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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 1st, 2009, 12:14 PM   #1
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Eng cam?

Hi,

Anyone use the A1 as an ENG cam? I would especially like to hear from those who file news daily with it.

If you do use it for that, any complaints, or things you wish were different about the cam?

Thanks

Jay
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:30 AM   #2
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I use it for daily ENG. It's been a good camera, going two years without a dropout until finally needing service for impact damage, which was quick through Canon.

The biggest issues (separate line/mic audio channel controls, six pin firewire jack, and ois control) have been fixed in the new XHA1s.

The viewfinder sucks, though.

Oh, also, if you need to shoot in standard def and hand off DV tapes, find another cam. Although it will happily shoot standard 4:3 DV, it does some weird smearing thing that makes the images look out of focus and awful. I was at a TV workshop where we were forced to shoot DV and everyone with an XHA1 had the same problem. Don't know if it's been fixed in XHA1s.

Last edited by Chuck Fadely; January 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 AM. Reason: added info about DV mode
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:58 AM   #3
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And I assume the lack of proper manual focus control would be a pain? Those silly servo, continuously rotating lens rings are the worst invention in camera history I think!
Steve
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
And I assume the lack of proper manual focus control would be a pain? Those silly servo, continuously rotating lens rings are the worst invention in camera history I think!
Steve
After a time, you get used to using the push-to-focus button while it's set to manual focus. The viewfinder isn't good enough to manual focus, anyway.

It's no substitute for a broadcast camera. But compared to similar cameras - a Z1U, for instance - it works fine for ENG.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:06 AM   #5
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Hey Chuck,

In what situatoins have you experienced problems with the seperate line/mic controls?

Steve,

Yep, I agree that a focus ring should stop...iris too! I use a beta-sx at work with a canon lens, the rings are smooth, risp and they you know when you've hit infinite and you've opened it up all the way.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chuck Fadely View Post
I
Oh, also, if you need to shoot in standard def and hand off DV tapes, find another cam. Although it will happily shoot standard 4:3 DV, it does some weird smearing thing that makes the images look out of focus and awful. I was at a TV workshop where we were forced to shoot DV and everyone with an XHA1 had the same problem. Don't know if it's been fixed in XHA1s.
Would it have been better to shoot in HDV and then down convert to SD when you captured the video?
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:09 AM   #7
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Ouch, I don't like to hear about the out of focus, 4:3 SD. That is what I would need to shoot in.

Should test it out on my cam first before I make any career moves.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:10 AM   #8
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Oh, one other HUGE positive thing about the XHA1 -- you can record a pool feed or dub into the camera, as long as it's 4:3 standard DV.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Marcel D. Van Someren View Post
Would it have been better to shoot in HDV and then down convert to SD when you captured the video?
Yes, downconverted SD is fine if you shoot in HDV. It's when you shoot DV to begin with that's a problem.

The problem is like some over-agressive skin detail processing that you can't turn off -- it affects different parts of the image in different ways, but is very obvious on faces.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jay Legere View Post
Hey Chuck,

In what situatoins have you experienced problems with the seperate line/mic controls?

Steve,

Yep, I agree that a focus ring should stop...iris too! I use a beta-sx at work with a canon lens, the rings are smooth, risp and they you know when you've hit infinite and you've opened it up all the way.
If you need to take a line level feed off a board or mult box, you can't use your on-camera mic too. On the original XHA1, both channels are either line level or mic level, you can't split them. It's supposed to be fixed in the new XHA1s. Also, you can't feed one mic into both channels at different levels. I deal with it with a y-splitter cable and for the line level feeds, an xlr pad adapter.

The lens, except for the servo focus, is excellent. If you're on sticks at full telephoto and don't have time to switch off the ois, you'll have problems, though. Again, supposed to be fixed in the new model.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:41 AM   #11
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Hi again chuck,

Do you shoot 4:3 SD?

And do you use the cam as a deck?
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 12:53 PM   #12
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I shoot alot of 4:3 SD and never really had a problem until late fall. I do local sports and a local music show, and lately, I have been getting complaints from them about "out of focus" footage. I think my low sharpness preset may be partially to blame. Interesting thread.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 08:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jay Legere View Post
Hi again chuck,

Do you shoot 4:3 SD?

And do you use the cam as a deck?
I almost never shoot SD - I downconvert if I need standard def. (I shoot for the web, not broadcast, though I've had pieces air on PBS and GMA as well as our local CBS affiliate/news partner.)

I'm not afraid to use my camera as a deck -- it's not going to wear your heads out before you wear the rest of the camera out!

Just to be clear about what happens when you shoot 4:3 SD - it's not actually out of focus, but it does some sort of electronic processing to the image that's weird. In some situations, you don't see it at all, but in others - typically head and shoulders interview settings - it's really obvious. I haven't messed with the custom presets while shooting 4:3DV to see if it makes a difference, but when it happens it looks like "skin detail" set to the witness protection setting, even though it's off!

If you've already got the camera, you'll be fine shooting news with it - nobody will care if a fire or wreck isn't ticky tack sharp. If it's not spot news, you can probably shoot HDV and downconvert or dub DV out of the camera and everyone will be amazed at how wonderful your pictures are!
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 11:37 AM   #14
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XH A1 Eng Camera

I shoot SD 4:3 and I am very disappointed with this camera the XH A1! Even with manual focus there seem to be times when I think all is well but back in the studio I find the focus is just not good. Not all the time but enough to make me set this camera aside. I've gone back to my JVC DV500 where everything is fine again. I also have a JVC GYX2B which I use hooked up to a laptop using Serious Magic capture. These larger chip camera's easily compete with the A1 for quality. Not HDV but absolutely great SD video. This Canon camera is just to sensitive for me to control.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 01:34 PM   #15
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this 4:3 thing is terrible news. The station I am considering switching to hasn't yet jumped up to 16:9. If that was the case I would shoot HD and then downconvert. I can't imagine selling the camera but I may have to if I switch broadcasters. I recently shot a documentary in my spare time for a canadian university and I used the dvx200 they owned...man oh man that thing was nice. I certainly can't sell myself as a fully equipped VJ if my camera can't handle their format.

I did some tests yesterday and played it back on my 4:3 SD TV, everything looked great...but I am sure once in a pro environment the camera will turn on me.

I am so glad you have all responded, this is opening my eyes...if only HD came in 4:3.
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