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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old August 28th, 2004, 10:14 PM   #1
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Big Decision: Used Xl1?

Hi,

I'm an aspiring filmmaker from NZ, 17 years old, and I'm on the market for a video camera. The main use of this camera is really for experimentation and learning the basics and composition/storytelling with short films. Also, it is for me to use within the next year or so (before I graduate high school, which by then I would probably enroll in another institution etc.).

So anyway, originally, I was considering some mid-range consumer DV cameras, and was about to get an Optura 40. HOWEVER, a couple days ago, I found a deal on a used XL1 (notice, XL1, not XL1S), with all the normal accessories included. The owner is selling it for under $2000 USD (converted from NZD), possibly negotiable for a bit lower.. There do not seem to be any defects with the model (although I have not tried it yet).

My main question is: I understand that this is a camera from 1997/8, and that it is very old, BUT, for the money that I have, do you think it'd be a good idea to get this used video camera (with way more capabilities to learn on), or get a new consumer camera with probably inferior specs in all categories? Should I get it or not? Is this a good price for a used Xl1 (2nd hand, the seller is the first owner)

Also, another question, since I'm not in the budget now, I can't afford a separate DV-cam just for Firewire-transfer to computer. Is it REALLY that bad for the XL1 if I connect it up to a computer and upload footage that way? Why do everyone get separate DV-cams just for this purpose?

Thank you for your time,
Dennis
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Old August 28th, 2004, 11:31 PM   #2
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That used XL1 will teach you what you need to know until when you can afford one of the newer ones. It has a lot of controls that newer consumer cameras do not have. I just sold my XL1S to someone like you who wanted to get into it and learn everything. I had a very valuable experience in the two years I had mine.

The reason why people have 2nd cameras to transfer to computer is because they don't want to wear out their main camera. If this is your camera for learning then just use the hell out of it. By the time you sell it, it won't be worth that much or you may even use it as a 2nd camera.
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Old August 29th, 2004, 12:04 AM   #3
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Hi Dennis, I don't know exactly what your budget is, but if you don't have a problem buying from overseas secondhand xl1s (PAL of course) models show up for about US$2500 or a bit less. This will give you a lot of improvement over the Xl1.

Here's an article which shows the new features. Take a look and weight up what you want.

That said, if you are strapped for cash, going the old XL1 route would be fine I'd imagine until you got more experienced.

Alternatively, you can go for a used XM2 (Smaller form factor) which has much more modern technology and image than the old Xl1 just without interchangeable lenses and without that sexy look.

If you want to see an XM2, email me and you're more than welcome to come around and take a look.

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Old August 29th, 2004, 02:10 AM   #4
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Thanks!

Hi, firstly, thanks for your prompt replies.

Well, I personally don't have a problem with buying from overseas, however, the convenience of this XL1 is this: The person lives within driving range, so basically, even after I buy it, I may be able to have correspondence etc. if I ever get issues -> with overseas, I'm a bit more sceptical.

However, that person's giving me a bit of time to think it over.

Meanwhile -> Wow, Aaron, it's great to find someone from my city online (mostly when I talk in forums, it's with people miles away). If I have any problems/questions I definitely won't hesitate to ask. If I do eventually go with the used-XL1, I'll probably become a regular here at this forum... :o)

About my budget --> Yes, I am sort of tempted by the XL1S, but unfortunately, $2500 USD is quite a bit 'out there' for me... I guess the main reason I'd want the XL1/XL1S is because of the amount of manual control I'd eventually get (once I start learning)... with a normal consumer model I'd just be fiddling round with the touch-screens (very annoying).

A reason why I may want to buy used is that if I eventually sell it, I would not be losing much really (since I bought it 2nd hand anway). If I buy a new consumer model now, and eventually decide to sell it, the value would go down quite a lot.

By the way, Aaron, what's your occupation? (i.e. Are you also into this film stuff?) The reason I am starting to get into the process of researching future pathways, and I was just wondering if you had any opinions/advice about the NZ Industry and how to break into it locally...

Thanks a lot for your time (Keith, Aaron), I'll keep you guys posted on how it all goes with the XL1... I might need some help once I get it, since I've never touched one in my life! (i.e. basic equipment checks/functions etc.)

Dennis
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Old August 29th, 2004, 06:41 PM   #5
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Go for a gl2, much better camera for the money
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Old August 29th, 2004, 08:16 PM   #6
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I own a video equipment rental company in Austin, TX and still have the XL1 that I started with, bought in March of 1998. It's still working great. If you trust your seller and the camera hasn't been abused then it could be a good investment, allowing you to conserve your money for other equipment like sound and lighting. Good luck!
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Old August 29th, 2004, 08:33 PM   #7
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As Ryan said, and I'll reiterate, you should seriously look into the XM2 camera. You can probably get one for around the price of the Xl1 (maybe a bit less) and while you don't get interchangeable lenses or that sexy look, it is a "better" camera in that it has higher resolution, lots of the features of the Xl1s and a 20x zoom if you want it. I thought about all this when I got my XM2. I could have bought an Xl1 (It was old even 1 1/2 years ago) or an Xl1s, but weighing up the price it seemed I got near Xl1s quality (In fact the Xm2's resolution is higher than the Xl1s even) for less money. I don't regret it at all.

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Old August 29th, 2004, 09:12 PM   #8
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I see what you mean. However, if it is going to be an XM 2 (Pal Model of GL 2), then it would still have to be a used model... I'm having trouble finding a used XM 2 here, and all the new models cost at least $4400 NZD (about $2800-2900 USD!). Any recommendations on places to look for used video gear?

I'll definitely look into finidng XM 2 models... but I'm still not comfortable with buying overseas. Is there anything else I should be aware of? (regarding the used XL1/XM 2, etc.)

Dennis
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Old August 29th, 2004, 10:37 PM   #9
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Well, definately look for hot pixels in the final output. You might get some on the EVF or LCD and that's OK, it's expected, but if the CCD has them (Playback some footage you shot on the TV or better capture it and view on a computer) then you will always have them unless you get the CCD block redone...Which isn't worth it I'd imagine.

Finding used gear around here is almost impossible, especially with the higher end stuff like this that general consumers don't own.

From overseas it's a lot cheaper. I am more than likely going to sell my XM2 in the future but I wouldn't advertise on this forum for instance because all the Americans would laugh at what I want for it compared to buying from the US. ;) I'd want to maximise what I could get for it, relative to what I paid for mine ($5100) about 2 years ago.

If I hear of anything then I'll let you know.

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Old August 29th, 2004, 10:59 PM   #10
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Thanks for the tips. Meanwhile I will look into that XL1 and see if it's condition is good. By the way, does it matter what brand of tape-cleaner you use or are they all the same? (I imagine any would do?) Whatever happens, when I get a 2nd hand camera I'm going to do a check and then stay with the same brand. Any recommendations for which brand/model tape to use (MiniDV), esp. in getting them here in NZ?

About the XL1, can I assume that if I do manage to find the money in the future, that I'd be able to buy the XL2 body by itself and use everything from the current set?

Dennis
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Old August 29th, 2004, 11:23 PM   #11
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I don't know what brand head cleaner to recommend, I use Sony head cleaners but if you buy a used camera, ask the owner what brand tape they used and stick with that brand. There's still debates about whether or not it's okay to switch brands within a camera so it's safest not to switch. I use and recommend Panasonics in my XL1 and XL1s but can't control what my rental clients use so both of my cameras have seen Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Fuji, etc. and have had no problems. Of course, the cameras go back to Canon once each year for cleaning.

If you get an XL2 later, you can get the body only but the new 20x flourite lens sounds boss/great. But use, from what I've read, both manual lens, the 3x, and both 16x I and II lens will work on the XL2.
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Old August 29th, 2004, 11:47 PM   #12
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Dennis, the two places I've seen where you can get tapes in Auckland are from either Panavision or A2Z Technologies. Panavision will charge you about $15 for each Sony premium and A2z to the Panasonic MQ ones for about $12 each (All + gst of course). I order my Sony Premium from B&H in New York. If I order around 30-50 at a time, they come out at about $8+GST each ($9 on the dot)

I've heard good things about the Panasonics. From NZ they're about similar prices as you see, but from B&H the Panasonics are a lot more expensive. If I was going Panny I'd just get them from A2Z.


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Old August 30th, 2004, 02:46 AM   #13
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Thanks, I think I'll check out A2Z/Panavision. Meanwhile, I'm gonna do a bit more research. I'll keep you guys posted on how it all goes...

Dennis
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Old August 30th, 2004, 04:49 PM   #14
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Hi, just another thing about the XL1 - what would you say would be the top-reasonable price you'd pay for one in good condition, in NZD? The reason is, I'll take this price and I'm going to see what else I can get with the same amount and weigh out if it's worth it or not (e.g. compare to current models + other used models and accessories).

Thanks,
Dennis
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Old August 30th, 2004, 05:24 PM   #15
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Hi Dennis, that's a hard one for me to answer. In the NZ market, I wouldn't pay more than $2500 at the most. That would be my personal limit - given all my biases of preferring to buy from overseas and XM2 over xl1 etc. I tend to like newer technology and usability improvements (no 5minute timeout etc) so I'd take a hit on other things like WOW factor, and interchangeable lenses.

Also one thing that I haven't mentinoed, is that you need to take into account the audio section of the camera unless you are going to get a separate recorder and go double system. I'm not sure how the old XL1 holds up in this department. The XM2 isn't too shabby with good s/n.


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