Canon XH A1 Camcorder vs. the HV20? Which one to buy?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jayeskreezy, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. jayeskreezy macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    Ok I know obviously the Canon XH A1 MiniDV HD Camcorder cost about $3k more than the HV20, but I was wondering if it was really worth it to get one for professional quality video vs. a Canon HV20???

    It's for my job. We produce employee training videos as well as promo videos that we show to the world. We will be possibly making short films (5-7 min) in the future. We don't have any professional videographers (people who will really know how to operate the cams) as of now, but who knows? That could change in the future.

    Would it be worth it for us to invest in the Canon XH A1 or get the HV20 and spend the extra things on equipment. We really want to get a 3ccd camcorder or good professional quality camera if possible. 3ccd is still better than Canon's HV20,correct? What would you suggest and why? Any and all opinions are welcome!!!
  2. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    The XH A1 is a better camera with many more features, manual controls including focus, zoom, and iris rings, XLR inputs, etc. The 3CCD XH A1 is going to have better low light performance than the 1CMOS HV20, and it will probably have a little bit more vibrant colors. That said, if you don't know what half that means, you probably don't need it.

    For doing employee training videos, you definitely don't need the XH-A1 and probably wouldn't even need the HV20. You could go SD. How would you play back the HD video? You can't burn it to blu-ray yet. You could burn short films to HD-DVD format on DVD-9s to play in an HD-DVD player, but that's still going to be expensive. However, if you get the HV20 you'd be able to shoot in SD until HD delivery becomes easier/cheaper.

    As for promo videos, if you don't have anyone who has experience I don't know if you'd want to get in to making those. It might be better to hire a professional to do those.

    Long story short, I'd probably get the HV20. You won't take advantage of the XH A1s features enough to warrant $2500 more (~$3300 vs ~$800).
  3. fart macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2007
    The Nation's Fartland
    first off, if you're spending someone else's money, GET THE MOST MILAGE out of it that you can! Get the A1! Manual controls, XLR inputs, etc, etc are important to corp video, and if you're videos are going to be shown anywhere beyond the cubical walls, these features are important.

    my 2 cents
  4. jayeskreezy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    lol...our company doesn't have a WHOLE WHOLE lot of money to lavishly buy things so I just want to get the best value for the price as well. We have about 50 full time employees. Everything else we do is with partnerships.

    As for the promo vids-if we can simply hire someone to film it for us and we have the equipment do you think that would cut future costs? I like the there anything good that can be purchased new in between a hv20 and the XH A1???
  5. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    The Sony HDR-FX7 is a 3CMOS Prosumer HDV cam that retails around $2700. Got most of the features of the XH A1 but its a little bit cheaper.

    B&H Sony HDR-FX7
  6. seany916 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2006
    Southern California
    I have both. The HV20 is easily the best choice for your purpose.

    Given that you can control the lighting (lots is good with ANY camera), it's the more fool-proof of the two and gives great images. Capturing footage on an A1 in Auto mode is a waste. With good lighting you will capture beautiful images on the HV20. The on camera mic is really good as far as on camera mics go. But ANY handling of the camera will render your audio unacceptable. Invest in a little tripod too. Sliks are cheap and available for $25-50. You won't need anything fancy. Don't bother with HDV specific tapes, just get good DV tapes.

    The ONLY reason I would suggest the A1 is if you decide that you want to spend more and invest in quality microphones for the camera. PM me if you decide to go this route and we can discuss details.

    For general video stuff for internal distribution only, the HV20 is the best choice with good lighting and NO ONE TOUCHING THE CAMERA WHILE IT ROLLS. As far as stuff to show the world...

    the HV20 will be fine for web content, but you might be better off spending a bit and having a professional video company shoot your footage and edit it for you if you plan on distributing it on DVD. I doubt your DVD will be longer than 10-15 minutes.
  7. trudd macrumors regular


    May 27, 2004
    Agreed. I have the XH-A1 and it is a remarkable camera, but I'll echo that it might be overkill for your application.

    Like Seany said, if you are going to buy an A1 and shoot in Auto mode, then you've totally defeated the point of investing in a camera with manual controls.

    The HV20 will provide a great image, given you have decent lighting. The HV20 isn't as light-sensitive as the A1 (1xCMOS vs. 3xCCD, chip size, lens, etc.) but that shouldn't be a problem since you will be in controlled environments.

    My $0.02: If the need for an A1 is even a question, then go with the HV20. Use the money saved to buy a solid tripod, some lights, and a mic. If you are going to shoot with XLR mics, then buy a Beachtek XLR->1/8" adapter (

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