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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 November 25th, 2011, 10:11 AM   #1
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Sticking with the XH-A1

After much comparison I have come to the conclusion that a camera upgrade this year is a poor investment:
* A 1\2 chip camera with good ergonomics, excellent lens and price doesn't exist yet.
* I have learned to work with the poor design of the A1 audio controls.
* I have found that Instant Auto Focus is too sensitive and a mix of Manual and Auto works well with practice.
* I love the manual adjustments of the A1 to allow me for example to reverse the Iris ring.
* The A1 20x zoom is so close to the new 23x zoom.
* I have two DN-60's, and after a steep learning curve, these compact flash recorders have proven an extremely helpful upgrade.
* HDV editing instead of AVCHD allows me to get another year out of my older backup editing computer.
* The CCD chip, in my opinion, versus the CMOS chip is still more dependable.
* Low Light sensitivity can definitely be improved over the XH-A1 with a DSLR. I'm quite sure that the gain from this move would be squashed by the extreme problems trying to turn a still camera into a video camera.
I might even pick up a used XH-A1 as a third camera Christmas present to myself.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 02:09 PM   #2
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

It was quite difficult for me to part with my XH-A1. It was an awesome camcorder.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 04:15 PM   #3
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

One more year with the XH-A1...
Especially after dropping some coin on a Pilot....

Next camera though might be the AF100...It's the only thing i can think of currently that beats the low-light issues that plague the XH-A1...
A big plus on the workstation..HDV is still very workable..Going to AVCHD would force an upgrade on both software and hardware...
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Old November 25th, 2011, 05:37 PM   #4
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

I sold both of my XHA1 this year. I overstock those Panasonic PQ tapes. selling them at lost now.

Panasonic AY-DVM63PQ Mini DV Tapes 5-Pack | L.A. Color Online

Click on the add to cart button to see the sale price .
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Old November 25th, 2011, 07:30 PM   #5
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Drats! Where were you when I was selling my A1? :-)

Seriously, when I look at your list, I see my own beefs with the A1 that I found are overwhelmingly addressed by the Sony EX1R.

* A 1\2 chip camera with good ergonomics, excellent lens and price doesn't exist yet.
There are exactly two 1/2" chip cameras the EX1R and EX3. Neither Canon, Panasonic or JVC have one. The ergonomics of the EX1R are superior to the A1 and the EX3 gives you shoulder mount with eyepiece ergonomics

* I have learned to work with the poor design of the A1 audio controls.
Kiss the A1 poor audio block design goodbye. The EX cameras have individual limiters, separate phantom, separate line/mic and you can use the onboard mic as one of the two channels

* I have found that Instant Auto Focus is too sensitive and a mix of Manual and Auto works well with practice.
The EX has an auto focus mode that works like that... you get it close and let it finess it

* I love the manual adjustments of the A1 to allow me for example to reverse the Iris ring.
Unlike the XF100 or XA-10 which replace d the A1 in Canon's line, the EX gives you all three rings. However, the reversal feature isn't there. The EX iris ring is a proper ring with stops, printed graduations and teeth.

* The A1 20x zoom is so close to the new 23x zoom.
That A1 zoom was nice. I thought I'd miss it dropping to 14 on the EX but I don't. The EX footage is that much better than HDV, so much so that you can get that extra zoom in post

* I have two DN-60's, and after a steep learning curve, these compact flash recorders have proven an extremely helpful upgrade.
Leave the frankenstein rig at home. In the EX cameras, you have pro SXS solid state media built-in. Two slots with smooth as silk rollover. The NLE ingest software auto-detects the split clips and joins them when you drag/drop them to your computer

* HDV editing instead of AVCHD allows me to get another year out of my older backup editing computer.
XDCAM cuts and edits as easy as HDV

* The CCD chip, in my opinion, versus the CMOS chip is still more dependable.
I think a valid criticism of CMOS is rolling shutter effect. Some cameras are worse than others. I don't see any effects in the 900GB of EX footage I've shot since getting the camera in sept 2010.

* Low Light sensitivity can definitely be improved over the XH-A1 with a DSLR. I'm quite sure that the gain from this move would be squashed by the extreme problems trying to turn a still camera into a video camera.
Well that's the rub. The EX cameras give you a huge boost in low light without suffering the workarounds of DSLRs. The DSLRs are still better at the low light and sDOF but ...12 minute clip limits, SD displays, no focus or exposure assists while recording.... Everybody gets all excited about dusting off the old prime lenses and such from their film cameras. But compared to camcorder lenses they are cheap. The DSLR lens rings are nothing like the silky smooth ones you are used to. I have Canon L lenses on a 5DM2 and compared to the A1 or EX lenses, the L lens rings stink.

Personally, in spite of the frankensteined solid state A1 (I had an MRC1K) I hit the limits of the A1 and wanted more of the features found in more professional and modern cameras. The EX1R had what I wanted and more. YMMV

Last edited by Les Wilson; November 25th, 2011 at 10:22 PM.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 10:19 PM   #6
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

FYI Greg...

The XH-A1 is 1/3 CCD...That's the main reason for the EX1 having better low light performance..

Oops....
My bad..I didn't read close enough...
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Old November 27th, 2011, 01:26 AM   #7
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

I'm definitely keeping my A1. The solution was to get a blackmagic componet video to sdi converter and record with a Sound Devices PIX240 recorder. Now the A1 delivered flawless audio and Avid ready media.
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Old November 27th, 2011, 03:48 AM   #8
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

We're keeping our A1/A1s for now as we have a huge archive of tapes and Canon is apparently coming out with cut down versions in their new 300 family.

We bought the last 500 Pana 83min MQ tapes in a close out deal from BnH. Make sure you keep a stock of new DV cleaning tapes on hand, late last year Panasonic here stopped stocking theirs. There are other brands but I bought a carton of 10 so when I sell our A1s they'll have new Pana MQ tapes and new DV cleaning tapes to sweeten the deal.

Cheers.
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Old November 27th, 2011, 07:27 AM   #9
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

You have done the analysis as fits your business model.

There are two main reasons to upgrade.
1. It make business sense in maximizing return on investment and net income, or
2. we want and it will make us feel good.
Both are valid reasons even if based on a different ownership driver.

We pays our money and takes out choice.
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Old November 30th, 2011, 06:28 PM   #10
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Greg, I totally understand you viewpoint. The XH-A1 is a great camera. I LOVE the XH-A1! That being said, I have just drop some $$ on 2 new Panny AC130. Below are the the reason why I made the move:

- I hate tape drop outs! (Either when recording or when capturing)
- The DN60 and me did not get along, I sent it back
- No more capering tape!
- I think the AC130 is the best replacement for the A1.
- Love that the AC130 you can record on 2 cards at once. Nice back-up option.
- After 4 year of use, I feel my cameras are nearing there end of life cycle
- Needed a tax right off this year. :)
- I got a FANTASTIC DEAL on the AC130s that I could not pass on.

I am really interested to compare my new AC130 with my old A1. For now I plan to sell one A1 and keep the other one and use it as a 3rd camera at events. Let me know if you are interested in my A1.
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Old November 30th, 2011, 09:22 PM   #11
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

@Jeff, Since you have both cameras and can A/B test them, it would be very interesting to see how the AC130 compares in low light since that is one of the main complaints of the A1 as people contemplate moving on..
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Old December 1st, 2011, 02:13 AM   #12
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

I checked the relative sensitivity of the A1 vs a HPX250, and found them equal. The test was just measuring the f stop required for a similar gray card exposure (as indicated on a DP6 false color monitor).
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Old December 1st, 2011, 05:05 AM   #13
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

I still use a xh-a1 combined with a sony hvr-dr60 and that combo works very well together, I also use dslr's in area's where my xh-a1 is not that good: low light. The pana ag-ac160 is on my to buy list but I will wait at least another year, never been an early adopter and the new pana prizes will come down for sure if you wait.
As long as the light conditions are good the xh-a1 still shines and for more controlled shoots (where you could add light if needed) it will give you great results.
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Old December 1st, 2011, 07:27 AM   #14
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Noa, I think the issue is for those who want to move to a solid state camera but stay with the 3-ring, long zoom 3-chip ENG package. The Panasonic cameras are logical upgrades that while providing solid state, focus assist, exposure assist, hi-res LCD and VF and an XLR audio block without the A1 restrictions that has independent phantom, impedance and use of the internal mic all in a modern 3-mos ENG package. I would expect the CMOS to improve the lowlight performance of the A1 CCDs.
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Old December 3rd, 2011, 10:49 PM   #15
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Re: Sticking with the XH-A1

Me too... perhaps for another 4 to 6 months.
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