Good for Theatre work - I think!
I bought this camera for use in relatively low light or, at least, unpredictable light conditions, in theatre work. Since my clients care less about arty filming than about getting all the performers in shot and recognisable (!), I tend to use many automatic settings for this sort of work. With this camera I can shoot in HDV and keep a backup in this form on tape, whilst having the option to capture and edit using my existing software, in either standard or HD. I think the three CCD form still has the edge, for my work, on anything I could afford in flash-memory and the tape storage suits me too.
It has a very good lens and great optical zoom, fast auto focus, shoots in a video format I can readily edit with and has a good set of auto and many more manual options, should I decide to get more experimental, or choosy, about the look of my shots.
The onboard mic will probably not get much use since I use external mics and mixing desk feeds, if I can get them. The two phantom-powered mic inputs are a valuable feature, though. Cameras in this sort of bracket in the past have required a separate mic connection box - as a separate purchase.
Oddities include the rather counter-intuitively placed mic level pots on the back, the rather awkward internally placed battery compartment, with it's fragile-looking door and the position of the mic inputs, slightly obstructing the lens rings. Mostly stuff I was aware of before I bought it and I think I can live with that.
It doesn't have the snob-value of the Sony eqivalents, but I try not to rate snob value too high. It may affect re-sale value, but I don't think that will concern me much.
I have not had it long, but I am very pleased with it so far.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Can't do better for the money
I'm moving into video after years of still photography, and I wanted something that would give me the kind of manual control I've been used to but which was portable and usable on a casual basis when needed. Quite simply, there's nothing else out there that gives you all that, and in HD, for this kind of money. If I was interested in Standard Definition, I'd have had a wider choice, especially of Sonys.
It#'s very easy to handle, the controls and menus are well laid out and easy to understand, and it's very easy indeed to get to grips with the basics (focus, shutter/aperture control, white balance etc). The auto and program modes are great if you don't do reading manuals. You have to do some thinking to move on to the next stage, full manual control, but even with my alck of experience of vidoe-related techniques, it's very straightforward - a bit of experimentation pays dividends.
Quality of output is amazing, and the ability to tweak it (there's huge scope to fiddle with all aspects of the image) makes it possible to get superb results whatever your taste. There are libraries of custom presets you can download to meet most needs (exma
Sound quality is excellent for an onboard mic, but you have twin-XLR or 3.5mm inputs if you want to do the job properly and use an external mic.
The only thing I miss from my still cameras is interchangeable lenses, but that isn't (to me)worth the extra £2K+ for the A1's big brother (which is not only twice the price, but twice the size and weight too). If I really need to do somehting, I'll gte something like a Letus 35mm adapter sometime, but the onboard 20x zoom has excellent quality anyway. Really, all I'd want is somehting that goes a little wider at the wide end.
The battery lasts about 5 hours on a charge, which in itself is great.
For editing, I've used iMovie and Final Cut Pro with no problems.
The other point worth making is that this is much bigger than your typical consumer camcorder (like the HV20/HG10), so you're only going to take it with you when you know you're going to use it.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Canon XH A1 HDV Camcorder - End of year 1 review
I bought my xh-a1 at the end of 2006 from ebay shop Digital-4-U. As a professional videographer who has used this camera extensively over the last year I'm in a reasonalbly good postition to comment on it.
It is not an initially intuative camera to use straight out the box. You will have to read the user manual. I had great fun trying to work out how to get the battery in and out when first opened.
That said, after a few minutes reading you'll be up and running in easy mode.
Beyond that you can spend as little or as much time mastering this camera as your time will allow. The results fully justify the investment of time and effort.
In 50i mode the picture is breathtaking. The A-1 uses the same optics as the H1. The main difference between them is lens interchangability and gen lock. The A1 uses a fixed lens with no gen lock.
There is in some circumstances a huge advantage using the A1 over the H1 - Focusing! If you need to focus fast and sharp in difficult environments where you are not in control of enough of the elements the A1 will actually perform better. The instant AF mode uses a seperate range finder (offset from the lens) to work with the standard range finder inside the lens to give super fast focusing. This is a real save your bacon feature!
However it's only when you move into custom mode that the camera really starts to flex it's muscle. In 25f mode you get a deinterlaced picture. When combined with custom picture settings it is very easy to achieve a look almost indistinguishable from 16mm. The camera comes with two pre programed cine modes CP7 and CP8, to save you having to do all the adjustments yourself. You can also create, store and share your own to create a signature look.
The on board mic is a joke, but with two XLR balanced inputs for audio you can see that canon never really intended this to be used by serious users. Plug in a good XLR mic and the sound is perfect.
It is not a flashy camera, which is a help when out shooting in environments where you don't want to draw to much attention to yourself. However clients can look somewhat dismayed when they first see it on set. Many tend to associate size with quality. A good show reel can overcome this, so the client sees examples of output prior to their shoot.
Connecting the camera to a computer is very simple via the firewire output. Rerecording a final sequence back into the camera after editing is also a breeze. This is the best way to view your footage. The final sequence is played from the camera to your TV or monitor by either component (RCA or BNC) or HDMI output. Don't worry about drum use on the camera - drum wear is practically zero. Unless you are outputing and capturing industrial levels of material you won't do the camera any harm.
At the current price level there aren't any real cons. It's a great camera for fully developing your craft, and can take you from just above beginner level to a serious level of cinematography. Beyond the A1 you experience rapidly diminishing returns on your camera $. You will have to spend serious anounts of money for each incramental improvement in picture. Save your cash, buy an A1 and spend the extra cash on a good lighting set up, a decent matte box and french flags and some books on cinematography and lighting.
28 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Canon XH-A1 review
As a HV20 user, I guess this was the natural upgrade. I was a bit worried about the weight issue, the "tape is dead" argument, and the small LCD screen, which seemed to get bad reviews.
I've had the camera for nearly 2 months, and the only previous worry, which is still a slight issue is the weight. It takes some getting used to, after having used a flyweight HV20 for 3 years. The XH-A1 has exceeded all my expectations, image-wise, low light ability, extremely programmable... Unlike the HV20, armed with the XH-A1, I cannot foresee any situation that's gonna cause me problems.
I love the manual mode, which allows me total creativity. I love the ability in TV mode to set the exposure to +1 or +2 or whatever I desire. The programmable zoom and focus button also. I love the absolute abundant array of different camera settings (Panasonic style, Sony Z1) available for free download on the internet. For me, this cam is Great!
The external mic holder was a bit disappointing, as vibrations on the camera were picked up by my Rode NTG2, but I've since made a simple make-shift shock-mount out of an elastic band wrapped around the holder that works brilliantly.
I recently shot a huge conference that was covered by many TV networks, and "everyone and his brother" were shooting with "Sony this" and "Sony that". The looks I got from the Sony crowd was amazing. It felt great just to different.
Oh and lastly, it takes pretty good stills. I've had a few published in a local newspaper.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Fantastic value but beware presets galore means a learning curve.
| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
|Picture and sound quality|
|Ease of use|
|Value for money|
XHA1 offers the best value for money, I've had mine for 4 years, still working very well. Some criticisms though...
1. Over exposuring using TV mode can cause focussing issues, but these are resolved by switching in the ND filters.
2. Both the EVF and screen do not offer the best resolution to see that pin sharp detail, I overcome this by mounting a High Def screen via the component video output.
Also you're best fitting an external mic.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.