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Old July 30th, 2003, 01:10 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Jackson TN
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Total Newbie--need advice

I'm a total newcomer to the site. While I have lots of experience with high-end optics, my past video experience is limited to a cheap vhs-c camcorder (use it every day) that I'm sick of. Here's what I'm thinking: I want a new camcorder strictly for personal use, primarily for wildlife filming, mostly backyard stuff (deer, turkey, hummingbirds). I'd like to move into filming myself and others while hunting and fishing. I've looked at all the consumer-grade camcorders, and none impress me. Even if they had the features I want (they don't), I don't know how I'd hold a one-pound camera steady while hanging out of a tree.

So, now I'm looking at pro-sumer stuff. The first thing I noticed was: this stuff gets expensive quick. My solution to that is to go ahead and buy a good camera, then make it pay for itself. I know a few people who have done quite well at amateur video, and I have family connections to a couple of markets, such as sporting events. As for talent, I've very casually looked at editing software, and, though I still know nothing about video production, I think I can learn. So, If I go through with the purchase, here's what the camera will be used for:

1) General wildlife filming (general observation, and hunting)
2) Wakeboarding videos ( I have family and friends who are up-and-coming stars, and would kill to have access to the tools to make a few videos)
3) Filming high-school hockey games

So, whatever I buy has to have the following:
Flexibility (the Canon XL1 is looking good - love the modular concept)
Low-light performance is a must-have (see above)
Ability to take good footage w/o tripod (again, XL1 with it's IS system)
Ability to function in wet and/or cold environments
Excellent film quality (I think any of the pro-sumer cameras will work here).

Any advice on what I need? I've searched this site and others (this site is awesome, btw) and it seems the Canon XL1s would be a good choice, but what else is out there? I'd especially be interested in other cameras with lower prices.
Chris Latch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 30th, 2003, 04:41 PM   #2
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canon GL2. 20x zoom, optical image stabilizer like the XL1.

The XL1 might be a bit hard to hold. You'd probably have to check it out yourself.
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Old July 31st, 2003, 04:38 PM   #3
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Location: Bemidji, MN
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While I use Sony VX-2000's for wedding and event videography, I notice a lot of Canon XL's out in the field.(I literaly mean field) If I'm not mistaken, I also saw a few covering the Iraq war.
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Old August 1st, 2003, 04:15 AM   #4
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I have an XL1s and I love it. I must admit though that it is a little hard to balance when I do hand-held shots. The shoulder rest that comes with it just isn't big enough. Go to a store and try it out. I made my own simple shoulder rest and it is a lot eaiser now.
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Old August 1st, 2003, 04:23 AM   #5
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You can't go wrong with the XL-1s. Since you can use other lenses, this is the way to go, especially since you will be filming wildlife. EOS lenses will help you out there.
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Old August 1st, 2003, 05:14 AM   #6
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Two thoughts to contribute, Chris: first, if you think you might make any money at this look into a sole proprietorship. I don't know US tax law but in Canada I took this route before I purchased any equipment - registered a sole proprietorship and opened a "company" bank account. For two years much of my equipment has been financed from tax refunds on losses in the company. And I've slowly built revenue each year. Secondly, consider a camcorder with an LCD screen, which I don't believe the XL1-S has, great unit though it is. I mount my VX2000 to a miniRover, an "L" bracket device with a shoe mount on the post and a tripod plate. I've got quick releases on the cam and tripod to move easily from handheld to fixed, and the device has greatly improved my handheld shots. Even optical image stabilization is no magic bullet. The bracket allows me to mount a shotgun mic away from the camera body and leaves a shoe for on-board light. Add a BeachTek or similar device and you have XLR inputs for mic or line input. Or buy the PD150 and get XLR on-board. Good luck and have fun whatever choice you make.

David Hurdon
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Old August 1st, 2003, 06:08 AM   #7
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Chris, if low light is a must have then you need to check out the Sony VX2000 or PD-150 they're still king when it comes to low light, from you're other points the only thing the canon has that the sonys don't is the ability to change lenses. The XL1 is a good camera but I don't rate is as highly as the sonys(Trying not to open a can of worms here) but thats just my personal opinion with the experience I have.

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Old August 1st, 2003, 10:36 AM   #8
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Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
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my choice would be a GL2
Light, portable
20x zoom
great IS

If you are very serious about wildlife and not just dabbling, the only choice is the XL1s for the ability to use EOS lenses.
Need to rent camera gear in Vancouver BC?
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Old August 1st, 2003, 11:15 AM   #9
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Low light? The VX2000. But I like the GL2 better---easy to hold, lots of zoom for wildlife (one of my hobbies is shooting birds for my mother and grandmother to watch).
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Old August 3rd, 2003, 08:36 PM   #10
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Hi Chris,

Well, let me start by saying I have used the Sony PD150, VX2000, and Canon XL1 and XL1s, all pretty extensively. Now all of these cameras are great, and each has its strengths. But I would have to suggest the VX2000 all the way (or PD150 if you want to spend the extra cash), here is why:

So, whatever I buy has to have the following:

Flexibility- Well the Canon wins hands down as far as interchangable parts goes, the options are limitless, everything can be changed and upgraded. But, as far as functionality, both cameras are very flexible as far as their capabilities are concerned.

Low-light performance: The VX2000 wins this one hands down. I have done side by side tests, and the VX2000 just outpreforms the Canon's in this category. Although to Canon's credit, the low light images still look good, there is very little noise, and the contrast holds well (i.e. the blacks look black).

Ability to take good footage w/o tripod (again, XL1 with it's IS system): Well, from my experience, I give the edge to the VX2000. I haven't really looked into comparing Steadyshot to IS too deeply, but I haven't noticed much of a difference between the two, both preform well. The reason I say the VX2000 is because I feel its a lot easier to handle. When looking at pure numbers, the Sony is a couple pounds lighter, but what really makes the difference is ergonomics, the Canon is very front heavy and can be uncomfortable to do handheld work for longer periods of time. So basically, your footage will be a lot less shaky if the camera is easier to handle and doesn't shake around as much during shooting.

Ability to function in wet and/or cold environments: Don't really know. Both cameras worked well for me in the cold, but never really took them near water.

Excellent film quality: You're gonna get a great image either way.

Now, let me conclude by saying everything above is my opinion. Some people take offense to my claims that the Sony is superior to the Canon, but I really think its just a better camera all around (and this is coming from someone who loved the look of the Canon and the attention he got from it- I really wanted to love the XL series). On that note, if you are looking for paying work, people will tend to take you more seriously if you are packing an XL1s than a VX2000 because it has a much more professional look. And since you arer talking about doing a lot of handheld work with live action stuff, I would say either go with the VX2000 or GL2 because they have LCD screens, or denfinately consider investing in an LCD to attach to the XL1s. But really you can't go wrong with either camera; I just think the Sony VX2000 is your best choice when solely comparing preformance, but on top of that its over $1000 cheaper.

Good luck with whatever choice you make!


P.S. After seeing a lot of posts about the GL2, I would suggest you have a look at that as well, it has many of the qualities that had me favoring the Sony in this case.
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