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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 July 28th, 2007, 08:27 PM   #1
Major Player
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 339
Looking to upgrade soon from the GL-2

I have never made an electronic acquisition of this magnitude by far in terms of cost. I canít afford to make a mistake and potentially be stuck with something Iíd be unhappy with in the long run. This is coming out of my own pocket, a non-reimbursable expense and is not subsidized. Hence my approach is careful & cautious as I ask the following questions. This is primarily for church video ministry use. This looks & appears to be a excellent camcorder but want to know more about itís compatibility with Premiere Pro 2 and my computer configuration in particular. My goal is to upgrade on my pair of GL-2ís which are aging as I appreciate quality.

ďBottom lineĒ: Iím looking for any direct, unbiased comparisons between the Canon GL-2 and the XH-A1 available combined with personal experiences to help me make an informed decision. Is there a spectacular explosion in quality, clarity, resolution and sharpness or just some? Is this really a quantum leap up from the GL2ís?Whatís the learning curve between the 2?

Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 compatibility

Does Adobe have a dedicated HDV preset for this that one can download on their website?
Is this application alone capable of capturing HDV video?
Is a $199 upgrade to Premiere Pro CS 3 mandatory or just recommended?
Does PP2 have any known major issues with this unit?

My computer specs are a rather modest OS: Windows XP home edition/P4 2.66 processor & about 1.25 gigs of memory.I have plenty of HD space Does this have the basic capacity and ability to operate PP2 and the XH-A1? All I need is to capture, save, export to tape & compress.I'm not in the market or position to spend another grand on a new computer in addition to the XH-A1.If it takes longer to process things..to a certant exten that can be lived with.

When directly imported into the timeline from tape: Will it be compressed or uncompressed at that point? If compressed how do I uncompress it? What are the save & save as options? What are the file types? While on the timeline can pro successfully export the finished project back onto tape without crashing the computer?

What is the file size in gigs that a 60 min tape will take when captured? More than mini-dv 720 by 480?

Can I use my Canon GL-2 batteries in this machine?

Tapes (regular/standard mini-dv vs HDV ones):Really make a substantial difference in quality and worth the cost differential?

Please enlighten me as to how the HDV format itself works. Is there a good place online where I can find out what terms like 60i and 25p means,the differences & what's best for my intended usuage?

Warranty recommended? Whose/what provider is a better investment/buy? Worth it? Limitations/deductibles/exclusions/pros & cons? Whatís typically covered and not covered? Who do you use if anyone? How much should one reasonably expect to pay for solid coverage? This is not a business expense considered to be a major household purchase and repairs are expensive.

I had my last GL-2 arrive dead as it wouldnít even power on right out of the box. Hence I ask, how does one make sure/ascertain itís 100% functional & operational straight from the box? Tests, things to check, etc.

Does this unit have auto focus problems? Especially on a still objectÖI need to be able to swiftly focus when switching from object to object on the fly without having to do it manually?

Are there important questions that I failed to ask?

Are there any vendors that offer money back, satisfaction guaranteed terms as I live in a area where no local store will carry this so I have to rely on forums like this, official reviews and my personal experience with the pair of GL-2ís I already own for accurate, complete & straight information.

Sorry for the long post however the above information would be valuable in knowing!

Many thanks in advance,
Bruce Pelley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 29th, 2007, 09:55 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 3,014
a lot of these questions can be answered if you read around the XH A1 forum. i'd suggest spending some time going through it. you will read a lot of posts from former GL2 users who are "frustrated" and "overwhelmed" by their A1 purchase. this is because the GL2 is very forgiving and easy to operate, and operators moving up to the A1 somehow expect that it will be the same. the A1 is not a great "auto" function camera. you have a much greater learning curve with this camera.

if you want a great "auto" camera, get an FX-1 or Z1U. (i can't speak to the V1 or FX7, i haven't shot with them....)

the A1 is an awesome camera, and i believe that it is capable of producing sharper, cleaner images than either the FX-1 or Z1U in the right hands. but if you aren't necessarily looking to challenge yourself a bit or expand your shooting skills, and you really just want the improved resolution and colorspace of HDV, then you will save yourself a lot of trouble by just purchasing one of these equally fine cameras.
Meryem Ersoz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 29th, 2007, 02:10 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 4,449
If you're comparing the standard definition video from the GL2 to the standard definition video of the XH A1, the XH A1 will be significantly better because of its bigger higher resolution chips. In HDV it's even better. The GL2 is a 1/4" chip camera, while the XH A1 has 1/3" chips.

However, unless you have a compelling need to shoot HDV and 16:9, you may be spending money unnecessarily. Also, if you are going to continue to shoot 4:3, all the 1/3" chip HDV cameras are native 16:9. This means that when you shoot 4:3 with one, you are cropping in from the sides, in effect using smaller chips--therefore the lens will not be as wide at the wide angle end when shooting 4:3 as it is when shooting 16:9.

I know nothing about PP2 compatibility, but you should be able to find out something in the manual with your software, or if you're looking at a new version there's probably an online manual. You mentioned 25P--does that mean you're in a PAL country? In your case it seems to me the main reason for wanting to shoot 25 frames per second progressive would be if you're exporting for DVD or web distribution. I'm in the U.S. and shoot 24P, and when I export a show, the resulting Quicktime is significantly better than when I shoot 60i (NTSC video runs at 30 frames per second, but each frame consist of 2 fields interlaced, hence 60i, which stands for interlaced. PAL is 50 frames per second interlaced, and its progressive would be 25 full frames per second. The Canon HDV cameras will record both 24 and 30 frames per second. I believe the upgrade to get 25P in PAL is about $500 USD.) The reason my 24p exports are better is that there are none of the pesky interlace artifacts.

My feeling is that if you want to shoot 16:9 video, whether HDV or SD, the XH A1 is a good way to go. You do not have to shoot HDV if you don't want to at this point. All the HDV cameras will also shoot standard definition, in which case your editing system would have no problems at all. Be aware that if you shoot 24 or 30 frames per second, you have to use the camera as a deck (or buy a cheap Canon HV10 or HV20 to use as a deck), because Sony's HDV decks will not play Canon's progressive footage (just as they won't play JVC's progressive footage either). If you're doing church video, I don't see any reason to shoot anything other than 60i unless, as I said, you could benefit from the absence of interlace artifacts which will show up when you do web or DVD exports. If you shoot standard definition video with the camera, whether 24p or 60i, any DV deck will play the tapes.

If money is tight and you are committed to HDV and to 16:9, you might want to check out the Sony FX1. It's the consumer version of the Z1. It does not have XLR audio inputs, if that's an issue, only mini plug audio in. However, since you're familiar with the Canon arrangement, you might feel more comfortable initially with the XH A1. As far as the automatic things, they do work well. Auto focus works well, but much better in 60i than in 24P, I've found.

Right out of the box, the camera may be a bit intimidating, but if you spend some quality time with the manual, you can master it easily. I have a friend who has a great eye for composition and the ability to do a certain type of documentary very well, but he is incredibly technologically challenged. He got the XH A1, and I did a basic setup for him (taking the auto iris down just a bit because they always overexpose), and he's shot two different programs entirely on auto. Almost all his shots are good. Shooting that way is not something I'm comfortable with, but if it works for a person, that's great.

As far as a dealer who will stand behind the product, the ones who sponser this site have been very reputable. I'm fond of both Tapeworks Texas and Zotz Digital for great personal service. B&H is a good big box non-personal store. If you're not in the U.S., then you need to look in your country for a reputable dealer.

If you are going to stay in the standard definition world for some time and are going to continue to shoot 4:3, then the Panasonic DVX100b might be better for you, and cheaper. However, if you plan to eventually go HDV and wide screen, the Canon is significantly better. Even in 4:3 it looks great. As a thought about wide screen...I happened to go to Best Buy yesterday, and I did not see a 4:3 TV in the entire store. Everything was wide screen. In my opinion it's best to shoot 16:9 and make letterbox programs when necessary.
Bill Pryor is offline   Reply

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