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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 12:10 AM   #1
Christopher Brown
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XL1s picture same as XM2/GL2?

I have an XM2 and would like to add a second camera. I have the opportunity to purchase either another XM2 or an XL1s.

Price is not an issue as both are pretty close. I am leaning towards the Xl1s - but am concerned that the video from it will look different to the XM2, creating hassles in post when I try to mix video from both cameras.

I am doing weddings mainly. Currently my other videographer uses a Sony and the colour/video is always different from my XM2.

Should I just get another XM2 - or is it easy enough to get the XL1s and the XM2 pretty close in camera? Also - is the XL1s much better in low light than the XM2?

Thank you for your help.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 12:54 AM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Billericay, England UK
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There are good reasons for getting a matching XM2. If it's a backup camera and is needed in a hurry, then you run for it and instantly feel at home operating it under stressful conditions. It also is a lot lighter and smaller, and if you're anything like me, then the side-screen is much more 'guest-friendly' at weddings than a conventional viewfinder is.

The XL1s is a bargain if it's the same price, but being a far more pro camera may well have seen much more wear and tear. It's a camera you have to come to terms with, full of oddities, but capable of far more than the XM simply because its specification is so different.

I wouldn't worry too much about matching the two Canons, it'll be a lot easier than matching Sony with Canon.

But what about this? Go Sony like your friend. You don't say what he has, but if it's a PD170 then I wouldn't hesitate - I'd say forget the XM/XL route, and go PD. Thing is Christopher that 16:9 performance will be your next big worry, and the (PAL) PD170 is the one to beat here. On top of that its low-light capabilities are a lot better than Canons, and the v'finders letterbox rather than distort.

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Old July 23rd, 2007, 01:10 AM   #3
Christopher Brown
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Thanks Tom,

To answer some questions. My mate has a Sony VX2000.

At this stage I pay him extra to bring his Sony along. Ideally I would like to provide both cameras on the shoot and match the footage easily in post. So it is not really for back-up - but to be used as a main camera.

I can get a low usuage XL1s for about $2500US here in Australia - I think this is a good price? I could probably get an XM2 for $500 less if I wait around - but the XL1s is available now and is low usage. There is an XM2 that I am looking at that is almost brand new (three hours on it) and he wants $2500US for it - I think this is too pricey.

So I think matching the Sony with another Sony maybe is not ideal at this stage - but it is a possiblity.

What is the low light capability of the XL1s liked compared to the XM2?

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Old July 23rd, 2007, 02:25 AM   #4
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I can't answer your last question, but the XL uses much bigger 1"/3 chips than the XM's 1"/4 chips, so all things being equal it'll be better in the gloom.

But listen here. You're a wedding man (like me) and as you know - a lot of wedding videography is about 'moving portraiture', and details of hats, rings, champagne glasses and so on. For this DoF control is very important, and any 1"/4 chipped camcorder really does look like 'home video' simply because the DoF is too great for any given focal length and aperture.

A couple of years ago I did an indoor shoot alongside a Canon XL1 and I used my VX2000. I was aghast at the Canon's poor low-light capabilities, but the s version may well have improved on that. The VX2100 even improved on the VX2k, and that's saying something.

I really think you should get to use an XL1s in earnest before you follow that path to ownership. I passed on it simply because it lacked a side-screen, simple as that. Weddings often means having the camera high above your head (speeches, guests on the lawn etc) and any camera you can't look up its screen is out. Not only that, but approaching strangers with 2 kg of brass 'n' glass sticking out of your forehead is not the way to paass unnoticed.

I really feel the VX2k is the entry point for wedding videos Chris. OK, the XM is Canon's 'lookalike' VX, but it's not in the same league. But then to be fair it was never meant to be, and was smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Sony. But look on it this way - your daughter is getting married and the choice is between the man with an XM or a PD. Which man has invested more clearly in his production values do you think?

I can't comment much on the Oz prices, but high on your priority list should be a camera's 16:9 performance. Weddings are not the place to be fiddling with anamorphics, and any b & g that can afford your two-camera prices will not be coming home from honeymoon and watching the DVD on a 4:3 set, will they?

And you don't talk about sound. Are you using the expensive Canon XLR adapter on your XM right now?

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Old July 23rd, 2007, 02:34 AM   #5
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Dear Christopher,

For this year's short I made for school, the board promised me to get me an XL-2 for the shoot. Being an XM2 owner myself, I was excited to be working with the bigger (and much more pro) brother of my own camera. However, after checking the box when it arrived at the location I noticed they had proived me with an XL1s. Suprisingly this camera had exactly the same controls my XM2 offered. Nothing more in manual control. A bit dissapointed I finished the first shoot with the XL1. One week later, the board was all out of cameras to hand out; but everything was set for the second day of shooting. I decided to use my own XM2 for the shoot. I mixed both of them without a single problem (the exact same custom presets can be adjusted). If you wish to see for yourself a sort of comparison:


Most of this short (dutch) was shot on an XM2. Around the cap of 01:00 a scene in a classroom begins. The shot of the principal (older man) and teacher (older woman) was shot on the XL1s on the first day; the other shots in the same scene were done with my own XM2 later. See for yourself (I didn't do any advanced color correcting, since I am still learning).

To be perfectly honest: I see no reason why you would want to go with an XL1s instead of a second XM2. As you can see it can be mixed with no problems, sure... But the XL1 only looks more pro on the outside and gives you nothing more in manual control/quality than the XM2. To me, the XM2 is a newer more compact version of the XL1s. XL1 and XM2 are basically exactly the same camera and I believe the more compact camera (XM2) is more suitable for wedding videography. That way you also never have to worry about mixing/using both cameras together. But then again: I only used the XL1 for only one day and can't perfectly judge it's capabilities. All I can say is: in comparison to the 'smaller brother', the XM-2, I wasn't impressed.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 05:34 AM   #6
Christopher Brown
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Thanks Tom and Merlin.

Tom - I hear what you are saying but I differ with you on what cuts it as a wedding camera standard. I would be far more worried about someone's ability to capture the footage, with great framing and editing, lighting, etc... than whether they use a Sony PD170 or a Canon XM2.

There have been plenty of great examples of what the XM2 can produce on this site.

I think there was a great improvement from the XL1 to the XL1s in terms of low light ability and the XL1s can be used overhead with the viewfinder - not as easily as something with an LCD on the side albeit.

I tried the XL1s out today and liked it's ease of use in changing settings over the XM2 - but I think a second XM2 might be the way to go now. However, I haven't made a final decision - anyone else feel free to chip in.

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Old July 23rd, 2007, 07:11 AM   #7
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IMHO, the primary benefit of the XL1s over the XM2/GL2 is the ability to change lenses and manual control accessibility. The XM2 has the LCD and smaller form factor. Keep in mind that Canon support runs for about 7 years past manufacturing discontinuation.

If 9x16 is important, look into the XH-A1, substantially more money, but substantially more camcorder
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