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Canon launches tiny XA10

From TVBE's Acquisition Newsletter: Canon has developed its smallest-ever pro camcorder, the XA10, based on its new XF100/XF105 models, but without the 50Mbps recording.

From TVBE’s Acquisition Newsletter: Canon has developed its smallest-ever pro camcorder, the XA10, based on its new XF100/XF105 models, but without the 50Mbps recording.

The XA10 weighs just 820g, and the combined handle, XLR audio block, and built-in infra-red LED light, can be removed to make it even smaller and as unobtrusive as any consumer handycam if it is needed for undercover filming.

It uses the same lens, sensor, digital processor and focusing system as the XF100, in a smaller unit (the XF100 is already pretty small but almost twice the size of the XA10). It has a built-in 64GB solid-state drive (recording almost six hours at its highest 24Mbps bit rate) and has three seconds of cache recording. There are also two SD card slots, which can be used in relay or back-up modes where the XF100 uses larger CF cards and has no built-in drive.

The XA10 was launched at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and should cost less than $2,000. It is attracting interest from professional users, such as UK rental house,, which sees it as the perfect replacement for the Sony HVR-A1. “Our Sony A1s have been incredibly popular but we have for a while been waiting for something with which to replace them and here it is,” it posted on its website. “We will definitely be stocking it from launch.”

It uses a 1/3-inch CMOS sensor, records 1080p HD video in AVCHD or H.264 at 24 or 25p, 50i (or 30p/60i), and boasts good low light performance, down to 1.5 lux, as well as shooting infrared (like the XF100), helped by a diffuse LED IR emitter in the handle and a flip-up IR filter in front of the sensor. The 10x f1.8 30.4mm zoom lens has an 8-blade iris for an attractive bokeh (background blurring) effect. It can be used with Canon’s new WD-H58W wide-angle adaptor, or other 58mm adaptors.

There is a 3.5-inch, 920K dot resolution, touchscreen LCD, which can be used to select a subject for focus tracking and subject-specific auto exposure (which should mean that a white car crossing the background won’t cause the exposure to change). Audio is compressed unlike the XF100’s PCM audio,

Also new is Canon’s high-end consumer camcorder, the $1,500 HF G10, which uses the same newly designed HD CMOS Pro image sensor as the XA10 to improve resolution, enhance low-light performance and expand dynamic range, thanks to using larger, more sensitive pixels – it is a native 1/3-inch 1920×1080 sensor rather than trying to cram more pixels into the sensor for higher-resolution stills images, as many camcorders now do. The sensor is also used in the three-chip XF300 model and is claimed to improve dynamic range by 280% compared to similar, more densely packed sensors.

The sensor is also used in the three models in Canon’s compact new Vixia HF M-series camcorders (costing $650-$800 – which will be able to be used with a $600 case waterproof to about 40m).

The HF G10 has 32GB internal storage plus two SD slots, 3.5-inch touchscreen, a built-in microphone that can zoom to match the lens (as on the XA10), and the same lens as the XA10. Useful pro features include: manual colour temperature adjustment (2,000K-15,000K in 100K increments), colour bars with test tone, manual shutter speed and aperture control, waveform monitor, a built-in Remote Control Terminal (which supports LANC protocol), and native 24p recording.

The XA10 and the other models mentioned should be available in March.

Also new from Canon is the Bluetooth-based WM-V1 Wireless Microphone usable at up to about 50m. The small microphone and receiver will be available in May for about $250.

Acquisition News is TVBEurope’s twice-monthly newsletter produced in association with the Guild of Television Cameramen. Focusing on the camera sector of the market, it delivers the very latest news and views on camera equipment, technologies and accessories to the European broadcast industry. Register for free here.