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Old January 18th, 2005, 10:40 AM   #1
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GL2, VX2100 or XL2? Unsure which way to jump!

First of all I would like to thank all of the members of DVinfo.net for the huge knowledge boost I've received by pouring over posts the last year. What a joy to have a thought or a question in my mind and find an answer (or answers) here without much trouble at all. Thanks too for the moderators and Chris Hurd, you are all to be commended for your contributions.

Now, my problem. I've studied the specs. I've read thousands of posts. I've tried out cameras in the field. I still don't know what camera(s) I should purchase. There are some much talked about here on this site hurdles that keep me from making this an easy decision.

Low Budget Route
1. GL2
Major issue: Low light performance
In the case of the GL2, it just doesn't cut the mustard. This camera will cost me at least 20-30 minutes of shooting time when I'm outdoors. I love the camera and am familiar with the controls, but the low light capabilities are marginal at best.

2. VX2100
Major issue: 12x optical lens
This camera performs much better in low light thanks to bigger chips. The only thing that keeps me from buying one is the lens, which is only 12x optical. There are times when this will really hurt me in the field. If this camera had a 16x or 20x lens this purchase would be a no brainer. Another point that hurts this camera is the folks that I will be working with are shooting all Canons, so I'm not sure but I think using the Sony might pose some problems in post production. (They use Final Cut Pro for post, I use Premiere Pro).


Higher Budget Route
1. XL2
Major issue: Manual lens & cost
This is the camera I want, mainly because of the shoulder mount shooting style. However, input from others in the same field insist on a manual lens that I'm not sure I'm comfortable in using. I'm a rookie and I'm afraid a manual lens may cost me footage until I master it. Cost is also an issue, it just about eats up my whole budget. To top it off this camera is not the low light performer I wish it was.

I've also taken a good look at the Sony PD170, but it seems it's a lot more money than the 2100 and would pose the same drawbacks. It still would not have the XLR of the XL2, so I'm hesitant to spend the money on this one.

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and input on my first 3 CCD camera purchase. I have $5000 budgeted for my initial investment. Thanks again for your help, in advance!

(Keep in mind that my intended use for these cameras is in a professional cameraman role for outdoor TV show production, DVD/Video sales both in the States and Africa. 95% of my footage would be outdoors, with the bulk of the action taking place in the early morning and late evening hours.)
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Old January 18th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #2
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Well from what I have seen the XL2 isn't really much better than the GL2 in low light situations (5.5 LUX rating and all)

You say the PD170 would not have the XLRs like the XL2, what do you mean? The PD-170 has built in XLR inputs and actually has line-level inputs, something the XL2 does not have on it's XLR inputs.

Have you thought about a Telconverter on the VX2100 or PD170? to give you some more reach?
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Old January 18th, 2005, 11:17 AM   #3
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Thanks, Jeff. I stand corrected on my XLR comment for the PD170.

The problem with a 2x or any other teleconverter is I will loose close-up, wide angle shot capability. Also, unless I invest in a quite expensive lens for the task the image quality can be poor. Don't you agree?

My whole head starts to hurt when I think of this whole debacle.

Why can't one of the top manufactures come up with a model DIA5000? (read: Do It All for under 5k!)
3 1/3" chips, 20x optical with great wide angle, XLR inputs, 1 lux rating, shoulder mount and sell it for 5k!

I know this has been hashed out on the site thousands of times. I've spent hundreds of hours in the archives and still don't know which way to go. Thanks for your input.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 11:32 AM   #4
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I honestly think if a lot of your shots are going to be in lower light situations without the ability for lights, you will regret NOT buying a PD170/VX2100

I just sold my GL2 for a PD170 because I couldn't live with it in lower light situations.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 11:43 AM   #5
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Jeff, compared to your other cam, the GL2, how would you rate the PD170 in the motor/zoom noise catergory?

How about the supplied mic?

Again, thanks for the input.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 11:56 AM   #6
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Haven't actually gotten it yet, still waiting for UPS to straighten around the shipping!

Once I get it, I'll let you know.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 12:03 PM   #7
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Oh, I see. Hope you get that worked out soon.

Anyone else owned both a GL2 and a PD170 that could give some feedback on motor/zoom noise and the quality of the mic?
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Old January 19th, 2005, 01:52 AM   #8
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Tyge,

You might be surprised at the low light capability of the XL-2. In fact, one of my deciding factors was after seeing the night footage shot in Vienna by a gentleman from the DVX forum. No disrespect meant to Jeff's input, the PD170 is a solid low light performer with that great Sony picture quality, but is IMHO less versatile.

The XL-2 would allow you to use the EF adapter and some good quality 35mm lenses to get you close up shots of wild game if that's what your show will include.

The XL-2 and the new Sony HDV cameras seem to share a common ability in that users have been able to crank the gain up on both cameras without introducing much noise. I chalk this up to the fact that both cameras are new designs and may have better noise reduction algorithims.

regards,

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Old January 19th, 2005, 02:18 AM   #9
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As long as you aren't shooting in the dead of night, the XL2 (and even the GL2) will perform just fine in natural light. I've been using my XL2 for almost a month now and the only problem I ran into with low light was trying to film some really cool looking fog at around 11pm one night. As long as there is a relatively decent amount of daylight, you won't run into any problems.

However, considering your primary use for your camera, I would probably lean toward the VX2100. It will get you almost everything you want for a good price. Most of what you are paying for on the XL2 is the 16:9 capability and the 24p, both of which I assume you won't be using. The zoom on the Sony might be a problem, but you can try to tele-converter route, or just moving closer to your subject. I'm not sure how possible either of these options are, but I think you would be spending too much if you got the XL2. Wouldn't it be nice if one of these companies did a Dell-like custom build system? Just pick all the features you want and they'll generate a custom price for you. That would be a dream.

If possible, see if you can get your hands on the different cameras you are considering and see how they look around the time of day you are shooting. I've found that you can read everything there is to know about a camera, and still not really know a damn thing until you try out the camera itself.

Good luck in your search!
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Old January 19th, 2005, 02:33 AM   #10
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I have compiled lists of what add-ons I think I would need for each camera (Including the GL2, VX2100, PD170 & XL2) and the spread on the bottom line investment is quite a lot of money. I'm way over budget on both the PD170 and XL2.

I have made some calls to others who are in the same field shooting under these same conditions and am getting some good feedback. I appreciate yours, Greg & Brent. Thanks!

Keep those thoughts coming, please.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 12:26 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Tyge Floyd : Oh, I see. Hope you get that worked out soon.

Anyone else owned both a GL2 and a PD170 that could give some feedback on motor/zoom noise and the quality of the mic? -->>>

I haven't owned or used a GL2 but motor/zoom noise isn't an issue on the PD170. The included mic is decent but not exceptional.

It seems pretty straightforward if the PD170 and XL2 are out of your budget and the GL2 doesn't perform well enough in low lighting...
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Old January 19th, 2005, 01:28 PM   #12
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*****Anyone else owned both a GL2 and a PD170 that could give some feedback on motor/zoom noise and the quality of the mic?*****



I can confirm the pd170s supplied mic is VERY noisy when zooming, but if you mount it high, its fine. A ME-66 with shock mount on the cold shoe produces amazingly clear sound with no motor noise.

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Old January 19th, 2005, 03:26 PM   #13
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John, the zoom noise is one of the things I'm really worried about. Thanks.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 06:56 AM   #14
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Did they change the mic between the PD150 and the PD170 ? For fun, I mounted an ME66 next to the Sony mic the other day... I knew the Sony mic was bad, but jeez! The difference a mic that doesn't really cost the earth in any way can make is astounding. Personally I shoot loud gigs, so I tend to have an electret mic hooked up (alas via a XLR > minijack converter that sticks out a mile!) and I intend to get a vocal mic such as the SM58 or similar to use alongside this... but if I needed a directional mic, I'd swap the Sony for the Sennheiser in a second.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 07:13 AM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by James Connors : Did they change the mic between the PD150 and the PD170 ? For fun, I mounted an ME66 next to the Sony mic the other day... I knew the Sony mic was bad, but jeez! The difference a mic that doesn't really cost the earth in any way can make is astounding. Personally I shoot loud gigs, so I tend to have an electret mic hooked up (alas via a XLR > minijack converter that sticks out a mile!) and I intend to get a vocal mic such as the SM58 or similar to use alongside this... but if I needed a directional mic, I'd swap the Sony for the Sennheiser in a second. -->>>

ALL camera mics, ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTION, are only good for picking ambience audio. That is to be always used at low levels as a background and always in manual setting. Zoom noises will ruin it.

That should be red, neon light, danger blinking advice all videomakers looking for high quality audio should have in their heads. This advice should be taken seriously.


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