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Camera Purchase Advice..XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?

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MichaelCamera Purchase Advice..XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 21, 2005 at 6:11:43 am

Hi there I am new to Videography entirely & new to this forum, wondering if I could get some advise...

I am starting to do wedding videography and am looking to buy 3+ cameras and accessories in the next week or so, I also plan to start an INDE film on the side in the future. I have been looking at the XL2 very closley and do like the look and feel of the camera, and the fact that I can use my Canon Photographic lenses is a plus. However there are so many choices right now, a friend has the Sony FX1 HD cam and swears by its results, but I looked at it at fry's and it just feels like a toy compared to the XL2; is the Z1U any different? Am I being pursuaded by the HD hype with Sony? Another freind has the Panasonic Dvx100a and does proffesional footage with it?

My wife is also going to use a camera, and she is quite petite so I was wondering if I did go with the XL2, would it be ok for her to use the GL2? How would the final footage look?

(Another question for anyone doing weddings - what type of equipment to buy suitable for the occation? eg. lights? Stabilizers? lenses/filters etc...?)

FYI - Using Macs (g4's); Final Cut Pro HD; DVD Studio Pro; Shake; Adobe After Effects 6

I know its a handful of a question, thanks!

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Michael MunkittrickRe: Camera Purchase Advice..XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 21, 2005 at 6:39:10 am

I’ll do my very best to offer my opinion since I’m still awake and my head is reasonably clear of medication at present.

First, if your intention is to shoot three cameras within the same space where the footage should be able to intercut without differentiation between the different pieces, the best route is always to use the identical camera with the identical settings and the identical shooting styles. Obviously, unless you’re going to operate all three yourself, the latter will be rather hard to accomplish.

Now, with that said, there are significant benefits to having different cameras for different purposes. While I haven’t shot a wedding in a long time, I’d gather that the premise of getting a pretty diverse selection of shots is still a very good selling point, and even though it’s possible with a single camera, three heads are better than one. The same goes for versatility with respect to your camera choices. A XL-2 is a very good camera, but the footage does not look identical to that of a GL-2, actually not even close anymore. Also, the provided options now available with the new XL-2 are too tempting to use in a lot of situations leaving the GL-2 out in the cold for many of your editing ideas. Now, if an XL-1s was your counterpart, the difference, while still noticeable isn’t quite as immediately obvious as it is with the newer, and far more crisp, fast and clean XL-2.

As a self-professed Sony-Kook, I’m helpless to keep from providing you with the fact that almost any Sony cam can intercut at least reasonably well with any other Sony camera because of their trueness of color across the entire line. The variable with the Sony cameras is the sharpness of focus, manual control and easy of use. A VX-2100 will be a great camera for wedding capture, but the lack of lens choice might be a pain when you get to the point where you wish to shoot your personal movie project, although I’m inclined to mention that more indie films have been shot with Sony cameras than any other option by far, even combined.

Finally, the best bet for any professional service provider is ALWAYS going to be to try it on for size, fit and feel. You might find that the XL-2 is a bit too awkward, or that the Sony doesn’t offer enough creative options for your specific needs. You’d also sell yourself short by not looking into the Panasonic offering as well. While it’s a noted fact that I don’t like their cameras all that much, the last few times I have been in a position to use them, I’ve had few, if any complaints…except those motivated by personal choices. It’s in your best interest to go to a dealer, even if it’s a pretty good drive just to sit and feel the cameras in your hands. Looking back, I chose my first VX-1000 because it was THE digital camera, but I could have just as easily have been swayed to the Canon product if I had actually had them side by side in front of my…and had I not been writing for Sony back in the day…and had I not been actually given my second camera based on my media coverage with its use. Give ‘em all a good once over and make your decision based on what you see and feel. Nothing else will ever convince you and nothing else should.

Michael Munkittrick
Managing Creative Director
Spiral Design Studios/DieselVFX

Forum COWmunity leader for:
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RedmontageRe: Decisons Decisions....XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 28, 2005 at 6:09:45 pm

First off .. Great advice from [Michael Munkittrick].... his writing skills still speak candidly.

I've been researching many of the cameras you've mentioned. One thing I see is the GL2 may not be in the same class as the others, and I'd drop that one first from the lineup. Unfortunately, as forementioned, the NAB show will ADD some cameras back into your choices and my guess is you'll be really tempted at that time. JVC's HD PRO 100 is rumored as a breakthrough for the prosumer market (in fact, their HD10 is making indies and HD commercials now, but is not as good in low light events).

See Samples at

A big question is what kind of films do you want to make?? Action packed scenes or more static dialog??? All that said, I believe Sony's FX1 is a camera people will say you can't go wrong with for the image quality/price point and a good addition to any arsenal.

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MichaelRe: Decisons Decisions....XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 29, 2005 at 6:33:32 am

wow, FX1 really; except for the awsome lcd screen I have heard nothing but negatives about this camera and to put it off my list. What was currently still on my list and is swayable considering I havent bought yet, is Canon's XL2 & the Panasonic Dvx100a.

I like the canon for its Boadcast feel and flexability, I don't however like the weight/size considering all situations or lenght of time filming. I also don't care for the LCD viewfinder thing, its cool but its hard to see where your focused at, so obviously If I got the XL2 I would want to change the viewfinder to the Pro Monochrome viewfinder, and get a 5" color LCD mountable on the top. This would cost more money & add more weight. But then again, the positives like the fact that it really does attract attention 'like clients', and its flexability for example If I also do photography I can use the same lenses is great!

I tried out the Panasonic the other day, I did like it for its weight and size, I also liked its focus ring. Yet I was not real impressed by the LCD screen (better than the LX2's stock situation, but not better than the FX1) and I was also not impressed or attracted by the camera itself, which is and isn't so important?

The FX1 seems like a great camera on the outside and at one point was my first choice because it looks cool, has a great LCD system and shoots in HD, but with closer look it seems like more of a toy, and to get the pro features I would have to step up to the Z1, unfortunetly that dosen't solve issues like not being able to shoot in 24p if I desired, the worst zoom/focus ring on a camera (sorry I am very annoyed that you have to switch your zoom style and can't just use the ring/or buttons at the same time) and not to mention I really can't use HD at the moment for distribution anyways.

So yeah, I am waiting for NAB as suggested to see what will be available; if the LX2 had HD added to its already powerful system it would be a nobrainer, but clearly there's no "it" camera dominating the market right now.

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redmontageRe: Decisons Decisions....XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 29, 2005 at 7:57:39 am

You'll find more than a few fans of the Z1/FX1 at the HDV forum. And my main point was that you can't find a camera producing a better image for $3200+. The users have also found workarounds for the things you mentioned. Look at it this way....the proof is in the output.

Take three cameras the Z1, XL2 and DVX100. Shoot these same scenes with each one (birds at the lake, a model walking down the aisle, a couple talking over an Italian dinner outdoors at a cafe with tons of colorful food). Download and process the footage to make them the best they can absolutely be. Display them on an monitor that is also HD compatible.

My guess is the Sony would be the one that gets the "wow" effect for clarity and impact. So much so that companies with F900 cameras costing 60K to 100K are more than a little depressed by it all.

Now if superior output isn't your goal, then by all means pass on the Sony. I know the feel of the alloy case, etc. are less substantial than say an XL2. But also realize there is no such thing as a perfect camera....only the right tool for the job....and IMHO the FX1/Z1 does many jobs very well.

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MichaelRe: Decisons Decisions....XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 30, 2005 at 4:31:27 pm

Actually I have seen footage of the FX1, several different times infact, and I always said to myself...what's wrong with that footage? I guess some people see this and some choose not to, in anycase I did. If you notice there is a stong fluttering or shaking of the footage. I asked a pro about this and they said "yes, I see it too, it looks awful", I continued to ask why the XL2 looked so much better in 60i mode if the sony is also running in 60i, the reply was "well, that's just it, the problem is that the sony isn't running at 60i, its running at 30 or 45i, so it doesn't even do a good job at interlased video".

So yes output is a most serious consern, and I think the sony looks like crap in comparison, which is unfortunate because I do like the look & design (& weight) of the camera, esspecially the lcd screen set-up.

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RedmontageRe: Decisons Decisions....XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 31, 2005 at 3:55:13 am

Do you mind if I post this on the HDV forum? Some of them have made comparisons betweent the two cameras as well...

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MichaelRe: Decisons Decisions....XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 31, 2005 at 6:14:04 am

Go right ahead, I'd love to hear the views that they can share!

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RedmontageRe: Decisons Decisions....XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Apr 2, 2005 at 1:43:00 am

Most think that such a bad diagnosis is in error. "Perhaps an cameraman unexperienced with the Sony" or "running it in CF 24 mode", which does look bad. At any rate, you can hop over to the HDV Forum if you truly want all the information this.

I'ver posted it as "Sony FX1/Z1 interlace issue" in the HDV forum.

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Peter DeCrescenzoRe: Camera Purchase Advice..XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 23, 2005 at 5:24:31 am

Michael: In addition to Michael M.'s excellent advice:

[Michael] "... I am starting to do wedding videography and am looking to buy 3+ cameras and accessories in the next week or so ..."

If you need to start shooting immediately, go for it! However, if you can wait a few weeks, you might want to wait until the NAB Expo beginning April 16th:

It's likely that several completely new or revised "prosumer" camcorders will be announced at NAB. Some may ship immediately, and others will ship weeks or months later. If you can wait until the middle of next month, you'll have a better idea what might be most appropriate for your application, and how long you're willing to wait.

But, as I said, if you need it now, buy or rent it now!

All the best,

- Peter

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craig mossRe: Camera Purchase Advice..XL2, GL2, FX1, Z1U, DVX100A?
by on Mar 25, 2005 at 5:16:39 pm

I think you should read some articles on HDV. Including the forum on the cow. That's the first thing you need to decide. If you do decide to stay with DV, then I would consider the pd170/vx2100 over your other choices since they are excellent in low light situations. All it takes is one important shot during an event for this to matter. On the other hand, having canon lenses for a film shoot where you can set up each shot would be a plus. You might consider buying 3 matching cams for your business and renting the best you can afford for your film.

OSX 10.2.3; Quicksilver Dual 1 gig; FCP 3.0.4; Sony camcorder vx2000; write professionally for a variety of media

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