a blind date...with the 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 15th, 2006, 03:57 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Grass Valley, California
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a blind date...with the XH-A1

I spent my first day with the A1 and have had killer results. Coming from a long history of video in SD (my first Canon was the L1), I am finally emerged in HD and I feel excited and I feel I made the right choice. I already made a run and gun for fun music video to a Beck song (a song from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and have already authored it to SD DVD (using a mac). Last week my brother purchased the Sony Pearl projector to replace his old proj. on our 100 inch home theater, and I was totally stunned with the SD-DVD quality from the XH-A1---stunned. I'm used to watching XL2 footage on a 100 inch screen and what a difference. Today I went out and captured nature footage and played it back through the component analogue output into the Pearl - amazing! I am going to hook up my mac to get a digital representation soon.

The lens is everything I wanted out of a $4,000 camera. It doesn't scream CA and not a lot of barrel dist.- It has a long throw and is pretty wide when zoomed out (wider than the 20x XL2). IS is killer and what is really the deal breaker is the iris ring. I can adjust the iris ring as I shoot and zoom without any trouble (no stepper toggle!). Focusing is suprisingly easy, especially with mag/peaking options. I spent most of the time focusing with the LCD flipout without those options and hit mostly all perfect focuses. Again, the lens in my opinion is worth the cash. Image-wise, Detail, blacks and colors are vibrant and realistic. I shoot all manual settings and tweaked my own first preset (still trying to learn how to save to the sd card).

This camera, like all others new to the market, will need a couple improvements- like fixing the zoom motor noise (even with using an XLR shotgun- still very noticeable), adding an IS button on the lens, and improving the zoom toggle (although I got used to the toggle very quckly). It just seems a little brittle (made slight creaking noises when pressed firmly) and not beefy like the XL series zoom toggles. I want to make a swinging I/O door on the back to replace the rubber cover.

When I look at the images I have already produced in one day, on a giant screen without even authoring to HD-DVD or BlueRay, I totally forget about any minor nuanses I just mentioned above and start capturing some killer images and cut them on my new Mac Pro.
All in all, it was a fantastic blind date. We've planned many more dates.

I want to post the video I completed, but I will need high speed to upload somewhere...could I host it on this site as a quicktime? File size requirements?

peace~ LH
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Old November 15th, 2006, 07:32 PM   #2
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What shotgun mic did you use?

Also I may be able to host your file for a short period, send me an email.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 10:37 PM   #3
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I use the audio/technica AT897.

I'll send you an email when I get a chance. Thanks Nick.
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Old November 17th, 2006, 03:19 PM   #4
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A small note about the zoom motor noise....

It's only noticeable through the headphones when plugged into the camera. I didn't hear it through the tape. Anyone else notice this?
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Old November 17th, 2006, 04:52 PM   #5
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AT 897 Question

I also have the AT897, how did you mount it? I'm just amazed they do not supply some sort of material to mount it. I ended up using a piece of plastic wraped around the mike, but I'm not crazy with the way it looks.

Other thoughts,

Since I plan on using a Cokin Filter holder at times, it seems that covering up the external focus sensor still allows the focusing to work correctly.

I purchased the Canon ZR-1000 as a remote, but not all the functions work. The Zoom, record, standby, and focus work. The "V" zoom control works regardless what the camera is set for, but the zoom speed "5" is not very fast. I think it must correspond to the Zoom 5 (of 16) on the camera. The "on screen" and "rec search" do not work at all, though they work on my Sony. To speed up the zoom you have to set a custom function which gets the zoom to about 1.5 seconds from end to end. I bought the ZR-1000 since it was a full $200 less than the ZR-2000, but I'm going switch to the ZR-2000.
Also, at least the ZR-1000 does not fit on a very large tripod control handle. It would not work on my Manfrotto 503 handle.

I also purchased a new Manfrotto Tripod (755MF3) with the 503 Head, I must say it seems to fit the camera very well. Never any risk of the camera tilting forward or backwards.

About a case, the Canon HC-4200 seems on the high side in price ($450). Any suggestions. I took a chance and bid on a Amvona APC-1030 Light case for $51 with $28 Shipping. I'll have to fix it up with some pic-n-pluck foam, but it looks like it might do the trick, otherwise I'll look into some of the Pelican cases
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Old November 17th, 2006, 05:38 PM   #6
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Don,
I simply use foam (firm egg crate) to line inside the mic holder and tighten it down-seems to work well. It's temporary, but then again it works pretty well.

I live by the manfrotto 523 Pro remote (works perfect for the 503 head). Anytime I have the camera on the tripod, I am using this remote. It's worth the $350 I spent. I also have the manfrotto/bogen 503 head but I have the manfrotto 475 legs which I want to change out. They work well indoors because of the spreaders, but I need legs that can flip up all the way horizontally for the outdoors (makes it nice for low to the ground shots etc).

I have a fairly new Kata bag that I had for my XL2, but I will be selling it on this forum soon, as it is too big for this camera and carry on. (Contact me if you are interested). I am sticking with a backpack-style Lowpro that has worked great fro traveling and it protects well. I tend to stay away from hard cases, because I keep my camera by my side all the time, but if I were to get a hard case, it might be a Pelican or the like (Something that is water tight).
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