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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 March 14th, 2009, 08:54 AM   #1
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Canon XH A1: NTSC vs PAL

Hi All
I'm new at this so if this message is in the wrong place or its been answered elsewhere....sorry. Let me know and I'll fix it.

I'm wanting to get into making documentaries but I'm on a bit of a budget. So, I can get a second hand canon XH A1 for a fairly reasonable price. Unfortunately the second hand one that I can get is in the NTSC format and South Africa uses PAL. I'm assuming that any reasonable standard editing software will be able to change the format. Is this assumption correct?

According to Canon South Africa’s website “camera tek” are the guy’s in South Africa who will fix your canon for you if you accidentally drop it. So I phoned the guy’s at camera tek to find out if there were any hardware differences between the XH A1 NTSC and PAL camcorders. They said that there weren’t any but they are not allowed to fix a camcorder that’s got NTSC on it. They are also not allowed to change the firmware. So even though its only a firmware difference they (or anyone else in SA) will not even look at my NTSC camcorder unless I first find some way to change the format to PAL. So here are my questions:

• If I use format conversion software, is it lossy ? What software do you suggest?
• Can anyone advise on re-flashing the camera to PAL ? SD card ? Downloadable image? Where can I get the firmware?

Carol
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Old March 14th, 2009, 09:27 AM   #2
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Don't go there Carol. As you're living in PAL land then you should most certainly buy a PAL camcorder. The NTSC one will natively shoot 30 fop (nominally) whereas the PAL one will shoot 25 fps. And you'll be editing and outputting a lot of SD PAL footage I should imagine, where the differing frame sizes come into play and are even more apparent.

Of course you can do standards conversions between the two formats but unless you have very expensive software indeed - then yes, it is indeed lossy.

There are very good reasons for the low price of an NTSC camera in PAL countries. I would strongly suggest you don't save a few Rand to find out why.

tom.
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Old March 14th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #3
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Carol,

major Canon servicing centers offer a so-called "dual-standard upgrade":
in a nutshell, with the "upgrade" your camera will be able to shoot NTSC as well as PAL.
For instance, I bought my A1 here in the States (NTSC land), but since I usually work for
Swiss TV (PAL land), I had it upgraded by Canon USA to dual-standard.
The upside is that I can now work for European customers, as well as for US customers.
The downside is the cost of that little "upgrade": here in the US it cost me $500.

Best

Vasco Dones
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Old March 16th, 2009, 02:15 AM   #4
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Seems it isn't going to be as easy as I hoped. Thanks for the advise guys.

Carol
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Old March 16th, 2009, 11:05 AM   #5
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It certainly is possible to convert between the two standards, but the quality suffers. With SD the NTSC has less resolution to start with, with HDV the picture sizes are the same but still the frame rate conversion from 30 to 25 messes things up.

If you get a NTSC cam to use in PAL environment you will regret it soon!
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Old March 16th, 2009, 12:20 PM   #6
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i am in Burundi PAL land and i shoot NTSC. The DVDs play on all tvs and dvd players (that i have tried...), and of course, computers. but most clients are international NGOs and view on laptops and also in N. America...
i think the problem is playing PAL on a NTSC DVD player: it won't work...
that said, i transcoded PAL for broadcast on TV here, and it gets a little choppy for my liking...
i guess it depends on who your clients are...
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Old March 17th, 2009, 01:12 AM   #7
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In the past the division between PAL and NTSC was clear: on a TV set and VCR the wrong format just would not play. period. And the conversion was done with hardware costing a lot.

Now with computers and multiformat DVD players and TV sets things are both simpler and more complicated. Computers and net videos work no matter what the standard is, many (BUT NOT ALL!) DVD players and TV will eat and spit out both formats. This has caused some confucion as to what the fuzz is all about.

The bottom line is, that if the video material is needed for local broadcast or for local DVD distribution, it has to be in the local format. Yes it can be converted, but with a loss of quality. And it HAS to be converted which always is an extra step or it can not be edited onto local material.
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Old March 17th, 2009, 03:43 PM   #8
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Or just pay the Canon upgrade and get the best of both worlds
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Old March 18th, 2009, 02:00 AM   #9
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While many/most DVD players & TVs in PAL countries will also support NTSC the opposite is not true.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 04:57 AM   #10
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Thanks for the great response.

Unfortunately canon South Africa don't do upgrades. Either they don't get much call for it or they're not big on customer service. My feeling is that changing the firmware to take PAL instead of NTSC or upgrading it to take both should be an easy thing. It sounds like its an easy thing in the US. Not so in South Africa. Its defiantly not a standard service that they offer. For over a month now I've been I've been speaking to the guys at canon and the response that I've gotten from canon SA and their service center is simply "we're not allowed to do it". My post on this site was really to get clarity that canon was not providing and you guys have been great.

So...the secondhand NTSC A1 that I wanted has been sold to someone else. Hope that poor sod has has better luck with canon than I've had.

I was thinking of going with Sony after the the issues I've had with canon but its really the XH A1 that I want. So I'm going to take the wack to my bank account and get a new one.....well almost new....a demo. PAL of course. I'm really quite excited. Its going to be a lot of fun.

Thanks for taking the time to post a response.

Carol
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Old March 19th, 2009, 05:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol Erasmus View Post
I'm going to take the wack to my bank account and get a new one.....well almost new....a demo.Carol

You know of course that the XH-A1 is now the 's' model? Canon fixed a lot of little things with the new model - though the side-screen remains rather small.

tom.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 08:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol Erasmus View Post
So I'm going to take the wack to my bank account and get a new one.....well almost new....a demo. PAL of course. I'm really quite excited. Its going to be a lot of fun.
Whether it's the "old" A1 or the new A1s, you won't be disappointed, Carol:
it's a great camera for the money.

Have fun!

Vasco
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Old March 20th, 2009, 02:11 AM   #13
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this is the last time i will complain about this (i promise), but i need to get it off my chest. i am irked that the new XH-A1 did not make the OIS mappable to a custom key. i rigged my camera to move from tripod to shoulder in a quick motion, but i have to stop the natural flow of an interview etc. etc. by having to stop recording to access the menu (usually i'm recording the audio of the translator when i make the move...). then same deal as i switch back to tripod. i know, i know, it only takes a few seconds, but having to say 'ok, everybody! stop everything! i have to push a button!' is a little ridiculous.
when i get the hv 30 this summer to have a two camera system it will be much better... i'll leave the XH-A1 on the tripod and have the HV 30 on a Merlin... can't wait!
end rant.
that said, i still love the XH-A1. thanks for listening. i'll have another beer, bartender.
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 01:22 AM   #14
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You could record in 24p mode and after pulldown have just a one frame difference from PAL, the conversion shouldn't be very noticeable at this point
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