Soon To Be Frequently Asked Questions
about the Canon XH G1 and XH A1 HDV Camcorders

This page has been set up in anticipation of some of the most common frequently asked questions about the Canon XH G1 and XH A1 High Definition video camcorders. If you don't see your particular question answered here, be sure to check out the XH Skinny and all of the articles in the XH Watchdog Articles section. Of course, there's also our message board in the DV Info Net Community discussion area, where you can intereact with other members in a professional, moderated and noise-free environment. Registration is free; come in and join the discussions!

Q   Why are there two camcorders, and what are the differences between them?

A   The only difference between the XH G1 and XH A1, is that the G1 offers uncompressed HD output over Serial Digital Interface (SDI) as well as GenLock input and Time Code input and output. The A1 doesn't have SDI, GenLock or TC input and output. Other than that, they're exactly alike. I suppose Canon is offering two different models so that if you need SDI and GenLock, etc., then it's there on the G1; and if you don't need those specialized features then you don't have to buy them, you can get the A1 instead.

Q   Do these camcorders replace the Canon GL2?

A   No. The GL2 is not being replaced by the XH series camcorders. The GL2 along with the XL2 still compose the current Canon line of 3CCD standard definition DV camcorders.

Q   How much do these XH camcorders cost and when are they available?

A   The XH A1 (without the pro jacks) will be available in late October 2006 and will sell for $3999. The XH G1 (with the pro jacks) will be available in mid November 2006 and will sell for $6999.

Q   What do these camcorders have in common with the XL H1?

A   The XL H1, XH G1 and XH A1 share the same DSP and CCD block (Digic DV II digital signal processor, and three 1/3rd-inch 1.67mp CCDs in native 16:9 shape with 1440 x 1080 effective pixels). The XL H1, XH G1 and XH A1 offer 30F and 24F Frame modes in addition to standard 60i recording. All three cameras provide dual XLR audio inputs with manual level controls, still photo recording to SD memory card, video image adjustments spanning 23 custom preset parameters, analog component video output, composite BNC video output, LANC and FireWire. All use the same Canon BP-9xx series camcorder batteries including the largest BP-970G. All three cameras record 1080i HDV onboard to tape. All are optionally upgradeable to European compatibility (50i and 25F frame rates). Canon's Console camera control software works with all three cameras. There are other similarities as well, including Clear Scan recording, Skin Detail adjustment, and White Balance adjustment in 100° Kelvin increments common to all three cameras.

Q   What do the XH cameras have that the XL H1 doesn't?

A   The XH series camcorders include a few features not found on the XL H1, such as a new, very fast autofocus technology called "Instant AF" which utilizes a passive IR sensor. On the XH G1, the HD and SD output over SDI embeds audio and Time Code along with video, whereas SDI output is video only (without audio or Time Code) on the XL H1. The XH series camcorder lenses have manual iris control rings and a wider field of view compared to the XL H1. Some of their custom preset image controls have an adjustment range of +50 to -50 (compared to +9 to -9 on the XL H1). Master RGB adjustment at the CCD level is 140% greater than that of the XL H1. There is a new Sky Detail Control feature, similar to Skin Detail Control, and a separate six-axis color correction feature. The camera menu displays are customizable, and user-programmable function buttons which can be set up as desired, as an example for "shockless" adjustment of white balance, gain, or exposure.

Q   What does the XL H1 have that these cameras don't?

A   The XL H1 is part of the Canon XL series of modular camera systems. Among other interchangeable components, the XL H1 offers interchangeable lenses while the XH camcorders have built-in lenses which are not interchangeable. Unlike the XL H1, the XH series camcorders do not offer four-channel audio recording, nor do their accessory shoes accept Advanced Accessory Shoe attachments such as the Canon MA-300 XLR audio input block or the Canon VL-3 video light. Custom preset files are not interchangeable between the XL H1 and the XH series camcorders.

Q   Does the built-in 20x HD lens on the XH camcorders have the same focal length as the stock 20x HD lens included with the XL H1?

A   No. The 20x HD lens on the XH camcorders has a wider field of view than the stock 20x HD lens packaged with the XL H1. On the XH series camcorders, the focal length of the 20x lens is 4.5mm to 90mm, which translates in 35mm still photo terms to 32.5mm at full wide angle to 650mm at full telephoto. In comparison, the focal length of the stock 20x HD lens packaged with the XL H1 is 5.4mm to 108mm, which in 35mm still photo terms equates to 38.9mm at full wide to 778mm at full telephoto.

Q   Does the built-in 20x HD lens on the XH camcorders have the same aperture values as the stock 20x HD lens included with the XL H1?

A   Yes. At full wide angle, the maximum aperture is f/1.6. At full telephoto, the maximum aperture is f/3.5. The aperture closes after f/9.5. Unlike the stock 20x HD lens included with the XL H1, aperture value on the XH camcorders is controlled by an iris ring on the lens barrel.


Q   Does the built-in 20x HD lens on the XH camcorders have the same Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) technology as the stock 20x HD lens included with the XL H1?

A   Not quite. OIS on the stock 20x HD lens included with the XL H1 uses Canon's Super Range Vari-Angle Prism (VAP) method. OIS on the built-in 20x HD lens on the XH camcorders uses Canon's Super Range Lens Shift Image Stabilisation (Shift-IS) method. I doubt you could visually detect any difference between the two OIS systems.

Q   What is the filter thread diameter of the XH series 20x HD lens?

A   The filter thread diameter of the XH series 20x HD lens is 72mm.

Q   What's that thing next to the lens? It looks like a video light.

A   The thing on the right side of the lens that looks like it might be a video light, is actually the eye of a passive IR sensor which is part of the "Instant AF" fast autofocus function. This device quickly measures large-scale changes in distance and contrast, and hands the results to a separate fine-scale AF processor for fast, precise tuning of autofocus. There's a cutaway in the XH camera lens hood to accomodate the eye of the sensor. Instant AF can be switched on or off in the camera's menu system.

Q   Is there an upgrade program to add 50i and 25F frame rates to these cameras, like there is for the XL H1?

A   Yes. It's the same program. Owners of North American models can send their cameras in to Canon Service to be upgraded for added switchable capability of the 50i and 25F European frame rates. Likewise, Europeans can get their cameras upgraded to the added frame rates of 60i, 30F and 24F. This is not a dealer option. It's available only to individual camera owners.

Q   Are there XLR inputs on these cameras?

A   In addition to the built-in onboard stereo mic, the G1 and A1 provide two balanced XLR audio inputs which are switchable between mic level and line level impedance, supply phantom power, individual attenuation, and allow manual level control via pots on the camera body. There is a dedicated headphone jack. The G1 and A1 are also equipped with an onboard mic clamp which is removeable.

Q   I don't see a battery on this camera. Where does it go?

A   The G1 and A1 have internal battery wells; they accomodate any Canon BP-9xx series camcorder battery including the large BP-970G inside the camera body. The battery access door is on the back of the camera and the battery can be changed without taking the camera off of its tripod.

Q   Speaking of tripods, does the Canon TA-100 tripod mounting plate work with these cameras?

A   Yes. The Canon TA-100 tripod mounting plate can be used with the G1 and A1.

Q   Are XL H1 Custom Preset files compatible with these cameras?

A   Unfortunately no. Custom Presets have changed a little bit on the G1 and A1. Although there are still the same 23 adjustable preset parameters identical to the XL H1, the range of adjustment of some of these parameters has increased in the G1 and A1. For example, in the G1 and A1, Master RGB adjustment at the CCD level is 140% greater than that of the XL H1. The values for color adjustments in the G1 and A1 are -50 to +50 compared to -9 to +9 in the XL H1. These changes have rendered the XL and XH Custom Preset file structures incompatible with each other.

Q   How much do these camcorders weigh?

A   With the standard BP-950G battery in the camera, the XH G1 weighs just a bit more than five pounds (2330 grams). The XH A1 weighs about five pounds (2260 grams) with the included BP-950G battery.

Q   Is this all you've got?

A   This page is a work in progress... we're just getting started here.

Thrown together by Chris Hurd.

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