Initial User's review of the Canon XH-A1 at DVinfo.net

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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 2nd, 2006, 10:37 AM   #1
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Initial User's review of the Canon XH-A1

Ok folks, maybe we can have this thread for all of our initial reviews of the cam, instead of it being all over the place ?? :)

My initial rough unbiased review for you guys. (Ex- Panasonic 100b and Canon XL2 User)

1) Unit is small and compact.

2) It is overall very sturdy and solid.

3) Would not attract attention and thieves like the H1 or XL2.

4) I think the weight factor is just right, that it doesnt require a big expensive tripod, and those big stabilizer rig (will test it with the merlin later today).

5) I dont know why they put some of the buttons on top of the camera underneath the LCD (white balpreset, MIc Att and end search. Maybe it is a personal bias but i am one of those rare bird that actually like to use the view finder.

6) I think this is a given, If you want Pro looking cam, get the XL2 or H1

7) I seriously do not like the cavity battery design. For me, it is another hinge to be broken due to heavy use (Battery and A/C Adapter). The two springs nested deep inside the cavity are very very fragile. Be extra gentle and careful when uploading and unloading the battery.

8) Cant use any after market Mattebox with Instant AF censor in front of the cam.

9) I miss the rubber eye piece on my ex-canon XL2 and ex-Panasonic 100b

10) Horray for the exposure ring on the lens, long gone is the horrible plastic XL2 exposure selector ball !

11) The electric servo sound from the camera's lens is still audible both on the built in mic and the stock external mic holder. I tested it with my AT 4053a hyper cardioid mic. So, for you Run and Gun folks, solution is here (look at bottom of page). http://www.mklemme.com/pole/dvcam.html

12) The menu and customization on this cam is staggering ! There are TONS of customization possible :) ( I Like ! ). So, if you are like me and this is your first HD camera, prepare to spend some manual book time !!

13) The exposure/iris control is extremely sensitive, I don't(High Def) know if any follow focus gear that can micro tune it.

Pictures and more review (sound, photo, video) will be up soon !
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 10:52 AM   #2
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Mark,

The zoom is both continuous and Variable adjustable via a wheel selector. Yes the zoom is butterly smooth. See above on Zoom servo noise.

Both the constant and variable zoom can be set from level 1 (60 secs) all the way to level 16 (2.6 secs)
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:19 AM   #3
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Do you have a sense of its overall size compared, say, to a PD170 or Z1?
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:29 AM   #4
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I had a chance to fiddle with the Z1 and PD 17, the local cable guys use them as their on location B cams.

The A1 is longer than both of them but it is also a little skinnier (width-wise).
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:43 AM   #5
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Mine Just Arrived Too!!!

UPS actually arrived earlier than expected - imagine that.
At any rate, the XH A1 is almost exactly the same size as the Sony Z1,
but just a bit heavier. The flip out LCD is razor sharp and the Instant Auto
Focus work very fast, even in 24F mode. So far, I really like the design.
There are bottons and switches everwhere. It even has a 1/8 inch stero mic
input in case you don't have, or want to use an XLR mic.
So far, the only thing I not overly excited about is the fact that mode switching i.e., 24F, 30F, 60i ect. is all menu driven. On the XL-H1
it's right there ready via a manual knob control. I got my camera from
a DV Info Sponsor - ZGC. Travis took great care of me right down to the tracking number. For anyone on the fence, it's time to jump off and grab one of these Canons. In the past 18 months I have owned and XL-2,
DVX-100 A&B, Sony FX1 and the JVC HD100u. The only one I have not sold yet is the DVX-100B, but as of today we will in fact be parting ways very soon. This is definitly the camera I will keep for at least the next few years of the HD revolution.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:52 AM   #6
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Thanks for the reports, guys. If it's possible, can you compare the lowlight picture of the Canon with the Z1/FX1?

Al -- you said you sold your FX1 -- why do you think the Canon is superior?
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:56 AM   #7
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I generally don't like having to hunt down things in the menu, but switching to 24F wouldn't bother me because it's not something you'd need to access during a shoot. Having to go to the menu to switch on the bars does irritate me.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:04 PM   #8
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Yeah, in fact if those hard frame rate switches get bumped the wrong way it could really screw the pooch on a paid job.

But I hear what you're saying. They always mess up a little when it comes to what should be menus and what should be switches.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:20 PM   #9
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Hey guys something I have been wondering is does the IR insta-focus thingy "hunt" much or at all?
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:40 PM   #10
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i just got my box. there is a definite wow factor when you open it up. my immediate reaction was "woah... this is definitely not a gl2 upgrade" immediately followed by " woah... this is as heavy as my xl2." there is nothing flimsy about this cam.

regarding the switches vs. menu thing, i experienced the same thing to a far greater extent when i worked with the gl2 after working with the xl cams for a long period of time. many important manual controls were buried in menus on the gl2. i suppose it's the trade off when dealing with the compact form factor. in any case, i'm happy to find most of the important stuff is on the body of the cam. but i will definitely miss those aspect ratio and framerate switches on the xl2.

sorry had to make a late edit to my post... the mic mount is the same size as the on the ma300, not the xl cams, so, unfortunatety, the lightwave and k-tek shock mount adapters won't fit.
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:41 PM   #11
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The Unboxing Ritual :) Check out the Canon "HDV" tape
Attached Thumbnails
Initial User's review of the Canon XH-A1-img_0661.jpg   Initial User's review of the Canon XH-A1-img_0660.jpg  

Initial User's review of the Canon XH-A1-img_0659.jpg   Initial User's review of the Canon XH-A1-img_0664.jpg  

Initial User's review of the Canon XH-A1-img_0663.jpg  
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:50 PM   #12
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Excellent. When I zoomed up your first photo I can see the white balance A/B and preset switch, but where is the 3200/5600 switch?
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:52 PM   #13
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does the canon A1 have a setting for 24 frames per sec?
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 12:54 PM   #14
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I love my new A1!!!

UPS got here sooner than normal and boy was I excited!

This is one nice little camera, real solid feel, nice zooms, and I don't seem to hear the zoom servo at all.

The only problem though is the internal battery bay. Although I love the idea, my large capacity 970G got stuck in there!!! I had to stick super sticky tape to the battery to pull it out from the compartment!

CAUTION TO ALL WHO USE 970G SIZE BATTERIES!!!

Other than that, I'm in love, my girlfriend is already jealous. Ha!
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 01:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pryor
Excellent. When I zoomed up your first photo I can see the white balance A/B and preset switch, but where is the 3200/5600 switch?
That is what i Meant in my initial review, the 3200/5600 switch is on top of the camera, underneath the LCD screen. Now how practical is that ???

And to the other posterm, yes, it has 24 progressive with the 2 pulldowns, but canon calls it 24f. You set this up on the Main Menu. You can do both HD 24f and SD 24f in 16x9 and in SD you can also do 4x3.
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