Video / Hands-on Review

Canon XA10 Ultra Compact Professional HD Camcorder


Combining signature Canon image quality, professional audio features, and a wide selection of manual controls (frame rates, zooming speed, focus, white balance and gain), the ultra compact XA10 is ideal for independent operators who shoot on location— online news, reality TV, celebrity reporting, extreme sports, etc., or for owners of large professional models looking for a compact addition to their existing set-up.

It features a1/3-inch1920 x1080 CMOS image sensor which delivers outstanding resolution and quality, Genuine Canon10x HD Zoom lens with SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) system, automatic and manual focus and exposure, and includes an infrared feature to enable the capture of HD video with little to zero ambient light. It also includes an infrared emitter with a diffuser as well as a Green or White color option to shoot pleasing high-definition infrared imagery even in complete darkness. This makes it ideal for military and law enforcement, as well as nature and wildlife videographers.

Includes a detachable handle for low-angle shooting, high resolution (922,000-dot) Touch Panel LCD and electronic viewfinder, peaking and magnify focus assists and Canon’s Edge Monitor Focus Assist system. Through this dynamic focus feedback, users can intuitively tune focus in a scene and quickly change the zone of focus. It also incorporates a waveform monitor for accurate exposure and detailed analysis of image brightness, provides nine different customizable cinema filters, and records to a 64GB internal flash drive or two SDXC-compatible card slots.


Full HD1920 x1080 Recording

Native1/3-inch,1920 x1080 CMOS sensor, delivers superb Full HD video recording with minimal noise. Based on the 3CMOS array in the XF300/305, the sensor features pixels about 2.6x larger than those of conventional CMOS chips – providing greater light-gathering ability for a dramatic improvement in low light performance and dynamic range.

Records Full HD1920 x1080 in a variety of frame rates to match user preference:

  • 60i: Standard interlaced mode – PF30: Ideal frame rate for video viewed on the web, and for frame grab during playback. Video is recorded in 60i.
  • PF24: Changes the camcorder’s frame capture rate to 24p, which provides a ‘film look’. Video is recorded in 60i.
  • Native 24p: A must for serious filmmaking work, Native 24p matches the frame rate of a traditional film camera giving the same cadence and temporal motion.


AVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) codec utilizes MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression allowing use with popular non-linear editing software.

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

Can record in different bit rate modes (24bps,17bps,12, 7 and 5Mbps) so users can balance quality vs. recording time for specific applications. The maximum bit rate of AVCHD at1920 x1080 and 4:2:0 color space, 24Mbps delivers sharp, vivid, and professional quality image capture.

HD-to-SD Downconversion allows you to convert recorded high definition video to standard definition files while safely preserving the original HD video. These standard definition files make it even more convenient to share video online.

DIGIC DV III Image Processor

DIGIC DV III provides enhanced shading, lifelike tonal gradations, and lower power consumption. It also powers technologies like Genuine Canon Face Detection, Touch & Track, and Cinema-Look Filters.

Smart Auto uses the power of DIGIC DV III to intelligently detect and analyze faces, brightness, color, distance, and movement, and then automatically selects the best settings for the scene from among 38 scenes available.

Advanced Functions

Typically only found on expensive external units, the XA10 has a waveform monitor built right into the camera. The waveform monitor shows a detailed view of overall image brightness.

Pre REC function provides three seconds of cache recording for crucial moments, ensuring spontaneous action is never missed.

Genuine Canon10x HD Zoom Lens

Genuine Canon10x HD Zoom (30.4-304mm equivalent) lens delivers unsurpassed image quality, while a 2x digital extender offers additional reach when a real close-up is required. The sophisticated eight-blade iris provides an attractive nearcircular background blur, or ‘bokeh’. effect. The optional WDH58W wide adapter offers greater wide-angle flexibility, while all existing 58mm adapters and filters can also be used.

Via menu, zoom speed settings can be adjusted to match the shooter’s preference. Select from Fast (2 - 60 seconds), Normal (3 -180 sec.) and Slow (4 - 285 sec.) for both the body lever as well as the handle control. To provide added control, there are16 predefined steps in Constant mode.

Offers a choice of five AF modes for different shooting applications: These include, Instant AF, Medium AF, Normal AF and Face AF which tracks focus on faces when present. Face-Only AF mode tracks focus on faces when present and allows for a blurred image as a person walks off-screen.

A lens focus ring can be customized for manual focus control as well, and users can set the direction of rotation, as well as three levels of response control. The ability to focus manually combined with other manual features such as shutter speed, aperture control, and gain settings provide users with complete creative control.

Minimum focus distance is 0.78” at the wide macro end and1.97 feet throughout the entire zoom range. This allows excellent versatility in a wide range of shooting situations.

Tele Macro automatically zooms the lens of the camcorder to the telephoto end, setting the minimum object distance to 1.3 feet (from 3.3 feet). This allows you to shoot spectacular close-ups with the dramatic look of a shallow depth of field.

The lens also features Canon’s SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) system with standard, Dynamic and Powered IS modes for steady video in most any shooting situation.

In Standard mode, lens shift is controlled so that the maximum compensation angle is constant from wide angle through telephoto.

In Powered mode, vibration is suppressed at the telephoto end of the range, where shake is most apparent due to high magnification.

In Dynamic mode, stabilization changes throughout the zoom range to minimize more pronounced shaking. This is especially useful at wide-angle focal lengths when walking.

Infrared Recording

The XA10 features an Infrared Mode allowing you to record in conditions with little to no ambient light. It does so by removing the infrared cutoff filter from the optical path. Its specially designed lens coating allows the infrared light to pass through to the image sensor.

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Additionally, the XA10’s detachable handle features an infrared emitter with a diffuser to shoot pleasing infrared imagery even in complete darkness. For nature videographers or law enforcement users, the benefits of a compact, high performance camcorder for shooting in such conditions is obvious. Without the need to add lights, the shooter may remain hidden from their subjects. Also gives the option of recording in green or white light mode.

3.5” Touch Panel LCD Screen

A 3.5” touchscreen LCD and 0.24” color EVF (electronic viewfinder) provide the precise monitoring capability required for HD shooting. A range of assist functions, such as magnifying, peaking and Edge Focus, help users to correctly focus their shot, while Zebra patterns and a waveform display make control of exposure straightforward. The screen can be flipped for solo shooting with the LCD screen facing the subject.

Opening on the left side of the camera body, the 3.5-inch, 922,000 dot LCD monitor provides an ample, accurate area for critical focus confirmation and approximately100% field of view. The LCD features Touch Focus, Touch Exposure, and Touch & Track functions.

  • Touch and Track delivers precise tracking of the focus and exposure on any subject - people, animals, vehicles and more. Simply select the point of interest on the Touch Panel LCD and you will have the subject in sharp focus, regardless of where in the frame it moves during the shot. The exposure will be perfectly adjusted for subject and conditions.
  • Touch Focus lets you pinpoint a specific area to focus on. This function is similar to the Push AF feature found on other professional camcorders, but can target a subject anywhere in the frame.
  • Touch Exposure enables exposure to be locked or compensated for the area touched by the user.

Focusing Assistance

With Canon's Edge Monitor Focus Assist system, a green monitor is shown at the bottom of the LCD Display. The green waveform shows overall focus of the image, and the height raises to indicate the area in focus. Through this dynamic focus feedback, you can intuitively tune focus in a scene and quickly change the zone of focus.

In bright conditions and where it would be difficult to use the LCD, the 0.24” (260,000-dot) color viewfinder with approximately100% field of view coverage provides comfortable viewing and accurate judgment of composition. Brightness, contrast, color and backlight are adjustable.

Two peaking modes and a 2x magnify focus assist function are available in standby and record mode (LCD monitor and EVF), making it extremely easy for users to check and confirm critical focus. Color peaking shows the shooting object’s focused areas in actual colors.

The Grid Marker provides a reference grid in your viewfinder. Depending on the background color of your shot, you can choose between two different colors for better viewing contrast.

Enhanced zebra pattern (70% or100%) indicates ‘blown out’ or high brightness areas to help you set the proper exposure.

Level Marker makes it easy to keep the camcorder level for more accurate framing.

Record to Flash Memory

Record up to 24 hours of clear high definition video to a 64GB internal flash drive or to two SDXC-compatible memory slots. In addition, the camcorde supports Relay Recording and Double Slot Recording; the former allows users to record continuously across memory cards, automatically switching when the one in use becomes full, while the latter allows you to record footage on two memory cards at the same time.

Custom Key and Dial

A Custom Key and Dial feature allows convenient, one-touch access to various functions such as focus or exposure. You assign functions to an easily accessible key and adjust the settings with a control dial. They include:

  • Tv/Av: Use the dial to adjust shutter speed (Tv mode) or aperture (Av mode), as needed. In this mode the key has no effect.
  • Manual exposure: When manual control is selected, the dial can adjust aperture, shutter speed, or gain. Select items to adjust, such as aperture or other settings, with the key.
  • Exposure Lock can be set on or off as can the AGC Limit.

Advanced Exposure Control

The XA10 offers a combination of features rarely found in compact camcorders, including complete manual control of the image being captured. Aperture, shutter speed, exposure and gain can all be independently adjusted, affording operators the flexibility to react to all kinds of conditions.

The XA10 features full manual exposure, as well as aperture priority (Av), and shutter priority (Tv) modes.

SMPTE color bars only or color bars and test tone can be selected and recorded using a menu. -12 dB, -18 dB or -20 dB can be selected as the test tone.

The white balance control has 6 available presets settable through a variety of day and artificial light conditions (Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent H, and Fluorescent), as well as two manual white balance settings. Color temperature may also be manually set from 2,000K to 15,000K in 100K increments for more precise adjustment.

Gain can be set from 0 dB to 24 dB in 1dB increments. Plus, AGC Limit lets you set the maximum gain limit for the image sensor’s sensitivity. With this function, brightness and noise can be balanced as required, and image quality can be maximized in low light situations.


Despite its small size, the XA10 provides advanced audio control, allowing you to capture sound fit for broadcast.

  • Built-in stereo mic identifies and filters out background noise at medium and low frequencies, boosting overall audio quality by producing greater clarity during quieter moments.
  • Mic direction can be adjusted four different ways to match your needs and taste. Choose from:
    • Monaural: Single point direction
    • Normal (Stereo)
    • Wide: Provides a more enhanced, separated stereo effect than normal
    • Synced with Zoom: Directionality is adjusted to match the zoom position

  • Frequency response characteristics of the microphone can be adjusted between low, mid-range and high frequencies.
    • Normal: Provides a balance throughout all frequencies
    • Low-range emphasis: Excellent forrecording live music with impact
    • Attenuate low frequencies: Reduces ambient noise and the sound of traffic outdoors, such as wind, cars, and so on
    • Mid-range emphasis: Ideal for capturing people's voices
    • Low and high range emphasis: Record live music with balanced lows and highs
    • Automatic Attenuator prevents high volume distortion when sound levels quickly change. It automatically keeps the audio clean and even.
  • Dual XLR inputs integrated into the handle with phantom power for external audio sources
  • Built-in mic and XLR terminals offer automatic or manual audio level control.
  • XA10 supports Dolby Digital 2ch (AC-3 2ch) with automatic and manual audio level adjustment. 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks provide additional flexibility.

Story Creator

Story Creator is a unique function that allows the camcorder to guide users in the creation of different video clips to assemble into a finished story during post-production. With this feature enabled, users can choose from five different scenarios: Travel, Kids and Pets, Party, Ceremony, and Blog. The XA10 suggests specific shots to tell the story and helps keep them organized.

Cinema-Look Filters

With Cinema Shooting Mode, it is possible to use one of nine different cinematic filters to customize the look and feel of the image. This provides users with almost limitless creative control. The brightness of each filter can be adjusted low, medium or high, for even greater control. When Cinema Standard is selected, color depth, softening and contrast can also be adjusted.

  • Cinema Standard: Tones down highlights slightly, boosts shadows slightly and adds warmth for a cinematic look
  • Cool: Slightly enhances the sharpness, provides high contrast and emphasizes cool colors
  • Dream: Brings the subjects into soft focus and provides a whiteout effect in the edge areas
  • Memory: Brings the subjects into soft focus and reduces peripheral light while bringing down the saturation and toning down dark areas
  • Dramatic B&W: Monochromatic with high contrast and a grainy feel
  • Nostalgic: Tones down the dark areas, provides higher contrast, and reduces saturation
  • Old Movie: Adds frame blur, flicker, blemishes, and Cinemascope masks appear at the top and bottom of the frame
  • Sepia: Overlays sepia colors and reduces contrast and saturation slightly
  • Vivid: Boosts the saturation particularly for the three primary colors and contrast is increased slightly

Lightweight Ergonomic Design

The camcorder’s overall design is intended for comfortable operation whether gripped in your palm, or by the handle for low-angle shooting. Just 67% of the weight and 52% of the size of the XF105, the XA10 is suitable for even the longest of shoots, offering professional HD performance from the palm of your hand. Compact and lightweight the entire camcorder weighs only 1.7 lbs. and measures only 3.7 x 8.1 x 7” including the lens hood and handle.

A zoom lever and a Start/Stop button are also integrated into the handle, providing enhanced ergonomics and more flexibility—particularly when shooting from low angles. The handle can be detached, making the camcorder more compact in situations where space is at a premium.

Embedded in the detachable handle are two XLR audio inputs with phantom power, audio switches, manual audio level control, infrared light, tally lamp, removable external microphone holder, zoom control and record start/stop button and a “cold” accessory shoe.


  • Provides complete creative freedom when it comes to inputs and outputs including:
  • HDMI output
  • Component and composite video output – USB 2.0 Hi-Speed Terminal
  • Two XLR audio inputs (when handle is attached)
  • Ext. mic input, headphone Jack (3.5mm)
  • Built-in remote control terminal (compatible with LANC protocol) for easy connection to both Canon and 3rd party wired remote controllers
  • Accessory Shoe (when handle is attached)

Optional Accessories

WM-V1: Wireless mic with164-ft. range, ideal for ceremonies.

WD-H58W: 0.8x Wide Converter Lens optically matched for the XA10. Converts the 30.4mm lens into 24mm. Ideal for shooting groups of people, small rooms, or wide landscapes.

Sensor  1/3" CMOS Sensor
Resolution  1920 x 1080
Lens  10 x Optical - 4.25 - 42.5mm (35mm equivalent 30.4 - 305mm) 
Frame Rates 60i, PF30, PF24, 24p (native)
LCD Monitor  3.5" Touch Panel Screen, approx. 922,000 dots
Viewfinder 0.24" Color, approx. 260,000 dots 
FOV 100%
Memory  64GB Internal Memory, SD, SDHC, SDXC (2 Slots)
Connectivity Component, Composite, HDMI, XLR, 3.5mm Stereo Mic, USB 2.0, 3.5mm Headphone
Dimmensions  5.1 x 7 x 8" 
Weight  1.71 lbs (Excluding Battery, Memory Card, Lens Hood & Mic Holder