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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 October 23rd, 2015, 08:53 AM   #1
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XL H1: what SSD options are out there?

I thinking of picking up an XL -H1 off ebay. What solid state recording options currently exist for the XL H1? Can be SDI and/or Firewire drives.

More questions: will the XL H1's image quality stand up to more recent camcorders, such as the Canon XA20, Sony PXW-X70, Sony PXW-X180, etc?
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 10:29 AM   #2
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Re: XL H1: what SSD options are out there?

I still own the XL-H1A, which doesn't have the SDI jack-pack. The camera cannot compete with today's offerings in the area of low light performance. It's 3CCD sensor is optimized for shooting in the sunny outdoors. I keep mine because with the XL-EF adapter, I can use my dSLR lenses and get a 7.2 magnification factor. I always liked all the 80-odd controls on the camera body also. You can switch from SD to HDV and 24P, 30P or 60i with the flip of a switch. Viewfinder was no good, but I made do (and eventually got a SmallHD DP6). 20X stock lens is nice, but the 6X is still the real champ on this camera, very nice looking footage I got off that 6X.

I'm sure any of the external recorder on the market today will work with the XL-H1, as long as they have the SDI input, as the camera doesn't have any HDMI port.

Some guys are still shooting with it, mostly wildlife I think. I don't know what you're planning to use it for, but just be forwarned about poor low light performance. Anything indoors will probably need fixing with Neat Video. I have the FDR-AX100 (same sensor as the PXW-X70) and it kills the XL-H1A in image quality. 4K to HD is great. Also, there are no high frame rates available on this old camera. I'd get a newer offering. Any of those 3 you listed should do much better. There are also drawbacks to having a tape-base camera if you get in a high humidity environment. Even if you are not recording to the tape, there is a moisture sensor in there which will prevent any type of recording once it detects high moisture and you then have to wait however long (30-45 min.) until the camera warms up enough to clear the condition.

Mark


Just checked to see if my low-light test was still up on Vimeo. If you want to see a comparison I did, the XL-H1A looks pretty bad here.


Last edited by Mark Watson; October 23rd, 2015 at 10:41 AM. Reason: Add link.
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 02:50 PM   #3
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Re: XL H1: what SSD options are out there?

Mark, I must be blind. At the same gain settings, the XL H1 is substantially brighter than the Sony. It isn't as sharp overall, but...
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Old October 23rd, 2015, 04:38 PM   #4
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Re: XL H1: what SSD options are out there?

Gain settings can be misleading in my opinion, as far as the dB markings. I think each manufacturer assignes the values according to their own policy and not some universal standard. Cranking up the gain increases the voltage to the sensor and for a given amount of incoming light, the sensor will output a larger voltage as you increase the gain setting. Noise is unwanted electrical activity that gets onto the video signal and all cameras have some. How much you can tolerate is the question. You can't go very high on the XL-H1 before you start to see some grain (noise). Some guys like to set it at -3dB... because they see grain at 0dB.

The camera is noisy in all low-light conditions, that's all I know. Shot two weddings with it and lots of other stuff over the 7 years I've had it. A copy of Neat Video should have been included with the camera.

Mark
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Old November 4th, 2015, 10:41 AM   #5
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Re: XL H1: what SSD options are out there?

Would the camera work with the Sony HVR-MRC1 compact flash unit?
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Old November 4th, 2015, 12:05 PM   #6
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Re: XL H1: what SSD options are out there?

If you only want HDV quality in 60i (60 fields per second, interlaced), then I think that recorder will be compatible with the camera. Canon 24p and 30p are a little different than Sony's 24p and 30p. I believe the Canon version is referred to as 24psf (progressive segmented frames). I have a Sony HDV recorder and playback deck and as I recall, the 60i tapes from my Canon XL-H1A and HV30 played back fine, but the 24p did not. I don't remember how the 30p did, maybe it worked also.

If you go this route, you are also not going to be getting the best from the camera, which is available from the HD/SDI port. The HVR-MRC1 can only capture from the firewire cable, which is only going to output DV or HDV (standard definition 720x480, or high definition 1440x1080). The HD/SDI port outputs full HD at 1920x1080, and this signal is also higher quality. I believe it's 4:2:2 color space rather than 4:2:0.

Since this camera could benefit from a better viewfinder, I would recommend a recorder with an SDI input connection and a screen. Convergent Design or Atomos probably sell something that will work. Sound Devices also has some offerings like the PIX 240i. Whatever you decide to go with, try to find out if the Canon's 24p and 30p will be accepted by the recorder. The Convergent Design Nanoflash was popular with these HDV cameras but has since been discontinued. (maybe you can get a used one cheap)

Read about it here: XL-h1 and convergent design nanoflash

When I bought my camera, it was $6,000 without the SDI connection and $9,000 with it. I regret not buying the higher priced one. Would be a crime to have the XL-H1 and not pull video from the SDI.


Mark

Okay, I take back what I said about having trouble recording Canon's 24p. I just saw a review on B&H site where they used that recorder with a Canon HDV camera and it accepted the 24p. See the review by "Bob" He was using it with the XH A1.
BH (Links)

Last edited by Mark Watson; November 4th, 2015 at 12:15 PM. Reason: Updated info.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 04:11 PM   #7
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Re: XL H1: what SSD options are out there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Edmunds View Post
I thinking of picking up an XL -H1 off ebay. What solid state recording options currently exist for the XL H1? Can be SDI and/or Firewire drives.
Hi Bill,

I'm sure the party is over by this time, and you have made your choice. However, maybe for others.....I have an XL-H1. Attached an Atomos Samurai Blade and it has served well. Not perfect, but better than tape.

I usually record DNxHD 220x (it also does ProRes 422 HQ), which is both overkill for the camera and overkill for what I do with it. It will send 1920x1080 to the recorder 60i, 30p, or 24p at 4:2:2 subsampling but at 8 bits, not 10 bit depth (so the Atomos records in 10 bits, but the best sent from the camera is 8 bits).

Also the HD-SDI in the XL-H1 does not include audio and I feed the audio via the camera stereo, or from my Zoom H4n., although you can also feed audio from a mic (or recorder) via XLR to tape, if you are also running back-up tape, and can feed the Atomos from the headset stereo out of the XL-H1 to get audio in the video for sync from a audio recorder, or sync from the tape capture. The XL-H1S includes audio in the HD-SDI feed. If you use the stereo out from the XL-H1 to feed the Atomos unit, the Atomos unit has a stereo out for your headset. Atomos Samurai Blade has an audio delay sync. I set mine at 3 frames.

For me, I already had the XL-H1 and wanted to keep the CCD camcorder working, but elected to invest a few hundred more to get away from the tape. If I didn't have any camcorder I would take advantage of something much newer and more capable, but I don't think there is much or anything new with CCD's to compare the XL-H1 to in that used price range. If I was OK with a CMOS censor, it would be a newer camera, with better low light capability.
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