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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 April 22nd, 2007, 10:09 PM   #1
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How useable is the A1 for every day use?

I've not been one to use a video camera, though I used to use them often in high school and college. I have been very happy taking stills for my portfolio and for personal memories with my Digital Rebel XT and a small arsenal of lenses.

Well, the wife is having a baby and now it seems as though a video camera is in order. Though this event is the catalyst for the purchase, family video is by no means the only thing I plan to shoot. If I'm going to get a camera, it is going to need to be able to shoot theatrical events very well for my portfolio (I'm a lighting designer for shows and events). The thought of a small HV20 seems appealing, but I worry that the manual overrides are a bit tedious to access.

This leads me to either a JVC HD7 whose tapeless workflow sounds perfect for me (and at least a real focus ring) or an A1 which of course has a level of manual control that I would be used to from my still camera. The big issue I'm concerned with is the SIZE of the A1.

Does anyone out there use one of these for the daily family outing, and if so, how bad do you wish the camera was half it's size?
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 11:50 PM   #2
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Robert - my personal opinion is that this cam is not great for daily personal family video use. my own opinion (and only that) is that the small size of my other canon minidv cam is exactly what makes it so easy to take with me, use daily, etc. The size of the A1, that it is a little too heavy for handheld use for any long amount of time, and you really don't want to use shoulder mount for personal family use (too inconvenient), again in my opinion, would make me say that if it's mostly personal use, to think heavily about it. My personal cam is an older canon optura .. ..small and takes great SD videos, and for that, its excellent..fits in the fanny pack, etc. and for a new baby (congratulations!!), having small size that you can take easily when you're lugging around all that other baby gear will make it actually doable to do video's, and you're going to want a lot of them!! I'd recommend a small minidv cam for personal use, and if you need one for theatre, etc. (gulp) get second. I'd even suggest to get a low cost small personal cam if you have to buy 2.

again, only my 2 cents... hope this helps, and enjoy the baby!!! it's one of the best things in life there are (is?) ..!!!
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 12:09 AM   #3
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Canon HV-20
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 01:53 AM   #4
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Buy Both

I bought an HX A1 and HV20 about 3 weeks ago from Zotz Video (web site sponsor) for a good price. I would suggest giving them a call. I saved big buying both at the same time.

The A1 is too bulky to take to the park, unless, of course, you leave baby at home;-) The park is a good time to just point and shoot. Besides, there is also the juggling of your rebel XT. The HV20 would be much better for these situations. The HV20 would fit into one of your compartments in the camera bag or in the diaper bag:-) It takes excellent home video. Audio tanks but the HV20 has an accessory shoe so there is a place to mount a mic. I am planning to take this cam on our trip to Germany, Belgium and Italy this summer.

The HX A1 would be great for stage work. I got some great footage of a ballet 2 weeks ago. The lighting designer for the ballet is the theatre tech professor at the local university. To say the least, the lighting was very complex. The A1 did well in capturing everything on stage from the dancers to the changing setting created with the lighting.

The best part about getting both cameras is that you can use the HV20 as a playback deck and save the heads on the HX A1.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 02:18 AM   #5
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Robert-

I checked your web site (spectaclelighting) and your needs. Buy both cams, use the HX A1 for business and anything very important. Use the HV20 for capturing the day at the zoo and as a playback deck from footage shoot on the HX A1.

Congrats for you and your wife with your baby. I have 6 awesome kids.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 03:25 AM   #6
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Just for prosperity, Doug... it's XH, not HX :)

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Old April 23rd, 2007, 09:49 PM   #7
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Seems to be unanimous about opting for a smaller camera (at least from those who responded). Thanks for the input and for taking the time to even research my site. I'll let you know what I decide.

PS...loved the idea of just getting two cameras...just don't think that would go over well if either of those cameras ended up being the A1. That would probably induce early labor.

It is kind of funny that I'm worried about camera size since the last camera I used extensively was an Ikegami wired to a 3/4" "portable" deck.

Last edited by Robert Wertheimer; April 23rd, 2007 at 09:52 PM. Reason: One last thought...
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 10:17 PM   #8
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I have the XH-A1 and HV10. The XH-A1 is not bad to carry or use. It doesn't tire me. The problem that worries me about it, is it's a $4k camera (or was at the time I purchased it), and I'll be walking with a group, we want to duck into a crowded bar, people are bumping into you, you don't dare set it on top of the table for fear a drink will get spilled on it, can't put it on the floor, could get kicked, can't wear it on your shoulder, people are brushing against you, can't put it in your lap, the table's in the way. Same problem at the restaurant. To me, that's where it's size is a hassle. I could carry the HV10 in those places easily, but will I want to watch the video I get with it? Indoors the video looks amateur. The XH-A1 is a lot of fun to use. I use it 20:1 over the HV10 in spite of it's inconveniences.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 09:12 AM   #9
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Much as I love my XH-A1, it is just a little bit too big for informal family gatherings and so on. I think an HV20 would be just about ideal. The only "in between" HDV cam that I can think of at the moment is the Sony FX7, though it's much closer to the XH-A1 than the HV20 in size, weight and complexity. HTH
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Old April 24th, 2007, 11:28 AM   #10
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IMHO the XH A1 is a bit overkill for handy home use in the "Uncle Charlie" mode, but not for a serious hobbiest who is willing to shell out that sort of money for that use. It is not a tiny package, so you have to be willing to use somethign that is much larger than the palm-size camcorders common these days.

But then, you get a lot more creative capability with it.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 01:31 PM   #11
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XH-A1 for everyday use

I was hesitant at first to get XH-A1 for everyday use mainly due to the size and the weight of the camcorder. For me, a serious hobbiest but not a pro videographer, it might sound like an overkill. Then I realized that I had the same thoughts about getting Canon EOS 20D couple years ago, that my wife flipped when I went further and got a very heavy but a fine piece of L glass for the 20D. From then on, the feedback I was getting from people was two-fold. First, "How can you carry that huge camera with that enormous lens with you all the time?" Then, when the pictures are printed, the feedback was, "My God, these pictures are amazing; look, how sharp and vivid they are." So, I am very open to carry heavy load to get good videos. I have a 4.5 years old baby girl, and I would rather film my little angel in high def with as good a camcorder I can buy. That's my $0.02.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 03:24 PM   #12
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Xh !!!

Thanks, Bill...

And you thought my signature was just a funny one liner?
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Old April 25th, 2007, 05:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Brown View Post
Canon HV-20
I would agree.

You can shoot manual if you so desire, but it does well in auto right out of the box. I'm mixing both business and family with the HV-20, even having the wife shoot parties and such, and it works well.
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Old April 26th, 2007, 09:11 AM   #14
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I was worried about the same thing when I was choosing my still camera. That is actually why I went with the Rebel over the 20D at the time. It still is a bit much to carry to non-work related events, but the results beat a point and shoot every time.

I wish there were a camera shop in the area that carried the A1 so I could lug it around a bit. The Canon site only shows Best Buy, Circuit City, and Ritz. I seriously doubt any of those places actually carry it.

Thanks again for everyone's input!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Maksim Yankovskiy View Post
I was hesitant at first to get XH-A1 for everyday use mainly due to the size and the weight of the camcorder. For me, a serious hobbiest but not a pro videographer, it might sound like an overkill. Then I realized that I had the same thoughts about getting Canon EOS 20D couple years ago, that my wife flipped when I went further and got a very heavy but a fine piece of L glass for the 20D. From then on, the feedback I was getting from people was two-fold. First, "How can you carry that huge camera with that enormous lens with you all the time?" Then, when the pictures are printed, the feedback was, "My God, these pictures are amazing; look, how sharp and vivid they are." So, I am very open to carry heavy load to get good videos. I have a 4.5 years old baby girl, and I would rather film my little angel in high def with as good a camcorder I can buy. That's my $0.02.
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Old April 26th, 2007, 02:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Wertheimer View Post
so I could lug it around a bit. The Canon site only shows Best Buy, Circuit City, and Ritz. I seriously doubt any of those places actually carry it.
Is there a Fry's Electronics store in your area? I know the one in my area has them in stock and on display. So, I went there and played with it for a while feeling the weight and handling before ordering mine from BH.
It is possible that Circuit City carries them, but be careful with buy-and-return: some stores will charge as much as 15% restocking fees, especially on expensive items such as video equipment.
By the way, Ritz Camera is pretty flexible on 15 days returns (maybe 7 days for video), but they usually don't stock these items and they have to order them; so, the return policy may be different for special order items.
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