It looks like there might finally be some competition for the Sony FX1, which is the low-budget indie filmmakers' high-def camcorder of choice. Canon hasn't had anything to offer in the affordable semi-pro market -- until now. Following the excellent XL H1, Canon has announced the introduction of two new HD camcorders, the XH G1 and the XH A1. These look like they might be perfect for next year.
The XH G1 has a higher specification than the A1, and includes a broadcast SDI connector, genlock and timecode features. This model will hold more appeal for the broadcast media.
Of most interest to indie filmmakers is the 24fps mode available on both models. This is designed to simulate the look of celluloid film. There are some compromises to be made here, though. Unlike the XL H1, you can't swap out the lenses on the new models. Instead they used a fixed 'Video L lens' with 20x optical zoom. Both use a 3CCD and 1.67-megapixel sensor, which shares its DIGIC DV II sensor technology with the XL H1. Both camcorders capture at 1080i, generating a picture resolution of 1440x1080.
These new camcorders use the HDV tape format, which can record HD resolution video to regular MiniDV tapes. Built-in presets set up the camcorder for use in different environments, such as a news studio.
Both camcorders will be available in Europe later this year, but UK pricing is yet to be confirmed. On paper the new Canons look like a serious alternative to the FX1, but we'll hold judgement until we know more about pricing and get one in for review. Keep your eyes peeled. -CS