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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 February 23rd, 2012, 07:51 AM   #1
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XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Guys, I've shot dozens of weddings, industrial videos, school projects, stage plays and sports events with my pair of XH-A1 cameras over the last four years.

With the proper settings and a knowledgeable and attentive operator, these cameras have delivered *incredibly* beautiful video -- even in the low-light conditions of wedding receptions.

They're solid, ergonomically efficient, and I love the 3-ring zoom lens and external buttons.

My only gripes were that they were MiniDV-based and I couldn't get uncompressed HD out of them.

Ok... to the point of this post...

Sadly, I sold both cameras a few months ago to raise funds; and now I'd like to "get back into the game."

My question: who makes an XH-A1 camera that's flash-media based, uses a 3-chip CCD design, has all the same ergonomic features, can output uncompressed HD signals and is as good as -- or better -- in low light (ie: the 3CCD design)? Oh, yeah, for under $3,000 (since a new XH-A1s is about $2,700, and I imagine I could buy an add-on flash recorder for several hundred more -- something I've thought about doing, but would rather not).

Does such a camera exist? I've been scouring this forum for comparos, but haven't found anything conclusive (probably because my criteria are so specific).

Thoughts? Bueller? Bueller??
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:12 AM   #2
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

I'm not Bueller -- I think he skipped school today.

The camera you want is the Canon XF300 or XF305. See the accompanying forum that we have for it.

The only catch is that it's not the same price or less than the XH A1. It costs a bit more... but it's worth the extra $$.

I hope you're aware that there were versions of the XH that did actually provide uncompressed HD output. That was the XH G1 and later the XH G1S. The whole point of those two cameras was that they were identical to the XH A1 and XH A1S in every way, with the added bonus of uncompressed HD output over an HD-SDI jack, plus TimeCode and GenLock. These extra features meant that the G series cost quite a bit more than the A series, but the option was there if you needed uncompressed HD output.

It's the same thing now on the flash-memory replacements of the XH line, the XF300 and XF305. If you need uncompressed HD over HD-SDI, then you want the XF305. Otherwise, the model without it is the XF300. More about the XF series here: Canon XF Series HD Camcorders Forum at DVinfo.net

Hope this helps,
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 08:25 AM   #3
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Thanks, Chris. Canon lent me an XF305 last year, and I didn't like it for two reasons: a) too expensive, and b) too big and heavy.

I loved the way I could run 'n gun with XH-A1 -- and hold it for extended periods of time. Once, I even took it to Disney World with my kids and had it running during Mission to Mars! (Yeah, even an XH-A1 is a little too large for most folks to carry around an amusement park... but dammit, I got great, beautiful video of my kids having fun when they were young. And that was totally worth it!) :)

Anywho... the XF is outta my price range at present.

I recently had a production company shoot some video segments with their Panasonic HVX200A and I was extremely disappointed. I think the video I got from my XH-A1 looked better. (am I dreaming?).
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:51 AM   #4
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Consider also the Canon XA 10. Smaller, but no uncompressed HD output (unless you can take it from HDMI).
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 12:25 PM   #5
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Consider also the Canon XA 10. Smaller, but no uncompressed HD output (unless you can take it from HDMI).
never tried myself, but with
HyperDeck
i think it is doable.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 05:59 PM   #6
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Same size?

Same weight?

Same cost new?

Better low light?

I have owned a Panasonic AG-AC 160 for the past four months. Feels and handles just like the A1. without the extra size, weight, and big $$$$$ of the xf300.

Test one out. You'll love it.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:14 PM   #7
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Why would a superior SSD camera with modern sensor and technology be only $300 more than an old DV tape camera like the A1? You won't find a new 3 CCD, 3 ring, SSD camera for $3000.

Look at the Sony Z5. It has slightly better low light performance than the A1s, 3 chips, and 3 rings. You can add a Sony MRC1K flash recorder as it was designed for it to snap on. The LCD displays info about the MRC1K as opposed to an add on type. Alternatively, the Z7 comes with the MRC1K. Then there's the Sony NX5u. Panny has a new line of 3 ring, 3-chip solid state cameras but again, you can;t afford them at your price range.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 11:52 PM   #8
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Busto View Post
Guys, I've shot dozens of weddings, industrial videos, school projects, stage plays and sports events with my pair of XH-A1 cameras over the last four years.
For CCD sensor cameras around $3000 the only choices are the Panasonic HMC150, Canon XHA1s and JVC HM150U. None of these cameras is a very new design, but everything else is CMOS. Unless you want to reinvest in XHA1s, I would recommend a CMOS camera and some post processing, if necessary, to fix the banding that can occur during flash photography at weddings. The Panasonic AG-AC130, Sony HXR-NX5U and Canon XF100 are possibilities.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 02:32 AM   #9
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

I still have my A1, and use a blackmagic componet to sdi converter to record to either a Pix240 or Blackmagic Hypershuttle. For a simpler solution, I like the HMC150, similar to an A1 but only two rings.
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Old February 25th, 2012, 12:15 AM   #10
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Hi Terry,
I'm curious, what sort of file do you get recording from the A1 with the PIX 240? Is it still 1440x1080? Or is it converted to 1920x1080? Also, are the images you get much better than using the HDV format with tape? This may be an option for me until i find a camera that will suit my needs.

Thanks in advance,

Bryce
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Old February 26th, 2012, 01:17 AM   #11
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Bryce,
Chris Hurd is the expert here, but I understand that the componet signal is pre HDV compression, and is scaled to 1920x1080.
You also get a 4.2.2 color space instead of 4.2.0 which is better for green screen work.
I never did a direct HDV tape comparison because I stopped using tape. It is my impression that the results are superior to hdv, but not to a great degree for event photography...(where many other factors influence quality.)
For me, the BlackMagic converter and hypershuttle plus a smallHD DP6 monitor match most of the advantages a modern camera, and still with CCD.
Don't forget the firewire/HDV recorders which are much cheaper and are as good as tape. I'm using the PIX240 and balckmagic recorders because they directly provide Avid DNxHD media.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 01:22 AM   #12
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

I'm not the expert here, Terry... I just run the place. Thankfully we do have a number of real experts on this site, however.

The Panasonic AG-AC160 is a good recommendation and well worth looking into.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 11:29 AM   #13
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Ok, so I placed an order for the Canon XA10. Thanks to everyone here for their insights and advice. I watched numerous YouTube videos regarding the XA10 versus [insert camcorder here] and was pretty impressed with its performance.

Having spent the last four years mastering the XH-A1, I'm certain to miss the 3 rings and better zoom... but I'm expecting to love the smaller size and flash media recording. I'll have to wait and see if the XA really does outperform the XH in low light... and I'll be certain to let everyone know my opinion.

Thanks again, everyone.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 10:42 PM   #14
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Expert?, come on Chris, I showed up here in 2007 as a total nubie, and most of what I know about video I seem to recall reading in one of your posts. (... and thanks for that)

I think the Canon XH A1 is a truly classic camera, and that's why I'm not going to sell mine, and still try to harvest the goodness on the lens and CCD sensor block.

I have come to appreciate the Panasonic HMC150 and HPX250 as I moved tapeless. But as a Panasonic "expert" I must caution those interested in the AG AC160 that it has some autofocus issues. In most respects the AC160 is a great camera, but be careful if autofocus is important in your workflow. I know, real video guys use manual focus, but some of us run and gun event guys have our hands full just trying to point the d**n thing.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 11:40 PM   #15
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Re: XH-A1 = Damn Fine HD Camera

Terry, with the blackmagic composite - HDMI converter how is powered? Looks like a great little device for capture.
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