Anyone come from a Z1 or FX1 to XH G1 or 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 March 9th, 2007, 09:27 AM   #1
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Anyone come from a Z1 or FX1 to XH G1 or A1?

I've been thinking about this camera quite a bit. I currently have two FX1s and have used a Z1 quite a bit as well. Has anyone here made the switch from these Sony cams? What are the benefits/tradeoffs? I know this camera is a glorified Sony under it's skin (anyone notice the switches on the side are identical to an FX1, the body is identical to the FX1, & the CCDs are Sony as well). Would it be really worth it to switch?
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Old March 9th, 2007, 09:42 AM   #2
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I've made the switch from Sony PD150s & 170s to Canon A1s. I can't say I regret them move and am very impressed with the output from the camera.

The menu matrix et al is fairly straight forward to understand.

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Old March 9th, 2007, 09:43 AM   #3
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i sold off a DSR570 to get 2 Z1's.
Worst business decision of my life..

Bout to sell off these 2 Z1's and put the cash toward 2 A1's... or maybe 1 A1 and 1 XLH1

benefits... the fact that the camera is so tweakable it isnt funny... the glass, the zoom, the CCD, i could go on..
Ive used an A1 a couple of times now and IMO it doesnt compare to the Z1.. its a different type of beast wher the Z1 is pretty much shoot straight out of teh box, the A1 requires some know-how to get the most out of the imager

thats jsut my opinion though..

I was going to go for the HVX simply because of the codec as well as the lens itself.. coming from a HEAVY DVX background, the HVX would have been a natural progrssion, but P2 for my type of projects, just doesnt cut it
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Old March 9th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #4
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i sold off a DSR570 to get 2 Z1's.
Worst business decision of my life..

Hi Peter: interesting response -- can you explain why it was the "worst business decision" of your life? I know the 570 is an amazing cam.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 09:50 AM   #5
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I didn't own a Z1 but had shot quite a bit with one belonging to a friend just before buying the XH A1. I was all set to buy the Z1 before the XH A1 was announced. Once I saw it and its images, I decided to go with Canon over Sony.

There are two things about the Canon that pushed me that direction: the 24P capability and the lens.

Other than those two items, I think both cameras are very close in most other things. The Canon looks just a little better on long shots. The Z1 picks up a bit of softness in its wide shots, just as the 1/3" chip SD cameras do. It doesn't go as soft on a fully wide shot as the PD170, etc., but the difference is there. When shooting with the Canon, the long shots seem to be just as sharp as all the other shots, and that's in 24p.

In terms of ergonomics, I like the Sony just a little better. It is better balanced, and I like the LCD up on top of the handle.

To me it gets down to if you want 24p or not. That's the big difference. The Canon shoots real 24p (they call it 24f), and when you capture your footage into a 24p timeline (in FCP use the 1080P24 setting), there are 24 discreet frames there, no funky pulldown. This is significant to me because I can stay in a 24p timeline all the way through a project, and the savings in data becomes significant for web delivery and long DVD programs.

The Canon is also overall just a bit smaller than the Sony, although the weight is about the same. It feels heavier, but I think that's an illusion due to the more compact size. Both cameras have a great level of control capability in terms of setup. One thing the Sony is better at is the auto focus shift. That's where you set a beginning and an end focus point, push a button and the camera will follow focus for you. Both do it accurately, but the speed of the Sony is more adjustable. If, for example, you are going to do a slow, 30 second dolly shot from wide to very tight, you can set the Sony focus shift to go really slowly. The Canon has 3 speeds, but they're all too fast. I don't consider this a big deal because for a long dolly shot I'd use an assistant to follow focus anyway, but having that better variable speed control could be important to some.

Some people are saying the Canon's OIS is better, but I can't tell the difference between it and Sony's. Both are excellent. Also, people like to say the Canon has a warmer more natural color than the Sony, but unless you grab the camera right out of the box and don't do any setups, that's meaningless. Both cameras can be set to the look you want.

I'm very happy with the Canon and the footage I'm getting. The 24p stuff looks better than I expected. I mainly was concerned with data size and interlace artifacts rather than the "film look" of 24p. However, I have to admit after using it, 24p does indeed look less video-ish.

The second big thing about the Canon is the lens. Both cameas zoom back to 4.5mm, I think, which is about 32mm in "real lens" terms, and that's great. The Canon's lens, however, is a 20:1, and that's spectacular. I didn't know I'd need that range until I got it. Now I wouldn't go back. My first shoot I went out and got great closeups of gargoyles on top of some old buildings; without that long zoom I couldn't have done that.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 09:58 AM   #6
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Thanks for the great reply Bill. That's what I was looking for. I've gotten a lot of use out of my FX1s, but 24P or 30P and built in XLR connections are a nice plus. I just wasn't sure if that alone is enough of a reason to take the hit and sell my current cameras and go to the A1. My understanding is that underneath the hood the A1 is a Sony. If image quality seems to be better than that would be a deciding factor that would make it more of an "upgrade" instead of a switch. I really want a Red camera :)
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Old March 9th, 2007, 10:00 AM   #7
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i have an FX-1, which i absolutely love, and i searched for several months for a used Z1 to match it, but used Z1 owners weren't willing to meet or beat the price of a new A1, and they were all out of warranty with substantial hours on them. so i reluctantly bought a pair of A1s for my studio, and i can't say enough good things about this camera, from the image quality to the extra audio flexibility, to the bigger zoom, to the progressive image. canon made the camera that sony should have made. too bad for sony. my A1 is very easy to match to my FX-1, too. they play well together.

sometimes the gods throw a bone. now i'm glad i couldn't find a good used Z1, even though i was frustrated originally, because the new A1s are so nice.

some folks are complaining that the audio set-up is more limited on the A1, but i have had no problems with it...that's one thing you should investigate, however. it's not as flexible as the feature set on the HVX200 or the Z1 either, i think. but i find it superior to the XL2 and way better than the FX-1 obviously, so i'm pretty happy.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 10:02 AM   #8
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Re: the selling of the DSR570...These posts came in while I was writing my big long one, so I didn't see them till I had already posted. It's something I might address a little, since at work I shoot with a DSR500ws. The 570 is the same thing, just a later model with minor upgrades.

The Canon is a personal camera I use for documentary work. I'm not ready to say we should dump the DSR500 and go for 1/3" chip cameras...however, if we were going to buy a new camera today, I could be talked into that kind of a move. Here's why: in HDV, the Z1 and the Canon XH A1 look better than the DSR500 under most conditions.

Heresy, I know, but there it is. A friend of mine shot the TV spots for our local film festival last year, and I intercut them into a trailer loop I did for the theaters. His Z1 stuff looked better than my DSR500 stuff when the whole thing got down to DVD. Since I got the XH A1, interviews I've shot with it, lit exactly the same way I do with the DSR500...the Canon footage looks better.

Resolution, I think, is a lot like money. It may not be everything, but if you have enough of it, you can get just about everything you might want.

But, if you're shooting with clients around, it generally does not pay to show up with a small "handycam" type camera when you have a big one available. Also, it's more difficult to get a shallow depth of field when you might want that with a smaller chip camera. And, for low light shooting, there's nothing out there that can compete with the DSR500/570.

So, while the image quality of HDV and the XH A1, as well as the Z1, can be as good or better than the DVCAM footage of the 2/3" chip cameras, there are other factors. One involves clients. Invariably they ask, "What does a camera like that cost?" And I can say, "With this lens, it's a $30,000 package, over $35,000 if you count the O'Connor." Then they don't feel so bad spending all that money. Shouldn't be that way, but that's the way it is.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 10:03 AM   #9
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Bill - How do the two compare for low light shooting?
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Old March 9th, 2007, 10:04 AM   #10
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my A1 is very easy to match to my FX-1, too. they play well together.
It's nice when the new kid plays well with the other kids on the block. That's another great point since I could decide to keep one FX1 and then get an A1. If they play well I could still pull off two camera shoots and also have the added flexibility for one camera indie's, docs, music videos, etc. where I could take advantage of the A1.

Is the thread size on the Canon the same as the Sony (72mm)? I have a Brevis 35mm adapter I use with the FX1. I'd like to also use that with the Canon.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 10:16 AM   #11
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Both lenses use 72mm filters, so you're cool with the Brevis.

About low light...my impression is from my own shooting, not from side by side testing, but somebody else on one of the boards did a test and said the same thing. Both cameras are better in low light than I expected, but not nearly as good as bigger chip cameras, of course.

Basically, the Canon can shoot under lower light, but the gain on the Z1 is better. For example, in a situation where you might have to shoot at a +6 db with the Canon, the Sony will want a +12 db. But, the high gain on the Sony is so good that its +12 will look about as good as +6 on the Canon. So, if your'e a measurebator, the Canon could be said to be better in low light; but in the real world, both can accomplish the same thing.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 10:19 AM   #12
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Over the past couple of years I've been working with mainly FX1s and Z1s.

I've now switched to the A1.

I'm very happy with the move. On the plus side, the image on the A1 has so much more resolution to it, the "F" mode works with no noticable drop in resolution (it's actually about 10%, as opposed to the 50% drop on the Z1; or worse - the Z1 kack-handed pulldown simulation!).

Also the lens range is great.

There are four things I don't like:
1. I miss the ability to zoom and focus simultaneously (not that I used it more than a handful of times with the FX1)
2. I miss shot transition mode.
3. There is a touch more noticable fringing on the A1 than the Z1.

I think both cameras have slightly quirky controls, but the Canon wins out 'cause I kept managing to leave things on auto with the FX1.

The ability to customize the Canon image is unsurpassed.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 12:36 PM   #13
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'cause I kept managing to leave things on auto with the FX1.
I'm glad I'm not the only one that does this. It's a really stupid feature. Everything I'm hearing so far sounds like an FX1 to A1 would be a pretty good upgrade. If you've noticed the advent of the A1 also pushed Sony to lower the price of the FX1. There's about a $400-500 price difference between the two now with the A1 being the more expensive. But the XLR inputs are worth that alone and it's a much cheaper alternative than a Z1. If I was buying new and starting from scratch I would absolutely go with an A1 right now. Even so, I feel like I'm leaning to making the upgrade. One more question.

The 24F and 30F modes are they true progressive or is it a fake progressive look like the cineframe mode on the FX1? Why aren't these modes listed as 24P and 30P?
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Old March 9th, 2007, 12:54 PM   #14
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They are true progressive modes. Canon uses the F because they're derived from interlace chips. There's more than one way to get from I to P. It's the same thing, real 24 fps, progressive, no pulldown, no interlace artifacts, no funkiness. Allegedly because of the way they do it, there is a slight loss in resolution, but you won't see it. The native resolution is so high that they can afford to lose a little and still look great. There are a zillion other posts on here in different threads that beat the "is it real 24P" to death. It is. Check it out for yourslf. You may find posts on other boards claiming it isn't, but they are uninformed or misinformed or both.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 01:32 PM   #15
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Few month back:

OK......so I opened the new Canon XH-A1 and played with it all day long.
The next day I promptly sold my FX-1. "That's gotta tell you somethin."
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