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Full Version: XL!S vs. DVX100 vs. Sepuku?
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I bought a Canon XL1s last week. You know, on a drunken whim. I love the thing, mostly its 16x zoom and 30p frames mode (which has got a gritty 16mm look to it... perfect for my late night horror shit... ahem, scripts).

Last year, while going on a DV binge, I rented just about everything out there to complete a whimsical baseball movie. Somewhere in that murky period, I rented a Panasonic DVX100... and I tasted the forbidden fruit: 24p. The weird progressive scan mode that somehow invokes cinematic voo doo...

My dilemma: I love both women... ahem, cameras.

Seriously, with the Canon I feel like I'm in control... setting the gain, the exposure, the shutter speed... it's got a lot of candy built into it. And I'm one of those that has faith in pixel-shift technology... it glows, and the XL1S look is somehow beautiful, despite half the pixels of the Sony and Panny cams.

The DVX100 shoots film. I don't give a shit for either video or film afficionadoes. That 24p mode is fucking film. Slick and sheer and magic. Even played back on a NTSC television, it looks like it has been telecined.

But the DVX100, starting with the lens, seem somehow less womanly than the Canon. Too damn automatic.

I like to be able to manipulate my image. Hands-on. But the film look is black magic... it knows my soul.

So... for anybody else has been lured by the sirens of mini-dv, the eternal question:

Canon XL-1s or Panasonic DVX100?

I still have a few weeks to return my Canon.
I'm using the XL1s and I like it alot. I do like being able to control the exposures and change lenses, etc. I have not tried any of the other cameras, but they were using the Panasonic cameras yesterday on the shoot I was on. I watched what they were getting on the monitors and I thought that it looked great. They did have professional lighting and that probably helped a lot. Either way, they are cool cameras and the way I see it, as long as you can tell the story and make it look good, then that's all that matters.
I love my XL1s. Check out this pic from my Vegas trip. This was shot with the XL1s at 2:00 am - middle of the night.

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I have heard a lot of people complain that video cams like the XL1s always look grainy and are never a clean shot. I show them this.

Great camera.

Dog and Bill, do you use the frame movie mode while shooting your movies? Do you have any trouble editing that on your computer (I had heard rumors...)?

I did a test last night, with footage from both cameras... and I like the XL1s alot. It is grainy in low light, compared with the Panasonic at least (which has almost twice as more effective pixels)... but it's got a nice breezy look to it. The 30p mode makes the footage look like a BBC documentary, in a good way.

I'm sure if I had lights available, I could match the XL1s to the Panasonic... but the kicker is that the Panasonic is getting this slick image without any work at all. A single lightbulb in a basement.

Thanks for the help... I'm not as close to opting for sepuku as I was last night. I'm getting ready to flip a coin.
I am still learning the camera and have yet to try the movie mode. What have you heard? As for the panasonic, it sounds like it would actually work really well with the stuff that I am doing, but can you change lenses? Not that I can afford another camera at this time. I still really like the XL1s, but it's going to be like everything in modern technology these days, something new and better is going to pop up, no matter what you purchase.
I bought a cannon XL15 from ebay about a month ago.(It's worth about 600 but paid only 150 for it) It love this thing. It's the best thing that I could have ever bought. It helped me make my shorts and a music video so far. I say go and search online for the best types of cameras at cheap prices.
You only paid $150 for it? Holy cow!!!!
Hey VV, I use frame movie for my stuff almost exclusively, and I have NO problems in the editing bay. Having not used the DVX, I can only talk about the XL, but I can say that the images you'll get from either is dependent on the lighting and the lens you use. If you get the image you're looking for with the DVX, then I say use it, but if you have a lot of setups with a lot of variance in your shots, go with the XL. By variance, I mean if you need to shoot day and night, interior and exterior, fast motion, slow motion, all of that, the XL is going to give you more control over all of your X factors.

That, and if you need even more control, you can just rent a set of lenses and go to town. If you go this route, I would suggest at least getting a manual focus lens. While the servos in the XL are pretty good, you can't get a nice rack focus without doing it yourself.
Bill - I had read last year that the frame mode is not compatible with at least Premiere... but having tried it out recently, I couldn't see any problems with it.

But you should try movie mode on the Canon; it's got a great look at 1/60 and 1/30... I'm assuming that's how it's done in Hollywood, using the progressive mode and boosting the gain a little (otherwise the image is a little murky).

As for the DVX100, you cannot change lenses on it... It's got a 10x zoom (compared to the XL1S's 16X), although there's a telephoto adapter available, as well as a 35mm 16:9 adapter, which I think goes up to 72mm. The Panasonic lens gets wider than the 16x.

I've heard solid things about that manual Canon lens though... it's as professional as it gets, while sacrificing the photon-cannon appearance of the XL1s...

Eenie meenie minie moe.

Andrew Sweeney:
Hey VV, I use frame movie for my stuff almost exclusively, and I have NO problems in the editing bay.

What do you edit on? From what I understood, 30p is jerky compared to 60i (normal video) when transfering to Premiere or Final Cut, but that could be the ravings of a finicky pro.

But I haven't had any trouble with movie mode in Premiere... it is somehow more awkward than regular video, but exports to tape the same.
For the most part, I edit on Premiere. (2 years running, no difficulties) I've also cut a little bit on Avid Xpress DV and I didn't see any problems there, aside from the Avid learning curve.
DP Jessica Gallant recently shot a feature in TX with the DVX100 and she was gracious enough to post the follow review over on my site.


We wrapped production YESTERDAY on "Tom's Wife" on the 21st, so it's the first feature I've shot on miniDV using the AG-DVX100. And I did shoot a short with this camera a couple of months ago.

I've shot features using it's main competitors before - the Canon XL-1 ("An Initmate Friendship"Wink, the Sony PD150 ("Monkey Love"Wink, the Sony DSR250 ("It's a Secret"Wink and the JVC GY-DV500 ("Life on the Bridge", a feature length documentary).

The other six features I've shot have been on film or 24p HiDef.

Our camera package consisted of the AG-DVX100, the Century Optics fisheye adapter, the .6X wide angle adapter and the 1.6X telephoto adapter; mattebox; follow focus; and a set of ND and Soft F/X filters; a Sachtler fluid head; standard sticks, baby sticks and a hi hat; and an 8" Sony field production monitor.

After I set up a sepia look on the the camera (courtesy of blue paint chips I picked up at a hardware store and adjusting the camera's internal menu), it was very easy to forget we were shooting on miniDV. It seemed more like we were shooting on something between S8 and S16mm with a color video tap than a miniDV camera.

As per production's request, we did not run audio back into the camera and recorded audio seperately onto DAT and relied on a slate for syncing in post.

The camera is very A-Minima-ish and easy to set up and rig in tight locations, which is good because the century farmhouse we were shooting in had abnormally small rooms. Talent and crew responded to it as if it were a film camera, and it was very easy to shoot film style with it.

The Century adapters were very high quality, esp. the telephoto which the director fell in love with. We shot many scenes Ridley Scott style using this lens to give us an extreme telephoto look. At first, I didn't think we'd use the fisheye at all, but we did manage to get four shots with with it, and the .6X wide angle adapter was very useful for certain shots.

We received VHS dailies, and the footage looked like grain free S16mm most of the time, and like grain free 35mm some of the time. I am NOT saying that that this camera is an adaquate substitute for 16mm or 35mm - but it does look a lot more like film than any other miniDV camera footage I've shot. I would always recommend S16mm or 35mm over video for projects which can afford them or are going to 35mm prints for projection.

Color fidelity was good, althought the limited color space would have been partially masked by the sepia tone of the footage. The images were very sharp w/out looking like edge enhanced, overly sharp video. The Soft F/X helped quite a bit, although next time I may switch to Promists to create some halation around highlights which is more "natural" looking and something the Soft F/X don't do.

The main drawback with the camera is the relatively low resoluton viewfinder and LCD panel, and the inability to turn off all the viewfinder display for takes. I would strongly suggest Panasonic upgrade the LCD panel ASAP and include a button or switch on the panel which would allow the operator to turn off the viewfinder menu display for a take - it's really hard to see if the boom is in the shot behind the TC display at the top of the LCD screen.

I will start recommending that productions use this camera if they can't afford to shoot on 35mm, S16mm or HiDef. And I will no longer cringe in terror when someone tells me they want to shoot their first feature on miniDV.
Great site!
All this information is really helpfull to me because I am looking to buy a highquality digital camera that could last me for a few years. I'm just wondering beween the XL1 and the DVX100 which is best at capturing the really deep colors. Because as I make more and more student short films I find strong colors becoming one of my favorite ways of creating mood.
I did discover on my XL1s that there is a color booster setting. You can adjust your colors or saturations with these settings. I think that is quite cool.
Thanks for the DVX review, almaric. That helps... typical of the rave reviews the camera is getting (except that she was more open with her praise... a lot of users seem to be tight-lipped and reluctant to say anything).

Further complicating matters, that JVC Hi-Def cam is on the market.

I'm starting to feel that resolution (is that the same as pixel count?) is really not that important when it comes to the high end 3-chips, especially if you are a low budget filmmaker.

Versatility (the ability to change lenses, to switch into progressive mode when you need it, to change color temperature and gain) and a solid interface are much important. A range of shooting options.

So the JVC high-def need not cloud judgement. Nor Sony, which boasts great chips, but really limits your options.