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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 October 31st, 2008, 10:42 AM   #1
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Going in Circles...

My review of HD camcorder options has had me going in circles as to choice. My thinking is to avoid rolling shutter artifacts with cmos sensors - limits the SONY options. The new Panasonics are interesting but the lens wobble issue and and anti shock design don't inspire confidence.

So - full circle back to the XH A1.

My question - is there a way to go from the XH A1 tapeless to my Mac? What is the NLE workflow that is used?
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Old October 31st, 2008, 11:14 AM   #2
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If you want to shoot tapeless, you would have to buy one of the Firestore type drives for the XH A1. What Sony camera are you looking at? The one comparable to the XH A1 would be the Z1 or the new Z5, both of which have CCD chips just like Canon. I have an XH A1, but I shot for a couple of weeks with a Sony single chip CMOS camera, and I never saw any problem with the rolling shutter. I think if you did see it, it would be very rare. There are lots of HV10/20/30 users around here who don't seem to have a problem with it.

Why do you want to shoot tapeless with an XH A1?
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Old October 31st, 2008, 11:23 AM   #3
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Bill - I've been using a Canon Vixia HF 100 and am sold on the tapeless NLE workflow. For my business applications, I need the features found at the prosumer or entry level professional offerings. Critical focus is at the top of the list.

I am wanting to use one of the just released 13" Macbooks as a live monitor and capture device. The Firestore has had mixed reviews and is overpriced for what it is - IMO.

Can the A1 be ported directly to a laptop?
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Old October 31st, 2008, 11:28 AM   #4
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You can record directly to the computer if what you're shooting allows you to stay tethered and if your NLE software lets you do that, which if you're using FCP it would. Even the free iMovie does that, I think.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 11:39 AM   #5
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Bill - that helps - I can stay tethered for the critical business applications. The Z5 is a SONY offering that I want to see before making a decision. I may be over concerned with the CMOS wobble, skew and flash issues - a CCD camera sounds much safer - or so i think.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 11:41 AM   #6
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Bill - since I have you "on the line", what hardware would be in play:

A1 via __________ to some sort of connector/adapter __________ to the 34mm express card slot on the new Macbook??
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Old October 31st, 2008, 11:46 AM   #7
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I think the CMOS thing is vastly overexaggerated. The only place it might show up would be, for example, if you're doing a really fast dolly shot along something like a grocery store aisle with the camera sitting at a Dutch angle. Then you might see some funkiness on the cans on the shelves as they go by.

I'm quite happy with the XH A1; in fact I really like it. I went from a full size 2/3" chip DVCAM camera to it and would do that again in a minute. However, that upcoming Sony Z5 looks just as good. The reason I got the Canon over the Z1 was because the Canon has a real iris ring instead of that pesky knob on the side, as well as an overall better lens, in my opinion. The Z5 does the same thing, and also does 24p like the Canon. Being Sony, it will cost more. Still, if I were in the market today I would definitely give it a close look.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 11:47 AM   #8
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I'll probably never understand. I have the XH-A1 and the Sony EX1 with its tapeless workflow. For HDV the workflow is exactly the same, offloading to the computer via firewire at realtime playback speed.

For Sony's other recording modes, yes you can pop the SXS memory card into a laptop and start editing right away, but there are still several steps to that workflow that in the end, I think tape based HDV remains faster.

So I for one, am not sold on tapeless workflow. There is nothing wrong with HDV tape or tape based workflows. It ends at the instant you've finished off loading the footage, which is not the most time intensive step in the workflow.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 12:02 PM   #9
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Tom - here is a perspective from a real beginner (lots of DSLR experience). With solid state I do not have to worry about record heads / cleaning them / alignment / tape transport reliability & audio noise / old school as it were. I will quickly be in over my head with all the experience that you guys have. It is not so much the speed of files coming off the camera - it is the other things I mentioned. The AVCHD experience has been seamless for me thus far.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 12:03 PM   #10
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I forgot my most critical question :-0

If tethered up - I assume that the entire tape mechanism is off line - not active - by-passed - yes????
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Old October 31st, 2008, 12:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Bolton View Post
Tom - here is a perspective from a real beginner (lots of DSLR experience). With solid state I do not have to worry about record heads / cleaning them / alignment / tape transport reliability & audio noise / old school as it were. I will quickly be in over my head with all the experience that you guys have. It is not so much the speed of files coming off the camera - it is the other things I mentioned. The AVCHD experience has been seamless for me thus far.
There is no audio noise from the tape transport on the XH-A1, unlike on compartmentalized consumer cams where the tape mechanism is a fraction of an inch away from the microphone.

As for the worry about record heads/cleaning/alignment, I think if you did a search on the XH-A1 you'd find very few hits.

I think where you hit the nail on the head is with "old school" observation. It's something we don't want to be, so we look for reasons it's wrong when it isn't always. Tape and transports have been virtually perfected.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 01:16 PM   #12
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Tom - it is a good point - not stuck on having to have the "latest and greatest" tech thing - just some concern about buying the last of the old technology.

Back to my hardware question - what output port on the A1 do I plug what cable into and what do I plug into the Macbook for it to hook up to?

Sorry for all the detail questions but I need to know what I will need to buy :-)
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Old October 31st, 2008, 02:15 PM   #13
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Your options with the XH-A1 for HD are going to be firewire or component video YPrPb.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 02:27 PM   #14
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Sorry, I missed that question before. I'd just use a firewire cable. You can buy cables up to 3 meters, or about 15' in length. But you can string them out for more length by using one of those little boxes--check CDW or any other place that sells firewire cables. I think the box is about 40 bucks or less, same basic thing as those USB boxes you use when you want a longer USB cable run. You'd use a 4-pin to 6-pin cable. Camera has 4 pin, computer has 6.

You have to be really careful when recording via firewire that way because of the 4-pin connector. It can slip out easily. There's no way to lock it in.

I don't think you'd have to worry about the "old technology" of tape. It's going to be in use for a number of years. And the nice thing about tape is that a good quality HDV tape is only about 16 bucks and you can stick it in a box and keep it for years. If your hard drive crashes, no problem--you still have your original.

Eventually the price of solid state cards will drop low enough so you don't have to reuse them and they will gradually replace tape. But I think that's a ways away. Most high end video is still tape, HDCAM being the most common. National big budget TV spots are still delivered on tape, and all the big film festivals want HDCAM tapes or 35 mm prints.

If I were in your shoes and felt I had to go tapeless, I would hold out for a camera like the EX1, rather than dealing with the hassle of recording to a computer. Buy enough cards to get you through a day's shoot, then upload the footage to the computer, and back it up to a second drive or output to BluRay or something secure for storage, then reformat the cards for the next day's shoot. Or, if you do record to a computer, record simultaneously to the camera's tape drive so you'll have the tape in case the computer crashes.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 03:25 PM   #15
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Bill - the EX1 is on my list also - going in circles :-)
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