Canon XL1S

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I need some input here. I am the Chief Photog. at a Fox station in market 174. We have 7 Panasonic AJ-D400 - DVCPro Cameras. The problem is that 5 of the cameras are not in good operating condition, they are 4 years old, and we keep pumping money into them for repairs. As i'm sure most stations are right now, we are in a "Budget Crunch". Basically I have a decision to make, and it involves purchasing new cameras. Again, we are very tight money wise and I was looking at the Canon XL1S camera. Wondering if anybody had some input for me on the quality, durability, and any other info anybody can provide me about this camera. It's not my first choice, however, I can get 6 new cameras for the cost of fixing 3 cameras this time around. Please help me out. I need input.

<experienced advice>

Originally posted by Eric Zartler-KVHP FOX 29:
We have 7 Panasonic AJ-D400 - DVCPro Cameras. The problem is that 5 of the cameras are not in good operating condition, they are 4 years old, and we keep pumping money into them for repairs. As i'm sure most stations are right now, we are in a "Budget Crunch".
Ya know, maybe if your boss/owner had spent money buying real cameras in the first place you wouldn't have five cameras that are four years old and useless. Now you're going down the same path again. Looking to fix a bad decision cheap. Go ahead and buy the flimsy Cannon XL-1S. You'll find yourself in exactly the same position you're in now again very soon.

Short term thinking and purchases result in wasted money and a poor quality product. Four years of use is NOT acceptable for any broadcast camera. I know it's not your final decision what to buy. That belongs to some suit where you work. What IS your job is to document how poorly these cameras held up and the waste of money used in keeping them functioning. If you'd bought new Sony broadcast gear you wouldn't be having this problem ;)


Eric, I think the above poster makes some valid points amongst his bitterness.

As a production house guy we purchased an XL1 a couple of years ago and I hated it. It doesn't look feel or operate like a typical beta rig or any ENG style camera. It's really geared towards the AUTO every thing shooting style. Most of the controls are menu driven and in the field when you need to make quick adjustments it doesn't work. It may be fine for extremely controlled shooting environments but for news I just couldn't see it.

On the other hand, I think the JVC-5000 or the Panasonic AG200 are a much better choice. Neither is as robust as higher end digital or beta rigs but both offer similar features as there higher end counter parts. Plus, as an added feature they look more impressive then an XL-1 or PD 150.

If budget constraints are such that you can't slowly acquire higher end cams then the JVC and Pana 200 are your best bet. Both can be purchased for less then $5K with lens. The JVC is only about $500 more then the XL1 and the prices are the Pana 200 have been lowered recently.

<Jonny Accountant>

I would urge you to try very hard to convince your ND or GM that prosumer cameras just won't hold up in the real world of ENG. Funds for purchasing things like cameras, cars, buildings...ect are capital expenses and should not be considered withen the normal operating budget. If catigorized correctly the station should be able to deduct the depriciation of the equipment over five years or so. They will essientally get their money back in tax deductions but making them see that is another thing. I would't seriously consider the XL1 or PD150 unless it's a short term stop-gap until capital funds are available.


Well-known member
I second the notion that spending money on cheap solutions costs you more money in the long run.

That being said, I'd consider the JVC-5000. It's supposed to have a more robust tape transport system than the older JVC-500. I've also heard good things about the Panasonic AJDV-200. Both the 200 and the 5000 will take the larger DV casetts (the 500 does not) which will probably work better with your DVC-PRO decks. You shouldn't need the adapter.

The main advantage of these cameras is that they are full size units with bigger chips, boradcast syle lenses, features, and the whole nine yards. You should be able to get them configured to use whatever battery system you are already using.

I don't know what the 400s cost you but have you looked at the Sony DSR-300 series? Very nice, very durable cameras. I think Hitachi and Ikigami also make good DVC-Pro cameras that are reletively inexpensive.

PD-150s and XL-2s are nice cameras for documentary work et all, but I'm not so sure I'd want to use them for chaotic breaking news situations. Then again, you could at least see to your right in a riot... :eek:


hunt tv

Two quick solutions Both Sony and Panasonic have "B" stock equipment for sale. You can knock off 10 to 25% or even more if you look around. They carry a warrenty. The other suggestion..pitch the idea that every tog gets his own gear. I have suited everyone up here with a simple light kit, Lectrosonic wireless and a Panasonic 700 and the rate of repair goes to zero (well, not exactly). Half the shop is stll on the UVW-100, and they have held up well. And when there is a need for repair, it's easy to follow and the crew take care of problems faster. Good luck and step up .


You are complaining about your Panasonic AJ-D400 cameras yet you are thinking about purchasing cameras that are MUCH MUCH WORSE then the AJ-D400. :confused:

I would seriously stay away from any handycam style camera (XL1, PD150 etc) to be used as a "primary tool" in any market size.

As for the JVC DV5000 or Pana AG200, they are a better choice due to their beta style lay out, BIGGER CHIPS ease of control and lens options BUT unfortunately they only run in the CONSUMER DV mode, this is OK for an independent that feeds from the camera to his/her personal PC but this will run you into trouble feeding the raw tapes from deck to deck - you will have compatibility issues especially when feeding into DVCpro or DVcam decks due to the consumer DV slower speed and narrower track pitch. + they will probably break down even more often then the 400s you already have as they are even cheaper. (prosumer equals prosumer)

As another poster mentioned look for B STOCK sales. They (sony) may be dumping the DSR-300s / 370s for cheap because they are replacing them with the DSR-390. The DSR-300 is twice the camera compared to the AJ-D400 and even the AJ-D400 is 5 times the camera compared to the XL1.

Here is the new DSR-390 should be available this month

Here are some hi-lites (according to SONY marketing)

1) The DSR-390 camcorder will be available in May for a suggested list price of $9,870. with A new CCD sensor

2) The new DSR-390 DVCAM model delivers superb picture quality by utilizing the latest 1/2-inch Power HAD IT (ICX-418/419) 4:3 CCD sensors

3) The three-CCD array boosts sensitivity and S/N ratio while lowering vertical smear ratio. The new CCD's allow sensitivity levels to increase from F11 to F13 (about 3dB), S/N ratio increase by 3dB to 65dB, and smear ratio drops 5dB to an astounding "FIT like" level of -115dB.

Good luck and please don't degrade your product to some third rate consumer shop, don't buy cheaper then the cams you already have, buy B STOCK or get the new SONY DSR-390s.

Notice I did not mention "BETACAM SP, SX, IMX or DIGI - not even once... :p



they´ll have the info.

As someone who shoots with many types of cameras on an almost daily basis (XL1s to SX) I have to agree with most of the posters. The XL1 is not a news camera. While it is a fine Minidv cam to be used in production shoots. (it really does give a nice picture) it won´t hold up to the daily beating a news shop will give them.

We use them all the time, but we´re able to take our time to light and we don´t have to run and gun. (I work in a prod. house) So we get nice looking shots and little damage to the cams.

If you do go this way I´d say look at the PD-150. Yes it sucks when you look at other cameras and it´s glass is bad compared to the XL1.(16x manual lens) But its able to take a beating and keep coming back.

If you keep looking at the XL1 keep this in mind..... You MUST buy the manual lens.

The one that comes with the cam will not work for news. You also must buy the MA-100 or 200 shoulder mount. This is so you get XLR ports. (the 200 has BNC too)

Check out for prices

<cinehead w/ no password>

I've been doing a lot of thinking about purchasing and XL-1 for myself. Can someone tell me, what are the major differences between the XL-1 and and XL-1S?


Well-known member
the XL-1S is the newest version of the XL-1. It has some minor improvements in response to XL-1 user feedback.

Check the Canon website for info.


Although I don't have much input on the camera decision, I would like to put in a good word for the monitoring of gear usage. I know that it many smaller shops, when the gear loses its "newness", the ND and other managers don't seem to care who uses it. Thus, you get lots of one-manners, interns, or part-timers who have a tendency to beat things up very quickly and not report their damages.

Whatever you do, your best money would be spent on several new key padlocks for the gear lockers (it is locked up, right...?). Keep track of who has access. In our shop, each photog has an assigned set of gear. (Give them all colors, or numbers, or letters). If someone else needs gear, they have to request it from me, the ND, or the chief engineer. Then, they personally sign it in and out. Each photog knows what condition their gear is in, and if they find a problem, it is reported immediately. The other important thing is to not punish people who report gear issues. Instead, I just remind them to take care of things better. I have never had a repeat offender. I think most people feel guilty enough just because everybody else knows they were careless. Of course, if you have a problem offender, punish them or cut them off from gear usage.

This method helps to get people treating the gear as if it was their own property. It can be difficult to start from scratch, but after everyone gets used to it, responsibility doesn't take much to maintain.

Good luck!

<cinehead w/ no password>

I've been seeing some great prices on XL-1S's on ebay. I'm a little nervous about buying something so expensive through ebay, anyone have and experience buying gear this way?


Originally posted by Eric Zartler-KVHP FOX 29:
The problem is that 5 of the cameras are not in good operating condition, they are 4 years old, and we keep pumping money into them for repairs. As i'm sure most stations are right now, we are in a "Budget Crunch".
I'm just adding another point to your whole situation. Buying less expensive (cheap) cameras is only going to keep you in your current rutt. Buying less than quality, sturdy gear means your people in the field, reporters, photogs, are never able to focus completely on their job of covering a story. They have to worry more about the gear breaking or not working at all. They can't focus on the product and making it better.

I understand living within a budget. Let's face facts and accept you have no choice but to buy the cheaper industrial level gear instead of robust professional broadcast equipment. You, as chief, need to make people more responsible for the care of the equipment. Throwing money at the problem is not going to solve it. People need to be held accountable for the way they handle their work tools.

Being chief is a tough job. Sometimes the tough part is telling the boss the truth about costs and not letting yourself be a "yes man" (no insult intended).

Of course there is plan "B". Buy the new gear and then get a new job somewhere else leaving the mess for someone else to deal with ;o)

Do that and you're on your way to a real future in television news middle management!

Please accept the humor for what it is (or isn't) and not as a swipe at individuals or the industry as a whole ;o)


Originally posted by LS:
Buying less than quality, sturdy gear means your people in the field, [photogs] are never able to focus completely on their job of covering a story. They have to worry more about the gear breaking or not working at all. They can't focus on the product and making it better.
Never mind the fact that the [photogs] will never be able to actually (literally) FOCUS the electronic lens itself. nuk nuk nuk....

Sorry John, I know I promised you that in the future I would respond in a class way to one of your posts but with this kind of bait I really couldn't help my self - till next time

yours truly
good bud Ivan :D
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