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Two HD camcorders unveiled by Canon

Aimed at high end of market

Hot-on-the-heels of HD (high-definition) models from Sony and Sanyo, Canon today unveiled two HD camcorders.

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 24fps (frames per second) mode to match the look of celluloid film, and still image functions including simultaneous still image shooting.

The XH-A1 will be available in Japan from late October and will cost ¥550,000 (about £2,560). The XH-G1 will follow in mid-November and will carry a higher price tag of ¥800,000 (£3,720). The XH-G1 will be available in Europe in late November, while the XH-A1 will go on sale in mid-November. European pricing is yet to be confirmed.

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

Last week Sony and Sanyo also announced 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 (£790) and ¥180,000 (£840).

Sony is keen to push consumers towards HD home movies and hopes that by the end of this year half of all the 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 an SD (Secure Digital) memory card but only manages HD recording at 720 horizontal lines. That's better than standard-definition video, which is about 500 horizontal lines, but not as good as full HD: 1,080 lines. The DMX-HD1A will cost around ¥90,000 (£420) and will be available from September.

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