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Canon’s XA10 is the smallest and lightest professional grade video camera in their lineup. It’s is a ‘prosumer’ model that serves as a great entry point into shooting higher end video than those consumer grade camcorders generally allow.
The first thing you notice is how compact and light weight it is. Its under two pounds and fits comfortably in one hand. Its ideal if you need a highly mobile solution to film on the go. People filming action, sports or documentaries will find for form factor very handy in this respect. It is certainly not as cumbersome as other professional video cameras.
The camera shoots full 1080p video in a variety of formats including H.264, and the editors choice, AVCHD. So you won’t have to worry about compression and workflow issues. With a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 it performs well for filming most high speed action scenes. In addition the optical image stabilization with a variety of options makes it even smoother.
The XA10 does all this on a large 1/3” CMOS sensor in this camera is fantastic for low light situations. It allows for high contrast, great color balance and a superior dynamic range. It’s a big jump from the consumer grade video cameras out there.
The overall snappy performance of this camera also makes a noticeable difference due to the DIGIC DV III image processor. Great noise reduction and advanced functions are able to shine. Face detection auto-focus is one of the more handy features, as well as the ability to have variable zoom speed for a more natural and manual look. When you take advantage of the wide (1.8-2.8) aperture 10x zoom lens you can achieve some fantastic DOF effects.
There are enough user assists here to make all of that very user friendly, all while allowing enough flexibility to let you grow and take manual control. The 2.5” touch screen makes this all pretty straightforward. One of my favorite options is the touch-to-focus ability with the touch-screen which does exactly what it sounds like.
Inside the camera it holds 64 GB of onboard flash memory which can take almost six hours of full 1080p recording, or even more if you fiddle with the resolution or quality settings. In addition you have two memory card slots which allow relay recording and instant backup options. This is fantastic for professional needs where you really need to take control of your data and be flexible in the field.
The XA10 also comes with a detachable handle, ideal for allowing low angle shooting. The handle has two XLR and one 2.5mm stereo microphone jacks integrated in to it which allows for a variety of audio recording options if you should have the need. If you find yourself needing to capture multiple audio sources you’ll be in good shape. You’ve got lots of audio options here. Of note is a handy mode that can adjust the microphone levels with deference to the current zoom length.
Overall this camera is functionally right in line with Canon’s other professional grade camcorders but with the mobility, convenience, and accessibility of their consumer models. The end result is something user friendly but with potential for high end results and flexibility for future growth. I found it to be a joy to use, with very intuitive controls and enough flexibility that I felt it total control while shooting.
It costs double the high end consumer camcorders but the expanded quality and feature set definitely make up for that disparity if you’re looking to take control over your footage and get a little more serious about results. It is certainly not for everyone, but if you’re looking to enter the world of professional level video, this is an ideally suited option.