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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old January 30th, 2002, 04:05 AM   #1
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Please be objective

I'm about to buy a DV camera and am strongly veering toward the XL1s. However, I've read a lot of comparisons between the XL1/XL1s and Sony VX2000. LOTS of people say that the Sony is superior in low light conditions - I think this is when compared to the XL1. I know that one of the improvements for the XL1s was for better low-light performance.

Is this really the case - is it now an equal to the Sony in low-light conditions?
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Old January 30th, 2002, 06:20 AM   #2
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although I have no experience with the VX2000 first hand,
I do own an XL1S and have shot some pretty dark footage
with it. Since the new XL1S has new gain options you can
see in pretty dark situations, although with plenty grain!

The question ofcourse for you is to to sum up what you
want in a camera and how important it is. For me lowlight
shooting conditions where a nice extra, not a need. I wanted
swappable lenses and third party support for my camera.

What do you want to use it for? That is perhaps the better
question. It is possible to mount a light on the XL1S so
that you see a bit more in the dark. If you want to make
movies its probably better to invest in lights.

People can better respond to your questions when you
give them a bit more info.

Hope this has helped some :)
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Old January 30th, 2002, 07:02 AM   #3
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Justin, as Rob said, we can help answer you better if you give more info but I'll tell you my experiences.

I've shot with the XL1 in some pretty dark places, outdoor snowboarding comps at night in dodgy light, nite clubs, a bonfire party, and inside a house with only the fireplace for light and the XL1 surprised me every time. It's great in low light, even at +12db on the gain. The XL1s has +18 and +30db settings so it's even better but at those setting you have the noise tradeoff that Rob mentioned. I have the original XL1 and it's great at +12 very little noise.

In the end it comes down to what you intend to use the camera for, I'm not sure but I think the VX2000 has Sony's Nite Shot function, which is a great novelty but not for serious use unless you want that green nite vision goggle look.

Hope I've been helpful
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Old January 30th, 2002, 07:10 AM   #4
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Thanks. I'll be using it to make short films in a variety of conditions so a good all-rounder is what I'm looking for. Sounds like you two have had decent results in low light conditions. I don't think the Sony 'night time' function is enough to swing me to getting the VX2000 - looks (so far) like you've confirmed the XL1s for me. The XL1s seems to have more benefits overall.

Sorry but I have no experience yet - how does the gain affect the quality of the image?
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Old January 30th, 2002, 09:44 AM   #5
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If you want to make short films go with the XL1S if you
can afford it. It has great accessoires available (sometimes
a bit expensive, but hey, thats what this hobby is :)

If you don't want to spend that much money you could
also buy the VX2000. I wanted the best camera I could
get for a maximum of what the XL1S costed (actually
it was a bit more then I planned to spent, but I thought
it was worth it). The primary reason for me too buy it
was extra stuff you can buy for it (I already bought me
a filter set, gonna save for another lens now) and the
picture that it produces. If you don;t need this or think
its a bit expensive the VX2000 might be better for you.

It took me 3 months to decide, so take your time! And
it might be interesting to test em both first if you can.

There must be a couple of places around London where
you can at least look through the cameras and try them
out in the store. There are a couple of people from britain
here, so they might be able to help you out!

Now regarding your question. Gain is pretty good explained
in the other thread here called "More questions on white balance ".
Check that one out. Basically grain is making the image
brighter without changing your settings. It is an electronic
light increaser/decreaser. That other thread explains it
much better. Check that out!
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Old January 30th, 2002, 08:58 PM   #6
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Once I shot a scene with the xl1s and a pd 150.

Unfortunately, I didn't test them side by side.

@ 0 dB of gain, the sony was @ f/3.4 and brighter than the xl1s @f/3.4;

@ f/2.4 (one stop wider than f/3.4), the Canon was brighter than the Sony (still @ f/3.4).

I guess I'd say there's about a one-half stop difference, give or take.

There might be some difference when gain is added, but I highly doubt there could be more than a one stop difference, at MOST.

When you consider that the Canon has a more useable SS of 1/30th (than sony), the difference between them is not that much.

PS..these were shot on full manual
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Old January 30th, 2002, 10:38 PM   #7
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Aside from messing with the the gain knob, one trick I've used during very low light theater scenes is to switch to 1/30th of a second. I've had several tell me it gave a "film" look to the shot. As long as there isn't a lot of rapid movement, it works pretty well.

Vic
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Old January 31st, 2002, 02:11 AM   #8
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Hey Justin, glad I helped a little.

I looked at the VX1000 and the XL1 when shoping for a camera, and the XL1 although more expensive and in it's early days came out the winner. I've never been dissapointed by the camera, some things could have, and have been improved, but it's never been anything than fantastic.

I recently recomended the VX2000 to a friend of mine as the XL1s was way more camera than she need, or knew what to do with for that matter. If you just want to shoot in Full Auto, go for the VX2000, if you want total creative control, lenses included, go for the XL1s. On paper it's a huge improvement on the original XL1, I haven't tried one yet to confirm this, but there are many happy campers on this board so you can judge for yourself.

On the gain question, turning up the gain will brighten your shot by making the camera more sensitive to the available light, however this will also introduce grain to your shot, lighten your blacks and reduce your colour saturation. On the XL1 the +12db setting is still quite useable.
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Old January 31st, 2002, 05:05 PM   #9
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On eother point - Last I knew the VX2000 sound has a relatively high hisssss level - noisy audio preamps. Very noticable relative to my XL1. (PD150 had the same problem, Sony fixed it, but I've not heard that they have addressed the VX2000).
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