XL H1 Watchdog on the lookout

Your XL H1 Info Center

What's New, April 10th 2008:
Canon continues their XL camcorder line with a pair of fifth-generation camcorders, replacing the XL H1 with the XL H1S and XL H1A. These new models are updates to the original XL H1. The same body chassis, XL lens mount, CCD block and DSP are held over from the earlier version XL H1.

The H1S and H1A incoporate many of the features found in the Canon XH series camcorders which were introduced about a year after the original XL H1 first began shipping. Some other new features plus a redesigned stock lens round out the series of changes to the H1S and H1A.

  • The XL H1S includes full-spec SDI, GenLock and TimeCode.

  • The XL H1A is identical to the H1S but without SDI, GL & TC.

  • New 20x lens includes an iris ring and simultaneous focus & zoom.

  • Revised audio controls allow use of O.B. mic with XLR input.

  • Custom Presets are compatible with XH series camcorders.

  • XL H1S ships early June for $8999; XL H1A in mid July for $5999.

XL H1S (identical to XL H1A from this angle).

The only differences between the H1S and H1A are the professional connectivity jacks (SDI, GenLock, TimeCode) and the price. Otherwise the H1S and H1A are identical. For standard definition recording, GenLock on the H1S now supports an incoming blackburst signal, previously found only on the XH G1. The older XL H1 supported only a tri-level sync signal for HD recording. Like the XH G1, the SDI (serial digital interface) jack on the H1S is now conforms to the full specification SMPTE 292M by carrying audio. Previously the XL H1 did not carry audio over SDI.

New 20x Series III Auto Lens
The stock H1S and H1A camera kits include a redesigned 20x Series III lens. It has the same focal length (38.9mm - 778mm), Neutral Density filters and Optical Image Stabilizer as the previous 20x lens included with the XL H1. Image quality is identical between the newer stock lens and the previous one. The new lens includes a manual iris ring, as found on the 6x Wide Angle XL HD lens. The manual zoom ring is larger and has a little more weight. Zoom speed range is still 16 steps in each direction but the range itself is expanded (slower and faster). The distances along the lens barrel between the iris, zoom and focus rings has been increased. It is now finally possible to pull focus and change focal length at the same time with an XL auto lens. There are three menu-selectable levels of responsiveness to the control rings (45° 60° 90°). The new lens will work with reduced functionality on an XL H1 or older standard definition Canon XL camcorders, however it will not be available for separate purchase (nor will the H1S and H1A be offered in a "body only" kit for the time being). Contrary to a hopeful rumor circulating on DV Info Net, the 1/3rd-inch 20x manual lens manufactured by Canon Broadcast for JVC's Pro HD camcorder line will not be adapted to Canon XL.

External Body Changes
The camera chassis itself is unchanged from the previous XL H1 and XL2 camera bodies with the exception of some minor reconfiguration of buttons and connection ports. The XL H1S and H1A have the same CCD block and Digital Signal Processor (Canon's Digic DV II HD). Most of the updates in the H1S and H1A are internal, but there are some minor external differences, such as a redesigned audio controls layout. The FireWire jack is the 6-pin type, instead of 4-pin as found on the XH series and older model XL camcorders. The power / control mode dial now has the "M" full manual control mode as the first option. The Advanced Accessory "hot" shoe does not carry over to the H1S and H1A; it is replaced with an unpowered "cold" shoe although it still provides connectivity to any Canon SpeedLite photo flash. The hand grip is larger and borrows elements of the grip design used on the XH G1. The hand grip belt is larger and similar to those found on traditional shoulder-mount broadcast video cameras. The power LED is now green instead of red to avoid confusing it with the recording tally light.

Audio Recording / Control Changes
The XL H1S and H1A record two channels of audio. Four-channel recording is gone. Two volume pots on the H1S and H1A replace the four volume pots on the XL H1 and XL2. It is now possible to record audio from the onboard stereo microphone and an XLR input simultaneously; the signal from the onboard stereo mic is mixed down to mono and recorded to one audio channel while the signal from one of the XLR inputs (provided by the receiver of a wireless lav, for example) is recorded to the other audio channel. The XLR inputs have individually selectable impedance sensitivity (mic level vs. line level). Line level impedance now has a higher level of sensitivity. A +18db reference tone is added. Audio level controls for the two channels may be linked together if desired. The headphone jack has been reinforced with a metal base.

Custom Presets, Displays & Functions
The range of color adjustment within the Custom Preset menu in the XL H1S and H1A has been expanded similar to the XH series camcorders to plus or minus fifty steps. There is full compatibility between the XH G1 and A1 camcorders and the XL H1S and H1A with regard to Custom Preset files. The H1S and H1A can read an older H1 Custom Preset file. Like the XH series camcorders, the H1S and H1A record nine Custom Preset files to internal memory plus 20 more on an SD card. The H1S and H1A have a Custom Display menu very similar to the XH series camcorders and a Custom Function menu somewhat similar to the XH series camcorders.

Other Changes
For focus assist, the peaking control frequency is user selectable. Image magnification is recordable and the function can be assigned to the Photo Record button. AGC (auto gain control) has a user-selectable control limit, allowing the shooter to specify the maximum desired value for automatic gain. +32db gain is added to the previous range of -3db to +18db. It is now possible to select very specific gain values in one-half decibel increments from +0db to +18db gain. The aperture value at which the iris completely closes was formerly f/9.5 to defend against diffraction. It is now user selectable. For White Balance control, the range of selectable color temperature values has been expanded to 2,000°K - 15,000°K. The color correction menu from the XH series camcorders is brought into the H1S and H1A. There is a new menu option to control selective Noise Reduction in certain color areas. Finally, the Focus Enhancement FS-C portable FireWire hard disk recorder provides some communication through the viewfinder of the H1S and H1A, displaying remaining recording time.

For those who don't need SDI, GenLock or TimeCode, the XL H1A provides all of the same functionality except for those connections for $3000 less than the XL H1S.

Thrown together by Chris Hurd

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