD primes--are they close, nowhere near, or just doing their own thing in comparison to film lenses and depth of field?
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Old December 10th, 2003, 09:35 AM   #7
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Well without saying the name of the movie it will be hard to tell.
Some bigger directors are known to use DV equipment to make
their movies more gritty, like shooting a real event. They usually
don't take the best from these cameras because they are not
after that. They are after the video look so to speak.

The production Charles is mentioning is heavily documented with
some very nice pictures in an article here @ DVi
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Old December 10th, 2003, 09:38 AM   #8
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Oh, I don't mind mentioning the name, but I don't know how many people would have seen it. It was apparently shot by a church in Albany, GA. The name of the film is Flywheel, I watched a DVD of it in one of my classes.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 10:13 AM   #9
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If you want to know what you can really obtain with an XL1/mini35 setup, contact Mizell Wilson at ZGC by email. He is the representative of the mini35 for P+S Tecnik in North america. He will be able to send to you the Mini35 Demo DVD. It contain lot of great footages realized with thoses gears.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 10:19 AM   #10
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ZGC Info

Thanks, I'll do that.

Okay, here's another thought. (I KNOW, I KNOW--I'M OFF TOPIC AGAIN!) with the 2/3" chips in the 700wucl, is it possible to use (via a mechanical adapter) 16mm primes? after all 16mm film is .62", which is really close to the .66" of the 2/3" chips. . .then you would not have the problem of the 7.2x magnification. . . it should be fairly close right and you're only out the few hundred dollars for the adapter. . . Has anyone heard of/tried this??
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Old December 10th, 2003, 10:47 AM   #11
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Don't know if mechanicals adaptors exists for the 2/3 cameras, but on an XL1 with a mechanical adaptor and a 16 mm lens, you don't have a 7.2X manification factor. I think that it should be about 2X for a 16mm, about 4X for a 35mm and 7.2X for 35mm still photos lens.

But with a mechanical adaptor, you will not preserve the DOF caracteristics of the lens.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 12:20 PM   #12
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With the 16mm gauge, you realize about twice as much depth of field as with 35mm. With 2/3" video, slightly more: 2.2x. 1/3" video doubles that to 4.4x.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 04:16 PM   #13
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Thanks guys, this has been really helpful. I knew that with 16mm lenses you don't get the 7.2x, it's just that everyone I've read about is trying to use 35mm lenses and from what I had read that's what you get from it. My thought with the 16mm was that it was already closer to the correct size.

Does anyone seem interested in producing lenses for video with a film like depth of field for cameras like the XL1 or possibly larger cameras? I mean if you can't even get film like depth of field from HD Digiprimes, is there a problem with getting that look from video??? It just seems really oddd to me that no one is trying to do that yet.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 04:24 PM   #14
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I think that there are many factors involved in a short DOF, and one of them is the size of the CCD / film. Greater is the size, shorter is the DOF. To make a short history, the Mini35 keep the DOF of 35 mm by using a ground glass where the film should be and let the CCD catch this image through the ground glass.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 04:32 PM   #15
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Well that explains that. So there's no way to get that depth of field without the mini-35 (or a camera with 35mm/1.4" CCD's which of course doesn't exist). So, you might as well start with the XL1, since you're going to have to use the mini-35 if you want that look anyways. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
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