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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 April 17th, 2014, 08:44 PM   #1
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XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Hello everyone, I currently own a XHA1 and I am looking to upgrade but feel very overwhelmed by the amount of options available today. I am not a pro in any way shape or form, I film mostly events , dance recitals, school plays and such and as you can imagine the lighting isn't always the best at these events and I was looking for something that might help out in this situation. I also have a Focus Enhancement HD recorder to go tapeless and I guess my question is, is there really anything in the 5000 dollar range to make it worth upgrading. I have done a lot of research on some of the newer cameras, from Sony JVC, Panasonic Canon but the more I read the more confused I become, lots of pros and cons, I have also read reviews that the Canon XF300 does not do much better than the XHA1 in low light. I know there are a ton of other features that come along with higher end cameras and low light isn't always a main focus, I do not need broadcast or 4K.

Any info anyone could provide would be a tremendous help , I know there some amazing Pros here and I hope someone can point me in the right direction , maybe its not worth upgrading yet either ?

Thanks everyone

Paul
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Old April 18th, 2014, 07:09 AM   #2
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

I moved to the XA20 for much of the work I did with my XHA1 and am quite pleased with it, even though it is missing some of the convenient manual control of the XHA1. (I also have used the XA10 and HV40, XL1, GL1, GL2, L2, A1-Digital, etc. over the years.)

At this point I would give serious consideration the the just announced XF200, due to ship this summer. It offers 4:2:2 video, three control rings, 4-channel sound, the improved 20x lens and sensor of the XA20, and other benefits. (It looks very tempting to me.) And from what I've seen the advantage of 3 sensors over 1 is not what it used to be.

However, whether or not to move from the XHA1 now is a personal decision, (not a business decision if you are not shooting for money). I suggest you try find a XA20 (and any others you are considereing) that you can borrow or rent and do some side-by-side comparisons under the lighting condition you have to deal with to see which you like, and which you don't. Maybe you have some friends or acquaintances with different models to compare as well.

Other issues to consider include what are the final delivery formats and uses of your video, how a camcorder fits into your work flow, any other changes you might need to make/buy if switching from HDV to AVCHD or MXF (e.g., older NLEs may not like the new formats them), and of course what makes you comfortable.

Some folks have moved to shooting video with DSLRs, which may make sense for their personal/business model, but might not fit yours. Only you can determine that. (I've seen some venues may prohibit camcorders, but allow DSLRs and smart phones. Go figure!)

On this Good Friday I will make the observation that camcorders and video-capable cameras are a lot like religion. Folks will defend to the death against all others their choice (or bad decision depending on how others look at it). Be of stout heart and do not let anyone talk you into something with which you do not fully agree. (It amounts to; "I know how my shoes fit me, but haven't the foggiest idea about yours.")

Good luck on your quest.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 10:57 AM   #3
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

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Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
...Folks will defend to the death against all others their choice (or bad decision depending on how others look at it). ...
I think there are some "Folks" here at DVInfo that take exception to being put in a box like that.

@Paul,
I went from the A1 to EX1R after a long analysis. Many others have gone down the path you are on from the A1 with the same desire to improve on low light performance. I found it was the one thing that, if improved, would radically change the efficiency and fun of shooting. Additionally, there was no way I was going backward from the pleasure of shooting with a 3-ring camcorder. Lastly, there were specific flaws in the A1 that I wanted to make sure my next camera didn't have. The 1/2" sensors of the EX1R and both camera and lens ergonomics won the day over the XF300 whose biggest advantage (at the cost of a stop of light performance) was 422 which I will never ever need.

There are more cameras to choose from today but are easily winnowed down if you know what's most important to you such as body size, lens rings, audio, sensor size, low light and ergonomics. All the chips are CMOS as well (no more CCDs like the A1). Bear in mind that the physics haven't changed. A single sensor camera has to have more pixels on it than a 3-sensor camera's chips do and cramming more pixels in the same space means smaller pixels and worse low light performance. Technology (back lighting) has been brought to bear to help that somewhat in small sensors while large s35 sensors overcome it for cinematic cameras at the expense of other things. The ergonomics of traditional camcorder and DSLR/cinema cameras are quite different. YMMV.

Last edited by Les Wilson; April 18th, 2014 at 02:41 PM.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 11:07 AM   #4
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Thanks for the input Don, unfortunately I live in a small town and the closest Pro camera store is over a 1000 miles away so I can't try anything out , I have to rely on testimonials and reviews so what I end up with I'm stuck with, but looking at the XF200 it might be a good bet , also looking at the sony NX3 ?, they seem to run around same price, not a lot of info right now on the XF200 so maybe waiting a few months might be a good idea, Guess I better read differences between 1 chip vs 3, Thanks agin

Paul
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Old April 18th, 2014, 11:16 AM   #5
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Search on Bayer filtering. That's the basic thing that is done on single sensor cameras for video that reduces the pixel count (resolution) of the output image.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 01:49 PM   #6
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Hasn't the PMW-EX1R been discontinued?
It came out around 5 years ago.

Perhaps I should have qualified my comment to read "some folks."

Vancouver - in Canada or elsewhere?
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Old April 18th, 2014, 02:30 PM   #7
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

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Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
Hasn't the PMW-EX1R been discontinued?
It came out around 5 years ago. ...
Yes but the EX1R is still the camera I moved to after the A1 back in the day. The PMW-200 is Sony's current 1/2" 3-mos 3-ring model that replaced it. Further, I wasn't making a recommendation on a specific camera but was rather, trying to illuminate camcorder characteristics I thought would be relevant to an A1 owner making the transition at this time. That was the kind of help I thought the OP was seeking as opposed to buy this one or that one.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 03:10 PM   #8
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Hi all , thanks for the comments, I see the EX1r is selling at around 3500ish on E-bay and the Canon XF200 and Sony NX3 about the same price but both brand new. Are these 2 Cameras as good as the EXR1 ? I don't know maybe in some areas but not in others ? I guess one has to weigh the pros and cons in regards to buying new as apposed to a few years old at the same price , I would hope that with new technology comes better performance in low light but maybe I am asking to much of a camera for my budget, I agree with Les in regards to not taking a step backwards as far as the 3 ring option goes as I have gotten used to them on the XHA1, I guess this conversation can easily branch of in many directions but low light increased performance is certainly my main concern. Again maybe I'm asking to much, thanks for all the help so far

Paul
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Old April 18th, 2014, 11:04 PM   #9
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Your budget may not be enough to afford as far of a step up in low light as going to a 1/2" ENG camcorder unless you go used. It does seem to get you into 1/3" territory.

Both xf200 and NX3 are new. The XF is a single 1/2.8" sensor versus the NX3 has three 1/2.8" sensors. Wait for some trusted experts to evaluate them. I remembered an article on single sensor effective resolution that may help:
Single Sensor Cameras: Pixel count is not the same as resolution! | XDCAM-USER.COM
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Old April 20th, 2014, 04:29 AM   #10
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Cox View Post
I would hope that with new technology comes better performance in low light but maybe I am asking to much of a camera for my budget
Any camera that is being sold today will outperform the xh-a1 by quite margin in low light situations, I have shot with the xh-a1 for a few years and found that the difference in clean higher iso is like night and day on any other camera' I have bought since I sold my xh-a1 where 6db of gain was already too noisy. I get cleaner images at 24db of gain on my Sony cx730 handicams.
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Old April 20th, 2014, 06:45 AM   #11
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

The XHA1 came out in what, 2006 or so, that is about three generations of technology advancements back. That is not to say it can not produce good video, but the bounds of the usable envelop have been extended a lot since then.

It all rests on what you need. Keep in mind that buying used is a bit of a crap shoot, especially gear that may have been beat-up in a 24/7 sort of production environment. And once camcorder are out of production for a few years maintenance support can become problematic
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Old April 20th, 2014, 08:34 PM   #12
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Thanks for all the input , greatly appreciated, so I have been doing a ton of reading and now I am learning that most of the new cameras available today are using CMOS sensors instead of CCD, I understand that CMOS is causing a rolling shutter issue , is this really a huge issue when shooting handheld situations ? can it be avoided and based on anyones experience is it a drastic change shooting with CMOS vs CCD , do you have to change your style and approach to shooting ? Thanks

Paul
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Old April 20th, 2014, 10:00 PM   #13
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Rolling shutter is a fact of life nowadays. Different cameras are worse than others. I've only seen it on an airplane propeller not on any camera moves. YMMV
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Old April 21st, 2014, 07:46 AM   #14
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

I've seen it with shots from a moving train, mainly the track-side poles and other close, tall vertical objects. That was shooting with a VADO a few years ago. I have not noticed it with my XA10 or XA20, but then I have not shot similar scenes with them either.

As I understand it the effect is largely dependent on scene content action/motion, and not likelty to be a significant issue with typical camcorder movements intended to produce smooth motion with viewable detail in the scene. Where I've seen it is in scene content that would have been pretty much unwatchable even without the rolling shutter effect added. It would likely be apparent in any object that has significant movement across the screen within the frame/field sampling time and that has a significant vertical component in the frame.

I estimate the poles I shot with the VADO were perhaps 5 feet from the camcorder and moving past at around 40 feet per second; i.e., visible passing by in the image for 4 or so frames. They were a foreground distraction.
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Old April 24th, 2014, 03:21 PM   #15
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Re: XHA1 Upgrade Heeeeeeeeelp

Some good replies in this thread. As an XH-A1 owner, I thank you all for the info.
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