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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 May 20th, 2010, 11:13 AM   #1
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Canon xh a1s alternatives


I'm looking to buy a Canon XH A1s for our school, but before we make de definitive decision I would like to consider some alternatives for the xh a1s. I do only read good things about this camera, but on the other side sometimes I read there are newer and better camera's for same price (about 3500 euro)

The main focus will be:
- Learning the students to work with a semi pro camera with manual controls
- The making of short movies by the students self (own projects and jury works)
- Recording student performances (theatre, concerts, opera, dance) in the citys concert halls and theatres.

So were looking for a camera with:

- Manual control
- XLR inputs
- Good Low light recording

Because the limited budget (City funded education cannot save the funds up for the next year)
We only have about 3500 Euro with is just enough for the Canon XH A1s.

Now, If you know good (newer) alternatives for the XH A1s, please share with me.
Someone give me already the Sony HVR-Z5U, Sony FX1000 and Panasonic HMC41E

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Old May 21st, 2010, 12:53 AM   #2
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Hi Luka..................

been pondering your thread for a while now and wondering why I found it so puzzleing.

Then I took myself back to film school and had the answer - you're buying way too much fire power for students with the A1s.

They don't need the latest gizmo's and, quite frankly, you don't either.

Buying an A1s is total overkill (IMHO) for student use and going even more up market cannot be justified unless your students are turning out 3 hour blockbusters like "Spartacus" or "Gladiator", quite frankly.

To get a bit of reality back here, why not look at two second hand XH A1's or similar?

Twice the "bang per buck", essentially the same camera and exactly the same optics and CCD block, thus same performance.

Going for just one (second hand) XH A1 would leave enough in the kitty to buy those necessary essentials you may (or may not) have - sound, support etc without busting the bank.

Students DO NOT NEED bleeding edge equipment to learn the basics, workable will do, but there needs to be enough of it to go 'round - going for one "at the front" camera, when with the same budget you could get so much more, makes no sense whatsoever.

I really think you need to re- think your priorities here. If I was running a video course I wouldn't even dream of using the camera you suggested, but something much more workaday and cheap, but functional.

Just my 2 cents.

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Old May 21st, 2010, 06:19 AM   #3
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Hi Chris,

I do understand your concerns and I can say the funding system we have in our school is not the most efficient way to do business, its quite complex and it dos not reward spending less or more... and it also do not allow to buy second hand or from the internet. But that a bit off topic.

If you know good camera models that compare well with the canon XH A1s, please share.
Forget its for a school and just say your thoughts...
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Old May 21st, 2010, 10:36 AM   #4
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Sony AX2000 and the HXR-NX5U both of which record to solid state SDHC cards. Also the tape-based HDV camcorders: Sony FX7 (needs Beachtek or similar for XLR), V1U, & A1U.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 03:11 AM   #5
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if your budget is below 3500 euro I would definitely buy a panasonic hmc151 because it has all you require and it has tapeless workflow which is a big timesaver, if low light is a absolute must the Latest Sony's are better performers but they are also above your budget if xlr is a requirement.
A xh-a1 (which I own) is a bit inbetween, the latest "s" version got about 500 euro more expensive then the older model but it has some good improvements that are worth it's premium price. It's not the best lowlight performer and it's mini dv tape based but if capture time is not a problem then it's also a very good archiving medium. (you don't need to buy expensive "hdv" tapes, regular and cheap sony premium tapes do just as well.)
You might even consider buying a used panasonic dvx100b, eventhough it is standard definition it has all the bells and whistles you need and a easy to handle dv format. the fact that I also owe such a camera with only 60 hours on it looking brand new and collecting dust here is not an attempt to try selling it to you guys at a very fair price giving you the option to buy a very good tripod as well within your budget ;)
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 08:25 PM   #6
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I would really recommend the Sony AX2000 or the Panasonic HMC150. I have two HMC150's an dhave been using them for shooting concerts and such. Very good match for this type of work. I would say its very likely the best cam for its price range.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 04:03 PM   #7
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I have been using the Panasonic HMC151 (the UK version of the 150) it is an excellent camera if you want to go for avchd rather than tape which makes it more robust and cheaper in the long run for student use without the recording medium deteriorating with time and use.

Possible problem might be that you need to have a fairly powerful PC for editing avchd.

The light weight design of the 151 is a little off-putting when you are used to heavier tape driven cameras which, of course, are heavier because of the tape drive mechanism. I was thinking the 151 was a bit 'tinny' and not particularly well built because of light weight, but after playing with it for a while I was satisfied it was just weight and not build quality that was my initial problem with it. Indeed, light weight may make matters easier for kids with hand-held filming.

You may need to twiddle with the settings, I found that out of the box outdoors filming was very definately soured by a blue-cyan cast whilst indoors was a little yellow red, but that was so slight that I initially didn't do any correcting for it in post. (I have since managed to neutralise all these settings to my satisfaction - by twiddling!
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Old May 24th, 2010, 05:58 PM   #8
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Okay, thanks everyone for the reply. I will take this information with me to the next budget meeting. And will see how it all turns out, after our internal budget proposal it gowns to the city's education administration and if were lucky next year we will get the new tools.

Noa Put, looks like you could give us a good deal, but we as school are not allow to buy second hand or from the internet with the city funding, only local shops are allowed. Like I said before, there are complicated rules, but I will not bother you with them.

Again thanks for the information and feel free to keep de discussion going.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 09:11 AM   #9
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Hey Luka,
Just thought i would jump in at this point in time & add my two cents worth.
One thing you will definitely need to consider with any of the cameras mentioned here is whether or not you are able to edit the footage. The XH A1 being mini dv tape will be the easiest of the lot to edit the footage from. The other cameras like the AX2000, HXR-NX5U & HMC150 are all AVCHD file based & will need a lot more computer power to edit. Not sure how old the edit suites are that you intend to edit the footage on, but it would definitely be worth adding to the equation before you come back with a shiny new camera, only to have to go back to the budget people & plead for more money to upgrade all your editing equipment.
There's never enough hours in the day!
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