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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).

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Old August 21st, 2013, 02:40 AM   #31
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated

Jan, a true remark of course. It is pointless to maintain that HDV is still a valid format as we move into the 4K, 5K, 8K era of digital video. Still I'd say that the user segment matters. You are a video professional. I am an amateur with 75% of the learning curve ahead of me. Your footage will be shown on TV or even cinema screens. Mine will almost certainly not ;-) Since I can't afford to buy a new camcorder anyway, I'll stay with my XH G1s for now...

Have a nice day!


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Old August 21st, 2013, 07:10 AM   #32
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated

I sold my XH-A1 on ebay last week. Camera, two batteries, charger, cables, manual, and KATA bag. Under 40 hours of run time. After Paypal and Ebay fees, I got about $750 for it ... pretty sad. I was so tempted to keep it at the going rates but honestly it was only going to de-value more and it would just sit on a shelf and collect dust.

I shoot on an XA20 now along with my 7D (I love DSLR video). I still have an HV30 sitting there if I ever need to go back and capture off of an old tape, or just need another camera in a pinch.

Still it is heart breaking to sell a camera that I paid over $3k for just a few years ago for $750 ... kind of makes me want to puke thinking about it.
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Old August 22nd, 2013, 03:34 AM   #33
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated

Derek, I am really sad to hear that. I find 750$ very low. When I sold my XH A1S in February, I set a minimum of 1,000€ in the eBay auction. There were no extras: just the camcorder with the original box and papers, and all the original parts of course. Towards the end, I had 3 interested bidders which helped getting a better price. I suppose it's all down to luck: whether a few interested people happen to see your ad or not.

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Old August 22nd, 2013, 07:08 AM   #34
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated

I had 36 people listed as "watching" the auction and there were 9 or 10 that got into a bidding frenzy the last day. I let it run 7 days and ended it on a Sunday evening (8:00 pm on the east coast) so it had a lot of attention. If you watch the final prices right now on ebay they are all pretty much selling for that $800-$900 range. It is pretty sad really.
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Old August 22nd, 2013, 08:15 AM   #35
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated


I just love my XH-A1.


I bought a Panasonic TM900 1,5 years ago when my HV20 faulted. I used the HV20 as a travelling camcorder, but mainly as a capture deck to save the XH-A1 from wear during capture. So when the HV20 gave up I thougt I would try a card based small camcorder instead an bought the TM900.

The TM900 is a fantastic little toy. It can really produce razor sharp pictures. Another advantage is the
fast unloading process. I have 32GB 95MB/s SanDisk SD cards which, together with an USB3.0 card reader unloads the files to my PC in no time at all, compared to a band based capture process.

It also produces a very noise free picture and AVCHD 50P is superior to HDV, no doubt about that.

But, the problem with the TM900:

Wrong white balance? Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap on the screen...
Adjust shutter? Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap on the screen...
Adjust iris? Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap on the screen...
Adjust mic level? Open menu, tap, tap, tap, find mick level, tap, tap, tap, adjust level, tap, tap, tap,
etc, etc, tap, tap, tap...

Another problem: manual focus. Hard to get correct focus, even using the focus help.

Another problem: combined focus/shutter/iris/WB ring. More or less unusable in my opinion.
Select manual focus - OK. After that, select shutter speed and the ring isn't used
for focus but for shutter speed! Extreemly annoying. To get it to function as a focus ring
again you have to unselect the shutter. Same thing selecting WB or iris. It's not possible
to enable it for only focus, it's always a combi ring depending on menu selection.

Another problem: White Balance. Never seems to be right. The presets are unusable for most situations,
manual white balance sometimes works OK, but can be a struggle, tap, tap, tap...

Another problem: skin tones. Never seems to be real. Even if all other colors are OK, people looks as if
their faces are made of wax.

Another problem: diffraction. After a days filming when the camcorder was new for me, I came home looked at the material and realised that almost every clip was softend by diffraction. How? I had used both the XH-A1 with it's ND filters and the HV20 with external filters to be able to, at least
on the XH-A1, use the lens with optimal f-stop, between 3.2 and 4.8. The same goes for the HV20.
While trying to maintain the same f-stops on the TM900 by using external ND-filter,
the result was softening by diffraction. The reason seems to be some kind of auto ND filter
which kicks in at f5.2 which gives diffraction for f-stops from 3.2 to 4.8 when the iris closes.
The sweet spot for the TM900 is f2.8, not in the same interval as the HV20/XH-A1.

When I come home after filming with the TM900, I almost never is pleased with what I see. The colors are not natural, white balance is never really 100%. It's definately something digital around the picture which is hard to point at or describe. Unorganic might be the word.

The Canon HV20 was also menu driven, but with very fast access to mic level and exposure. It also produced very pleasing pictures regarding to color, and noise levels where much better than the XH-A1. The only downside was resolution. Compared to the TM900 it was extremly big difference. Using the both cameras in the same project, i must blur the picture from the TM900 a little in post not to get too much contrast between clips from the two camcorders.

The XH-A1 is a different beast. Small screen, but very easy to get things in focus: zoom in, use focus help and then, spot on almost every time! No fiddling in menus, buttons for everything, focus ring, zoom ring, iris ring, shutter wheel, white balance presets that can be used, manual white balance i Kelvin. Zoom wheel that can be used to set zoom speed. Custom profiles, almost everything is configurable. Long zoom, 20x, 32,5-650mm. It also produces very organic pictures comparing to the TM900.

Downsides: yes, of course. A little cromatic abberation in high contrast scenes. Capture process is 1:1 in time, one hour film=one hour capture. No button for OIS, that must be selected in the menu (tap tap). Small, low res LCD screen. Some noise in the picture, even in good lit scenes. Dropouts is another thing. Not so good in lowlight.

I know, it's not fair to compare a XH-A1 and a TM900 as it is a big difference in price and also about 6 years between the two. But I can't help doing that anyway.

I use my camcorders for hobby. I've had some projects that has given some money, but not by far payed for the camcorders. I've also compared what I see on my 42" full HD plasma. By sitting on normal distance, say 3 meters/10 feet, it's very hard to see any difference in resolution between the razor sharp, full HD TM900 and the HDV 1440x1080 anamorphic pixels XH-A1. If I can't see the difference with my trained eyes, family or friends definately can't tell the difference. What I can see though, is that the picture from the XH-A1 is much more plesant to look at, much more organic and natural in colors, and so was the HV20. OK, I often do some Color Corrections, CC, to my clips, but the material from the XH-A1 needs less CC than the material from the TM900 because the XH-A1 is so much better from the start.

Capture from tape takes time, but I never have a deadline and can wait for the capture.

What I'm afraid of is that I, for example, buy a Panasonc AG-AC160 in the future and not getting the same organic picture from it as from the XH-A1.

The problem is that one of my batteries is dead, I havn't a capture deck anymore as the HV20 is broken. Some time in the future I might have a tape with important material in my XA-A1 which I can't read because the camcorder has faulted. Then I must get some old, used HV10/20/30/40 to be able to read it. So I need a new battery and a capture deck/camcorder. Is it smart to buy those now or is it better to save the money for a new camcorder?

It's hard to justify getting a new expensive camcorder when I have a old one that more than enough cover my needs (even though it's fun to get new equipment). And also remember, it was just a few years ago that the XH-A1 was the absolutely best you could get for that money. It, (the XH-G1) has even been on the NASA Space Shuttle, why wouldn't it bee good for me now?

Canon XH-A1 rocks, at least for a little longer!

Just my thoughts.


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Old August 22nd, 2013, 02:30 PM   #36
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated


I fully sympathise with your views. I also feel I would be mad to get rid of my XH-G1S and HV40, both of which are fully functional. I am also into small, personal film projects.

To comment briefly on your questions:

There are lots of dead-cheap after market battery packs for your XH A1. The original ones from Canon are expensive in Europe, however. (Much cheaper in the US). i am afraid I don't know which of the after-market brands can be trusted, so I only use the original BPs.

You could probably buy a used HV40 (LEGRIA) in almost mint condition at around 3-400€. No way to be sure how many hours of tape have been run through it of course... I mention the HV40 because it is the last of the HV models; a second-hand item is therfore likely to be less used than e.g. an HV20/HV30.


Last edited by Peter Adler; August 22nd, 2013 at 02:43 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old August 26th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #37
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated

Tap, tap, tap… I know, what you mean. That’s exactly the reason, why I felt the need to buy a camera in a higher price range (HPX250), when retiring my XH A1. It seems, that manufacturers nowadays focus at a different target group for “below 4000 $” cams. Manual functions are hidden in the menus because you’re anyway supposed to run them “the automatic way.” Same goes true for DSLR’s. Just bought a Nikon D 5200 to replace my old analogue EOS 650 from 1987. Great camera and big fun to use it. But not really designed anymore to be operated the ‘full manual way’, and regarding the young guns, that seems to make perfect sense. “What I get is what I see – on the monitor.” Why should they care about abstracts like ASA or Kelvin? The camera is doing it for them.

Nevertheless, the AC 160 would be an improvement picturewise, even if the XH A1 is still a good camera. If you adjust the scene files of the Pana the right way, you’ll get a decent organic look as well. And believe me, you’ll love the tapeless workflow.
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Old August 26th, 2013, 07:12 PM   #38
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Re: That tells you how the XH-A1 is outdated

I feel your collective pain. Dropping three G's on a camera right before that slice of the market went tapeless hurt badly, despite it being a great device. My path away from the XHA1 led to DSLR's, but shooting with them had enough gotchas that I kept the XHA1 and still shot with it when it was necessary...half the time for ClearScan, if nothing else. (I do a TON of shooting computer screens for work, documenting interfaces or digital installations).

Then the C100 came along, the DSLRs became the backups, and the XHA1 got put in a case and stashed in the shed. I can't say that I find the sharp images coming from the C100 easily cuttable with the nice but very different texture of images that come from the XHA1, so even getting a CF recorder for it seems like a poor investment as a B-cam...especially when those darned Datavideo units still cost over $500 on B&H (not a bad price, but a poor value for what I'd want to do with it, and how infrequently it'll be used).

Looking at billable time, it'd cost me 1/3 of what I'd eBay it for just to take pictures, post, monitor the auction, and ship it if sold. :-\

However, I'm looking ahead: We live in exciting times for imaging technology and decentralized, democratized storytelling to huge audiences (monetization woes aside). The XHA1 taught me a ton, and maybe someday I'll find a good reason to slap an external recorder on it and shoot with it again. Until then, there are more stories to be told and scenes to be shot!

Plus, as a photo teacher once told me: Cameras are expenses. Lenses are investments.
designer of media for eyes and ears
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