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Old August 13th, 2007, 10:23 PM   #1
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Moving on from the XL-1 - could use some advice

Hi folks, an avid amaeteur user of the XL1, but it's time to move on.

I know the XL-1 very well, and loved the results (lens I felt was a little soft - but worked around it), BUT never changed the lens really, just did what I could, and shot entirely in 4:3 Frame Mode for 3 short films I made. I am really just an amateur, who learned on the fly, and can't really grasp all the nuances of the technicalities some of you throw about. BTW, I use almost exclusively the Adobe Production bundle for post on a Mac (now).

Ok... so next - I got very good at compositing blue (and preferably green) screen shots, and find it's a great way to upscale an amateur production when you just can't afford the fancy stuff. (BTW - Ultimatte AdvantEdge for keying - awesome tool - probably a bit old now too though).

So in that vein - I think it's time to go HD. I have my eye on the Xl-H1.. but it is expensive, and I notice it's 1080i , and not 1080p. I know it's not an adapted standard for potential broadcast... but wouldn't 1080p just be more information, and better to do stuff with (including compositing)? So I am wondering if I should just move down a notch to the fixed lens models (I have visions of using the nikon Lens adapters and stuff available at mighty prices for the XLH1... but I should be realistic, and the lens I will use primarily (totally?)will be the standard), and get one of the lower Canon or Prosumer Sony's or Panasonic's or something? I am having a hard time even figuring out what the choices are... so I thought the experts art DVi could help. I know there is an education coming...

I know this will throw alot of opinion and suggestions... and I welcome it, just want to ask the people that know... and that's you folks.

Please offer up your suggestions if you could... I am ready to move!

Terry Smith

P.S. If anyone wants to buy my XL1, let me know! :P

TMS
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Old August 14th, 2007, 12:43 AM   #2
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Hi Terry.........

Well, I ain't no expert, so lets get that out of the way!

An interesting question at an interesting time. I say that as the H1 has been out now, what, 2 years almost? The A1/ G1 about a year, maybe a tad more?

I drooled over the H1 at the time but think the A1 is a better camera in many respects and the G1 sorted some of the bad aspects of the H1. Given what I percieve (just a PO) as the failings of the H1 to be, I would say a major revamp can't be too far off for it, so not a great time to be moving to it.

The recent release of the HV20, so soon after the HV10, is an indication of just how fast this HD thing is changeing.

If I was in your shoes now, looking to make the trade up, I'd personally start small with say, an HV20, or one of the other make cheaper HDV cameras and wait and learn.

My belief, and this is based on absolutely no insider info whatsoever, is that the next big leap will be away from Mini DV tape to Hard Drive systems, which will give one or more of the manufacturers a way to bootstrap past HDV altogether. That can only be "a good thing".

[I add, hastily, having just got my link back - what I was trying to say was even higher bit rate systems than either HDV or AVHCD are offering]

It would be a shame to spend a shed load on HDV systems at this point only to have "true HD in a prosumer cam" announced the following week.

Then again, if you've been shooting an XL1 all these years maybe an A1 will do you for another 7 or 8 (the pictures are simply stunning). The cost of joining this club ain't small however, given that the extra definition (by definition) will make your camera support/ edit/ display systems obsolete or extremely "average" to put it mildly.

"Come on in, the waters lovely (just don't tread on any of the sharks!)"

PS. I'll pass on the XL1 thanks, still trying to shift my XL1s!

CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; August 14th, 2007 at 04:58 AM. Reason: Content
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Old August 14th, 2007, 06:03 AM   #3
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HV20 is certainly cheap...

Thanks so far... avidly wanting advice on this. The HV20 as you suggest, certainly would be an inexpensive way to learn the format (1020p), but I have to wonder if I would ultimately be dissapointed in the lens quality, controls (I always shoot manually with manual everything including CB) and the colour depth?

I admit, even if I did buy it, we could use it for family vids after I upgrade (which would definitely happen).

On the other note, when I would go to the local theatre group or be onsite with the crew, looking for a little help - the XL1 and all the accoutrements, certainly did provide a professional air to the production, and make people take you seriously... this little beastie certainly won't do that!

Anyone else?
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Old August 14th, 2007, 06:40 AM   #4
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Maybe that didn't come across right...

I am not going out to buy a camera that looks cool... I am just very used to all the manual controls and usability the XL1 offerred - plus the awesome results. Apologies for any misconceptions.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 06:56 AM   #5
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I have just migrated from the XL1s to a XH A1 and am very happy with the results. Having said that, the XL1s does inspire confidence with clients, which means my fees can stay high. I may add a XL H1 at some point in the near future. I wouldn't part with your XL1 just yet, if you can splash out then go for the XH A1/G1 or a Sony Z1. You will be pleasnatly surprised in the increased quality, even when shooting in SD mode.

ps I still have the XL1s and will be shooting a 4:3 production later today with it.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 08:51 AM   #6
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Well, I can say that when faced with the same decision as you, I went with -- the XL2! Not knocking HDV, but I'm not seeing the need for it right now personally. Maybe in five years. For now, it seems like a lot of effort for very little payoff, and I really like the layout of the controls and the modular design of the XL2. I'm planning to get a manual lens, for instance, and forgo the whole groundglass adapter thing. The monochromatic eyepiece is a revelation too. If you invest in things like this, there's a good chance you'll be able to take them with you when prices come down on the XL-H1 (or whatever comes after that) as I hope they will. I know it seems like HDV is the future and all, but it's going to be years before you can distribute your work to a significant number of people in HD. In the meantime, the images from the XL2 scale up beautifully. It is an enormous upgrade from the XL1. Not trying to be a gadfly. Just saying that it's still worth looking at this camera. They're a steal right now.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 05:42 PM   #7
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Hmmm... I thought the XL2 and XL1 were essentially the same?

I know I am going to sound like an ignoramus, but I thought the technology, resolution, CCD size and all the other stuff (less the straight 24P stuff) but the images would be the same quality more or less.

Are you suggesting the upscaling of 480p upscale to HD works well enough?

Another question, does anyone know if the XLH1 is due for a refit or anything soon? I am thinking I will get an HV20, but to replace the house-cam, and not really use it for my serious efforts... or am I being an idiot? I could probably use the HV20 to get used to the format... but how long would that take? 2 weeks... then what... stuff with (as Ike calls it) a camera from the toy isle, that I can't grow with?

See my problem folks?! See, I can get an XL1 on ebay for 7K, less the approx 1500 for the XL1, but then I have all the buyers remorse and irritation when the next whatever comes out in 1080p.

Lots of people telling me they feel my pain... is it just not a good time to buy a camera?

I appreciate all your help thus far.

TMS
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Old August 14th, 2007, 06:14 PM   #8
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Hi again...

Terry,
It's a great time to be upgrading your camera system. Here's a suggestion. Go down to whomever in your burg sells HDTV's and Camcorders etc. Get them to hook an HV20 or any other HDV cam (preferably with HDMI) up to one of their full 1080 46" screens and have a play. Then ask that question again.

My suggestion to start of with something ike an HV20 is because of the unfortunate fact that all that wonderfull resolution will show up weaknesses in your entire camera support/ edit & display systems that will cost a kings ransom to fix. You'll discover that "so so" head and tripod shows up every sticky moment, every bit of unbalance, every bit of leg wind up and every bit of lateral wobble. There's a couple of grand up in smoke right there. Then things get REAL expensive.

By the time you've sorted all those things out, you'll pretty well have a handle on the HV20 & HDV or whatever you go for (yep, I know it's "consumer" but hey, you have to crawl before you can run). Another factor here is that an A1/ G1/ H1 etc etc ain't exactly the easiest thing to whip out and catch that "magic moment" at the familly picnic. If one of those is your FIRST choice, you WILL find yourself muttering quiet Anglo Saxon adjectives somewhere down the track when you've missed the shot because of.....................? (I will add that one of my particular dissapointments [wait for howls of derision from others] is that hand held HD is not quite the same as it's SD counterpart, I shall leave you to discover why).

THEN you go for the big one. What's your particular poison and how deep are your pockets? What's available NOW! (or rather, THEN).

The big advantage of HDV type systems is you do get SD to boot by default if required but for delivery you will probably find it better to shoot HD and downconvert in post. All skills that need to be learnt, and if you fall into the "no spring chicken" category like me it ain't always that easy.

I won't say "I feel your pain", but it's a minefield out here for the uninitiated and I keep getting suprises every single day. That's half the fun.


"I hope this helps" may sound a bit trite but sincerely hope the above does.

CS
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Old August 15th, 2007, 02:26 AM   #9
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The advice to get an H20 is perhaps not the best advice. It sounds like Terry is already an accomplished user, and the HV20 is a good family camera, not pro quality kit. Having said that, the HV20 would come in useful as a deck for downloading footage shot on a XL H1 or XH A1 (not sure if it would be compatible with Sony tapes).

Shooting HD is no more complicated than shooting SD, yes you do have to be more careful with focus, but then a good cameraman will always pay attention to focus and other tripod issues.

There will always be a better bit of kit tomorrow or the day after. My advice would be to jump on the bandwagon when you are ready and hopefully the kit will pay for itself in a short space of time. Iím sure your next camera purchase will not be your last.

Vincent
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Old August 15th, 2007, 02:37 AM   #10
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You mentioned you make short films... in that case, I would go with the Canon XH-A1 instead of the H1 and with the money you save, buy a DOF adaptor such as the SGPro. Get some used 35mm lenses and a Geardear mattebox... this setup will wow your clients way more than a stock H1, and cost less too.
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Old August 15th, 2007, 07:20 AM   #11
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I have seen all of the HDV cams on broadcast monitors, and IMO, the XL-H1 has the best image (but not by a long shot.)
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Old August 15th, 2007, 07:55 AM   #12
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You folks are awesome thus far! Thanks!

Hi Folks,

The suggested of the A1 is interesting. I didn't think the lens came off the A1? I have been looking around, and it would appear that most people have better effort without glass in between the lens adaptors (I am an avid photog btw; with lots of Nikon gear - old and new).

Then we still have the question.... I know 1080i is there, but will 1080p look/be siginfificantly better, and be JUST around the corner? Fall 2007?

My immediate problem is that I am about to embark on another short flic, (one of three for a shot of a pilot), and want this stuff to (who wouldn't) look as good as I can make it. There will be alot of compositing* so I need the rez (I think?).

Regardless, you folks are really awesome, and are helping me out (and probably a few others!) immensely.

TMS

* fancy locales/sets x no money = compositing
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Old August 15th, 2007, 08:01 AM   #13
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"Are you suggesting the upscaling of 480p upscale to HD works well enough?"

I haven't frankly seen XL2 footage truly scaled up to HD, but I have seen it on hi-rez monitors and it looks fantastic. You would think that all NTSC camcorders would have the same resolution, but they don't. You have to factor in the pixels on the CCD. The quality of the internal processor fits in there somehow too. The XL2 image is miles better than the XL1 in terms of resolution and color, at least to my eyes.

As far as resolution, have you ever seen a widescreen, progressive NTSC DVD on an HDTV? It looks pretty good. Okay, even HDV is going to be sharper, but at the viewing distances and screen sizes that most people are watching their HDTVs, even that's not going to be noticeable to a lot of people. I'm not happy with this keyframing business and the compressed audio of HDV either. Also, remember with those ground glass adapters you take a huge hit on real resolution. What's going to look sharper? An XL2 with a manual lens that is focused properly, or an HDV camera with a groundglass adapter? Bet it's pretty close, especially since using the groundglass adapter at HDV resolutions is going to be fantastically difficult. You'd have to get out the tape measure on every shot and the actors would have to hit their marks with incredible precision.

Like I said, for me the modular design, excellent controls, ability to use the monochromatic eyepiece of the XL2, and other features, beat out the other options whose only real advantage is higher resolution. And as I said before, there's no way to even distribute HD material to the masses, and given the format war, there isn't going to be for a long, long time. If I was shooting a feature, and had real aspirations of a theatrical release, yeah, I'd do whatever it took to shoot HD -- real HD, not HDV -- and that would be an enormous and expensive undertaking. If your distribution is DVD, the Internet, or even uprezzed to Blue-Ray and HD DVD for viewing on home HD TVs (most of which don't even do an honest 1080p anyway), the XL2 is going to be just fine. It's all about what gets you the best image. The XL2 is a professional tool. Most HDV options are not. Anyone who would rather shoot on the HV20 rather than even the XL1 is nuts, if you ask me.

Oh, as long as your looking at all your options, my friend has an HVX200, and brother, that camera rocks!
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Old August 15th, 2007, 10:18 AM   #14
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Thanks Marco... why is everyone Canon-ized?

Hi folks, something I just noticed.... everyone is suggesting Canon's. what about the competition? Just because I have the XL1, doesn't mean I need to stay that way.

Marco just put in a plug for the Panasonic (is that Leica lens any good? Is it real Leica quality, or just branded?), but I know Sony makes stuff, and there has got to be others (sorry though - can't go redcam... not rich - just eager).

Please remember, I am not that technically adept at the keyframe/compression/format/ratios/pixel shift/endless other stuff arguments - just know how to shoot stuff that looks ok, and make it look better in post. For the record... I would like to spend no more than 5K if I can. Could stretch to the 7 for H1, but so far haven't heard any real advocates for that option.

Again, you folks are awesome!
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Old August 15th, 2007, 10:34 AM   #15
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Terry,

Do some research and find what you realy want - you mentioned " I have my eye on the Xl-H1..", so we assumed you were after a Canon.

There is enough information on this and other forums for you to make up your mind. Maybe your best bet is to hire a couple of cameras and see which you like.
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