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The XA10: Canon's Smallest and Lightest Pro Camcorder

April 01, 2011

When attached the handle provides … the XA10 with features and connectivity expected in a professional camcorder.

The new Canon XA10 camcorder is the smallest and lightest full-featured professional camcorder ever produced by Canon.

The XA10 follows the new X concept of camcorder design introduced with the XF Series of camcorders of providing professionals with uncompromising quality and features in an ergonomic and efficient design. From the ground up the XA10 has been engineered with the professional in mind matching professional features with unsurpassed usability while staying true to the design goal of maximizing mobility.


The XA10 features the AVCHD codec. AVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) was announced in 2006 and is quickly becoming the standard for professional video camcorders. AVCHD utilizes MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression technology similar to the technology used in Canon’s HDDSLR cameras.

In addition to professional grade camcorders, AVCHD is very popular in the consumer market and as a result, most modern NLE’s (both professional and consumer) have full support for the codec, making for easy compatibility with the XA10 no matter what system the user chooses.

AVCHD is used for encoding Blu-Ray disks making the XA10 ideal for capturing content for delivery in this format, as well as, easy conversion to web based content in H.264 format.

AVCHD features a maximum recording bit rate of 24Mbps in Full HD 1920x1080 and 4:2:0 color space for sharp, vivid and professional quality image capture.


The newly developed Canon 1/3-inch CMOS sensor provides 1920 pixels horizontal x 1080 pixels vertical for brilliant Full HD recording with minimal noise. The single chip sensor uses an RGB color filter that when combined with the state of the art processing in DiG!C DV III gives the XA10 the best in class image quality Canon is known for.


Canon’s next generation DiG!C DV III image processor. DiG!C DV III provides powerful digital signal processing for enhanced shading and lifelike tonal gradations. Additionally, DiG!C provides Face Detection technology for amazing AF performance while lowering the overall power consumption of the camera.


The 10x Optical Zoom HD lens features a large zoom range with a 35mm equivalent of 30.4 – 304mm. The 10x lens provides a versatile zoom range for operators allowing them to accurately and easily frame their subjects. Teamed with the optional wide angle or teleconverter attachment lenses the range and function of the lens can be significantly increased. The lens also features a minimum object distance of 60cm maintaining the ability to close focus throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum f-stop of 1.8 ensuring performance in low light conditions.


The XA10's incorporate an 8-blade iris into the optical system for aperture control. Incorporating 8 blades rather than the more typical 6 allows the camera to capture exceptionally smooth and pleasing out of focus areas or “bokeh” when capturing low depth of field for an artistic effect. The larger number of blades also minimizes light diffraction allowing users to use smaller apertures without degrading image quality.


The included detachable handle on the XA10 provides several key features while allowing the camera to be a compact as possible when not connected. When attached the handle provides additional features including two XLR microphone connectors, an external shotgun microphone holder, cold shoe, handle zoom, start stop button, tally lamp, IR emitter and individual audio channel level control providing the XA10 with features and connectivity expected in a professional camcorder.


The XA10 Camcorder features a large 3.5-inch, 922,000 dot LCD display for a vivid, sharp, detailed view of the subject whether composing and focusing the image or playing it back in the viewfinder. With approximately 100% field of view coverage users can be assured that what they see will be what they get without any guesswork. The LCD also features a touch screen interface allowing users to navigate the menus and quickly change camera settings with a flick of a finger.


Weighing in at less than two pounds, The XA10 is the smallest and lightest professional camcorder in Canon’s professional line. The camcorder is perfect for use when speed and mobility are needed and in situations where keeping a low profile is beneficial. Though small in size, the XA10 remains full featured and does not sacrifice when it comes to professional performance.


File based recording facilitates workflow by reducing transfer times when moving video to Non Linear Editing (NLE) systems and makes Pre-Recording possible. File based workflows also allows for metadata to be input during and after image acquisition and imagery to be reviewed immediately after capture to insure every shot is captured and logged correctly.

The XA10 records to cost effective Secure Digital (SD, SDHC and SDXC) Cards, not proprietary memory systems. The camera features two card slots and versatile recording functions including relay recording, double slot recording, and file copy and backup. Additionally the XA10 features 64GB of internal solid state memory allowing the camera to record even if media cards are not available or if the cards become full.


The XA10 Records in Full HD 1920x1080 in a variety of frame rates. The XA10 is also capable of recording in several different bit rate modes allowing the user to balance quality verses recording time for specific applications. Native 24p recording is available in all recording modes for application where a cinematic look is desired.


Mode Resolution Frame Rate
MXP (24Mbps - VBR) 1920 x1080 60i/PF30/PF24/24p
FXP (17Mbps - VBR)
XP+ (12Mbps - VBR) 1440 x1080
SP (7Mbps –VBR)
SP (5Mbps –VBR)



The XA10’s waveform monitor provides detailed analysis of image brightness. Videographers depend on this feature to insure accurate exposure. Usually Waveform monitors come as part of expensive external units that must be connected to the camera adding weight and expense. The XA10 incorporates this high-end feature into the camera body maintaining its extremely compact size and cost consciousness while providing professionals with the features they need.


When Cinema Shooting Mode is selected on the XA10 it is possible to use one of nine different cinematic filters to customize the look and feel of the image providing users with almost limitless creative control.

Cinema Standard - Bright areas are toned down slightly, dark areas are boosted slightly and warm colors are emphasized

Vivid - Boosts the saturation particularly for the three primary colors and contrast is increased slightly

Dream - Brings the subjects into soft focus and provides a whiteout effect in the edge areas

Cool - Slightly enhances the sharpness, provides high contrast and emphasizes cool colors

Nostalgic - Tones down the dark areas, higher contrast, and reduces saturation

Sepia - Overlays Sepia colors and reduces contrast and saturation slightly

Old Movies - Adds frame blur, flicker and blemishes and CinemaScope masks appear at the top and bottom of the frame

Memory - Brings the subjects into soft focus and reduces peripheral light while bringing down the saturation and toning down dark areas

Dramatic Black and White - Monochromatic with high contrast and a grainy feel

Each of the cinema filter effects can be set to Low, Medium, and High to control the amount that is applied to the image. When Cinema Standard is selected as the filter choice the user can also control Color Depth, Softening Filter, Key and Contrast


The XA10 uses BP-800 Series batteries intelligent lithium batteries (BP-808, BP-819 and long-life BP-827) that can determine remaining power and battery wear and report it back to the camera, taking the guesswork out of battery management. These batteries allow the user to see the remaining charge in the battery in one-minute increments while in the camera. Never again will users be caught off guard with needing to change the battery at an inopportune time.


The XA10 series provides an infrared shooting mode for shooting in conditions with little to zero ambient light. With Infrared Mode ‘on’ the infrared cutoff filter is retracted from the optical path and infrared light is allowed to pass through to the sensor. The XA10 also features an infrared emitter with a diffuser to shoot pleasing infrared imagery even in complete darkness.


Story Creator is a unique function of the XA10 Camcorder that allows the camera to guide users in the creation of different video clips to assemble into a finished story during post-production. With this feature enabled the user can choose from a variety of different scenarios that they may be shooting including travel, kids and pets, party, ceremonies and events, and video blogging. The XA10 will suggest specific shots to tell the story and helps the user keep them organized.


The XA10’s ultra-compact size and expansive feature set make it an ideal camera for run and gun shooters, nature and wildlife videographers, journalists and bloggers. Wedding and Event photographers will also find interest in this unit as an affordable alternative to shoulder style camcorders. The XA10 is the perfect companion to the XF series camcorders making for a great option to use as a lightweight secondary camera allowing users to cover more and carry less.


The information in this article is accurate as of January 3rd, 2011, and all specifications are based on Canon Inc.’s standard test methods, and subject to change without notice.

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