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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 July 6th, 2007, 12:28 PM   #1
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New Canon XH A1 / First Impressions 7.6.07

Hello all!

I have been coming to this forum for quite some time now, mainly researching the Canon XH A1.

After months of saving and researching I finally decided to go with the Canon XH-A1. I purchased it from B&H Photo for about $3,500 with a $250 mail-in rebate from Canon, received it very quickly (considering the Holiday season) and opened it up last night.

First Impressions right out of the box:

1.) Excellent Instruction manual ( I'm already on page 52, hehe )

2.) Camera body is sleek and stylish; not to mention incredible functionality and intuitive design!

3.) More on the camera body; Battery Door design is excellent (They even provided a little rubber gromit type fixture so you can hook up the AC adapter and still close the battery door, allowing the cord to exit the fully-locked battery compartment. I LIKE! )

4.) Locks, catches and safegaurds. I cannot stress enough the amount of locks and catches this camera has. It's a GREAT feature, IMHO, especially for fast-paced cinematography. It enables me to use the different moving parts without looking at them, quickly and efficiently telling me whether or not said part(s) has been locked down / released.

5.) Weight. Without a battery, the camera is WAAAYYY front heavy. With the provided battery, not so much. Easy to hand-hold. Grips are comfortable.
The strap is a bit awkward, but it has a Canon logo and a pad so I'm happy.

6.) The on-camera stereo-mic seems loose, but I am pretty sure I read that it is "shock mounted" ( AKA loose on purpose to reduce camera / outside noise )

7.) The LCD screen is a bit smaller than I would like, but crystal clear nonetheless.

8.) Connections, connections, connections. There's a bevy of them! I shot some quick test footage outdoor on A-mode, and quickly came back inside to watch it on the 52" HDTV using the provided Composite Cable.

I was stunned. I was sitting right in front of the TV and it still looked AMAZING. 1 drawback to the composite cable connection was the lack of audio output to the TV ( Can someone correct me on this? Is there a way to get audio from the composite cable? I don't think there is but let me know if there is, THANKS! )

Anyway, those are just my first impressions merely hours after opening the Canon XH-A1 Camera Kit. I am very pleased and confident I made the right decision. When I get off work tonight I plan on devouring the rest of the instruction manual.

On a side note, I purchased the Sony HVR-M10u about 9 months ago for a music video project I shot in HDV (I was in a pinch, couldn't get the HDV footage from the SONY Z1u into my AVID, had a short deadline ).

Tonight I will attempt to use that tape-deck to capture the A1 footage.

I will have some test / example footage up as soon as I can!!!
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Old July 6th, 2007, 12:55 PM   #2
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be sure to john, im not far behind you . prob getting mine next week.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:25 PM   #3
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As long as you're shooting normal 60i HDV your Sony deck should work fine. It won't work with 24p footage. I don't know about 30p.

I've had my camera since early December and have shot lots of interviews, interior and exterior, as well as quite a bit of run-'n-gun stuff at a couple of antique car shows for a historical documentary. I've also shot some of the things the HDV naysayers say you can't shoot in HDV, like bicycles going round and round on a track. No problems there either. I've been shooting most everything 24p, and it looks great.

My only complaints about the camera are very minor, and none of the 1/3" chip cameras is perfect. You buy the one you like the best. I would have preferred the battery to attach to the back to help with balance. You're right in that it is quite nose-heavy, like all the pro Canon cameras. After awhile you learn to hold it sort of like a still camera with a long lens, left hand's fingers supporting the front under the lens hood.

The left and right balance is off too and it wants to tilt right when holding by the handle. In the typical walking "doggiecam" type shot, for example, I normally balance the camera on my index finger and let it float while shuffling along in a smooth walk. I can usually get a pretty good hand held shot walking shot like that, even with bigger cameras. However, the Canon tilts to the right when I do that, and I have to hold it in a firmer grip, losing the "floating" action of just letting it hang.

In the 24p mode, I find the auto focus button way too slow, so I focus manually just as with big cameras with "real" lenses. Overall, I'm quite pleased after 6 months. Most everything I've been shooting is looking better than similar footage shot with the DSR500 (a $30,000 DVCAM package), and there are advantages to shooting with a small camera like the Canon.

I wish there would be a small deck that would handle 24p, because using the camera as a deck is slow and awkward. I wouldn't want to do it in a client hourly editing situation, but I can live with it for personal stuff. With FCP I load the entire tape, rather than batch capturing individual takes. FCP separates every clip automatically, and I name them after the fact. That makes it faster and puts less mechanical wear on the camera. I've been thinking about getting an HV10 to use as a deck, but it'll probably be even slower. Although this camera seems to have really taken off for indy film and documentary work, the lack of a deck probably keeps it and the XL H1 and G1 out of more commercial production setups, and that's too bad because these Canons look better than anything else out there for under $10K.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:58 PM   #4
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Composite Cable?

John,
8.) Are you sure you are not talking about the COMPONENT cable? The one that's red, green, and blue? I don't think the COMPOSITE cable puts out HD.

To get sound with the COMPONENT cable, use the red and white plugs on the COMPOSITE cable. Just leave the yellow connector disconnected.

Buddy
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:58 PM   #5
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"I was stunned. I was sitting right in front of the TV and it still looked AMAZING. 1 drawback to the composite cable connection was the lack of audio output to the TV ( Can someone correct me on this? Is there a way to get audio from the composite cable? I don't think there is but let me know if there is, THANKS! )"

If you plug in AV cable, sound should still be porting out of it, even though you are using component for video, right ??
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Old July 6th, 2007, 03:08 PM   #6
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Oh, right!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buddy Frazer View Post
John,
8.) Are you sure you are not talking about the COMPONENT cable? The one that's red, green, and blue? I don't think the COMPOSITE cable puts out HD.

To get sound with the COMPONENT cable, use the red and white plugs on the COMPOSITE cable. Just leave the yellow connector disconnected.

Buddy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
"I was stunned. I was sitting right in front of the TV and it still looked AMAZING. 1 drawback to the composite cable connection was the lack of audio output to the TV ( Can someone correct me on this? Is there a way to get audio from the composite cable? I don't think there is but let me know if there is, THANKS! )"

If you plug in AV cable, sound should still be porting out of it, even though you are using component for video, right ??
Yes, I meant the Component cable. Thanks!

The HDTV I plugged in to had the component in AND RCA in on the same Video 2 input. It seems to only want to recognize one at a time. I'll try your method, Chris, when I get home.

Bill, are you sure the m10u won't work with 24f footage? If so, that is truly unfortunate and very disappointing. I see now the importance of Canon getting on the tape deck bandwagon.

Does anybody else have any know-how on the 24f footage and which decks can capture it? Or any work-arounds? I'd really like to avoid using my camera as a deck, for obvious reasons.

Thanks again guys.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 03:27 PM   #7
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or perhaps a F/W drive..?

John, I haven't yet made the purchase, but I am seriously considering the Firestore/Canon FS-C firewire HDD for the XH-A1 for HDV work. This conveniently gets around the whole capture from tape issue - as you can simply drag and drop files from the Firestore onto your NLE's HDD.
I use the FS-4 for SD work and it's a real time-saver..
Obvious limitations are: overall storage (up to 7.5hrs on the 100GB version, tho'..), and where to mount it... if it's on top of camera, it's OK if you're on a tripod, but rather awkward if you're going run n gun..
Rgds, Ross.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 03:29 PM   #8
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I'm glad you are enjoying it so much. I've had mine a few months and I still think it's great.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Lofton IV View Post
8.) Connections, connections, connections. There's a bevy of them!
It feels awkward to complain about a camera that gets so much right, but I wish they had included HDMI and S-video.

If you find some things that you dislike, be sure to see the 'firmware wishlist' thread to add your feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Lofton IV View Post
The HDTV I plugged in to had the component in AND RCA in on the same Video 2 input. It seems to only want to recognize one at a time.
Check the manual for your TV, I'm sure you'll figure it out in no time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Lofton IV View Post
Does anybody else have any know-how on the 24f footage and which decks can capture it?
Any deck that can handle 24p can handle 24F, they are the same thing. Same with 30F. Don't confuse 24p with the fake 24p though. For example, some cameras just put 24p in a 60i stream with special markers. That's not the same as Canon's 24F.

I think a good deck is the HV20.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 05:54 PM   #9
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Daniel, it's correct that any deck that can handle 24p can handle 24F--as long as it's SD. Canon's 24f HDV, however, is a different animal. It's still true 24p, but it will only play back on Canon HDV cameras. Just as JVC's 24p HDV only plays back on their decks.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 09:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
Daniel, it's correct that any deck that can handle 24p can handle 24F--as long as it's SD. Canon's 24f HDV, however, is a different animal. It's still true 24p, but it will only play back on Canon HDV cameras. Just as JVC's 24p HDV only plays back on their decks.
Thanks for the correction. The incompatibility is a pitiful situation.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 09:51 AM   #11
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I use an HV20 as my "deck" for the A1 for anything shot in HDV 24F. For only $1000 it's pretty cheap and you can shoot some really nice B camera stuff with it too. :)

But preferably I'd go tapeless with a Firestore or Canon's CONSOLE software. They're both cheaper than any deck would be too.
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