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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 June 29th, 2009, 12:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Oliver View Post
I have very high standards for the look that I want to obtain when making a short film or just shooting random scenes working on my cinematography, the GL2 isn't living up to my standards. Lack of depth of field, not a wide-angle lens at all, has a tendency to shake if the wind is blowing too hard and you're zoomed in a lot, filming in low-light isn't the greatest either.
Regarding your list...
Lack of depth of field... are you meaning you want a shallower depth of field? If so, the cure is bigger chips or a 35mm adapter, or it's a lens wider open (lower number f-stop). The 1/3" chip cameras will all give the same results and smaller chip cameras will do worse as far as shallow depth of field.

Not a wide-angle lens at all... an adapter can help, and an adapter would probably be needed on any of the fixed lens cameras. The XH-A1 is quite wide on it's own, and the adapters/converters available for a reasonable price (Canon and Century for my money). A changeable lens camera is great if you can afford the lenses. One such camera, the JVC HD series has changeable lense, but most people who bought it with tight budgets ended up using only the inferior stock lens. The excellent wide-angle lens listed at $13,000... 3x the cost of the camera. The price has come down to about $8-9,000, but it's still not an option for most people.

has a tendency to shake if the wind is blowing too hard... I think this is probably more a function of the tripod and head and the way the camera is attached. All the smaller cameras will be similar in similar conditions mounted on similar equipment. If you want shots in very high wind, clamps and other mounting devices might be needed. For long telephoto shots it may be necessary to spend more on a tripod and head than on the camera.

low light shooting... a standard definition camera is generally superior to the HDV cameras out now. However, rather than considering the XL SD camera, you might want to think about a used PD170. This camera is legendary as a low-light champ, and it comes with a wide angle adapter, so you don't have to buy something additional. Yes, it is SD, but it has been used for feature films. From what you've said, I think this might be a great upgrade over the GL2 for your current needs. (It shoots 3:4, but has a 16:9 mode, though this cuts off part of the chip. However, for your current requirements. This should be okay. Otherwise, if you want a native 16:9 camera, I would still recommend the XH-A1.)
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Old June 29th, 2009, 03:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
low light shooting... a standard definition camera is generally superior to the HDV cameras out now.
If you want hdv and low light you can consider a sony fx1000, I have seen comparisons against a vx2100 and if not zoomed in the fx1000 was equally light sensitive. It is missing xlr's but guess that the Z5 has the same lens if you want that option?
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Old June 29th, 2009, 07:10 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Nicholas Oliver View Post
Lack of depth of field,
Moving to a 1/3" chip from your 1/4" will make a difference, but its still not going to give you huge DOF. But that's life with 1/3" chips :) We learn to deal with it creatively, and the DOF issue hasn't stopped people from making commercially successful theatrical projects with Canon HDV camcorders. If DOF is extremely important and you're on a tight budget, I'd recommend seriously looking at something like an HV20/30/40 in conjunction with a 35mm adapter. The consumer controls are kind of a bugger to work with, but the end result can be made to look quite spectacular; you just gotta put in the extra time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Oliver View Post
not a wide-angle lens at all,
Well the XH-A1 definitely has a nice wide angle, and of course you can add a WA adapter. I personally have not felt the need to get a WA adapter for my XH-A1 because its lens is already very wide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Oliver View Post
has a tendency to shake if the wind is blowing too hard and you're zoomed in a lot,
Well... that's not really a camera issue :) A better and/or heavier tripod or head is going to help here. The XH series is somewhat heavier than the GLs so that'll certainly help, but its probably not the cure all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Oliver View Post
filming in low-light isn't the greatest either.
The XH-A1 is pretty decent in low light. Not the best, but totally adequate. Having said that, for narrative work/short films that shouldn't be an issue, since you control the light. Also if for some reason you shoot with poor lighting a lot, you can probably forget about using 35mm adapters since they suck up a ton of light.


Bottom line, for a student of cinematography that wants to shoot short films you absolutely cannot go wrong with the XH-A1. The massive amount of image control and tunability is incredible, the images are extremely sharp, color is fantastic, manual controls plentiful and it has a robust XLR audio system. Used these things are just over $2,000. Honestly just a few years ago the thought of a professional 1080P 24fps camcorder for two grand was just a silly fantasy.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 09:02 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Oliver View Post
Lack of depth of field...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Williams View Post
...its still not going to give you huge DOF.
Sorry but I have to hammer on you guys just a bit, because your terminology is backwards. This is an information site, and we want to be sure that we're putting out correct information. The GL2 and any other camcorder with small 1/4" chips has no "lack" of depth of field at all. Generally speaking, the smaller the sensor, the deeper the field of focus. The GL2 actually has huge DOF, and that's not what you're looking for.

What you guys want is shallow DOF, or less DOF -- not more. I know that you know what you want, but please take care to describe it correctly for the benefit of other folks reading the site. And while not everyone (such as myself, for instance), desires shallow depth of field, many people consider shallow DOF to be a critical element in putting together a film-like look. So as you're working to attain that characteristic, it's important that you describe it correctly... otherwise the confusion is going to lead to more confusion, therefore yielding conflicting advice and information.

What the GL2 has: lots of DOF. Huge DOF. Is not lacking for depth of field.

What you want: less DOF. Shallow DOF. Depth of field which has a narrow plane of focus.

I've worked trade shows before (DV Expo and VideoMaker Expo) and have had people come up to the camera counter saying, "I'm a filmmaker and I need a camera that has more DOF." And my reply is, "these cameras already have too much depth of field, and if you're a filmmaker, then you're probably looking for less DOF, not more."

Shallow depth of field = out of focus background = part of the film-like look = less DOF (not more DOF).

Hope this helps,
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Old June 29th, 2009, 06:55 PM   #20
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grr, I'm still torn. many of you say good things about the XL2, and many of you say good things about the XHA1. Given that I can most likely find a used 35mm adapter in the classifieds section and buy that at a later time, I would probably obtain the look I want more with an XHA1 and an adapter than I would an XL2 and an adapter, yes?

I just really don't want to make the wrong decision here. and who knows, maybe neither of these cameras are the one for me, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what is.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 07:35 PM   #21
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I reckon the XL2 would be the mistake. Still most my clients want a SD output however when the initial meeting take place when I mention that I will also give them a HD file of their project / film etc they are even happier.

It will just make you more future proof. I always try and buy best product of what I can afford with the best technology.

My 2C worth
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Old June 29th, 2009, 08:46 PM   #22
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And on top of that, HDV source makes a better 16:9 SD product. Period.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 09:04 PM   #23
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This is an obvious question, but have you seen and handled an XL2? The camera is quite different than you might expect if you have not seen and handled one. You may or may not like it.

The XH-A1 is more similar to the GL2, just a bit larger
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Old June 30th, 2009, 12:17 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Bill Grant View Post
And on top of that, HDV source makes a better 16:9 SD product. Period.
Bill
Hi Bill. Having owned an XL2 before getting my XH-A1, I would not agree with such a blanket statement. The XL2 makes great SD footage, and it stands up very well against HDV material, especially when there is a lot of moving fine details in the image. Not surprisingly due to the heavy compression involved, the HDV codec is not as solid as DV and you can see degradation when the image gets too "busy". The XH-A1 is also noisier than the XL2, this has been commented on since the XH-A1 first came out.

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Old June 30th, 2009, 02:40 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Nicholas Oliver View Post
...many of you say good things about the XL2, and many of you say good things about the XHA1.
Well, this is an XH thread, so you'll hear a lot of good things about the cams. ;)

I think Jack Walker got it right with recommending a gently used Sony PD-170 if you can live with SD footage. If you can find someone willing to part with theirs, that is. Low light is awesome, but 16:9 footage suffers a bit. You will not get any client "wow factor" when they see the PD-170 camcorder, though. Just had to mention it, because some clients can be that way.

The XL2 wouldn't be a top choice unless you don't want the extra "kludge" of a 35mm adapter and will shoot mostly 16:9. The XL2 video lenses can cost just as much as buying a 35mm adapter and a good 35mm lens. At the time XL-2 was released, no other Canon camera in the same price range offered the optics of the XL2. Ever since Canon put the excellent optics in a one-piece camcorder, my desire to have an XL series has gone down drastically. Unlike the PD-170, though, the XL2 has native 16:9 sensors, so you'll get better 16:9 footage. You can also get a very good CRT EVF for the XL2. Again, money is the limiting factor.

Since you are studying cinematography, you'll appreciate the depth of picture customization possible with the XH series. Add the Canon CONSOLE software, and life gets a lot easier. Sony may offer the same customizing options in their competing cams, but I can only speak for what I have used.

That's all I have to say about that.
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Old June 30th, 2009, 03:34 PM   #26
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Having owned the XL2, XL H1, and now the XL H1S (and having extensive experience with the XH A1) I'd say go for the XH A1.

I loved my XL2 at the time, but sans interchangeable lenses, the XH A1 really has so much more too offer. The amount of image control is really staggering compared to the older XL2.

Unless you have a large XL lens collection, I'd go for the XH. It also shoots widescreen SD if that is what you need as well.
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Old July 1st, 2009, 09:27 PM   #27
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I think I'm going to buy a used XHA1 and a used 35mm adapter. that should give me the look that I'm striving for. (and yes, I know I'll have to purchase lenses, but I already have some, and I also have a contact that I can get more from)
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Old July 1st, 2009, 10:17 PM   #28
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does the XHA1 shoot in 24fps?
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Old July 1st, 2009, 10:22 PM   #29
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Sure does.

It records 60i, 30p, and 24p (24p is laid to tape without any pulldown).
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 01:00 AM   #30
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Richard,
Let me get specific then. I produce a much better SD DVD with the A1 than with the VX2100. I am not a pixel peeper, so I don't get involved with compression types and ratios and so on. My clients don't either. My product is better with the A1. That's all. I don't know a thing about the XL2, but I imagine it's a fine camera.
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