Canon Unveils Two HD Camcorders

Canon Wednesday unveiled two high-definition camcorders, hot on the heels of new HD models from Sony and Sanyo Electric.

Unlike their rivals’ camcorders, Canon’s new models are aimed at the highest end of the consumer market, and professionals.

The XH-G1 and XH-A1 are based on the HDV tape format, which allows storage of HD-quality images on conventional DV tape, and come with a 20X optical zoom lens. They include 23 presets covering image quality and have 21 custom function modes including presets intended to set the cameras up for use in news gathering or a studio setting. There is also a 24-frame-per-second mode to match the look of celluloid film, and still image functions including simultaneous still image shooting.

Canon XH-G1 High-Definition Camcorder
Canon HD XH-G1

The XH-A1 will be available in Japan in late October and will cost 550,000 yen (US$4,707). The XH-G1 will follow in mid-November and will carry a higher price tag of 800,000 yen. The XH-G1 will be available in the United States in mid-November and in Europe in late November, and the XH-A1 will go on sale in the United States in late October and in Europe in mid-November. Overseas prices are yet to be decided, Canon said.

The higher-specification XH-G1 comes with a broadcast serial digital interface connector and support for genlock, which can minimize glitches when switching between video feeds, and timecode, which helps synchronize footage taken by multiple cameras.

Last week, Sony and Sanyo also announced new HD camcorders. Sony showed two cameras, one that stores video on DVD discs and another that uses a hard-disk drive. The Sony cameras are aimed at the mid-range consumer market and will be on sale in September and October, respectively, at the much more user-friendly prices of 170,000 yen and 180,000 yen.

Sony is keen to push consumers toward high-definition home movies and hopes that by the end of this year, half of all camcorders it sells will be HD models.

Sanyo’s Xacti DMX-HD1A is both smaller and cheaper than the Sony and Canon models. It records to a secure digital memory card but only manages high-definition recording at 720 horizontal lines. That’s better than standard definition video, which is about 500 horizontal lines, but not as good as full high-definition of 1,080 lines. The DMX-HD1A will cost around 90,000 yen and be available in September.

-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)

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