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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old July 13th, 2002, 05:43 PM   #1
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First Impressions

Well I shot with my new XL1s today. I was invited to attend the press confrence for Houston's bid for the 2012 Olympics. The camera setup was as follows:

- XL1s
- 16x Manual Servo Lens
- Color Viewfinder

The camera was hand held for about an hour. My first impression is that I wish that I would have bought the Black and White Viewfinder (FU-1000). The color viewfinder is cool, but the black and white one would make focusing that much more easy. As for the 16x Manual Servo Lens, man this thing is amazing. Several network news guys were amazed at the lens. They all like the image that it produced and were surprised at the compactness of the camera.

After just about an hour of shooting, my arm was getting very tired. Plus, I am sure that a lot of my footage was unsteady due to getting used to the camera. There has got to be a better way to shoot (sans tripod) than carrying it around on your shoulder. Over course maybe I just need to get in shape!

I should have tapped into the mixer, but did not have time to do this. So I am interested in hearing the sound. A media friend of mine recorded the press confrence on DAT, so I am going to get a copy from him.

So all in all it was fun shooting with the new rig. As I mentioned, I need to find a better shooting/carrying solution. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

Paul
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Old July 13th, 2002, 07:21 PM   #2
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You are right, it is a heavy piggy to be carrying. I use a tripod whenever possible. But, I also know that it isn't very quick for transporting. So, the next item I get will be a monopod. That should do the trick.
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Old July 13th, 2002, 07:41 PM   #3
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And the built in shoulder mount that comes with the camera doesnt help much, I had one on my shoulder for a total of about 7-8 hours on July 4th covering a parade and philharmonic concert, and I was ready for a chiropractic appointment. I appreciate the weight of the camera, it goes a long way in helping to stabilize the image when shooting handheld.

One thing that peaked my interest recently was the Image 2000 shoulder mount that Birns and Sawyer has on their website at

http://www.birnsandsawyer.com/cdva-shouldersupportandsteadicam-image2000.htm

I believe there was a thread that discussed this peice of equipment within the past month. I haven't gotten my hands on one so don't take my word, but just a suggestion. =)
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Old July 14th, 2002, 01:56 AM   #4
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The stock shoulder mount is useful only for stabilizing the camera. It doesn't place any real weight on your shoulder.
Classification: MOSTLY USELESS
I don't think the MA-100 is much better.

I applaud you for holding it up for an hour, I'm in half decent shape and I can't keep it up for 20 minutes! (Of course, there's Viagra, but... nevermind).

Anyway, I agree with Keith, it's hard to beat the compact size and versitility of a monopod. Especially if you can mount some weights to the bottom and make it a quickie Glidecam on the spot (as was suggested in a different post).
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Old July 14th, 2002, 02:14 AM   #5
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The first thing you do when you unpack a brand new XL1S out of the box is throw away that useless SP-100 shoulder pad. I guess I need to put this in the FAQ.
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Old July 14th, 2002, 09:08 AM   #6
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> Over course maybe I just need to get in shape!

Yes. The first time you shoot the XL1 you put your arms in a new position and they can tire quickly. Working with it helps build endurance.

The shoulder pad with the MA-100/200 is a significant improvement, not so much in weight distribution as in overall comfort. There are some third party shoulder rigs that improve balance by adding/shifting some weight to the rear (e.g., battery packs)
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Old July 14th, 2002, 11:24 AM   #7
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What Don said. The XL1 is built front-heavy, so your arms are continually working to hold it in place and steady. Even though adding ballast to the rear will increase the overall weight, if you can get the system so that it perches on your shoulder in a horizontal position with no hands, you will be able to shoot for extended periods (and able to make more subtle camera moves, too).
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Old July 14th, 2002, 11:32 AM   #8
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I appreciate all of the advice! The three things that I need to be able to do (in the future) are hand carry the camera, mount it on a tripod, and mount it in a car. I've got the tripod part taken care of, now I just need to figure out how to mount this little beast in a car.

The goal of the car shot is to track a triathlete as he is on his bike and while he is running. Living in Texas of cousre I have a truck (ok my wife does), that is probably how it will be shot.

Casey - I liked that Image 2000 device. That just might be the ticket for the hand carry situation. From what I recall, it offered a remote zoom option which would be handy.
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Old July 14th, 2002, 12:49 PM   #9
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Paul

I've got the image 2000 and it is very effective at transferring the weight to your shoulder and eliminating arm fatigue...it has some issues with the joint between the shoulder pad and camera bracket (it has a springy bounce if you don't walk carefully), but otherwize it adds a good amount of comfort to long recording sessions....I also use it sometimes as a two handed steadicam device...holding the xl1s handle with one hand and the shoulder pad with the other can help to isolate operator movement during walking, running sequences (it doesn't replace my glidecam, but is sure a lot lighter.)


there are several variants of the image 2000 available on the web including the habbycam (by the original designer of the image 2000). Bhphoto.com sells the image 2000 for a few bucks less than birns and sawyer.

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Old July 15th, 2002, 08:40 PM   #10
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I use the XL1 alot during long wedding ceremonies and speeches.
I usually don't use the tripod unless it's a 2 camera shoot. I have to be very mobile all the time to get everything on tape. I tried a mono pod but but footage I noticed latter was "swaying" back & forth! (no I wasn't drunk...yet). I rely on holding my right elbow with my left hand close to my waist. This seems the most comfortable. Once in a while I grab the camera with my left hand and drop my right "working hand" for a rest. Of course this is during long, non-stop shoots. The longest I had was 60 min. Surprising the footage wasn't too bad, even near the end of it. But like you all, I still search for a "comfortable" way to hold the XL1 for long periods of time while being mobile.
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Old July 15th, 2002, 08:49 PM   #11
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Adam,

Casey pointed out a pretty cool device. I have been looking into it as a possible solution. Man I could not imagine 60 minutes of non stop shooting. I would have needed a drink after that little camera holding stint!

How do you handle shooting a wedding with one camera? I would expect that you preplan with the bride and groom (and respective family members) exactly what they want shot. Since I have never actually seen a wedding being taped, I am very curious as to the process.
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Old July 15th, 2002, 09:20 PM   #12
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Paul...

I offer a less expensive package that only uses one camera. I think 2 cameras looks alot better but some people would rather save their money for other things. No problem, so I use just one camera and save them money!

I have to try to edit on the spot and "pretend" there is 2 cameras and move around alot. "Continuity" is so important otherwise it's hard to edit latter. I try to edit as much as I can so I do it while taping. It's alot harder during a live ceremony shoot as you don't want to miss anything. If there is chance to pause the camera I do and then zoom into a "cut away" type shot and that usually covers and continuity problems. I have to listen to the dialog while doing it as well. Sometimes that camera takes it's time going into record mode though! At the reception speeches I do alot of live panning (eg: Speaker...go wide and then pan to bride... all in one sweep live) (2 cameras are way better as one would be on the podium and the other would be looking around for reactions etc. ..but more work editing).
I've learned to become very creative with one camera to save me less work latter! After my first single camera wedding I knew what "NOT" to do during the editing! People are "so predictable" so it's pretty easy to be ready for what will happen next.

Sorry for being off track here....
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Old July 15th, 2002, 09:32 PM   #13
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Adam,

Thanks for the explenation! I am trying to discover ways to make money with my new gear. Not sure if I am ready to tackle this type of assignment just quite yet.

Excellent info and I appreciate the response.
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Old July 17th, 2002, 03:45 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Hurd : The first thing you do when you unpack a brand new XL1S out of the box is throw away that useless SP-100 shoulder pad. I guess I need to put this in the FAQ. -->>>

Amen on trashing the SP-100. The MA-100 offers more comfort, especially if you have the dual battery holder/charger and a wireless transmitter on it.

Shot the ceremonies at the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial while it was in Belleville, Illinois, which meant hauling the XL1S around for five hours (along with a Nikon D1 with a zoom lens for the still work) and my right arm was numb at the end. I had my GL-1 locked down on a tripod to capture the podium stuff and sound (through two aux mikes) and I started wondering about halfway through the shoot why I had the GL-1 on the pod and handholding the GL1.

If you're used to shooting with a Betacam, the XL1 feels awkward at first but I've found handling it becomes second nature (and shoulde be better once the muscles adapt to the shooting style).

Looking at the images in post, I'm continually amazed at the images this thing produces. Maybe if I'd get into shape my arms would feel better.

Doug
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Old July 17th, 2002, 05:29 PM   #15
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I agree about being in shape! I work-out at home a little bit and it makes such a difference since I started to. Bicep and forearm exercises really help but so does working out you back as it takes the worst beating!
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