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Old October 4th, 2006, 09:44 PM   #1
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Hello all,
I'm extremely new to all this video/filmography stuff. My expertise just passes the disposable 35mm Wal-Mart cameras and has gone so far as to delve into the realm of Fuji FinePix digital cameras!! Yeah, I'm almost a master of the auto feature!

Anyway, I was wanting to get a Canon XL2, I would really like to do some outdoor and wildlife filming. I saw one of these cameras at an outdoor expo and the 20x zoom was really nice. I'm not the sneakiest thing in the woods and something that I could use to zoom in on the critters would really be nice. There's a couple bald eagles a few miles from my place but the sneakiness factor isn't the best and they tend to leave before I can get close enough to get anything more than a small dark speck with a white dot on top. I would also like to do some action type stuff. Not Jet Li or Vin Diesel but something with more movement in it.

I guess I could just quit gabbin' and get to the point. If I were to get the Canon what would I need to have to be able to edit the "movies" I put together? I'm assuming Microsoft Movie Maker would fall a little short??? Or would it work for a newbie like me to at least learn from?

I really like the Canon, it seems like a fairly easy camera to work with and still good enough to learn a lot with and get really good at as I go. Would I do better with a different camera? As I said the 20x lens is really nice and I have been thinking of getting a doubler for when I'm in the nose bleed section.

Any pointers or suggestions as to camera, editing software, novice advice, etc, would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much in advance for your help and all your time.

Les
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Old October 5th, 2006, 06:27 AM   #2
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XL2 is a fine camera - definitely one that you can grow with.

Editing software: The leaders for Windows are arguably Sony Vegas + DVD Production Suite (Vegas, DVD Architect, Sound Forge) and Adobe Production Suite (Premiere Pro, Audition, After Effects, Encore) while for Mac it would be Final Cut Pro. Both Sony and Adobe also offer less comprehensive 'lite' versions, Sony Vegas Movie Studio and Adobe Premiere Elements, that are also good starter packages. Forget Movie Maker - it works for simple cuts editing but you'll run into its limitations within a few days of starting with it <grin>. There are other editing platforms as well, Avid and Canopus Edius come immediately to mind, and there's nothing at all wrong with them but either Sony or Adobe can take you all the way from rank beginner to working professional.

Other advice ... you get a good camera with fine optics but remember you also need a solid support to hold it, especially for those long telephoto shots. No matter how much you see images of a shooter with the camera on his shoulder, hand-holding is the option of last resort and the camera should be on a 'pod when at all possible. Film and video tripods have far more demands put on them than tripods for still cameras and tend to be pricey. A good set of sticks and a proper fluid head designed for video and appropriate for the camera are not cheap - they can easily run up into the kilobuck range all by themselves - and their selection deserves some careful thought.

Final advice: pay a LOT of attention to sound. Audiences forgive flawed images but they won't forgive bad sound. The included on-camera mics just won't cut it in 99% of the circumstances, both because they're usually not that great a mic in the first place and more importantly, the camera position is a lousy place to put a microphone most of the time. Pay a visit to our "Now Hear This" forum and start coming up to speed on audio as well.

HTH
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Old October 6th, 2006, 10:09 PM   #3
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Thank you very much for the reply. I really appreciate it a lot. Just looking around it seemed that Adobe was a little more pricey. Is it worth the money to get the Adobe rather than the Sony?

Are there other options as far as cameras go that would be competetive with the Canon XL2? Or do you think the XL2 would be the better option?

Thanks again for the help. I really appreciate it.

Les
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Old October 6th, 2006, 11:41 PM   #4
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I have an XL2 and like it for the following reasons.

1. The 20X zoom is great.

2. The rocker is smooth as glass and allows supper slow zooms.

3. The optical image stabilizer is great.

4. LOTS of image options. Check out the tutorial on DVcreators.net

5. Looks professional. I have taken mine on vacations, and while just shooting video of flowers or whatever people will approach and ask "Are you making a movie?"

I also have a GL2 and really like it. But with the XL2 having such great features, plus true 16:9 and a 30p and 24p option, I just can't part with it.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 05:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Wynn
Thank you very much for the reply. I really appreciate it a lot. Just looking around it seemed that Adobe was a little more pricey. Is it worth the money to get the Adobe rather than the Sony?

Are there other options as far as cameras go that would be competetive with the Canon XL2? Or do you think the XL2 would be the better option?

Thanks again for the help. I really appreciate it.

Les
Both Sony and Adobe make excellent products and there is a lot of professional, broadcast, and theatrical work being done with both. The best way to decide is to download the free tryouts from their respective websites and play with them a bit, see which one you like best.

Adobe does bundle Photoshop, and in the Premium version also Illustrator, into the production suite while Sony doesn't have any still image editing software in theirs, that accounts for part of the price difference.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 03:04 PM   #6
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Thanks Adam,
I appreciate the comments. The XL2 really sounds like a slick camera, and the one I saw at the expo was really nice.

Thanks again Steve,
I'll fiddle around with them. I have Corel 12 and Paint Shop Pro for some of my still photos and vectored stuff. I guess I would really only need something to tinker with the video and try to make it look like I know what I'm doing when I get it finished.

Thanks a lot for the help. I really appreciate it.

Les
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Old October 7th, 2006, 04:03 PM   #7
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The XL2 is indeed a great choice. I have one and have been blown away by it. I can't compare it to other cameras as this is my first and only prosumer camcorder I've owned. I've used the Sony VX's and the high end Sony PD-150's (I believe that's the name), but that was in college and without a doubt, I think the XL2 reigns supreme as far as those two cameras go. Panasonic offer some realy good cams as well.

One thing you have to ask yourself and really define is what will be its PRIMARY use? Wildlife or films? If films, the XL2 has a lot of great features such as 24p recording. It has amazing quality controls and setting presets for some great looking pictures. It's a very versatile camcorder. It will take time to learn, but it is indeed worth it.

Do you need the interchangable lense? Do you need custom presets? Do you need native 16:9 aspect ratio? Do you need 24p or 24p advanced recording? Do you need 30p? Is it just the 20x zoom lens that matters to you? If it's just the 20x zoom lens, I would suggest GL2. It's half the price and has the same zoom range, it doesn't however have 24p recording, it doesn't have native 16:9 recording and it doesn't have interchangeble lenses and it doesn't have 30p recording.

The GL2 is a great camera as well and I think would fit your wildlife and 'some' fast paced action stuff perfectly. It'll also save you money and you can buy filters and equipment with the rest of the money that you saved instead buying the XL2.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 09:30 PM   #8
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Thank you very much Roger. I really appreciate it.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 12:26 AM   #9
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As mentioned, have a look at the GL2 also. I have one of them also. It's a great camera too, has the 20x zoom, and is much cheaper. A lot of times I'm temped to sell my XL2 and learn to master the GL2 and buy some equipment (mics, boom, light kit, field monitor, software, dolly, etc) with the money. As opposed to having dumped most of my money into a camera (XL2) and not really having any equipment for it.

Also the cheaper price of the GL2 makes me less paranoid about if it gets broken, smashed, stolen, caught on fire, tasered by aliens, tripod falls over, etc and it's much more mobile.

As far as editing software. Microsoft Movie Maker is total junk. Start with one of the entry level name brand editing pakages. On the Mac it would be Final Cut Express, and the PC version would be Adobe Premiere Elements (I think, someone correct if that's wrong). Try to use one that's popular. That way when you have questions, you can come to forums (like this one) and ask question to others who are using the same software. If you buy an unpopular editor, you wont get as much help/feedback. and if you buy a real unpopular one, you won't get any answers.

Another good camera to look at that's between the GL2 and the XL2 as far as features and price is the Panasonic DVX100b. Though the price is more twords the XL2 than the GL2. I don't know what the zoom on it is, but it has a good picture and has 24p and 30p like the XL2, which is good. That will give you a bit of a soft "movie type look" as opposed to the "dry video look" that most cheap camcorders these days have.

The GL2 has what's called "Frame Mode" which mimics 30p, but I don't think is as good. Though with some color correcting and good footage, I've seen some GL2 footage that I could of swore was DVX or XL2 any day.

http://www.myspace.com/bigshotstudios

The music videos were done with a DVX with Mini35 adaper. Look on the "Commercial Reel" at the bottom under the music videos. The insurance commercial was shot with just a GL2. Not bad. It's all angles, lighting and color correction.

Last edited by Adam Bray; October 14th, 2006 at 01:11 AM.
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Old October 16th, 2006, 09:31 PM   #10
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Thanks a lot Adam,
Now all I have to do is figure out all the 24p and 30p stuff and I'll be set!!

I'm starting to think I should just stick with the old RCA VHS Camcorder. At least then I wouldn't have to worry at all about the whole alien thing!

Thanks a ton for all your help. I really appreciate it. I'm going to have to go to school just to figure out how to run the camera!

Les
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