Video people!! Canon xl-1 SE versus Sony DCR VX2100

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by mymemory, Feb 18, 2004.

  1. mymemory macrumors 68020


    May 9, 2001
    Ok, I'm in New York and I'm finding a lot of jobs as a camera operator. Now, Which camera should I get?

    Many people like the Canon and for me it looks very fancy, personally I like the Sony and is $900 less expensive. I haven't use any of them on the road.

    I want to know about your experiences and opinions, the texture and things like that. What makes the Cannon so expensive and unique over the Sony.

  2. DreaminDirector macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2002
    Ladera Ranch, CA
    I had an XL1 and I think what makes it more expensive is that you have interchangeable lenses. You can also get an adapter to use any lens that's built for a still camera.

    I can only talk from my XL1 experience but it absolutely shoots beautiful footage. It does well in low light too. My only advice to you is if you want to get a crowd, get an XL1. That thing is a total attention getter.
  3. abbazaba macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2004
    id say go with the canon....

    i work in the digital imaging department at best buy, and ive played with both. theres a lot more accessories out there for the xl1 (lenses, filters, etc.) than with the vx2100. it also seems to have better image quality than the sony does. HOWEVER...if you do fo with the canon, make sure that if your gona be using a minidv VTR that it is a canon as well. for some reason, canon's cameras record at a different location on the tape than most other cameras, and if you try to play back a tape recorded on the xl1 for example on a jvc vcr, your liable to **** up your tape.

    look at some consumer reports too
  4. trebblekicked macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2002
    Chicago, IL, USA
    i've got one of each. get the xl1s.

    EDIT> to be clear, i have an XL1s and a VX2000, but from what i can tell, the XL1s SE is still a better camera.
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles

    I'm not sure where you heard that from. Now once in a blue moon tapes recorded in camera X will only play back properly in camera X but I've never heard the problem being specific to a single brand. And, in the past, it was recommended that you not mix and match different brands of tape because the lubricents used by each brand were different and when "mixed" could gum up the heads in the camera/deck. Although recently I've heard tape makers have started using lubricents that "play nice" together so this might not be as valid a concern as it used to be. And, IIRC, "back in the day" it was a big no-no to play Sony tapes in a Panasonic camera/deck (and vice versa) but that is, also, not an issue any more.

    Canons do have a history of not adhereing to the DV specs when it comes to the audio sample rate which can lead to sync drift when you record footage onto a computer for editing, but I've heard that newer models (like the GL-2 and most recent XL-1) no longer have this issue.

  6. live4ever macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2003
    Have you looked into the Panasonic AG-DVX100 also which is a 3CCD 24 progressive miniDV camera.

  7. macrumors regular

    Dec 6, 2003
    I have shot on both the Canon and Sony. The Canon is more of a professional camera. By that I mean, it has the interchangeable lenses - but you really need to know what you are doing in temrs of lighting and balance. If you are a camera guy- who understands all of that- this is a great cam. The Sony is more of a point and shoot camera. You can be an amerature and still get great shots. I also find that the Sony is far superior in low light. I like the Sony over the Canon- because of the low light as well as the crisper video quality and ease of use.
  8. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    I really believe it is the ability to interchange lenses that set the canon apart...if that is not an issue, there are many strong competitors to the sony...the panasonic listed above(DVX100), which seems to have strong reviews, but is at least $3000+, the JVC JY-HD10U, which shoots HD footage(some really neat features), also priced in line with the Panasonic, also by JVC is the GR-DV3000, which while perhaps not comparable with the rest listed, has a really unique ability to shoot color footage in near-total darkness(w/o sony style ghostly green)-a niche feature perhaps, but interesting. I have never liked sony cameras very much, mostly because of their button placement and tendencies to use menus alot (in fairness I am not sure this applies to the VX, I had a TRV-900...a step down)...their image quality tends to be shrper than canon, which some people like, others don't...Also, the XLR jacks of the Canon can get in the way doing certain shots(like on a 'skateboard and ramp'. If you have the ability, try and actually check out your competitors in your hands for ergonomics, balance, feel of the zoom etc. to see if it's right for YOU.....a retail store or a film school in town(since it's NYC) should let you fiddle. All cameras listed in this thread are very capable and should do you well, the canon is just the most versatile by virtue of lense choices...good luck...(BTW U might consider an original XL1 w/ a breakout box too...if you don't mind used...) also just to put my comments in context, I have never owned either model...only fiddled, I have a GL2 and the previously mentioned take as you will(prefer the canon...mostly)
  9. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I don't know why I didn't think of this before, B&H Photo is located in NYC. If possible you should go there and check out the cameras models in person.

  10. advres Guest


    Oct 3, 2003
    sony vs. canon

    If you are comparing sony vs canon I wouldn't compare the 2100 from sony i would compare the DP-150 to the canon xl. I personally like the pd-150 best out of all the prosumer cameras. A lot of people talk about the optics of the canon which I agree they have far better lenses b ut i prefer the softer look that the sony ccd's give you.

    just my $.02
  11. advres Guest


    Oct 3, 2003

    the panasonic is nice especially if you are interested in shooting 24P but I don't like the mechanics of that camera. It makes a clunky sound when you move it around and the menu controller sucks!! It does produce beautiful video though
  12. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Sep 21, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    canon v. sony

    Last month I shot my friend's indy production for a couple of days. We had his Panasonic AG-DVX100, his friend's Sony PD150 and my Canon XL1-s.

    The Panasonic was in 30i mode (conventional, 29.97 fps DV). All cameras were white balanced from the same board.

    Looking at the footage gave a fair comparison of each camera.

    The Sony gave a blueish cast and it was very sharp. The Panasonic was very well balanced and had a great range. My Canon had the richest blacks and the colors matched the other cameras.

    I went into my menus and turned the sharpness to the maximum, and took the color saturation down a couple of notches to match the Sony.

    advres is right, the PD150 is a fairer comparison to the XL1s. the VX2100 is more comparable to the GL2.

    abbazaba, I use a JVC miniDV camcorder to load video shot on my XL1s into my HDs. I've had none of the problems you described.

    live4ever, the Panasonic's 24P mode has no gain-up on the picture. Therefore the DVX100 makes sense in controlled settings, such as movie sets and studios. If you're shooting in uncontrolled or less-controlled lighting situations, which event videographers generally have, 24P will be useless.

    mymemory, I've used PD150s for hours but I went with the XL1s mainly because a lot of the controls are readily accessible on the Canon. I find the Sony's controls a little harder to access. Having three white balance presets, plus a daylight and artificial light setting right there and not hiding behind some menus, is very convenient.
  13. HenMaster6000 macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2003

    Vx2000 is so much better... I had the XL1s for a while but took it back in favor of a Vx2000 because it is a piece of junk. The XL1s looks really cool, but its low light footage is crap and it's unwieldy. The VX gets the best footage and is ultimately more portable, not to mention cheeper.
  14. robotjustin macrumors newbie

    Sep 4, 2003

    Check out the PD-170.

    I shot for 3 years on the Canon, from hip-hop videos to corporate junk, and although it is a sweet camera for handheld ENG type stuff, the image is junk.

    I have had to color-correct every shot for years, even under totally controlled lighting conditions, to get the green out. Also, the canon has a piss-yellow tint, a perpertual sunset.

    The movie mode is nice, and I have taken some beautiful pictures. The controls also do rock. But the interchangeable lens is a crock, unless you plan on spending $1000s of dollars on new lenses. And unless you are shooting a feature film or a really high-end corporate video, who has time to shuffle lenses? And who would shoot either on such a low rent camera? Better going for one of the bigger DSRs. They have sick lenses, as well.

    I shot extensively on the PD-150 as well, and wish I had been able to shoot everything on that camera.

    The Canon looks like the BBC. The PD looks like NBC.

    Plus the PD is DVCAM.

    2 cents more.
  15. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2003
    How'd I get here? How can I leave?
    I have a Canon XL-1 that is in mint condition. It isn't the XL-1s but the original. Doesn't matter much because the image quality is still SUPERB.

    It's in NTSC format and like I said: IN MINT CONDITION.
    I'll be willing to to private IM with you to negotiate a selling price.
    I've been meaning to sell it but I'm not desperate to sell. MAKE ME AN OFFER!!!
  16. absolut_mac macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2003
    Dallas, Texas

    Quote taken from Philip Greenspun's excellent site (

    Experience at the Maine Photographic Workshops showed the Canon XL-1s did not hold up for a single summer's use in comparison to Sony's which lasted three years under the same operating conditions.

    The Sony TRV900 camera was used by scientists on assignment in the jungle in Africa for National Geographic. One camera shot over 400 hours of video under those conditions. It could also shoot images under very low light conditions. Images shot with the camera were broadcast on tv on National Geographic specials. You can get two for the price of an XL-1 and have a back up camera.

    Read the whole thread here.....

    Go Sony, you'll be much happier with your video results in the end. Besides, do you really want to mess with trying to sync the audio and video all the time just becuase you changed cameras?
  17. teabgs macrumors 68030


    Jan 18, 2002
    behind you

    As long as you don't need to change lenses. I'll explain why I have a VX2000 in a moment, but the best thing to do is goto B&H on Sunday maybe (not open friday or saturday) and play with all of them. They have a fun little setup where you can play with the cameras...mounted of course, if they let you do handheld you could walk away with it...

    Anyway, the image is not so digital looking, it's WAY better in lowlight conditions. It has a proper weight balance, unlike the XL1 which is front heavy, especially with the wide angle lens on it. If you're going to be doing any videography, which is what I have the camera for...animation as well, Then you want the lighter (Sony) and better balanced (Sony) Camera.

    If you dont need XLR inputs, and can have a slightly worse (almost not noticeable) get the vx2000 (thats what I have) if you DO need XLR or MIGHT need it, get the PD-150.

    each camera has it's own perks and flaws, and in the end it's a personal preference. I'm one of the Sony people...and I feel like there are more people that prefer sony to Canon based on my experiences...I've had jobs (before I owned my own camera) where I used the XL-1 and The VX2000...I own a VX2000, there ya go.
  18. MacAficionado macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2002
    An awesome place
    You have to know what you're doing.

    Seems like that people that do not like the XL1s really do not understand it. I felt the same way about mine at the beginning and was disappointed too, but I gave it time, I knew it was just a matter of getting to know the camera. Once I learned it, it was really nice. The image, is excellent, you have to go with manual focus, the auto focus is not that good. Once you get the feel for the lens you'll be alright.
    The main thing was that due to the viewfinder being somewhat underexposed, I would open the iris too much, therefore overexposing the image. Once I learned how dark I could go in the viewfinder, the footage on the TV was great.

    Just things to consider.

    I'm a happy XL1s user.
  19. fartheststar macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2003
    They shot 28 days later and a bunch of other great films on the Xl1-s.

    Get that one. When they say you can interchange lenses.. that's true.

    You can also buy an adapter and put primes (film lenes) on the camera. That will give you a nicer depth of field and image quality then a video lens, which makes things look flat more often then not.
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Re: PD-170

    RE: color
    I've cut a short film and a number of weddings shot w/XL-1's and never had any color issues w/the exception of the occasional wedding footage shot under less than ideal light. I've seen footage from a handful of other XL-1's and didn't notice any color issues.

    RE: Lenses
    You can get a manual lens from $900 - $1400, not thousands, and I don't see how the interchangable lenses are a "crock." If you are out shootin' run 'n gun messing w/the "focus-by-wire" systems that all of the small DV cameras have is a PITA and in some cases can be a major handicap (like shooting sports or other fast-paced events). And if you are shooting in a controlled environment, a movie for instance, you have the option of using different lenses to achieve different looks. From a shooters perspective my biggest gripe about these small cameras is that you are locked into one lens and the crappy controls (compared to a "real" lens). Of course almost all of the XL-1's I've seen had the stock lens so the advantage of using different lenses is wasted. If you aren't planning on using different lenses then the XL-1 is not as desirable a camera, IMO. It is a proven camera, but it is also long in the tooth.

    It's funny you mention NBC because, IIRC, XL-1's are part of shooting arsenal for ENG work (mostly situations where lugging a Betacam is not ideal).

  21. fartheststar macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2003
    One thing I forgot.

    A PD150 is better then a CanonXL1-S with low light.

    Canon XL1-S doesn't work very well with very low light. (Night time, with natural light etc)

    Fine for everything else. I still think its a more pro and better choice then the other one you're looking at.

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