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Eh, I read everything 😀
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! 😀 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! 🙂
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.