Canon to Debut XA10 Replacements at NAB Show

LAS VEGAS—Canon U.S.A. will exhibit a pair of nearly identical single-sensor camcorders, the XA20 and XA25 at the NAB Show.

Canon believes the camcorders will have “a really big appeal to the ENG market, because we think [there ’s a great] appeal of having an ultra-small, and relatively affordable camera with professional image quality,” said Chuck Westfall, technical advisor/professional engineering & solutions division at Canon U.S.A.

Documentary makers will also be attracted to the cameras’ good low light sensitivity, zoom range, and the ability to work controlling iris, focus and other functions either manually or automatically.

The XA20 and XA25 replace Canon’s current XA10 camcorder. The two new models differ in only one feature: the XA25 has an HD-SDI output port, the XA20 does not. The new camcorders are slightly larger than the XA10 at around 4.3 x 3 x 7-inches, and feature a 3-inch OLED color monitor.

A quick scan of the spec sheet for the new camcorders reveals a sensor size unseen before: 1/2.84 inches. Westfall noted the reason Canon engineers designed a sensor slightly larger than the 1/3-inch sensors in many of the company’s camcorders is to provide more than a 1920 x 1080 pixel array on the smaller sensors. The extra pixels are necessary for a digital image stabilizer function built into the camcorders themselves.

For digital image stabilization to function properly, “you need to be able to sample other parts of the imager, rather than just that center 1920 x 1080 pixel array,” he said. “This allows the camcorder to look a little left, right, up and down.” The camcorders’ built-in lens also provides “a new seven-mode optical image stabilization system built into it, which is a little more sophisticated than the four mode stabilization system we had on the XA10.”

The camcorders’ lens provides a 20X zoom range of 28.8 to 576 mm, twice the 10X zoom range on the XA10. It also sports an f1.8 to 2.8 maximum aperture, with an eight-blade circular iris that Westfall said “is going to produce more pleasing out-of-focus highlights with its circular shape, even with the lens stopped down.”

The new camcorders also replace the XA10’s DIGIC DV IV image processor, which Westfall said not only “speeds up the operation of the camera, but also helps us to add in some very significant new features.”

One of those features is the ability for the camcorder to simultaneously record, on separate memory cards, in AVCHD and MP4. If simultaneous recording is not necessary, the camcorders can be used in the relay-record mode, where the two-memory card design allows uninterrupted recording as memory cards are individually swapped out.

The camcorders offer a variety of frame rates, including 1080/60p, and a range of bit rates. They also are compatible with the XA10’s BP808 battery, but will be supplied with a newer BP828 battery providing an exterior display of the charging level.

Canon is also adding a new 35mm cinema prime lens to its Cinema EOS product line. It will match that line’s existing lenses in form-factor in order to easily be interchanged into the professional lens control accessories used for cine-style shooting. The new 35mm prime joins the existing 14, 24, 50, 85 and 135mm “to help broaden out that whole range of cinema prime lenses, primarily for motion picture production,” said Westfall. That prime lens family is available with an F-mount only, and is designed to be used with Canon’s C500, C300 and the C100 camcorders and the EOS 1DC DSLR.

Canon is in booth Nos. C3628 and C4325 in the Central Hall.