Canon continues move into HD acquisition

By Ken Kerschbaumer
Canon U.S.A. continues to get more serious about the professional HD video market after launching its initial foray, the XL H1 camcorder, in 2005. While that unit delivered the goods for mid-level productions at a price of roughly $9,000 two new HD cameras, the XH A1 and XH G1are looking to give those looking for even more cost-effective solutions new options.

Both of those units show that Canon is very serious about HD, says Mitch Glick, assistant manager of product marketing at Canon’s Video Division.

Pricing on the two units is $3,999 for the XH A1 while the XH G1 will set buyers back $6,999. But the additional $3,000 will be worth the price for professional users. The XH G1 includes features like embedded audio and an HD-SDI port as well as a range of parameter adjustments and some new settings, says Glick. They include SMPTE timecode for input and output and genlock input.

The HD-SDI output is particularly important for high-end users. The cameras record on HDV tape but, with the use of the HD-SDI output, video can be sent out of the camera and recorded on decks and hard drives that will allow for higher bit rates. With HD-SDI there s a 1.4 Gbps stream, and that opens up a lot of possibilities, says Glick. Higher-end users can use it and edit at the pinnacle of quality.

When coupled with the genlock feature local sports productions can become multi-camera shoots to permit trouble-free switching. In addition, each camera can lay down synchronous time code.

Another new product launched for Canon s camera lineup is a Console Image Control and Storage software. It allows users to control nearly all of their Canon camcorder functio ns from a Windows-based laptop or desktop via FireWire. It also includes a built-in vectorscope and waveform monitor and allows recording of material directly to a hard drive.

Parameters that can be controlled include: access to all custom pre-sets; control up to +36dB of gain; +1.25/-1.25 of AE shift; white-balance preset shift; color correction and sky detail; and keyboard shortcuts.

Also new from Canon is a six-times HD zoom lens, the XL 3.4-20.4mm L lens. Designed for the XL H1, the $2,999 wide-angle lens has focal lengths from 24.5 to 147mm and a manual iris ring and a distance display function to aid focus.

The manual iris ring is the type of feature found on true ENG style lenses, and the wide angle opens the camera up to a lot more applications, like studio work or film making,

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