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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 26th, 2012, 09:37 PM   #1
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is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

I am looking to buy a used one on ebay for $1000 mainly for wedding and musicals? Unless
someone can tell me an alternative. I need manual controls.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:14 PM   #2
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

It's a tape based camera. Check to see if you can buy enough tapes to last you. Tape mechanisms wear down and need service. At some point, Canon will no longer service that camera. The era of tape based cameras has passed. Modern cameras are solid state. Panasonic and JVC have a bunch of nice modern 3-chip cameras to choose from.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 03:49 AM   #3
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

I"d suggest to get a panasonic ag-ac90, that's currently the cheapest camera available that has 3 lens rings to controll focus, iris and zoom. It does have automatic ND's but they are not strong enough to handle bright light and there some other missing features more professional camera's have but considering it's price it's the best you can get if you need more controll.

The xh-a1 was a good camera with much controll and can handle pretty much any situation, except it does not handle low light well, you also have to consider the tapes like Les said meaning long capture times, possible drop-outs unless you get a external capture device like a focus. The tape mechanisme could be an issue but I have here a 15 year old Sony vx1000 that still works and where the tape mechanisme never caused any trouble so it depends. If you plan to use the camera for 3 to 4 years you don't need to worry about Canon not being able to fix it anymore as there at this moment are still stores selling the camera new (the "s" version) but at a reduced price.

I think the main issue with the camera is how it handles low light, 6db gain is about as high as you can go and even then the grain is noticeable so you really need light on camera at weddings, for filming performances it could do well as long as the stage is sufficient lit.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 06:51 AM   #4
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony DePasquale View Post
I am looking to buy a used one on ebay for $1000 mainly for wedding and musicals? Unless
someone can tell me an alternative. I need manual controls.
A thousand dollars is a great price, provided the camera is in good shape. I'm still using both of mine, although I do have to order tapes (in bulk) online. Of course, a tape can be reused just like a memory card can be reused. That's what I do with my 80 minute tapes. Once a I've used a tape and seen that it's had no dropouts all the way through, I KNOW that it's a good tape. ( I have one for football games that has been used at least 20 times with no problems.

Sadly, more and more of the brand new 60 minute tapes have dropouts, approximately 5% of the tapes. Perhaps less emphasis on quality control at the factories since tape is on the way out. I'm ordering another batch of 80 minute tapes, much more expensive, and hope the quality is still there. It's been about two years since the last batch of them.

On every paid shoot, I make sure that at least one of the cameras has a previously used tape that has shown itself reliable. That way if the brand new tape in the other camera has dropouts or other problems... Plus I have an external recorder for the main camera and sometimes capture to a laptop with the second camera.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 08:49 AM   #5
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

I have an XHA1 of my own that I use frequently and one that I borrow from a friend when I need a cutaway cam (for long interviews and speeches). As mentioned here, the biggest challenge with the XHA1 are the tapes. Having a cam with cards or HD is a faster workflow and usually a newer codec that is easier to edit. In the end, there is nothing wrong with the XHA1 as a camera as it shoots HD that looks nice. The images do not look as good as my 5DM2 but I wouldn't expect them to based on differences in the chip and the glass.

If it were me and I was buying a camera today, I would stay away from the XHA1 simply because it is an older technology. There are a number of cameras on the market today (some mentioned in this thread) that will allow you to capture decent video for about the same price as the XHA1 you are looking at.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 12:31 PM   #6
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

Quote:
and usually a newer codec that is easier to edit
Most sub 6000 dollar camera's sold today use the avchd codec which is much harder to edit, HDV otoh edits easy on low end systems.

Quote:
The images do not look as good as my 5DM2 but I wouldn't expect them to based on differences in the chip and the glass.
Actually, the xh-a1 resolves more detail then the 5DII and doesn't suffer from moire and aliasing like the 5DII does so in those respects it's a much better camera but it's mainly in area's like low light the xh-a1 doesn't shine, at all.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 04:14 PM   #7
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

Thanks for all your input. I am not concerned about the tapes, if this camera lasts me 3 years I am happy. If the tapes become an issue, I get an external recorder. At wedding I use an on camera light. Its a variable light. Will this camera do ok with an on camera light at a wedding. For theater that does not matter. there is always enough light. I am looking for a good camera that give me a pic comparable to my PD-150. Will this work ?
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Old December 28th, 2012, 05:57 PM   #8
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

With light, ofcourse the camera will do well, for stage performances it will be a good replacement for your pd150 but it's not as light sensitive, if you would letterbox the video from your pd and compare it with a 16:9 image from the xh-a1 the canon will give you a sharper image when downconverted to dvd. Just to let you know, I have used a xh-a1 for 4 years and a Sony vx2100 for 3 years so I do know what I"m talking about.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 07:13 PM   #9
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

I really like the Sony look, I am still looking, you know anything about the Sony FX1?
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Old December 29th, 2012, 02:48 AM   #10
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

No, never used the camera but edited some footage from it, nice colors though (not as flat as the xh-a1) and maybe a bit more light sensitive.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 05:17 AM   #11
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

I think you are better of with a second hand sony fx1000 if you don't need xlr, it is much better in low light then a fx1, it still produces a lot of grain at high gains but its a much finer grain then what you will see on a Canon xh-a1
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Old December 29th, 2012, 11:20 AM   #12
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

Not adding much here but to reiterate the A1's abysmal low light performance. I've had mine for 5 years and still use it heavily. I love the manual controls and other pro features, but the grain drives me nuts. When I upgrade, I will get a large sensor cam with the option of my own glass. 'Till then, the A1 is still a great cam.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 11:38 AM   #13
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

Quote:
but the grain drives me nuts
I know what you mean, the camera does have some other drawbacks, like a too small lcd screen making focussing a bit difficult, but in general it has been a very solid performer and very reliable. I only had an issue when I just got it with a blown firewireport but this could have been my own fault and was replaced by Canon within warranty.
I have my camera on sale now and ordered a sony nex ea50, if the grain the camera produced was finer I probably would never sell it but most of my work involves low light situations and there the camera just doesn't cut it anymore, my cheap dslr's and sony cx730's have served me much better in those area's.
Too bad, I really liked working with that camera and it was a great value considering it's prize and features it got.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 06:24 PM   #14
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

Roger,
How long to you think tapes will be available?
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Old December 29th, 2012, 06:34 PM   #15
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Re: is the Canon XHA1 still a good camera?

Noa, do you like the rolling shutter problem of the sony nex ea50 described as severe?
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