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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 January 13th, 2012, 02:42 PM   #1
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It's time to look for a new HD system...

May I get some ideas from the pros online here, as to what would be a good upgrade/replacement for our XL-H1's? We shouldn't be having the focus issues we are experiencing with them, so it's time to find a better system. What have you found that works well? We do a lot of indoor close to medium shot green screening, and have tried almost everything from lighting to camera adjustments to keep the focus consistant but still run in to occasions where we just don't capture the sharpness we need. What other kinds of cameras have you guys looked at, in search of a super sharp image? Thanks in advance! - Marty
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Old January 14th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #2
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

I changed from the XLH1A to the XF300 2 months ago and it is like a breath of fresh air, focusing problems are in the past. The quality of the clips are amazing andjust wish I had done it earlier.
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Old January 16th, 2012, 11:26 PM   #3
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

Thanks for the feedback, Alan...Anyone else?
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Old January 17th, 2012, 03:15 PM   #4
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

I was thinking about this recently.

I guess Canon has abandoned the XL form factor for good.

There had been a lot of rumors that they were developing a S35 system with exchangeable lenses that would be in an XL style body, but instead the C300 was the result (and its lineage is from the DSLR form factor).

So I have decided to invest in a DSLR (a small investment as it turns out), with the understanding that any accessories I get for it can be used with future DSLRs (they will only get better - especially once the C series technology starts to trickle down in a couple of years).

I was thinking about what to do with my XLH1. It still works well (its never failed, not once), and its pretty rugged (I have filmed in the Arctic and Tropical Rain Forests), and very strong (it survived a 6 foot tripod collapse onto concrete). Both lenses do a good job (the 20x is great for wildlife, and the 6x is great for documentary work).

If I sell it I will get hardly anything for it, but with a nanoflash I have extended the life somewhat, and if focus is really an issue then a cheap external monitor is always an option. I seem to get by with the focus as it is though.

So for the moment the plan is to get on board the DSLR bandwagon and get to grips with the workflow, and to continue to use the XLH1 until the day it stops working (or if it refuses to die then I'll wait until it really is obsolete).

Then I'll find a place for it in my office and mount it up there as the last of the Canon XL family.

EDIT: Sorry; that really didn't answer your question!
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Old January 18th, 2012, 08:04 AM   #5
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

Yeah, I agree. The XL system still has quite a bit of life left in it, especially if you've upgraded components to its modularity. In my case, I added a Nanoflash, Anton Bauer Dionic powering system on the back bracket, and invested in the 6x wide angle lens. What I have now is an extremely versatile HD system hat works for the majority of the broadcast work that I do.

But I do agree... the one thing I do not like about the system is the pretty crappy viewfinder (although I've grown accustomed to it and peaking is far more usable on my XL H1"s" version as it is customizable.

I too recommend the XF300 or XF305 series as well. We invested in these cameras at my unit at NBC, and it works great. The LCD/Viewfinder system is worlds better than the one on the XL cameras.

Hope this helps.
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Old January 18th, 2012, 09:29 PM   #6
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

Since you already have a Nanoflash, take a look at the Sony EX-3. It's the same form factor you are used to with the H1 but with more sensitivity in it's 1/2" chips than the XF300's 1/3" chips give you. The Ex-3 has a fantastic eyepiece that flips up when you want an LCD. It's also on sale right now with a 16GB SxS card included.
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Old January 20th, 2012, 12:16 AM   #7
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

Thanks again for your input, guys...It's appreciated!
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Old February 1st, 2012, 11:24 AM   #8
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

I'm a long time loyal XL user (bought an XL1 in 2000 and a XLh1 a few years back). I bought an XF300 last year and LOVE it. I was going to sell my XLh1 (adorma offered me around $2000 for it), but I decided to hold onto it. There's 1 project I do every year that I prefer shooting on tape and I actually rent it out every once in a while...but yeah, as it was said, the XF300 is a breath of fresh air.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 11:49 AM   #9
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

I've read through all of the postings here regarding the focus problems and lack of lens selection for the XLH1. That being said, I am not nearly as experienced as all of you guys. I am shooting the XHA1, XHA1s and the HF-G10 depending on what I'm actually shooting. I have an opportunity to pick up the XLH1 for about $2,500. I was excited about the interchangeable lens until I got to this thread. I thought that I would be able to get some of the great depth of field shots that one typically sees coming from the HDSLR's. Prior to this opportunity coming available, I was considering adding the XF100 or the XF00 having used the much smaller HF-G10. What do you guys think? At the proposed price, am I coming out ahead going with the older XLH1 or should I move forward with the new technology; the XF100 or XF300.

For information, I shoot church services and events, weddings, anniversary parties, music videos, interviews; etc.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #10
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

I can only comment with hands on experience with the XF300 vs XLH1A but......

I would 1st read up on the basics about DOF (Depth of Field) and how you achieve it and not only that "Why you want to use it". That may sound presumptuous or whatever word you want to use but the DOF craze recently since the DSLR's came out has caused a bit of a stir in "our" video world.

1. You can still achieve a narrow DOF using distance from your subject and zooming in and having the correct lighting situations using any video camera etc etc ( I am not an expert) but reading up will help.
The difference is that it can be more easily achieved with a DSLR and the correct lenses and light etc etc.

2. The other thing that is different about the XF series and DSLR's is that the XF has a fixed lens and one of the reasons that the DSLR gets such a narrow DOF is the clever use of the different lenses that can be attached. So, no you will not be able to expect the same performance out of the XF series. You can invest in the new Canon C300 and all the lenses to go with it but you are talking >15000

Now the XF300 is a huge improvement on the XLH1A in my opinion and in lots of aspects - the DOF is better and after a lengthy relearning phase using full manual controls I can achieve some fantastic images from this fixed lens camera and also some narrow DOF shots where it helps the story along.

Would I buy an XLH1A again - definitely not.

Hope I have not burst your bubble as I do not mean to and I am sure someone will provide you with more "technical responses" than I have and I apologise up front.
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Old February 15th, 2012, 06:52 PM   #11
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

I am happy to get what appears to be an unbiased response. The C300 is somewhat out of both my budget and honestly, I don't know that a camera of that magnitude would be necessary. The XF300 or the XHA1 on the other hand seems like it would compliment what I already have very nicely.
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Old February 17th, 2012, 06:21 AM   #12
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan McCormick View Post
Now the XF300 is a huge improvement on the XLH1A in my opinion and in lots of aspects - the DOF is better and after a lengthy relearning phase using full manual controls I can achieve some fantastic images from this fixed lens camera and also some narrow DOF shots where it helps the story along.
I am not sure how the DOF is significantly better on the XF300 when they both have 1/3" sensors. I understand that from an electronics point of view that the XF300 will create a superior image, but I don't see how the optical properties would be that much different. Maybe sharper glass, less CA and definitely better manual control of the lens, but it seems to me the DOF would be essentially the same as the XLh1.

Also.....coming from an XLh1 you say you have to learn to control everything manually on the XF300.....that seems odd as I still use the XLH1 and shoot full manual almost exclusively. Regardless, does the XF300 not have any auto features and thats why you had to relearn to shoot manual?
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Old February 17th, 2012, 06:26 AM   #13
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice Covington View Post
I am happy to get what appears to be an unbiased response. The C300 is somewhat out of both my budget and honestly, I don't know that a camera of that magnitude would be necessary. The XF300 or the XHA1 on the other hand seems like it would compliment what I already have very nicely.
Maurice,
Earlier you stated that you had a chance to pick up the XLh1 for $2500. If this is the original version then a major benefit of this is the SDI output which will allow you to capture to an external recorder and get a major qulaity boost to your footage. You;d still be limited to the camera electronics but your footage would be cleaner and have more information for editing. I am currently grading some footage I shot for a major client on one of these cameras and I can push it to extremes without breaking anything. Without the ability to record to an external device I would not be able to do nearly as much.

I am simply wanting to point out that an XL for $2500 isn't bad if you plan to use and external recorder. Look at the prices of any other Canon camera with and SDI out and you'll see this is an expensive feature. Definitely worth it if you can take advantage of it. If not, then not a major selling point.
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Old February 17th, 2012, 07:55 AM   #14
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty Hudzik View Post
Maurice,
Earlier you stated that you had a chance to pick up the XLh1 for $2500. If this is the original version then a major benefit of this is the SDI output which will allow you to capture to an external recorder and get a major qulaity boost to your footage. You;d still be limited to the camera electronics but your footage would be cleaner and have more information for editing. I am currently grading some footage I shot for a major client on one of these cameras and I can push it to extremes without breaking anything. Without the ability to record to an external device I would not be able to do nearly as much.

I am simply wanting to point out that an XL for $2500 isn't bad if you plan to use and external recorder. Look at the prices of any other Canon camera with and SDI out and you'll see this is an expensive feature. Definitely worth it if you can take advantage of it. If not, then not a major selling point.
Marty, I suppose I was "lazy" when using the XLH1A and constantly relied on the exposure lock for example, something the XF300 does not have.
I used to work manual all the time till I started using the XLH1A for a company where they preferred working in AV & TV modes (which I did not like but had to get used to). So glad I am now back in full control. The main problem was the focussing and "strongly" recommend using an external monitor. Just read some threads regarding focusing and the XLH1A
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Old February 17th, 2012, 09:40 AM   #15
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Re: It's time to look for a new HD system...

As I have access and use all these cameras (I own the XL H1s/Nanoflash and have the XF305 and XF105 at work), I can say it comes down to usability. I personally prefer the XL over the XF mainly due to the form factor and button layout. Manual control over the camera and settings just seems more fine tuned still on the XL.

Image wise, the XF305 is the best. The XL/Nano is still very close, but this is considering you need to use the Nano or other external recording device. The XF305 footage is just really sharp and clean.

And I've used the interchangeable lenses quite a bit on the XL... I have the 6x HD wide angle and it has proven its usefulness time and time again... it goes to 24mm wide. Along with the stock lens, it gives the XL quite a range of focal lengths. I've also used adapters for cinema lenses, EF lenses, etc. Great flexibility here.

I think $2500 is a good deal on the original H1, but I guess it depends on how much you want to spend in the end. If you want to take advantage of the modularity of the XL system, it's going to cost more money to add the other components (lenses, recorder, etc.). But truthfully, the newer 'A' or 'S' versions should be the ones to reach for as Canon really fine-tuned these cameras for optimal use.

Have you considered the XF100? Really good camera if you can deal with its operational shortcomings from its size.
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