recently introduced two new HDV prosumer level camcorders, the XHA1 and XHG1. Both are in the same form-factor as the company's G2 standard-definition camcorder.
Both camcorders offer the same three 1/3-inch 1.67 megapixel CCD sensors introduced with Canon's XL H1 HDV camcorder last year. With 1080i resolution, they offer a 60i, 30 frame or 24 frame setting. The camcorders can also be modified by Canon for 50i for use in Europe.
"These two models will fit in quite nicely for those who really like the feature set of the XL-H1, but wanted something in a more compact body for either run-and-gun news reporting, for event videography, for filmmaking, and basically everything else in between," said Mitch Glick, assistant manager of product marketing at Canon's Video Division.
Both camcorders feature a new 20x Canon zoom lens featuring the new technology Super Range Image Stabilization and Instant AF auto-focusing system. The auto-focusing system has an external sensor in front of the lens that measures the camera-to-subject distance prior to in-lens fine-focusing taking over.
"[Instant AF] is really going to significantly decrease the amount of time it needs to snap into focus, and also improves the accuracy as well," said Glick. "For high definition, if you're even the slightest bit out of focus you're going to pick it up, so we definitely felt that for HD it was time for us to improve how focusing was done."
The lens features rings for manual zoom, focus and iris control, and sports the same Professional L-Series Fluorite Glass the company uses in its 35mm cine lenses.
Glick noted that Canon's 70 years of lens making was a distinct advantage in designing these new products.
"Normally if you go with a smaller size form-factor, there's some kind of a tradeoff," he said. "But because we are an optics manufacturer, we don't have to compromise anything at all. We just design that lens specifically for that image sensor, for that body style, and the results are excellent."
The camcorders feature both a dedicated color viewfinder and swing-out LCD screen. Canon put toggle switches for colorbars and boosting gain, and allows users to customize the menu system to hide features the videographer never uses.
The XHA1 and XHG1 are identical except that to facilitate studio use, the G1 features the same professional jack-pack the XL H1 has. This includes HD-SDI output and a switchable input or output for SMPTE timecode.
The XHA1, which will retail for $3,999, will be available in late October, while the XHG1 will debut in mid-November with a retail price of $6,999.
Canon will continue to deliver its standard definition G2 camcorder. "There still is a market, we feel, for standard definition," said Glick. "Not everyone's ready to switch over to high def."