New dog, new tricks: Canon XL2

Once you're over the disappointment that it's not the high-definition model many were predicting, you'll find Canon's XL2 a worthy successor to the successful XL1 and XL1s MiniDV camcorders.

A quick scan of the exterior reveals several improvements: a new shoulder mount with XLR inputs for audio pickups, a rail- mounted viewfinder, and new function preset buttons on the camera body.

The 20X F1.6 flourite video lens is simply outstanding, with features like programmable zoom speed, zoom/focus preset recall and two integrated neutral density filters. More importantly, the three-chip image sensor inside the XL2 now offers true widescreen recording in both progressive scan and interlaced modes, and the gamma curve controls go a long way towards achieving that elusive "cinematic" feel that's notoriously hard to achieve with digital products.

It's by no means a consumer product in terms of price or design, but small studios or independent film makers would be well-served by this new model. The XL2 is still the only camcorder in its class to offer a modular design that includes interchangeable lenses. It's a little front-heavy, especially when tripod-mounted, but attaching an additional battery pack to the rear mount would compensate for this. Video quality is excellent in both standard and widescreen formats, with a noticeable improvement over its predecessors in poorly-lit conditions.

Price: $8999 Vendor: Canon Phone: 1800 001 167 URL: www.canon.com.au

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Laurence Grayson

PC World
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