Cherry blossoms in HD

This picture is one frame from an HD movie taken with the XH A1 in 1080i mode. Click on the image to get the full size view. It looks better than most of the images I take with my still camera.


Should I pay 4x for HDV tapes?

Crikey. I've just learned that although you can use regular mini-DV tapes in an HDV camcorder, maybe you shouldn't. According to wikipedia (today, at least): "Because HDV uses the same tape form factor as DV, users should be able to use any high quality MiniDV tape in their HDV camcorder. However, because HDV has a lower tolerance for drop-outs because of its long-GOP compression, many HDV users purchase either 'master' quality Mini-DV tapes or specially formulated HDV tapes."

But tapes advertised as being for HDV cost four times as much as regular mini-DV tapes. Surely this is a rip-off, comparable to the hugely-inflated prices of Monster cables? Please someone tell me that regular tapes from a reputable manufacturer are good enough!


Canon XH A1: Big and Wonderful

As promised in my last post, I bought a Canon XH A1 from Beach Camera. As usual with Beach, the transaction was smooth and the shipping was quick.

I am on a journey that I suspect is common to a lot of semi-serious videographers out there: the first step from a decent SD camcorder to HD. I have had great service from a pair of Panasonic PV-GS400 camcorders for the last couple of years. The PV-GS400 was hands down the best camcorder in its price class and it is very sad that Panasonic no longer produces it and instead has chosen to dumb down its product line.

But it was time to think about HD anyway. The choice was to take a small step up to a consumer HD camera or take a big step up into a prosumer camera. I had gotten used to the nice manual controls on the PV-GS400 and didn't want to give any of that up. So I made the big step forward. The XH A1 is about (gulp) three times the price of the PV-GS400.

The first thing you notice is that the XH A1 is a lot bigger than the PV-GS400. (See picture.) But it is much sexier looking. I mean, come on, look at it!

It's heavier too, weighing in at about 5-1/2 pounds. The little pipsqueak Panasonic is only 1-1/2 pounds. I thought the weight would kill me, but I walked around for about an hour with it, taking pictures of random things, and it wasn't too bad.

The second thing you notice is the quality of the pictures. Oh my! This baby is worth every penny. More on the picture quality in my next post.