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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old March 26th, 2008, 11:26 PM   #1
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"Updating" XL2

So here is my dilemma. We have a XL2 that we want to "update". We film a lot outdoors and are always carrying the camera around for a long ways so we would like something smaller like a Sony V1U.

So my question is if I switched from a XL2 to a V1U what would I lose and what would I gain?

Would definetly be a big gain for us on the size, and the HD capability. Still can do the same audio and still have the 20X zoom which is needed, the LCD screen is also a "plus" for us. I think for the most part they have the same features; I am just trying to figure out if there is anything I am really losing out on in this deal.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 06:41 PM   #2
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We are actually only interested in something that is smaller than the XL2 yet has the 20X zoom, we will still be filming in SD.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 07:28 AM   #3
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Hey there Russel,

You gotta remember something about the "x" factor used in describing zooms.

A 20x Canon zoom might not be the same focal length (and thus field-of-view) as, example, a 20x zoom on a Sony handycam. What do I mean by that?

For example, the Canon XL2 20X stock lens gives a focal length equivalent in 35mm film to a 42-846mm (when filming in 16:9 aspect ratio, 4:3 is even more telephoto-style, see the XL2 watchdog's lens section for more details, mighty useful info there!). If 1x = 42mm, 20 times that = about 840mm, right? Right! That tells us that the stock lens of the Canon XL2 has practically no wide-angle adjustments (wide angles being usually around 24-35mm), so we XL2 users must either use a wide angle adapter or buy the 3x lens.

Now take the 20x Sony V1U zoom lens. I don't have the info about the V1U's lens, so I'll just speculate some numbers just to prove my point. If that V1U lens is, at 1x, more of a wide angle than Canon's stock lens, and has a 35mm focal length equivalent of, say, 28mm, then 20 times that = 560mm. This means that even if you have a powerful 20x zoom on the V1U, it'll never be able to be as powerful as the XL2 stock lens' (560mm vs 840mm, the difference is quite steep). On the upside, you'd have more wide angle from the V1U when zoomed out, but it doesn't seem to be what you want.

So, IMHO, you should first check the 35mm focal length equivalent of the 20x zoom of the Sony V1U and then compare it with the XL2's stock lens. Usually this info can be found in the instruction manual or around the 'net. I don't think there are other cameras that have as powerful a telephoto zoom as the XL2's, but a DVX100 or the V1U with a quality 2x telephoto adapter screwed in front of either could improve weight & portability a lot without sacrificing too much zoom power.

Just be sure not to buy crappy ones (Crystal Optics and others) from eBay, they are usually of very poor quality, no matter what the seller says (was curious, tried 'em, worst 60 bucks spent on eBay ever). Cheap adapters would sacrifice a lot of SD sharpness, try the more expensive ones, they're worth each buck you shill. I know that Century Optics (owned by Schneider now) make great adapters, but try asking DvInfo's sponsors for more info about the subject, they'll probably give better counsel than I can :-)

Hope I helped you a bit!

Fotonik Films
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Old March 28th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #4
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I found very instructive the information you have provided.

I know this is not the Canon xL1 Watchdog but I would appreciate if you could give similar information when comparing the 16x lens found and on a xL1s and the 20x.

In the past I have been filming figure skating year end show with my xL1s and a 16x lens. I am about to do the samething tomorrow, however, with a xL2 and a 20x lens.

I will be about 20 feet away from the ice. I need to have the capability to zoom in very close some time. When zooming out I need as much wide angle as possible.

Would the 20x lens be better than the 16x lens ?
What about very low light condition ?

The 3x wide angle would only give bigger wide angle. This will not be good when zooming in onto a skater that is very far on the ice? Am I right?

Daniel Paquin
Production ZoOM vidéo
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Old March 28th, 2008, 05:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Daniel Paquin View Post
I know this is not the Canon xL1 Watchdog ...
I beg your pardon? This message board and my sub-sites, the XL1 Watchdog and XL2 Watchdog, are all under the same roof here. You're definitely in the right place.

By the way, I have removed from public view a previous post in this thread which suggested that somehow "HDV is not HD." That's nonsense. Of course HDV is a High Definition format, and I can't believe anyone could possibly debate that -- but for anyone who thinks it isn't, my advice is to find another web site.

The Sony V1U is an excellent choice for anyone upgrading to HD, but the Canon XH A1 should be considered as well. I believe that a person should upgrade within the path of their chosen brand... folks using Sony DV should move into Sony HDV and folks using Canon DV should upgrade into Canon HDV, primarily because the familiarity with the camera systems will already be in place -- plus some degree of backward compatibility with batteries and other accessories. Hope this helps,

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Old March 31st, 2008, 11:58 AM   #6
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Hello Daniel,

sorry I couldn't reply in time for your shoot.

Here's the link to all the info you need :

This is all put together by Chris Hurd, and it has been a very helpful ressource to me ever since I found it 2 years ago (by the way, I never got to thank you properly for this info, Chris, so thank you for all the amazing work you did on the XL2 watchdog!).

Ok, back to your question Daniel, all of the "basic" 16x or 20x Canon lenses have the same minimum focal length (which is around 52-53mm equivalent on 35mm film). A 16x or 20x lens wouldn't make much difference in wide-angle performances, since they are respectively 53mm and 52mm ; the 20x lens would be the best option, but not by a wide margin. It would be the best option if you wanted to zoom in as much as you can though.

to get a good mix of wide-angle and great zoom, you'd have to purchase a zoom-through wide-angle adapter, like the 0.7x Century Optics. It has to be zoom-through because some wide-angle adapters, like the Century Optics 0.6x I got, focus sharply until about halfway through the 20x stock lens and then become all blurry, probably due to different optic formulas and stuff (don't ask me why exactly, I don't know) :-P

And about very low-light conditions, we XL2 users all know it's really not the best option in low-light, but it's not so bad either. One of the solutions might lie in changing the lens ; the 20x stock lens isn't a constant f/1.6 aperture, it's at f/3.5 when fully zoomed. To counter this, getting one of the Canon manual lenses (either the 14x or 16x) helps improve the image a lot when zoomed, but at the price of a shorter zoom, farther minimal focusing distance, no stabilisation and no autofocus. In your case, because it's for shooting a skating event, there might be no solution at all since you can't control lighting, nor can sacrifice autofocus or stabilisation if you're shooting without a tripod.

I hope this helps!

Fotonik Films
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