Measuring less than five inches in each direction (4.9×4.0x4.8 inches) and weighing only 2.3 pounds when fully equipped with the LP-E6N battery pack and two memory cards, in the XC10, it seems like Canon is shooting for the action cam market, but its capabilities are far more sophisticated. The XC10 offers footage that can reach up to 12 stops of dynamic range to closely match that of the Canon Cinema EOS bodies, with edit-ready H.264 4:2:2 8-bit MXF files captured to an internal (included) CFast card.The XC10 body isn’t nearly as durable as an action cam, but it still makes a good choice as a crash cam or source for supplemental footage while also providing everything needed for ENG, live-event and documentary work. Several options also seem to be packaged for multimedia artists, like photographers needing an easy-to-use 4K video solution.
Strangely, though the 1-inch CMOS sensor houses a native resolution of 13.36 megapixels at 4224×3164 resolution, the camera only captures in UHD at 3840×2160. It’s capable of 12-megapixel still images for behind-the-scenes shots and location scouting at dimensions of 4000×3000, however, and photography aspects also include a dedicated focus and zoom ring to make the experience very much like working with a DSLR lens. Additionally, 8-megapixel still images can be pulled from 4K footage internally.
Menu settings are easily changed through the familiar Canon interface and a thumb jog that’s ergonomically placed on the rotating handgrip, which is one of the more comfortable handholding experiences I’ve had with a camera. Basic functions can be performed with a single hand, and it tilts at up to 90º for overhead shots and low POVs, viewable from an articulating 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD monitor. The monitor offers 1,030,000-pixel resolution and 100% frame coverage with capacitive touch operation like the Canon EOS 70D. (An included Direct Viewfinder with eyecup is also an option for working in direct sunlight.)
With a variable ƒ/2.8-5.6 aperture, the 8.9-89mm 10x wide-angle zoom incorporates a built-in 2x digital teleconverter for extending reach, as the zoom starts fairly wide at a 35mm equivalence of 27.3-273mm when capturing video and 24.1-241mm when shooting stills (in 4:3 aspect). It also offers 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization, an 8-blade diaphragm and a front filter diameter of 58mm. It’s a manual zoom, however, without any power- or cradle-zooming operations. During video capture, a focusing ring allows manual focus alongside a Push AF button for quickly tracking subjects.
The XC10 offers Continuous AF with Face Detection, an ideal mode choice for ENG and live-event shooters. Autofocus is really smooth and buttery, a very natural flow when racking focus from foreground to background, or vice versa. There’s a lot of play when doing so manually; however, you can switch between three modes of Focus Ring Response via the menu.
With a 3.8 fps burst rate, the shutter is mechanical to reduce rolling shutter distortion in video. The system is also compatible with the popular and tiny Canon LP-E6N batteries, which are affordable, rechargeable and used by several other Canon DSLR solutions. It’s compatible with Canon GPS receivers for notating video and imagery, and it even can be synced with the EOS system of Speedlite flashes via a TTL hot-shoe.
With a 1/8 ND filter offering 3 stops of light reduction, ISO speeds also can be dialed in from 160 to 20,000 for versatility in lighting. Additionally, the camera provides Gain settings at 0 to 42 dB, with limit settings over both ISO and gain to control noise when employing auto-exposure modes. Unlike many DSLR solutions, there’s no limit to clip length.
Full HD 1920×1080 video can be captured to an SD card in multiple frame rates at up to a maximum of 305 Mbps/29.97P in 4K and 50 Mbps/59.94P in Full HD. Slow and fast motion recording are available in up to 100 fps for PAL or 120 fps with NTSC at either 35 Mbps or 50 Mbps, and time intervals can be set to capture time-lapse internally.
The camera includes a SanDisk 64 GB CFast 2.0 card (as well as a card reader) for roughly half an hour of footage at UHD. A nice little touch is a helpful white illustration in the loading chamber that shows correct orientation when plugging in the CFast and SD cards.
Alongside the EOS C300 Mark II, the XC10 is the first camera from Canon to offer the new DIGIC DV 5 processing engine that can handle UHD capture in such large bit-rates, though it’s a single processor while the C300 offers dual processing. There are also two new Canon codecs to handle the compression.
For 4K, the XC10 offers the XF-AVC Intra codec, while the XF-AVC Long GOP updates Canon’s Long GOP codec for better color fidelity and compression. When using a CFast card, UHD files are provided in H.264 compression at 4:2:2 with an edit-ready, 8-bit MXF wrapper at up to 305 Mbps in 29.97 fps. To achieve fast and slow frame rates, capture must be made to an SDHC/SDXC card that provides 50 Mbps at up to 59.94 fps in HD; 35 Mbps is also available in HD.
When employing the Canon Log Gamma, a flat profile that requires some tweaking in post, the XC10 promises up to 12 stops of dynamic range. Wide DR and standard picture presets are also available for usable footage right out of the camera. For remote use with systems like drones or crash cams, the XC10 has dual-band 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz wireless network access for control and previews of captured footage via web browsers and smart devices. It also can be used for 4K playback through the HDMI output at up to 30 fps.
The Canon XC10’s output is a clean HDMI out, but there hasn’t been information from Canon as to what bit-rate. In addition to the camera’s mounted internal mic, 3.5mm jacks provide microphone and headphone monitoring. List Price: $2,499.
To learn more about the Canon XC10, go to usa.canon.com.