Today Canon has announced updates to their XL H1 1080i Pro HD camcorder, splitting the line into two offerings: the XL H1S and XL H1A, a more simplistic XL H1A will be offered at a retail price of just US$5,999 this July—several thousand less that we saw the original XL H1 priced for. And the H1 classic XL H1S, available this June, will run US$8,999.
Updates look to be disappointingly minor, with more studio output options, expanded image control, Speedlite shoe mount, and the ability to record external in XLR mics at the same time. The spec-similar 20X HD zoom lens has also seen an update for improved manual controls/ergonomics. But the biggest component, the three 1/3 inch, 1.67 Megapixel CCD Image Sensors along with Canon's proprietary DIGIC DVII HD Image Processor—seems to be a complete rehash of the XL H1—a camera that's now over two years old.
Oh, and the bonus for forking over US$3,000 more for the XL H1S?
"The XL H1S model provides expanded connectivity by incorporating HD-SDI (SMPTE 299M)/SD-SDI (SMPTE272M) output with embedded audio and time code, providing a raw, uncompressed 1.485 Gbps signal for demanding live production environments, SMPTE Time Code input and output terminals, and a Genlock output terminal for multi-camera shooting situations."
Outputs and Genlock.
Here are the full details:
CANON'S NEW XL H1S AND XL H1A HD CAMCORDERS PROVIDE ADVANCED FEATURES
FOR ENHANCED CONTROL AND OPERATION
New 20x HD Video Lens, Enhanced Image Control and Other User-Requested Refinements Serve the Needs of Event Video, Documentary Filmmaking and Pro Markets
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., April 10, 2008 - Building on the success of its acclaimed XL H1 High Definition (HD) camcorder, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging technology, has introduced the new shoulder mount XL H1S and XL H1A HD camcorders, which include new advanced features requested by professional users for improved operation and image control.
Canon's new XL H1S and XL H1A camcorders, which will be on display at the 2008 NAB Show (Booth #SU3020), feature an updated Canon 20x HD Video Lens with three independent manual adjustment rings (focus, zoom and iris), as well as enhanced manual focus and zoom control. Additionally, the XL H1S and XL H1A incorporate an expanded array of controls for customising the image, display, and operation to match individual needs. Utilizing the industry's most affordable digital video recording media - HDV tapes - both models are ideal for such long-form production applications as wedding and event videography, digital filmmaking, documentary production and media education.
Both the new XL H1S and XL H1A deliver superior HD image quality with their Genuine Canon XL interchangeable lens system, three 1/3 inch, 1.67 Megapixel CCD Image Sensors, and Canon's proprietary DIGIC DVII HD Image Processor. Both models also feature a durable six-pin IEEE 1394 terminal, providing a more robust connection to external hardware.
The XL H1S model provides expanded connectivity by incorporating HD-SDI (SMPTE 299M)/SD-SDI (SMPTE272M) output with embedded audio and time code, providing a raw, uncompressed 1.485 Gbps signal for demanding live production environments, SMPTE Time Code input and output terminals, and a Genlock output terminal for multi-camera shooting situations.
"The new XL H1S and XL H1A HD camcorders continue to meet the needs of producers, event videographers, and digital cinematographers with superior Canon optical and imaging technology, and with the most cost-effective medium for high-quality HD video capture and storage, which is HDV tape," noted Yuichi Ishizuka, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A. "Canon's unsurpassed quality is seen in our broadcast HDTV lenses and the Canon EOS digital photography cameras. This know-how directly benefits the quality of Canon professional and consumer HD camcorders. Recently, our consumer camcorders claimed the number-one position in total high definition camcorder unit sales above $200 in both January and February of 2008, according to The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service."
New Genuine Canon 20x HD Video Zoom Lens III
Leveraging Canon's expertise as a worldwide leader in optics, the XL H1S and XL H1A feature a redesigned Genuine Canon 20x HD Video Zoom Lens equipped with Canon's XL lens mount. The XL lens mount enables users to interchange lenses, such as Canon's optional 6x wide-angle lens, Canon EF photographic lenses, and many other lenses for specialised image capture. The XL H1S and XL H1A HD camcorders' new Genuine Canon 20x HD Video Zoom Lens III offers independent manual zoom, focus and iris rings, which can operate simultaneously. These rings have been redesigned for easy access and comfortable operation. Other innovations of the lens include: three sensitivity settings for the manual focus ring; fast and slow zoom speeds; smooth movement when starting or stopping zooms; and selectable rotational angles between the tele and wide ends of the lens zoom. Simultaneous zoom and focus control are also possible in either Manual or Auto Focus mode. The new Genuine Canon 20x HD Video Zoom Lens III incorporates aspherical lenses to reduce flare and fluorite lens elements to minimize chromatic aberration. Additionally, the lens features Canon's SuperRange Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) system, which corrects camera shake instantly on hand-held shots at full telephoto, shots taken from a moving vehicle, or other challenging situations.
The new camcorders provide users with an unprecedented range of image/color settings, camera-control functions, and viewfinder display choices. Video can be captured and output in multiple frame rates to meet the demands of diverse production assignments. These frame rates include: 60i for mainstream production; 30F for perfect frame grabs or Web delivery; and 24F for emulating the look of motion-picture film. Canon's Factory Service Centre can also provide an optional upgrade to add 50i and 25F frame rates. The camcorders can be switched in all frame rates between 1080-line 16:9 aspect ratio HD video and 480-line 4:3 aspect ratio SD video (or 576 lines in 50i or 25F mode).
Both the XL H1S and XL H1A HD camcorders provide Total Image Control for customising image and colour settings, with a total of 23 custom presets available for image-quality adjustment, with the range of image colour presets extended from +/-9 to +/-50 steps for fine-tuning the picture (an important feature for achieving the visual subtleties favoured by cinematographers). Custom image pre-set files can be stored to an onboard SD/SDHC Memory Card and shared with another Canon XL H1S, XL H1A, or with Canon XH G1 and XH A1 HD camcorders for seamless multi-camera production work.
Custom camera functions and operation settings total 21 items and 33 sub-items for achieving creative "looks" for footage. Among these new functions are: "shockless" white balance for smooth, color-accurate dissolves between two pre-set white balance values (adjustable from 2000K to 15000K); the ability to increase gain in 0.5dB increments from 0dB up to +18dB, and there is also additional -3dB and +36dB settings. A selective noise-reduction function is available for reducing the noise in targeted colour areas, which is important for blue/green chroma-key applications in special effects work and for shooting insufficiently illuminated backgrounds.
Using the custom display settings feature, a camera operator can tailor the display to their shooting style. These include 22 items and 40 sub-items for selection of status information that can be shown in the XL H1S and XL H1A HD camcorders' 2.4" combination EVF/LCD monitor.
Audio Capture and A/V Connectivity
User-requested refinements in the XL H1S and XL H1A audio capabilities include: two-channel audio performance; two built-in XLR terminals with separate audio-input sensitivity settings; the ability to simultaneously record sound from an external microphone and the supplied internal microphone; line output level switching; an audio (manual) limiter; a new metal headphone jack for reliable connectivity. Another important new feature is embedded audio (and SMPTE time code) in the XL H1S HD camcorder's uncompressed HD-SDI/SD-SDI digital output via an industry-standard BNC co nnector.
Other improved connections on the XL H1S and XL H1A HD camcorders include an external LCD monitor output for critical focus confirmation on an optional larger monitor simultaneous RCA and BNC video output for added monitoring and dubbing convenience, and a photo-flash accessory shoe to support use of Canon EX Series Speedlites.
The new Canon XL H1S HD camcorder is scheduled to be available in early June for an estimated retail price of $8,999, and the XL H1A, which will have an estimated retail price of $5,999, is scheduled to be available in mid-July.