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Panasonic DVX / DVC Assistant
The 4K DVX200 plus previous Panasonic Pro Line cams: DVX100A, DVC60, DVC30.

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Old April 23rd, 2003, 02:27 PM   #1
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Original XL-1 User is pondering...

I was one of the first owners of an XL-1 and have been happy with it for years (along with my trusty little TRV-900 - talk about convenient for discreet videography - no one knows what I'm up to with that camera). I made some of the first contributions to Chris' XL-1 Watchdog. After the intial "issues" with the XL-1, I just went out and made money with the camera. I am not a full-time producer, but enjoy taking on 2-3 projects per year as time permits.

Well, I'm getting the 4-5 year "itch" to buy something new and wondering if these new cameras are worth making a jump away from the XL-1. I do not use interchangeable lenses with the XL-1 - I never needed to for the corporate/ducumentary work I've done. I am intrigued with the idea of offering my clients a "film" look without having to resort to SLOW plug-ins, etc... in After Effects.

Is it worth making the jump to the DVX-100/PD150/etc... from my XL-1? Are the features and (especially) the image quality in normal interlaced and progressive mode improved enough to warrant the jump? I figure if I sell my XL-1 for around $1800-2000, maybe it's worth it. I've read tons of reviews here and elsewhere, but I'd like to hear some feedback relevant to my siutation... I don't "have to" make the jump, but I'm tempted.... if the newer stuff makes a real difference. BTW, I know it's more than the gear... IMHO I think I do nice, creative work. A new camera will NOT make me a better story teller, but if it will make my productions look nicer to the eye, I will strongly consider making the jump.

Thanks in advance. I look forward to hearing opinions...

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Old April 23rd, 2003, 03:02 PM   #2
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Well, since I don't own a Pro MiniDV camera yet, I think I have a pretty unbiased point of view. I've been going to B&H often to play with the cameras they have on display, since I'll be getting a new one in the next couple of weeks. They have the XL1s, PD-150, and DVX100 all hooked up to NTSC monitors. Having tried out all 3 in the same environment with the same lighting conditions, I can honestly say that the DVX100 in 24pA mode produces a very beautiful image, more so (in my opinion) than the XL1s and the PD-150. The difference was very apparent, to myself and all the people that were looking at the monitor.
I've also read reviews of the audio recordingcapabilities of the DVX100, and they say it has the best audio of the lot.

That said, both the XL1s and the PD-150 produce very good visuals, and have some advantages over the DVX100, including auto-focus (DVX100 can't auto-focus in progressive modes), LANC controller compatibility, and others. Also, the XL1s certainly LOOKS more professional as a camera than the DVX100, and of course it has the whole intrerchangeable lens system which many find invaluable (but you already said you don't use that).

In conclusion, all 3 are great cameras with their pros and cons. However, if what you're interested is in producing the most visually beautiful, film-like image you can, the DVX100 is definitely the winner. Let's put it this way: it's the camera I'm gonna get to produce an indie film this summer. If you have a chance, go try it out at a video store. There's nothing like hands-on.

Hope this helps!
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Old April 23rd, 2003, 10:53 PM   #3
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As a former owner of the original XL1, and a current owner of the DVX100, I can honestly tell you.....flip the switch, make a movie, I mean, make the switch over to the Panny. I am thoroughly satisfied with my purchase, and don't miss anything about the old XL1, although the cam did me well for many years.....
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Old April 23rd, 2003, 11:42 PM   #4
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Hello Stuart!

Well, sometimes you just get the itch...believe me, I know.

If you view the issue from a business perspective you'll have to ask yourself whether the investment will produce more income for you, or preserve your current income stream. Are clients asking for better or different products that you cannot deliver with the XL1?

If you view it from purely a technical itch perspective, it may be a good time to hold your position. We're on the eve of two new subcategories of prosumer cameras. The Panasonic DVX100 (now several months on the market) has garnered many fans, such as Todd, as well as a few critics. It's the first of its generation and you can bet that Sony, JVC and Canon are watching its success (and blemishes) and are perfectly willing and more-than-able to one-up it if market and economics justify the investment. If you're interested in staying with Canon, you have to imagine that the XL2 (a) isn't too far away, and (b) will certainly incorporate many of the DVX100's key features such as variable frame rate and adjustable gamma to be competitive.

Then, of course, you have to consider the prosumer HD products that are on the way, starting with the new JVC in May.

So, at least in my view, that's where things stand at this writing.
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Old April 24th, 2003, 08:05 AM   #5
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The itch never goes away!

Anyway, I started out with a XL-1 in school then moved to
a PD150 and now use the DVX100 exclusively (even though we
still have the sony).

If you are doing mostly interviews then the Panasonic is the
best choice. It's a no-brainer. With any other project there
are special needs where interchangable lenses would come
in handy, but not very often in the corporate video I do.

IMHO the Panasonic is as well built as the XL-1, but not as
tough as the PD-150, which is a rock. There are also a few
dumb things I dislike about the DVX, the first being the
itiotic power supply/battery deal, it's like flimsy wiring on a
christmas tree! The regular batteries don't have half the juice as
the nice Sony LI-Ion ones, but you can get the belt one or the
Anton Bauer adapter if you really need the extra juice.

Things that I love about the DVX:
-The image(of course) is richer than PD-150 even in 60i
and much sharper than XL-1(but can be softened down easily)
*take a look at the frame of the nurse I posted a few days ago*
-The sound...beautiful. Better than PD-150 when using same
mics, not sure about XL-1, never recorded much sound with
-24P. I've gotten several WOWs just because of this feature.
-Wide angle lens. Has less vinetting than Century for PD150.

There is more but you get the point. For the money it is great.
It is no DVCPRO50 or Digibeta killer though.

Will Griffith
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Old April 24th, 2003, 08:32 AM   #6
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I think you and I are in the same boat. I was was looking forward to NAB and hoping for some new models from someone. Zilch. I've got and XL1 and XL1S, what do I do?

Well, I've used the DVX100 and for the documentary, commercial work I do, it is more of a lateral move. I gain some features and lose others. So, would I rather have two cameras that I can match the video image on or a new feature set. I thought long and hard about selling one or both and I'm staying put in anticipation of something new from Sony or Canon.

The new camera would satisfy my desire for a new set of toys. But it would not significantly impact my business. It's wouldn't save me any time or money. The look of the DVX100's video (and it is video) is not so significantly better (or different) that my clients would Oh and Ah all over it. So net result, probably no gain in business or new clients.

But I would lose compatibility and the ability to interchange components and accessories quite easily. What's that worth? If a camera goes down in the middle of a shoot, how is it to mix 24p with frame mode or 60i? Not worth the risk.

Now, if I didn't own a camera and had to buy one or was upgrading from a GL1 or something I'd be looking at the DVX100. It would be my prime contender. It has some drawbacks and limitations, but so does any camera.

So I'm waiting and saving, hoping to soon have three cameras to pick from.
Jeff Donald
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Old April 24th, 2003, 10:09 AM   #7
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Thank you all for some great responses... I think the bottom line is nothing is that dramatic quite yet - and that lots more is coming soon. Again, I have to weigh the urge to buy something new with the reality that it won't change the look I get that much. In fact, I'll have to learn some new tricks with the audio video sync (although that sounds easy enough) and the overall use of 24p. I would imagine that newer NLEs such as Vegas 4.0b address the audio/video sync issue automatically (and I have been seriously contemplating moving away from Premiere which I use more for segment assembly than anything else to Vegas which seems to have some wonderful features - not least of which is stability).

I guess it's time to go and try it out for myself and see how it feels, looks, and records. I did that with the XL-1 - to the point where I finally chose that camera over the Sony VX-1000 back in the late 90s. The XL-1 video looked better than the Sony. Maybe I'll see the DVX-100 results and say the same thing... Too bad Canon wouldn't just change out my XL-1 body free of charge for the XL-1S until something new comes out from them!

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Old April 25th, 2003, 08:15 AM   #8
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Like Ken says the XL2 is (just) over the horizon. If the new XL2 will use all the old XL1 accessories (especially lenses), then sticking with the XL1 could be wise. In the interim, you could expand your stable of lenses which would only better your position when the XL2 is released.

On the other hand if you have projects which demand the DVX, maybe you should make the switch. If the XL2 is really hot (and considering the silence, it may well be) you will still be able to recoup most of your investment by selling the DVX.

Finally, always remember that all too frequently it is the artist behind the lens that makes a camera system sing.
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Old April 27th, 2003, 08:12 PM   #9
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Compared to XL1S PAL?

It appears from the feed back that the Panasonic DVX100 has a better picture (clearer images, better colors etc.) than Canon's XL1S.
But what if you compare it to the XL1S PAL?
Any thoughts?
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Old April 27th, 2003, 09:50 PM   #10
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I just tried out my new DVX-100 after using an Xl-1 since 1999 and so far. . . I am not that impressed.

I only shot my first twenty minutes and did so at 60i but I did not see a marked improvement over my XL-1. I did some test shots of my dirt bike, ridden only about three times since I shot it with my XL-1 I am sad to say, and compared the images to my XL-1, I saw an improvement in the sharpness, but that was about it. The focus was way better, AF mode, than my XL-1 ever was and that is important but I use MF under real conditions so it doesn't matter that much.

I got real close to the front brake rotor where I could look real closely at the grooves in the metal. To this day I am still impressed by how good the XL-1 looks, if a little soft. The DVX was a little better but not a whole lot. The lighting was real similar so I don't think that had much to do with it. Maybe I am expecting too much?

I will add that the ND filter on the DVX has two positions, both highly useful and this is a big improvement over the XL-1. I have heard the audio on this camera is top notch and I accept that it is but I have not tested it myself.

I am not saying the picture is bad, just not a whole lot better than my XL-1.
All test footage featured only moderate contrast. The DV codec is not at its best when looking at say the border between my pickup truck's white body and black bedliner. Footage taken of that in bright sunlight was abysmal but I never tested my XL-1 in a similar manner so I can't compare the two. I don't know the term for the diagonal jumping around of the image but it was very present. As stated, this is probably more a reflection of the DV25 codec than anything else.

Lastly, the build quality appears to be much lower than the XL-1. Did you read the post from the guy who thought it looked like a cheap toy? I agree. The viewfinder casing is a very coarse silver plastic that belongs at Toys R Us. It is no doubt functional enough, but I would say the Xl-1 at least appeared to be built much better.

To summarize, I was expecting a much better 60i image and I don't see it. I guess I need to remember that DV25 has its limitations. I would also add that I have spent a lot of time recently staring at 6 megapixel D-SLR images which of course blow any DV image away. If I hadn't done that, I probably would be much happier than I am right now. If you intend to shoot 60i, don't buy this camera for the massive increase in picture quality over the XL-1, but it for the many other features. FWIW, I bought this camera for 30P but today was a day for A-B comparisons to my XL-1 so I have yet to test it. Customizing settings will hopefully improve things, but out of the box performance is not good enough to make me say "it rocks!"

Greg Matty
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Old April 28th, 2003, 01:42 PM   #11
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I think the camera looks much better in 60i than my XL-1 did, much sharper, (but you must be looking at very high quality monitor or computer image to see just how much sharper the image is than an XL-1.

The extensive image controls also put the XL-1 to shame so you can get much better images in a much larger amount of conditions that the XL-1.

Then, when it comes to progressive, the image is so much better than interlaced. The XL-1 has frame mode, which results in a 33% loss of resolution. The DVX100 gains resolution in progessive mode, meaning the camera are worlds apart in image quality in progressive modes - like the difference between single chip hi-8 and miniDV.
stephen v2
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Old April 28th, 2003, 03:11 PM   #12
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My first post was probably a little harsh and unfortunately, I won't be able to get any more test footage until tomorrow. I will do some more 60i and also try 30P and see how it turns out. I will head to a motorcycle shop that has lots of brand new dirt and street bikes. If you are into bikes, then you know the colors are bright and saturated and so is the riding gear. As mentioned in my previous post, I have a lot of experience with dirt bikes and that makes it easy for me to judge what the image looks like. FWIW, all video is being viewed on my Sony NTSC studio monitor via S-VHS. I play a tape shot with my XL-1 and then play a tape shot with the DVX.

I am pleased you saw such a big difference between your XL-1 and DVX-100 but I hope that doesn't mean mine is flawed in some way. I am sure it is fine and it will take just a little more time getting it set just so.

I know once I get into the audio side of things, I will really appreciate this camera.

Greg Matty
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