Video Review: Canon XC10 camcorder

4K cameras

For the diary:

Canon's new XC10
Compact 4K option: Canon's new XC10. Image: Canon
Canon's new XC10
Compact 4K option: Canon’s new XC10. Image: Canon

Canon transformed the video market with the 5D mk II DSLR, and the C300 large-sensor camera is the tool of choice for dozens of documentaries.

In many ways, the XC10 is designed to bridge the gap between the two types of camera.

The XC10 is more ‘cinematic’ than Canon’s XF series of conventional, small-chip camcorders. It uses a 1-inch chip, features Log modes for video, and high bitrates of up to 305 Mpbs. It is designed to match cameras such as the C300 mk II in post, and like that camera, records in 4K.

Other key specifications include frame rates of up to 25 fps for 4K, and 50 frames for HD, as well as a range of slow and quick motion options. HD recording is up to 50Mbps, and the camera uses the same CFast media as the C300 mk II.

The camera’s creative features include Log Gamma — with twelve stops of dynamic range — and Wide DR Gamma. This, Canon says, gives a much wider dynamic range than standard shooting modes but without the need for grading. We’ve used for our test clips for this review.

Layout and controls

The lens is non-changeable, calibrated with 35mm equivalent focal lengths
from 24mm to 240mm (optically 8.9mm to 89mm), with a variable aperture of f2.8 to f 5.6. This is similar to Sony’s PXW-X70, and a little slower than Panasonic’s DVX-200.

The lens has separate zoom and focus rings, but no aperture or iris ring, and it extends during zooming. This is a common feature on stills camera ‘superzooms’ but less practical than a conventional camcorder lens, with a fixed front element. It does, though, keep the size of the camera down. Focus is fly-by-wire.

The XC10 is both compact and light. Combined with an efficient image stabiliser, this makes it easy to use handheld. All our test shots were handheld. Canon provides a loupe for the rear screen, which also adds to stability. It does mean you can’t use the camera’s touch screen, though.

Canon has put the main shooting controls on a C100-style hand grip, with a record trigger and a switch for moving between video and photo modes. There’s also a thumb wheel for changing values, and a control dial behind it for settings.

On the rear of the grip there’s a menu button and a joystick for moving between menu options with the loupe attached.

The XC10 comes with all the usual connections: HDMI out, USB, headphones and DC power.

Finally, Canon has included a built in ND filter, although it only has one setting (3 stops).

Video review

Next: Kit options and video samples