Pro Camcorder, too many choices.

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    • #42556

      I am looking to buy a Pro grade camcorder, for independent films. I already own a Canon Optura Xi, which is a canon’s only true prosumer comcorder, and although it is very good, it does not offer everything that I want. So now I am at odds as to which pro camcorder I should buy.
      Hopefully someone here can give me some good advice:

      I am looking at 3 camcorders: The Sony HD, any Sony MiniDV, or the Canon XL-2

      I am lookiong at price points among other things, I want to spend less then

      I like Canon, alot. I hate Sony, as a company, alot. But I don’t know which will be a better buy.

      I need the highest resolution progressive 16:9 video as I can get, although I see HD as being overkill, I do not need HD. I want full manual control, hence why my prosumer camcorder is not good enough. It needs to be heavy, the weight is helpful in terms of free hand shooting without the use of stabalizers, one reason I lean toward the XL2. I want a good film look, with good aperture, etc. Once again the XL2. I want to have the ability to slow down action, the XL2 gives 60i fps, which can (in theory) give you 120 frames extracted info, or 60 frames progressive, when processed. more then enough room for semi slow shots in 24fps.

      What it really comes down to is that the XL2 seems perfect, but I cannot find decent reviews of any of the Sony brands.

      So I leave this up to you guys to give me some advice. I want the control, and image quality of film, but on a DV camcorder.

      and if it helps I am currently using Sony Vegas 6.0 as an editor, in my opinion the best out there (even though Sony owns the rights, it was made by Sonic Foundary).

      Please don’t just say "either is good" Tell me which one you think I SHOULD get and why. And Tell me if I should buy a different brand. I know a lot about filmmaking, techniques, terminology, technology, etc. so don;t glaze over anything, let me know as much as you can. Although all my "research" leans me towards Canon XL2, I want candid opinions, especially form anyone who owns said XL2 and/or Sony (any type).

      Thanks in advance. πŸ˜€

    • #178632

      You didn’t mention Panasonic – The Panasonic DVX100b supposedly has the best 24p, and two 16:9 modes (letterbox, and squeeze) and an option for an anamorphic adapter. With the anamorphic adapter, you get the highest resolution 16:9 because it essentially turns the DVX into a native 16:9 camera.

      The camera and adapter will set you back just about 4K.


    • #178633

      So does the Panasonic have a good lens system?

      I also noticed it is small, probably not much bigger than the GL2, which is honestly too small to be independent of stabalizers. One frustration about all camcorders available to the public, more or less, is that the sizes tend to be, shall we say, "compact" fittingh in with the oh-so-modern views of the small the better. Canons XL2 approach is what I would like to see on most pro level camcorders, but for some reason we don’t. Mind you most of my shots will be done, on tripods, dollies, or cranes, but the added weight helps stabalize.

      My understanding is that the DVX100b also does not use native 16:9, it uses the squeeze or letterbox, both of which lose resolution, the XL2 has 960 x 480 resolution true wide screen. Which is a huge step up from 720 x 480. Why use anamorphic when you can use true resolution πŸ˜€ It is kinda explained here:

      It is details such as this that once again lead me toward Canon XL2 or am I wrong on any of these points?

    • #178634

      Well I just found an extremely awsome article tackling this discussion:

      and it looks as if the Sony HD can go to hell… becaue apparently it really sucks.

      This toss up is between the Panasonic and the Canon and both gain edges on each other in certain places. I find that they are basically tied based on the above article, but I alos note that the above aeticle is biased towards the DVX, as it is a DVX website, the article does a good job being reasonable and fair and unbiased, but having read the entire thing they do tend to shift to the DVX, usually with the interface (no surprise there as that is what they are used to).

      When it comes down to what is important; film look. It seems that the Canon XL2 has the edge, it does a better job with depth of field, it has the highest resolution 16:9. and although the DVX offers these thing vey well, it does lack a few things. Namely that is is designed for 4:3 use. I intend to only use 16:9 and seeing as how the XL2 apparently captures action much better than the other two it will allow me to make better action shots. To anyone else who is looking at this thread, adn at this article it would appear that the article is correct: Choose based on what you intedn to do.

      Both the XL2 and the DVX100B go for the same price, but it seems that the XL2 allows for expansion of equipment, adding lenes etc…

      I think my choice will go where I was leaning: the XL2

    • #178635

      No one has mentioned the PD170, but that’s the one I’m getting for many of the features it has, including the low lux, and XLR ports.

    • #178636

      Howdy, and welcome to the site.

      You asked for advice, and here it is. πŸ˜€

      The XL-2 is a phenomenal camera. Simply put, it will have anything you do need, and a lot of stuff you don’t. It’s as close to a news station ENG camera on our side of the fence as you can ever get.

      But, just because it’s, as Canon puts it, intentionally overengineered doesn’t mean it’s the best camera ever, period.

      Cameras are like shoes. They make certain styles for certain things. With Shoes, you can buy a good all-purpose shoe and use it just about everywhere, but sometimes these shoes cost more, and they’re not as comfortable as the "right" shoe. The same goes for cameras.

      So the first question before you even think about going window shopping in camera land is "what are your needs?" What are you doing? Events? Corporate videos? Independent films? Podcasts/Internet broadcasting? Everything has it’s own need. You said you’re looking at doing independant filmmaking, so we’ll focus on that.

      You also need to ask "What do I really need?" If you only have a total budget of $4000, DO NOT spend it all on a camera. You’re going to need a good tripod, which will cost $600-1000. You’ll want a mic or two, there goes $250. If you’re making films, you’re going to need lighting. There’s another $700. Plus, all the little crap that kills you. Tapes, extension cords office supplies, etc. The dumb little stuff will sink you if you don’t plan for it early on. Don’t forget that you’ll need batteries!

      Even if you’ve already planned for this, and you really can afford to spend $4000 on a camera, will one camera be enough? If you don’t want to do takes all day long, it would make sense to have at least two cameras. I have four, personally. You’re starting out. I think best bet would be to buy two $2000 cameras, and when you’re more experienced and people are watching your films, then make the big step into the $4000+ range on a camera.

      I’ll be honest, the cameras I use are the GL-2 and the VX-2100 (by Sony). Yeah, they’re not huge cameras, but they carry themselves very nicely. Besides, you should be concerned about the image quality, as opposed to how beefy the camera is.

      The VX-2100 has the same size CCD setup as the XL-2. In video quality, it’s very comparable. The GL-2 is also very close, though the CCD setup is slightly smaller, casuing it to work less than perfectly in low light. But again, what are your needs? A filmmaker will use stage lighting, so a low light performer isn’t needed.

      Yeah, the XL-2 is incredible. BUT if I were you, starting out in the field, I’d go with the more economic cameras for now, and let the quality cameras come up as youdevelop your productions.

    • #178637

      You advice is sound advice On a Roll.

      Most of what you said is correct, except for a few points I disagree with.

      I now feel I made myself a little unclear.
      The $4000 is just my camera budget. I already own tripods (I’ll be buying another one soon, which I found for only a mere $100, that is exceptional, and professional), a dolly, I’ve even got a 25 foot wide green screen, I’ll be buying a crane, when I get the camera.

      My intentions are making independent films, good indepenndent films. I beleive this sets my intentions apart from most other independent operation film groups out there as they only intend to do the internet tradition of fan films, for the most part. I DO NOT intend to make a crappy film, like what I mostly see on the interent, that is why I am buying a new camera.

      As I said I already own a Canon Optura Xi, it has served my well in the year and a half I have owned it. But is is not suitable for film making. I do not have the required amount of control, nor do I have the film quality and resolution at 16:9.

      When it comes to making my first film, I have dropped all other hobbies. I feel that I am not just making a stab at it. I’m not just running out there to set a camera down and tell a few friends of mine to do something and say a few lines and then move the camera and shoot the next scene the same way.

      Mind you I have not bought the camerra yet, and it will be one of the last buys before filming begins (one of the last as I do need to get myself aqauinted). Budgetary concerns are a little tight, as they would appear to be, but I still have so much preproduction work to do that I’m not spending any money while doing it: Writing script: $0 Storyboarding: $0, buying all the equipment needed: infinity thousand dollars πŸ˜€ I will be doing some things such as weddings to pay for equipment, but I also have a well paying job, which has plently of room for advancement and pay raises. I also have few true expenses, beyond the occasional bill, I have no need to worry about car payments, for example.

      Anyway, when I first began I had a mindset very similar to what your is, and it is a good mindset I’ve done a few things, and they were fun, as filmmaking is. But in order to make people really want ot watch your film it has to be exceptional. Mind you I do know that a high end camera is not going to do this for me. The script and actors are more important then the camera its shot on. But the camera helps. So do the editing tools. I own my own beautiful copy of Sony Vegas 6.0 with magic bullet and DVD architect. As far as I’m concerned you cannot beat that editor for the price.

      After this long post I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I want to make a GOOD film, not just another film. I want people to see it and be impressed, I want them to want to own a copy. I want it to be markitable, but most of all I want to have fun doing it. I don’t need a nice new shiny camera to do it. But hey who doesn’t want a nice new camera πŸ˜€

      Well thats it for my ramblings if you read this… I don’t know why you did X-D

    • #178638

      Eh, I read everything πŸ˜€

      I very much understand where you’re going, but again, it comes down to what you need.

      Don’t write off the GL-2 or VX-2100 as being "crappy" too quickly. To be painfully blunt, the biggest difference between them and the XL-2 are size and price, both being considerably smaller.

      I’m a Canon man myself. I like the VX-2100 because it works better in low light, which is a constant issue in my field of filming. Other than that, the GL-2 is really a superior camera in several ways. It has seperate L/R audio monitoring (in two places, none the less), better zoom, and a couple other niceties that the 2100 is missing. But, having personally held and used an XL-2, I can honestly say that it’s not $2200 more camera than the GL-2. One of my peers up here uses two GL-2’s and an XL-2 for wedding videography, and seriously, you can’t tell the difference.

      Again, there are things to think about. As a fellow videographer, I don’t want you to rush into this.

      For example, your reason to pick the XL-2 over the DVX 100b was primarily the interchangable lenses of the XL-2. (You also mentioned the "true 16:9" issue, but as far as I remember, the 100b is capable of true 16:9.) While that’s a really cool feature, out of all the XL-2 owners I know, I know only one who uses this feature regularly. Keep in mind that a lens costs around a grand or more unto itself, so you’re going to need to pony up a lot more cash before you can even pop the ol’ lens off that camera to trade it out.

      You also mentioned that you plan to do weddings on the side. Hear me out here, weddings have sort of become my specialty. YOU NEED AT LEAST TWO CAMERAS FOR A WEDDING! One camera at a wedding won’t cut the mustard. Sometimes I set up all four of my cameras and I wish I had more than that. A wedding is a live event, and as such you need to catch every shot and angle live. Having been trained in live video production, I know how hard it can be even in a studio setting with 6 manned cameras and a director. If you show up at a wedding with one camera, you’re going to get chewed up, partially digested, regurgitated, and spit out. Or if that’s too graphic, it’ll just suck! πŸ˜€ Besides that, you’ll actually be a lower quality than the other videographers in the area with multiple cameras, givng your name somewhat of a bad rap.

      I think you feel that you can’t make an exceptionally good film with cameras like the GL-2 or VX-2100. That’s simply not the case. For starters, these are the cameras most widely used by videographers, who produce professional corporate and event videos. They are also used by filmmakers. In fact, in the last year or so, I’ve been watching a lot of film festival results online. More and more, you’re seeing the first and second places going to filmmakers who use these more affordable cameras, because they can buy more cameras, and more cameras is virtually synonymous with more quality. You can’t have enough points of view.

      Plus, look at the film with the largest profit margin of all time: Blair Witch Project. That movie was filmed on a mid-grade Hi-8 camcorder, and it’s still considered one of the cult classics. What sold that movie was an exceptional sound quality and a great storyline that appealed to the thriller crowd. BWP is cinematic proof that you don’t need a quality camera to make a nationally-known film. The GL-2 is miles beyond what they used in that film.

      Again, the XL-2 is an incredible camera, but really, what you’re paying for is mostly extra features. Are you ever going to broadcast live from a news van? If not, that’s one XL-2 feature you can live without, for example.

      Believe me, the XL-2 is a beautiful camera, but honestly, it would be an unwise call, in my opinion. Buy two GL-2’s. Write a smashing film that sinks you a first place prize in a film fest. Use the profits to buy the XL-2. Then you’ll have three great cameras. The honest truth is that for picture and sound quality, the GL-2 and the XL-2 are both about the same. The XL-2 costs more because it’s packed with features that you’ll most likely rarely use. And in buying the XL-2, you limit your abilities. Every big star starts small, and all of that.

      Anyway, whichever your descision, good luck to you! πŸ™‚

      By the way, I own Vegas as well. It is very nice software. I love it for it’s ease. Though if you get the extra $1000, you should look into Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. It has a couple features that Vegas can’t touch, and it’s really powerful. It also works natively with other Adobe software (think Aftereffects and Photoshop) so you can get the most out of other software. Again, it’s like shoes. Vegas is great for some things, and PP2.0 is perfect for some things. It depends on what you’re doing.

    • #178639

      The place where the GL2 hurts me is 16:9 and resolution.

      It uses anamorphic 16:9. which is a loss of resolution straight off, and then the XL2 offers a much higher resolution in 16:9 which is 960 x 576 as apposed to your normal 720×480

      So here is a good question that would make a decision between the GL2 and the XL2:

      Can mini DV hold a 960×576 resoltuion of it that shrink down to a format that would fit on 720×480?

      For me resolution is going to be a big issue, I need the highest reolution possible. Even though it would be shrunk down eventually to fit on a DVD.

      I have to say I am really impressed by the response I got here. Thanks a lot guys, I’m pretty sure I will be getting the XL2, but I am about 6 months out from buying it as I am currently wrapped up in preproduction work. I am glad to know I haev a palce where I can go to discuss these kinds of things and I am overjoyed to see now have a subscription to Vidoe Maker magazine. Thanks for all your input guys! πŸ™‚

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