The Good Very high resolution; extensive image controls; interchangeable lenses; compatible with the Canon XL system of lenses and accessories; compatible jack pack is ideal for multicam studio work.
The Bad No true progressive shooting; strange ergonomics; stock lens hard to focus manually; pricier than the competition.
The Bottom Line Canon's semipro high-definition XL H1 video camera is a winner for event, reality, ENG, and documentary shooters, but its price is high.
Many were disappointed when Canon released its flagship XL2 DV camcorder without any high-definition (HD) capabilities. About a year later, Canon at last entered the HD fray with its XL H1 HDV camcorder. This 16:9-native camera incorporates the 1080i HDV specification, using MPEG-2 compression to fit an hour's worth of HD video onto a DV tape. The Canon XL H1 can trace its lineage back nearly a decade to the groundbreaking XL1, retaining that camera's unique love-it-or-hate-it design.
However, while the XL1 was a breakthrough camera, the Canon XL H1 is playing catch-up, matching the state of the art already established by Sony, JVC, and Panasonic. And at nearly $9,000, the XL H1 is by far the most expensive HD option in its class. To those familiar with or invested in Canon's XL system, the XL H1 may prove the obvious choice. To others, its quirky design, lack of progressive-video capabilities, and high price may be the three strikes that knock it out of competition. The XL H1 is very obviously the most recent iteration of Canon's XL-series camera. In fact, if it weren't for its stealthy black color and a prominent HDV logo, the Canon XL H1 could easily be mistaken for the earlier XL2, retaining almost exactly its odd hybrid shape--something between that of a typical Handycam and a shoulder-mounted pro camera.
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