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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 November 1st, 2008, 02:34 PM   #1
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Sold my XL-H1 today

After over a year with my XL-H1 I decided to sell it.
I thought to share some of my reasons for what I did.

When buying the camera, I had read about the viewfinder weakness, but I thought it couldnīt be that bad.
Unfortunatly it is and I never found a way to work with it and be sure my footage was in focus.
An external monitor solves this problem, but itīs often not possible to bring one when shooting (for me at least)

The weakest part of the camera is atthe same time itīs strongest, the lens.
It produces stunning images, but has no true manual mode and it is near impossible to pull focus as itīs soo sensitive.
It goes from near to infinity in 0.5cm and it uses a servo so you canīt set a focus point and trust it to stay there (if the camera turns off for example)

I even bought the 6* WA HD lens(which is even better than the stock 20* lens when it comes to image quality) and the old manual XL lens to use while I was going to wait for a true HD Manual lens for the camera.

The new cameras came and went and no manual lens came out for the camera. Whatīs the point of interchangable lenses if you have no lenses to choose from?

This to me indicates that Canon donīt take their camera and customers seriously (they are one of the biggest (and best) lens manufacturers after all) and I donīt see no future with this system.

Itīs sad because I think the camera produces the best image off all the HDV cameras.
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Old November 1st, 2008, 09:37 PM   #2
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While we still are heavily into this wonderful cam (and the little brother XHG1), I do admit to a disappointement that there were only 2 lenses produced for this INTERCHANGEABLE lense cam. 16X is a viable option - but was expecting a broader lense line option. But I think the cost of producing lenses in this class/price range is a heavy task. I do worry that we have seen the last of our choices.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 01:10 AM   #3
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For certain situations the lenses are no problem. I shot a lot of extreme skiing with the camera and had very little focus problems due to the great depth of field.
I also used the 14* manual lens, but had to take great care to work within itīs limitations and itīs annoying to use SD glass on a HD camera.

I understand itīs expensive to produce lenses to a camera that probably sellls in limited amount, but they do make a Canon lens for the JVC HDV cameras if Iīm not mistaken.
It couldnīt be to difficult to adapt the lens to the H1?

Again though, the camera produces great images and I have shot commercials, skiiing for broadcast on national TV, Documentaries also for broadcast with this camera
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 05:52 AM   #4
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Joachim,


Did you try using the FU-1000 viewfinder? My production partner in Houston uses his 16x with the FU-1000 all the time, excellent results. He also shoots with a mini-35 adapter, using his primes from his Mitchel BNCR - also with excellent results.

The FU-1000 , with the peaking turned up, is a good choice for critical focusing where you don't have the option for a field monitor.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 06:46 AM   #5
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No I did not. Heard it was quite power hungry. Main reason was the cost of the unit. I had to pay between 2500 and 3000 dollars here in norway.
I was thiking of adding a nano flash, but they won't ship in time for my next project
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 07:23 AM   #6
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I really can't say if it is all that power hungry. But then I shoot with the 16x manual anyway, which uses less power than the 20xAuto. (On an XL2).

Honestly, I have six BP945 batts that I keep in my case. I shoot all day long on documentary projects - Interviews and B-Roll. And I can't recall running out of power in a typical ten hour day. But I've always got the charger handy if I need it anyway.

The focus on the FU-1000 is FAR superior to the color viewfinders.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 12:52 PM   #7
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I'm used to b&w viewfinders from the pro cameras that I mostly shoot on so I agree they are far better for focus. I felt that canon wasn't going anywhere with the xl series and it didn't feel like the right move for me to invest any more in that system. I was hoping to build and expand my toolbox for this camera, but the lack of a serious lens put me off.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 06:59 PM   #8
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Selling my XLH1 soon

I am very close to making the same decision. Of course Canon will probably come out with the good lens now that you have sold yours.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 07:50 AM   #9
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I just don't understand it. I bought an XL1 SD (in 2000) once Canon fixed an issue with the Gen1 XL1. No doubt that camera and platform was a huge breakthrough. Then as now we bitched about the stupid electronic 'pseudo manual' focus and in 2000 we were sure that the next version would address this issue. In truth Canon and other makers too (Sony is notorious) don't give a hoot about prosumer users. To them, anyone using an XLH1 is:
- A Wedding shooter
- Corporate video shooter
- Rich doctor or lawyer shooting family movies with an overpriced HD camera.
So you see, they will not make the finishing touches unless they get heat under their derriere's That heat may eventually be:
- Still digicams (with superior pull-focus ability) capturing in HD
- Scarlet or Scarlet successor priced at or below an XLH1 system.
I've seen this before it's what I coined as "Ebay's Law" or the threshold of need law:
Summarized... they will not polish the silver unless they have to.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 09:01 AM   #10
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I am close to selling my XL-H1 and my 1Ds MkIII and replacing them with a Scarlet or 5D MkII depending the release specs on the two cameras.

I shot a feature film with my XL-H1 and it looks amazing. We shot 24f to HDV tape and it looks fantastic. The past summer I shot two features with the Red One 4k camera. The Red is much better than the H1, but the H1 looks pretty darn good all in all. It's a shame that Canon is so hard of hearing. There is no reason that the H1 could not have become the Indie film makers camera of choice it we had a decent viewfinder and a manual lens.

I will always be fond of Canon and I just hope I can make use of all my L EOS lenses on whatever camera I end up choosing.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 09:07 AM   #11
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Whoa there!

There are 3 things that breath life into the H1 for me:

1. The ever growing (and cost dropping) 35mm lens adapters.

2. The Convergent-Design XDR that is allowing recording HDCAM HD4:2:2 at not only 50Mbps, but 100Mbps data rates! Take a cruise thru the B&H website and look at the cost of comparable recording quality.

3. The H1 is still one fine camera in it's 1/3rd chip arena. The 2 (or 3 if you count the 16X) lens are some of the finest made. The 35mm adapters get you a plethora of other choices if you need them. The XDR puts you into a format that is at the top of the heap and portable (not tethered to a computer tower).

I think if you also look at what a few brave and talented souls have done with the H1 in The Signal and The Blackout, it's really a wonderful tool at a price point that is attainable for many.

I have 0 experience with the new crop of HD SLR "still" form factor cameras, but I am not sure I'd want to use them for video projects. The Scarlet sounds like an awesome camera, but it's still currently going to be a very deep technical workflow effort - and I am not sure, but isn't it a fixed lense at this point - again, not sure about that.

Canon - please give us some added lens choices for the XLH1 series - they have long legs still with the XDR (and upcoming smaller Nano), especially when they start shipping in volume and get the satellite feed (ASI).
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 09:55 AM   #12
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There's not a thing, good or bad, said about the XL H1 in this thread that hasn't been said many times before. Everyone's entitled to their biases and opinions either way but there's no new ground here. My reiteration is that while, yes, there are some particular features such as the resolution on the viewfinder that might not suit some shooters, it was a quantum step up from the XL2. Tremendously more advanced. They did a great job first time out of the chute with an HD camera at a superb price point, and with backward compatibility to boot.

Now, for those common gripes about the original XL H1, the "a" and "s" versions have replaced it and addressed most of these issues. They have a second viewfinder port with a component adaptor cable so you can use any viewfinder/display you wish. I've even hooked it to the 52" 1080p LCD TV in my game room! The sensitivity of the focus and zoom is adjustable; you can set the focus ring TOO slow if you want. Ok, there is no currently produced, true manual XL lens that they rate as HD, but the latest lenses (the 6X, and the 20X that comes with the "a" and "s") now have an iris ring -- fully adjustable in direction and sensitivity. The camera even greys the F stop display to warn you when you are stopped down beyond the diffraction limits, but will let you do it if you decide you need to in order to get the shot. Between the 6X and the 20X lenses, you've got the equivalent 35mm focal length range of 24.5mm to 778mm. Save for those few who are deadset determined that they just can't live without a "true manual lens", what's to gripe about there?

I could go on about the features but won't. Some folks elsewhere and unfortunately here in this thread have felt the need not only to reiterate some aspects of the camera they aren't happy with, but to do so in a rude and condescending way. I've had the opportunity to meet a few of the Canon USA folks and I am absolutely certain that YES they do care about their customers and providing quality camera systems at competitive prices. I am certain that they read (but by wise policy don't post to) these boards so undoubtedly your unkind words did make their mark. Fortunately, though, rude and bellicose words speak far more about those who write them than they do the target of the unkindness.

Now, anyone got anything NEW to say about the out-of-production XL H1 that's honest without being unpleasant?
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 11:07 AM   #13
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Pete, while I agree with you on the couple of rude remarks being not useful,
I think characterizing the thread as a rehash and pointless is not accurate.

I'm sure many went for an Interchangeable lens cam with the expectation that a little more than 2 lenses would have been offere such as was done with the XL1 and 2 line. It's a legitimate question as to whether more lenses for an interchangeable cam would be offered.

And most of the posters had much praise for the H1 in addition to their gripes.

Finally, I think that the info on the Convergent Design XDR and Nano with the H1 is really something to consider giving a huge upgrade and long life to the H1. Think that is a new consideration to think about that should be seriously considered before bailing on your H1 (or XHG1 for that matter) and it's marvelous existing lenses.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 11:19 AM   #14
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I appologise if my deliberately brusque tone came off as rude- certainly not my intention to offend fellow members, only to underscore the Slowness of manufacturers' resonse to valid end-user needs. XLH1 'a' and 's' , with the exception of HDV format could have been released in 2000 rather than 8 years later. I'm thrilled that they have finally caught up with end-user needs! let's see how that pans out.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 11:25 AM   #15
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I have been a Canon user for quite a while, and I recently was the DP of some spec scenes for a large SAG feature I'll be shooting next year with the new XL-H1s. We mimic'd the type of setup we'll be using on the film (mini35 w/superspeeds, uncompressed HD-SDI recording to AJA IOHD, etc.) and the footage is fantastic.

This camera is certainly capable of producing fantastic images, especially if the open architecture is taken advantage of ...

This will be interesting as the feature will be a large Indie feature with certain name talent and a seven figure budget. This will allow me to rig the camera to its fullest potential, and I know it'll be an amazing thing (I plan on the new mini35c, Arri Master Prime, Convergent Flash XDR, etc.) ...

I'll try to post a clip later today showing a quick scene with this setup ... it'll give an indication of what this camera can do ...
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