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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 November 19th, 2008, 08:36 PM   #1
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Sell Me On The XH-A1

Greetings all...

I am looking to get a new camera to shoot weddings and strongly considering the XH-A1. If you would, could you please tell me why getting it would be a good choice? And maybe even tell my it may not be.

Thanks!
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Old November 19th, 2008, 09:56 PM   #2
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Forget about it. The XH A1 has just recently been replaced by the XH A1S. That's the one you want.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 01:00 AM   #3
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Depends on your budget I suppose. The A1 is a great camera. And yes, Chris is right, the A1S is coming out, but I personally don't recommend getting it if money is an issue.

1. The changes in the A1S aren't drastic, though they do make the A1 a better camera.

2. Now that the A1S is coming out, people will be scrambling to drop their A1s, thus the already sort of cheap re-sale market may be even cheaper. I got my A1 a few months ago for 3,000 with lots of extra stuff. I've seen them go for less recently. I anticipate them going for even less in the coming months.

The pro's of the A1 are: it's pretty lightweight, it has rings for focus iris and zoom whose intensity you can adjust, color reproduction is awesome and the plethora of presets available for free out there make it even better, good on battery, nearly everything is customizable, peaking and magnification, the controls and buttons are very intuitive and placed right where you would naturally reach for them (with the exception of the AF button).

Cons: the internally mounted battery scares me a bit (afraid it will get stuck deep in there one day), firewire port is notoriously weak, no covers for the xlr plugs (dirt and whatnot can get in in dirty environments), lcd is a bit small, no component out, lens not interchangeable, the eyepiece is virtually unusable to me, onboard mic is kind of loosely attached (I hear so that it doesn't snap when stress is put on it, but some people have had theirs completely fall off).

I'm sure there are more in both categories but those are the ones that come to mind right now. I also recommend getting the Sony MRCK1 compact flash memory recording unit. Never buy tapes again!! It works like a charm.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 08:09 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Tiffany McMichael View Post
The changes in the A1S aren't drastic, though they do make the A1 a better camera.
Actually, within the context of what an "S" model is about, the changes are major. The tactile feel of the control rings, for instance, makes a *huge* difference. Having OIS as a button instead of a menu item makes a huge difference. All of the audio changes, 6-pin FireWire, all of those things make for an important set of updates to the XH line.

Quote:
the internally mounted battery scares me a bit (afraid it will get stuck deep in there...)
Never an issue as long as you're using genuine Canon batts instead of imitations.

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firewire port is notoriously weak
Another reason to choose the XH A1S instead.

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no component out
Actually the original XH series does indeed have component out.

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...lens not interchangeable
I don't understand -- Canon already makes an interchangeable lens camcorder; it's the XL H1A. If you want interchangeable lenses, then that's the camera you should buy, not the XH series.

My first reply to "forget about the A1" has more to do with its availability than anything else. The A1 is going away, to be replaced by the A1S... a much-improved camcorder for the same price.

Your point about buying used is fine; no doubt there will be a number of used A1's on the market, at great prices. But as far as buying new, which is what I assumed the original poster was asking about, he is much better off getting an A1S with all of the improvements for the same money as a new A1. Pretty soon the A1 will be gone completely, since it's being replaced by the A1S. That was the point I was trying to make.

Remember, not everyone is comfortable buying a used camera. Some people prefer to buy new, and a new A1S thoroughly trumps a new A1. I wanted to make sure that the original poster understands this.

Someone who says the A1S changes aren't drastic doesn't understand what an "S" model is in the first place. Someone who says that the "S" model updates aren't important obviously hasn't actually held one, seen one, or researched it enough.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 08:52 AM   #5
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I'm not an XHA1 owner, but for the money, it consistently has one of the nicest images out there.

In regards to the S model, I'm a cheapskate and am more than willing to give up a few niceties to save a few bucks. I'd see if I could get the origonal XHA1 on the cheap, but that's just me. UNLESS, unless the S model is better in low light situations, I don't know if it is or not, but depending on the type of work you want to do with the camera this could be worth the extra money.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 09:11 AM   #6
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A1 or A1s depends upon a number of things. Price difference versus the improved features on the A1s. Decreasing availability of the A1 will make that point moot before long.

To the broader issue on the value of the XH line compared to other cameras, there is a lot to like with the Canon.
- Custom presets give an infinite combination of looks
- 20x zoom with great Canon glass
- Very long battery life
- Mostly ergonomic packaging
- Great size for run & gun
- Decent (but not great) low light performance - typical of cams in this class (?)
- Images will look great (if I don't do something stoopid)

I have the A1 and some shortcomings have been overcome in the A1s but this is what I don't like with my unit:
- No concurrent focus and zoom (fixed on A1s?)
- No concurrent use of on-board mike and XLR inputs
- Can't use one XLR for line level and the other for line level
- Positioning of the shot review button (I hit it instead of mag when in rain cover)
- Overly sensitive zoom rocker
- No OIS button (fixed on A1s?)
- Audio AGC for both channels not completely independent of one another
- LCD is too small
- Viewfinder is all but useless (but I almost never use it)

After over a year of pretty heavy use in a variety of situations I am more than pleased with the Canon, in spite of its shortcomings. Do I like what I've read about the A1s? You bet. Am I going to sell my A1 to get one? Nope. I can continue to work within its limitations and be perfectly happy.

I did a ton of research before I put my money down and I found nothing that came close. I liked some of the Sony's in the US$2k+ range (as I recall) but wasn't comfortable with the CMOS sensors.

Now... take all of this with a grain of salt since I did make the spend and my ego wants me to defend the purchase. Can't look like a complete yabo in public now, can I?
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Old November 20th, 2008, 09:26 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tripp Woelfel View Post
Now... take all of this with a grain of salt since I did make the spend and my ego wants me to defend the purchase. Can't look like a complete yabo in public now, can I?
I love a guy with a self effacing sense of humor. Excellent points all the way around. I can add a little to what you've pointed out.

None of the sub $5000 cameras have an EVF that is worth a darn.

The new Sony VX1000 is in the price range of the XHA1's and will be better in low light, but I haven't seen any footage out of it yet since it just started shipping. Traditionally the Sony's just have a different look than the Canons. I'm a Sony owner, but I really like something about the Canon look. Maybe it's just cause it's different than what I see all the time.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 09:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Actually, within the context of what an "S" model is about, the changes are major. The tactile feel of the control rings, for instance, makes a *huge* difference. Having OIS as a button instead of a menu item makes a huge difference. All of the audio changes, 6-pin FireWire, all of those things make for an important set of updates to the XH line.

Never an issue as long as you're using genuine Canon batts instead of imitations.

Another reason to choose the XH A1S instead.

Actually the original XH series does indeed have component out.

I don't understand -- Canon already makes an interchangeable lens camcorder; it's the XL H1A. If you want interchangeable lenses, then that's the camera you should buy, not the XH series.

My first reply to "forget about the A1" has more to do with its availability than anything else. The A1 is going away, to be replaced by the A1S... a much-improved camcorder for the same price.

Your point about buying used is fine; no doubt there will be a number of used A1's on the market, at great prices. But as far as buying new, which is what I assumed the original poster was asking about, he is much better off getting an A1S with all of the improvements for the same money as a new A1. Pretty soon the A1 will be gone completely, since it's being replaced by the A1S. That was the point I was trying to make.

Remember, not everyone is comfortable buying a used camera. Some people prefer to buy new, and a new A1S thoroughly trumps a new A1. I wanted to make sure that the original poster understands this.

Someone who says the A1S changes aren't drastic doesn't understand what an "S" model is in the first place. Someone who says that the "S" model updates aren't important obviously hasn't actually held one, seen one, or researched it enough.

Sorry, you are right about component out. I was thinking of HDMI.

I didn't post my response to refute your own, I was pointing out a reasons to buy the A1. Price is a big point for most people and I assumed that it probably would be for someone posting on the forum about which camera to buy. If he wants to buy new, then your point is very valid...they cost basically the same. Also, I was answering his question rather than just saying, "don't worry about it, buy this camera instead". No, I have never held or used an A1S, but judging from Canon's press release, many of the changes are strengthening of the A1s weak points -- things that are important to a lot of people and not so important to some. When I said "not drastic" I meant that if he was expecting a totally different camera that somehow shot better footage or something, he would not get that choosing the pricier A1S over the A1. A lot of people out there use the A1 just fine for the type of work they do and to wave off the A1 as somehow incapable of fulfilling the needs of a guy who wants to shoot weddings is ridiculous.

I also didn't say "I" wanted interchangeable lenses at all. I have no need for them as I shoot 24p footage with a 35mm adapter in front. I was pointing out what the A1 doesn't provide the ability to do -- a specific point I ran across when I was doing my own research into buying the A1. I just thought it might be useful to note that for him.

You're right, the A1 might be going away (as all cameras eventually do) but this guy was asking why to and why to not buy the A1, not why to and why to not buy the A1S. I was just providing my own perspective on that.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 09:36 AM   #9
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In Europe the xh-a1s has increased 1500 euro in price, considering that I bought my xh-a1 a few months ago for 3000 and that's it now is selling for 4500 that is a quite dramatic price raise.

If I had to buy again now it would be a Sony fx1000 or a Pana hmc150, the price difference to the new A1 is just too big
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Old November 20th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #10
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Where would be a good place to get a used one?
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Daniel Fessak View Post
Where would be a good place to get a used one?
B&H sell used gear. You should also check the for sale sections on this board and others you might frequent.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:52 AM   #12
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Time and budget

If you need a camera right now, get the XH-A1 and haggle for a good discount because of the forthcoming S-version, new Sony models, credit crunch, etc.

If you can wait until January, compare the XH-A1S, FX1000 and Z5. Personally, I expect the XH-A1S will still win out over the Sonys on price/performance, but like Tripp, I'm a Canon fan and have never regretted choosing the XH-A1 over the Sony FX7/V1 and FX1/Z1 (though I wish the Canon was smaller and lighter).

If you can, get your hands on both the XH-A1S and the FX1000/Z5, preferably at the same shop, because what's meat for me maybe poison to you. Personally, I wouldn't consider the card-only Panasonic at the moment because of the extra work to archive stuff. I still need a camera with a tape drive.

HTH
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Old November 20th, 2008, 01:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mark Fry View Post
(though I wish the Canon was smaller and lighter).
In the Spring JVC is supposed to come out with a new camera that shoots 1080i as well as the progressive JVC formats, utilizing progressive CCDs.

The camera is planned to use SD cards. The mockup under glass that I saw at a show is considerably smaller than the XH-A1.

I mention this camera here, because the assistant sales manager from New Jersey told me that the XH-A1 was being used as a basis for establishing minimum specifications. The new camera is suppose to minimally meet and then exceed specs of the XH-A1.

I am particulary interested in this camera, because I have a JVC HD110 in addition to my XH-A1. The new JVC camera would let me be more discrete when needed as well as match formats better to my the HD110. (I also already have a lot of SD cards for DSLR use.)

As money becomes tighter and production techniques adjust, there should be some interesting new cameras to consider.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 02:31 PM   #14
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Just wait for the XH-A1S, it has some very important improvements.
(See photo of the new XH-G1S)

We had the chance to explore the whole camera today and it has some very very very nice improvements.
In other words: you could almost say i'm in love with this new camera.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 02:42 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ethan Cooper View Post
In regards to the S model, I'm a cheapskate and am more than willing to give up a few niceties to save a few bucks.
I've never understood that way of thinking; I consider it to be a false economy. The money is something you spend one time. The camera is something you use consistently, over and over again. I'd much rather spend a little extra and have the upgrades -- in my opinion that's well worth a few bucks. If the camera is a business tool, then it's going to earn that money back anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripp Woelfel View Post
some shortcomings have been overcome in the A1s...
No concurrent focus and zoom (fixed on A1s?) -- fixed on the A1S.
No concurrent use of on-board mike and XLR inputs -- fixed on the A1S.
Can't use one XLR for line level and the other for line level -- fixed on the A1S.
Positioning of the shot review button -- unchanged
Overly sensitive zoom rocker -- fixed on the A1S (smooth ramp)
No OIS button (fixed on A1s?) -- fixed on the A1S.
Audio AGC for both channels not completely independent -- fixed on the A1S.
LCD is too small -- unchanged
Viewfinder is all but useless (but I almost never use it) -- unchanged

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Cooper View Post
The new Sony VX1000 is in the price range of the XHA1's and will be better in low light,
I think you meant to say the FX1000, but the VX1000 sure brings back some nice memories... hard to believe it was thirteen years ago. That camera started the whole DV revolution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
In Europe the xh-a1s has increased 1500 euro in price, considering that I bought my xh-a1 a few months ago for 3000 and that's it now is selling for 4500 that is a quite dramatic price raise.
In the U.S., the MSRP is the same between the A1 and the A1S... in the U.S. it's $3999 for either camera. It's standard procedure for dealers to discount older inventory to clear the way for new products, but my point is that Canon has placed the A1S at the same price as the A1 was when it was new.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Fessak View Post
Where would be a good place to get a used one?
Dude... seriously... you're already there: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/private-classifieds/
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