XH-A1, V1U, FX1 low light comparison 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 January 13th, 2007, 09:58 PM   #1
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XH-A1, V1U, FX1 low light comparison

A lot of people have been looking for this type of comparison and a colleague of mine put this together after getting the V1U and XH-A1 as possible replacements for his FX1. All three cameras were tested side by side. We have both gone from the FX1 to the XH-A1 and are very happy - especially with 24F, manual controls, and all the adjustments you can make to the color, picture, functions, etc.

(Quicktime 7 required - 57mb)

http://www.tampahighdef.com/Low_light_sm.mov

Thanks,

Bryan
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Old January 14th, 2007, 12:33 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting, that was interesting to see.

One question, were the cameras white balanced? I notice at the beginning of the video the color of the little fox/chipmunk's shirt is different between the V1U and XHA1 shots.

Thank you again for the comparison.
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Old January 14th, 2007, 01:17 AM   #3
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Thanks. We always appreciate people spending the time to do comparisons.
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Old January 14th, 2007, 08:56 AM   #4
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Thanks Bryan!

Any chance of getting some more side-by-side of the V1 and the A1?
I would love to see some outdoor shots during the daytime and maybe some outdoor shots in the eventing or night.

I am still trying to decide between these two cameras for purchase next month.
What are your thoughts on the two cameras?

THANKS!!!
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Old January 14th, 2007, 11:25 AM   #5
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Paul,

I can't speak directly on the V1U since I have not used it myself but going from the FX1 to the A1 has been very easy. I find that I have to be more careful with the gain settings on the A1 or more noise can be introduced. But if you are careful, you can get some great results. I also use FCP and wanted to film in 24F and from what I know, there are some problems importing 24P footage from the V1U into FCP right now until Apple updates FCP to handle it.

My co-worker who created these clips had an FX1 also and chose the A1 over the V1U mainly for the easy-access manual controls and from what he perceived was better wide-angle and low-light ability. He did not keep the V1 long so I don't think he can provide any other footage from outdoor settings.

My FX1 was a great camera but I am happy I switched at this point mainly for 24F and XLR inputs. I really like the custom presets and custom function features. About the only ding I have on this camera is the inability to flip the LCD image for easy use with my 35mm adapter.

Bryan
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Old January 15th, 2007, 05:15 PM   #6
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Michael,

"Auto" white balance was used on the cameras. No real effort was made to sync the white balance between cameras.

Bryan
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Old January 16th, 2007, 11:25 AM   #7
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Thanks for the comparison,

I really wouldn`t compare the same gain numbers for different manufacturers, I think Canon`s zero gain is set at -3 whilst Sony`s gain is zero at 0 that alone would explain why the A1`s footage is brighter in that clip too.
It`s a bit unfortunate that Canon XHA1 factory settings wouldn`t allow the best image quality possible right out of the box. Even when AGC is set off and gain is set low it will be 3db more gain than the Sony`s competition.
And considering that all cams were set at auto WB it was a fair test to show what potential customers will see when they try to compare those camcorders at store.

Cheers form another happy XHA1 owner,
T
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Old December 11th, 2007, 11:30 AM   #8
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Dang it...I was so set on the XH-A1 and now this makes me want to get the FX1 due to it's superior low-light abilities, judging from this test. they both leave the v1u in the dust. I mean look at the clarity of the Sony, no grain/noise at all even in the lowest conditions with gain-dB turned up. wow. think i will go with the FX1, and just get a cheap $50 XLR adaptor for XLR inputs. Thanks for the test, it was an eye opener, even though I have been all Canon (both still and video) for the past 10 years. I will gladly buy new batteries and accesories just to get that jump in image quality. I did not know it was that much a difference.

~ Jason
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Old December 11th, 2007, 03:48 PM   #9
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Jason, I would seriously reconsider your decision based solely on this low-light comparison, video. Having used FX/Z1s and now the XH-A1, I think there is a lot more bang for your buck with the Canon. I think that with the exception of the LCD which is not as great on the Canon, it is a big improvement over the now 3(?) year old FX1.

I think even the Beachtek option alone would make me choose the Canon (or look at a Z1U if you want the Sony). I have always had better results with the built-in preamps of the Z1U or XH-A1 than using a Beachtek which can be noisy.
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Old December 28th, 2007, 07:33 AM   #10
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Anyone know how well the noise reduction on the Canon works??? Judging from the video, the image quality is comparable to the FX from Sony at high gain... or am I missing something?
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Old December 28th, 2007, 09:50 AM   #11
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comparing these cameras out of the box is just not that useful. i have an FX-1 and an A1, i use them both regularly, and, at 1080i in regular to high light, using standard factory settings, the difference is too minimal to call. unless we have done something stupid (like screw the white balance), we often don't have to color correct at all, they are that close.

so you are paying up for the A1 feature set, including XLRs, progressive images, and custom settings, which are very much worth paying for.

push the master pedestal in low light, and tweak a few more of the custom features, and you will get way better low light performance than this comparison shows. this test doesn't show what this camera is capable of, at all.

the FX-1 is a most excellent camera. i've been tempted to sell mine several times, but it plays so well with my pair of A1s that it makes a great third camera, and it is easy enough to operate that it makes my PA look good as a 3rd shooter, for events. so you can't go wrong buying this camera, for the price point. if you are a primarily "auto" shooter, the FX-1 is really the way to go...it is way easier to operate out-of-the-box.

but if you want to push your skills and learn your camera and get a better image in all lighting conditions, the A1 kills the FX-1. really, there is no pretending that they are comparable. they aren't.

the footage that i have seen (projected) of the V1U is almost a different animal. it has its own quality or texture, which you either prefer or you don't. what i saw was a very rich and good-looking quality of image, but i have my doubts about matching it to the others--(note: i was looking at progressive images exclusively, not interlaced...the "i" images may be an easier match). i did play with it at a trade show and actually really liked it, but my concern was exactly confirmed by the projected images. too different from what i already owned (the FX-1, at that point, the A1 was still a prototype at the Canon booth...)

my two cents....
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Old December 28th, 2007, 04:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
...push the master pedestal in low light, and tweak a few more of the custom features, and you will get way better low light performance than this comparison shows.
I'm an XHA1 user and would be interested to see what these tweaks are you have.
Do you have a low light preset you've developed and would like to share?

Cheers.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 10:34 AM   #13
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no, i have gotten to the place where i just play with the settings in the environment until i like the image on my handy Marshall monitor. it just depends on what i am trying to emphasize, for instance, i may stretch the blacks or press them, depending how important shadow detail is or isn't. that's why a general low light setting is not that useful.

you could probably make a general setting on your own though, but i would not recommend doing this without hooking up to a monitor. the viewfinder is next to useless for tweaking on the fly. but once you figure out how these options affect the image, it is easier to make tweaks without the monitor. it is still challenging to do satisfactorily in a fast environment. but in those circumstances, a little on-camera lighting is typically a better option, anyway.

things you should try in combination are: pushing up the master pedestal, stretching or pressing blacks, the setup level, and coring, and the noise reduction. my standard advice is always: mess with 3 things at a time until you get good at those, then mess with 3 more, that way all of those options don't seem so daunting.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 11:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
push the master pedestal in low light, and tweak a few more of the custom features, and you will get way better low light performance than this comparison shows. this test doesn't show what this camera is capable of, at all.
I'd be interested to see someone show low-light footage from an XH-A1 which is as clean as that from an FX1 or Z1U for the same scene, and provide the settings they used to achieve this. The results shown here are similar to what my brother and I found when testing the XL-H1 last year, which is that at high gain the Canon images are much noisier than the Sonys using default camera settings. I keep hearing this can be improved by adjusting the Canon settings, so how about a side-by-side example?
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Old December 29th, 2007, 11:53 AM   #15
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if you are challenging me to test these cameras side by side, frankly, i don't have time to run camera tests that don't affect me or my business personally...just trying to share what i know.

on the other hand, kevin, did you actually work with the custom settings on the H1 to maximize the image (which is what the camera is designed for)? or was your testing strictly both cameras, side-by-side and out of the box? maybe you should re-visit the testing and try using the custom features and see what happens. that makes a lot more sense than trying to base conclusions and make assumptions based on deliberately limited information.

i am sooo not interested in a pissing contest between sony and canon. i have both of them. i use both of them, in fact will be shooting with them together this Sunday night for the annual Nepalese new year talent show. (and no, i can't post footage because they make a commercial DVD from the event...). they're both great cameras and play well together. they are an easy match. i think the FX-1 is hard to beat for a value play. i actually prefer the ergonomics. is it superior in low light, out of the box, well maybe, i don't actually care because they are that close, but if you learn and work with the custom settings on the A1, then the answer is no....

how about this? HDV sucks equally in low light....
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