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Old August 21st, 2002, 12:21 PM   #1
donking!
 
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xl1s reliability

What can people tell me about the reliability of the xl1s? I heard from someone who teaches video production and rents equipment that people have a lot of problems with the xl1s. He said 12 out of the 15 people he knows who use the xl1s have had it fail in one way or another (and then had the camera in the shop three months waiting for repairs).

What do people know about this? I've also read in some reviews that the pd150 has a better reputation for reliabilty. I'm caught in the pd150 vs. xl1s decision process.

Thanks for any input.
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Old August 21st, 2002, 04:19 PM   #2
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We all have our own personal bias and prejudices. I've been doing production work since 1978 and I've used every major brand of camera in various work environments. I've not found one brand more reliable than any other. When I owned my production/post production co, one of the divisions did camcorder repairs. Consumer models, prosumer and broadcast models were repaired. At that time I saw more Sony consumer models for repair than any other. Probably 3 to one of the next brand (Panasonic). Why? Sony out sold the others, so I saw more Sonys for repair. Law of averages. The Canon XL1 has been out longer and probably out sells the Sony.

Rental equipment gets abused so that's a poor environment. Many networks use the XL1 and the Sonys. If either had a terrible repair record they wouldn't be so popular with the networks. The networks choose them because of price, performance, and reliability with reasonable care. They know if you drop it, something is going to break.

I would rate Sonys service below Canons. In my opinion, neither one has a great repair department. You may be interested in the Canon USA XL1 Owners Club. Among the many benefits are free loaners, quicker service (if possible) dedicated 800 number for questions and service and a discount on annual maintenance. To the best of my knowledge Sony has nothing like it.

Jeff
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Old August 26th, 2002, 10:36 AM   #3
 
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Like Jeff said, rental equipment gets the worst treatment anyone can imagine.

I've owned/used an XL1s since they became available (had an XL1 for two years previous). I've not had any problems with it and it has proven to be very reliable. Then again, I treat my camera (as well as the rest of equipment) with kid gloves.

The one time I had to send the XL1 to be "checked" they had it back to me within two weeks from the day I sent it to them. The XL1 Owners' Club is, I think, hard to beat.
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Old August 26th, 2002, 11:33 AM   #4
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Most renters read (scan thru)the manual and start to shoot. They think they know how to use it but probable skip the cautions.

Thy only care that the equipment looks returnable, and although the rental store does it's best to check it out, something can be missed. I was with a guy who rented an XL-1s, The dust at the shoot was horrible, He could care less, took no precautions.

Most important is what kind's of tapes are used, if mixed , gummy heads.

Sony, to me, has always charged an arm, a leg and a pint of blood, to repair any of their products. Not that Canon is that inexpensive but there does seem to be quite a difference.

Canon has for a long time had a great name in photography, and has always had photography as major part of their bottom line. Yes I know Sony has been in the pro-video area for a long time, but are, in my opinion been expensive and slow to change. If you had a 50-50 split of 100 people, Sony/Canon, you'd find a 50/50 split on what they like.

The choiice is yours.

Bruce
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Old August 26th, 2002, 12:29 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. The guy I talked to wasn't talking about repairs to cameras he rents. He was talking about people he knows who own the XL1S (which they bought new). He claimed that the vast majority of these people had a lot of equipment failure problems with the camera. As I said, I also read in a couple other places that Sony has a better reputation for the durability of its cameras.

It sounds like you all have not had problems. I'm just wondering if in general people hear about more problems with Canon than Sony. Or whether this guy was exaggerating/exceptional.
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Old August 26th, 2002, 12:40 PM   #6
 
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Some people have an axe to grind, for whatever reason. This may or may not be the case with the fella you've been talking to.
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Old August 26th, 2002, 02:01 PM   #7
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It sounds like just a wee bit of exageration. I don't own a repair facility any more, but I will tell you Sony was much worse to deal with than Canon. Sony had terrible parts back order problems and their phone support was terrible. The only major company that was worse, in my opinion, was Sharp. Canon wasn't much better, but parts delays were usually 30 days or less. I would say from my experience the XL1/s has an average to slightly above average repair incedence. I still have friends in the repair business and that's their general concensus also.
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Old August 26th, 2002, 02:26 PM   #8
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XL1s and a back pack

I don't have very much background with high end DV cameras with the exception of the XL1s......but

We take our XL1s on our Alaskan adventures in 90+ % humidity.... in and out of boats all day to our next location.....putting in, and taking it out of a large moose meat pack type backpack between locations…..where even jet boats dare not go.........we are around, or in water all day....

Without going into all the details here, I could not have asked for a better camera.....and we've never had an issue (fingers crossed). I do always keep a filter on the lens as a precaution.

It definitely puts up with one of the most harshest environments in the world. I return home only to plop in bed with sore muscles and sleep depravation after one of our shoots.....and the XL1s keeps-on-a-ticking like new.

I personally say Canon's XL1s is one tough camera!
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Old August 26th, 2002, 08:10 PM   #9
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I've run more than 200 hours of tape through my XL-1 S and have had no problems. I do clean the heads regularly, but that's the only maintenance.

I can't say the same for my Sony Betacam. It has proven to be a much more finicky creature and has been in for repairs twice in the last six months.
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Old August 26th, 2002, 08:29 PM   #10
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I'd really doubt that the XL-1S has serious reliability problems or you would be reading here.

The other thing you have to remember about these prosumer cameras is that for many users this is their first high-end camera. Not every one of these users knows about the care and feeding of these thoroughbreds (Sony, Canon, Panasonic). Hence its a little easier for some people to mistake operator error for equipment failures.

Besides, heck, its easier to curse the equipment than admit to our own ignorance!
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Old August 27th, 2002, 10:25 AM   #11
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What is the proper care that one should take of a camera like the XL1S?
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Old August 27th, 2002, 10:43 AM   #12
 
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Treat it like any expensive piece of equipment. Try to avoid dusty environments (dust is bad for any photographic equipment), try not to get it wet (moisture is as bad as dust--maybe worse!). Avoid jolting it, bumping it, hitting it, dropping it, etc. The XL1s does not bounce very well at all.

When I'm shooting outside in the direct sun, I always carry a white bath towel. Once the shot is finished, I drape the towel over the camera to keep the sun from baking the insides (including the tape). This also helps in dusty environments, too.

When you're not shooting, store the camera in a case. This will help protect it from the elements. The list could go on and on, but I'll stop here. Just exercise some good ol' fashion common sense. Treat the camera well and it will do the same.
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Old August 27th, 2002, 10:57 AM   #13
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One other factor to keep in mind. Any new product will have a somewhat increased incidence of problems, due to early production line learning curve. That will go away within a couple months as the problems are discovered and fixed.

Thus the old saw about never be the first to own a new model. Its probably best to wait a few months to allow production kinks to be worked out.
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Old August 27th, 2002, 11:01 AM   #14
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I managed to break the firewire port on my XL1. Its the pretty flimsy 4 way connector instead of the 6 way and without support the weight of the cable pulls it down. At best you'll lose connection with your PC and worse (as in my case) it bends the pins slightly. Not a great problem unless you are unlucky enough to push the connector back in while catching one of the pins and forcing it to bend even further resulting in it snapping and a loud electrical bang.

The camera works fine in all other ways and i can occasionally connect to the PC still, but it needs a proper repair.

I've now taken to looping the firewire cable through the hand grip before connecting it which provides sufficient support to prevent it from dropping.

Why camcorders have the small 4 way connectors instead of the 6 way connectors i'll never know but don't let this put you off its still a great camera.

Regards

Nick
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Old August 27th, 2002, 12:26 PM   #15
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Nick wrote:
"I've now taken to looping the firewire cable through the hand grip before connecting it which provides sufficient support to prevent it from dropping."

This is good advice for anyone on any camera. You should loop any cable around a velcro tie, handgrip or pan handle for tension release. You don't want somebody to kick a cable and then break a connector.

I just broke my headphone plug on my XL1, although, tension release wouldn't have fixed the problem. Connectors in general on "mid level" to low cameras are almost always apt for breakage.

I've put my camera (XL1) through 370 hours of every day shooting without any problems what-so-ever.
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