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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 22nd, 2017, 06:16 PM   #1
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Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

I will lay out my problem and my solution and see what you guys think (first time posting, but I come here often to solve technical problems, I know you're the ones to talk to!)

My problem is that all of my footage has dead pixels all over the image. I took it to a repair shop, but because the camera is pretty old at this point, they weren't sure if they could fix it- they were concerned the sensor needed to be replaced, and Canon may no longer provide the part. So they gave it to their Canon rep who cleaned it and returned it, which cost about $250, and said the problem is re-using DV tapes. That sounded stupid to me, because from what I had read, it was most likely the sensor just getting old- why would spots consistently appearing, in the same places across all my footage, be the result of re-using different tapes? And besides, I never record over anything anyway. Lo and behold- I use a new tape, the image is clean. I fast-forward a little for a new clip, the spots re-appear. What?? So the only way to record footage is to put the tape in, press record, and after you press stop, the tape is done, even if you record for just a few seconds. That's crazy, but I like my XH-A1, and I don't have any money. I paid about $1000 for it a few years ago, and I can't afford to pay much more than that now.

I'm thinking of getting an external recorder, probably the Atomos Samurai to circumvent the tape deck. With an added SDI converter and cables, cost would be around $700. I really like my XH-A1, and I feel like I'm just starting to get a feel of how to get the best out of it... but even today, as old as it is, a new one seems to go for around $2500-3500.

My question is, should I spend the $700 to jerry-rig my old camera, or is there something out there that has the same quality as the XH-A1 that I can get for the same price? PS I got the XHA1 because of the CCD sensor- I hate the way the CMOS sensor warps the image with fast movement.
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Old April 22nd, 2017, 09:42 PM   #2
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

First of all, can you plug in your camera to a computer via Firewire and see if you can record clean images straight into the computer? I know Final Cut 6/7, Quicktime Pro, and probably Premiere Pro will do this.

IF THE DIRECT TO COMPUTER IMAGES ARE CLEAN: consider a firewire based HDV recorder such as those from DTE Technology or Focus Enhancements (via eBay). This would give you a fully digital method of capturing HDV files - nice if you're sick of spending the time capturing tapes after a shoot.

ANOTHER OPTION: and probably the better one, in my opinion, is to just purchase another camera. Doing a quick search, you can find a camera with all the fixings for $400-600 on eBay, and likely at least a few locally via Craigslist. There's one for $200 in Ohio if you're up for a drive: Canon XHA1 Hi-Def Mini Video Camera w/ case & accessory bundle

Or why not upgrade a little bit in the process: Canon XH A1S HD Cam w/KATA BAG, (2) Canon Batteries & Tapes - EXCELLENT Cond !

Afterwards, sell your current cam AS-IS for parts. I bet you could get $200 out of it easy.

THE PROBLEM WITH ATOMOS is that you're adding considerable heft and complexity to your camera package, and also increasing your data storage requirements somewhere around 6-8x with the ProRes files. You're also adding an analog step to the process with the component to SDI converter.

Just my thoughts, but good luck!
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Old April 23rd, 2017, 08:37 AM   #3
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

I rarely use my XHA1 any more having switched to XA10/20s a while ago. They generally do better over all for the events I shoot, are lighter, do not need tape (with its inherent occasional dropouts), and save a lot of time capturing tape. And I have not found the CMOS vs CCD issue a problem for the events I shoot. However, the XHA1 offers much more control if you learn to use it.

Some folks use the Datavideo DN-60 to capture HDV via firewire.
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Old April 23rd, 2017, 09:34 AM   #4
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

I used a sony hvr dr60 with my xh-a1 which worked flawless with the camera, you also could control that recorder from the camera, I see you can still get them on amazon but they are charging a ridiculous price for it.
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Old April 23rd, 2017, 02:54 PM   #5
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

Thank you, everyone, for the quick response, you guys rock! A lot of good advice for me to think about.

Quick follow-up question. I bought the camera about four years ago and chose it based on my research for the following reasons: its size/weight (I like a little heft,) its customization, as mentioned above its CCD sensor (the importance of which is debatable, I'm sure,) and its price. I don't really use it for events (except as a favor for friends sometimes) but use it to make no-budget films. In other words, for my own creative purposes, and not so much for practical/financial return. That being said, even though making money back isn't an issue, I do want to make images that would be respected and appreciated by an audience.

Four years can be a long time in video world, and I haven't done much research since. Will an audience look at my HDV footage and say "What? Everyone uses 4K now!" leading me to try and find a different camera in the same price range, or is the image quality of the XHA1 worth continued investment?
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Old April 23rd, 2017, 04:40 PM   #6
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

Joe don't be sucked into all this 4k stuff the manufacturers want you to spend your money if the Canon XHA1 does what you want it to do and your clients are happy stay with it, This is what i found out to my cost i bought in to all this hype but it didn't make me sell more video because its the content if its interesting people will watch it, i now have a hv20 hv30 and the XHA1S and used correctly they produce a great picture what more do you want.
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Old April 24th, 2017, 02:59 PM   #7
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

Quote:
Joe don't be sucked into all this 4k stuff ...
Like all new things in a world of rapidly changing technologies, there is no business reason to buy something before you actually NEED it (allowing for learning curve). Street prices on technology tend to drop over time so waiting can save money. Of course if you WANT it, and can afford it, go ahead.

As to SD vs HD. vs UHD, Even a SD DVD looks pretty good from a 1080 HD projector and decent Bluray player when viewed from a distance where one cannot see the individual pixels in the projected image. After all, content is king, and human visual acuity has limits beyond which additional pixels do nothing.

Not everyone does 4K, while you can buy 4K sets, I don't see 4K content for sale in most markets. When 50% of the content sold at Walmart is 4K it may be time to switch. And the difference between HDV and HD is not significant (to me anyway) beyond the tape-less aspects, and improvements in camcorders. The main advantage to 4K would be the ability to crop/scale a lot and still retain a HD image, and perhaps some future proofing of shot video I might want to use at some date in the indefinite future.
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Old April 25th, 2017, 04:01 PM   #8
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

Thank you again for the great advice, everyone. I think Ian and Don are right about 4K. After careful deliberation, I've decided to keep my camera and use a firewire recorder. I hooked it up to my computer and the image was clean. Strange... everything I looked at said the problem was with the sensor, would be curious if anyone knows how the tape deck affects the image like that. So I was able to find a used Sony HVR-DR60 for $295. The firewire port on my camera is a little finicky, so I'll get that repaired too. Hopefully I'll spend at most $500 or so on a less cumbersome setup than my original $700 Atomos idea.

I have some projects I want to get started on soon, so I will come back with updates and let you guys know how it goes!
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Old April 26th, 2017, 01:32 AM   #9
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

It sounds to me as if the tape recording part of you camera is perhaps dirty. Have you used a tape head cleaner. Run one of those for about 10 seconds and see if things improve..

Dropped frames and garbled info can happen from time to time with this type of camera... especially if you review clips, overwrite on a tape, reuse a tape or change tape brand etc...
There was always a huge debate about this in the heady days of tape based cameras....
I used to use a Sony Z1, and set out my own way of working and rarely if ever had an issue....I always stuck to Sony Premium tapes and used a head cleaner on a regular basis. I never reused a tape and avoided reviewing my footage in camera, unless absolutely necessary.

Card based cameras make things way easier now... Even if you solve the problem a solid state recorder of some sort will make life easier, even if it's just avoiding real time downloading to your PC.
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Old April 26th, 2017, 06:06 AM   #10
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

I see one potential risk with the IEEE1394 connection from camcorder to a recorder in the field. As hinted at above the 4-pin port is not mechanically robust so caution in routing the cable and in handling is necessary to prevent snagging the cable and damaging the port by over stressing it.
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Old April 26th, 2017, 08:35 AM   #11
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Re: Need Advice- invest in my XHA1, or new camera?

You should defintely get a 90 degree 4-pin FireWire cable that faces up (those are more rare than the ones that face down it seems) and secure it to the camera in some way. FireWire DV Device Cable (Left Angle) - Left Angle 4pin to Straight 6pin - USBFireWire.com - 877-522-3779
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