The A1 for Outdoors and Wildlife? 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 June 22nd, 2008, 09:05 PM   #1
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The A1 for Outdoors and Wildlife?

I could use some input Folk's. I was looking into the Sony Z7U until the A1 was pointed out to me. I am a Nature and Wildlife Still Photographer, Mostly Raptors and Birds in Flight but I also do a lot of other animals as well. I am ready to step up from my HDR SR1 and was wondering how the A1 faired in the Outdoor and Nature arena.
I realize the technical and $$$ differences between the two ( Z7U and the A1 ) cameras but was looking for some input from you hands on users based on your experiences with the A1.
Thanks Everybody!
Tim
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 09:26 PM   #2
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A1

Tim,
I don't have first hand experience, but the camera is very popular with outdoors videographers. I've done quite a bit of research, and thats the camera that I plan to get. you would probably get more responces to your question if you asked on other sites dedicated to outdoors and wildlife. here's two to get you started. good luck
http://www.huntingfootage.com/forums/
http://www.kisky.com/forum/
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 09:31 PM   #3
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Hi Tim............

I use the A1 for outdoor and wildlife myself.

It's a great camera and takes beautifull video.

If I was in you're boots at this point in time, however, I would look seriously at the newer Canon XLH1A or wait till Canon replace the A1 with whatever.

Why?

The H1A has the new Series III 20X zoom with twin servoes, so can zoom AND focus at the same time. This is an invaluable option for getting close ups of fast moving critters and keeping the picture sharp.

The option to swap out that 20X for another still camera lens of quite astonishing focal length is not to be sneezed at either.

The A1's replacement, whatever it turns out to be, will, please God, fix my biggest annoyance with the A1, which is the "design limitation" that prevents focus from being accurately controlled using the ZR1000 or ZR2000 Lanc remote controller.

This PITA has caused me more grief than I can possibly convey. At a stroke it rendered all my plans to do some serious jib/ boom shooting of wildlife completely useless.

The fact that is does not have HDMI out doesn't work in it's favour either.

Who knows, maybe the "new" A1 will have solid state recording as well, which would be a HUGE plus.

Just my 2 cents.


CS
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 09:32 PM   #4
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I've used the A1 before and though its a great camera, here are my thoughts:

- The big issue for me is the screen size. Its a small 2.8", which is very difficult to use especially for HD. The Z7U fixes this problem by offering a much larger screen, which I think is 3.5"

- Zoom control. I dont like how its an electronic zoom ring, so doing super fast zoom whips isn't possible and isnt as accurate as a real servo found on the Z7. Also I found zoom toggle buttons on the side to not be that great, but I could just be nitpicking here.

- Not a big deal, but I don't like how the battery compartment is covered by a door and is inside the camera. More of a personal concern.

What I do like about the camera, aside the features that are a plus on both the Z7 and the A1, are:

- The lens. Its a 20x zoom so you can really get tight shots. The Z7 has a mere 12x, but does feature interchangable lens system.

- The On/Off method. I like the fact that you turn a dial rather than flick a switch, making it more difficult to accidentally turn the camera on/off.

I havent played with the Z7 yet but I too am looking at HD cameras and my decision has fallen between the A1 and the Z7.
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 10:23 PM   #5
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Hi Tim,

It is probably worth considering the cost of each camera, for the money the A1 is amazing, yes there are a couple of design flaws etc.
If you look at the Z7 and you are going to change lenses then remember the cost of additional glass.... you could be talking the same cost as the Z7 a few times over.

Other options which have not been mentioned but maybe worth considering are the:

Sony EX1
Sony EX3
Panasonic HVX
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 02:40 AM   #6
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The only subjects I am interested in filming are wildlife and the natural world. The only real drawback with the A1 is the lack of interchangeable lenses. However, I considered the quality of the results, the cost of the machine, and the weight when carrying it around. Life is a compromise. And I have found the A1 an excellent compromise - if only I had time to use it more often (seven tapes in seven months - except that three of those tapes were when I had two weeks to devote to photography and video).
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 06:55 AM   #7
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Thanks everybody for the input and advice. Definitely gives me more food for thought. I am leaning more so now towards the A1 based purely on bang for my buck as it will leave me room to get the acc's (ext mic, case, Vegas Pro, extra batteries, tripod head, etc) needed for getting started.
Speaking of editing software, I am already using Adobe CS3 for Photo editing. How is Adobe with HD video when compared to Vegas Pro? Would anyone care to share regarding this before I venture off and buy Vegas Pro?...FC Pro is not an option as I am PC based.
Thanks again everyone, you have been a great help.
Tim
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 07:20 AM   #8
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You must have interchangeable lenses for wildlife, surely. Unless you're working with subjects that'll let you walk right upto them you need a pretty powerful lens, especially for small birds etc. Best thing about the A1 is it'll shoot infra red so good for night-time wildlife like bats etc.
Steve
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 08:35 AM   #9
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I have used the A1 for exactly 1 nature shoot, but I have been more impressed with this setting than anything before. I am using this to promote a local nursery, so it is all flowers, but I can tell you that in this setting the camera way outperformed my expectations...

www.grantphotovideo.com/Wingards.wmv

Bill
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 11:10 AM   #10
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Very nice Bill, great colors. Seeing stuff like this motivates me even more, Thanks!
Tim
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 01:23 PM   #11
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Steve

I think you're mixing up the Sony A1 which does excellent infra-red (which is why I have one for bats despite it having a bottom-loading tape deck and only 10x zoom) with the Canon A1 which doesn't have infra-red, but which has 20x lens, better controllability and a top-loading tape mechanism and which is my preferred machine for daylight shooting - small birds and all.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 02:20 PM   #12
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Yes Annie, you're right, I assumed it was the Sony! Just recognised your name, I came to film your bats last year for S4C, remember!?
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 02:29 PM   #13
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Hi Steve

Several people came to film the bats last year, and as I'm pretty hopeless at remembering names (in one ear and out the other usually) I have to admit I didn't recognise yours. Was that the time with the remote control stuff up in the loft?
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Old June 24th, 2008, 08:43 AM   #14
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That's it, then did choughs with Bob!
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Old June 24th, 2008, 09:18 AM   #15
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I never did find time to do my own remote control stuff in that loft, and this year looks even more hopeless for free evenings. I hope to try it on the long-eared bats in our house loft, though with my luck, they'll probably use the neighbour's half of the loft this year.
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