As a DP, I shoot a wide variety of projects, and with all the choices of format available today, I end up shooting with many different camera systems. It can make good business sense to invest in some of this gear, but versatility is extremely important, which is what led me to choose the Canon XL H1 as my newest addition to the package.
I love the ability to record uncompressed to an outboard hard drive system, or use it as a small self contained system to record HDV directly to the tape, (which is why we selected it for a recent underwater documentary). Stripped down, it made for a very manageable system in the underwater housing, and for topside photography, it had the versatility to also serve as a full production camera. The Zacuto Universal Support System really helped in this regard, with a great interface to the myriad of accessories I already own, such as Chrosziel matte boxes, follow focus systems, and Anton Bauer batteries. Even lovers of the Canon XL line will admit that they are difficult to hand hold for very long; (the only downside of the very high quality lens is that it makes the camera front heavy).
The Zacuto system solves this problem by allowing the Anton Bauer to be mounted to the support system, resting over the operator's shoulder; (it not only solves the balance issue, an Anton Bauer will usually run an H1 camera all day long). The Zacuto system also offers integrated mounts for various devices like remote drives, (such as the Firestore), a radio receiver, or just about any other studio configuration you care to add. Check out their ZipGear follow focus system as a perfect example of simple but elegant engineering. Versatility is important to a DP, and can be even more important as an equipment owner; this makes the Canon XL H1 with Zacuto accessories pretty hard to beat.
James Mathers, a Los Angeles based DP
President of the Digital Cinema Society
Digital Cinema Society