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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 July 13th, 2008, 10:56 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
I really liked the big iris ring on the lens but couldn”t understand why they left that small iris ring on the side of the camera as it was difficult to reach and adjusting that was not smooth, not like the big ring on the lens.
Not that it really matters, but that has nothing to do with the iris. That small wheel has multi-functions, the main being it's a shutter wheel.

My thoughts on the A1... it IS and will be the "best bang for the buck", & will continue to be for quite a while.
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Old July 13th, 2008, 11:11 PM   #17
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Understood, but I wasn't speaking about cameras that record HDV. It seems that the current trend in prosumer cameras is away from HDV, and toward XDCam/DVCProHD/AVCHD/etc.
HDV & AVCHD specs are 4:2:0. Only DVCPro HD is 4:2:2. Sony's only 4:2:2 XDCAM camera costs US$30,000 and that's before you start looking at US$50,000+ lenses to go with it. Scarlet is on the radar and I really hope it pans out. Or if Convergent Design's nanoFlash CF recorder works, I will upgrade to the Canon XH G1 so I can take advantage of it.
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Old July 13th, 2008, 11:18 PM   #18
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But, for me, if I were buying today, I think the XH A1 is still the one to get and will be for a long, long while.
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Old July 13th, 2008, 11:26 PM   #19
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HDV & AVCHD specs are 4:2:0. Only DVCPro HD is 4:2:2. Sony's only 4:2:2 XDCAM camera costs US$30,000 and that's before you start looking at US$50,000+ lenses to go with it.
Untrue. The EX1 also outputs 4:2:2. And the EX3 does also, as well as offering interchangeable lenses.
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Old July 13th, 2008, 11:33 PM   #20
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Understood, but I wasn't speaking about cameras that record HDV. It seems that the current trend in prosumer cameras is away from HDV, and toward XDCam/DVCProHD/AVCHD/etc.

I think the bell is tolling for HDV.
If that bell was tolling, I doubt the industry would keep supporting and upgrading the HDV hardware & software but that's what is happening. Canon has the new XH model, Final Cut Pro support for HDV is better than ever, heck our Sony HDCAM deck even has an HDV input on it. With several years to prove itself now, HDV is more viable than ever for broadcast level production and from a business standpoint, it seems like a no brainer to choose "proven" over "bleeding edge".
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Old July 13th, 2008, 11:53 PM   #21
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Well, I don't know. On the consumer end, I can still walk in and buy a VHS recorder and blank tapes. Obviously there is a massive established base of tapes out there. But we all know that the days of video tape are nearly over in favor of optical media.

I do agree that HDV has improved markedly since it's inception. And perhaps it has a several more years of life in it. I also agree that HDV will find support for some time, but I suspect it will be more from historical need, than forward moving.

I may well be wrong about this, and that's ok. It's just my feeling and opinion. :)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Hill View Post
If that bell was tolling, I doubt the industry would keep supporting and upgrading the HDV hardware & software but that's what is happening. Canon has the new XH model, Final Cut Pro support for HDV is better than ever, heck our Sony HDCAM deck even has an HDV input on it. With several years to prove itself now, HDV is more viable than ever for broadcast level production and from a business standpoint, it seems like a no brainer to choose "proven" over "bleeding edge".
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Old July 14th, 2008, 02:49 AM   #22
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Thank you all for the answers so far, it has really been helpful for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Busby View Post
"That small wheel has multi-functions, the main being it's a shutter wheel."
Thank you for clearing that up Bill, in that way it would make more sense indeed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofran View Post
If your clients aren't asking for HD or your not going to get paid more money then why would you upgrade?
Well, I wanted to switch to HD last year but since nobody asked for it I decided to wait, this year I have seen a large switch to (big) LCD screens, nearly every new client I get has one and I have seen quite a few Playstation 3 so they can play blu ray disks.
This year is also the first time ever I got 2 complaints of my footage not being sharp and ofcourse those 2 clients had very big lcd screens. There was nothing wrong with my footage, but I have seen many different image qualities from lcd's if you display regular dvd's that this will be a problem that will occur more in the future.
Only thing I can do now is tell that their lcd is actually designed for a blu-ray system and not for a regular dvd.
I want to be able now to tell my clients this upfront about the pros and cons and offer them an upgrade package to HD so that they will be getting a blu-ray disk. If they don't care or don't want to spend the extra cash I'll deliver in SD but I will be sure I won't get any complaints afterwards.
The tv companies have also started to push HD broadcast (in Belgium) as of this year and I'm sure once clients see the difference they will be expecting a videographer to deliver the same.
This might occur much sooner then we expect and I want to be ready when that happens so I can stay competitive.

Another big advantage I see to switching to HD now is that I also have clients who want their film displayed on the internet (a promotional video for a company f.i.) and from what I have seen on vimeo HD display is superior to what I deliver now in DV. You can get a quite big display which feels like looking through a window. My demo's on my site are converted to flash and they look OK but I know that with the available resolution of HD the difference wouldn't go unnoticed.

The XH-A1 gives indeed the best bang for the buck which was the reason why I had some doubts now because of their cashback action this month. I also know that every new model that is available or will come out will be much more expensive and will give more headache trying to implement new technologies.
"If you're waiting, you're not creating." is true matthew but it can also mean "If you're waiting, you're not not loosing any money." :)

Last edited by Noa Put; July 14th, 2008 at 03:20 AM.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 03:15 AM   #23
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"If you're waiting, you're not creating." is true matthew but it can also mean "If you're waiting, you're not not loosing any money." :)
Yep, that is true too.

Timing has a lot to do with it as well.

It's tough to pick when clients if our respective areas are going to start wanting HD. I decided to be ahead of the curve in my area and start shooting in HD but still deliver in SD. That way I get a handle on the workflow so that when clients want it I'm ready. Plus, I wanted to enjoy the creative benefits of shooting and editing in HD.

It's different for everyone. Sounds like you're being smart about it.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 05:55 AM   #24
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Gotta get Scarlet

Noa,

If you can wait 6 months RED are bringing out Scarlet, and at about the same price as the XH-A1 (US$3k), I think it's a no brainer. I've got 2 XH-G1s and they're great but I'll be upgrading to Scarlets ASAP (I can get 2 Scarlets for 1 XH-G1 and get 3K resolution Vs 1080 etc etc). See the specs: www.red.com

It might not be for you, but there's no way I'd be investing in HD (1080) technology at this point when RED have shown they've got the goods in the Red One, and Scarlet...

Just my 2c worth...
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Old July 14th, 2008, 07:27 AM   #25
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If you can wait 6 months RED are bringing out Scarlet
Does the price of the scarlet include the lens? I have read a bit about red camera's but always thought they were actually cinema camera's. The scarlet looks really weird though, I wonder how it handles in a run and gun situation? These handles on the side make it look like a hasselblad camera but it doesn't look very convenient to manualy controll focus, iris and such when you have to do all that in realtime.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 07:35 AM   #26
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Untrue. The EX1 also outputs 4:2:2. And the EX3 does also, as well as offering interchangeable lenses.
It only outputs 4:2:2 through the HD-SDI port, which is exciting if you're using it with Convergent Design's un-released portable nanoFlash recorder. Otherwise, if you're shooting to the card, it's 4:2:0.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 08:02 AM   #27
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hi, just my quick thoughts, I have 2 canon xh-a1s and film weddings, stage shows etc
the one problem i have is focus..even using peaking ive sometimes found the focus slightly soft..bearing in mind event filming often means LOW light so shallow d of f combined with hdvs critical focus means im not always spot on(even when i think i am).
you also cant use peaking and zebra at same time and you cant focus/zoom same time so i cant film ice skating (keeps the vx2100 in use)also forget magnify because you cant record with that on.so if you rely on zebra for exposure you cant then use peaking to confirm focus...
so imho is the canon xha1 the best event camera...maybe not..
thats the negatives..
the positives..for the price it gives fantastic hdv pictures.even downconverted to sd everyone compliments the colours and sharpness..tapes relatively cheap..low light is actualy not bad compared to my old vx2100.
25p filming is also very good.(my prefered choice)
auto focus is ok but not as good as vx2100.(dont use it unless i have to)
having transfered the hdv to bluray and watched on a large plasma it looks great.
so if you can live with or get used to its faults..very good camera
would i buy another....prob not, need better lcd so i can focus without peaking and want to focus / zoom at same time.
hope this helps.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #28
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Thanks a lot john, that was what worried me about the tiny lcd, it's about the same size of the vx2100 which I always found too small (I also have a vx2100) but once you get used to the dvx100 lcd...

So, not sure if I get this right but I hope you can adjust the iris and the focus on the lens and maintain zoom capabilities on the handle of the camera and have the zebra showing on the lcd or viewfinder?

Also about the focus, does the camera not have a "one push focus button" if you are in manual mode and does it focus accurately then?
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Old July 14th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #29
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Does the price of the scarlet include the lens? I have read a bit about red camera's but always thought they were actually cinema camera's. The scarlet looks really weird though, I wonder how it handles in a run and gun situation? These handles on the side make it look like a hasselblad camera but it doesn't look very convenient to manualy controll focus, iris and such when you have to do all that in realtime.
I'm no guru on the Red cameras but took a quick look at the lenses on www.red.com - they're pretty expensive - like $6k plus expensive.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 08:20 AM   #30
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Noa,

Sorry, I'll try to explain further. AVCHD is one of the compression formats commonly used to create commercial (aka Hollywood) Blu-Ray discs.
<snip>
AVCHD is far more efficient than HDV. At the same bitrate, it looks much cleaner. You can see this yourself by encoding some high end footage as either HDV or Mpeg4.
Just to clarify, but comparing Blu-Ray MEPG2 vs Blu-Ray AVC doesn't necessarily translate to camcorder comparisons with said codecs. AVC movie files for Blu-Ray distribution are typically encoded by extremely powerful hardware/software systems that have been highly refined and developed for several years now to maximize the codecs strengths. Additionally, the compression is overseen by a compressionist that reviews the encode and manually adjusts settings and re-encodes portions of the video as necessary to ensure the highest quality product. Under this scenario, AVC (and VC1) offer major improvements over MEPG2 and at substantially reduced file sizes.

Now on the camcorder front AVC hasn't been as fortunate. The real-time hardware encoders have so far *not* managed to equal HDV, even at 14-17mbps. The issue is of course not the codec, but the encoding hardware. Its gotten better of course as new generations of encoders have been developed, but so far the best consumer HDV cams still produce better video than AVCHD cams.

I'm excited by Panasonic's new cam and am looking forward to seeing (finally) full 24mbps AVCHD. Assuming they've developed a solid real-time encoder their video should be as crisp and detailed as HDV but with a very clean image and less artifacts. Pans and items in motion will likely retain more rez as well (IMO the MPEG2 encoders soften these sorts of images to help with encoding - a great trick actually since our eyes perceive less detail in moving objects). Of course at the end of the day we're still dealing with 8bit 4:2:0 video, so people that are expecting 24mbps AVCHD to look twice as good as the best HDV might be in for a bit of a let down.


As for the OP's questions, I personally feel that the XH-A1 isn't the best camcorder in the prosumer HD class, but it absolutely is the best bang for the buck. The HVX200a, some of the new Sonys and presumably the upcoming AVCHD model from Panasonic are technically all upgrades over the XH-A1 in features and/or video quality (and some might even debate that). But where the rubber hits the road - your client watching your footage - the XH-A1 can hang with all of them. Considering the A1 costs as little as half of what some of its competitors do, that's pretty amazing. Or put this way, if a client isn't happy with a project, you will *not* be able to blame the XH-A1; its at the quality level where your creativity and ability are 95% of your product, with the A1 easily padding in the final 5%.


Now if you're not in a hurry to buy a camcorder and you can make due with an 8X lens... the Scarlet *is* looking to be a very interesting contender for around $3,000. By all accounts the RED compression should make MEPG2 and AVCHD both look silly. As much as I love my XH-A1, I'm considering selling it and putting the proceeds towards the Scarlet. I just don't have time to get out there and do wedding gigs and event videography like I want to and the Scarlet would likely fit my creative personal projects better.
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