Top Five Canon GL2 Accessories
by Chris Hurd, August 2002
If we exclude the neccessary items such as batteries and tripod from this consideration, then here’s what I would call the “Top Five” must-haves for the Canon GL2.
- Canon VL-3 on-board three-watt light
- Canon DM-50 directional stereo microphone
- Canon MA-300 advanced XLR adapter
- Canon WD-58H wide-angle adapter
- Canon ZR-1000 wired remote controller
Canon VL-3 on-board three-watt light.
At the dirt-cheap price of only fifty bucks, you can’t afford not to have this neat little on-board light. Plus it’s only three watts, which won’t blind the person you’re pointing at. This is meant to be a small eye-light, or a fill-light to enhance and highlight facial features. It won’t light up an entire room; you’ll need a stronger on-board light for this purpose such as the ten-watt Canon VL-10i. The VL-3 draws its power from the camera battery through the GL2’s Advanced Accessory Shoe, and a high-capacity BP-945 camera battery will run the GL2 with the VL-3 light for several hours. Since this on-board light isn’t encumbered with a battery of its own, that means the VL-3 weighs next to nothing at all, and you won’t feel any difference in camera weight whatsoever. If the bulb ever goes out, the whole thing is so inexpensive you can just buy another VL-3.
Canon DM-50 directional stereo microphone.
If you want to step up to a better microphone than the one built into the front of GL2 handle, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money, then the DM-50 is an excellent choice. First of all, it’s shock-mounted which dampens any noise coming from the camera’s tape transport or lens zoom motor (all built-in on-camera microphones suffer from this problem). Plus, the pick-up pattern of the DM-50 is a tighter cone than the built-in mic, which itself is somewhat wide. You can also easily switch between a choice of three audio patterns on the DM-50. Since it connects to the GL2 via the Advanced Accessory Shoe, there are no external cables to mess with. The foam wind socks are removeable, and the audio level controls and displays on the GL2 will automatically switch to the DM-50 when you attach it to the shoe. At less than $200, the DM-50 is an affordable way to improve the audio quality of the GL2 without spending money on professional microphones.
Canon MA-300 advanced XLR adapter.
If you’re looking for way to use professional XLR microphones with your GL2, the MA-300 provides a convenient way to mount and connect them. The mic clamp is sized right for a Sennheiser or Audio Technica shotgun microphone, and there’s an unpowered accessory shoe on top of the adapter. With two XLR input jacks, you could use one channel for a clamp-on shotgun mic and the other for a wireless receiver mounted on the accessory shoe. The MA-300 connects to the GL2 via the Advanced Accessory Shoe, so there are fewer cables to deal with, and the adapter includes a video pass-through (consisting of an RCA jack for input and a BNC plufg for output). If you need balanced audio connections for long cable runs, then you might want to consider a different third-party XLR adapter solution, as the MA-300 is intended for unbalanced nearby sources. When it’s connected, the GL2 audio level controls and displays immediately revert to these XLR inputs. Cost is less than $250.
Canon WD-58H wide-angle adapter with hood.
This is the same WD-58 wide angle adapter that Canon introduced a few years ago with the older GL1 in mind, which has proven very popular with other cameras utilizing a 58mm filter thread on their lens front, such as the Sony PD150 and VX2000. The current designation with the “H” in the model number indicates that it’s shipping with a newly designed tulip-shaped clamp-on lens hood, which cuts down on stray light entering the lens (previously you had to add a matte box for this purpose). The lens hood is available separately if you already have a WD-58 and want to get the hood for it. Otherwise, the WD-58H kit is the adapter plus the hood. This wide-angle adapter multiplies the GL2 lens focal length by a factor of 0.7, therefore, instead of an 35mm equivalent focal length of 39.5mm at the wide end of the GL2, the WD-58 changes the wide end to roughly 27.5mm and the telephoto end to 553mm (in terms of 35mm equivalent). It is a zoom-through adapter, giving you the full zoom range of the GL2’s excellent 20x lens. Of course there’s a lot of glass in this thing, so you’ll notice the extra weight of the adapter when you’re shooting handheld. The WD-58H kit runs under $250.
Canon ZR-1000 wired remote controller.
This is the greatest thing since sliced bread for anyone shooting from a tripod. The ZR-1000 clamps onto your tripod pan handle, and the cable plugs into the LANC jack on the GL2, giving you studio-style remote control of zoom, focus, recording, and several other features. The ZR-1000 controller lets you run your camera the right way, without touching it. You can stand comfortably behind the GL2 and dial in a slow zoom. No matter how hard you press the ZR-1000 zoom rocker, the GL2 is only going to go as fast as the speed you set. Or, you can dial in a variable-speed zoom and have the entire zoom speed range at your fingertip. Making a focus change is just as easy. Plus, you can roll tape with a push of a button and pause recording just as easily. There are other functions as well. Looking for a controller substantially more robust than the plastic ZR-1000? Check out the various models from VariZoom Lens Controls.
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