Canon’s XC10, an easy-to-use broadcast quality camcorder

Canon XC-10 camera
Canon’s XC10 is a radical new kind of camera that could be really useful for documentary and travel filmmakers and event photographers/videographers. I’ve been testing one and I’ll be posting a review soon.

It’s an Ultra HD (4K) camera which shoots 12MP stills. Looking a bit like an SLR, it has a fixed zoom lens (27-273mm equivalent, f/2.8-f/5.6), a rotating handgrip and a dedicated ‘loupe’ eyepiece attachment instead of a viewfinder. It’s light (about 1kg) and physically small at 125x102x122mm. That makes it less than half the size of my XF100 pro camcorder, though its video quality is far better.

It can shoot 4K at 305Mb/s and has a good-sized one inch sensor. For HD, it meets ‘broadcast quality’ standards of 4:2:2 colour space, 50Mb/s, and a fairly large one-inch sensor.

It claims 12 stops of dynamic range in video mode. This means it should be better at handling contrasty scenes than their 5D Mark III DSLR (which has 10 stops). It also has the option of using a Canon Log picture style to maintain the maximum highlight information.

For 4K, it needs expensive CFast cards (one comes with the camera), but it will record HD onto affordable SD cards.

The XC10 has sophisticated optical and digital image stabilisation, a digital 2x teleconverter, and ISO sensitivity up to 20000 (though you’ll lose sharpness due to noise reduction above 5000). It has quite a few professional features (e.g. focus peaking and zebras) but no XLR audio input. This isn’t a problem for most users who will either plug in something like a VideoMic Pro or Rodelink wireless setup, or use a separate audio recorder.

First impressions? It’s easy to use and doesn’t attract nearly as much attention as an ordinary pro camcorder. The image stabilisation is excellent, particularly in HD mode, and makes it easy to handhold. The tilting screen and rotating handgrip work really well. The clip-on viewfinder loupe is OK but not great if you wear glasses. The controls are a little bit fiddly – it relies a lot on the touchscreen – but that’s partly down to its small size. It’s probably the best value broadcast quality camera around.

Check out the video (below) from What Digital Camera to see how it looks.


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