Ruminations of an ecstatic newbie 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 18th, 2007, 02:32 AM   #1
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Ruminations of an ecstatic newbie

Hi everyone,

I'm a new kid on the block and very excited to be here. I just got an XH A1, and so far I couldn't be happier with it! Here's where I'm coming from: don't laugh, but I had been using a Sony DCR TRV-740, and while it was a step up from Hi8 several years ago, it was really a joke by today's standards even in consumer land and I'd known it for a long time. I was also trying to poke away at iMovie, and since I'm a professional musician used to using high-end studio software, trying to work with video using an old cheap camcorder and iMovie just was Not. Fun. At. All.

So...(thank God for credit cards) I decided to bite the bullet and get Final Cut Studio. Then I started researching cameras, and I really wanted to make sure I got just the right one because I knew I'd have to spend a good deal. My interests are in artistic nature imagery, some video blogging, and hopefully some documentary work on Christian missionary efforts at some point down the road, so I knew that the broadcast TV style just wouldn't fit with my needs. I guess you could say I wanted to go more for moody, film-like qualities with lots of room for atmospheric effects.

After a lot of research, I had pretty much decided to get the DVX100b from Panasonic. I saw sample footage on the Web that was impressive and all the great reviews from people, and I liked its emphasis on the 24p and Cinematic gamma feature. The only problem...spending several grand on standard def these days made me a bit nervous. Ideally, I had hoped to jump right on the HD bandwagon. But the HVX200 with the whole P2 system was way out of my price range.

Somehow I had overlooked the XH A1 in my original research; I'm not sure why. I think maybe I was aiming for $3000 or less and so it was just a bit higher than that and didn't show up on the radar. Anyway, I always wanted to go with Canon since I've been using the Digital Rebel XT for photography and absolutely love that baby. The thing that made me realize I wouldn't be happy with the DVX100b was I saw an HD camera from JVC in action at a Final Cut Pro user group meeting at Macworld last week, and the image quality on a flat panel LCD was so gorgeous that I knew I couldn't settle for SD at this point in time. So I went looking in desperation for an affordable HD camcorder with the right features, and once I stumbled across the XH A1 and saw some of the sample footage here on DVinfo.net, it was all over for me.

I haven't had enough time yet to go take some real shots outside with this sucker -- I've only had it since Monday -- but I hope to this weekend, or earlier if I can swing it. I'm absolutely in love with the image quality. Being a complete idiot newbie, I turned the dial to auto and just shot the inside of my house and my front yard in the afternoon, then loaded it into FCP. It was like looking at a window into what I just saw in real life. Unreal!

See, my philosophy in using tools is that if you start with perfection, you can chip away at it until it has the right fuzzy, individualistic flair you need to turn it into art. Like with microphones and speakers, for instance -- I want to start with absolute clarity, THEN I can play with effects and tone shaping and various techniques to mold the sound into what I want. With the XH A1, I feel like I can now capture what I see in real life, and once it's in the computer I can begin to transform it into what I want to see in the final product. I love that.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I'm very excited about all of this! Once I shoot something reasonably interesting, I'll post it in the sample footage forum. I really appreciate seeing what you folks have been taking with it -- that helped my buying decision greatly.

Cheers,

Jared
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Old January 18th, 2007, 05:26 AM   #2
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Welcome Jared. I'm glad you love the camera. Enjoy!
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Old January 18th, 2007, 07:20 AM   #3
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Jared, I had the same feeling 2 weeks ago, the only 'problem' I have is with some grain that I can see (I did turn AGC off), but then I only shot in the house in the evening and that still looked rather ok. I'm really anxious to finally try to shoot outdoors during daylight.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:17 AM   #4
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Jared--make sure you get Apple's $49 crossgrade upgrade to FCP if you haven't already done so. That then allows you to download the free 5.1.2 version, which has 24p support for the XH A1.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:55 AM   #5
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Jared, congratulations on your purchase . . . and much luck on your journey.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared White
...I saw an HD camera from JVC in action at a Final Cut Pro user group meeting at Macworld last week, and the image quality on a flat panel LCD was so gorgeous that I knew I couldn't settle for SD at this point in time.
I was at the FCP SuperMeet too, and saw the demo at the exact same time as you. It was very impressive indeed! And it was a treat to see Craig Yanagi of JVC there as well.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 01:47 PM   #7
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Thanks for the warm welcome!

Hey Chris, I had a feeling I probably brushed past some people there that hang out here and didn't know it...if I had unlimited $$$, that JVC would have been very tempting.

@Bill: I got the FCS package very recently, so I do have 5.1.2. The 24p mode works great!

@Jeremy: I too noticed some noise in certain shadow areas when shooting indoors at night. I don't know if there are ways to work around that, or if it's just the nature of the beast. Will have to experiment further.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 01:56 PM   #8
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Noise in shadow areas is fairly usual for a camera of this price / nature.

Over the summer I shot four DVDs using the DVX100A which are incredibly noisy. Comparatively the A1 is pretty quiet.

The FX1/Z1 has relatively little noise in the image, but can't hold a light to the increased resolution in the Canon A1's image.

You can bring the noise down by increasing the coring value (at the expense of some definition in the image), and by using NR2.

But generally cameras love light. So give them plenty and you'll get better images out of them.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 08:00 PM   #9
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Hey Jared, Its Nice To See People From My Area On Here,im From Rohnert Park. I Expect My A1 To Come Tomorrow Morning Via U.P.S. Im Totaly Excited! And I Too Just Upgarded To Final Cut Studio. I Just Got My Glidecam Today And I Also Have A Kessler Crane On Its Way. Wow Its Like Cristmas For Me All Over Again!
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Old January 18th, 2007, 09:54 PM   #10
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Estatic myself, and just as much a newbie (if not more!)

Well it's finally arrived! I got my very own XH-A1 on Tuesday and finally had the time to play with it all last night. Along with it I got a 755b/503 Manfrotto/Bogen tripod system which works and looks great with it, and I couldn't be happier.

I also have a Portabrace bag for it, as well as two extra longer life batteries, a car charger for the batteries, and that on-camera light for the Canons. All these accesories I had for my old XL1s (which was stolen in November, but they left what was just listed) and the case works very well. It's a little spacious so I'll probably get some extra foam for it, but if you strap it in it works very well, and you get a lot of approving looks and questions lugging it around (or at least I did at my documentary class yesterday). The case is a HKP-2 by the way.

My next goal is to save for a few necessary accessories:

A 1TB (or at least 500gig) Lacie (or other) Hard Drive to contain all this HD footage I want to shoot

A shotgun/boom mic kit that's around...well, under $300 for the mic itself, not including wind screen/boom kit

and a second 23" Cinema Display for FCP.

I also managed to get a part time job at a production company I was interning at (Wide Awake Films, if you're familiar with them Bill, they're based in KCMO) so it's been a pretty good week for me!
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Old January 18th, 2007, 11:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Huskey
My next goal is to save for a few necessary accessories:

A 1TB (or at least 500gig) Lacie (or other) Hard Drive to contain all this HD footage I want to shoot

A shotgun/boom mic kit that's around...well, under $300 for the mic itself, not including wind screen/boom kit

and a second 23" Cinema Display for FCP.

I also managed to get a part time job at a production company I was interning at (Wide Awake Films, if you're familiar with them Bill, they're based in KCMO) so it's been a pretty good week for me!

I would like to suggest that you get the 1TB drive. I bought the 500GB, and with all that I shoot, I spend a lot of time worrying about the vanishing HD real estate, and in managing media assets. I know that's a good practice anyways, but still....the 1TB would have been better.
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