XH-A1 becoming outdated at DVinfo.net

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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old January 9th, 2008, 11:54 PM   #1
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XH-A1 becoming outdated

Hey everyone

Just curious your opinion on buying an XH-A1 at this point in time. I am not in a hurry to get a new camcorder yet. But if I had the ability, I think I would be hesitant to get this camera now. My biggest issue is the resolution 1440 x 1080 and the recording media. We have seen 2 major players add solid state to their line up. We have also seen consumer camera with the ability to record true HD 1920 x 1080, including Canon's own HV20. Do you think Canon will come out with something new soon? Would you wait until then?

The new Sony PMW-EX1 has got me thinking. I love the 1/2" chip but rather it be CCDs then CMOS. It makes me laugh. CMOS is supposed to be cheaper to make, but when are they going to pass on the savings to the customer.
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Old January 10th, 2008, 12:26 AM   #2
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"I am not in a hurry to get a new camcorder yet. But if I had the ability, I think I would be hesitant to get this camera now."

It seems that, if I were in your position, and these two thoughts came out of my mouth, the obvious choice would be to wait. If you can, and are hesitant about the camera, I think it's a no-brainer. The longer you wait, the better the toy you'll get.

That being said, I don't know of any other camera in this price range (correct me if I'm wrong) that provides as film-like a look color wise, due to the mass amounts of tweaking that this camera is unique in providing (again, correct me if I'm wrong). I can get any look I can imagine, right out of the camera, with a format that has no pulldown to its 1080-HDV-standard-breaking 24f mode (no 60i or 50i in there!).

Combine that with my FireStore (thereby rendering me tapeless) and my freshly ordered Letus Extreme 35mm adapter (hopefully here in a few weeks -- ordered Monday), and I've got a unit that will give me exactly the film look I want in camera, saving me hours of tweaking colors in post (and the recompressions that will ensue).

So, that's why I think I'll be happy with my A1 for the next ten years. :)

Obviously, I'm a filmmaker by heart, so take that for what it's worth.
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Old January 10th, 2008, 02:49 AM   #3
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Depends on whether you want to start shooting now or at some unspecified point in the future.

If you're always waiting for the next big thing, then you're never going to get any actual shooting done. No technology is future-proof, and there are always new toys that'll be a step up from the current product line.

But I'll bet dollars to donuts that the new tech, when it does finally emerge, won't satisfy your every need, either. And it'll be more expensive. The A1 definitely has its faults, but for the roughly $3K that it costs right now, it's an amazing piece of glass. I don't regret my purchase one bit.

Keep in mind that solid state recording is still in its infancy. The media is still too small and too cost-prohibitive. When it does get big and cheap enough, you can bet that an enterprising company like FireStore will produce a small add-on unit that works with the A1. I don't see this camera going the way of the dinosaur any time soon.

As for increased resolution, that's a judgment call. The resolution of the A1 is more than sufficient for my needs. In fact, for my current work, I downconvert to SD more often than not. I guess it depends on the kind of work you see yourself doing.

regards,

Daniel
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Old January 10th, 2008, 03:05 AM   #4
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Canon HV20 has a 1920x1080 pixel sensor, true, but the output to tape in still 1440x1080 which is HDV standard.
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Old January 10th, 2008, 06:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Barclay View Post
We have also seen consumer camera with the ability to record true HD 1920 x 1080
Yes - they are consumer "FullHD" cameras - wit 1920 x 1080 recordings - but with only 500-600 lines of real (optic and sensors) resolution. For this makes 1440 or 1920 no difference.
In real world - A1 is a camera with excellent resolution, whitch give definitive better sharpness than FullHD consumer Cameras.
Look here:
JVC HD Everio GZ-HD7 ("FullHD")
http://produktdbimages.slashcam.de/c...so_1080_26.jpg
And XHA1 (1440x1080)
http://produktdbimages.slashcam.de/c...so_1080_14.jpg
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Old January 10th, 2008, 07:48 AM   #6
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Keep in mind that solid state media (e.g., SD cards) has uncertain permanency for archive purposes. FWIW: my digital still camera contains a warning to that effect. Nothing yet has the proven archival quality of tape for digital recordings (at least nothing at reasonable cost and accessibility).

Buying decisions should be based on what do you need now, what can you afford, and what technology risk can you take. Lots of neat products come and go, and the second generation products usually provide a lot more bang for the buck. But if you need to be an early adopter for the latest technology, go for it.

Historically the production life for Canon prosumer camcorders appears to have been 3-4 years before a replacement model is introduced. Lot of folks are still producing good video with their XL1, and it was introduced over 10 years ago. There is still a lot of SD DVD media and gear being sold, and there is no compelling reason to jump from HDV yet.
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Old January 10th, 2008, 09:15 AM   #7
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I'm not constrained to the price point of the XH-A1. That said, if I was to go out and buy a cam today, it would be the EX1. I'm not saying price is no object, it always is. At the price point of the XH-A1, I'd be all over it, (as I did).

Enough about the means test. The XH-A1 is a tool in my hands. And I have developed such a comfort level and understanding, the video I'm getting with it is jaw dropping good, as good qualitatively as anything. The explanation is that I've found the comfort zone start to finish, beginning with the presets, on to the shutter, aperture and lens settings, the editing workflow, and final distribution. To switch now to the EX1 would put me back on the bottom of the learning curve. It took me a year to exploit fully what the XH-A1 could attain. I am really, really happy with the XH-A1. I also have the HV10. Truly, the HV10 (and follow-on models from Canon) have objective resolution measurements that equal the XH-A1, for a given focal length, aperture and zoom distance. But one attribute about the XH-A1 is that it maintains its resolution as you work throughout those ranges, rather than peaking at one setting. The result, is that the video from the XH-A1 is just better overall, all around. More transparent, more organic, more vivid, more alive. And especially motion handling, the built in ND filters give you complete control over shutter speeds to produce lifelike, non-jumpy, stutter free motion.

The XH-A1 resolution of the 1440x1080 sensor, not enough? Pffft... Talk to the booty, the hand is off duty! At the Texas Shootout, the measured resolution for 60i was equal to the PW350, and looks to be about on par with the EX1. Credit Canon, that's not a slam on the others.

I think the only area where the XH-A1 picture could be improved, is CA on the wide end, and the HDV codec during panning softens compared to the HDCAM, XDCAM, DVCAM etc. But those are extremely minor nits.

You want the DOF, overcranking, slow motion, XDCAM/DVCAM workflow, by all means get one! You want highly detailed consumer grade video, get one of the little cams! But the XH-A1/XL-H1 models are far from obsolete, and likely to be more cam than you'll ever need.
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Old January 10th, 2008, 09:22 AM   #8
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And just to add a comment about the CCD versus CMOS sensors...I'm simply amazed at the intensity of scrutiny being applied to the new Sony EX1, vignetting, rolling shutter, back focus, et al. It is unbelievable how good the footage from that cam is looking! CMOS sensor instead of CCD, or even vignetting would be the least of the concerns on my radar.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 08:09 AM   #9
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HDV on the Canon has many advantages: you can edit it on most any computer; you have tapes as permanent archives; it converts to SD for broadcast or DVD's fairly easily.

The resolution is great on the Canon -- your skill as an operator is the only limiting factor, not the difference between 1440 and 1920.

The approximately $7,000 price difference between an XHA1 and the Sony XDCAM EX (cam & cards) is only the tip of the iceberg. For the EX1, you'll also need a huge investment in back-end infrastructure.

If the tapeless workflow advantages and 1/2" chips are worth it to you, then an EX1 will pay for itself... but then so will a XDCAM F355 at $30 grand.

Don't troll bait unless you're comparing apples to apples. There's no better alternative to the Canon in the same price class of camera... but then a skilled operator can make the competitors to the Canon look just as good, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Barclay View Post
My biggest issue is the resolution 1440 x 1080 and the recording media.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 08:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Barclay View Post
My biggest issue is the resolution 1440 x 1080 and the recording media.
In all honesty, I think your concerns are misplaced. The single most widely accepted format in the world for HD broadcast masters is HDCAM, which like HDV is also 1440 x 1080 to tape. In other words, your biggest issue is a non-issue. Hope this helps,
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Old January 12th, 2008, 11:54 AM   #11
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If you can make money with it, it won't ever be outdated.

The moment you cannot make any money with it, is when it is outdated
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Old March 24th, 2008, 04:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson View Post
If you can make money with it, it won't ever be outdated.

The moment you cannot make any money with it, is when it is outdated
Well said, Peter.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #13
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And, just because a new camera comes on the market doesn't mean other things are outdated. People are still shooting with old Betacam SP camcorders, not to mention documentaries being done with PD150s, XL2's, etc.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 08:36 PM   #14
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Dude, have you seen Steven Dempsey's work? Nuff said.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 10:36 PM   #15
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Hey you're all forgetting one more thing about the A1, which is it's absolutely amazing ability to hold edge detail in blown highlights. Kiss good bye to that purple fringing you are accustomed to seeing on blown edges with other cams - not even my JVC-HD200 costing double the price can do that.

The A1 makes one of the best all-round HDV images for the price, especially if you like to run & gun.

JT
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