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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 8th, 2011, 03:29 PM   #1
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XHA1S or XA10

Hi all,

New to the forum and looking forward to getting involved.

After a bit of advice if anyone can help, please...

I'm looking to get a semi-pro Canon video camera which will allow me to learn with it - taking more and more control of manual functions.

Maximum budget is £2000 to £3000. Must be HD, keen on 20x optical as am using for events.

I've been looking at the XHA1S for ages now and it looks great. Not so keen on DV tapes but its not a deal breaker. My main concern, however, is whether I'll be buying old technology which is likely to be superseded very quickly.

I'm mainly thinking about the forthcoming XA10. The 10x optical this offers puts me off, but would this camera give me a better quality picture (given the technology used) than the XHA1S?

Any advice would be hugely appreciated, and thanks in advance all!

Jim
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Old March 8th, 2011, 04:57 PM   #2
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

Hi James and welcome!

I'd personally think you'd waste near on £2000 for the XA10 and would be better spending nearer your £3000 budget on a XF100...you can easily ready what I think of both from my experiences trying them out at Expos on this forum (I stress I own neither). I have no experience of the XHA1S so will let others comment.

Canon XF100 versus Canon XA10

However, VERY EARLY reports suggest the XF100 is not that good in low light (to be expected with a single 1/3 inch chip I guess) and of course it's limited to 10X optical zoom which might very well limit you with your intended use. That said, I LOVE the design and general ergonomics of the XF100 and might well buy one soon anyway - still deliberating that.

I REALLY don't like the XA10 - the focus ring is too close to the LCD so you'll have a real fiddle trying to do any pro work with it as your hand will constantly knock the screen - at least that's what I found when handling it at BVE (maybe I have fatter fingers than the Canon design team!). Also, with the XA10 it's going to be 95% a touch screen interface (you'll either love this or hate it) and of course it will lack PCM audio (yes it has XLRs on the funky handle but it's still compressed audio). I honestly think the XA10 is going to be ridiculously overpriced top end "prosumer" camcorder when it becomes available in a few weeks but that's just my opinion.

You seem set on Canon - have you thought about some other makes? I'm sure you'll get many suggestions from others too!
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Old March 8th, 2011, 05:52 PM   #3
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

James, perhaps you have most or all of the other things you'll need taken care of but since you say you're just starting out, I'll offer this hopefully not too discouraging advice:

The camera is only a fraction of your total outlay if you want to do event videography. decent tripod, XLR microphones, cables, media (SDHC, CF, tape...), perhaps additional audio recorder, a computer competent enough to edit HD video, redundant long-term storage for your footage, your editing software of choice, just for starters.

Hopefully there's enough cash left in the budget to buy a suitable camera after considering all the other gear besides the camera. If you really need to "travel economy" a used tape camera like the XH might be the practical way to start, despite the need to continue . If you've thought about and are confident that all things considered you can afford one of the new tapeless cameras, all the better.

Tapes are a hassle and a bit of a time hit so most of us will be glad to see them only in the rear view mirror. Yet, both in terms of finding good second hand cameras cheap and having the tape as your original archive it might make sense for you to go that way for your first year or so.

It is too soon for in depth comparisons of picture quality, but early reports and all expectations are that the new Canon cameras will be sharper and the files will have fewer visible artifacts, but perhaps a tad less low-light capable than their tape-breathing ancestors.

BTW, Andy, special greetings. I lived in lovely East Anglia about 20 years ago about 30 minutes from Cambridge. It has been over a dozen years since I last visited but I'm sure it is still beautiful land.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 07:05 AM   #4
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

The XA10 is newer technology, but the XHA1S has those 3 wonderful control rings for focus, zoom, and iris. I love those rings. I prefer to use the zoom ring rather than the zoom rocker, especially when shooting sports.

I've added an external hard drive unit (used) to my A1. Right now I'm using both tape and the CitiDisk unit, but would like to go tapeless at times.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 08:03 AM   #5
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Wilkinson View Post
I'd personally think you'd waste near on £2000 for the XA10 and would be better spending nearer your £3000 budget on a XF100..
I wouldn't say you'll waste your money on XA10, but I agree that for event work XF100 is more suatble,
Without testing it is impossible to say if XA10 give you better picture than A1S , I would say it will, but only side by side will tell, and I can't wait to put my hands on that camcorder
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Old March 9th, 2011, 01:13 PM   #6
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

@James, I use 2 XHA1S Cameras, and we are going to plan on getting DTE units. I'd like to hold off a little longer until an affordale 4/3 camera with removable lens' are available; but I love my XHA1S!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Van Duyn View Post
Right now I'm using both tape and the CitiDisk unit, but would like to go tapeless at times.
and @RogerI agree totally about the rings, btw, does the CitiDisk unit not record without tape? Would you recommend it over the DataVideo DTE unit?
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Old March 9th, 2011, 04:24 PM   #7
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

James,

For many of us XH A1 users, the 10X lens of the XF100 excludes it as a replacement. Even though it appears that Canon thinks so by the price point. Not sure what you mean by "events" so that may or may not be the case for you. Now could I use one for a second camera.......

Depending on the speed of your computer and the funds you may have available to upgrade, hdv can be handled by any fairly mainstream computer which would not be the case with the new Canon. One of it's selling points is it's codec but it can be more computer intensive.

And since you are new here's a little bit of advice. Anytime you see a heading in a camera forum that includes "low light test" or something to that effect, for the first year or so, don't read it or play the video. It's a slider move and a rack focus on a single source of light (quite possibley a candle) followed by numbers of posts bemoaning the failure of yet another camera and threats they will be spending their money on a Red Scarlet or something GOOD!

Instead go over to the "Photon Management" section and find out how to find the sweet spot on the camera you purchase and give it what it needs to perform at it's best and leave the staring at candles to the experts.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #8
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

Hi guys,

Thanks for all of your advice... certainly lots to think about here... and I'm going to be doing some more reading up.

BTW when I say 'event' work I mean capturing varied events, from sports events through to more tame affairs, on the fly. Possibly weddings moving forward, but not on a pro level from the offset. I.e. for friends of friends.

I've been filming events for years and have always found the 20x optical particularly useful, so I think I'd really miss this with some of the new Canon models.

I don't mind that the XHA1s isn't the very latest technology or that it's tape, but it seems that in light of this the price point could have been reduced a bit to the £2000-£2500 mark.

Another BTW, my PC spec is i3 560 @3.33GHz and 6 GB RAM... will that cope do you think?

Thanks again!

Jim
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Old March 12th, 2011, 09:00 AM   #9
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

Jim,

Depending on your NLE, your computer should be just fine with HDV.

I own tape and removable media cameras and the death of tape, despite what you may read are greatly exaggerated. And if the truth be told, the last line of defense against losing the information captured from cards for many people myself included is backup to tape!

And if I really think about it because of my paranoia, I spend more time capturing, converting, saving the original and converted files and backing them up to tape and various hard drives with removable media than tape captured footage. To this day my stomach gets queasy as I stare at the "Delete the selected items?" warning on the screen as I am about to erase it. Invariably I go back and check one more time.....

All it takes is a quick perusal of this forum and you will find headings such as, "HELP!!!! For the love of the baby Jesus I need to get a wedding back I shot two months ago and recorded over twelve times, is there some sort of software that can do that?!! Or they can't get the files off the card or it is in some way corrupted. Now a lot of what I read could have been prevented by a good back-up work flow but that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, until something bad has happened.

I have tapes from the early 90's when I had an XL1 and the tapes still play almost 20 years later. Three months ago I bought a $90 name brand 8 GB class 10 card that went bad that they replaced but in all my years I have never had a "bad" tape, and I have used thousands. Bad hard drives, SD and CF cards, CD and DVD yes, tapes no.

Before I receive the "Dave the Dinosaur" moniker, I realize that tape is in the autumn of its life cycle, kind of like me. Tape mechanisms are much costlier to make than solid state technology and as everyone is aware, are/will be phased out by manufacturers.

But as a new user you may find that tape is a GREAT way to help figure out a good back up your work flow. There is also a great calming effect when your computer spontaneously combusts but you can put your sweaty hands on your boxes of recorded tapes.

And your last question about price is an observant one, and speaks to the quality and value of the A1. When Canon announced their XF series, I was expecting a glut of A1’s on the used market. Hell, I was trying to figure out what would be the best time to unload mine to take the least amount of a hit!

At the time, my expectations were that it would be a solid state camera with the same basic feature set at around the same price point. Imagine my surprise when the price doubled and the camera that does hit the same price point, feature wise wouldn’t replace the A1, at least for me. I wouldn’t exchange my A1 for a straight up trade with the XF100, codec notwithstanding. Many other people feel the same way and the A1 price has been pretty steady, new and used.

Welcome to the forum and good luck!
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Old March 12th, 2011, 10:26 AM   #10
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Stembridge View Post
@James, I use 2 XHA1S Cameras, and we are going to plan on getting DTE units. I'd like to hold off a little longer until an affordale 4/3 camera with removable lens' are available; but I love my XHA1S!!!



and @RogerI agree totally about the rings, btw, does the CitiDisk unit not record without tape? Would you recommend it over the DataVideo DTE unit?
David,

The CitiDisk does record without tape. It has a record button of it's own. I just found out from a friend of mine who also has one, that if you press the record button on the Citidisk first before pressing the camera's record button, that you can change tapes while the Citidisk continues to record. I haven't tried it myself yet, but I can verify that the unit continues to record after my A1 reaches the end of the tape.

I got mine used at a really good price. The newer Citidisk units use CF cards instead of the harddrives, except for the new Maxtor units that have 250g or 500g swappable hard drive units.

I have experienced certain programs working better than others for importing the files. Media Composer 5 seems to choke on all of them, at least on my pc. Avid Liquid 7.2 chokes on some of them. Pinnacle Studio 12, so far at least, has imported ALL of the CitiDisk files without a hitch. My friend is using Adobe Premiere CS5 with no troubles.

So far, I'm still recording to tape along with the CitiDisk. I've only had mine a couple of weeks, and only used it twice in the field.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 12:50 PM   #11
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Chilson View Post
Tape mechanisms are much costlier to make than solid state technology
Unfortunately current prizes of the new canon models don't reflect that, new technology comes at a price, even if it's cheaper to produce.

I still own a xh-a1 and have a hard time selling it, my dvx100b on the other hand which I put on sale at the same time was gone in a few days.

I certainly would not get a xa10 instead of the xh-a1, I"m sure that the xa10 will produce a sharper image in good light but in low light I"m not sure it will be better. Also in terms of ergonomics it's like day and night in favor of the xh-a1 which will have much better manual control over your image.

A xf100 would be a much better choice where maybe the xh-a1s will do slightly better in low light but that still needs to be confirmed, also in regards to manual controll the xh-a1s will still be better but the xf100 will be a better investment if you plan on selling in a few years.

Currently there's still no real xh-a1 replacement and I wouldn't be surprised if Canon will bring out a XF200, that one will be a very interesting camera and hopefully at a "normal" pricepoint.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 01:03 PM   #12
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Re: XHA1S or XA10

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Chilson View Post
Tape mechanisms are much costlier to make than solid state technology
Unfortunately current prizes of the new canon models don't reflect that, new technology comes at a price, even if it's cheaper to produce.

I still own a xh-a1 and have a hard time selling it, my dvx100b on the other hand which I put on sale at the same time was gone in a few days.

I certainly would not get a xa10 instead of the xh-a1, I"m sure that the xa10 will produce a sharper image in good light but in low light I"m not sure it will be better. Also in terms of ergonomics it's like day and night in favor of the xh-a1 which will have much better manual control over your image.

A xf100 would be a much better choice where maybe the xh-a1s will do slightly better in low light but that still needs to be confirmed, also in regards to manual controll the xh-a1s will still be better but the xf100 will be a better investment if you plan on selling in a few years.

Currently there's still no real xh-a1 replacement and I wouldn't be surprised if Canon will bring out a XF200, that one will be a very interesting camera and hopefully at a "normal" pricepoint.
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