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Old July 9th, 2013, 04:33 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
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Worthy Replacement for XH-A1? ~$3000 Budget

Hello All,

I have a Canon XH-A1 which has been great. I use a DN-60 via firewire to capture onto compact flash which makes for a relatively easy import to Adobe Premiere, however with an increasing number of upcoming projects I have a budget of around $3000 (maybe up to $3500) and am thinking it is time to upgrade to a camera with native tapeless recording.

I am looking for something suitable for a range of applications. If I had to break down estimated usage I would say 40% marketing videos for small businesses (required both indoor and outdoor shots), 30% live events/performances, and 30% creative projects, like music videos or short films. The latter (creative projects) are largely for fun, so I am not necessarily looking for something broadcast/cinema quality.

Most finished products would be destined for YouTube, Vimeo, or similar applications, though it is important that I can record in full 19201080 resolution.

Adobe Premiere is the primary editing program.

Required Features:
- Shoots directly to SDHC/XC, CF, etc.
- Dual XLR inputs with auto gain

Strongly Preferred:
- Records at 4:2:2 & 50Mbps
- Decent in low light (better than XH-A1 at least)
- At least 10x optical zoom (though 20x like the A1 would be nice)

What I am currently considering:
- Canon XF100
- Panasonic AG-AC130A
- EX1, though I am wary of buying something with ~800 hours on it... (thoughts?)
- Canon XF300, used (same hesitation as above, though it seems you can find them with ~100 hours at this price point)

Another reason I'd like to upgrade now is because I can probably get around $1500 for the XH-A1 if I throw in the DN-60 and some assorted accessories. This value is likely to quickly dwindle the longer I wait. That being said, are any of the cameras I'm considering (or perhaps you can recommend others) significant upgrades from the A1 besides the obvious advantages over a miniDV based system?

I think something along the lines of the XF100 would be sufficient for the current work I am doing, though in some ways it appears to be a downgrade (from the 20x zoom of the A1 in particular). Can I spend around $3000 and get something that is a step up from the XH-A1 in terms of image quality and performance? If not, what would I need to spend to get something that is?

Thanks so much for any advice - it is greatly appreciated!
Tom Greco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 9th, 2013, 05:27 PM   #2
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Location: Nashville, TN
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Re: Worthy Replacement for XH-A1? ~$3000 Budget

For only double your budget the Sony PMW 200 would be a great camera for what you describe!

Within your budget the Canon XA25 will get you to 35mps but not 50. However you can get there with the XF100 you mentioned. Just saw it on B&H for $2499, less than the XA25. I would worry a little about the age of the XF100.

The Panny AC 130A is within your buget. Based on the specs I thought it would be my dream camera and planned on buying two of them to replace my Sony V1U's. However those dreams were dashed when the camera actually came out and had auto focus issues that have not been resolved.
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Old July 10th, 2013, 05:58 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
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Re: Worthy Replacement for XH-A1? ~$3000 Budget

Thank you for the feedback. Initially the XA20/25 looked like a great choice but in comparison to the A1 it seems to offer significantly less image control.

I'm almost leaning to the AC130A despite the auto focus issues, though you can get a used EX-1 for the same price. Have any thoughts on reliability if purchasing an EX-1 with 500+ hours on it from someone on ebay?
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Old July 10th, 2013, 06:16 PM   #4
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Re: Worthy Replacement for XH-A1? ~$3000 Budget

It strikes me that at that price, you kinda have to go used EX1 or XF300 to get a step up. Reading what you wrote about the others, it's a sideways step except that they are a single unit solid state camera. But, I think you'll love the all solid state workflow and compact rig. There are features the A1 lacks that you'll also enjoy on a new camera.

Used cameras are a risk. I think the return policy and your ability to check out the camera fully within the return period is critical.

I question the value of trying to get to 4:2:2 50mpbs at this price range. The electronics that create the image are more important than that spec. For example, XF300 has BBC approval but the XF100 does not.

Generally, zoom range is a function of sensor size. The XF300 with 1/3 sensors zooms further than the 1/2 sensor EX1. However, the IQ of the EX1 is so good you can zoom in post.

I went from A1 to EX1r. No looking back. WHAT AN UPGRADE!!!!
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Old July 10th, 2013, 09:48 PM   #5
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Location: Surprise Arizona
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Re: Worthy Replacement for XH-A1? ~$3000 Budget

Finding a camera to replace the A1 is a dilemma with no easy answer.
Sony has the PMW 200 but a 14x zoom is not enough. The XF300 is outdated and has, in my opinion, been overpriced for what you get. The AG-AC130A seemed the closest with features and price BUT at times I need the auto focus capabilities of the A1 and the 130A is still getting bad reviews for its slow auto focus.
SO with my wide angle lens and my DN60 I guess I'm stuck for now with my A1.
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