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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, 09:02 AM   #1
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Just got the A1!

I've just received the A1; it was sent to me by my dealer after I returned my new V1E because of the 25p flaw. I still am going to buy the V1 once it's 100% fixed, but in the meantime the dealer was kind enough to let me play with the Canon.

Firrst impression: not at all so much heavier than the V1 as I expected, and much better looking in reality than on pictures! I'll be trying it slowly, step by step - but the first impression is a positive surprise, even the LCD - while smaller than the V1's - is not bad at all.

I've found something odd, though: no USB connection? Is there a way to download pictures from the SD card to a computer, other than a card reader?
Also, the loose lens cap, without anything to attach to, is not a good idea!
The hot shoe: can I use it with passive, non-Canon devices, like video lights?

Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; January 18th, 2007 at 09:40 AM.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:14 AM   #2
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I've never seen a USB connection on a video camera. Do some of the newer consumer models have them? A card reader is only about 20 bucks. At home I use my printer, which has a built-in card reader for most everything.

For the lens cap, make a habit of always putting it in the same place. I've done this for years--lens cap goes in my left pocket. It's always there. One of our cameras is a DSR250 which has the lens cap attached with a cord, and it has a clip so you clip it to the handle strap. I'd much rather have one I can put in my pocket, because this one is always falling off and flopping around and I have to stop and reattach it so it doesn't flow around in the shot.
Agnes Varda has an amusing lens cap sequence related to that in "The Gleaner's and I," one of the best documentaries ever done.

You should be able to mount anything that fits on the hot shoe. It's strictly passive.

Like you I like the LCD too. It's not as big as some, but it's very high resolution. I was really surprised at how good it is, even in daylight.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 11:35 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pryor
I've never seen a USB connection on a video camera. Do some of the newer consumer models have them? A card reader is only about 20 bucks. At home I use my printer, which has a built-in card reader for most everything.
Yes Bill - most consumer and some prosumer cameras have USB (V1 for instance).

As to the lens cap, the Sony FX1/Z1 and FX7/V1 have a lens hood shutter which is very nice, indeed.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 11:43 AM   #4
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Hi there

Yes I too really like the Z1 build in lens cap... because all my still lenses other than 300 f2.8 saw the lens caps meet the same fate..lost!! the first time I used them...

In fast news situations.. you push them in pockets, drop them on the floor, lose them in the bottom of the bag... they really are very impractcal..

So I fitted filters and didn't worry about a lens cap...

cheers
Gareth
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Old January 18th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki
As to the lens cap, the Sony FX1/Z1 and FX7/V1 have a lens hood shutter which is very nice, indeed.
Can't help thinking that's such a neat design that Sony must have it patented, otherwise every camera released in the last 5 years (it first appeared on the VX2000 or maybe even the VX1000?) would have one, and you'd be able to buy replacement lens hoods like it for all sizes of camera from your high street camera shops.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 01:35 PM   #6
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My previous camera was an FX1 (which I've used for about a year) and it's amazing how hard it is to remember where I've put the lens cap with the A1. I normally drop it into my pocket but even then I spend ages looking through my pockets to find out which one I popped it into!

Ha! Ha! Our brains get so lazy!

Here's one option (with shutters) http://cgi.ebay.com/Matte-box-with-R...QQcmdZViewItem
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Old January 18th, 2007, 01:50 PM   #7
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But Canon compensates for that little inconvenience with what's under the cap :)
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Old January 19th, 2007, 05:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogdan Tyburczy
But Canon compensates for that little inconvenience with what's under the cap :)
Yeah...Well, I'm coming from the Sony HC1 which I sold due to the poor lowlight performance; then I had the V1E for a couple of weeks (of which 2 it spent with PrimeSupport trying to fix the 25p), and now - the Canon A1. Today I started shooting, and my first impressions about what it has "under tha [lens] cup" are:

- quite a lot of CA and fringing (at the image left and right sides), but acceptable
- noticeable barrel distorsion, also can live with it

But frankly, I've expected a little more from a Canon lens!

As far as the overall picture quality is concerned, I've only used the stock settings in both auto and manual - the colors are pale, but natural, the AF is great, up to 12dB of gain the noise is practically absent.

Havent played with the picture tweaking yet (or 25F, just 50i)

Ergonomic: great, simply marvellous! I hated the looks of the left side dial on pictures, but in reality it's very nice and functional. Also, having the iris ring, the shutter thumbwheel and the three-position gain switch is much more convenient than having to change them with the button-menu dial-menu selection, and you never accidently switch it back to auto by inadvertently pressing the button again (this is how it works with the V1). The peaking - though again easily accessibel via a dedicated button - is not as distinctive and helpful as that in the V1; it cannot be used in conjunction with zebra, and there's no histogram. The VCR section - internal speaker is loud enough, much louder than the V1's (in my unit it was so quiet it was almost useless).

And finally, my main initial reservation: the weight/size, higer than the V1's. Now, it's quite important to me because my right arm is weak after the neck spine operations I went through recently; but after actually having used the A1, my conclusions are: OK, so the Sony V1 is smaller and some 0,5 kg lighter - but does it mean it's light? No, for a longer shooting it'd require some sort of support. And if I'm to use a support anyway, the size and weight of the Canon is not so important any more! And it's bigger size allows for more controlls to be put on the body rather than in the menu, like with the V1.

It's a pity I didn't have time to actually record enough material with the V1E before I returned it, that would enable a direct comparison with what I'm now shooting with the A1. Specifically, I'd like to compare the sharpness in full light and with the zoom in tele, as some reports say the V1 is better in these situations. Well, maybe my dealer will allow me to have both for a couple of days, before making my final decision!

And last, but not least: the price. The Sony V1 is considerably more expensive than the Canon A1; add to it the obligatory wide lens adapter and a decent stereo shotgun (I'd need one definitely), and the price difference grows to a very considerable amount, even if I buy a good mono XLR shotgun for the A1...

Speaking of which, do you think the Rode NTG1 is a good choice for the A1? Also, which bag do you recommend for it - there's a dedicated one for the V1, but haven't spotted a special bag for the Canon A1 - any suggestions?

Last edited by Piotr Wozniacki; January 19th, 2007 at 10:27 AM.
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Old January 19th, 2007, 06:13 AM   #9
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Just got one to today, I received it at my work, so it is a long work day when I can open the box at hoime
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Old January 19th, 2007, 11:28 AM   #10
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Piotr -

Are you planning to switch back to V1E after 25p imperfections are fixed or made up your mind to stick with Canon?

V1 (at least US version) is one fine cam. The two primary features that kept me from buying it were smaller sensors in V1 (1/4", ouch!) and significantly wider lens on XH-A1. Maybe that wider angle is related to distortions you are noticing, but it never bothered me, neither CA. I don't think XH-A1 is any worse than other cameras in these aspects. I don't have side-by-side comparisons to prove my point, but from my humble experience with Sony, Pana and JVC camcorders (some of the lenses attached were more expensive than A1:), all of them suffered in specific situations, esp. against strong backlight.

I don't have experience with NTG1 mic. I use AT-897 which was fine with XL2, but it's a little bit too long for A1. I have to live with that now. It's still possible to position it properly and besides that, I don't do much of run&gun or documentary type of work. I'm sure there is a lot of info available on in Audio sections of the forum.

Currently I use Tamrac Pro 12 bag, which sometimes also carries my photo equipment. I'm sure there are better options but this one is just fine for me. Sooner or later I will get hard case anyway.

Pozdrawiam,
Bogdan
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Old January 19th, 2007, 11:40 AM   #11
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Thanks Bogdan for your suggestions on the mic and bag - will see to it, but first I have to make my final decision, and it's going to be tough! I've been a happy Sony customer for 30 years now, never had anything from Canon, but this A1 rocks. If Sony doesn't resolve the 25p prob in a reasonably near future, I'll switch to Canon - that's for sure; otherwise? Well, I don't know yet...

BTW, are you of Polish origin?
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Old January 19th, 2007, 12:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki
I've been a happy Sony customer for 30 years now
...
BTW, are you of Polish origin?
My first camcorder was Hi-8 Sony V800 (PAL version of US 801 model). How many years ago it was? Definitely not 30, but a lot :) Then, already in US, I was thinking about VX1000, but Canon enchanted me with XL1.

Yes, I'm of Polish origin. I spent most of my life in Poland and btw, Krzysztof Kieslowski is my No. 1 director of all time.

What type of work do you do? Film, TV, events?
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Old January 19th, 2007, 12:28 PM   #13
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Krzysztof Kieślowski is also my favourite.

Bogdan, I'm in a quite different business actually (own a small company dealing with Computer Aided Design), and you might consider me being just a serious hobbyist in video. My first camera was the venerable Sony CCD-VX3, the 3CCD Hi8 marvel.

But I started buying Sony hi-fi, TV's etcc back in the 70'ties, and always was happy with them.

Are you seriuosly in a video business?
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Old January 19th, 2007, 12:44 PM   #14
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Oh, VX3... I remember that beauty! I was very tempted by it, but my wallet was opposing plus from here or there I heard some rumors about Digital Video stuff on the horizon and decided to wait.

I always liked Sony products. My V800 was beaten like no other cam I used. After one of small accidents on hiking trail (hiking and video can be tricky, even dangerous) I broke LCD display on the left side, but the camera did not quit on me. It also survived bicycle accident. One sturdy little beast! :)

I'm not a pro, I don't make my living out of that. I'm just a promising, upcoming indie filmmaker. I'll see how that works.
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