Canon XC10 Review

 
Camera Reviews / Canon Cameras i First Shots
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon XC10 4K Digital Camcorder
Resolution: 12.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1 inch
(12.8mm x 9.6mm)
Lens: 10.00x zoom
(24-240mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 160 - 20,000
Extended ISO: 160 - 20,000
Shutter: 1/2000 - 0.5 seconds
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 4.9 x 4.0 x 4.8 in.
(125 x 102 x 122 mm)
Weight: 36.7 oz (1,040 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 06/2015
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon XC10 specifications
12.00
Megapixels
10.00x zoom 1 inch
size sensor
image of Canon XC10 4K Digital Camcorder
Front side of Canon XC10 digital camera Front side of Canon XC10 digital camera Front side of Canon XC10 digital camera Front side of Canon XC10 digital camera Front side of Canon XC10 digital camera

Canon XC10 Review -- First Impressions

by
Preview posted

Canon XC10 Review -- Product Image

If you're a professional, the time has come for a 4K upgrade! Most consumers might not yet have made the upgrade to a 4K display, but there's a big push behind the ultra high-definition standard, and even if you're producing plain old high-def content, having access to a 4K source offers advantages in post. You can crop or even stabilize your video, then downsample to the widely-adopted Full HD format when it comes time to render the final video.

The 4K-friendly Canon XC10 camcorder offers an attractive and relatively affordable option for pros ready to make that leap. In fact, with a US$2,500 price tag, Canon suggests that even advanced amateurs and deep-pocketed consumers may find the XC10 appealing. Doubly so because of its relatively compact size.

The Canon XC10, which is also capable of shooting 12-megapixel stills from its 1"-type CMOS image sensor, measures just 4.9 x 4.0 x 4.8 inches, and weighs in at 2.3 pounds loaded and ready to shoot. That's pretty impressive, given its far-reaching fixed 10x optical zoom lens. By way of comparison, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III -- a camera that has proven very popular with videographers -- weighs almost as much before you even mount a lens. And the 5D III's body is significantly wider, taller, and almost as deep as the XC10, as well.

Canon XC10 Review -- Product Image

In fact, the Canon XC10 4K Digital Camcorder is compact enough that the company envisions it being used like a much more capable alternative to the all-pervading GoPro series of action cameras, hung from the bottom of multicopters or mounted on vehicles, zip lines and more. And that despite an unusual body design with a rotating handgrip that allows for framing from a wide range of angles while keeping the primary controls right where you want them.

Canon XC10 Review -- Product Image

Of course, the XC10 is significantly more expensive and bulkier than a GoPro, and lacks the action camera's rugged nature. It provides a much more capable lens and larger sensor, though, so where video quality is paramount it's likely to provide a big advantage. And at the same time, it's actually just a little smaller than the Panasonic FZ1000, which shares the same sensor size (albeit with a rather more powerful 16x zoom lens), although the Sony RX10 bests them both in size and weight.

Canon XC10 Review -- Product Image

Available from June 2015, the Canon XC10 camcorder's US$2,500 price tag includes both a 64GB SanDisk CFast 2.0 flash card and card reader. Let's take a closer look at what you get for your money!

Canon XC10 Technical Info

by Mike Tomkins

Sensor

At the heart of the Canon XC10 is a 1"-type image sensor, the same size featured in the company's Canon G7X enthusiast compact. Resolution of the XC10's CMOS sensor is 12 megapixels, though. That's significantly lower than is provided by the G7X, but still more than sufficient for 4K video. (Note that we're talking about the consumer 4K standard here, often referred to as Ultra High Definition, and not the slightly wider-aspect Cinema 4K standard used in movie theaters.)

And as an added bonus, the larger pixels of the XC10's sensor should yield an advantage over the G7X's higher-res imager when it comes to low-light still image capture. According to Canon, it should also yield a generous 12 stops of dynamic range.

Processor

Output from the Canon XC10's sensor is handled by DIGIC DV5 processor, a followup to the DV4 chip that debuted in the company's camcorders back in 2013. The XC10 and the simultaneously-launched Cinema EOS C300 camcorders are the first to ship with DIGIC DV5, although the C300 sports dual DV5 processors where there's just a single one in the XC10.

Performance

The pairing of 12-megapixel sensor and DIGIC DV5 processor together yield a still image capture rate of 3.8 frames per second. 4K video capture is possible at up to 30 frames per second, and Full HD at 60 fps.

Sensitivity

The Canon XC10 offers ISO-equivalent sensitivities ranging from ISO 160 to 20,000. It's here that the XC10 offers the most compelling advantage over a GoPro or similar small-sensor camera: the current Hero4 model provides a sensitivity range of ISO 400 to 6400 equivalents for video, and just ISO 100 to 800 for stills.

Lens

The Canon XC10's built-in 10x optical zoom lens is also much more versatile than the GoPro's fixed-focus f/2.8 lens, which offers just three preset field-of-view options. If you need a little extra reach, a 2x digital teleconverter is also provided. Somewhat surprisingly for a camera aimed primarily at video capture, though, this isn't a power-zoom lens. If you're planning to mount the camera GoPro-style, you'll need to set your focal length ahead of time.

For still image capture, the XC10's lens covers 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from 24.1 to 241mm, with a maximum aperture that falls from f/2.8 at wide angle to f/5.6 by the time you reach the telephoto position. For video capture, a slightly tighter crop on the image sensor yields 35mm-equivalent focal lengths from 27.3 to 273mm.

The Canon XC10's lens includes optical image stabilization. For Full HD video only, this is coupled with electronic stabilization to provide for full five-axis stabilization capability. The lens' optical formula features two UD lens elements, two Hi-UD elements, and a doublet of two aspheric lenses with a total of three aspheric surfaces between them. There's also a built-in, on-demand ND filter, although we don't yet know its strength.

Focusing

Canon hasn't yet detailed the autofocus system in use, but if you prefer to focus manually, you'll be pleased to hear that the XC10's lens has a dedicated focusing ring. There's also an AF button, and as you'd expect, continuous autofocus with face detection and tracking capabilities is available during capture.

Display

We don't yet know the precise size, resolution or underlying technology of the Canon XC10's display, but what we do know is certainly promising. First of all, it sports a vari-angle design that allows it to be tilted upwards or downwards. That, coupled with the rotating handgrip of the body, means that you can (within the limits of the articulation mechanism) have the monitor face you straight on and the main controls within reach while the lens is aimed upwards or downwards for your shoot.

We also know that the display is overlaid with a capacitive touch-panel like you'd find on a smartphone, allowing it to serve double-duty as an input device. And while there's no optical or electronic viewfinder, Canon will be offering what it calls the Direct Viewfinder, a prism-based adapter that repurposes the view on the LCD monitor as a viewfinder with generous eyecup.

Video capture

Although it doesn't provide for raw video capture, the Canon XC10 offers a choice of two codecs depending on your capture resolution, and three picture modes.

At 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) resolution, the XC10 uses the XF-AVC Intra codec to record 8-bit 4:2:2 MXF-format video with H.264 compression at rates of up to 29.97 frames per second with a bit rate of up to 305Mbps. Drop the resolution to Full HD (1,920 x 1080 pixels) and the XC10 switches to the XF-AVC Long GOP codec with a maximum frame rate of 59.94 fps, and a bit rate of 50Mbps.

Picture modes include Canon Log Gamma, Wide DR, and EOS Standard. Slow and fast-motion capture are also possible, although we don't yet have specifics on frame rates and resolution options.

Audio capture

As well as a built-in stereo microphone on its top deck, directly in front of the flash hot shoe, the Canon XC10 also provides a standard 3.5mm stereo microphone jack for external mics. There's also a headphone jack that allows for audio levels to be monitored during capture, or reviewed post-capture.

Still photography

Although it's primarily intended as a 4K video camera, the Canon XC10 can also capture still images at the full 12-megapixel resolution of its image sensor. Additionally, 8.3-megapixel stills can be extracted from captured 4K video in-camera.

And if your primary goal is to capture stills at the XC10's high sensitivity of up to ISO 20,000 equivalent, you'll be pleased to hear that a mechanical shutter mechanism is included, removing concerns about rolling shutter in your stills.

Interval shooting is possible in still image mode, although we don't yet have any details as to interval or frame capture limits in interval mode. And likewise, although we don't yet have specifics, we do know that it will be possible to adjust the aspect ratio of still images.

And as noted previously, a flash hot shoe is included if you need to throw a little extra light on your subject.

Wireless communication

The Canon XC10 includes Wi-Fi wireless networking capability, built-in. Compatible with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networks, this allows for image review through a web browser from desktop or notebook computers, or using compatible smartphones and tablets.

Wired communication

As well as the aforementioned flash hot shoe, headphone and microphone jacks, the Canon XC10 also includes USB data connectivity (we don't yet know if this is USB 2.0 High Speed or USB 3.0 SuperSpeed), plus an HDMI 1.4-compliant high definition video output. The latter is capable of 4K playback at the full 30 frames per second that the XC10 is capable of capturing.

Power

Helpfully if you're already shooting a Canon DSLR, the XC10 camcorder is compatible with the exact same LP-E6 and LP-E6N battery packs used in many of the company's enthusiast and professional-grade cameras, including the EOS 5D Mark II and III, 6D, 7D, 7D Mark II, 60D, 70D, 5DS, and 5DS R.

No battery life estimate has yet been provided.

Storage

The Canon XC10 includes dual card slots, with a CFast card slot (compatible with CFast 2.0 cards), and a standard Secure Digital card slot. 4K movies are recorded to the CFast card slot due to the need for much greater bandwidth, while Full HD movies can be recorded to the SD card slot.

Accessories

A range of Canon's existing accessories such as remote controls, GPS receivers, Speedlite flash strobes and more are compatible with the Canon XC10 camcorder. We don't yet have specifics as to compatibility of individual accessory models, however.

 

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