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Old April 15th, 2002, 06:42 AM   #1
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Is the XL1s or PD150 going overboard for what I need?

Hi all. I've been doing a bit of research for a DV camera and have been thinking along the lines of the PD150 or Xl1s. I had almost made up my mind when after reading more of these boards I started to rethink what I was doing and started to wonder if I was buying a too expensive camera for my needs.

Currently I have no plans to make money from my filming. I have several ideas ranging from short doccos to short films to full length movies. All are not for profit and just for the fun of it all. All in all I want to shoot stuff, and lots of it but not with the immediate view to making cash.

With the PD150 or XL1s (Which is what I was leaning towards) I would basically be using up my total camera budget, but after reading here I've started to wonder if, to do anything half decent I should get an external mic, an ma100/200 for the XLR inputs, good headphones, maybe even some basic lights and a good tripod. I can see that I would be spending a couple of thousand over and above the camera which might not be possible on my budget.

So, my question is, would I be better off going for a "lesser" camera like the XM1(GL1) or VX2000 and taking the extra few grand and buying some additional bits, or would buying a PD150/XL1s and using it stock standard (I'll have the manual lens for the XL1s) be I wise choice in the mean time, until I can save some more money up? If later down the track, once I have some experience, I decide to try and earn some money shooting, are the VX2000/XM1's good enough for professional work like promotional videos, maybe functions and the like?

Anyway, any advice on what I should do, and what "lesser" camera I should get if that's the best way, would be much appreciated. I'd hate to go empty my bank account and find I still need a lot more cash to make the camera really viable.


Cheers
Aaron
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Old April 15th, 2002, 08:52 AM   #2
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Howdy from Texas,

I think it's a very good idea in your case to seriously consider a less expensive camera, such as the XM1, VX2000E or even the TRV900E. Since the XM1 and TRV900E are both getting a bit long in the tooth, they can be had for a very low price right now. They both still take great pictures, too.

It's important to realize that the camcorder is not going to make you or break you. It's just a tool in the long run. You're doing yourself a big favor by going with a 3-chip DV camcorder. It doesn't have to be an XL1S or PD150, though.

You can always add things like an XLR adapter later on, when you need it. For now, I'd just go with an inexpensive camcorder like an XM1, concentrate on framing and composition, produce a few small simple things for the learning experience, and go from there. This is definitely an affordable way to go.

Hope this helps,
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Old April 15th, 2002, 09:08 AM   #3
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It all basically boils down to what you plan todo with the camera.
I'am planning to make movies (first short ones, then longer
ones). For my it was okay to go with the XL1S, because:

- Although I knew I needed more equipment with it (especially
a good tripod etc.) I also didn't need it NOW. Because I am
currently learning a whole lot of stuff I can gradually add stuff
(this ofcourse depends on what kind of money you earn).
- I was very fond of the swappable nature of the XL1S. I like
that I can do everything manual. I can even buy myself a
manual lens, wide-angle lens etc. (although expensive).

Those where the main reasons to go with a XL1S for me. If it
is right for you is a question you must answer yourself. Do take
time though, make a list of what it MUST be able to do and what
would be nice to have. Also look ahead down the road. Ofcourse
its a bit tricky to look into the future, but you generally have an
idea where you want to go.

It might be interesting (if possible) to rent the cameras you are
looking at before buying them! The XL1S can be quite difficult
to hold on your hand for lang periods of time!

Good luck with your decision!
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Old April 15th, 2002, 10:53 AM   #4
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Going for a *lesser* camcorder would make more since, plus it would enable you to get the high quality accessories (tripod, lights etc.) to make the film look even better. Then if you did later plan to make money from it you would have a decent second camera and all the bits and pieces.

Hopefully you would have saved some money to buy the XL1s or PD150 before you plan to go 'Pro'.

One other camera to consider Panasonic MX300 range, all though I think they will be replacing that model pretty soon with the MX400.

All the best,

Ed
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Old April 15th, 2002, 01:45 PM   #5
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just because the xm1 was mentioned here:

have a look at www.hackermovies.de

thatīs a site showing some shorts done with the xm1 and the xl1. all by filmstudents. i was amazed what some people are able to do with these cameras.

the site is in german and the movies are in the column on the left.

i liked the "Erdnusswochen" best. only 45sec but hilarious.

cheers,
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Old April 15th, 2002, 02:07 PM   #6
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Hello Aaron,
Like others, I would also vote for spending less on the camera and allocating more towards camera support, sound and lighting gear. If you select this gear thoughtfully it will likely outlast your camera and, as Ed noted, make the results from your lower-cost camera even better. Plus, getting some experience with good-quality lighting and sound equipment will be a great investment for any future endeavors you might decide to undertake.
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Old April 15th, 2002, 02:07 PM   #7
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Hi

I was not in a dissimilar position to you when I bought my XL-1, all I wanted to do was have fun and hopefully get to the point of financing my hobby. EASIER SAID THAN DONE.

Think about this, things of which I was reasonably unaware of at the time;

You will need a capture card and software (you're PC may not be up to scratch and you may need an upgrade, maybe you don't possess a PC).

What about that decent tripod and head.

When last did you price decent on camera lights.

Oh so you too don't possess a decent mic / mics like me.

The list goes on and on, I am not unhappy with the XL-1 now that I have it but I think I could have done so much more and achieved so much more had I settled for a cheaper camcorder and bought more accessories.

Having said which my requirement was to have lots of lens and I needed the XL-1 flexibility.

Andrew
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Old April 15th, 2002, 04:18 PM   #8
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Thanks all for the input. Now, if I went with a cheaper camera, what would you all recommend and what do you all think would be a good "base" kit as far as a camera, mic, lights maybe(?), maybe audio mixer, I dunno. tripod, boom? And can I get all this and a camera for around what I might pay for an XL1s/PD150.

Because I'm now thinking cheap, can good beginner mics slot into cameras like the XM1 and VX2000 (Even with adapters) and will the sound be good etc?

Anyway, your info is much appreciated.

Cheers
Aaron

BTW: I have a reasonably good PC setup for editing so that's ok.
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Old April 15th, 2002, 10:36 PM   #9
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Indifferent?

If you've read any of my posts I'm pretty negative about Canon. Basically, I hate Canon. But since there are so many options with the XL1s I suppose there is just more to hate. I would like to point out that I'm sure I'm probably hate the PD-150 too. I basically spent well over 10k for all the crap I've bought for this camera. I thought I got a steal for a brand new XL1s for $3600.00. And I thought thats all I needed. HAHAHA! The more I learned the more expensive it got. Anyway, whats the point? Well, I thought I would buy a camera and do a documentary or a short, later to realize it probably would have been better and cheaper to higher a DP with experience and equipment. I'm sure its a phase that will eventually pass for me. When it does, everything must go! Anyway, I'm still learning alot and know in the back of my mind, this camera is better than most . I'm sick of the problems I'm dealing with now, but wonder how much sicker I'd feel with a different camera. If I were you, if you're serious about film making buy the XL1s. If you just want to mess around buy the XM1. Because I figure if you're going to spend the money might as well buy the best. Oh and if you think you'll make your film in a couple of years, dont buy either. As technology progresses there'll be great improvements. Go rent the cameras. If 2 years all this stuff will be obsolete.
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Old April 16th, 2002, 01:36 AM   #10
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"Hate" is a word I really don't like anybody to use on my boards, however, the *rest* of your post is dead-on accurate. I'm sorry you had to learn some of that the hard way, but basically you're right on target:

<< it probably would have been better and cheaper to higher a DP with experience and equipment. >>

<< if you're going to spend the money might as well buy the best >>

<< as technology progresses there'll be great improvements >>

<< go rent the cameras >>

<< in 2 years all this stuff will be obsolete >>

Line for line, this is solid advice and I couldn't agree more. It is important to realize however that ten years ago, you couldn't have bought what these camcorders deliver right out of the box for less than $40,000. Also, "expense" is a highly relative term. I had to work hard to scrape together the money for my camera, yet I know professionals in the business who think that buying a new XL1 every twelve months beats paying the yearly maintenance costs of an Arri 35 BL.

I encourage you to utilize these message boards to your own advantage, and to thoroughly explore the resources presented by so many different fellow members. I do request, however, that you keep any negativity to a bare minimum. It's entirely possible to discuss the obvious limitations of the gear without resorting to ugly words such as "hate."

Many thanks and much respect,
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Old April 16th, 2002, 10:54 AM   #11
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Ok you go cheaper then later You will say" why didn't I just get the XL1!!!" You will spend $2,000 on some camera then later think to yourself why, why why!!! Just get what you want , go for broke. When your shooting video with the XL-1s, you won't be thinking, why didn't I get that cheaper camera.
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Old April 16th, 2002, 03:44 PM   #12
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Sure Zim, I understand you, but I won't have any money for anything else if I get an XL1s - that's my dilemma.
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Old April 17th, 2002, 04:17 AM   #13
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I know where your at,,,I put down 3500 for my XL-1s,,,now I'm going through my old stuff I bought back in the 80's!!! But I'll get it gong one way or the other. Maybe that was $3700?
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Old April 19th, 2002, 06:29 PM   #14
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Aaron:

Listen man, I completely understand where you are. I've been wanting to buy and XL1 for at least 2 years, a long time in respect to my life seeing that I'm 20. But I wasn't sure about buying it. I started looking at cheaper cameras; I started looking at other types of cameras; I just researched all I could. Then - surprise surprise - the XL1s came out last summer. So, I wanted that and I had to keep saving up. Still, I'm searching. Currently, I borrow all of my equipment, but its getting to be a real pain in the arse. Soon, I won't have access to equipment: I've got to buy my own!

After reading and learning through this board and through extremely kind mentors I've created a "to do/get list"

1. Read all that I can
2. Buy a computer designed for NLE, buy NLE software
3. Read all that I can
4. Buy Camera
5. Read all that I can (Play with camera everyday!)
6. Buy Lights, and sound accessories
7. Read all that I can (Play with camera/equipment everday)
8. Make a friggin' movie

The list seems easier said than done. I'm on step 3 and I'm by all means not rich: I am a true, poor college student. Working at the library has helped me be able to buy my computer and will soon help me buy my camera. But what camera? A cheap one, or just go for the XL1s or PD150?

Here's a little advice that I think will help you make you're decision. Write a script. Then, write another script. Look at your content: you've said you wanted to do shortfilms, and documentaries, do these script ideas call for the type of camera the XL1s is? Maybe your scripts need a small-sized camera to not draw a lot of attention; maybe you need a camera for good low-light situations; maybe you realize you're going to have to shoot a lot of hand-held stuff. All these factor into your camera decision.

Still, as our good Kennelmaster, Chris Hurd says, "content is really the king." Check your scripts, make your stories killer! See if the camera you want can really pull off the look you're going for. Chances are you can grab that look with a cheaper camera - but is it so? And just to let you know, last summer, in my hometown, I premiered a featurette length movie I shot on VHS. It looked like crap in my opinion! I'm serious! I had to work hard to make it look semi-decent. But you know what, after the premier nobody said to me - "hey the movie looked horrible," (maybe they were being nice) but instead, they said "man! the story was awesome!" or "the plot actually flowed!"

So research and write. The thing about writing is that its cheap! It only costs .05 cents for a piece of paper and a little imagination. Just write. And after you write, look at your story: does it really require an expensive camera? I write for my dreams (with a little limitation because I keep my budget in mind). But as I said in a speech in my public speaking class a few semesters ago: if you have the desire, spend the money and make you're movie; get off your butt and do what you want; learn buy researching but don't forget to learn along the way.

Whatever camera you buy, I'm sure it'll be the right decision, man. I know that sounds like a cliche, but still, you can still pull off magical things with cheap equipment - if you get some equipment and just learn everything you can about the craft, the product will be great. Everyone starts somewhere. Just make sure you start with the end in mind - the map of how to get there will fall in place. I'm following my map. One day, I hope to make it to my end. And ten bucks says, you will too.

Regards,

Kyle "Doc" Mitchell
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Old April 21st, 2002, 04:04 PM   #15
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Thanks Kyle. Likewise I'm up to level 3, and within the next month or so I think I'll be up to level 5. :)


I guess with anything, when you're new at it, and when it involves a reasonable amount of money, there is always some trepidation when purchasing equipment.

Spend $5000 on a camera and realise a couple of months down the track that you find you need X feature that it doesn't have or is on the camera that you could have bought for a few more grand can be annoying. But I do feel now, from talking with everyone here that if I went for the XM1 I'd be quite happy for some time as it's a pretty good camera. It's good enough quality so I can learn to shoot well and make the most of it. Then if I can make some money from the bugger, or save up I can upgrade to something else. Who knows, in a year or so there might be an upgrade to the PD150 or XL1s by then :)

I agree, I'm going to concentrate some more on my scripts. I have about half a dozen ideas scribbled down for shorts I want to make so I will start working on one and then analyse what I'll need, although I do want to get a pretty generic setup as I will be using my camera/lights/mics for lots of different things. And as I said already, budget is always an issue.

Anyway, thanks for the advice and good luck yourself on getting a camera .
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