Ever since it shipped almost exactly two years ago, the HDV-based Canon XH A1 has been a favorite among indie and event videographers. Rather than replace it, Canon has decided to buff it up a bit, along with its sibling, the more broadcast-oriented XH G1.
In addition to appending an "S" to the end of their names, the XH A1S and XH G1S primarily have some subtle operational tweaks. Canon redesigned the lens rings, adding increased control over speed, smoothness, and dampening behavior for the focus, zoom and iris.
Audio improvements include simultaneous recording from internal and external mic, a metal headphone jack, and separate sensitivity settings for each audio channel, with 5 selections for the XLR inputs (ranging from +12dB to -12dB).
Per Canon, miscellaneous enhancements include the addition of a 6-pin FireWire connector, gain adjustments in +0.5dB steps from 0 to 18dB, AGC and iris limits, external EVF monitor output, remaining capacity display when recording to a Focus Enhancements hard drive, push AE, selective noise reduction, and manual color temperature range has been enhanced to 2000 to 15000 degrees Kelvin.
camcorders XH G1S (not the A1S) can now flag frames for more intelligent frame dropping when outputting the native 60i footage as 24F.
The camcorders are slated to ship in December: the XH A1S for $3,999 and the XH G1S for $6,999. If you're in the market, you might consider looking for deals on the older models, though.