OT: XL2 or PD-170

xjerx wrote on 2/7/2005, 9:04 PM
Trying to decide between these two cameras for shooting weddings. The PD-170 attracts me because of its great quality especially in low light. However, I like the XL2 because it is shoulder mounted which provides for easier use considering I go away from tripods after the ceremony. Is the XL2 that bad in low light? I'm afraid if i get the 170's I'll wish i had the shoulder mounted xl2. Never tested either of these cameras so I don't know how they handle in the field. Any suggestions?


rextilleon wrote on 2/7/2005, 9:24 PM
PD-170 for weddings---although the XL2 is a fine ... but not a traditional shoulder mount and can be very cumbersome to do run and gun shooting. You also save a considerable amount by going the PD-170 route---Sony was offerring a rebate a while back. Hope this helps.
Spot|DSE wrote on 2/7/2005, 9:31 PM
I'd go for the PD as well. If you really want shoulder, there are lots of companies that make adaptors.
boomhower wrote on 2/7/2005, 9:57 PM
I've used both. A friend has a couple of XL's and I have the 170. I used his before picking up my 170. They are both great cameras. Speaking strictly ergonomically, the XL is bigger and heavier but you do have a shoulder mount. The 170 is very centered although with the WA on, it is a bit front heavy but I don't even notice it now. I just recently used if for several hours for a behind the scenes bit (using WA the entire time) and never used a tripod. I like that it is small but not too small.

The 170 claims 1 lux while the XL2 claims 5.5 at F1.6 My 170 is impressive in low light....I never used the XL in low light so I can't comment on the difference from personal experience..

If you are strictly deciding based on the shoulder mount, I don't think you will miss not having it if you go with the 170. I haven't found myself wishing I had a shoulder mount. I'm sure some wedding folks can chime in on this aspect as well.

There are, of course, a few technical diffs between the two (24p, swapping lenses) so do your research and make sure you don't need those features.

Based on your question, I believe you will be very happy with the 170. The 170 also has the DVCAM ability if that matters to you. I'm happy with my 170 because it does what I need it to and was the best value for me. Right now the XL2 is about 4200 (US) and the 170 is about 2900 after a 300 rebate.

Good luck with your choice.....lots of opinions on cams to be found.
Stonefield wrote on 2/7/2005, 10:23 PM
Does the PD-170 shoot true progessive scan ?
randy-stewart wrote on 2/7/2005, 10:44 PM
I really like the PD-170. Haven't used the XL2 but have used the XL1s.
rextilleon wrote on 2/7/2005, 10:44 PM
Barry_Green wrote on 2/7/2005, 10:48 PM
"Does the PD170 shoot true progressive scan?" Not for motion video. I mean, it does "for stills", at 15 fps, but that's not really usable for motion. The XL2 shoots true progressive scan at 24 and 30 fps.

As for low light, the PD170's going to be quite a bit more sensitive than the XL2, probably by a stop and a half. Whether that's a dealbreaker or not is something you should try to determine beforehand.

Another thing to consider is, how important is the physical "impressiveness" of the camera to you? The XL2 looks a lot more like a big expensive broadcast camera than the PD170 does, and if your clients are the type who are going to want the camera to look like it's worth the money they're spending on you, then that may be something to factor in.

The PD170 is going to be a lot less expensive, especially when the rebate is factored in. But the form factor is one of the most important things to weigh in a decision between these two, as they're nothing alike (the PD170 is shaped a lot more like an FX1 or DVX than it is like the XL2). You may love or hate the form factor of one of them, so by all means if you can get to a store that has both, you should try to do so before deciding.
jaegersing wrote on 2/7/2005, 11:57 PM
I have a VX2000 (similar to PD170) and also an XL2. I love both of these cameras, but they each have their own strengths. If you have little or no time to set up the shot, or if the lighting is not very good, I would choose the Sony. If the lighting is good and you are willing to put in a bit more effort to get the shot, the results with the XL2 are potentially much better.

If you are not using a tripod, the XL2 will generally give steadier results due to the shoulder mount and the image stabilsation in the lens (the PD170 also has OIS but I think the Canon's is better). However, if you are shooting wide, especially with a WA converter, the handheld results from the PD170 should be fine too.

If cost is an issue (if it's not, please send me some money!) then you need to be aware that the XL2 lens is not wide at all, and really needs a converter to make it more versatile (I am discounting the 3X lens for weddings because it is quite limiting). The Century Optics 0.7X converter is over US$600, so you should factor that in when comparing the 2 cameras.

Richard Hunter
farss wrote on 2/8/2005, 1:33 AM
Having never used a Canon camera and the one time I tried to it was DOA I guess I'm a bit biased but I'd agree with everything that's being said here. The XL2 has the potential to take better pics than the 170 AND it's 16:9 which will become more important to you as time goes by. However I'd never use a XL2 for a wedding, I deal with quite a few pro wedding guys and they all use either 150s or 250s (just so the client thinks they're special!).
Maybe if it's a stage managed wedding I'd consider the XL2 but they're pretty rare events.
musman wrote on 2/8/2005, 4:01 AM
I own a pd150 and it's nice, but I wish everyday that I had waited and bought a dvx100. The audio is so much better on the dvx, the low light not much worse, and you get 24p or 30p. If you ever plan on shooting anything dramatic, you want these options. Believe me. Deinterlacing is not the same. Read a DV Mag article that said 480p is visually more similar to the human eye to different HD formats than to 480i.
If you're going to buy Sony, buy the FX1 and you'll get the nearly the same thing as the pd170 only with the HDV option. There just isn't much reason to buy a pd170 these days.
xjerx wrote on 2/8/2005, 5:51 AM
Thanks guys for all your help. I think I have decided to get a few 170's for shooting weddings and other events, but I think I might get an XL2 later down the road for my independent movie kicks. :o)