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GL2 vs XL1

Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 2:06pm

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shadowninja1028

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Me and my crew are getting ready to upgrade cameras, which we need really bad, so I was wondering what would be better. Two Canon GL2's or one XL1.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 2:23pm

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Redhawksrymmer

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Definently two GL2. The GL2 (or XM2) is newer and produces better quality. The XL1 is good too and looks cool razz.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 3:33pm

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outsiderlookingin

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I'd go with the XL1, better depth of field, better lens, more accessories, and overall a better camera.

Big thing is the depth of field...that is one of the biggest things that will help make your movies more professional. Also, you have the option of interchangable lenses, which opens you up to the whole world of Canon EF compatible lenses. Also, with two camera, you have to be able to light for two camera at the same time which is difficult and costly to do correctly.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 3:57pm

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Atom

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outsiderlookingin wrote:

I'd go with the XL1, better depth of field, better lens, more accessories, and overall a better camera.

Big thing is the depth of field...that is one of the biggest things that will help make your movies more professional. Also, you have the option of interchangable lenses, which opens you up to the whole world of Canon EF compatible lenses. Also, with two camera, you have to be able to light for two camera at the same time which is difficult and costly to do correctly.
True, but the XL1 is swiftly becoming a dead model, and while it's DoF might be greater, a few tweaks and proper knowledge of the GL2 can lead you to equal if not better results. Accessories don't matter if you don't have the need/money for them. I have a nice wide-angle lens and filter set for my GL2, and that's plenty of accessories for my filmmaking.

Compatible lenses aren't that big a deal for a group of amateurs/teenage filmmakers (at least, in my opinion) because they are extremely costly and not worth it when you consider the frugality and practicality most of us use while filming; there is (most times) a way to get the shot you want with alittle improvisation.

Highlights of the GL2
-LCD flip-screen (a major plus for on-the-go)
-Ultra-portable and compact size
-3CCD Camcorder
-Nice price wink
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 4:11pm

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shadowninja1028

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So what do you think, would I be better off buying one GL2 and spending the rest on props, costumes, and lighting or buying two cameras.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 4:23pm

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Arktic

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I'd say go for one, and then spend the rest of the money on lighting.

The XM2 is a great little camera, which produces brilliant quality images.

But it's pretty pointless recording lots of lovely images if your shots are badly put together - and lighting is far more important than image quality or shallow Depth-of-Field, imho.

Also, why bother getting two cameras? Ok, you'll have one as backup if the other one breaks, but if you take good care of your camera, you shouldn't come into problems. And also, shooting multicamera for a lot of situations is often more problematic than helpfull.

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 4:31pm

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shadowninja1028

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Ok, thanks sounds good to me hopefully I will be able to get it in either the end of Feb. beggining of March
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 5:25pm

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outsiderlookingin

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Honestly, I say go with a Panasonic DVX100...that will give you better images than any of the Canon offerings, plus 24p which will take your game to the next level.

Maybe when you're practicing you don't NEED depth of field and other pro features like that, but if you are serious about your craft then you might want to learn these things now and learn how to use them.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 6:15pm

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Bryan M Block

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That's a tough question. IMO, I've seen TONS of work from a friend that is a professional and often gets to work with more expensive gear, but has done documentaries (several) with a GL1. Although it has some problems, I believe many of them have been addressed in the GL2. Shooting in "frame mode" on the GL cameras gives that 24p "look" anyway (although it is not) and you can always convert footage to 24p after the fact. 24p does NOT automatically = "film look"

Having said that, I agree that the XL1 has the advantages of lens swapping- but lenses are expensive enough as it is- do you you have the budget to take advantage of that? Probably not. DOF is important for aesthetic reasons, but how important is it? You are talking about a camera that indeed IS a dying model and has been replaced.

IMO having two nice cameras opens up a WORLD of editing possibilities that would make your movie look more professional than any real advantage you would have gained with some DOF. First of all you can do less takes with two cameras because you can cover two angles at once. Secondly, you can edit seamlessly because they captured dialogue and action simultaneously. Third, Your action sequences will be more seamless. Fourth, you can send out a 2nd unit to capture footage at the same time you are filming at a different location.
There are other things to consider, but IMO I'd go for the two GL2's.

Lighting:
Lighting is EXTREMELY important- but not in the way that you need tons of expensive lighting gear! You can light things well using some construction work lights from a harware store and some diffusion, reflectors and flags (flags are used to block light) If you know what you are doing- in other words, HIRING a guy that knows how to light would be more important than acquiring tons of lighting GEAR.
Modest "pro" light kits with two smaller lights and stands are also not that expensive. There is an article in the April 2001 issue of DV magazine about "cheap lighting" They built a lightkit from harware store work lights for 150.00$!!! that they considered very usable and gave nice results. See if you can find that issue at a library and read that article!
Or sign up for a free account at DV.com and read it online.

The question is do you want the flexibility of a two camera setup or are you most concerned with buying the absolute BEST camera you possibly can?

I'd go with two cameras, and the picture quality for the GL series is excellent. Good enough for television documentaries that my friend has produced.

B
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 8:41pm

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Squid

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If you can afford it, Panasonic Dvx-100B.

I assume you can't afford it though, since you are listing the Xl1, instead of the Xl2. Between the Gl2 and the Xl1, I would go for the Gl2.

And also, as everyone seems to be stressing, lighting is extremely important. Next to that, never underestimate the boost your films can get from a nice shotgun mic, biggrin
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 8:48pm

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ben3308

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Go GL2. I have one and so does my friend and they offer a wealth of possiblities. If you have the money, I would consider getting one GL2 and(/or?) a Panasonic DVX100a(or DVX100b, whichever cheaper, they have generally the same qualities).

As Bryan said, you simply have a much easier, seamless, and overall better editing process with two cameras. The ability to film at two places at once is, of course, a MAJOR plus.

Whatever you decide, it's up to you. If you plan on doing longer, 20 minute and up movies, I'd say GL2, because you'd be more efficient. For short sketches, as in 5 minutes and under, I'd go XL1(maybe consider XL1s). Aculag uses an XL1s and he mostly does sketch style comedy shorts and they've all come out great. They may not have as much of a "Hollywood" look to them, but they're good nonetheless. Just a little something to consider.

In regard to outsiderlookingin, if you stand back and zoom in on a GL2 you get shallow enough DOF to look professional. There are also 35mm adapters which can accomplish an even more extreme effect. Don't dismiss the GL2 because you think it can't get depth; because, to my knowledge, it can.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 9:23pm

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Arktic

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In regard to outsiderlookingin, if you stand back and zoom in on a GL2 you get shallow enough DOF to look professional.
Actually, you don't.

Moving the camera further away from the subject (without zooming in) will increase the DoF. Zooming in (without moving the camera back) will decrease the DoF. But if you combine the two actions, moving back and zooming in to reframe to the same shot size, they cancel each other out, so the DoF remains the same.

Look at it this way, imagine there was a scale of DoF: moving back ten paces increases the DoF (+10 on the scale). Zooming in on the subject then decreases the DoF (-10); + 10 - 10 = 0, i.e. you don't alter the DoF at all. If you *think* you're altering the DoF, it's because you've actually changed the framing of the shot, i.e. you're zoomed in more than you were before.

DV Info.net wrote:

Move the camera closer for less depth of field, further away for more. But if you zoom the lens at the same time (to maintain a constant subject size), then the depth of field will stay the same. If the Target Size remains the same, by moving the camera all you have done is change perspective.
And because in your camera the target size (the CCD) stays constant, all you've done is alter the lens perspective.

So how do you acchieve shallow depth of field? Well, one option is to buy (or build) a Mini35 style adaptor, and attach it to the camera - search the forums for more information.

Another method is to open up the aperture - the smaller the f-stop number, the shallower the depth of field. This of course will have the adverse effect of letting a lot of light into the camera - but you can easliy rectify this with an ND filter.

Cheers,
Arktic.

Last edited Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 9:25pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 9:24pm

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ssjaaron

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I have an XL1 and I love it personally and I have used GL2 maney times. But I would go with GL2 better quality and what ever everybody said. But the nice thing about XL1 is it has WAY more options (different lenses,more settings, mine has XLR mic plugs)
so Just go with the GL2 wink
-Aaron
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 9:58pm

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ben3308

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Arktic wrote:

Actually, you don't.
Well then the perspective difference is profound enough to appear to give a different DOF. I took my fact from something Sollthar said a while back. I dunno about you, but I'd trust Sollthar's advice before I trust some random website's. Case and point, standing back and zooming in adds almost the same professionalism as a shallow DOF, even if it's not a true DOF change.

Another thing. If the depth doesn't change, then why is a change so apparent in a zolly shot?
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:17pm

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TheRenegade

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ben3308 wrote:

Arktic wrote:

Actually, you don't.
Well then the perspective difference is profound enough to appear to give a different DOF. I took my fact from something Sollthar said a while back. I dunno about you, but I'd trust Sollthar's advice before I trust some random website's.
DV Info is not some random site. The poeple on that site know more about the technical aspects of cameras than anyone on this board most likely. If you ever visited DV Info you would know that it is one of the most renowned camera forums on the internet. If you want shallow depth of field you should check this out.

Last edited Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:21pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:21pm

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Arktic

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I dunno about you, but I'd trust Sollthar's advice before I trust some random website's.
And I trust Sollthar's advice too - but I've also studied the maths and equations involved in this at University, and moving back and zooming in does nothing to alter the DoF; and I trust the physics that prove you wrong over anecdotal evidence, no matter who it's from. Trust me, you learn to love your lens protractor wink

If the depth doesn't change, then why is a change so apparent in a zolly shot?
And a zolly shot demonstrates nothing but a change in perspective - there's no change in DoF there. And a change in perspective looks NOTHING like a change in DoF. You must be confusing what DoF acctually is. I reccomend you read Hendo's Beginer's Guide To Depth of Field.

I'll see if I can get some images online to demonstrate the difference between DoF and perspective.

Cheers,
Arktic.

Last edited Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:23pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:21pm

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shadowninja1028

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Ok, I think I have decided to get at least one GL2 maybe two if we have the money by then. Also does anybody know where I can get one with financing. Cause if there is place where it is cheap and with financing then I could buy it sooner. If not then what is the cheapest you have seen and where. Thanks everyone for the replies.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:25pm

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Alex Reeve

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ben3308 wrote:

Case and point, standing back and zooming in adds almost the same professionalism as a shallow DOF, even if it's not a true DOF change.
Shallow DOF doesn't automatically equal professionalism - Lighting and sound are far more important.

shadowninja1028 I'd go with the GL2 (or DVX) and put any surplus money toward decent microphones and accessories, and then a lighting kit.
Two cameras strikes me as somewhat ostentatious unless you are doing massively complex and expensive action sequences.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:35pm

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Bryan M Block

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DoF should not be your major concern here IMO. I agree with Alex. Lighting and Sound are FAR, FAR more important!
I disagree with Alex about two cameras though.
Two camera setups are not "ostentatious" IMO as they are extrememly useful even in simple dialogue scenes or conversations. You don't need an action movie to use two cameras effectively. Any situation which has two people interacting or that has more than a simple action can be served by a multiple camera setup.
B
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 10:44pm

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Arktic

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That is true, Bryan, but those kind of scenes will need extra planning, greater co-ordination, and better technical ability for the camera men. It's nice having two angles on a scene, but if they're both accidentally focusing on the same person, or if the white ballance is off, or if any number of minor technical cockups occurs, then you're going to have to put in a lot more work.

Personally, though I often have more than one camera available to me, I usually opt for just a single camera and thorough planning - the only exceptions being when we have one-time events such as interviews with celebrities, and so we're pushed for time.

Also, taking into consideration that shadowninja is probably still relatively new to the world of film-making, I'd advise that a single camera would probably be sufficient untill such a time that he and his crew feel that their productions would be significantly enhanced with two cameras, and they have enough experience to make that set up work.

As I say, my choice would be one camera, and a decent lighting rig - then if you have any money left over, save it for the next big project you undertake, and you'll have something to fall back on if you're short of cash and need props etc.

All imho smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 11:10pm

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Bryan M Block

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Arktic wrote:

That is true, Bryan, but those kind of scenes will need extra planning, greater co-ordination, and better technical ability for the camera men. It's nice having two angles on a scene, but if they're both accidentally focusing on the same person, or if the white ballance is off, or if any number of minor technical cockups occurs, then you're going to have to put in a lot more work.

Personally, though I often have more than one camera available to me, I usually opt for just a single camera and thorough planning - the only exceptions being when we have one-time events such as interviews with celebrities, and so we're pushed for time.

Also, taking into consideration that shadowninja is probably still relatively new to the world of film-making, I'd advise that a single camera would probably be sufficient untill such a time that he and his crew feel that their productions would be significantly enhanced with two cameras, and they have enough experience to make that set up work.

As I say, my choice would be one camera, and a decent lighting rig - then if you have any money left over, save it for the next big project you undertake, and you'll have something to fall back on if you're short of cash and need props etc.

All imho smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Of course it is event specific. When I work on full film or commercial video shoots they are almost always single camera shots, but usually we are talking about what ends up being 30-60 second commercial television spots or what are called here "industrials" such as product demonstration videos, instructional videos, and the like and they don;t require the type of interaction that characters give in movies. They are also VERY highly planned out as you said. If I remember correctly the GL series offers double zebras and other features, so white balancing should not be a problem provided the cameras are adjusted to the same source. And as always, you can always use the single camera feed only if your 2nd camera has bad footage. I would recommend using the second camera as an asset rather than relying upon it. In other words, try to cover what you think you would need mostly with Cam I and supplementing with Cam 2. Every single shot does NOT need two cameras, I agree. But the option is such a nice thing to have! It also still allows for a 2nd unit to do work while the 1st unit is also doing work.
It all depends on your needs and your experience as you pointed out. Planning coverage is very important. It's hard for me to judge at what level people are working here. Having a budget to purchase equipment of this caliber seems "serious" to me, but as has been pointed out- at a certain point, it's not about the gear, it's about what you do with it.

I also agree that lghting is extremely important. IMO, I would just buy a single camera and HIRE someone to light your shoot for you that knows what they are doing- but the original question was kind of directed towards an "either / or" question. biggrin

Props and costumes, as well as locations and set dressing are also very important and can really make a difference in the final product and are often skimped on.

B
Posted: Fri, 6th Jan 2006, 11:13pm

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sk8npirate

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Ive seen some mention of the dvx100 and if you can possibly get it, go for it. The dvx100 produces amazing video quality. I have seen some great looking stuff shot with that. If you go to the dvinfo.net forums and search you'll see some great footage shot with it.
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 12:05am

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Gibs

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Arktic wrote:

Moving the camera further away from the subject (without zooming in) will increase the DoF.
This doesn't make sense. If this were true, the camera's DOF would increase when the actor walked away from it. Unless I'm confusing the point of this statement, I don't see any way that simply backing the camera up will increase DOF.

I can also tell you from experience that my Digital8 camera with a 37mm lens can pull off a decent DOF shot when I back up the camera and zoom in on my subject. It is impossible for me to get any kind of DOF without zooming my camera in.

And lastly, I'd have to say that you should only buy one GL2, shadowninja. If you truly want to make your production better, spending time (and money) on the lighting would create better results than having two cameras. If you have lighting, you can really only use one camera effectively anyway. Just because the GL2 is a nice camera does not mean you can simply set it to auto, hit record, and end up with a good picture.
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 12:27am

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iggy88

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Hello,

In light of all that's been said, I thought I'd just toss in my two cents...

I own an XL1 -- It's a wonderful camera; I love working and playing with it.

However, it is a weight. There's a lot of glass in that 16x optical lens. I have often found myself in situations where I wish I had a smaller and lighter Mini DV cam...

Both cams have their advantages; I don't think either cam has a significant disadvantage. Rather, size and weight would be the most considerable factors in my opinion. Granted, the [original] XL1 has a few more variables, but, again, weight (and cost) must be considered as well...
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 12:42am

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Arktic

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Lloyd66 wrote:

Arktic wrote:

Moving the camera further away from the subject (without zooming in) will increase the DoF.
This doesn't make sense. If this were true, the camera's DOF would increase when the actor walked away from it.
No, that's not quite right - you seem to have misunderstood what Depth of Field is about. If you think about it, when the actor walks away from the camera, you are not pulling the focus to keep them in focus. If you had a shot with shallow DoF and the actor walks a long way into the distance, they'll go out of focus.

Here's an example -



That woman is close the the camera, and she is in focus. The shot has a shallow depth of field, as the man only a small distance behind her is not in focus. If she were to walk towards the man, and the camera stays stationary (and we don't change the focus at all), nothing will happen to the DoF; but she will go out of focus the further from the camera she gets.

However, if we were to shift the focus, keeping her in focus all the time, as she backs away from the camera (which is the same as moving the camera further away and focusing on her), then the DoF of the shot would get deeper, and things further behind them both would be sharp and infocus.

That picture again comes from Hendo's excellent Beginer's Guide to Depth of Field. It is a complicated topic, so I advise you read that thoroughly smile

I can also tell you from experience that my Digital8 camera with a 37mm lens can pull off a decent DOF shot when I back up the camera and zoom in on my subject. It is impossible for me to get any kind of DOF without zooming my camera in.
And to repeat, no matter what you think you've experienced, the physics involved unequivocally state that moving back and zooming in will cancel each other out in terms of DoF.

Hope this helps smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 3:36am

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ben3308

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Okay, Arktic, I get what you're saying. What many of us are speaking of is harsh changes in perspective without changing the pan or tilt of the camera. If you compare DOF on shots and the perspective on shots, they are VERY similar, which is what I think has misled many of us (even Sollthar in this case).

What I know is this: If you closely frame a shot where you have two people sitting on a bench about 5-7 feet apart and you have a script in between them, backing up and zooming in(making sure they are framed the same as a closer in shot) will make it look like they are a great deal closer to eachother (one or two feet apart), thus eliminating any notion that anything was between them. As you said, the DOF would still be the same. True, but from there I know my GL2 is still capable of doing focus pulls between the two actors. A 35mm adapter would enhance this, but the GL2's depth works just fine for me.

All-in-all, I guess by changing the perspective and, in a sense, 'flattening' the background by doing so, the subject(s) themselves are accentuated, and, in turn, this makes pulling the focus on them a great deal more apparent. So for me there's really no need for a camera that can do anything more extreme, a GL2 does it well-enough.

Then there's always adapters and post masking for DOF (which really isn't THAT difficult, though most underrate it).

I'm glad I discovered this, now I tihnk I've learned something.
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 4:30am

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hatsoff2halford

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Would anyone recommend the Panasonic PV-GS400? Because I am also torn between that or the GL2. The Panasonic is much cheaper and a few extra lenses can be purchased for it as well. So would anyone recommend it?

-Logan
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 5:50am

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Atom

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hatsoff2halford wrote:

Would anyone recommend the Panasonic PV-GS400? Because I am also torn between that or the GL2. The Panasonic is much cheaper and a few extra lenses can be purchased for it as well. So would anyone recommend it?

-Logan
I love my GL2, so I'm automatically gonna say "Go GL2", but I don't know much about the GS400. Though, I do know that multiple lenses means absolutely nothing as far as quality/production except for "unnecessary cost". If there were two cameras to decide between, I'd also compare the DVX-100a to the GL2, and then decide. Lenses are nothing, the camera quality is. Much cheaper normally is means much -something-er. Just something to look into, although, yeah,

Get the GL2. smile
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 6:14am

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MovieGuy334

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atom wrote:

Though, I do know that multiple lenses means absolutely nothing as far as quality/production except for "unnecessary cost".
Actually, the quality of the lens that you use has a big difference in potential quality. Even though 28 Days Later was shot with an XL1, I'm sure they used a different lense than the provided XL1 lense. Also, as you can see with the 35mm lense adapters for DV cameras, the footage looks much more like film than traditional video.

Of course lighting is extremely important to maximize the potential quality of your camera.

But putting lenses aside (because they do cost a lot of money for good quality glass) you can find decent XL1 cameras on ebay for around $1500-1700 because Canon has their new HD model and the XL2. So you might even be able to get two of them for the same price of two new GL2 cameras.

One more thing of advice. Our school has both GL2s and an XL1. They both have really good quality, but the XL1 has better intial color.

Good Luck,
MovieGuy334
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 3:34pm

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Atom

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MovieGuy334 wrote:

One more thing of advice. Our school has both GL2s and an XL1. They both have really good quality, but the XL1 has better intial color.
Really? How did you come up with that, because as far as I can tell the GL2 has the same (if not better) initial color than the XL1, and, as I have to bring it up again, the XL-1 is a DEAD MODEL. If you're looking into the XL line of Canon cameras, but not the XL2, than the first one to look at is the XL-1s.
Posted: Sat, 7th Jan 2006, 7:11pm

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Gibs

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Arktic wrote:

However, if we were to shift the focus, keeping her in focus all the time, as she backs away from the camera (which is the same as moving the camera further away and focusing on her), then the DoF of the shot would get deeper, and things further behind them both would be sharp and infocus.
Okay, I see what you're saying. I was thinking along the same lines as ben was, in that backing up and zooming in can allow you to pull focus between two actors that would both be in focus if you set the camera up without zooming in at all.
Posted: Sun, 8th Jan 2006, 1:42am

Post 32 of 32

Ouellette

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I have used both the canon xl1 and gl2 extensively. I’ve also used the GL1.

Size and weight

As size goes the gl2 is defiantly easier to use in my opinion. That is if you are looking to use innovative angles, from underneath objects exe. It is much easier to hold sideways, and to angle upward, since there is not the extra length that the xl1 has. With the xl1, most of the time things are made a lot easier by holding this camera on your shoulder, while you can still get really good shots by not doing so, but the weight can make your wrist sore, especially if you have a XLR attachment and a shotgun mic on the camera. I am currently making my entry for the fan film contest using a xl1, and my arm defiantly gets a lot more tired after an hour of shooting, as opposed to using the slim cut gl2 body. The gl2 is definitely better for "artistic shots".

Image and focus

The gl2 does not have the same optical focus ring on the lens as the xl1 does, and you cant really go that crazy with lens attachments to the gl2. That’s where the xl1 comes out above, in the fact that you can go absolutely crazy with lens attachments exe. The xL1 is very customizable. The lenses can be changed out, and filters added exe. While the gl2 is not expandable like the xl1 is, a better image quality can be achieved by shutting off the auto settings and doing things manually. Gets you a nice crisp image. Same is true with the xl1, but the image is not as great as the gl2, since the gl2 is of course a newer cam.

Audio

The audio on both are pretty similar. A good shotgun cam on either can vastly improve the audio quality.
You can also find a XLR audio adapter for both cameras.

Stills
The gl2 takes some really nice stills. I cant comment on the xl1 though as I’ve never taken stills with it.

Other advantages

The gl2 has a built in lcd screen, while the xl1 does not. That can be a pain for someone who is on a budget. As the price goes, there are places where you can find the gl2 for around 1000$ so its definitely the champion of the 2 in regards to overall use. But it all depends on your filming style and what you care about having on your camera. For me I like having quick shots, and light weight portability, and for me its the gl2. Personally I’m getting kind of tired of using the xl1 for my contest entry since its so heavy bear in mind I’m using a shotgun mic and a xlr adapter.

Regards,
Adam