I own a XL-1s. My problem is that I shoot mostly in low light situations. to compensate I togle to manual I prefer to set the gain to 0db to avoid noise and then work around with the aperture. but when I open the iris 3.8<
i recently spent 1.5hrs at b&h in nyc playing with the demo dv cameras they had set up. i'm presently in the market for a new small rig. i had never had a moment alone w/the xl1s till then. i found so many things i liked about the camera. the menus were very well organized, i liked where my hands fell on the camera body. i even liked the zoom control speed adjustment.
there was only one small issue that prevented me from buying the camera: i could not keep the darn thing in focus!. in low loght and at the tele end of a zoom the autofocus hunted like crazy. even in the middle of zoom shots, one moment in focus, the next out.
so i turned off the autofocus. zoomed into an object. manually focused. then zoomed out. turned on autofocus and the thng would continue to hunt in-out during the focusing.
much of my work is in available light. if i can't count on the focusing mechanism, then the xl1s wasn't the camera for me.
i'm sorry to hear that u may have also bumped up against the camera's limits.
perhaps there are shooters w/more experience w/this camera who could lend their experience to create a workaround for u?
The auto-focus control on the XL1S is actually too sensitve in low light conditions i.e. it is easily confused when presented with two objects of similar size, but at different focus depths (distances). The XL2 is much, much better in the regard, more like the GL2. But better than the GL2. If you have a chance to compare, you'll notice that if you deliberately pan the GL2/XL2 so that the object is no longer centred in the viewfinder it will take much longer for these cameras to automatically refocus on something else. This is a good thing, because it means they hold focus longer.
The XL1S on the other hand will instantly lose auto-focus and look for something else to focus on. Too sensitive. The work around for me was to always make sure the object of interest took up a large portion of the viewfinder and to always keep that object centred. The best case scenario for the XL1S is to use a lot of light with auto-focus, then it will work just fine. If you can't control the lighting and you cannot afford to have any focus hunting issues whatsoever, then you need to use manual focus with a broadcast quality monitor plugged into the camera, because the stock viewfinder really isn't good enough on its own for critical focus.
Hope this helps you to better understand the XL1S.
The PD170 is actually better in low light than the 150. So if you can, get the 170. When I'm shooting where I'm not in control of the lighting I'll put down my XL2 or GL2 and reach for my PD170 every time. The PD170 is the undisputed king of low light aquisition in the 1/3" CCD class, HDV included.
[Martin Vincent]"Is there a link between low light and HDV?"
No. But there is a link between low light and imaging chips that are only 1/3" in area, of which Sony's HDV is part of that equation. To get more light into the CCDs in the 1/3" class you need to make the light gathering pixels on those CCDs bigger. But then you can't put as many pixels on those CCDs for that same reason, therefore the actual image quality isn't as good as a CCD that has a high pixel density. This is how the Sony PD170 works. And that's the tradeoff. High density CCDs make for a better picture but they need more light to do it. The Sony HDV cams like the FX1/Z1U use 1/3" CCDs with a very high pixel density for a great picture, as long as there's enough light to make that great picture happen. It's conceivable that you could have an HDV camera with CCDs larger than 1/3" that would work fine in low light.
If you make the jump to bigger CCDs, say 1/2" or 2/3" then you have much more room to put lots of pixels on the chip AND make them bigger so they can gather more light. This is when you get into true HD cameras that do a great job in low light, but with a corresponding jump in the cost of admission.