HV20 vs XH A1 image quality at DVinfo.net

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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old September 4th, 2007, 07:11 PM   #1
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HV20 vs XH A1 image quality

I posted this in the XH A1 forum, but thought I'd get a different perspective from you folks, so I'd love to hear some comments....

I am a very hardcore wildlife photographer (all pro gear, everything manual, etc) but don't know a thing about video. My wife is pregnant with our first baby and I need to get some video equipment. I don't plan on taking video to nearly the same level as my photography - in other words, I don't need all kinds of manual exposure controls and other stuff. What I do want, however, is the highest quality HD I can reasonably afford.

I plan on shooting indoors in low light as much as outdoors. Probably more so since it's a baby. I understand the XH A1 has a ton more controls than the HV20, but that's not important to me. I just want to understand the difference in image quality. Does the XH A1 offer significant improvement over the HV20 in image quality? Or are the differences more operational?

Thanks,

Brian
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Old September 4th, 2007, 07:52 PM   #2
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Differences are operational, and in the feature sets. There's no significant difference in image quality. What you're paying for in any of these camcorders is always a question of work flow, feature sets, operational considerations... there's no significant difference in "image quality" in any of these camcorders. The XH A1 offers better image *control* than the HV20 in low-light situations, but you have to decide if that's worth the extra $2000.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 08:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
The XH A1 offers better image *control* than the HV20 in low-light situations
I think it's worth noting that the XH A1 offers a better low-light image in *addition* to better control. It has less noise at equivalent exposure levels for non-zero gain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Zeiler View Post
Does the XH A1 offer significant improvement over the HV20 in image quality?
I think you should consider the lens as part of the "image", and the XH A1 has a lens with several improvements over the HV20. It has a wider wide (32mm vs. 44mm), longer telephoto (650mm vs. 436mm), and faster glass at equivalent focal lengths (e.g. f/2.2 or so at 436mm, vs. f/3.0 on the HV20). I speculate that big brother has more resolution and contrast at equivalent telephoto focal lengths as well, but I haven't read any research that proves it.

Side note: as a fellow still photographer, I would encourage you to put a lot of effort into sound production. The line-input capability of the XH A1 allows you to attain a lower noise floor than the HV20 by skipping the camera preamp.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 08:47 PM   #4
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All excellent points, Daniel. Again it comes down to cost... is it worth the extra $2000. My advice has always been to buy what you can afford.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 10:20 PM   #5
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I own both cameras and in bright exterior shooting situations you'll find the image quality very similar. However, side-by-side the A1 does look better. In low-light the HV20 does not do well IMHO.

But, I will say the HV20 is the BEST $1000 I've ever spent on a camera. In the right conditions you can shoot great looking video. Really great looking video actually.

Based on what you've described you'd likely be fine with an HV20 and save the extra money for diapers. :)
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Old September 4th, 2007, 11:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Zeiler View Post
My wife is pregnant with our first baby and I need to get some video equipment. I plan on shooting indoors in low light as much as outdoors. Probably more so since it's a baby.
I've got about 30 tapes of our one-year old, and I've thought of a little more advice.

Find ways to increase the light output in every room where you'd like to record the baby. 150-watt bulbs aren't overkill.

For me, the sound is even more important than the picture. Reducing the reflectivity of your home will make the biggest difference. If you can get the reflections down enough, get an external mic (hypercardiod, perhaps).

Lastly, since you'll necessarily be using a camera-mounted or in-camera microphone, getting in close will improve the sound a lot. The wider you can go, the closer you can get. Perspective and distortion aren't generally a problem for baby-sized subjects, even at 28mm-equivalent.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 08:59 AM   #7
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Brian,
A key factor to consider here is size and quickness to use. If your main reason you're buying a camcorder is to film your child, the HV-20 is probably a better camera. The HV-20's image is great (may not be Discovery HD but, in terms of home movies it rocks). With a new baby your focus (no pun intended) will be on the child, not making movies. With the HV-20 you can just grab, point-n-shoot. Since the HV-20 is very easy to use, your wife or someone else could easily grab the camera and film you with your child. Also, when filling the car to go to grandma's, the HV-20 is much smaller to pack. A small camera you can keep with you all the time will probably gather more footage. Consider too that as a still photographer, you'll probably be carrying your still gear. The HV-20 can easily drop into a camera bag where you would put a second still body.

It's not just image quality that's important. Fortunately for you, both choices have great quality so you can choose based on other factors.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 09:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Daniel Browning View Post
The line-input capability of the XH A1 allows you to attain a lower noise floor than the HV20 by skipping the camera preamp.
I think you can gain much of this advantage with the HV20 by using an XLR adapter with it's own preamps such as the Beachtek DXA-8.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 10:23 AM   #9
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I think you can gain much of this advantage with the HV20 by using an XLR adapter with it's own preamps such as the Beachtek DXA-8.
Any XLR adapter used with the HV20 must output a mic signal, as that's the only input the HV20 can recieve. The HV20 preamp will always be involved, unfortunately.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 10:47 AM   #10
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Any XLR adapter used with the HV20 must output a mic signal, as that's the only input the HV20 can recieve. The HV20 preamp will always be involved, unfortunately.
...not to mention the lossy audio compression algorithm used by the HDV standard. With HDV you gain image resolution at the expense of audio resolution, as compared to DV.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 12:30 PM   #11
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One way easy way to increase sound quality is to use a wireless mic.

The AT Pro88 plugs into the 1/8" plugs, is very lightweight, has a very good mic with it (the version with not AT30 mic, not the 29), and is not expensive:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...8W_Camera.html

It works great as a plant mic as well as a lavalier. Not always the useful, but in many cases will work great.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 07:25 PM   #12
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check this thread

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=93025

James Miller posted some comparison video between the HV20 and A1 under very similar conditions and fooled some members.

Although his clip isn't available right now, PM him and ask if it's still around.
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Old September 6th, 2007, 08:52 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the helpful comments - I think I'll spring for the HV20 and blow the difference on SLR lenses!
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Old September 6th, 2007, 12:41 PM   #14
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The sound quality can be greatly increased by one of these two mics:
The Canon DM-50:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...icrophone.html
This mic is powered off the hot shoe and the sound goes into the camera through the hot shoes, so there are no cables. A lot of people like this mic. The one issue some people don't like is that it can transmit a little handling noise at times since it doesn't have a completely isolated shock mount. However, Chris Hurd lists it in another thread as one of his must-have accessories... along with the wide-angle lens:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...0_7x_Wide.html
A better mic is probably more imprtant than the wide angle at first for your purposes.

Another very popular mic for this camera is this the Rode Videomic. Here is the mono version:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...a_Mounted.html
It has sound of the virtually the same quality as the Canon mic, but plugs into the camera with a little cable. It also has a real shock mount that isolates the mic with replaceable rubber bands.
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Old September 6th, 2007, 12:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Browning View Post
Any XLR adapter used with the HV20 must output a mic signal, as that's the only input the HV20 can recieve. The HV20 preamp will always be involved, unfortunately.
I don't know what this means, cause I'm no sound genious, but when we shot this film:

http://www.argonaut-ent.com/Download...64-24p-WEB.mov

Sound guy was using a field mixer. We set my Beachtec to line, because that's what was being outputted by the mixer. My controls on the Beachtec were set around 5. For each scene, he would send me a 1kg tone, and I would adjust the camera to - 12 db, and we shot from there.
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