Canon GL1 and the Panasonic DVX100a

FrankieTDouglas

macrumors 65832
Original poster
Mar 10, 2005
1,502
2,298
What's up?

I'll soon be buying a new camera for short film, advertising, and experimental work. In the past, I've shot a half hour short film using a Sony 1 CCD DV handycam. The story was good, but the picture quality varied.

Borrowed from my school, I've used a Canon GL1 for two commercials here recently. The difference in quality was amazing. I'm curious, for those who have used both, how better is the quality in a DVX100a? This is disregarding the 24p fps difference and just focusing on the image quality itself.

Now, I'm getting ready to purchase my own higher grade camera and find myself at a crossroad. The DVX100a seems like what I want in a camera, but Panasonic upcoming HD camera seems enticing. Primarily, it's the ability to shoot 60p fps at 720. The downside is the expense of the memory being used.

For those who have followed the progress of that camera, do you think it's worth passing on the DVX100a and springing for the HD model?
 

Wano

macrumors 6502
Oct 23, 2002
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Get the freshest newest thing on the market. Panasonic makes solid cameras and I have also heard rumors about upcoming a 24p HD camera from them. JVC is also suppose to release one with interchangeable lenses. The GL1 is a solid camera as well, good quality, but very amaturish compared to the DVX100a. Wait till after NAB this month and then make a desicion on what will be available then.
 

Chip NoVaMac

macrumors G3
Dec 25, 2003
8,894
31
Northern Virginia
the current standard from Canon is the GL2. Can't speak directly about the differences, sorry. Though many customers of mine have purchased the GL2 over anything else out there. The next best seller is Xl series. If I get more info I will pass it on. I may take a few days though.
 

Biker21098

macrumors member
Aug 13, 2002
74
0
CA
I own a GL-1

HEy DVX-100a is SWEET. I own a GL-1, I love my baby, buts old, the technology is old, and it still gets the job done, but no XLR inputs or 24p. The DVX-100a is a great camera. I've been shooting with it every monday night for about 2 months. I love it. Nice to have XLR inputs, the 24p looks sweet. The LCD is huge and crisp. The zoom ring is real with feet/meter markings, has optional servo control from a rocker zoom switch, not some elctro-servo junk that is like a chicken shoot, like the Stock lenses on XL-1's and XL-2's. I've also used an XL-2, that by far is my vote, its an amazing camera, plus Canon's lenses are very good. But for bang for the buck i must say the DVX-100 is a great deal. On the down side, to me it feels little less durable. I know my GL-1 has been well used, but theres not a scratch on it, it has been very durable, I have my doubts about the DVX-100, but its image is sweet. Lastly its controls are not the easiest, canon seems to have more options, and an easier way to get to those options, however I'm biased, I love canon, and am more familiar with them.

Good luck, I wouldn't wait for the panasonic HDV camera, there are reports of mpeg2 encoding artifacts with the Sony, granted the res is better, but blacks are tougher to get looking good, and its just pretty much a non-consumer tested codec. time will tell, but the DVX100a looks great, and is pretty darn awesome at low light stuff too.
 

pdpfilms

macrumors 68020
Jun 29, 2004
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0
Vermontana
A couple of months ago i switched from a GL2 to a DVX100a. It was bittersweet- the GL2's heads all died simultaneously, and I was forced to purchase a new camera within a few days for an upcoming shoot. I decided to go with the DVX100a because that's what the rest of the crew was using, and didn't know a whole lot about it. But now I can say that it was SUCH a good decision. The combination of 24p and all the cine-like gamma settings make it look so similar to 16mm. It's perfect. Also, the functionality of the camera is great, and i've been using the XLR inputs regularly.
With NAB just around the corner though, I would definetly hold out. SOMETHING new has to be announced, and you don't want to be kicking yourself when you find out what it is.
As for another miniDV HD cam, I'm not so sure... Have they established a standard codec for them yet? And is FCP fully supportive of whatever codecs they use? And with the advent of h.264, wouldn't camera manufacturers be enticed by its huge compression abilities, and possibly change the standard in the near future? You might want to consider all these things before purchasing too soon.
But with all this said, If you're comparing the GL1 to the DVX100a, I would say the DVX100a is a MUCH better option for srious short film creation.
 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
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Los Angeles
pdpfilms said:
As for another miniDV HD cam, I'm not so sure... Have they established a
standard codec for them yet?
HDV (used by Sony and JVC) is one standard. The new Panasonic camera would mostly use one of Panny's DVCPro formats.


And is FCP fully supportive of whatever codecs they use?
That support is expected to be in FCP 5 and announced at NAB.

And with the advent of h.264, wouldn't camera manufacturers be enticed by its huge compression abilities, and possibly change the standard in the near future?
I wouldn't think so. It costs a lot of money to spawn a new format, and I haven't heard any inklings of h.264 in regards to acquisition and editing. You also have to keep in mind that heavily compressed media is what people in production and post want to stay away from. That's one of the not-so-great things about HDV is the compression scheme it uses.


Lethal
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
I consider the GL1 to be a pretty crappy camera. The DVX100a is much, much better than the GL1. I should know, I own both. However, look at getting the FX1 or the Z1 if you want really high quality images. Those Sonys not only do HDV, but you can downrez them to full SD 4:4:4 quality imagery, great for bluescreen work, etc.

 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
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119
Los Angeles
Lacero said:
However, look at getting the FX1 or the Z1 if you want really high quality images. Those Sonys not only do HDV, but you can downrez them to full SD 4:4:4 quality imagery, great for bluescreen work, etc.
The HDV compression and 4:2:0 color space causes issues when doing blue/green screen work (especially w/lots of motion). It's doable, but it's far from great. And, in general, it can present hurdles if your footage is going to get manipulated a lot in post (keying, color efx, etc.).

You can send a down-converted (standard def) DV signal right out of the camera, but it's going to be 4:1:1, not 4:4:4.


Lethal
 

filmmaker2002

macrumors regular
Jun 6, 2003
181
0
Milwaukee
If you must pick between the two, go with the DVX. 24P is really nice and the Leica lens is great. It also has XLR built in, which is really helpful. I shoot with a Canon XL-2 with 2 GL-2's as backup. The XL-2 is the best out there right now. All the top guns here in Milwaukee shoot with it. You may want to wait until NAB is over. There are a lot of rumors going around about who is going to release what cameras (even Canon GL-3 HD rumors). So wait and see what's up. But again, if you must, get the Panasonic.
 

MacFan25863

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2004
557
0
We use the DVX100A at school (ah, the simple pleasures of attending a new High School with a huge video budget :D). It is fricken awesome. The flip out LCD is a little flimsy, but much better, IMHO, than the one on they Sony HDV cam, which they put on the handle for some reason.

I havn't used much of the 24p functions, but in 29.97 it rules.
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
Tapes recorded in the GL1 won't play back on other DV tape decks. That's a little known, but well documented problem with the GL1s. If you buy a GL1 and later have it die on you, all your tapes won't play reliably on any other machine.

I've since bought a DSR-11 for my DVCAM and miniDV archiving.
 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
9,368
119
Los Angeles
Lacero said:
Tapes recorded in the GL1 won't play back on other DV tape decks. That's a little known, but well documented problem with the GL1s. If you buy a GL1 and later have it die on you, all your tapes won't play reliably on any other machine.

I've since bought a DSR-11 for my DVCAM and miniDV archiving.
I've heard of random problems like this w/various cameras (although I've never heard of the GL-1 getting singled out before). FWIW I've played back dozens of GL1 tapes on 3 or 4 different decks over the past few years w/o a hitch.

MacFan25863,
The viewfinder mounted on the handle of the Sony cameras is much better than the standard side-body mounting, IMO.



Lethal
 

Rod Rod

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2003
2,175
2
Las Vegas, NV
LethalWolfe said:
The HDV compression and 4:2:0 color space causes issues when doing blue/green screen work (especially w/lots of motion). It's doable, but it's far from great. And, in general, it can present hurdles if your footage is going to get manipulated a lot in post (keying, color efx, etc.).

You can send a down-converted (standard def) DV signal right out of the camera, but it's going to be 4:1:1, not 4:4:4.
If you're doing high-end chroma key work, aren't you going to rotoscope everything anyhow? (instead of using a weatherman on the local news approach to keying).

Also, would the component outputs on the Sony FX1/Z1 give better than 4:1:1?

To the original poster: the DVX100A is great at 29.97. One of my friends is finishing up a feature he shot (mainly) with a DVX100A. But as others have said, wait until this weekend (perhaps Sunday even / Panasonic's HVX200 might play a part in Apple's FCP 5 announcement and demos).
 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
9,368
119
Los Angeles
Rod Rod said:
If you're doing high-end chroma key work, aren't you going to rotoscope everything anyhow? (instead of using a weatherman on the local news approach to keying).
Something like putting in light sabers would require a lot of rotoscoping, but something like a sit-down interview in front of a green screen would basically be a simple key and some fine tweaking around the talent. And the better quality footage you can get in production the less work you have to do in post to get a clean key. From what I've heard, and seen, shots w/little or no motion in them look stunning and would mostly key well (all relatively speaking). But once you start getting a lot of camera motion or movement w/in the frame the HDV compression starts to show itself. So I can only imagine that doing something like shooting an action scene in front of a green screen (or rotoscoping in some light sabers) could be a big headache w/HDV right now (more so because of it's compression than it's color space).



Also, would the component outputs on the Sony FX1/Z1 give better than 4:1:1?
As I understand it the HDV will output two formats: HDV and DV/DVCAM. Outputing HDV (either FW or analog) will give you the 4:2:0 that the camera shoots at. Down-converting in camera to SD (DV/DVCAM) and outputting digital or analog will give you 4:1:1. I'm sure you could output HDV via FW and transcode it to 4:4:4, but it's never going to get any better than the 4:2:0 that it was shot at.

Anyway... I can't wait for NAB. So many cool toy rumors. :D


Lethal
 

Rod Rod

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2003
2,175
2
Las Vegas, NV
So, that being the case I suppose I'll be playing with fire in a couple of weeks if I shoot some sit-down interviews in front of a chroma key with my HD10. :) I'll do it at some point in time experimentally but not with a paying gig.

The next JVC HDV camera, the HD100, is supposed to (according to rumors) give a live (non-HDV) 720p60 signal from its component outputs. Whether that's 4:4:4, 4:2:2 or something else is unclear. I guess we'll see this weekend. And I agree, I can't wait for the announcements either. But (one piece of unsolicited advice) don't call them "toys" in front of your wife (or s.o.); call them "tools." :)
 

D*I*S_Frontman

macrumors 6502
May 20, 2002
450
17
Appleton,WI
Wait for the HVX-200

I own a DVX100, and it is hands-down the sweetest miniDV cam ever. 24p and the Cine-Gamma color curves make the footage look so much like 16mm that for straight-to-DVD projects there is almost no appreciable difference, so long as you know what you're doing.

Film-outs are a different story. Any miniDV project converted to film will get soft on a big screen. But unless you plan to release your project through Paramount, the DVX100 is the indie filmmaker's best friend.

But in a week, Panasonic will set the whole video acquisition world on its ear with the HVX-200. True high-definition acquisition, up to 1080p@24fps, without the GOP compromises of HDV, will be had in a camera listing for under $10k. Also, because the data rate for DVCPROHD is way, WAY too big for miniDV tape to handle (100Mbps), Panasonic is unveiling their flash-based recording system, the P2 card. Almost indestructable (high/low temps, 14,000 g shock, etc.) with no moving parts, and instantly available for editing without a separate "capture" step, these suckers will change digital filmmaking. The HVX-200 has two P2 ports and data can be written sequentially to them without any frames dropped.

At first, P2 cards will be priced in the stratosphere, but they'll come down quickly. Imagine never cleaning your tape heads, no dropouts, indestructable recording media, and never wasting time capturing footage. All at true-blue 16:9 high-definition with Panasonic's great film-like gamma curves.

Indie filmmakers need never use 16mm again. Film outs from this camera will look fantastic (assuming all the other factors in filmmaking--cinematography, lighting, production design, acting, etc--are good). I can't wait to see what a 35mm print from this thing will look like.

Keep in mind the price: LIST below $10k. Like street price? $6-7k, plus a few P2 cards = still comforably under $10k. YIKES.

The only drawback is that the lens is fixed. You have to go to the $25-65k cameras to be able to use standard primes and zooms. But the Leica lens in the DVX is great in its own right, and if the same level of attention went into the HVX-200, you'll be able to work within the limitations of its built-in offering.

The DVX community is spastic over this thing. Check it out:

http://www.dvxuser.com

Viva La Revolucion!!

EDIT: Barry Green is a great guy. He gets paid by Panasonic because he wrote and produced a fantastic accompaniment book/DVD for the camera that turned out so well that Panasonic decided to include it with every purchase (dang--I actually BOUGHT his book before it was a freebie!)! He is not a Pany shill. He will often cite what elements of competing technologies by Sony and JVC are superior to Pany. And there are many applications in which a Sony would be better. But for "film-like" 24p independent cinema projects on shoestring budgets, the DVX is a crusher at its price point, as the HVX-200 will likely be.

But I, too, am biased. Like I said, I own a DVX. I have worked with Sony cameras at work, and they are great for many things. But for filmmaking, you can have my DVX when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Just like my Powerbook.
 

Mr. Durden

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2005
716
0
Colorado
I have a GL1 and a couple of XL1s cameras. I love them all. The GL1 takes great images and I have found myself using it more often than I thought I would when I dont need some of the more advanced features of the XL1s cameras. I like its size and the LCD makes it easy to move around and shoot at odd angles. And let me say again, the images are great, crystal clear.

I have been able to use the GL1 tapes in my XL1s cameras, though as has been posted before, you might have trouble with the tapes in other cameras or decks.

Regardless of what you pick, in my opinion the GL1 is great.
 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
9,368
119
Los Angeles
Rod Rod,
I don't think I'd worry too much about a sit down (unless the subject is a total spaz or something). But I'm not too familiar w/the HD10 so don't really pay attention to anything I say. ;)

D*I*S_Frontman,
Very enthusiastic post. :)

A couple of things I will mention though is everything is still rumor-specs about the new camera (although many things seem unofficially confirmed if you will), and you can record DVCProHD on MiniDV stock (okay, it's really DVCPro stock, but it's the same thing basically). DVCPro25, DVCPro50, and DVCProHD all record to the same kind of tape it's just that a tape recording DVCProHD is moving 4x faster than a tape recording DVCPro25 (MiniDV basically). So a 60min DVCPro25 tape would record 30min of DVCPro50 and 15min of DVCProHD.

The biggest reason for the move to P2 cards/solid state media is to eliminate the digitizing process. You also get the perks of a less complex machine that has no mechanisms to clog/cause drop outs, or get jammed and need to be kept very clean of dirt and dust.

Of course this all sounds great on paper, and hopefully it will live up to the hype.


Lethal
 

Davis Ingersal

macrumors newbie
Oct 17, 2005
1
0
time code problems with dvx100a

This weekend, I shot something on my dvx and when I went to capture it on fcp4.5 there were tons of dropped frames and time code errors. I then tried to play the tape in vcr mode in the camera and no time code appeared. Some random numbers appeared with an * in front of them. I've never had this problem before.

Any suggestions?
 

pdpfilms

macrumors 68020
Jun 29, 2004
2,383
0
Vermontana
Davis Ingersal said:
This weekend, I shot something on my dvx and when I went to capture it on fcp4.5 there were tons of dropped frames and time code errors. I then tried to play the tape in vcr mode in the camera and no time code appeared. Some random numbers appeared with an * in front of them. I've never had this problem before.

Any suggestions?
Have you recorded anything with the camera since then? Could be funked-up recording heads... that sounds alot like what my GL2 did (see above post).
 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
9,368
119
Los Angeles
Davis Ingersal said:
This weekend, I shot something on my dvx and when I went to capture it on fcp4.5 there were tons of dropped frames and time code errors. I then tried to play the tape in vcr mode in the camera and no time code appeared. Some random numbers appeared with an * in front of them. I've never had this problem before.

Any suggestions?
I would suggest going here DVXuser.com.


Lethal
 

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