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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
For the Canon XA25, XA20, XA10 and all VIXIA / LEGRIA Series AVCHD camcorders.


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Old May 17th, 2013, 09:22 AM   #1
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To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

Here is my situation. I video for the outdoor (i.e. hunting) industry. I do a lot of self film work or filming for youth hunting conditions. So there are a lot of times that I need to rely on a camera's auto controls as much as that pains me. But I am considering making the move to tapeless yet I need professional features like XLR, HDMI out, LAN-C, and manual control access. My video conditions are rarely controlled in terms of lighting and the subjects. My video conditions take into account dirt, dust, moisture, and extremely cold temperatures. I don't shoot weddings or staged scenes. At times I shoot my kid's events or do some volunteer video production work for my church, but I make due in those situations.

Most of my video production work ends up for myself and clients on the web. Some goes to DVD production as well. No broadcast TV major network stuff.

Here is my current equipment and how I utilize it. I mix footage from all which can be a color challenge, but I manage using the Adobe Production Premium Suite programs.

Canon XH-A1 (my primary camera) with XLR shotgun and wireless mics. The lack of HDMI out is killer though as I now like using my SmallHD AC7 monitor.
Canon HV30 (mainly a capture tape deck anymore)
Canon 7D DSLR with many lenses including L glass. I am running this more and more when filming for others but the lack of AF is a deal breaker for self film or youth situations where I cannot dedicate 100% of my time to the camera. Also hate the lack of XLR and LAN-C.
Canon G15. A GREAT 2nd angle and b-roll camera. This thing shoots incredible video considering this is a pocket sized photo camera.
GoPro Hero 2 with wifi ... 3rd and 4th angle stuff.
Kodak PlaySport ... 3rd and 4th angle stuff.

So I am considering ditching the XH-A1 and HV30 to go tapeless. I like the looks of the XA10 and soon to be XA20 even more. I like the XLR, LAN-C, and tapeless factors. I like the low light tests that I have seen. I think I like the in between form factor that falls between the tiny HV30 and the large (sometimes cumbersome XH-A1. I'm not sure I like the manual controls being menu based though. I've looked at the XF100 as well and it looks like a nice fit for me, but in looking at low light tests it looks like my XH-A1 will perform better.

Am I nuts for wanting to make such a move? I really like shooting on my DSLR and have considered the SL1 with the 2nd generation of Canon's AF, but it still has a long way to go, IMO. Plus my microphone set ups would have to change entirely. Not sure that I want to entirely ditch the video camera format either as my main unit.

I know everyone has to figure out what best fits their situation. But just looking for opinions. I wish I could get my hands on cameras to test and have thought about buying used ones on ebay just to mess with for a few weeks and re-sell if I don't like them. It is tough living in an area where Walmart has the best photo/video equipment at your disposal.

Thoughts?
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Old May 17th, 2013, 10:10 AM   #2
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

I just got a used Hf G20 for under $1k. It's pretty incredible. Auto everything means it takes care of itself and the picture is really great - I'd say better then my AC-160 in good light. A button/scroll wheel on the back controls shutter, gain and aperture. Very easy to use in manual. Audio could be better, but that's what the XA20 is for with XLRs. Also the 20x zoom on the soon-to-be-released G30 and XA20 models would be more desireable than the 10x zoom on the XA10 and G20. Rent one for a few days and try it out. I think you'll be impressed.
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Old May 18th, 2013, 12:36 AM   #3
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

Hi Derek,
I second what Nate is saying. If you can, I would wait until you can get your hands on one of the new XA 20 or 25 cams. Reading the manual, they have a lot of improvements over the current HF G10/20 & XA 10 cams. The 20x lens is just one of the many improvements in my view. Others I think worth mentioning are over & under cranking. So time-lapse shots are now possible & nice slow motion shots using 60p but recorded so they are played back at 30p; Night shooting using infrared; Way better audio than the consumer version with the XLR inputs; Did I mention the 20x lens? Well not only is it twice the range of the HF G10/20 & the XA 10, but it is much wider at 26.8mm (35mm equivalent) That's a whole lot wider than the XH A1 which from memory is around 30 or 32mm!! Not quite as long as the 650mm of the XH A1 on the long end, but still very usable. The other thing I like about these new cams is all the assignable buttons. There are 5 of them, making the need to go into menus less of an issue. There is a pre-record buffer that you won't have had on your other cams that I think will be very useful for your type of shooting. These new cams record in H.264 in both AVCHD & MP4 wrappers, the latter going up to 35mbps so theoretically it should give even better quality. The shear size of these little cams compared to your XH A1 will make trekking in to hunting spots a breeze & of course that same size will mean that you may even be able to get away with a slightly lighter tripod as well. As you know from using the 7D, digitizing tapes at the end of a shoot really blows, there's another positive for these new cams.
Ok, so there's little out there so far in the way of footage that shows off the capabilities of this camera, but i'm sure Canon won't release a camera that is sub par. I have the HF G10 & think for a little camera of this type, the footage is remarkable. I don't think Canon are going to go backwards with the XA 20/25 & I have enough confidence in that statement that I have ordered one myself.
Best of luck with your decision,
Regards,
Bryce
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Old May 19th, 2013, 09:02 PM   #4
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

I pre-ordered an XA20 today from B&H. I have a video project at the end of June that I hope to put it through its paces on. I have no plans on selling my XH-A1 though until I have ran the XA20 enough to feel comfortable making the complete jump. Heck looking at XH-A1 prices on eBay I might not sell the camera and just keep it.
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Old May 19th, 2013, 09:12 PM   #5
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

Nice! Let us know how it treats you.
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Old May 19th, 2013, 09:46 PM   #6
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

I'm with you on the XH A1 Derek. At the prices they are selling, I figure I will just keep a hold of mine. I'm sure it will come in handy at some point, & since my HV 20 died, it is my only way of playing & re-digitizing tapes.
Good to hear you also took the plunge on the XA 20, I think it will make a great little cam.
Regards,
Bryce
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Old May 20th, 2013, 08:09 PM   #7
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Craig View Post
I pre-ordered an XA20 today from B&H. Heck looking at XH-A1 prices on eBay I might not sell the camera and just keep it.
I would not be surprised if, after you use your XA20, that you might never use your XH-A1 again. You will miss some of the manual controls, the form factor, at first, but if you work with it and learn it you would have no reason to use your old camera again.
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Old May 25th, 2013, 03:06 AM   #8
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Craig View Post
I pre-ordered an XA20 today from B&H. I have a video project at the end of June that I hope to put it through its paces on. I have no plans on selling my XH-A1 though until I have ran the XA20 enough to feel comfortable making the complete jump. Heck looking at XH-A1 prices on eBay I might not sell the camera and just keep it.
I think that this is a good move. The big thing about the XHA1 is the 20x lens and the ability to be able to manually adjust things. These camcorders are still great camcorders that a lot of people in the hunting industry are using. They are also very durable too. Some of the newer models probably wont fare as well out in the forest!!!
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Old May 14th, 2015, 11:45 AM   #9
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Re: To upgrade ... to not upgrade .... is it even an upgrade ... decisions

XHA1... yeah... mine is probably one of those on eBay... LOL. Stolen the night before a shoot.

Great cam for outdoor shoots.. and so is the XA10. I'm sure the 20 will be great too.
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