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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 April 24th, 2012, 12:10 PM   #1
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Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

I am an amateur film maker and currently use a XL-H1A for making wildlife documentaries with an emphasis on bird life. I will have completed my current projects by autumn 2012 and may be looking to a non tape-based camera. The documentaries are produced to be shown in conjunction with talks about local wildlife and conservation to clubs and societies. I will be looking for a camera which gives similar benefits in terms of magnification factor, and which can use interchangeable SLR lenses. I do own a Canon 7D but find focussing, iris and shutter controls, exposure (lack of zebra stripes), very difficult to use for wildlife work compared with the XL-H1A.

Am I correct in saying that the XL-H1A cannot be used in conjunction with NanoFlash (as compared with XL-H1 and XL-H1s) ?

Are there any cameras on the market which would fir the bill for a budget of less that $10000.

Many thanks,


Neil
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Old April 24th, 2012, 12:49 PM   #2
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

You are correct that the XLh1a does not have the necessary connections to utilize the nanoflash or any other devices requiring SDI or HDM to record to a higher quality codec.

There are many camera that record to higher quality codecs and can output over SDI that are under $10000 but I am not sure which ones will give you the kind of reach you might be looking for. The 20X lens of the XLh1 is pretty good. The XF305 would probably be a good camera but I am not sure of the range on the zoom, and you cannot add SLR lenses. Also....it is not a shoulder mount which can be a downside.

For your application and requirements I am not sure there is any one model that jumps out as a replacement for the XLH1. I mean....most modern camera can beat the specs of the H1....but used in the right combination they cannot necessarily add up to the sum of its parts....from a optics/form factor standpoint.
Fortunately for me I have the XLh1 with the SDI out and find it has extended the life of my camera immensely.


Good Luck.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 01:42 PM   #3
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

I wonder would the AF100 do the trick? It is relatively inexpensive compared to other big sensor cameras and can use most brands of SLR lenses with adapters. Because of the sensor size and the crop factor with SLR lenses you effectively increase the magnification of long lenses, so you have a lot of reach with big zooms.
It has zebras, focus assist, ND filters and SDI & HDMI out.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 02:41 PM   #4
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

The only issue I can see with the af-100 is that while it accepts SLR glass, it does not have the same crop/magnification factor as the XLh1, which is 1/3" chip. So while a 1.6X magnification on the AF100 will increase the range of SLR glass, it is not even in the same league with the XLh1 that magnifies it by 7.6x.

Now in the world of narrative filmaking this is a travesty to magnify this much....but for nature photographers....I am not so sure this isn't ideal.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 09:22 PM   #5
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

I'm in the same boat, & have been waiting for something solid state to come out that i could replace my XH A1 with & at the same time, have a removeable lens. I am looking very closely at the new Black magic camera just announced at NAB. It has a slightly smaller sensor (at least the active area of the sensor) than the AF100 so the magnification is slightly more at around 2.4x that of a FF 35mm sensor. While this still doesn't come close to an XL H1 in terms of reach with the equivalent lens, at least it's better than all these other darn S35 & FF35 sensor cameras that seem to be all the rage at the moment. Why oh why don't Canon just give us a 1/2" sensor version of the XL H1 with the 50mbs codec of the XF 300!! Now i would be all over that like a kid on candy!!
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Old April 24th, 2012, 11:20 PM   #6
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

What I use is not perfect but is OK for my use. It has its limitations but is the only way that I know of to go out to 3600mm and shoot 1920 @ 50Mbs

Canon XF100, Canon EF 100-400mm zoom and DMF Showtime adaptor on Vimeo

Canon XF100 + Canon EF 400mm f5.6 lens + DMF Showtime adaptor on Vimeo
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Old April 25th, 2012, 01:55 PM   #7
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

You might want to sell your 7d if your just using it for video and get the t3i/600d.. It has lossless 3x zoom function that would defintiley help you out since you do wildlife.. The 3x zoom functions turns a 200mm lens to 600! Plus you can install magic lantern which fives you focus peaking and zebras... Good luck..
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Old April 25th, 2012, 02:30 PM   #8
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

Thank you for the advice and suggetions. The Canon 600d option looks attractive although I do find a DSLR difficult to use for video purely from the ergonomic viewpoint. The other option I am considering is purchasing a used Canon XL H1 or XL H1s and attaching a Nanoflash or similar unit. It would give the advantage of a familiar set-up and also the option of having one camera set up with the 'standard' (20x) lens for wider shots and one with the tele (100-400) lens and EF adapter. Of course only one camera would be able to record tapelessly but still, it would be a nice set-up.
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Old April 25th, 2012, 04:21 PM   #9
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

Well the XLH1A can certainly record tapeless direct to an external firewire recorder. There is no improvement in the image quality, and you have to deal with a non locking firewire cable, but it will definitely record tapeless.
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Old April 25th, 2012, 04:29 PM   #10
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

That would be fine for my purposes; it would be ideal to record higher quality to give more flexibility in editing, but not essential. Would recording via firewire effectively be recording at the same quality as I currently have on HDV cassette ? And can you recommend a firewire recorder ?
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Old April 25th, 2012, 04:53 PM   #11
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

Firestore recorders by Focus Enhancements (there is a section on them here: Focus Enhancements FireStore Forum at DVinfo.net)

The quality is identical to the tape when you plug the firewire into your computer and capture - same compression.

There was one that was specifically made to work with Canon cameras if I remember correctly, called the FS-C I think.

Also Datavideo, and Sony make some.
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Old April 25th, 2012, 05:00 PM   #12
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

Thanks for the information. My main anxiety just now is the risk of a mechanical failure of tape transport so it would be good to have another option for recording footage.
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Old April 25th, 2012, 07:16 PM   #13
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

I recently put a Firestore FS-4 Pro HD on my XL H1 with selfmade bracket. Its very easy to use. Clips are simply copied to harddrive.

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Old April 26th, 2012, 03:27 AM   #14
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

Nice setup!

I'm happy to see so many XLH1 users are still out there and doing new things with them to keep them current.

This thread has highlighted the fact the at the moment there is not really anything out there that fully replaces the niche market that the XL series filled I guess?
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Old April 26th, 2012, 11:40 AM   #15
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Re: Replacing XL-H1A for bird documentaries

I'm happy with my XLH1/nanoFlash combo. A focussing monitor is essential though. I would have thought that the only viable "new" alternative would be an EX3 with some Nikon(mount) lenses. 5 and a bit crop factor compared with 7x on a 1/3 chipper and a nice "basic" codec and picture quality even without a nanoFlash.

Even with the long reach provided by a 7x crop factor I'm stating the obvious when saying the closer to the subject you can get the better.


Ron
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