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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, 10:15 AM   #1
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Is CANON listening? Top Revision Requests:

I've been on a small vacation for the past two days and have had this camera in my hands non-stop.. (will have footage posted shortly).

At first I wasn't very comfortable with the camera.. now after some personal presets and getting used to the ergonomics.. I totally love it! It's an amazing camera!

Still there are some things that could be better.. things that should have been adopted from its larger XL sibling. And visa-versa, there are things on this camera that are better than the XL and should be adopted on the XL-H1 camera.

Before I get to my requests let me start off with the most immediate positives I can think of with the XH-A1:

Love the wide field of view! This should be adapted on the XL's 20x lens (then there would actually be a reason to add the 1.6 telephoto extender)
The Iris ring and shutter dial are awesome to use.. very smooth! (also an add for the XL series)
LCD is great (although it could have been a bit bigger at 3 inches)
The customization menu is amazing.. thank you Canon!
Internal Battery bay is really cool.. it keeps things very nice and neat!

Ok Canon.. Here are my top requests (free product advice from a pro-event end-user):

first of all there is way too much in the menus; not enough (or correct) buttons.. see in post below. Would like to see a firmware update to address some of these issues (if possible). Other request would simply be on a revision camera-

1. Move/Disable/Customize the 'Bars' switch.. its in the way.. space could be much better used IMO. (I've tripped over this many times when filming.. although I am getting better at not; still im not going to use this).

2. The Gain switch.. this should be a 5 selector switch, not just 3. Would help from going into the menus for a minor change that will happen all the time. Or have two pre-programable sets on a separate button (set 1> 0/3/6 set 2> 3/6/12)

3. Built-in mic to XLR input select should be a hard switch! Not a menu select.

4. AE shift.. also in the menu.. which makes it really useless. should be a dial or switch as in the XL series camera. Could be similar to the current gain programing switch.

5. Get the WB control out from under the LCD holder and next to the switch.. at least that wasn't in the menu too! (I don't like to use the LCD so this is a really tough location).

6. Red LED notification lights below or beside the LCD/EVF that signal REC, GAIN, SHUTTER as found below the XL series lcd. This would really be helpful to keep a clutter free lcd display for framing.

7. The EVF/CVF lets in too much light when eye is placed against it.. needs to be curved for the right eye or a switchable eyepiece would be nice. (This is important to me because I use it 80% of the time over the LCD.)

8. A Backlight for the Power Dial side panel information. (again.. I don't use the LCD.. I really could have used this in dark places)

9. OIS Hard switch on lens.

10. A form of MACRO on the lens would be great.. I find it doesn't focus on close objects when slightly zoomed in.. bummer!

11. Where did the Advanced Accessory Shoe go? This camera would have been great to use with the VL3 for fast & cheap event lighting..

Lastly HDMI would have been nice.. but not necessary.

Thanks.. hope to see the XH-A1s and XL-H1s shortly :)
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Old November 15th, 2006, 12:30 PM   #2
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I agree with you on every single one of these points.

It seems that most of these could even be implemented with a firmware update, and it seems silly that something like the optical stabilizer wasn't even put in the menu for an option as a customization button (I can't understand why).

I constantly change frame rates during my day of shooting, and I would like to see a quicker way to change framerates via, hard pressing, a custom button, (I don't think I will ever use the end search button under the peaking and mag. buttons so I could very much do without this button). I would love to see this functionality on the camcorder itself, like the H1. I would also love the color bars being out the way.


Other than this I think it is a fabulous cam.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 01:52 PM   #3
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I like the way Panasonic do white balance...

Set the switch to preset - hit the set white balance button to toggle between daylight and tungsten. I don't know why nobody else does this. At least it's not a menu item (like on the Sony Z1).

And you're definately right about the eyepiece... I mean what is that pathetic sliver of rubber for? Give us a proper eye cup!
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Old November 15th, 2006, 05:33 PM   #4
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haven't used the pani.. I'm sure its good though..
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Old November 15th, 2006, 08:14 PM   #5
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~I agree- Image Stabilization should have a switch of it's own or reprogram option to use another button...level adjustability of IS would be nice too- like Sony!
~Also- adopt a similar system to FX-1 and use a lever to open lens cover...or at very least- a clip in the lens cover to clip somewhere on the camera itself.
~Bigger LCD for sure!!!!
~Rolling button for Gain changes.
~Disable blinking "No Tape" icon for tapeless recording.
~720P (or 720F) mode
~Access thru lens shade to turn a Cir. Pol Filter.
~Allow Zebras & Peaking at same time!
~Minor quibble- but I'd like a dedicated "Power" button to start camcorder so that I don't have to press and roll onto the setting I'd like to use- it would allow the user to leave the "mode roller" onto the mode they'd like to use most often.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 08:31 PM   #6
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The AE issue is a real situation that should have been a dial like the XL-2 etc.

I-Cuff probably makes an EVF attachment the lessen the light interfering with focusing.

BUT....no camera is perfect.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 08:47 PM   #7
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Steve,

Call me naive but why would you want 720f? Isn't 1080f superior in every way? Can't you just downconvert to 720p? I must be missing something.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 08:56 PM   #8
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720P/F =smaller data rate easier to work with NLE's and direct compatibility with other 720p cams- just another variant to the HDV spec.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 09:06 PM   #9
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I must say I love the bars switch. It is one of the most used things on the camera for me -- in the pro world, every time you change tape you roll bars and reset the time code. If you're reaching for any of the nearby switches while you're rolling, you're doing something wrong -- you should have set gain and white balance long before you've put the camera up to your eye.

As for the AE control, why on earth would you want that on the hardware when you've got exposure lock or manual exposure and the wonderful iris ring?

And white balance? Don't you set custom white balance on every scene? You should.

And Holly -- frame rate? You're changing frame rates without changing tapes? How on earth do you edit it?

I say thank heavens Canon at least paid homage to pro cameras on this one.....




chuck

Last edited by Chuck Fadely; November 16th, 2006 at 07:40 AM.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 09:18 PM   #10
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I have to agree with Chuck on these points, but I come from the bigger camera world. It's all in what you're accustomed to, and if you use the camera regularly you can get used to different forms. I did, however, find the comment about changing frame rates a lot very unusual. I can't see why you'd do that within a production, unless you're shooting with something like the HVX200 that gives you variable frame rate for slomo or speeded up motion. The Canon only gives you 24F, 30F, and 30fps (60i). Hmm...I wonder what would happen if you shoot 24F and edit in a 24 frame timeline but drop in a 30F clip? Would it automatically render to 24 or what?
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Old November 16th, 2006, 12:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Fadely
I must say I love the bars switch. It is one of the most used things on the camera for me -- in the pro world, every time you change tape you roll bars and reset the time code. If you're reaching for any of the nearby switches while you're rolling, you're doing something wrong -- you should have set gain and white balance long before you've put the camera up to your eye.

As for the AE control, why on earth would you want that on the hardware when you've got exposure lock or manual exposure and the wonderful iris ring?

And white balance? Don't you set custom white balance on every scene? You should.

And frame rate? You're changing frame rates without changing tapes? How on earth do you edit it?

I say thank heavens Canon at least paid homage to pro cameras on this one...
Chuck.. I understand that we are looking at things from different points of view.. In my world I don't have the time to make those adjustments before the shot.. the shot is right NOW! Event videography is a serious game that can't be fiddled with.. either you have the shot or you don't! Because once that moment (second) is over.. its over..

Setting the WB in every scene is a luxury I cannot afford to make.. on a Set it makes all the sense in the world.. but I am not on a set.

Canon needs to decide who there market is on this camera.. most studios will probably end up with a more "studio" type of broadcast camera anyway; They will get a 2/3rds chip-set camera (even if its SD) and purchase their lenses from Canon Broadcast Division or Fujinon.

I would have to say most purchases of the A1 will come from Indi film makers and/or Event videographers.. so my requests at the top make perfect sense for that market.. bars/tone is not on the top of the list for these filmmakers and artists. Flexibility and speed is!
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Old November 16th, 2006, 07:35 AM   #12
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I think that thousands of TV broadcast news photographers would agree that the shot is right NOW -- and their cameras have similar layouts and are all used in all-manual settings. I'm not sure which is more dangerous -- an angry bride or a serial killer chased by a swat team -- but either way, pro shooters would be more comfortable with the Canon controls than some of the other small prosumer cameras. Many tv shooters are using the Sony Z1U for small-camera 2nd unit coverage, but I predict wholesale desertion to the Canon camp because of the control layout.

No camera's perfect for everyone. Though similar, the XHA1 is way better than the XLH1 for controls, I think.

chuck
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Old November 16th, 2006, 08:00 AM   #13
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I totally agree with Chuck here. There are only 2 things that i like to change in the camera.

1) The volume should have the numeric reading and not just the bar going up and down. On the big dial, the numerical values were shown, but c'mon put it in the LCD and EVF. The dial is not even lit ! How are we going to monitor audio when its dark?

2) The little jog wheel dial has to go. I disliked it on the XL2 and I disliked it now on the A1.
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Old November 16th, 2006, 09:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Fadely

No camera's perfect for everyone. Though similar, the XHA1 is way better than the XLH1 for controls, I think.

chuck
How can you say this when the H1 has 3-4x more options available to you at your fingertips? Even those that aren't can be gotten to quickly. If I am shooting and I need use autoexposure I can turn the AE adjust while shooting or stop for a second, turn it and start shooting again. Having to go into the menus is a royal pain in the butt. Changing white balance and having access to all levels of gain on the fly is priceless (almost!).

The A1 does a lot of cool things but having better controls is not necessarily one of them, with the possible exception of the iris ring on the lens.

Add to that the form factor made making some of these changes noticable. The camera will sometimes move or jerk a little when applying these changes on a handheld shot. The H1 is a heavier, sturdier piece that usually sits on your shoulder with one hand in the grip and the other on the lens. When you take your hand off the lens you still have 2 stabile points. When pressing a button or turning a knob the camera barely moves if it moves at all.

With the A1 handheld I would notice in the footage when I have to change settings, and forget about shooting and going into the menu for some options....you can't. Menu doesn't work while record is engaged.

Like I said, the A1 is a great camera, but if ultimate control over almost all aspects is what you need, while shooting or just quickly, then the H1 has it beat in that department.

Peace.
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Old November 16th, 2006, 10:30 AM   #15
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Studying all the images, the controls you need are there. Seems like you need a little more practice is all.

I ride the iris and never the shutter. Three gains is enough. You can be that fussy, you don't have the time. I gather there is a toggle for pre set WB. Set one for inside, outside, and whatever you may encounter for the shoot.

I never shoot handheld. I use a three point shoulder rig and lanc. The rig aides in raising the camera overhead, and steadies it for those knee shots. I've modified the rig to fit entirely on a tripod, so I can go from fixed to mobile as needed.

Like Marty said, maybe you'll find the H1 more suited to your style.
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