The best feature of the Canon XH-A1 is the 20x Fluorite zoom lens. It is razor sharp through the full zoom range. Unlike more expensive Canon video cameras, the lens is fixed and not removable. However, with the performance and zoom range of this lens, alternate lenses aren’t necessary.
One of the weakest features of the Canon XH-A1 is the tiny LCD screen. It has a very high resolution, but it’s so small that you would need a magnifying glass to use it for anything but framing. The LCD screen is on a unique arm. The screen folds forward and then rotates into the camera beneath the handle. Clearly, the intention is to get the screen out of the way without obstructing any of the controls, and to make it easier for an external monitor can be attached. I tried the camera with about a 7-inch standard definition monitor. If you are shooting the camera in auto-focus mode, the LCD is good enough for framing and to see some detail. If you have to use manual focus, an external HD monitor is a necessity.
A Narrow Perspective
The XH-A1 is a very flexible camera and is used in many applications including event and wedding videography, interviews, training videos, online video, and documentaries. My interest in the camera is limited to low-budget independent film production. So rather than trying to describe how the camera might be used in all applications or attempting to describe it in abstract technical terms, my perspective is very pragmatic. I’m trying to answer two basic questions: 1) “What kind of imagery can I get out of this camera?” and 2) “What latitude of control does the camera afford?”
I’m looking for the creative flexibility to express story ideas.