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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old March 5th, 2008, 07:20 AM   #46
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I completely agree with Kevin,

I'm a owner of 2 XL-1s's. While I love them, I realize its time to get on the HD train after seeing the amazing image from a client's XH-A1.

I'm honestly thinking of walking away from canon for the same reasons - no dedicated deck, no embedded audio in HD-SDI, crummy viewfinder.

For me to consider an XL-H2, all of those above issues would need to be resolved in addition I'd like to see either a truly manual HD lens offered, and a softer native image generated by this camera - something ala DVX-like

Hope you're listening canon otherwise i'm going to be the proud owner of JVC's 250 series soon.
~Mike
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Old March 5th, 2008, 08:04 AM   #47
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I still think the image quality of the XL-H1 is truly amazing. However, there are so many things that annoy me. Crappy viewfinder, low resolution LCD in viewfinder, peaking does not work very well, no dedicated deck, front-heavy so very hard to balance on your shoulder (JVC has done this much better).

I am thinking of trading in my XL-H1 for a Sony PMW-EX1. It solves many of the problems I experience with my XL-H1 and the image quality seems to be equal or maybe even better. What I like is the ability to do over/undercranking in camera, the ability to timelapse with the frame interval mode (which all HDV cameras lack because of codec issues), a frame record mode for animation and of course NTSC/PAL switchable straight out of the box. Finally, from what I heard, the lens controls are much better.

Most things can be achieved with the XL-H1 as well but that requires big investments and a lot of time.

And I do think it is about time that canon updates or follows up the XL-H1. Technology goes fast and they have some catching up to do.
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Old March 5th, 2008, 04:16 PM   #48
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I agree with you guys. I love my H1 for what it can do, but . . .

-The viewfinder is much too low res for "a professional" and doesn't show the full image.
Forget the FU1000. It's too clunky, power sucking and B&W only.

-The 1/3" CCD are interlaced and I hate interlaced video.

-24F although cool, has many issues that hobble it.

-35mm Canon lens are only just sharp enough when all settings (IRIS by use of ND filters is 5.6) and FOCUS are perfect.

-No embedded audio or time-code in HDSDI stream.

-Price is now higher than EX1.

- NO true over-crank.

We are about to purchase between 4-6 cameras for the video studio and with the arrival of the EX1, I cannot recommend the H1; it is just that simple.

I hope Joe B. and the folks at Canon are about to do something at NAB they haven't ever done before, debut the new H2 with many of the features described by those in this thread. The biggest being 35mm CMOS with ultra high resolution, 1080P HDSDI, great low light handling, high res. LCD, and over crank for $9K.

Yes, this is a TALL ORDER, but that is what Canon must do for the H2 if they want to stay competitive.
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Old March 5th, 2008, 07:45 PM   #49
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Well...I am a big fan of the H1...like many of you are...I have to tell you...I agree. Canon has alot of catching up to do...but I truly don't think this will happen.

There will be no H2 at NAB. Canon has not put R&D into advancing the line...
if there would be a follow up to the H1....some info would have leaked by now...even something.

In my opinion..the only thing that can keep our trusty H1's alive is the Convergence Connect Flash XDR....that they'll be unveiling at NAB. Recording to CF drives...at 100 megabit rates.

So...even though it's FUN to think about what COULD be...I have a sinking feeling there is not a follow up....at least this year.

Looks like I'm looking at an EX for portability...and a XDCam for full size productions....but then again this can all change by NAB !!! :)
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Old March 6th, 2008, 01:08 AM   #50
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Kevin,

That Convergent Design Flash XDR device looks pretty neat. Although it will only solve one shortcoming: tape to uncompressed. Will it give you 1080i uncompressed or is the HD-SDI out 1080p on this camera?
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Old March 6th, 2008, 10:08 AM   #51
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The Convergent Designs recorder is a portable HDSDI flash memory based recorder that compresses the uncompressed HDSDI signal to MPEG2, but at a higher bit rate than HDV's 25mbps.

It will not make up for the short comings of the H1, which only outputs 1080i.
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Old March 6th, 2008, 01:15 PM   #52
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Realistically if you are happy with everything else about the camera's image except the HDV format then the convergent design box will be great for you. However I think it is a little too late as the H1 is getting a little long in the tooth to invest $5k into plus cards. If the price was right I'd definitely look into this but it is priced outside of my comfort zone at this point.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 06:24 PM   #53
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I have almost made my mind up. I think I will go down the Sony EX-1 route. I really like the concept of that camera, I read nothing but praise about the image quality, and it certainly is very popular amongst the community.

What I read/hear/like:

- Over/undercranking
- Frame interval mode (not possible with HDV)
- Frame record mode
- 1080p/720p native progressive chip
- High resolution LCD (which allows proper focussing)
- Color peaking mode (which I hear works flawlessly)
- Tapeless workflow (a bit scary but I think it is the future)
- The lens design with true stops
- I also hear the lens has very pleasant focus/iris/zoom rings
- Smaller so easier to take out on the streets, easier to film in crowded environments without being noticed so easily (XL-H1 on your shoulders look like you cary Darth Vader's head)

What won't change/improve

- The PMW-EX1 is a fat lady and difficult to handhold, but I think the same goes for the XL-H1 which does not balance as a i.e. XD Cam or HPX
- I think Canon is better in ergonomics than Sony (buttons at the right places, easy to distinguish from each other)
- I do like the image quality of the Canon's a lot, so I don't think it will differ that much.
- I think the XL-H1 definitely looks more professional

So I think Canon is needs to change many things and I think they won't untill somewhere in 2009. I also think that Sony and Panasonic have better cards because they also have professional camera divisions. Canon of course has its photography business, but that is more different. Trading in my XL for the EX1 costs me $600 and gives me a fresh 2 year warranty.

I have to think about it a little bit more but I think it is a right thing to do. I really enjoyed the camera but the market is changing fast and if Canon does not react fast they are loosing customers. The A1/G1 were very nice but they should have been tapeless already as the HVX-200 was already here. That is what I like about Sony, they are very fast to the market and they are known for their high quality gear. Like Canon, but they are slow. Which is weird, because they are mostly ahead of Nikon with releasing state of the art DSLR cameras. I guess it just has to do with core business and professional video is no core business of Canon, only with regards to lens objectives.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 07:48 PM   #54
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Floris,

You're on the mark...as is everyone in this discussion. But...I think everyone has to admit...this camera is 4 years old...(or more including r&d) and at the time...it was awesome ! And still is...if you can put up with it's quirks.

We all know technology moves on...and the new brand of HD is here and the Sony EX is touting that.

We may or may not get rid of our H1 (the FlashXDR could help us keep it for some time) but for the price, the EX is amazing...with the latest technology.

My god...I used to worry about spending 50k on a camera...and keeping it for 10 years. Now...cameras under 10k are AMAZING...and if you get 2 years out of them...well that's great ! Because in 2 years...you'll be hearing similar suggestions and complaints about the EX as we are now having with the H1.

It shows how quickly our needs and wants are driving this technological bus that we all ride. Really...it's quite amazing.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 07:54 PM   #55
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Where can you trade an XL-h1 for a EX1 for $600? Not a bad deal if you can live with the shortcomings of CMOS sensor and short record times. Unless that deal comes with a couple of 16gb cards you will need to invest more. Also, don't forget that some software is not yet compatible with the EX files. I edit using Adobe Production Suite CS3 and would have to invest in Prospect HD to really take advantage of the 1920x1080.

These are all things that I have taken into consideration towards the EX1 and have kinda held me back from it. Also, although the H1 is not a "perfect" shoulder mount camera from an ergonomic point of view, it is still much better than the EX1 or HVX200 that you have to hold out in front of you.
In my line of work, I have to take that into consideration. Plus I own a couple of different lenses that I use a lot.

Good Luck.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 08:58 PM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Martorana View Post
Floris,

You're on the mark...as is everyone in this discussion. But...I think everyone has to admit...this camera is 4 years old...(or more including r&d) and at the time...it was awesome ! And still is...if you can put up with it's quirks.
Actually the H1 shipped in Dec of '06 (approximately...I was waiting on my HVX at the time and I remember the H1 came out first) so it is around 2years and 3 months old. Your point is made but technically the previous model XL2 isn't even 4 years old yet. (shipped Sept of 04).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Martorana View Post
We all know technology moves on...and the new brand of HD is here and the Sony EX is touting that.
I agree that the EX1 is an improvement over the H1 in general, but just the fact that it still records in an mpg variant keeps it from being so groundbreaking to me. If it was in a 4:2:2 non GOP format, things would be different. Also, I am not completely sold on CMOS sensors on these entry level pro cameras. There are some shots that just look weird. I admit the 1/2 inch sensor is appealing....but from footage I have seen the more shallow DOF really doesn't present itself that much other than on extreme tele shots. Most footage I have seen that is mid to wide doesn't look much different than the H1 to me...from a DOF point of view.


Now keep in mind, I want to like the EX1 and I want it to be the holy grail, but it just has too many little quirks and not enough extra "oomph" over the H1 image to convince me to go through all the hassles of selling my H1 setup and trying to afford the EX1/Cards/New laptop and possible new software....not to mention cases and batteries and such. If it was like the HVX200 (with more res) and had 4:2:2 color and i frame compression....I might be willing to go for it. The fact that everyone is saying it is a monster to handhold doesn't help either.

And to be clear, the majority of this is not a slam on the EX1, but more of a testament to how good the H1 is, especially for a four year old camera!

( I kid.....I kid...... :)
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Old March 13th, 2008, 12:22 AM   #57
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I'm thinking Canon might try to do something with the AVCHD recording format, like boosting the data rate toward the 24 Mbps limit and building a camera around that using CF or SD memory cards. Borrow the latest 1/3" CMOS sensors from the Sony Z7U and redesign the XL to be a proper shoulder-mounted camera...any takers? :-)
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Old March 13th, 2008, 01:25 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty Hudzik View Post
Actually the H1 shipped in Dec of '06
Wouldn't normally be so pedantic, but hey, seeing as you're correcting someone, I'll double correct: the H1 was announced in September 2005 and shipped in November 2005. I saw a production unit in my local dealership that month :-)
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Old March 13th, 2008, 08:03 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Josh Dahlberg View Post
Wouldn't normally be so pedantic, but hey, seeing as you're correcting someone, I'll double correct: the H1 was announced in September 2005 and shipped in November 2005. I saw a production unit in my local dealership that month :-)
You are correct. I had the age right but the wrong originating date. It was late 05. I had the preorder in for the HVX200 and was waiting when Canon jumped in, announced the H1 in September and then delivered the goods in November. My memory was of early reports in December so I stand corrected.

My point primarily was that the H1 is not "4 years old" + more with R&D.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 09:23 AM   #60
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Marty, you are right, the camera is about 2,5 years old now.

From what I have seen the 4:2:0 XDCAM footage (35mbps) of the Sony PMW-EX1 does not look very bad compared to 4:2:2 uncompressed. The camera has a HD-SDI out (with embedded audio) so if you are chroma-keying you can hook it up to a laptop with a special break-out box and you are ready. The same can be done with the Canon XL-H1 of course. Someone here used the XL-H1 for chroma work while recording to HDV tape (For Muppets website). So I do not thing this is a big issue. If you compare the HQ and SP 4:2:0 footage you will see that the colors look much better in the HQ footage shot with the PMW-EX1. So I do not agree, Sony has made big improvements to the HD/HDV quality of their new camera compared to older models.

I also agree with Kevin that the XL-H1 is a mighty fine camera. If I had $10.000 to invest I would keep it, fix the flaws and be happy. But I haven't. The things I would really need are the 6X WIDE, Firestore and a good focusing monitor. This would cost me at least $5.000. The update/trade-in path to the EX-1 costs me $600 and I am there. 31mm compared to 38mm on the wide-angle side, tapeless workflow and a proper LCD for focusssing.

I think what is really pulling me towards Sony is the following: the world is slowly moving from SD to HD, and from tape to tapeless. I do not think it is smart to invest a lot of money now in the old system when the new system is completely different. If Canon goes to 1/2", you have a problem with the 6XWIDE and also witht he 20X standard lens. If Canon goes tapeless, you have a Firestore or Convergent Design flash recorder catching dust. A good HD monitor is worth the money I think but if I don't need it, it would be great because all of this makes you less mobile and adds more weight.

I believe that Canon will come with a XL-H2 somewhere in 2009. Maybe announce it at IBC this year. I hope it improves on everything, better LCD, tapeless, maybe even 35mm sensor from their digital camera line. Definitely true progressive sensors and maybe even better ergonomics. I could decide to wait for that but the trade-in price for my XL-H1 would drop seriously when a successor is announced. And if Canon does not deliver all of this I have waited a long time and my camera would drop in value.

It is a though decision because I really like the camera but I also think it is the last with tape and 1/3" chips. But for me, the EX1 at this moment is the most exciting camera like the XL-H1 was two years ago. I was not impressed by any camera that was released after the XL-H1 untill the EX1 came along. The HVX-200 had a lot of the features but had too many shortcomings like SD chips and also a crappy LCD. So I chose the XL-H1. Have not regretted it.

And about the SxS cards... the Sandisk 16GB cards are 600 EURO. Which gives me 2 hours of HQ recording time and almost 3 hours of SP recording time which is plenty for 98% of all things I shoot. I will also buy a Macbook Pro 15" with a Western Digital passport USB 2.0 harddisk. This allows me to capture whatever I want, let me edit it on the fly and saves on tapes. All of this is cheaper then updating the XL-H1 to suit my wishes and needs.

But hey, I hope Canon will suprise me so in a year or two - three I will be buying a new Canon which blows away the competition. I am brand loyal to a certain degree but I think Canon, Sony and Panasonic are all AAA brands.

I also hope that the next camera I buy will be in the XDCAM or HPX league or maybe even a RED which means I have progressed and was able to make a profitable business in the motion picture industry.

But thanks for your feedback/responses.
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