Canon XC10 Footage – First Impressions and Review

Canon XC10It’s the middle of 2015. Affordable ooparge sensor cameras are well established in the market and 4K resolution is the latest trend. To this ever evolving market, here comes Canon with its latest innovation. A 1-inch, fixed lens, compact, ultra high definition professional camcorder aimed at “everyone”, according to Canon: 

“from next-generation advanced amateurs to professional 4K and HD videographers, from digital filmmakers needing a cost-effective 4K/HD “B” or “C” camera to multimedia journalists and news agencies seeking a 4K video camera”.

As not everything is about “film look” and not everyone is keen on / capable of working with large sensor cameras, Canon chose wisely to cater a specific niche in the market with the new XC10, and what’s left for us to examine is: How well did they do it?

canon-xc10

Canon XC10Although this camera can produce at times gorgeous looking images, the way to get those are in my opinion very painful – but before I share my concerns, here is what I liked:

 

  • Canon XC10 footage looks sharp and nice
  • Newly developed codec (already supported by Adobe and other editing platforms)
  • Good image stabilization
  • Multiple recording modes and frame rates (4K up to 30FPS, HD up to 60 FPS, 720p 120 FPS, in the NTSC version – appropriate 25/50fps/100fps values in the PAL version of the camera)
  • Canon Log and Wide Dynamic Range Gamma
  • OK in lowlight especially concerning the fact that it has a 1 inch sensor
  • Built in ND filter (One stage only. At times too weak on a sunny day)
  • SanDisk 64 GB CFast card and card reader are included in the price

Here are the points which might limit your creativity when working with the camera:

  • Limiting lens. The non-constant aperture can drive one crazy while shooting at multiple focal lengths…The maximum aperture difference between wide (F2.8) and tele (5.6) is too large.
  • Not enough assignable buttons. There are only 3 of those and that’s very limiting. After assigning 1-Magnification, 2-Display and 3-Push auto focus, I had to dig into “FUNCTION” in order to change ISO values, engage the internal ND filter,  use the focus peeking or enable zebra.
  • After changing a value in “FUNC”, when starting to record, the menu screen will still be present, preventing the possibility of quick recording. You are forced to close the menu in order to have a clean view of your recording.
  • No viewfinder. The proposed original Canon solution (loupe over the LCD) is a good idea but badly implemented. The image is distorted and not evenly in focus when you enable the diopter, which can cause eye fatigue and headache at times.
  • Cheap stiff rubber on the loupe is extremely uncomfortable to use.
  • Not a worldwide camera. Region restricted.
  • Up to 120 FPS in 720p only.
  • Magnification will punch in only once. Not enough to judge critical focus in some shooting situations.
  • Build quality is questionable. The lens on the camera I had already made strange noises while using the zoom ring, when holding it down.
  • If you intend to shoot in HD (1080) or slow motion 120 FPS in 720p, prepare to have an extra SD card as those formats will not record onto the CFast card.
  • Canon is marketing this camcorder as professional. A better professional XLR audio solution from Canon is missing for that though.
  • Minimum ISO in video mode is ISO 500.
  • Please be aware: When changing the frame rate to 100 FPS the shutter speed will automatically change to “100”, which is great, but when going back to 4K 25p this value will stay and not change back to shutter 50.
  • Expensive for what it is and what it offers – also the CFast 2.0 media are still quite expensive for such an entry level camera.

Canon XC10

Shooting experience:

All in all I would expect a market leader like Canon to deliver a more solid product especially when the price tag is so high for what it is. I can sum up that working with the XC10 was simply tiring for me. Too much menu fiddling and “worries” about staying in focus but hey, who said that the way to produce nice looking images should be easy ….

Canon XC10

Camera settings/editing/colour correction for this shoot:

  • Picture profile: Canon LOG
  • ISO 500 for outdoor shots, 5000 for the “indoor working place”
  • 4K 25p, 305 Mbps, shutter 50
  • Adobe Premiere CC 2014, Colour corrected with FilmConvert
  • Music: themusicbed (Take me back-Instrumental)

About the story and ethic statement:

Adrian Mahovics is a good friend and a working colleague. His sliders are exceptionally fine products. If you are in the market for the lightest professional tracking systems around, you should check this out:

www.wood-compslider.com

Regarding Canon XC10. The camera was at our office for a few days on a loan bases and now is back with Canon. If you click on one of links and buy the camera from our sponsor B&H, you will be supporting us by generating affiliate income which helps to develop and produce more original content.

 

Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.com

Watch it on Vimeo

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