XH-A1 vs XH-A1s: My Observations 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 July 23rd, 2009, 02:38 AM   #1
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XH-A1 vs XH-A1s: My Observations

I took delivery of my 3rd XH series cam this afternoon (thanks Angelo!). I already own two XH-A1s (non S model) and this one was the S-model. So I couldn't wait to get home to truly compare them to see the differences. Interestingly enough I found a few unpublished (at least to me) differences. I took the time to note them below.

PS This is just a quick list of things I took note of in the 45 minutes or so as I compared the new cam with the older ones.

PHYSICAL
- All three dials (iris, zoom, focus) have a MUCH more weighted feel to them

- Rear of the camera has two sets of RGB outputs (one for what your camera is recording, and the other what the EVF is displaying *low res*)

- More robust ports- 6 pin firewire, and metal headphone/lanc ports

- No more standby and lock switch surrounding the record button :( However M-mode is at least now adjacent to the OFF position on the main dial on the left side of the camera
Beveling around the buttons is more exaggerated (there is a raised ridge below Gain, Bars, and White Balance) The manual white balance is no longer easy to accidentally hit- the button is now recessed (rather there is a circular raised bevel around the entire button requiring it to have a more deliberate press to activate)

- The external mic holder uses MUCH larger screws and is buffered against the body with what seems to be a rubber gasket now (to give the external mic assembly a little play- before it was completely rigid)

- Accessories include a small padded sticky strip to add to external microphones so that the external mic holder will actually hold it. (that was nice of Canon- no need to use gaffer’s tape to thicken up a shotgun mic stem to be able to be gripped by the mic holder)

- An extra large accessory eye cup is included that snuggly fits over the stock electronic view finder. This is wonderful- it makes the viewfinder finally usable! I want to find the stock number and order two more for my non-S model A1s!

- The onboard mic seems to have more play than both of my current A1’s. Any more and I’d consider it TOO loose. I don’t know if anyone else noticed this on their A1s vs standard A1 or if it’s just my unit.

- The hand strap has been beefed tremendously. It’s at least twice as wide and the padding is much thicker with a softer material on the side where the back of your hand comes in contact with it. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s MUCH more comfortable to hold now.

- Audio is probably one of the largest changes. The audio level dials are labeled by number (0 - - -5 - - -10) rather than just dots. The little triangle lables on the back of the camera showing you which way the dial is turned for increasing/decreasing the volume is now gone.

- The “AUDIO LEVEL- Auto/Manual” button below the audio level dials is now replaced with “Audio Level Lock- On/Off”. I have to read up about how this works.
The switches above the XLR inputs have changed from “Line/Mic” & “Ch1, Ch1/Ch2” to independent Audio Level- Auto/Manual for both Channel 1 and Channel 2. I love this. You aren’t forced into making the auto/manual choice on both channels simultaneously. You can now pick and choose which channel you want to be manual and which to be auto if need be. I’m assuming this ties into the ability to use an XLR & Onboard mic rather than being force into ALL XLR or ALL Onboard audio. Huge plus IMHO.


OPERATION
- No more “Sky Detail” under the CAMERA SETUP menu. It’s replaced with “Selective NR” which seems to have a great deal of potential!

- There is a “Focus Limit” toggle under CAMERA SETUP (have to read up about it!)
IMAGE STABILIZER is now an option when assigning custom buttons! I know this is a huge one for many people!

-“F SPEED PSET” under CAMERA SETUP is now selectable between “1, 2, 3, & 4” instead of the previous “LOW, MIDDLE, HIGH”

- The AUDIO SETUP menu is completely different. It now has options for “OUTPUT LEVEL- 1Vrms & 2Vrms” (have to look that one up!), OUTPUT CHANNEL, INPUT CHANNEL (this is where you change either channel 1 or 2 between the onboard mic, XLR (mic), and XLR (line). Unfortunately changing your XLR between line and Mic is buried in a menu- however I never had a need for using “line”. There is even a “LOW CUT” toggle with three option “OFF, LC1, LC2”. Finally there are several XLR “trim settings and an XLR “ALC Link”, and “AUD Limiter” settings.

- Gain has one extra option entitled TUNE where you can dial in any gain settting between 0 and the Max in .5 increments. This is awesome! Although it would be much easier to use as an external gain DIAL rather than a menu (a’la XL-H1 series cams)

- Peaking- you now have the ability to TUNE your peaking! There are two values to adjust “gain” and “frequency”. You can even save two presets and choose between them in the menu “ie PEAKING1, and PEAKING2”

- There are a few new Custom Display/Custom Function options- just don’t remember them off-hand. However one was titled “Magnification Recording”- I wonder if that mean you can set it up to be able to use Magnification DURING recording?! That would be great!

- Under the Custom Presets it seems CineMatrix 1 & CineMatrix 2 have been swapped between the XH-A1 and XH-A1s. I dialed in my Custom Preset from my other cams and for some reason the A1s wasn’t matching the others. I FINALLY narrowed it down to the CineMatrix setting. I have to use CineMatrix 1 on my XH-A1 cams, and CineMatrix 2 on the XH-A1s to be able to match them. Tricky little tidbit!

- The setup attributes for the LCD/EVF are no longer the triangle over a scale with notches style adjustments but are now adjusted numerically. They've added some more steps of adjustment to some attributes and removed some from others.

NOTE: When having both an XH-A1 and XH-A1s on tripods in front of me as I tested them out this evening (connected to external monitors). I noticed both cams developed stuck pixels after using gain (+12db) after a few minutes on both cams. I thought this was caused by the CCDs heating up mixed with the high gain. I turned both cams off for a while (to cool?) turned them back on and both of them had the same stuck (solid color) pixels in the same locations. I found by powering both cams off, removing the battery, then re-inserting the battery and powering back on the stuck pixels were gone. Very odd indeed. 

I have indeed seen these hot/stuck pixels in some of my reception footage from weddings. It’s interesting it required a “cold boot” so to speak to get rid of them.

Of course after several minutes they came back but in different locations. Bizzare.... thanks for reading!
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 06:48 AM   #2
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Great!!!!
Excelent review.
Thanks you very much.

I'm only waiting for a XH1-S with SD cards with exFAT format and a big LCD screen, something like Panasonic HMC-150 but with Canon style.

exFAT - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by Mikel Arturo; July 24th, 2009 at 06:24 AM.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 07:02 AM   #3
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Glen, thanks very much for posting this, very interesting.

I'm very interested in the audio, IMO having the limiters relieves the op from some of the worry about over driving the system into distortion.

A question; if you combine the A1s cam mic (stereo) and say an exterior shotgun (mono) does the stereo cam mic combine to mono?

Cheers.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 10:57 AM   #4
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Hey Allan, I haven't done that yet but I presume that is what happens.
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Old October 21st, 2009, 05:37 AM   #5
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Hello Glan

I wondered did you manage to combine the audio as Allan was asking?

And thanks for your review, very useful indeed.

Pavel
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 05:00 PM   #6
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Onboard goes to mono when you mix it with one channel of XLR audio.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 08:41 AM   #7
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Glen, Is it true that presets are interchangeable between the A1 and the A1S (with respect to your remark about the Cinematrix setting)?
And does it work the same way? I mean: put some presets in a folder PRESET on an SD card and the camera can cycle through them?
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Last edited by Kees van Duijvenbode; October 28th, 2009 at 11:16 AM.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 09:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Elliott View Post
- Under the Custom Presets it seems CineMatrix 1 & CineMatrix 2 have been swapped between the XH-A1 and XH-A1s. I dialed in my Custom Preset from my other cams and for some reason the A1s wasn’t matching the others. I FINALLY narrowed it down to the CineMatrix setting. I have to use CineMatrix 1 on my XH-A1 cams, and CineMatrix 2 on the XH-A1s to be able to match them. Tricky little tidbit!
Kees while waiting for Glens update (hope he's not too enthralled by the A1s :) looks like you can do all that but for the above.

Cheers.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 06:40 AM   #9
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I asked the question on behalf of a Dutch XHA1s owner to whom I send a few of my XHA1 presets together with the instruction how to put them on a SD card en choose them. But she keeps having problems to use them. So it seemed to me that XHA1 presets do not work on the XHA1s. For that I'm looking for a confirmation.
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Old October 30th, 2009, 12:58 AM   #10
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Yes the preset that you use on XHA1 will just work on the A1s the same thing even better when you dial the preset it will show you the name of that preset on the screen and when you selected it will go back to the number name like 10 12 so it even better with the As then the A1
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