Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Canon XC10 compact Ultra HD camera

Canon has announced a new lightweight video and digital stills camera, the XC10, which can record Ultra HD (3840x2160) video and will cost £1,600 (about $2,400) when it ships in June.

Although it is not part of the Cinema EOS range, it does offer some of their features, and is designed to be suitable as a B camera for larger productions. However, it is essentially competing with a couple of established 4K cameras, the Sony A7s, which offers wonderful low-light capabilities with a full-frame sensor for about the same price, and the popular Panasonic GH4, which is slightly cheaper.

It uses a new, specially developed 1-inch CMOS sensor (very slightly bigger than the Super 16mm film format) and Canon’s latest DIGIC DV5 image processor, and can record UHD at 25/30 frames per second to an internal CFast 2.0 card at up to 305Mbps using Canon’s new XF-AVC MXF H.264 codec, or 50/60 fps HD (1920x1080) to an SD card at up to 50Mbps, with pro-standard 4:2:2, but 8-bit, colour sampling. There is also five-second cache recording (pre-record) in HD.

For shooting in low light, it offers a high ISO of up to 20,000, and a reasonable 12-stop dynamic range (similar to the original C300, but short of the 15 stops available on the new C300 Mark II), to capture some detail in highlights and shadows.

The XC10 also offers Canon Log Gamma and Wide DR movie mode to enable users to extract greater picture quality in post production and to help match the video with shots from the Cinema EOS cameras.

It doesn’t take interchangeable lenses, but has a 10x optical f/2.8 - f/5.6 zoom (with manual zoom and focus ring), which includes optical and electronic image stabilisation (as used on the XF200/XF205). In video mode, this will give the equivalent of a 27.3-273mm focal range (35mm equivalent). Minimum focus distance is 50cm across entire zoom range, and about 8cm at the wide macro setting.

The camera will also capture 12MP (4000x3000) photographs in stills mode (capturing 4:3 aspect ratio pictures where the lens ranges from 24.1 -241mm equivalent, 3:2 aspect ratio, giving 25 - 250mm equivalent, or 16:9 aspect ratio, giving 27.3 - 273mm). However, the photos are JPGs only, not Raw.

Users can also extract 8.29MP stills from the UHD video. There is only one single density (1/8 equivalent) ND filter built-in. For focus control it has auto focus, face detection AF and tracking, Push AF, AiAF (Photo Mode), the manual focus ring, and a touch focus function.

It has a rotating grip (above), making it more comfortable to use, particularly for high or low shots, while keeping the main controls at your fingertips. There is also a 3-inch (7.66cm diagonal) adjustable touch screen LCD, with 100% field coverage, for direct access to menus via a simple set of cross keys.

An included optical loupe viewfinder (above) fits the LCD, useful for critical focusing and bright sunlight - as there is no EVF. Features include peaking, zebras, markers and focus assist. For audio there is a built-in stereo microphone and a 3.5mm stereo mini jack for external microphones, recording two channels of Linear PCM (16 bit, 48 kHz).

Timecode is available via HDMI, and is a feature that can be accessed by external recorders from Atomos, notably the 4K Shogun, which can take the clean HDMI feed from the XC10. This will give direct to ProRes/DNxHR 10-bit 4:2:2 4K recording (up to 2160p30) and ProRes/DNxHD recording (up to 1080p60), plus a 7-inch monitor with various professional features, such as a vectorscope, longer record times, and a breakout XLR connection for both balanced analogue XLR audio and 48v phantom power options. The Shogun can also trigger stop/start on the camera via HDMI for recording.

The camera includes various slow and fast motion recording modes – including up to 1200x fast motion in 4K/HD, and up to 1/4x slow motion in HD – as well as interval shooting.

The XC10 also comes with a built-in WiFi connection, enabling remote control of key features (aperture, focus, WB, shutter speed, ISO/gain, shooting mode, start/stop recording) via a browser, smartphone or tablet.

The supplied accessories (above) include: lens hood, (loupe) viewfinder unit, remote controller (RC-6), 7.2v battery pack (LP- E6N), HDMI cable (HTC100/S), compact power unit (CA-570), AC cable, interface cable (IFC-300PCU/S), and a shoulder strap.

By David Fox