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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, 08:33 PM   #1
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A1: SD or HD

I'm thinking about buying the the A1s in the near future, and have a question. I hear that HD video is much more of a hassle to edit and pushes the editing computer to the max. Most of my videos will need to be SD for export on to DVD, (I don't have a Blue Ray disc drive). And I've noticed on this forum that the A1s doesn't shoot good quality SD footage. Would it be better to get a camera that shoots better quality on SD? Or downconvert the A1s' video. (I have the Adobe CS4 Creative Suite.) The only thing is, some of my videos may be watched on the big screen. And also, HD is getting more popular all the time.

These are the packages I'm thinking about getting from B&H: Canon | XH-A1s HDV Camera Starter Kit | B&H Photo Video and Rode | NTG-3 Deluxe Shotgun Microphone Kit | B&H Photo Video

What do you think?
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Old January 25th, 2009, 08:42 PM   #2
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Mitch,

I have the XHA1, but it is extremely similar to the XHA1s in most performance characteristics. I think you will find that shooting in HDV has many advantages, even if converting to SD. First, you will have the footage in HD should you or your client ever want it in HD (may be a way to get additional revenue off the job at a later date). More immediately, footage shot in HD and converted to SD looks better for some reason, especially if compressed. I'm not sure I understand exactly why, but it does.

The biggest reason you should consider working in HDV is it allows you to pan and zoom in your software and still have full SD resolution. I use this capability quite a lot so I can adjust the framing of the picture or pan during a sequence in the software.

Extra resolution also helps you should you want to use stabilization software since it allows extra resolution for the "edges" that this software requires to stabilize the picture.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #3
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I have an XH-A1s and i have shot SD and the picture is crystal clear.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 08:55 PM   #4
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If I do decide to shoot in HD, what would be the best way to downconvert it to SD. I hear that just setting the export settings to SD in Premiere results in poor quality.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 09:07 PM   #5
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Mitch,

I've just purchased Premiere Pro but haven't started learning it (part of CS4 Suite). I'm a Sony Vegas Pro user and on Vegas it is extremely simple. I can just edit in HDV and output to SD now and keep all my editing in the timeline for outputting to HDV later.

You asked the question of HDV being difficult on your computer. Once again, I'll have to answer for Vegas but I find I can have 4 tracks of .m2t files before the preview gets choppy. I'm running a dual processor @ 3.2GHz with 4GB RAM, so its fast, but not incredibly fast by today's standards. You probably will start having problems if you go much below a dual @ 2.0GHz with a single track of .m2t. If you have an older machine, you may have to look at proxy files to use native .m2t files in the timeline.

There is no doubt that if you shoot SD it will be much faster on your system. I think you'll find using the HDV for the latitude I mentioned in my first post enough reason to shoot in HDV and render to SD.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Shealy View Post
Mitch,
You probably will start having problems if you go much below a dual @ 2.0GHz with a single track of .m2t. If you have an older machine, you may have to look at proxy files to use native .m2t files in the timeline.
I have one of the original duo cores (2gHz)in my workstation, and it is a pain in the butt to render big projects in high settings. A 45 minute wedding clip rendered to MPEG2 might take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours, depending on how many effects are layered on the video.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 09:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Shealy View Post
I'm running a dual processor @ 3.2GHz with 4GB RAM.
You system sounds just like mine.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 10:21 PM   #8
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Mitch,

I own an A1, shoot HDV
(so as to have HDV archive footage)
and downconvert on capture
via Sony HVR-M15U deck.
My main client (Swiss Public Broadcasting) has never complained,
and aired all the stuff that I've sent across the pond.

I recently got a new editing computer
that will allow me to edit HDV (with Cineform Prospect)
and downconvert later (you just never know where your stuff
might end up being shown...)

For what it's worth:
I simply love the A1
(I owned an XL1s before).

Your packages seem quite right to me:
I'll envy your Rode NTG-3!
(but be prepared to invest a few extra $$$
for a GOOD windscreen).

All the best

Vasco
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Old January 25th, 2009, 10:54 PM   #9
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Whoever gave you the information you originally posted is wrong or doesn't know what they are talking about.

1) HD video is not hard to edit if you have the proper tools. If you have a poor editing system, then yes it will get pushed to its max.

2) SD video on the A1 is very good.

3) HD video down-converted properly is better than shooting SD from the start because you are shooting in 1080HD which will be down-sampled to a 853x480 sized video file in the end. Hence all detail in the HD file whether it is subsampled or not during downconversion will result in a lot more detail in the end result. Things in the background for instance that in SD would loose detail from the get go, will become sharper and have more definition to them if down-converted from HD.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 08:36 AM   #10
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What the consensus on the SD quality of the A1?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco Dones View Post
Mitch,

For what it's worth:
I simply love the A1
(I owned an XL1s before).

All the best

Vasco
Hello Vasco. Your opinion about the XHA1 as compared to the "classic" XL1s gives me some hope! I know that the HDV quality of the XHA1 blows the SD quality of the XL1s out of the water but most of the corporate world is still and will be SD 4:3 or hopefully 16:9!
I do have clients that just want me to record their conference on SD (if I get the A1 it would be on SD 16:9) and give them the tapes at the end. No HDV for them and I have been "worried" about the SD quality of the A1 because in other threads some/many users have described the quality as "mushy" and not that clear...aye caramba! and at least I would like to believe that the SD quality would be similar to the quality I can get from a DVX100...What can you tell me about the SD quality of the A1? Sorry to be such a pest! But I find it strange that the "new" HDV cameras would have poorer SD quality than the SD only cameras...and I don't want to buy a SD-only camera now.
I do mostly events of course.
thanks
erick
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitch Hunt View Post
I've noticed on this forum that the A1s doesn't shoot good quality SD footage.What do you think?
What do I think Mitch? I tell you that people shoot good quality video, not camcorders - be it SD, HDV, DVCAM, whatever. So fear not - the XH will give you sparkling SD DVDs if you originate in SD, but only if you, the cinematographer and editor, get it right.

It were ever thus.

tom.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 05:05 PM   #12
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Erick, I've just had a XHA1 having been used to a DVX100 and was keen to see what the SD quality was like, the result was excellent, I shot the same scene in HD, SD and with the DVX100 in squeeze mode, the A1 was much better than the DVX because squeeze is not very good vertically, in fact when connected to my 26 inch Panasonic via the component lead the HD was sharp and clear but SD didn't look much worse either, I'm sure it would be more obvious on a larger display, I do have to say that I preferred the colours from the DVX even though I had the Panalook preset on, I used the 3200k WB on both cameras but the A1 looked a bit brown so I will try again with a white card.
Mick
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Old January 27th, 2009, 11:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erick Perdomo View Post
Hello Vasco. Your opinion about the XHA1 as compared to the "classic" XL1s gives me some hope! (...) What can you tell me about the SD quality of the A1?
erick
I don't know, Erick. Sorry, I've never used the A1 in SD mode.
But I really don't think it will give you less quality than the old XL1s
(comparing to the XL2 might be a different story, though: I really donno...).
Give it a try, and see yourself how it works.
As I said, I personally love the A1 - especially when paired with two little accessories:
- a Spiderbrace (or similar support system)
- a remote mounted on the Spiderbrace (such as the Libec ZC-3DV)
I think this is an amazingly cheap & effective setup.

Best

Vasco
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Old January 27th, 2009, 09:39 PM   #14
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HD downconvert?

Hey guys, my trials at downconversion have not been successful. Whether down converting in the camera from HDV to SD or rendering out of software, the results are always the same. Very soft focus looking pictures and some ugly brown discoloration to the footage.
My opinion is if u need SD then shoot SD. Anytime you transcode video, there will be artifacts. I mean come on...how much computational power could Canon have put into their on-board downconversion? Broadcast downconverters cost many times the price of the whole camera.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 10:22 PM   #15
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So if I'm going to output the video to DVD I'll need to shoot SD? The problem is, I may need shoot in HD some day, and also need to export the video onto a DVD. I just can't believe that there isn't a feature in all of Adobe CS4 (let alone any other software) that will downconvert SD to HD while retaining a good quality, sharp image.
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