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Old August 25th, 2005, 09:33 PM   #1
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DVX 100A vs. Canon XL2 ,what to buy?

I know the price difference but is the picture of the Canon XL2 that much better than the Panasonic? The Canon has many more adjustments but does it actually produce a better picture in a run and gun situation. How does the 24 p actually compare? I like the long 20X on the Canon but you can move in to your subject if you are video taping meetings or weddings, in nature no.
But is the picture the Canon produces in natural settings hold up under the extreme lighting contrasts of shade and sun for 10 feet, 20 feet, 50 feet from the subjects?

Thanks for any input...

I am trying to make a buying decision...for a wide variety of settings, mostly for documentary work.

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Old August 26th, 2005, 07:14 AM   #2
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Canon has longer lens, but Panny has shorter lens. Besides 10x vs 20x, the Panny starts at a shorter focal length. This makes getting a narrow DOF an issue for some people. But the short focal length helps a lot with indoor interviews and other inside work. I can't believe the Canon has more settings, you should do a bit more research. Panny allows adjustments of just about everything you could imagine, and is famous for its color gamma & picture options.

Panny has better sound circuits. Panny has an LCD, and a nice one. I also like how Panny handles better than Canon for run & gun. I think Canon does better at 16x9, and definitely is better for outdoor nature shots.

You will find lots of DVX info at DVXuser.com, along with a comparison article (slightly biased) between Canon, DVX, and FX-1. Panny (USA) has major rebate going on right now too, buy thru a regular dealer!!!

I shoot in 24p cometimes, but it is a pain too and takes some different techniques. Having the options of 60i, 30p, 24p is nice. In case you have not guessed, I own a DVX and would buy another one (or the new HVX next year).
You are either growing or dying.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 07:44 AM   #3
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This has been debated over and over... I suggest you do a search and take some time to read through the countless pro's and con's of each camera system.

Here are few of my opinions:

The XL2 doesn't have more control than the DVX. And lacks a feature that I feel is crucial to Progressive Scan cameras. Black Balance. Black balance keeps your blacks black. And thus, your color accurate. The XL2 does not have the ability to manually Black Balance. As a DIT I feel that Black Balance is more important than White Balance.

As general comparisons go, I personally feel that the XL2 is over priced. In my opinion, the DVX has a better cost to performance ratio.

In a documentary comparison, the only type of documentary I would choose the XL2 for would be a nature doc where I couldn't get close to the subject. In that situation, the ability to mount a lens with a longer focal length would be beneficial. However, for all other type of documentary work, I would much prefer the smaller easier to handle size of the DVX. In fact, I shot a documentary on HIV/Aids for 95 Theses Entertainment last May on location in Germany, Russia, South Africa, and Jamaica. And I choose to work with 2 DVX100A's. The DVX performed flawlessly. Our subjects were very comfortable and unintimidated by the small camera size.

And while the XL2 has a longer focal length lens, I personally feel that the Canon 20X stock lens is unforgivably soft. The DVX's Leica lens is much sharper to my eye.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:05 AM   #4
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all great responses so far and very unbiased and hopefully this thread wont shift towards that train of thought..

on this matter i have distributed both cameras and to say the DVX was outperforming the XL2 would be an understatement. Now its not all about sales however.. the uses of these cameras came into play with buyers choices. May Canon users jumped ship when teh DVX was released for a number of reasons and even though the 20x zoom is very beneficial, its backfocus and softer image was an issue for alot of people.

Ive used both extensively and decided to stick with the DVX for a number of reasons.
I personally havbe not found any more tweaks on the XL2 compared to the DVX, in fact the DVX has quite afew settings which were overlooked by canon. Mainly being black balance (as mentioned, as well as a myriad of gamma settings.. basically giving you Magic Bullet type looks in the camera. I am yet to see an XL2 give me true accurate skintopnes when compared shots side by side with a DVX. Its either slightly warmer or slightly held with a yellow tint.. now in the past this was a common thing and you could tell what footage was shot on an XL camera jsut by glancing at the footage.. with the DVX, it can take some gettin used to.. i almsot always get people asking me what ENG camera im using for a shot and when i tell them its "only a DVX" theyre usually shocked.

Image quality aside, 16:9 can be had in a variety of ways with the DVX, so dont let that factor alone be the deciding element. Also I am yet to have the ability to find fault the with Leica of the DVX.
I personally feel that the form factor of teh DVX helps with hooking a client when discretion is paramount (weddings events) however with larger projects, the XL2 "looks" the part... kind of..
But to counter that, I "beef up " the camera with lights and recievers and a Firestore and aythign else which fattens the cameras visual appeal.
I hate shoulder mounted cameras. i really do.. since the DVX and Z1 came out ive gotten rid of all my ENG cams and jsut gone handheld. its a sacrifice made but one that can be forgivn simply for cost, maintenance, replacement in case of damage, image quality, sound quality, tweakability.. the list goes on..
ENGs are good, they definately looks the part, but to be honest, these days the only time id use one would be for a broadcast presentation, but even with that, it would need to be DVCPro50 (if working in SD)

but im straggling here..

in all for lightwieght balanced form factor, with a stunning piece of glass, incredible configurations, at a good price go the DVX. If 16:9 is an issue you can always get an anamorphic adapter.
For a lerger, top heavy unit, with native 16:9, incredible OIS (the best OIS on the market IMO) but a slightly less than friendly menu system (its very tedious compared to the DVX, as it has menu under menu as opposed to giving it to you up front. ) go the XL2.

if you really want to know which camera is right for you, hire them and take notes... you WILL know which one is for you when you get your hands on one..
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:24 AM   #5
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Why not a JVC HD100? It is native 16x9 and can shoot 24p DV just like the DVX100 and XL2. It then also has the added bonus of being able to shoot 720x480x60p for very nice 2.5x slow motion for 24p. You can also then shoot 24p HD as a bonus if you ever wanted to which could either be used as...

1. HD
2. Reframing options by zooming into the image and not loosing any pixels for SD.
3. Using a software scaledown to get a higher color precision for keying.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 01:27 PM   #6
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Thanks for taking the time...

Thank you for taking the time to help me make up my mind. When you lay out
the bucks and can't work with each camera because of the rural area that I live in that lacks video super stores, your opinions are invalueable. I am going for the DVX at this time.

Ralph Bowman
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Old August 26th, 2005, 02:39 PM   #7
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As someone who uses both cameras daily I can tell you the XL2 is a much harder camera to use. Most the information posted above is not completely accurate. The issues arrise because the XL2 is much harder to operate and requires a great deal more skill to control the image. Sales figures are moot, the fact that it is cheaper, more available and much easier to use are driving the DVX sales, not that it is better.

Black balance is absolutely controllable in the XL2 thru adjusting the master pedestal, setup level, and by directly pressing/stretching the blacks. It is in fact MORE controllable than on the DVX. The DVX is great at crushing blacks but not very good at stetching them. The DVX comes with great pre-sets already loaded and the best cine-settings for sure. This is at the cost of broadcast illegal colors and particularly flaming reds.

The XL2 image in 16:9 is sharper than the DVX and detail maintained in highlights and shadows is better than the DVX but, as noted above the viewfinder is terrible.

The longer lens of the XL2 is not just for nature, it is great for creating a shallow DOF in any situation, it also has slightly less chromatic aberration than the DVX stock lens.

I find the sound on both cameras excellent, the XL2 seems slightly hotter but clarity is equal.

As for me, my camera of choice depends on the job. If I have a jib or steadicam shot I usually use the DVX. If I need a quick setup, I use the DVX. If I am doing something for TV and have set-up time, I use the XL2, etc. etc. etc. Actually I often cut the 2 cameras together with no problems. They both are excellent tools, there is just no balance in the force when it comes to real world use, the DVX just has too many fanboys! As to your original question, I think the DVX would be a better choice for you, it is easier to set-up and it is a camera that can be easy for a newbie to use but can grow with you as you get better.

ash =o)

Check out the XL2 tour video at the top of this page for a simple run-thru of the camera: http://www.dvcreators.net/
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Old August 26th, 2005, 03:49 PM   #8
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An interesting note about comments that say the Leica is a sharper lens than the Canon 20x... and then go on to add the comment "If you want to shoot 16:9 you can just add an anamorphic"

Adam Wilt writes -

"Anamorphics have some drawbacks. Attached to the front of the camera's existing lens, these adapters add weight and bulk. They need to be carefully aligned so that the cylindrical element is perfectly vertical.
As with many lens attachments, they can soften the image somewhat. They also have different horizontal and vertical focal points; with shallow depth of field, it's often possible to focus the lens on horizontal or vertical detail, but not both simultaneously. Careful design can minimize the discrepancy for a given focal distance, but generally speaking, one must use small apertures and limited ranges of zoom and focus to get sharp pictures from anamorphics.
The limitations make these lenses especially problematic in low-light and telephoto situations. Still, if you can work within the adapter's limits, anamorphics are the next best thing to 16:9-capable chips."
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Old August 26th, 2005, 04:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ralph Bowman
When you lay out the bucks and can't work with each camera because of the rural area that I live in that lacks video super stores
Your profile indicates that you're in Grant's Pass Oregon. Are you aware the DVinfo sponsor Zotz Digital is also located there? They carry the XL-2, DVX-100a and Sony HVR-Z1, among other cameras....

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Old August 26th, 2005, 10:09 PM   #10
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I know Brian at Zotz

Thanks. I know Brian. He has X2's for demo but no DVX at this time. He runs a terrific company.
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Old August 27th, 2005, 05:47 PM   #11
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You are incorrect. Black balance is a completely different control than Pedestal and Setup Level. Black balance is a "flush" of the chips. As a CCD is operated, it builds up heat. That heat is read as a "charge". And if the CCD remains hot without proper cooling, that residual charge is read as light. That causes the blacks and often times the entire color of the image to shift. Usually it manifests itself as a green tinge. But sometimes it can be an even more objectionable shift. Black balance works by flushing the CCD's of all charge and resetting the output levels to compensate for heat build up. This insures not only accurate blacks, but also accurate color rendition. Depending on the camera and operating conditions, the CCD's can begin to show signs of shifting within a few hours. Naturally extreme heat, cold, or long operating times are going to be most likely to be the conditions that will affect the black balancing of the CCD's.

Without the ability to perform this operation, a production could be shut down for hours while waiting for the camera to cool. I've experienced this with many cameras. From MiniDV to HD, Black Balance is a crucial function that is absolutely mandatory for true blacks and accurate color rendition.

I agree that the DVX is more sensitive to Reds. But on what basis do you make your claim that the DVX's presets produce "illegal colors"? Furthermore, is not the point of control to modify the image to fit within whatever level of color or guidelines required/desired. Certainly you don't actually use the nothing but the presets. The presets are merely starting points. I don't know any DVX or XL2 owners that have ever shot anything with the factory presets.

It has been my experience that the DVX can stretch the black levels just as easily and just as wide as the XL2.

I also submit that it is more appropriately stated that the XL2 produces a superior "native 16/9" picture than the DVX's electronic anamorphic or anamoprhic lens configuration. Because when comparing the DVX's native 4/3 and letterboxed 16/9 to the both the XL2's native 16/9 and scanned 4/3, the DVX's image does produce a sharper picture. Of course, both cameras’ DETAIL settings can be manipulated to achieve the operators desired sharpness. However, the Leica lens undoubtedly resolves sharper than the Canon stock 20X lens.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 05:53 AM   #12
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From the films, comparisons I saw between the DVX100 and the XL2, I thought actually the picture of the Canon was more sharp...
But I haven't got any of the two, just based on some comparison movies I saw.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 07:59 PM   #13
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I have never had a production shut down to let the CCDs cool. The 2/3" CCD cams have black balance because it can indeed be a problem but I have yet to have a 1/3" CCD cam ever need a BB.

The vibrant colors (particularly red) of the DVX are not broadcast legal in most cases. This was also an issue with the XL1s. This is not really a problem for most people, it become more noticeable if you deliver a project that gets dumped to 3/4" repeatedly, like a local commercial.

You can go around all day, it is a matter of preference but most people judge the XL2 based on sub-par operation.

ash =o)
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Old September 4th, 2005, 10:29 PM   #14
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I have to chime in and say I haven't had a problem with the blacks being off in my footage and I've used my XL2 for up to 9 hours straight (using my CH-910 W/dual BP-945's of course) with no "cool off" period as you speak of.
Maybe this is a problem with other camcorders? If it is a problem with the XL2 I haven't heard anything about it in any of the threads here or anywhere else so maybe that's a good thing.
It doesn't sound like a particularly fun thing to deal with.
I have to say, however, this sounds like a great function to Panasonic's credit. But then we're talking about the people who bought us the Varicam.
Some of that tech trickles down to its lesser siblings it appears.
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