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Canon XC10 review




  • Recommended by TR

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Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10
  • Canon XC10


Our Score:



  • Brilliant 4K image quality
  • Built-in lens offers 10x zoom
  • Better 12-megapixel stills than most camcorders


  • Non-interchangeable lens
  • 4K only recorded to expensive CFast 2.0 cards
  • No XLR audio inputs

Key Features

  • 1-inch CMOS with 13.36 megapixels
  • 4K 25p shooting at up to 305Mbits/sec
  • Full HD shooting at up to 100 frames/sec
  • 24-240mm f/2.8-f/5.6 built-in lens
  • CFast 2.0 (for 4K) and SDXC (for HD and stills)
  • Manufacturer: Canon
  • Review Price: £1,525.00

What is the Canon XC10?

The XC10 is Canon's entry-level Cinema EOS camera. However, it's a rather different beast compared to other members of the Cinema EOS range, such as the C100.

For a start, it's price of a little over £1,500 puts it much closer to consumer-grade camcorders. This is also a camcorder with a fixed lens, rather than EF mount, and there's no huge Super 35 sensor inside either.

However, the XC10 does sport a sizeable one-inch CMOS and the ability to capture 4K video. Could this be the camcorder-DSLR crossover we've been waiting for?

Canon XC10 – Sensor Specification

Putting that one-inch CMOS in perspective, it's quite a bit smaller than APS-C and Micro Four Thirds (MFT) sensors, but around four times the area of the 1/2.3-inch sensors usually found in camcorders. As a result, it should display far greater sensitivity – closer to a DSLR – and also provide the more film-like video characteristics that have made DSLRs and camcorders such as the Canon Cinema EOS range and their ilk so popular with videomakers.

Canon XC10

The one-inch CMOS provides a raw 13.36 megapixels, and this gives it an effective 8.29 megapixels for video and 12 megapixels for stills. The effective quantity for video is precisely enough for 4K video, but the 12-megapixel stills are somewhat behind contemporary DSLRs – for example, the Canon EOS 750D offers twice as many.

Canon XC10 – Built-in Lens

The XC10's built-in lens is surprising, given that Canon has such an excellent range of EF mount lenses available. Traditionally, camcorders at this price have usually come with built-in lenses, but you'd be seriously disappointed if you'd purchased a digital camera for this sum that didn't have an interchangeable lens system. It's part of what makes shooting video on DSLRs so attractive.

This is something that could potentially put off many folk, especially since compact system cameras such as the Sony A7S provide 4K video and interchangeable lenses for similar money – although the excellent Sony A7R II costs significantly more. Despite its crossover aims, the XC10 is still clearly more camcorder than digital camera.

Canon XC10

That said, the lens in question is very good. It isn't from Canon's top-end L series, as seen on some of the company's earlier fixed-lens professional camcorders such as the tape-based XH A1. Nevertheless, it offers a 35mm equivalent range of 24mm to 240mm, and respective maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/5.6. This is a 10x optical zoom, which only one of the currently available detachable Canon EF mount lenses can replicate, and that costs about as much as this camcorder on its own.

I'm still sceptical about Canon's decision not to opt for EF in the XC10, but for certain markets this could be acceptable, or even a benefit if the user isn't particularly experienced. Canon is targeting enthusiasts, independent filmmakers, B camera usage, and news gathering.

While I can see most of these being viable customers, indies are still going to want greater lens flexibility – such as adding one of Canon's budget-conscious 50mm big-aperture lenses for extremely low depth of field or focus pulling.

Canon XC10 – 4K and HD Video Options

Another initially surprising choice considering the enthusiast aims of this camcorder is the recording media options. Naturally, there's an SDXC card slot available, but that can be used only for recording Full HD footage and still images. For 4K, there's a CFast 2.0 slot.

This is because 4K can be shot at either 205Mbits/sec or 305Mbits/sec. The latter is beyond the capabilities of even the fastest Class 10 SDXC media, whereas CFast 2.0 media usually offers around 500MB/sec. Unfortunately, it's also around five times the price of Class 10 SDXC cards per GB.

Canon XC10

With video recording in the MXF-based XF-AVC file format, a 64GB CFast 2.0 card will give you approximately 25 minutes of recording in the top 4K mode. Full HD uses Long GOP format at 50Mbits/sec, which means it will meet broadcast TV standards.

Slow and fast recording are available, although it depends which shooting format is being used. In 4K mode, time lapse up to 1,200x can be enabled, but no high-speed. In Full HD mode, footage can be recorded at up to 100 frames/sec and played back at 25 frames/sec, for 4x slow-motion effect.

Canon XC10 – Controls and Manual Settings

The XC10's control system is a bit of a hybrid of the Cinema EOS and EOS DSLRs. There's a function dial on the top of the rotating hand grip, allowing a choice between scene mode, auto, programme auto, shutter priority, aperture priority, and fully manual, like a DSLR. You need to press a button in the centre of this dial to turn it, so accidentally changing mode will be hard.

There's a wheel just behind the shutter/record button. Unlike Cinema EOS cameras, you can't readily switch the operation of this dial with a quick button press. Instead, it needs to be permanently assigned a function via the menu. By default, it controls the iris, but it can also be assigned to shutter or ISO. The other two will be visible on-screen, but only the assigned parameter will be highlighted orange and changeable with the wheel.

Canon XC10

Further rapid access to settings is available via three user-configurable buttons, although I'd like to have seen a few more of these. By default, the two buttons on the left-hand side control Push AF and toggling the information display, with a third button on the rear operating screen magnification for finer focusing. However, all three can be assigned different functions, with quite a range of options available.

What can't be controlled via the various discrete buttons and dials can be accessed via the tilting 3-inch touchscreen LCD, or via the joystick on the rear of the hand grip. Both operate the same menu system, which provides a host of features such a looks, including EOS, Cinema EOS, Wide Dynamic Range and Canon Log. The various image stabilisation options can be controlled here, too, with dynamic and power optical image stabilisation available.

In fully manual mode, shutter can be varied from 1/2 to 1/2,000th, and iris from f/2.8 to f/11. The ISO options range from 160 to a pretty gobsmacking 20,000, although anything above 2,000 starts to get quite noisy since this is essentially video gain.

So the ISO abilities aren't quite up there with Super 35-equipped Cinema EOS cameras, which can shoot clean footage at as high as 3,200 or even 6,400 ISO.

Canon XC10 – Connections and Extra Features

Despite being a member of Canon's professional Cinema EOS range, the XC10 does lack a few professional features. There's no XLR audio, although where you'd put this sizeable connection on a camera of this size is questionable.

Instead there's just a mini-jack for external microphones, plus another for headphones, and mini-HDMI for video output. So you could attach a wireless microphone system, but an audio feed from a desk could be a bit of a pain to hook up.

Canon XC10

There are some sundry extra features, such as Wi-Fi control via a browser, and the hood included in the box that turns the LCD into a very serviceable EVF. This is particularly useful in bright light, because the LCD does become a little difficult to see, and explains why Canon has made everything on the touchscreen operable with the joystick as well.

Canon XC10 – Performance and Image Quality

The main reason behind videomakers finding DSLRs so attractive is of course the image quality available, and excelling in this area could allow the XC10 to be forgiven for its failings. It's pretty capable here, and the photos are a cut above what camcorders with smaller chips are capable of. In particular, the depth of field at f/2.8 can be very narrow, so attractive Bokeh effects are possible.

Canon XC10

Video shot in 4K is brimming with detail, and there's absolutely no sign of artefacts thanks to the enormous data rate. Even left in standard mode, the colours are extremely natural and accurate. With the extra Looks, wide dynamic range and Canon Log options, there's a huge amount that can be done here to give footage exactly the appearance desired, or match it to footage shot on another camcorder.

Canon XC10

Check out some sample 4K footage shot on the Canon XC10 here!

I wasn't entirely convinced by the image stabilisation compared to the best in the business, but the XC10 is very light and easy to use when hand-held. With its large chip, the XC10 can grab great footage in all manner of available lighting, too. It clearly isn't as sensitive as the rest of the EOS Cinema range, with their Super 35 sensors, but its low-light abilities far surpass non-DSLR sub-£2,000 camcorders that I've tested in the past.

Should I buy the Canon XC10?

In terms of the camcorder, I was won over by the XC10, despite its flaws. But if you're looking for the Holy Grail of a device that is as comfortable being a DSLR as it is a camcorder, this isn't quite it.

The XC10 is more biased towards its video capabilities. However, the digital photos are much better than those of a regular camcorder. You're more likely to be pulling stills off 4K video footage anyway.

For an enthusiast who shoots more video than photos, this could be a great camcorder for grabbing near-cinema-quality footage of that trip of a lifetime. It could also be good for digital film students, or shooting news events. It's a little pricey compared to the DSLR option, but the 4K video format used is well beyond any DSLR, and its video shooting is much easier to work with.


The Canon XC10 isn't quite the DSLR-camcorder hybrid it promises to be, but it shoots great 4K footage.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 10
  • Perfomance 10
  • Value 6


December 28, 2015, 3:35 pm

What o joke of a review.
This the worst photo/video hybrid ever created!
What else there is to say? A puny sensor camera with a fixed dark lens, abysmally slow AF, no RAW photo support, an insufficient quality 300 Mb/sec intra codec which has almost 0 support in editing application, very bad ergonomics, bad screen, no EVF, bad image quality (soft, limited in DR and noisy) and above all, astronomically priced!

I wonder with how much did Canon sponsored this article?


December 29, 2015, 2:28 pm

Precisely what I thought, This abomination is widely shunned by almost every other review magazine in some way or the other and TR give it a 9/10. Its reviews like these that makes me wonder how much of what TR review is genuinely as good as they claim.


December 29, 2015, 3:18 pm

The camera is absolutely pure crap, I've tested it myself in a store in Berlin recently!

Honestly the real score for it should be in 2-3 stars region, with minimum available stars in price ratio.


December 30, 2015, 9:45 am

This 'review' is a perfect example of why this site has no credibility.

Dr James Morris

December 30, 2015, 1:01 pm

The codec works just fine in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. No problem at all. Are you seriously calling 300Mb/sec insufficient, even for 4K? Sure, the Black Magics go higher, but they're not the same market. The LCD becomes an EVF with the hood. The ergonomics isn't far off EOS Cinema cameras, which are well regarded in this respect. The image quality is not bad. Also, there isn't another photo/video hybrid - there are plenty of DSLRs that shoot video, but the decent ones are more expensive, and still not great camcorders. It is still overpriced though, considering it's more a camcorder than a camera. It should have been more like a grand. Canon camcorders do tend to be overpriced these days.

Dr James Morris

December 30, 2015, 1:29 pm

The other reviews I've read pinpoint the same flaws as this review but are generally positive. For the ENG-type user it's got a lot going for it, as stated in this review. That's the main target audience.


December 30, 2015, 6:29 pm

The codec is far from good, it's an all intra codec and 300 Mb/sec is insufficient for 4K, you need at least 500-600 Mb/sec of All-I bit rate to get good quality or at least a IPB version with at least 100 Mb/sec.
Final Cut Pro, Premiere CC 2014 or earlier versions dos not open it at all.
You must be joking about the ergonomics. There are few buttons on the darn thing, and if you plan on using the pseudo EVF contraption you loose even more buttons.
Image quality is bad in comparison even to the cheaper Panasonic FZ 1000 which has more detail, nicer colors and better DR. G7 trashes the floor with this camera.

"Also, there isn't another photo/video hybrid". Again you must be joking, have you heard of Panasonic FZ 1000, Sony RX 10 mk 2, Panasonic G7, Panasonic GH4, Samsung NX 1 etc. All of them cheaper and much better in any regard than this thing.

I forgot to that 4K recording is only possible only to Cfast which are extremely.

I wouldn't pay 500 eu for this bad joke.


December 30, 2015, 6:48 pm

Yes, all the sponsored Canon reviews praise it to the sky, everybody else says it's an over expensive, under featured, small sensor, fixed dark lens camera.

Dr James Morris

December 30, 2015, 6:53 pm

All your examples are stills cameras that shoot video, not the other way round. They're not photo/video hybrids. They have very little extra for shooting video other than the codec. The FZ 1000 only offers 100Mbits/sec MP4 - which you're saying is better than the 300Mbits/sec of the XC10? I think you're looking at the XC10 from a photographer's perspective. It's not a digital stills camera. It's a video camera that shoots digital stills. Have you ever actually tried shooting a professional event with a DSLR? I have and it's a massive pain. There are so many limitations to them you spend the whole time worrying if you've actually got the shot. Maybe a short film, but news-type stuff, no way. I wouldn't be worried about the XC10 because it is actually a camcorder. It's designed to shoot for a couple of hours straight. That's just not going to be possible with a Panasonic GH4, as great as it is in many respects.


December 30, 2015, 7:02 pm

The 300 Mb/sec are all intra (inter frame compression, ala motion jpeg stuff), the good 100 Mb/sec Panasonic mp4 compression is IPB (spatial temporal) very efficient and of good quality. To get the same IPB quality you need more than 4-5 times bit rate in All-I. But those are simple things to know if you are dealing with video. :)

Dr James Morris

December 30, 2015, 7:07 pm

You are also completely dead wrong about the codec. This is the same codec used in the C300 Mark 2 (XF-AVC), although that goes up to 410Mbits/sec. It's broadcast quality, and even cinema quality. Apple Pro Res LT runs at 328Mbits/sec in 4K, and is considered broadcast quality.

Dr James Morris

December 30, 2015, 7:10 pm

Canon doesn't sponsor reviews. They don't even have available loan stock in the UK.


December 30, 2015, 7:10 pm

Pro res and All-I are almost the same thing, they both contain inter frame compression algorithms.
I personalty am not satisfied by anything below 400 Mb/sec inter frame compression or 100 Mb/sec IPB (spatial-temporal compression) in 4K.
And please don't compare the very good C300 Mk2 to this poor contraption, the image quality differences are like day and night in all regards!
This XC-10 is nothing more but a very expensive toy! As I said, even the Panasonic FZ 1000 is a better video camera (except the lack of native ND filters perhaps) at a quarter of the XC-10 price.

Dr James Morris

December 30, 2015, 7:16 pm

Sure, that's the theory. I'd love to see a side-by-side comparison though.


December 30, 2015, 7:26 pm

Well, I don't own Cfast cards so I couldn't take home the samples, but I've watched them in store via HDMI on a 64 inch screen and I was totally disappointed. The DR is on the low side, highlights clip very early, and the image quality is on the soft side. The AF is slow and unreliable.

Please don't take my word for it, just go, test it yourself and draw the conclusions.

Dr James Morris

January 3, 2016, 1:01 pm

Well, I have. I've got 4K footage from it on my hard drive right here, and it's excellent. Certainly the match for any sub-£1,000 DSLR footage I've seen. I didn't find the AF slow or unreliable, when I tested the XC10. I also don't know which negative reviews you're referring to. I've searched the Web far and wide and not found any really slamming reviews. There is a sense of disappointment on some, but others conclude as this review does that it's a decent camera for ENG-type activities. If, for example, you were over in Vegas right now covering CES it would be brilliant. I've covered trade shows many times before myself and the XC10 would be ideal for that kind of job.


January 9, 2016, 3:36 am

This is why I wish someone would post a side-by-side with one of Sony's 1", like the X70. That thing clips highlights very badly (at least from what I've seen), and has a noticeably smaller DR than what I've seen from the XC10. Footage I've watched from the Canon looks to be along the lines of the BM Pocket Cinema camera...not there, but certainly much closer than the 1" Sonys.

I had a GH4 and sold it due to shadow noise at 800 ISO and a harsh DR, and am considering the XC10, despite its flaws.

As to the "puny" sensor...smaller sensors have their place. And the Super-16 sensor in the Blackmagic PCC is even smaller, but nobody's complaining about the image quality on that camera.


January 9, 2016, 9:49 am

Because that BMC PCC is under 1000$ and uses interchangeable lenses.

Tom Barrance

January 25, 2016, 4:50 pm

Fair review. I tested it recently for my own site. It's a much better camera than you'd think if you just listened to the weekend warriors and people who go by the specs.

Dr James Morris

February 9, 2016, 9:27 am

Thank you! That's exactly the point I'm making in my review. I run a videography business myself, with clients like HP and IBM. There's no way I would use a GH4-grade DSLR with them. I bought a Canon C100 instead, which has never let me down, but I might have got a cheaper XC10 if it had been out at the time. I shoot events like Cebit and CES, and you just couldn't trust a DSLR to get every shot. You could with the XC10. Just leave it on auto and, as you say, a homeless man on the street could get good shots, although he might run off with the camera when you're not looking.


July 17, 2016, 6:17 pm

Thanks for the review - its nice to know that the writer actually has test footage from the camera, not like some commenter who said they "tested" the camera in a store. *rolls eyes*

I too need a B camera that I can give to an assistant and leave it on auto and I just cannot do that with DSLR or mirrorless camera and get consistent video.


August 21, 2016, 11:11 am

I had the opportunity to spend a week with this camera recently. It has its weak points, certainly, but for an on-the-hoof observation piece with a lot of handheld work it was excellent. It's well made, sits comfortably in the hand, is easy for a non-pro like me to use, and it delivered some superb images. No problems at all editing in Adobe. I liked the form factor a lot. That said, there is a lot that could be done better IMO, and who knows, may eventually appear in an XC20 (Canon seem to have taken a Microsoft approach to this product launch - get it out there and let users tell us what's wrong). A properly integrated EVF wouldn't involve obscuring the touch-screen controls. Proper XLR audio should also be integrated - after all, if you have to clamp on various workarounds then you might as well just go with a DSLR. Something nearer to constant aperture would be good. I'd like more ND filter stages for bright conditions. And if this had been my own camera I would have wanted more programmable buttons in order to spend less time in menus. But after this short experience I'm seriously thinking about getting one of these, probably not new though, and very much hoping Canon are listening to all the feedback and working up the next model, because in spite of shortcomings there is a lot to like about the XC10.

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