Canon XH-A1 vs Sony Z5 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 January 25th, 2009, 04:04 PM   #1
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Canon XH-A1 vs Sony Z5

Hi guys,
I will buy a new camera in next weeks and I am wondering what's best camera between the XH-A1 and the Z5?
Mostly I will shoot movies, short movies and videoclip.
I was going to choose a Canon XH-A1 because I liked other people footage and how you can control the picture settings.
I also noticed that you can find presets to create similar image like HVX-200 and anyway how you can re-create film colors with this presets loaded on a card.
I was wondering if you can do the same with the Z5.
Z5 actually has wider lens and also works better in low-light and shoot real progressive. But will I be able to re-create that film look with it changing its parameters?
I hope someone can help me.
Thank you very much
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Old January 25th, 2009, 05:58 PM   #2
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The Canon shoots real progressive too with its 24F and 30F modes (25F and 30F in PAL).
Why should the Sony be better under low light? It has about the same resolution chips. I didn't know the lens was wider, I thought it was like the Z1, which is the same at the wide end as Canon but not nearly as much of a zoom.

I like the Z5 and thing with the changes Sony made from the Z1, it is now very competitive with the XH A1. The only negative I've heard is that because it has CMOS chips instead of CCDs, there are problems under certain situations, ie., the notorious "rolling shutter" issue. In most cases it probably would not cause any trouble, but people have reported that when shooting at events, like weddings, where there are still photographers with strobes, the strobe causes the rolling shutter problem.

You'd be happy with either camera, I'm sure.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 06:43 PM   #3
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Hi Bill,
what I've posted about the Z5 is what I read on other forums reported by Z5 users.
They say Z5 is wider and better in low light respect to the z1 and the xh-a1.
This is what I read. I also read xh-a1 doesn't have REAL progressive scan instead of z5.
I like both cameras and in particular I like the variety of parameters user can adjust on xh-a1 and the fact user can load different presets even downloaded from the internet.
I wouls like to know if anyone knows if the z5 can adjust and in particular can load presets from memory card.
thanks for your answer
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Old January 25th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #4
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"This is what I read. I also read xh-a1 doesn't have REAL progressive scan instead of z5."

That's not correct. Canon's F modes are true progressive. There were lots of posts here from the early days of the camera.

I don't know about the Z5 and loading presets, but I'm fairly sure it has the same method of making adjustments and storing them as the Z1, which is very comparable to the Canon. Have you checked the specs at B&H?

I found the brochure on the Sony site, and you're right, the lens is 4.1 mm at the wide end. Canon's is 4.5 mm. I just scanned the brochure quickly but didn't see much about adjustment details, though they did say you can save up to 6 different profiles. A quick reading leads me to believe they probably don't have the range of adjustment Canon does, but I could be wrong.

Overall, I think the Sony and Canon 1/3" chip cameras are very close in image quality so it's the other things that will make a person go one way or another. For example, when I bought my XH A1 over the Z1, I did it because of the lens, mainly, and the 24 fps progressive secondarily. But now the Z5 has an equivalent lens and 24 fps capability, so I'd say they are now about equal. One thing I like about the Sony is the LCD up on top. This makes it nicer for Steadicam work, if you do that. I have a Steadicam Merlin, with the arm and vest package, and I think the Sony would be a little easier to use because of the positioning and size of the LCD.

Being able to load those presets on the Canon might sway me toward it, since all else is now so close to equal between the two cameras. I think the Sony is better balanced (at least the Z1 is). So I would give the Sony two advantages of balance and the LCD screen, while Canon gets the advantage of the downloadable presets. Everything else between the XH A1s and the Z5 seem just about equal to me. The final deciding factor for me probably would be the chips...I'm still a bit leery of CMOS chips in video cameras. However, a lot of what you read on the web about the notorious rolling shutter problem may be exaggerated. For example, if somebody pops a strobe a few feet away from the lens, then you might have a problem, whereas people could be using strobes farther away and it might not be an issue. Also, unless you do events, it most likely would never come up. Still, I have a better feeling about CCDs, but it's nothing scientific. If I were in the market today, these two cameras would be at the top of my list in this price range, and it would be a very difficult decision which one to buy.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 05:54 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
If I were in the market today, these two cameras would be at the top of my list in this price range, and it would be a very difficult decision which one to buy.
That's my problem Bill! I can't decide....both have pros against the other one.
Like you said I also prefer CCD rather than CMOS and I love the fact that you can load other users presets on XH-A1.
On the other side I like Z5 because it's wider, probably better in low light and also can shoot slow motion.
It's so hard to decide. I think that if I will find a good used XH-A1 I will go for it.
Otherwise I will buy a new Z5....
Thanks a lot Bill!
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Old January 26th, 2009, 07:41 AM   #6
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In my opinion, I think Sony has better firmware for processing the image, leading to a "better" low light image straight out of the camera. On the other hand, that's what they make lights for.

I've heard that the rolling shutter issue is not much of an issue any more, but since I do event videography, I was not going to take the chance.

The Sony does have an image with more "pop" right out of the camera. The colors are more saturated and the contrast is higher than the standard Canon XH-A1 image. Looking at the two side-by-side on monitors, it's easy to fall in love with the Sony image.

But the A1 image can be adjusted so much in-camera, I have yet to find a preset that didn't work well with what I was shooting. Shooting at the standard preset leaves a lot of latitude for correction in post.

I could do without the "fringing" at the edges when shooting wide with the Canon, but nobody has complained about it yet. My wife doesn't notice it even when I point it out. All of us in this forum are quite picky though, aren't we?
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Old January 26th, 2009, 08:50 AM   #7
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is the Z5 "worth" $1500 CDN more than the Canon Xh A1s?

Hello everyone. For those lucky ones who have actually worked with both cameras under similar conditions, would you say that the Z5 is "worth" around $1500CDN more than the Canon XH-A1s? That's the price difference in Canada and I'm debating which one to buy.

Sure Sony always charges more, but for those of you who have used both cameras, do you feel that the Sony is really worth that much money over the Canon?
is the picture quality in both SD and HDV so much better?

When people say low light I hope they don't mean total darkness! I always bring a Canon 10w light or a couple of Sime LED lights to use on camera. I even use some diffuse material for close range! But I cannot imagine trying to videotape without any light at all...
So, yes, I expect these cameras to be better than let's say an ancient Canon XL-1! and it would be so nice if they were so close to a DVX100! What can you tell me?

Maybe we are a picky bunch! But I would like some informed, first hand opinions please.

thanks
Erick
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ken Wozniak View Post
I've heard that the rolling shutter issue is not much of an issue any more, but since I do event videography, I was not going to take the chance.
Well I think it's not a BIG issue but CMOS sensor has some problems:
Take a look at this video:
Michelle & Morris Hena Party on Vimeo

When the photographers flashes you can see a very BAD effect on the image.
I don't know if this is acceptable when you're shooting for a professional work.
this stopped me from buying Z5 few hours ago.... I was almost decided.
now I'm still try to think if this is acceptable for a camera of this level.
I really don't understand why Sony substituted reliable technology like CCD with CMOS.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:19 AM   #9
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i personally dont think so. about 7 months ago i was choosing between a sony and canon simply because vistek(and even canon) ran out and im an impatient person. however, between the specs, for me, they just didnt compare. it was well worthe the 3 week wait for the a1. i still look back and wonder how upset i would have been not to wait.

for me, basically i think it comes down to functionality and design. which camera do you think you will feel comfortable with. i do not like the sony designs so for me, canon was the choice. i also am not a fan of the xlr imputs up so high. though i do have to give sony credit for that huge lcd! plus, canon makes and tests their own glass. canon makes some top end dslr lenses. if you can, go check out a store, play with both and youll know which one feels better(button placement, grip, function rings etc.).

dan

erick, if you do plan to purchase a cam...no doubt run to vistek(i do not suggest henrys for a big purchase like that, unless your financing it.). awesome service and knowledge. speak to derek s. in video!
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #10
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Another thing to consider is customer service and technical support that each company provides.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 10:50 AM   #11
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I have a friend with a FX1000 and I have an A1. Here's what we found putting htem head to head with the same low lighting. The FX1000 is a smidge brighter, but, the gain starts earlier in the process. 0db of gain on the FX1000 looked like 6 on the FX1 and 3 on the A1. There was very noticeable grain when we viewed the footage on his monitor even at 0db. so, it seems to me like a trick of the electronics just to call 3db 0dn instead and say Hey it's great in low light, becuase I don't see that there's that much difference. I still say that Sony cams look very "videoish" and would go for Canon or the Panasonic HMC-150 certainly before the z5... good luck.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 11:05 AM   #12
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I still think the Sony and Canon 1/3" chip cameras all create pretty much the same quality image. One is not going to score significantly different from the other in that department. So it gets down to what features you like, the "feel" of the camera, the lens, etc. These two cameras are closer on all fronts than any others, I think, so it really gets down to personal preference. If you shoot with clients around, you might want your camera to say Sony on it instead of Canon; if you do your own thing then that type of superficiality won't matter.

When I bought my XHA1 near the end of 2006 I waited until a rental house had one in stock so I could handle it in person. I would do the same today with the Sony. You really need to be able to compare them in a hands-on situation. Had I not been able to see the camera in person where I live, I would have gone to Chicago to see it, just as I did with a Steadicam purchase. When you spend that much money, I think it's rational to spend the money it takes to go where you can see one before putting out the money. I know that's not always possible, but if there's any way to do it, I would. On the other hand, the Canon has been around for awhile, is not into the next generation with the S model; and the Sony could also be considered a second generation of the Z1, with upgrades that put it in the same class as the Canons. So you really can't go wrong with either one.

If all those cool presets turn you on, then the Canon is the obvious choice. If they're not very relevant to you, then look at the things you like on the Sony and see if they outweigh what you like about the Canon. When I bought my Canon, I made a list of what I liked and didn't like about it and the Z1, which was available then. The Canon lens and 24 fps progressive pushed me in that direction. Today with the Z5, the lens and 24 fps are about equal. I don't think the extra width of the Sony lens is all that much, less than half a millimeter. So I consider the cameras very equal, with the single exception of the chips. The Sony most likely will be better balanced; the Canon has the downloadable presets and image controls. Which of those features is the most important? If neither is a big deal, then you're down to deciding between CMOS and CCD.

My point is, both cameras are going to give you the same quality image under most all conditions. It's the other things that will make you happy or unhappy.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 01:56 PM   #13
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The FX1000/Z5 might have slightly better low light due to the lower density chips, 960x1080, but it's a safe bet the XH-A1 is going to be more detailed in some situations for the same reason, native 1440x1080 chips.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 02:55 PM   #14
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Then again, you are asking this question on the Canon board. You're not likely to get very amny people swaying towards Sony here. I disagree that you'd rather have Sony on your camera at any stage, I'm proud of using hte canon. The sony plate isn't all it used to be. It does come down to feel, as soon as i held an A1 I was hooked. I wanted it. It feels perfectly balanced to me. Good luck.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 04:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernesto Del Gesso View Post
Hi guys,

I was going to choose a Canon XH-A1 because I liked other people footage and how you can control the picture settings.
I also noticed that you can find presets to create similar image like HVX-200 and anyway how you can re-create film colors with this presets loaded on a card.
I was wondering if you can do the same with the Z5.
Not sure if this is what you mean, but the Z5 has 2 user-defined color presets which can be completely customized and 4 canned ones in the camera that can also be customized:

PRO COLOR
Example settings of pictures recorded by a professional shoulder camcorder with ITU709 gamma

PD COLOR
Example settings of pictures recorded by a professional handy camcorder with PD gamma

FILM LOOK1
Example settings of pictures recorded on cinema color negative film

FILM LOOK2
Example settings of pictures screened with cinema color print film

Up to 99 camera profiles can be stored on a memory stick for loading into your camera and other cameras of the same model.

FWIW, I went through the same process as you are now and ended up with the Z5.
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