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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old February 2nd, 2003, 06:07 AM   #1
New Boot
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: KZN South Africa
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I already own a Sony VX2000 and have just purchased an XL-1S as a second 3 chip ( mainly for weddings, plays etc ) Immediately I began comparing footage shot with both cameras at exactly the same subject, in autofocus and whilst zooming in and out. The Sony's picture remained pinsharp throughout the zooming process, in the autofocus mode, whilst the XL-1S hunted for a few seconds before locking in, which was very disappointing. Now I know you are all shouting "do not use the camera in AF mode" and "the XL-1S is a pro camera designed to be manually focused" This may be true, but surely if Sony can produce a camcorder that functions perfectly in AF mode, then so can Canon (and theirs at an even higher price ) One is almost tempted to ask "why did Canon include an autofocus mode (green box) if it does not function satisfactorily as the Sony does. I have possibly become spoilt with the Sony and the AF mode as it is so good one seldom needs to experiment ...... I haven't, every wedding shot with it has been perfect. I would like to hear from other users of XL-1S's who have been in my situation shortly after purchasing an XL-1S (ie disillusioned ) but have stuck with the learning curve of manual focusing and now have no regrets. Do not get me wrong, it is a fantastic camera (both looks and function wise) and I would love to keep it .... but keep on comparing those test shots of the two cameras.

Many thanks from a far away place.

Paul Swires
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Old February 2nd, 2003, 07:06 AM   #2
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Every camera requires different operator techniques to get the most out of it's capabilities. The autofocus limitations and issues are well documented. The AF is at times slow to react and has different low light capabilities than some Sony cameras. I would suggest that unless you have a desire to master a different set of focusing skills that you return the XL1S and pick up another VX2000. It only make sense to have a matched pair of cameras for weddings.

However, should you decide to keep the XL1S, I suggest you practice focusing and zooming. As you noted, the AF is slower to react than some other models. Several articles by Chris Hurd and others, detail some focusing techniques that might work for you. They also give a little explanation as to the causes of some peoples focusing difficulties.

I occasionally use the zoom function in my work and find that the focus stays sharp through the zoom range. I never use the Green Auto mode. It gives be limited control over exposure and that can be part of the problem. The XL1 optics (all optics) are diffraction limited and produce images that may lack apparent sharpness when stopped down (F/22, F/32 etc). Care must also be taken not to zoom too fast. If the subject is fairly close to the background, the focus may shift between the subject and the background as you zoom. Practice different settings, subjects and distances and in a short time you'll be able to master the idiosyncrasies of XL1 focusing. Or get a VX2000 that your familiar with.
Jeff Donald
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Old February 2nd, 2003, 08:56 AM   #3
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I agree with Jeff, you can't take a camera like the XL1s, designed specifically for creative manual control and use in the worst possible way and then dismiss it out of hand - you should stay with a consumer model.

If you are shooting weddings etc. professionally you should NOT be using autofocus - it is as simple as that. The reason why prosummer cameras have autofocus is more of a recognition that they are often used for newsgathering and run and gun type situations, not as a way of life.

As I have outlined in another post I do feel that the VX2000/PD150 type cameras are better for weddings because of various reasons - but if you have to do a controlled shoot with lights, filters etc. you will find just how flexible and rewarding the XL1s can be.

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Old February 3rd, 2003, 11:41 AM   #4
Obstreperous Rex
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<< why did Canon include an autofocus mode (green box) if it does not function satisfactorily... >>

All Canon cameras and camcorders, even the most expensive SLR still photo cameras, include the Green Box mode. I commonly refer to it as the "mother in-law" mode. It's purpose is so that someone who is unfamiliar with the camera (or photography/videography in general) can pick up the camera and take a picture with it. I would never seriously recommend Green Box mode for any other purpose, and that particular mode is not a fair way to evaluate the XL1S.

The XL1S was designed for the broad range of videography applications which seldom if ever rely on the use of autofocus for their success. I can certainly appreciate your need for quick and accurate autofocus; it's quite possible that based upon your needs the XL1S is not the appropriate camera for you. Besides, as you may have noticed, the color signature of the XL1S is entirely different from the VX2000 (although it can be made similar either via the in-camera menu or in post production).

Were I in your position, I would consider selling the XL1S, which should hold a good resale value, and commit to a second VX2000, or a PD150 or 250, all of which will precisely match the VX2000 you already have. Hope this helps from an equally far away place,

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