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Canon Enters HDV Arena With XL H1

The HDV market has a new camcorder competitor. Canon has announced the XL H1, the company's first HD camcorder.

According to Joseph Bogacz, assistant director of product development and support for Canon's Video Division, the XL H1 is not designed to be a replacement product for the XL2, a DV-based camcorder that was introduced last year. In fact, the new unit is clearly aiming for the higher end of the HDV market, with an estimated $9,000 price tag and a number of broadcast-friendly features.

A "professional jackpack" provides uncompressed SDI and HD-SDI output, as well as genlock and SMPTE time code. As a result, multiple XL H1s can be synchronized through a switcher for multi-camera shoots.

The camcorder includes a 20x HD zoom lens, complete with built-in image stabilization, and its XL lens mount allows the use of other lenses. The lens also includes two independent ND filters, as well as focus and zoom presets. Also new for the XL H1 is a 2.4-inch widescreen LCD color viewfinder with optional aspect ratio guides.

With a similar body style to the XL2, the XL H1 has an all-black body and features three 1/3-inch CCDs, offering 1440x1080 resolution. It's the first camcorder to feature Canon's proprietary DIGIC DV II image processor, plus there are 23 separate image adjustments, such as color correction and sharpness.

The camera does not offer true 24p acquisition, however, you can choose standard 60i video mode or capture in 24 frame or 30 frame using Canon's proprietary system. The XL H1 can also be used as a DV camcorder or as a digital still camera, capturing 2.1 megapixel images (as well as metadata) on an SD memory card. In photo mode, it can even use a Canon flash on its hot shoe mount. Camcorder settings can also be saved to flash memory and transferred to other XL H1 camcorders.

Also new from Canon is Console, a PC-based software program that provides remote image control and camera operation for the XL H1 (and the XL2), complete with waveform/vectorscope and zoom/focus control. The software can also record and playback HDV or DV footage on the computer hard drive.

According to Canon officials, the XL H1 and Console should be available in November.