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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 December 11th, 2011, 10:50 PM   #16
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

It's funny I pulled one of my A1's out for a corporate job last week and used instead of my 5D because I couldn't be bothered to capture separate audio, convert the footage etc etc.
It came out great, I used a large external monitor instead of the crappy LCD, the client loved it and I didn't have the usual conversation as to why am I using a stills camera to shoot video. The A1 rocks, the Ex1 is a better but not by that much. It will be interesting to see whether the Ex1 gets an upgrade or whether they are sticking with S35 chips now.
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Old December 11th, 2011, 11:22 PM   #17
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

I can't disagree more. I had an A1 and now have an EX1r. The EX1 is twice the price of the A1 and worth every bit of it.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 11:19 AM   #18
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

It "was" twice the price but it's not twice as good, the ex1 is a better camera in every aspect but not to a degree that it will put a xh-a1 to shame, a lot depends on your delivery format and light conditions. In poor light, yes, the xh-a1 sucks and certainly does not match up to a ex1 but as long as the light conditions are good you will barely see the difference if you go to dvd or deliver for web, compare the images in hd on a hd screen, then ofcourse differences in mainly sharpness will show more.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 02:51 PM   #19
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

This is all good information for me. I currently own an XHA1s and a recently purchased XHA1 and I did so because like one of the earlier posters commented, I didn't feel that I could justify the cost differential between what I have vs what I thought I wanted. Is the technology of an XF300 or the EX1 for that matter worth the thousands of dollars more. I don't mind the tapes and well...I'll have to deal with an occasional dropout but what really is the value of technological differences. Now, I did pick up a HF-G10. I figured this was a good way to at minimum take a look at what it would be like in the world of AVCHD. Being of the lowest level of amateurs, I actually find that working with the AVCHD is more difficult and time consuming than working with the tapes. Again, I am an amateur. I think my biggest problem is that I'm only working with a 8GB MacBook pro. Does anyone know really where one needs to be on RAM?

All being said, I have never used the EX1 but have seen the footage. It looks great! but not so great that I would spend the additional money considering where I am in my business.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 04:36 PM   #20
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
It "was" twice the price but it's not twice as good, ... In poor light, yes, the xh-a1 sucks and certainly does not match up to a ex1 but as long as the light conditions are good you will barely see the difference if you go to dvd or deliver for web, compare the images in hd on a hd screen, then ofcourse differences in mainly sharpness will show more.
That's like say a car is great as long as you don't go on the highway or drive at night. Pick your analogy. The A1 has it's limits.

The EX1 image from its 1920x1080 1/2" sensors is better than the A1's 1440x1080 1/3" sensors. The EX1 codec is also superior. Not even in the same class.

Also, there's more to a camera than the image. Something you won't appreciate until you move off the A1 and shoot/produce beyond it's limits. My DVD and web productions from the EX1 are superior to the ones from the A1 and easier to come by to boot. Fortunately for A1 owners now, there's some nice modern solid state cameras to choose from in the same price range as the tape based A1.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 07:06 AM   #21
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Quote:
The A1 has it's limits.
That's what I said Les.

I don't own a ex1 but have edited ex1 footage mixed with footage from older generation camera's like a sony fx1000 and a xh-a1 and to be honest, on dvd or web I hardly see the difference. Only when I look at it on my HD tv screen in full hd, then I see a difference.

I never said the xh-a1 was "superior" but given it's limitations and age it's still a camera that can be used together with a ex1 if you output to dvd or web, you make it almost sound like it's a SD camera. :)
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Old December 15th, 2011, 07:16 AM   #22
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

The XH-A1 is over 5 years old now - ancient as high tech devces like camcorders go, and overtaken by tape-less workflow and corresponding video file fomats, but it is still capable of good video in the hands of a skilled shooter.

Tape, HDV format, and 1/3" CCD's impose certain physical/optical limitations, as did S-VHS, Hi8, DV and so on. Canon did produce a line of camcorders with 1/2" chip and interchangeable lenses too - the L1 and L2 from the 1990s. Larger chips tend to mean larger packages, lenses, and cost. It is a trade-off.

The relatively slow growth of Blu-ray confirms that the image quality improvement over DVD is not as significant as the move from VHS to DVD was. The Blu-ray ads (that a sort of make you want one) that are on DVDs confirm how good DVD can look.

We tend to focus on the technology, yet that is 10% of the equation as far as the overall final product goes. At least 90% (maybe more) is the skill of the shooter, and editor (and talent as applicable). And of course the customers expectations, which just happens to be the most important factor (for a hobbiest they are often the customer).

The bottom line being that if the XH-A1 video is "good enough," money spent to shoot a better image may be tough to justify if cost is a concern.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 07:40 AM   #23
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Quote:
We tend to focus on the technology, yet that is 10% of the equation as far as the overall final product goes. At least 90% (maybe more) is the skill of the shooter, and editor (and talent as applicable). And of course the customers expectations, which just happens to be the most important factor
Well said, we often get to hung up on numbers, sensors sizes, resolution, codecs or whatever while that doesn't say much about the end result, "Crank high voltage" was mainly shot on xh-a1's and that looked really good on a big screen, they even used small handycam's for "special" action scenes. When the dslr's came out with the videofunction a lot of people acted like it was the holy grail but dslr's also has some serious shortcomings, as long as you know how to bypass this you can get fantastic results, just like you can with a xh-a1 if you use it as a second cam or main camera as you wait until it's financially justified to make the jump to newer and better technology. But if you don't know how to operate a camera well and how to work with it in post, you can make ex1 footage look like crap as well :)
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Old December 15th, 2011, 07:53 AM   #24
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

@ Don Palomaki...What software are you using to burn DVD's that give you footage comparable to a Blue-Ray? I import the footage in and it looks great. When I make the DVD and burn it, the finished product is not nearly as good.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 09:34 AM   #25
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

I don't output to Blu-Ray, but I do have a Blu_Ray player. The DVDs look better when played on the Blu-Ray player than on the DVD player it replaced. Most, if not all output through HDMI port and upconvert the DVD.

I don't have Blu-Ray disks to compare with DVDs, but the player has a USB port that lets me play HD footage from a jump drive or hard drive. Sitting across the room, there is negligible difference, in the same video played in H264 HD from a drive vs. the same video encoded to DVD. Mostly what influences how good the video looks is the color space, 601/709 vs RGB used.

DVD has better color on the HDTV, unless I used the 601/709 colorspace making the H264 file. Most of the time, however, I encode the H264 files as RGB because they will be uploaded to the internet.

I still like my XH-A1, and get a lot of favorable comments from corporate clients on shoots. The camera is just part of the gear for a shoot. The wide angle adapter gives a good look, and looks good too, especially with the hood. Having extra microphones, lights, stands, external hard drive recorder, sometimes external monitor, clients don't complain about the gear. It gives pretty decent results, and is cost-effective.

That being said, when I can afford to upgrade, I want too. But it's a business decision. What I want is less important than making wise business decisions.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 02:30 PM   #26
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

I love the original A1, and am looking to get a second one. (The A1s doesn't have the standby switch which is crucial for me) I am always blown away by the image when I look back at the A1 footage. I've shot with EX1 and EX3, and they are beautiful and easy to use, but to me not worth the extra expense. I have issues with them too. I hate the fact that you can't use the zoom ring or rocker at the same time. You have to flip a little servo switch underneath and it drives me nuts. Also the EX's seem to take forever to turn on... and that's always when something is happening. The SxS cards cost a fortune, and I occasionally shoot 6 hour events. Can you imagine all the archiving! Naaah!....

Minor gripes aside though, If money was not an option, then sure, I'd probably get one or more likely an XF305. Can't see that happening for now, so it's me beloved XHA1 x2 with WD H72 wide angle on at all times, absolutely lovely.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 03:33 PM   #27
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice Covington View Post
@ Don Palomaki...What software are you using to burn DVD's that give you footage comparable to a Blue-Ray? I import the footage in and it looks great. When I make the DVD and burn it, the finished product is not nearly as good.
Like Roger said, I too see a difference playing my dvd's on a regular older dvd player and a new blu-ray player with upscaling technology and I have seen differences between players how they upscale, not every brand does an equally good job. Best experience I had so far is with LG blu-ray players, they seem to do a very decent job upscaling and there are moments, especially with dslr footage that it's hard to see the difference between SD en HD if you are watching from a "normal" distance.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 05:06 PM   #28
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Noa,

As a matter of fact, our Blu-Ray player is an LG.

Back on topic to the A1. I've been thinking of picking up another one myself. There have been some really good deals on them posted lately. Mine is a workhorse. I like the way the controls are laid out. Low light, the image falls off quite a bit. But, most of my work is corporate, and I have lights. With adequate lighting, the A1 still does the job very well.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 05:15 PM   #29
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

You can still buy the xh-a1s here new but it's getting rare, most stores have sold their last stock and replaced it with newer models. I was tempted some months ago when I saw one store nearby selling a new xh-a1s (it's still available in their webshop) with a discount of 1100 euro, the xh-a1s used to cost 3600 euro and it's being sold for 2500 now and that's a great deal. If my xh-a1 would breack down and I had only 2500 euro to spare, I'd get that xh-a1s, if I needed a second camera to complement my xh-a1 I rather would go for a sony cx700 type of camera, I also have a sony xr520 and it easily matches up with my xh-a1 image wise and is a bit more light sensitive. (meaning it can deal better with higher gain values).
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Old December 16th, 2011, 06:29 AM   #30
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Icha View Post
... I hate the fact that you can't use the zoom ring or rocker at the same time. You have to flip a little servo switch underneath and it drives me nuts. ... The SxS cards cost a fortune, and I occasionally shoot 6 hour events. Can you imagine all the archiving!
I can't speak to the original EX1 but this statement is untrue about the current model EX1R. The EX1R does not have the interlock limitation. Both are available simultaneously. However, the XF300 and XF305 *DO* have the limitation that you can't use the zoom ring and rocker simultaneously.

Actually, P2 cards cost a fortune and the CODEC requires 2x more storage per minute. The XF300 is similar that way storing 50MBS vs the XDCAM 35MBS.

Users of modern solid state cameras in sub $4K class are enjoying the benefits of solid state and full raster sensors with as good and better low light performance. I doubt many look at the lineup of cameras in this price range and choose the tape based A1. But I understand if you are stuck on staying with Canon, well, you are stuck as they have abandoned the 3-ring, 3-chip, under $4k market.

Last edited by Les Wilson; December 16th, 2011 at 12:41 PM. Reason: clarity
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