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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:56 PM   #1
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Handheld x20, what's the future?

For handheld birdflight shooting, apart from XM2 (GL2) is there any camcorder with x20 that is lighter than XL2?
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Old May 10th, 2009, 07:48 PM   #2
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What about the XHA1/G1, XHA1/G1s?

Or from Sony the Z5 or FX1000
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Old May 11th, 2009, 02:01 AM   #3
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I am checking out those suggestions, Jonathan, thank you. There must be lots of threads on these for me to look up.

I was also wondering if technology has or is about to move on to reduce the weights of medium-sized cams, before investing in something which is too heavy to pan up and down with.

Any more suggestions please, (including interchangeable lens facility)?
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Old May 11th, 2009, 02:58 AM   #4
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The Sony V1E, or its consumer sibling the FX7, are the nearest modern cameras to the good old Canon XM2.

They both have 20x lenses, and due to the small sensors, long effective focal length, but they are heavier than the Canon.

I use a V1 with a Century 2X converter much of the time, and this is a seriously heavy combination - the Century lens has a mass of 1 kg!

Both cameras are HDV, but you can record in DV, or record in HDV and down-convert either in camera as you capture, or for better quality results using either your NLE or Procoder 3
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Old May 14th, 2009, 01:11 PM   #5
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Alan & Jonathan, if you're still there, a question about weight and image quality on another thread has narrowed the options in both of your directions and it's coming down to a comparison between ... Sony Z7 and Canon XHA1s.

Can you or anybody offer any insights about the picture quality from these two, please?
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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:23 AM   #6
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Do not forget that the 20x figure is merely the ratio of the longest and shortest focal lengths of the lens. The effective focal length (which generally is quoted as the 35mm camera equivalent, measured by horizontal field of view) is determined by the actual focal length of the lens and the size of the chip.

The Sony V1/FX7 has a 3.9 to 78mm lens and a ” chip, giving an effective focal length range of 37.4 to 748mm in 16:9 mode.

The Sony Z7 is supplied with a 12X lens of actual focal length 4.4 to 52.8 mm, and a 1/3” chip, giving an effective focal length range of 32.0 to 384 mm in 16:9 mode.

The V1 focal length is thus broadly comparable to your trusty XM2 – slightly longer in fact if one allows for the difference between the 4:3 Canon and the 16:9 Sony. Thus your vulture image would actually be marginally larger with the Sony at max zoom than with your Canon XM2, if all other factors were the same.

The Z7 is about half the Canon focal length at max zoom, so your vulture image would be a lot smaller in the same circumstances as above. To get the same size image you would need to be a lot closer, or you would have to buy an expensive additional lens.

I don’t have data for the Canon you mention to hand, but whilst it has a broadly similar lens to the Sony V1, in terms of actual focal length, it has a much larger chip, thus its effective maximum focal length is similar to the Z1 rather than the V1. That is why I bought the Sony rather than the Canon.

I mentioned the very heavy/expensive 2x Century converter for the Sony – there is also a much lighter/cheaper 1.6x converter available.

The Sony V1 is a vastly superior camera in every way to the XM2 – it has a number of extremely useful features for the bird videographer, particularly for ensuring a correctly focussed image. The FX7 has the same lens/chip etc. but lacks some of the bells and whistles of the V1. The Z7 is in a different league - you could buy 2 V1s for the price!

Sorry – I have got on my hobby horse here, and gone on a bit! Just shows that you can’t keep a physicist down.

Last edited by Alan Craven; May 15th, 2009 at 11:20 AM. Reason: Additional information
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Old May 15th, 2009, 02:01 AM   #7
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The Canon XHA1 is better than I recall - actual focal length 4.5 to 90 mm (20X), with a 1/3" chip, leading to an effective focal length of 32.5 to 650 mm.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 04:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Alan Craven View Post
The Canon XHA1 is better than I recall - actual focal length 4.5 to 90 mm (20X), with a 1/3" chip, leading to an effective focal length of 32.5 to 650 mm.
In the middle of info from many threads in several forums I've tried to research the XHA1 in particular and, having last year learned a lot of positives about the XLH1, I am reaching the conclusion that the XHA1 has all the image quality advantages of the XLH1, except the interchangeable lens facility. I only use a few settings and I only film wildlife and outdoor.

So, how does the XHA1 compare with the V1 for image quality ?
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Old May 16th, 2009, 07:44 AM   #9
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.........So, how does the XHA1 compare with the V1 for image quality ?
My own experience of image quality is limited to the V1E, and this is way ahead of my old Canon XM2.

You can see what the BBC think of the image quality of the two cameras here:

BBC - R&D - Publications - WHP034 - Addendum 22

and here:

BBC - R&D - Publications - WHP034 - Addendum 22
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Old May 16th, 2009, 11:02 AM   #10
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Thank you for digging up those BBC comments, Alan. I hesitate to call them reviews.

I have tried to detect BBC opinions on XHA1 & V1 but they make no value judgments about XHA1, good bad or indifferent. Why not? BBC opinions about V1 are few but favourable in general, but "favourable by comparison with what?"

So I stacked the data side by side but apart from the obvious (1/3" v. 1/4" chips; zebra v.peaking) it is not simple to compare the two at all. Nuts & bolts labelled, remain to be observed for what they're worth in use.

BBC recommendations for basic settings are helpful but not at this stage. I guess it's the ol' Beeb breaking its ass to describe rather than evaluate. But as they point out that their comments are not meant to replace "reading the manual" why do they cling to regurgitating the manuals?

I'm still searching for objective comparisons of image quality.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 12:20 PM   #11
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Have you followed the link to the "Addendum" for the camera on each of the pages to which my links take you?

It is in those pdfs that you will find the objective testing, admittedly it is only the last couple of pages, and given the broadcast brief not too encouraging - to me they read rather like a surveyor's report on a Georgian house one is thinking of buying!

These tests have been done by an external consultant (admittedly he is ex-BBC) whose brief is to evaluate the cameras as potential cameras for HD acquisition for the BBC.

Like you, I shoot only wildlife, principally birds, and I have been using my V1E for a year now, and I am still very pleased with it. The image quality is way ahead of my XM2. I always shoot in HDV, edit in HDV, and then use Procoder 3 to down-convert to produce an SD DVD.

I have recently acquired a /canon HV30 to use in situations where I am not able to carry the larger camera, and this is a good complement to the Sony.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 01:55 PM   #12
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I think the problem is that there really is so little in it between the XHA1 and V1. I went through agony when trying to chose between them - just try finding a direct comparison from someone who has seriously used both cameras!

In the end, the slightly better reach in the zoom swung it for the Sony for me. Additional minor factors where: apparently slightly better LCD display, slightly smaller size and the re-use of my Sony batteries - plus the similarity to my old VX2100E.

Outside of weddings, where you need to shoot inside a cathederal lit by a single birthday cake candle, the smaller CMOS sensors aren't really a problem. As per another post, I've added an extra ND filter to make shooting in bright sunlight a lot better.

If the extra "pro" features of the V1E aren't essential, the FX7 is probably a good saving over the Canon as well.

And one of these days I'm going to get that Century lens that Alan loves so dearly!
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Old May 16th, 2009, 04:16 PM   #13
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Alan, When you say your experience is happy with V1E and that image quality is way ahead of XM2 I understand you and I am influenced.

Mike, When you say there is little between the 2, I am hoping you have some experience of both and I am influenced accordingly.

Neither of you offer evidence of image quality but I must allow that you both enjoy many and various appetites and pleasures in preference to serving me with a menu of images ... so do I.
The Beeb, carefully disowning image quality of these pictures I snatched from their "reviews" do offer, for my kind attention and yours' please ... Sorry about the mismatch in sizes; big= XHA1; small= V1
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Last edited by Brendan Marnell; May 16th, 2009 at 04:18 PM. Reason: save space
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Old May 17th, 2009, 02:11 AM   #14
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Brendan - just as a caveat, my comparisons were done on paper (well, in a spreadsheet) listing the features one by one, it wasn't a physical comparison: I have never used a Canon XHA1!

From anecdotal evidence on this forum and others, and looking at sample clips posted here, I feel they're both very good cameras. If you search, you'll find a lot of V1 versus A1 questions posted and very little concrete evidence to say one is better or worse.

Picture quality is hard to compare (at least for me). It has been said that the Sony has a "cooler" image and the Canon is "warmer", but even that can be tweaked with picture profiles or in your editing software, and in the end I chose based on physical aspects rather than image quality.

As a warning, the V1 does offer some additional controls over the FX7. Black stretch and similar features may not be available on the FX7 -there's a comparison table in the V1/FX7 forum here.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 02:48 AM   #15
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I think the problem is that there really is so little in it between the XHA1 and V1. I went through agony when trying to chose between them - just try finding a direct comparison from someone who has seriously used both cameras!

In the end, the slightly better reach in the zoom swung it for the Sony for me. Additional minor factors where: apparently slightly better LCD display, slightly smaller size and the re-use of my Sony batteries - plus the similarity to my old VX2100E.

Outside of weddings, where you need to shoot inside a cathederal lit by a single birthday cake candle, the smaller CMOS sensors aren't really a problem. As per another post, I've added an extra ND filter to make shooting in bright sunlight a lot better.

If the extra "pro" features of the V1E aren't essential, the FX7 is probably a good saving over the Canon as well.

And one of these days I'm going to get that Century lens that Alan loves so dearly!
Mike's comments here mirror my own thinking (with the exception of the batteries), when I decided to move up from the Canon XM2. A major advantage for me of the Sony cameras over the Canons, is the vastly superior qulity of the LCD monitor - the Sony is in a different league, and can actually be used in daylight, especially with the purpose designed hood in place

The presently available range of "pro-sumer" HDV cameras all provide superlative image quality, and very expensive erquipment is need to distinguish any minute differences. I recall reading a statement to the effect that you needed a Grade A Sony broadcast monitor for this, and that these tend to be the size of a three-bedroomed semi-detached house in Bolton, and cost pretty well as much!
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