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Old April 4th, 2003, 07:39 PM   #1
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PD150, XL1S and ADVX100

Can someone who has the divine knowledge of these cams tell me which to lust after? I've read a magazine article comparing these and I think I need more info. Pro's and Con's?
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Old April 4th, 2003, 07:51 PM   #2
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I purchased the PD150 for two reasons, the onboard XLR connection and it's renowned low-light ability.

People swear by the XL1s because of it's interchangeable lens system. Not really important for event videography, esp. when the PD150 will accept add on lens.
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Old April 4th, 2003, 08:08 PM   #3
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If you are going to lust over one of them just for lust's sake, you might as well drool over the XL1, as it looks the most impressive.

However, if you actually want to buy one, tell us what kind of video you plan on shooting with it and we can give you some more feedback.

Bottom line, they are all pretty good.
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Old April 4th, 2003, 08:12 PM   #4
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It is unlikely that you will find a single videographer with reasonable experience with all of these cams.

It has been said by others that the XL1S is just not in the performance class of the Sony and Panasonic.

I question whether any industrial videographer (what I classify myself as) needs 24 fps and my opinion of the DVX100, after seeing it used in a 'film' production is that I'd rather use the PD150. That is a personal opinion and you already know that I have a PD150.

I've only had my hands on an early production model of the XL1 and I did not like the response of the camera's lens. And it seems a bit Star War-ish to me. But again, that is a personal opinion and plenty of well-regarded people like the Canon products.

I think you cannot determine what you like until you try them yourself. Too many variables for someone to predict what you will find acceptable and not. One of the risks you run is that you don't have a lot of experience in the day-in and day-out work with a camera of any type. So you may not know to appreciate some of the features and capabilities of the cameras and how they compare and contrast to each other.

The XLS1 is in such a price class that you can also include the lower end full-sized cameras in your comparison.

The truth, I suppose, is you can make money and do good work with any of the three.
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Old April 4th, 2003, 09:16 PM   #5
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I've done a lot of research, but even after reading my reply you are still going to have a lot of questions and be unsure. Here is what I can tell you from someone who doesn't own any of them but will be purchasing soon.

1. The DVX100 has the best audio of the 3 and the wider of the standard lenses. It shoots 24p (film look) if you are going for the independent feature thing. Many people have commented on how "plasticy" it feels and question the build quality. Also, for some odd reason it appears that quite a few people who own one are arrogant and obnoxious. I have no scientific data to prove this, but I haven't really seen this with owners of the other 2 cameras. 8-)

2. The XL1S doesn't really have any knocks except for price and ergonomics. It doesn't have built in XLR jacks or and LCD screen, but both can be added. Expect to pay $500-$1000 more than the other 2 once comparably equipped. Some people comment that it looks more like a professional camera which can be a good or bad thing depending on when and where you are shooting. It is a bit dated and rumors are abound about an XL2 at the end of the year, but those are just rumors. This camera was used for some of the shots you saw from one of the hotels in Baghdad.


3. The Sony PD150 is great in low light and includes XLR inputs. The built in audio is adequate for dialog, but not recommended for music. The camera doesn't do a 30fps progressive mode (frame mode) like the other 2 cameras. Consider this a 60i only camera. I have seen about 5 or so capture comparisons against the DVX100. Of the 5, I thought the PD150 was better in 3. They were the same in 1 and the Panny was better in 1. This is my own opinion only. This camera has been used a lot by the embedded crews in Iraq.

Also, because they have been around longer, there are quite a few more model specific accessories and add-ons for the Canon and Sony.

As far as where I am in the selection process, it's 75% PD150 and 25% (and dropping) DVX-100. I don't want to spend the extra money on the Canon or have a camera with those ergonomics. I'm waiting till after the NAB show to make any final decisions.

Like I said at the beginning, no one can give you a clear and concise answer because there isn't one. It depends on what you plan to do as well as other factors.

Hope this helps a little

Carl
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Old April 5th, 2003, 06:57 AM   #6
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I have shot work on all three of these cameras. I freelance as a shooter, editor and many times I use the clients camera. My personal work is done on an XL1S.

The PD 150 I've used 3 or 4 times, but for no more than a half day shoot. I've edited hundreds of PD150 tapes. The weak spot is the audio. I've had more problems with it's audio than either of the other two. The audio problems range from noise to low levels. It could easily be operator error but it seems wide spread. To those who say they have never had an audio problem, I say I'm glad. However, if there is not a problem, why does the BBC spend so much modifying the audio on all their PD150's?

The DVX100 has the best audio recording of the three. It has the best mic, also. But it has an audio sync problem. The video is delayed. It is worse in some modes (24p) than others. For some users the delay is easy to fix in an NLE. Other users find it a big problem, Myself included. Many clients have me shoot a project and hand them the tape. Clients don't want a tape with problems.

Picture quality from both cameras is excellent. They have subtle differnces, but nothing night and day, like flavors of ice cream. Whose to say chocolate is better than vanilla? If many of your projects actually go to film the 24p has many advantages.

The XL1S is showing it's age. Low light performance is only satisfactory. If you light your scenes this isn't a problem. The audio isn't perfect and you'll need to buy an XLR adapter. More money for an already expensive camera. The audio is the most satisfactory, overall, of the three. The sync delay, when present is around one field (PD150 has no delay). The quality is noise free at normal levels. The on camera mic will record zoom noise and perhaps on occasion motor noise (I've not encountered it though). I use a non stock mic (Audio Technica) and Lightwave accessories to eliminate other noises (more costly accessories).

The picture from the XL1S is different from the others (again it's own flavor). All three cameras have sufficient adjustments to match the others in 60i. Frame modes and 24p are their own beasts. Pick the one that looks best to your (or your clients) and prepare to deal with the deficiencies

They each have advantages and disadvantages. I would avoid trying to pick the best, trying to have to replace it later rather than sooner. All three of these cameras have limited lives. The XL1S is waning. I find it the most satisfactory of the three, but it is definitely showing it's age. If a replacement is not announced by this summer, I'll be shopping for a new camera (probably something announced at next weeks NAB show).

My advice? Don't buy any of the three unless you have an immediate need and renting isn't feasible. NAB should bring some serious contenders (probably from Sony). The XL1S needs too many costly accessories to get it to the top. The Panasonic has too many question marks (audio sync, lines in video in low light etc.). The PD150 is right behind and XL1S in age and needs costly modifications to the audio. If your fixated on one of the three wait a few months. There will be plenty for sale as present owners upgrade.
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Old April 5th, 2003, 01:41 PM   #7
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Two months ago I bought a new VX2000(PAL). Before buying the 2000 I compaired audio S/N (hiss?) in AGC and manual mode with my VX1000...no signifant differences...VX2000 somewhat more audio bandwidth... Could somebody get more specific info (measurements)? Did Sony solve the "problem" in the mean time? I noticed that the headphone outputs have some treble boost w.r.t. the line outputs, maybe accentuating the early problems. Of course, max mic levelsetting(manual) combined with max volume setting near the LCD sound noisy in quite environnements, but the audio system is very sensitive in this case too.
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Old April 5th, 2003, 02:00 PM   #8
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My understanding that the audio deficiencies of the PD150 are caused by the pre amp stage. To the best of by knowledge the BBC continues to have modifications (I believe they bypass Sony's pre amp for a third party one) done to all of its PD150's.

Early VX2000 had an audio hiss problem that Sony solved in later production runs. That problem no longer exists, but people continue to hear rumors and repeat them. I think the audio on the VX 2000 is fine.
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Old April 5th, 2003, 04:07 PM   #9
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Hi Jeff,

The BBC actually modify VX2000's not PD150's. One of the main reasons I heard was due to the ergonomics of having the XLR's at the top of the camera on the PD-150 which they didn't like. So the PD-150's audio is better than the VX2k's but probably neither camera or any in this range really have the audio capabilities that are required hence why the BBC modify them, but to the best of my knowledge as I said they don't modify PD-150's.

Also the Hiss problem was supposedly sorted on the PD-150 as it's the pro version of the camera, sony felt that the VX2000 audio was within spec for a pro-sumer camera and as far as I know has not been modified.

Just wanted to clear that up. :)

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Old April 5th, 2003, 04:51 PM   #10
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Thanks John,

I stand corrected. I've always had a hard time keeping those two cameras apart. They are so similar. Time for me to consult my notes.

It is indeed the VX2000 that is modified by the BBC. They improve mic placement, it's arguable about the ergonomics, and they bypass the preamp altogether and improve the S/N ratio from 45db to over 60db. The company that does the modifications for the BBC is GlenSound. I believe the last cost I saw was around $300 USD. Glen Sound recommends either the Shure FP 24 or Sound Devices MP-1. Your probably looking at $600 to $700 to have the modification done and buy the pre amp. The PD 150 uses the same pre amp and would need the same modification.

I had heard that Sony quietly made modifications to the VX2000 and that newer units exhibit much less hiss than earlier units.
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Old April 8th, 2003, 09:33 PM   #11
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Wow Guys, thanks for the reply...now I guess the gist of waht the most of you are saying is that all these cams have their own strength and weaknesses and I am planning to be concentrating in event videography. Though audio is a strong factor, the picture in uncontrolled lighting situations are the biggest, since I will not always have control of the light nor will be a time I would get a perfect 3-point lighting. The client will definitely want to be in "Shock and Awe" with the picture quality, the sound I can kinda bandaid by using some really nice mics and a sound mixer along with my sound guy. I have not seen weddings filmed in 24p so I guess this feature doesn't really excite me other than the fact I may want to create a movie for personal reasons, but then again I can settle for 60i for that it is the events that will bring home the bacon. :) So if I read your posts correctly, I should be lookign at the Sony PD-150 or the replacement or getting the PD-150 cheaper now that it will have a replacement. :)
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