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Canon XH-A1S 3CCD HDV High Definition Professional Camcorder with 20x HD Video Zoom Lens III (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
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  • Genuine Canon 20x HD video zoom lens with Professional L Series Fluorite; Independent manual focus. zoom, and iris ring
  • Three 1/3-inch native 16:9 CCD with 1.67M pixels (1440 x 1080); 1080 HD resolution with choice of 60i, 30F, and 24F frame rates
  • Canon DIGIC DV II HD Image Processor
  • Complete Customization: Iimage adjustments, display adjustments, custom functions; Nine custom presets and two custom keys
  • 2.8-inch Widescreen LCD (207,000 Pixels) and 0.57-inch Color Widescreen EVF (269,000 Pixels)
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Technical Details

Product Description

Product Description

Canon XH-A1S 3CCD HDV High Definition Professional Camcorder With 20X HD Video Zoom Lens III.

From the Manufacturer

From the Manufacturer

For the professionals who require a smaller, lighter weight HD camcorder but who won’t give up capability and performance, Canon offers the XH A1S. Our latest in a family of high quality HDV camcorders, the XH A1S delivers advanced features and a wide range of image parameter controls to make your vision a reality- and at a very attractive price.

Starting with the superb Canon Genuine Canon 20x HD lens with Professional L Series Fluorite, the XH A1S adds 3CCDs, each of which is at 1440 x 1080 pixels. It also means you can be sure that your shooting in the field will be the best it can be with Canon’s SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization.

Canon XH-A1S Highlights
It corrects for a wide range of camera movement and vibration, and combined with Instant AF (Auto Focus) you’ll get ultra-quick, accurate focus. The DIGIC DV II HD image processor finishes the picture with improved color reproduction and noise reduction - for a final result that delivers excellent image quality.

To further ensure that your vision is realized, the XH A1S gives you features that let you make manual adjustments to fine-tune your video- the ultimate in total image control. For those situations in which you need to let your camcorder take care of exposure and image controls, the automatic settings on the XH A1S will expertly assist you.

You’ll find flexibility, versatility and capability in the extensive array of features and optional accessories of the XH A1S. It is bound to meet and exceed your highest expectations.

Canon XH-A1S Highlights

Genuine Canon 20x HD Video Lens III with Professional L-Series Fluorite

The XH A1S comes with a Genuine Canon 20x HD lens that shows why the name Canon is synonymous with optical excellence.

Canon XH-A1S Highlights
Canon reserves the L-Series designation for its highest quality photographic lenses. The Professional L Series Fluorite lens of the XH A1S ensures outstanding resolution, contrast and color reproduction, and delivers clarity and image quality you won't see with conventional optical glass lenses. And, because it's an ultra-low dispersion (UD) lens, chromatic aberration is reduced for brilliant results.

The XH A1S's design gives you equally impressive operational performance. The design lets you operate the zoom using the lens barrel ring, the control on the camera's grip, or the control on the camera's handle. When using the zoom ring on the lens, you can control the speed of your zoom by varying the angle of the ring, or by varying the speed at which you rotate the ring. When using the grip control, you can zoom at 16 different speeds; or you can use the control to operate at a single zoom speed which you preset. When using the handle zoom control, you can operate the zoom at a single speed which you preset. You can also select high-speed zoom to increase the zoom speed when using either the grip or handle control. And, because the lens is designed with a zoom ring, you can operate zoom, focus and aperture using a single hand.

This f1.6 - 3.5, 4.5 - 90mm lens gives you a wide view that - at its widest - is equivalent to a 32.5mm focal length lens on a 35mm camera. It also comes with two built-in ND filters, and can be enhanced with an optional wide converter to meet all your needs.

SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer
The XH A1S also comes with Canon's innovative SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS), which combines gyro- and image-sensors to give image stabilization through a wider range of camera motions. Some image stabilization systems correct one type of camera motion or vibration better than another. But Canon's SuperRange OIS corrects for a wide range of camcorder motion: the fast vibration you'd experience while recording from a moving car; the medium-speed motion of hand-held recording; and the slower motion of body sway. No matter what you're recording and how you're recording it, the XH A1S's stabilization design corrects camcorder shake instantly. In addition, optical stabilization keeps your shot steady without a loss in image quality - something that can't be said for electronic image stabilization.
Canon XH-A1S Highlights
SuperRange OIS in action

Three 1/3-inch Native 16:9 CCD Image Sensors

The XH A1S is equipped with three 1/3-inch Native 16:9 CCDs (1.67 megapixels)--the same image sensor that is at the heart of Canon's exceptional XL H1S and XL H1A. They deliver outstanding picture quality, highly accurate color reproduction, and a wide dynamic range with virtually no color noise.

Canon DIGIC DV II HD Image Processor

DIGIC DV II HD is the next generation of Canon's exclusive DIGIC DV signal processing technology. Designed specifically for processing the immense volume of information in 1080i HD signals, DIGIC DV II ensures optimal image quality for HD video.

Tonal reproduction has been increased for high image quality. Color reproduction has also been enhanced for improved color image quality - especially in skin tones, and dark and light scenes. The DIGIC DV ll processor also employs a new, hybrid noise reduction system that integrates two types of noise reduction. This, along with a new gamma system, reduces noise in monotone and shadow areas especially, for high definition images that are crystal clear.

The XH A1S captures 1080 High Definition resolution video at 60i, 30F or 24F frame rates (or, 50i/60i with optional upgrade). It captures a true 16:9 widescreen HD image that's made for your broadcast and theatrical projects.

Complete Customization

Image, display and the functionality of the camcorder can be customized to suit your preference or application. This customization ensures that your XH A1S fits your creative, production and personal needs and preferences exactly. Settings can be saved to memory for easy retrieval or downloaded into other XH A1S and XH G1S camcorders via an SD memory card.

Image Control
A variety of image control functions gives you as much or as little exposure control as you want, and lets you fine-tune your exposures for outstanding video. You get Total Image Control, Exposure Lock for re-composing your shot after setting your exposure, AE shift (+/- 2 levels), Gain Setting, 2 Custom Keys, as well as:
  • 7 Program AE Modes A variety of AE modes allow you to take as much or as little control of exposure as you need. Auto and Full Auto modes let you concentrate on your subject and the composition of your shot rather than exposure, or make it easy to maintain exposure during shots with lighting conditions that change. Manual lets you control every aspect of your exposure manually. With Tv priority, you select the shutter to match your subject; for example, you might select a shorter shutter speed for a fast moving subject. With Av priority, you select your aperture; for example, you might want more control over your depth of field. Spotlight gives you the optimal exposure for a brightly lit subject against a darker background. Night mode automatically adjusts exposure parameters to give you the best image possible of video recorded at night.
  • 9 Custom Presets With the XH A1S, you can make set a variety of image quality adjustments and store them for later use or for exporting to other camcorders. The adjustments include: hue, color gain, sharpness, setup level, color matrix (Normal/CINE1/CINE2), gamma (Normal/CINE1/CINE2), auto knee/knee, black (normal/stretch/press), G gain, B gain, R gain, NR1, NR2, coring, master pedestal, horizontal frequency adjustment, H/V balance, and matrix settings (R-G/R-B/G-R/G-B/B-R/B-G).
Custom Functions
With the XH A1S's Custom Functions capability, you can establish the camera settings best suited to your preference. Three custom functions (C.Fn1, C.Fn2 and C.Fn3) are provided. Each custom function allows a total of 21 main items to be selected. All three custom functions can be recorded on a memory card, and can then be downloaded to another camcorder. Items include: Shockless WB/GAIN, AE Response, High-speed Zoom Setting, Focus Ring Response Characteristics, Ring/Dial Operation Direction Settings, Subject Distance Unit Setting, Color Bar Display, Remote Control Codes, and Tally Lamp Settings.

Fine tuning of Gain can be made from 0dB to 18dB, in 0.5dB increments. And, with the +36dB Hypergain function, images can be captured even in the most challenging lighting conditions.

Custom Display
The Custom Display function lets you set 22 display items to create a custom menu to suit your specific needs. Once set, the functions can be recorded on a memory card, and can then be downloaded to another XH A1S or XH G1S camcorder. Items that can be selected include: Record Programs, Camera Data 1, Camera Data 2, Zoom, Focus, Neutral Density, Image Effects, Focus Assist Function, Customize, Recording STD, DV Record Mode, Frame Rate, Tape, Tape Remainder, Tape/Card, Light Metering, Card, Card Remainder, Audio, Condensation, Battery, and Wireless Remote.

1080 HD Capture with 60i, 30F, or 24F Progressive frame rates
The XH A1S delivers 1920 x 1080 HD, with the three Native 16:9 CCDs and the Genuine Canon 20x HD lens and DIGIC DV II Image Processor. They ensure that the XH A1S delivers the superb, high-quality High Definition video with vibrant color, crisp contrast and great detail - what you expect from Canon HD. The XH A1S also offers a full range of choices in selectable frame rates. You can choose between 60i, 30F progressive and 24F progressive settings to achieve just the look you want.
  • 30F Progressive Frame Rate In addition to the standard interlaced video frame rate of 60i, you may choose to set the XH A1S to capture video in 30F (30 progressive frames, recorded in 60i) which is ideal for footage which will be uploaded to the Internet. It is also an excellent choice for capturing fast action shots and sporting events. In addition, this setting gives enhanced quality to still images captured after recording.
  • 24F Progressive Frame Rate This setting gives a "film look" to the footage you record as the video frame capture rate is 24F, giving the appearance of the same frame rate as movie film.
60i / 50i Video Frame Rate Option
With the XH A1S's versatile open-architecture approach, you can even customize your HD camcorder to record in both 60i and 50i (this optional upgrade must be performed by a Canon Factory Service Center).

Industry-Standard Connections & Terminals

The Flash Accessory Shoe of the XH A1S supports Canon EX Series Speedlites, enabling you to use the proper lighting accessory to provide the illumination you need for practically any subject in any situation.

Canon XH-A1S Highlights
A robust 6-pin IEEE 1394 terminal is provided on the XH A1S to provide enhanced durability when using external devices, and an external EVF monitor output terminal is also fitted to allow the use of a component external monitor for more accurate image composing and video review.

Audio System

The two built-in XLR Terminals with independent audio level control on the XH A1S helps you to record audio at as high a level as your video. They provide phantom power and 3.5mm microphone and headphone terminals. With independent audio level control, you'll be in better command over the sound you record. You can simultaneously use the built-in microphone of the XH A1S and the XLR input, with individual sensitivity settings for each channel. The XLR sensitivity setting is selectable, from -12dB through +12dB. Line output level switching is provided, along with an audio volume lock to help prevent variations in the recorded sound.

Canon XH-A1S Highlights


To assist you in making sure that the shots you see are the shots you get, the XH A1S has a number of enhancements in function monitoring. They include a display of remaining recording capacity when using an external Focus Enhancements FS-CV Hard Disk Drive Recorder, as well as an external EVF Monitor Output Terminal.


Improvements have been made to the manual zoom, manual focus and iris ring on the XH A1S to further enhance its operability and which make it even easier to achieve your creative vision.
  • Zooming Responsive manual zoom ring with three settings (Slow, Normal, Fast), Three preset zoom speeds (Slow, Normal, Fast), Increased weighting of zoom ring for smoother control, Smooth zoom start and stop, Selectable rotational angle of zoom between Wide and Tele
  • Focusing Manual focus capability during zoom (in both Manual Focus and AF Modes), Selectable response on focus ring (Slow, Normal, Fast), Focus Limit (On/Off), Four selectable focus preset speeds
  • Iris Ring Improved ring design for better performance is an extremely useful function on the XH A1S. The manual iris adjustment ring allows you to adjust your f-stop with the same hand and in the same manner as you focus and zoom. You can thereby control all aspects of the image with your fingertips, while keeping the camcorder steady. In addition, the Iris limit is selectable.
Instant AF
With HD, focus is more critical than ever. It demands Instant AF: the next generation of auto focus, designed with HD resolution in mind. Because HD resolution is higher, focusing time is longer - it's harder to find perfect focus. Canon's Instant AF combines an external AF sensor with Canon's legendary auto focus system for fast and accurate focus. Together, the two sensors reduce focusing time - even in low-light, low contrast, or high brightness situations - and improve focusing performance on difficult subjects.

The XH A1S gives you a choice of two AF modes for different shooting applications:
  • Normal AF changes focus at a speed that appears natural and doesn't distract the viewer
  • Instant AF changes focus as rapidly as possible and is designed for applications in which quick focus is more important than other considerations - for example, in news gathering or documentary work
Additional Features
Canon XH-A1S Highlights
  • SD Memory Card/MultiMediaCard Slot (for storing custom presets, custom functions and photos) allowing the sharing of XH A1S Custom Preset files with other XH A1S', as well as Canon XL H1S, XL H1A and XH G1S camcorders
  • 2.8-inch Widescreen LCD and .57-inch Widescreen EVF provide you with bright, high-resolution views. The LCD gives approximately 207,000 pixels and the EVF, 269,000. The LCD and EVF can be used at the same time, giving both cameraperson and director a view of the action. The LCD stows in the camcorder body when not in use, and can also point forward for self-portrait work.
  • Still Image Shooting capabilities turn your XH A1S into a valuable production tool for storyboarding, continuity and publicity shots, and other applications. You get single image shooting, continuous shooting, high-speed continuous shooting, histogram display, AEB, image quality selection, print order, protect, slide show, and index display. And, digital still images can be recorded in either digital color space or video color space. Image sizes are 1920 x 1080, 848 x 480, 1440 x 1080, and 640 x 480. Still image shooting records images to a MultiMedia Card or SD Memory Card. Metering modes include center-weighted average metering, evaluative metering, and spot metering.
  • Support for 9 languages including: German, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Russian, English, Chinese (simplified), and Japanese.
  • Analog-Digital Converter lets you use your XH A1S to convert the analog signal from your TV, VCR or analog camcorder to digital. Or use your XH A1S as a signal converter by connecting it between an analog device and another digital device.
  • Level Shot and Grid Marker features make it easy to keep your camera level or compose your shot with precision. Simply press the Level Shot Control button, and a horizontal marker appears in your viewfinder. Line up any horizontal lines in your shot - such as the horizon - to the marker and you can be sure your camcorder is level. The Grid Marker feature lets you compose your shot accurately in relation to a precise grid.
  • Built-in XLR terminals (2) supply phantom power (+48 dB) and can be switched between LINE and MIC.
  • External Microphone Holder lets you attach an external microphone to your XH A1S.
  • Internal Battery Compartment
  • Flash Accessory Shoe can accept a Canon EX Speedlite flash unit for still photography.
  • Letterbox Display during playback allows easy viewing of HD footage on any monitor, even a 4:3 monitor.
  • 1 Year Parts and Labor Limited Warranty
What's in the Box
  • XH A1S Camcorder with lens cap
  • CA-920 Compact Power Adapter
  • WL-D5000 Wireless Controller
  • DTC-1000 Component Cable
  • Lens Hood
  • SDC-32M SD Memory Card
  • Two R6/AA Batteries
  • AC Cable
  • Tripod adapter base
  • BP-950G Battery Pack
  • STV-290N Stereo Video Cable
  • IFC-300PCU USB Cable
  • DC-920 Power Supply Coupler
  • SS-1100 Shoulder Strap
  • HDVM-E63PR Digital Video Cassette
  • Eyecup
  • External microphone holder adjustment band

Product Information

Product Dimensions 17.9 x 10.1 x 9.3 inches
Item Weight 1 pounds
Shipping Weight 10.8 pounds
Item model number 3238B001AA
Batteries 2 Lithium ion batteries required.
Customer Reviews
4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Best Sellers Rank #6,726 in Camera & Photo
#287 in Camera & Photo > Camcorders
Discontinued by manufacturer Yes
Date first available at Amazon.com June 17, 2003

Warranty & Support

Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael T. Tolman on July 15, 2009
Canon XH-A1S 3CCD HDV High Definition Professional Camcorder with 20x HD Video Zoom Lens III

What can I say except this camera is the only one that offers everything you need in this price range. What really sets it apart is the two xlr inputs on the side allowing two microphones to capture sound, and it switchable between external and internal mics, or use both simultaneously. No other camera offers this. Get a lens filter kit and the wide angle and telephoto adapters and you're ready to create anything you can imagine.

I recently filmed a music festival using this camera for long shots, close-ups, cutaways, and static shots, everything looks amazing. A tip for the novice to high-def recording- keeping the lens clean and checking it frequently is a must. The tiniest speck of dust looks huge on playback.

I've used it mostly on automatic setting so far as the the music festival was happening only days after receiving this camera but the little bit I've played around on manual setting promises unparalleled versatility, i'm very excited.
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Verified Purchase
I love this camera. If you don't have a lot of experience with prosumer cameras (as in my case), the first look may be a bit intimidating (a friend said, "It looks like you're filming tv news"). Especially as I added a Rode shotgun mike (not sure it does anything other than make the sound louder, but...still checking it out).

You can't rest the camera on your shoulder, but the image stabilizer helps and the grip and buttons are all well designed and easy to reach. I struggled through the manual, but fortunately bought Dan Curran's dvd about the xh-a1 which appears to be almost identical. This was a -huge- help. I can't recommend it enough if you are at all unsure of what you're looking at. He goes through the simplest things (putting the shoulder strap on) to some very technical settings that you can do. The dvd saved me -so much- learning time and also prevented some careless mistakes (like letting sunlight through the viewfinder).

This camera feels like a terrific tool that can do whatever you need and the picture quality--even on Auto--is beautiful. Having the two XLR terminals will make a big difference, too. The versatility and design really meets such a variety of needs--way too much machine/expense for "home video" (it's not the kind of camera people forget is pointing at them), but great if you want to shoot training films, web videos, independent films.

Technology has changed so much in the 20 years since I was in film school--and it's still hard for me to believe that such a great camera, capable of such a quality product, is available for under $4000.

Very impressed. Highly recommended.
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This camera is not for the novice by any means because once you step out of the auto everything mode it can be quite complicated.

Now that being said if it wasn't for all the manual settings and adjustments I would not want it anyway.

I have a Canon XLH1 and this camera makes the perfect workmate for it.

The picture quality is virtually the same so for a two camera shoot it's great.

Although it's about half of the weight of it's big brother the XLH1 it's still a little hard to hold steady since you can't rest it on your shoulder but the image stabilization is very helpful.

Also the auto focus is very fast and really comes in handy when you have to run and gun so to speak.

All in all this is a great camera with a awesome picture and I simply love it.
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Verified Purchase
I purchased this camera about a year ago as my main for my special events video service side business and to do small documentaries. It also happens to be my favorite toy and something I show off to some of my friends. I've been shooting video since my early teens back when VHS cams were the norm.

I've used this one in about a dozen weddings and other special events and a couple of documentary/interview videos and other mini projects. If you want a run and gun camera that you can get down and dirty with but still want to retain some semblance of a film quality look, this is definitely the camera to get. Obviously this also isn't your granny's camera. This camera is for people who want to devote part of their life to video. This camera is also for the guy new to video but wants to learn and get somewhere.

Overall I give the cam a solid 4. Here's why.



Easy to use in auto/easy mode. Great camera that you can pick up and start shooting on a short moments notice and that's why I call it a run and gun cam. But it will take you good while and a lot of practice to master to get the most out of it.

Physical Looks - Its big enough to let other people know you mean business but small/versatile enough to be able to handle in crowded or confined areas. For example when people are dancing I like to hold the camera up in the air with one hand to get a overhead view. Just because its not shoulder mount doesn't make it unstable. I can keep steady shot if I have it close to my body and zoom with my feet. Kids also tend to always want to jump in the video since its such an obvious camera.
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