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Old April 12th, 2005, 03:13 AM   #1
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Why I'm buying an XL2

The topic of "which camera" seems to come up a lot, so I figured I'd share my experience.

First of all, please keep in mind that the DVX is an absolutely stunning camera - it just has two quirks, and they're the two quirks that I really need resolved. So if you are someone who doesn't need the same things I do, then you can probably disregard this altogether. The DVX is a fine camera, and if I were not as picky as I am, there would be no need.

I shoot my own independent films. Scripted, independent films like every other film kid out there, hoping it'll get me somewhere. My DVX does not have native 16:9. This is alright, since I was used to cropping anyway. But the anamorphic lens simply makes the footage look beautiful. Now, the DVX always looked great on a standard-def television, but it never was razor sharp. It made my film students crazy about the color and 24p, but you could still see that it was not entirely sharp. It was, after all, made up of pixels.

The anamorphic lens changed that. And wow, what a drastic change. The anamorphic lens seriously made the footage appear razor-sharp. There was no comparison. On paper, the actual resolution increase is theoretically not that much, but damn, the footage was absolutely stunning. I've been shooting with the anamorphic ever since.

But there's some drawbacks with that. The way I film, I love my shallow depth-of-field. For me, the ability to create it is one of those things that makes your DV not look as DV anymore. It's a necessity to make your movie serious. Not so professional when every damn thing is in focus. Well, then there's the anamorphic lens. This adapter first widens the field of view, making it slightly more difficult to achieve this. But second, you cannot zoom past about 85% if you wish to maintain focus and avoid vignetting and other interesting dilemmas. The DVX lens is already pretty wide - 32-325mm, only 10x zoom. Combine this with the wider field-of-view the anamorphic provides, plus the fact that you can't zoom to the end of that, and you find yourself having a damn hard time getting shallow DOF. And a hard time getting close to anything.

The other problem is that once the anamorphic adapter is on, you then can't add any other filters add-ons like the cine-like manual focus. That's it. It's not threaded. End of story.

I'm also just wanting to experiment with different lenses. I used to be all about "ah, just make your movie with whatever you have," but I'm now wanting to see what else can be done.

That being said, the DVX is still an absolute winner for anyone who does not desire to switch lenses, or for anyone who isn't as picky about depth-of-field and zoom capabilities as I am. I'm very picky about it, but I figured I'd post it here just incase anyone with the "DVX vs. XL2" question happens to be like me.

So... there you have it. I've used both the XL2 and DVX extensively (my filming partner owns one, so does a good friend of mine) and although there's a few differences, there isn't any difference as important or drastic as the lens systems. So for anyone as picky as I am, I recommend you get the XL2 body-only, and then go for the Canon 16x manual lens. (Or any other lens you want - but not the standard 20X L-series unless manual focus and a lack of servo are things that don't matter to you.) So hopefully this helps someone.

I will soon be selling my DVX and purchasing the XL2.

Any comments, questions, or criticisms would definitely be appreciated.
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Old April 12th, 2005, 04:54 AM   #2
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Daniel, seeing as you haven't bought your Xl2 are you going to wait until NAB to see what the HVX is all about? I'm guessing whatever it does have, it will cost more than the Xl2 though.

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Old April 12th, 2005, 08:06 AM   #3
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For sure wait a week. If not look for that post about buying the XL2 from Dell for $3,700. See if that coupoun still works.
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Old April 12th, 2005, 11:16 AM   #4
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The coupon expired, as published, on the 9th.

The current coupon only provides a 15% discount, and it expires on the 13th.
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Old April 12th, 2005, 11:43 AM   #5
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good argument there and i agree....
however i wouldnt go so far as to ditch the camera altogether.. in al i find the DVX far more powerful within its scene settings that the XL2 (her ein Pal land at least) has trouble keeping up with its slider and copious amounts of menus.

DOnt get me wrng teh XL2 IS a good camera, but to be honest, the Leica lens is a far cleaner, sharper and is less prone to optical distrortion such as ugly flares (in fact that flares which are caught on the dvx with the adapter are trully stunning... i havent been able to achieve the same kind of deliberate flare with an XL..)

personally, if i was to be seeking a camera with a removable lens, i would wait for the JVC HDV unit, which has a 1/3 inch bayonet mount for 3rd party lenses..
On top of that, its HDV in true full res 720p with a 1080i playback... which is essentialy how the Z1 upscales its recorded footage anyway .. therell be people disputing that comment, however what im refering to is the upscaling which these cameras need to do to give u HD resolutions..

anyway.. moving on.. persoanlly i feel that canon will be shot down quite fast once teh JVC unit is released.. the Z1, although a good camera in itself, does not offer the colour and image controls of the DVX or the XL... considering it was the first cam available, it was to be expected.. but sony have a strong following so sony campers wont jump ship..

if u really want a camera thats going to shine and be used as you have described.. i would honestly have to say that the JVC would be worth waiting for.. i wouldnt put my money on any other machine until i got my hands on one to at least try the unit..
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Old April 12th, 2005, 11:48 AM   #6
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I recently shot an indie....seven hours of footage with two DVX's and an XL2. During editting, two things became apparent...
1-the automatic focus was left on, at times, with the XL2. The auto focus feature, especially on head shots with a distant background, is absolutely worthless and should be forever banned.
2-the images from the XL2 were quite clearly superior in quality to the DVX's. This wasn't only my opinion, but, comments were made by the DP and the Director.

This is my experience. The mileage you experience may vary.
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Old April 12th, 2005, 01:56 PM   #7
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Aaron - Of course I will wait for NAB to see how this plays out. (My budget doesn't allow me to actually up and buy the XL2 for a few weeks, anyway.) However, me being 18 and not to stretch just to get the remaning money for an XL2, the HVX isn't looking too good. The other thing is, historically with Pana, they release a product at NAB and then make you wait 6 or so months to actually buy it. Too long for me to be without a camera, or for me to wait to have a decent lens :) Plus, while I'm aiming for the festival scene, DVD is still a great way to get your project around, and as the DVD spec is limited to SD anyway, the only place I'll actually be harmed for quality is on the big screen. But even then, footage on today's SD cameras doesn't look as bad when the overall film is sweet and when your framing, lighting, color, and DOF is beautiful. But I will definitely check it out, and hopefully in the near future, I'll be able to buy/rent HD for a project. But for now, I think the XL2, despite it's obsolete-ness after NAB, is good for me. Hell, perhaps it'll go down even further in price!

Peter - I definitely have noticed the advantages of the Leica lens... however, as I originally mentioned, the anamorphic lens is great at taking much of that sharpness away on close-ups (which comprise most of my dialogue shots). I've had similar experiences as you with the XL2's standard auto L-series lens, but awesome experiences with the 16x manual. To be honest, I'm not sure if there's anything actually different with the glass. (Perhaps not fluorite?) But in any case, I've seen a great sharpness increase in the manual lenses. I also do love the scene settings on the DVX. That's one of those things I'll miss dearly, but CAN live without. :)

Bill - As I would be ditching the 20x auto lens for a 16x manual, I would not have any issues with autofocus. But as I do very precise, scripted work, and much less 'run-and-gun' work, I prefer to pull my own focuses anyway.

So yep, I will wait and see what is produced next week, but it's more than likely that even if I fall in love with whatever the HVX ends up being, I won't be able to afford it right now. Heh. Oh well, thanks guys, I appreciate your opinions. I will hold onto the DVX for a few weeks, but I'm not sure what choice I'll really have based on my budget, but we will see!
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Old April 15th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #8
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if ur goin with the xl, and ur doing this kinda work, get urself the EF adapter and afew of the EF lenses ...

believe me.. if u think teh 16x lens is good wait till u throw on a 70-200 f/2.8 usm...

u want depth of field.. well u got it.. ;)
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Old April 17th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #9
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Dude, the HVX is only $5999 (Suggested retail price, so street price will be lower). It's everything the XL2 is (minus exchangeable lens) in SD mode, plus it does DVCPro50 and HD in up to 1080p!!!

What does an XL2 go for nowadays? $4000? Can you scrounge up an extra $1800 for the most badass camera ever?

It's just a suggestion. The XL2 is a great camera that produces beautiful images. I'm sure you'd be happy with it. But if you can leapfrog it and get the HVX, I'd really wait.
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Old April 17th, 2005, 06:14 PM   #10
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Daniel, over on DVXuser there is a sticky thread about things you can do with the DVX to get narrower DOF. Did you try all of those? I am curious because the DVX is #1 on my list right now, but the DIF issue does have me concerned. Also waiting for NAB
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Old April 18th, 2005, 12:13 AM   #11
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Yes, indeed guys, I am EATING MY WORDS! :)

I was not expecting the HDX to be so cheap. Therefore, I will continue using my DVX until the HVX is released in the fall, which is good anyway since I will need time to come up with that money.

Peter - That was my thought, to get the EF converter, since I also have a Canon still cam with a 800mm telephoto lens. But I would use the 16x manual as the "standard" lens. Although now, as you can see, it no longer matters.

John - I have indeed tried everything. The DVX can get a shallow depth of field, but it's the anamorphic lens that is causing much of the problem. Either way, it's a fabulous camera.

So yeah guys. Thanks again for your advice. Good thing I waited for this cam. The XL2 is a great cam, but you just can't touch the resolution of the HVX.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 10:00 PM   #12
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Why not wait for ***?

just wanted to put in my two cents about the dvx / xl2 debate.

i used to think owning my own camera was the way to go, but you can't keep buying the newest camera.

i recently shot a project using the xl2 w/mini35 adapter. it's the best DV i've ever seen, and now my dvx sucks.
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Old April 22nd, 2005, 12:15 PM   #13
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Daniel - keep in mind that if you want to take advantage of the new panny, you'll need either $4k more for a very short amount of HD footage onto two P2 media cards OR plan on getting a Firestore hard drive. Panasonic is even mentioning the ability to record onto iPods (or cheaper alternative). Would I buy an XL2 right now, no way. I am a DVX100a user whos been very happy with my cam. I love the XL2 footage I've seen and I think it may perhaps have an edge over the DVX but I personally don't think it's significant in the grand scheme when comparing the difference from the best SD to true DVPRO HD. That may sound like a stupid comparison but the miniscule price difference between an XL2 and HVX warrant this comparison (they both require some add on items to take advantage, the XL2 with lenses, the HVX with hard drives or media cards). The HVX is truly a revolutionary camera, IMO much more so than the DVX or first XL1. With no footage to make sure the image quality lives up to claim, it's tough to say it's the clear and obvious choice. I certainly wouldn't want to invest in an XL2 right now when the HVX on paper shows unbelieveable potential for quality and expansion and when Canon has yet to respond to HD.
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Old April 22nd, 2005, 03:13 PM   #14
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Most people know I am an avid DVX100-24p supporter and user; check the Sig. My opinion has and remains to be that there is something inherently missing from the XL2; I can't quite place my finger on it; I get this pasty vibe when seeing the footage; maybe it's their 'Gamma'? Maybe it's that 'Fluorite' lens? Maybe it's their 24p?

I don't know. I have been told that the 24p is identical to the DVX; and maybe it is. But something 'visually' has always been missing for me with this camera.

My opinion is that the DVX is a far superior camera in terms of controlling the image; it really caters to an 'indie' filmmakers needs and at this point in time and at this price point of sub $5000.00 cameras; I can see no other options for indiependent filmmaking (Haven't seen the full scope of the HVX yet but something tells me it's going to be a gift from the DV Gods.)

The DVX has been called "Not really film and not really video" but something of a hybrid leaning towards true 16mm; make that S16. The XL2 imagery to me screams VIDEO even at 24p.

The bottom line? It's your decision but CONTENT IS KING anyhow. Swapping a DVX for an XL2 is almost like exchanging a Ford for A Chevy to me (Okay, bad analogy because for me the DVX is a CREW CAB 4 X 4 and the XL2 is a single cab). At this point in the game; is the camera really going to make or break your 'filmmaking'?

Shallow DOF I agree is wonderful and easier to achieve with the Canon Lens options; but it just screams VIDEO to me; and I just can't explain why; maybe it's too sharp? I don't know.

Go with your gut; but remember; CONTENT REIGNS.
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Old April 22nd, 2005, 04:40 PM   #15
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Agree with Hudson 100%, content is King.

I thought I needed to move this thread to the XL2 board because the XL2 is the subject matter, but now I'm not so sure I need to do that.

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