THE ANNUAL IBC SHOW IN Amsterdam is always heaving, and is very much the place to encounter the latest cutting-edge film and broadcast gear. However, although the thrust of the event is still the high end of cinematography, increasingly there are products being launched and demonstrated that are going to be of keen interest to the hybrid photographer, whether that be audio equipment, the latest cutting-edge LED lights or mirrorless cameras that are packed full of awesomely good video-making features.
One area where there was plenty going on this year was camcorders. In fact, Canon was presenting no less than five new models, while Panasonic was also active, with two new launches. Considering this is a sector of the market that some thought was in terminal decline a year or so back, this level of activity was intriguing and clearly in response to what manufacturers see as customer demand. So, what was on offer, was this level of launch activity expected, who are the new models aimed at and have their arrivals moved this sector of the market on in any significant way?
As always, for an insightful overview we caught up with CVP’s Technical Marketing Manager Jake Ratcliffe, who was at the show to check out what was going on and to produce CVP’s in-depth video overview of the new products that had caught his eye. Scan the QR Code in this feature if you want to keep up to speed on all the fresh launches, including a closer look at Canon’s wide-ranging camcorder quintet.
“It didn’t especially surprise me to see Canon come out with such a wide selection of new launches,” he says. “There are still plenty of people out there who are using this style of camera and, while the new line-up isn’t massively different from what’s gone before, there have still been several modern features added.
“Four of the new models are aimed at the professional, while the fifth is targeting the prosumer. One of the main upgrades across them all is the addition of UVC support via the USB-C port, which is very much designed to improve their streaming functionality.
‘Enhanced connectivity is a key element of the new line-up, and the XA65/XA60 and XA75/XA70 models can now stream HD video in UVC via USB-C through a PC. Over the past few years cameras have been receiving updated USB ports to give people the option to stream via them which, during the boom of low-budget live streaming in 2020, was an affordable and easy way of live streaming.
“It’s still a good option for people who want a simple plug and stream experience, although most professionals will be better off using a more traditional converter or switcher if quality and reliability is a key concern.”
CANON’S NEW LINE-UP
Powered by the DIGIC DV6 image processor, and leveraging the 1/2.3” type CMOS sensor and 1.0-inch Type CMOS sensor respectively, the XA65/XA60 and XA75/ XA70 are capable of shooting 4K UHD and Full HD images, using over sampling for superior HD quality. When coupled with Canon’s intelligent optical design, these camcorders offer impressive zoom functionality in a lightweight body.
Achieving a 35mm equivalent focal length, the XA65/XA60 offer 20x optical zoom, while the XA75/XA70 deliver 15x. Added to this, the four professional models support 40x digital zoom, which extends to 800x in the XA65/XA60 and 600x in the XA75/XA70. They also each come with a new, large 3.5in Touch Panel LCD Monitor and high-resolution Ocular EVF.
“The XA-70 and 75 are the most fullyfeatured out of the bunch,” says Jake, “and now feature Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus for fast and accurate focusing, which is a really important step up. There’s also the Dual Pixel focus guide on board to simplify manual focusing on a subject.”
The XA65/XA60 duo meanwhile employ an advanced Hybrid AF system for precise focusing, even in low light situations. All four of the professional camcorders offer adjustable focusing speeds for either fast or smooth AF, which can also be controlled via the 3.5inch LCD display, enabling operators to set the focus on their camera by simply touching a single AF point.
For even greater accuracy and convenience, especially within busy environments where operators need to keep a subject in shot, Face Detection AF and Face Tracking is available. All feature manual focus, which can be set either by the focus/zoom ring, or the control ring on the lens of the XA75/XA70. Employing 5-axis image stabilisation, these models also enable steady, shake-free footage.
Other high-end professional features the new camcorder line-up offers include a range of flexible recording options, such as XF-AVC 4K UHD 160Mbps at 25P for broadcast, or a smaller more manageable codec of MP4 4K UHD 150Mbps at 25P. There are also a host of specialist options, including Slow and Fast Motion, on-screen display recording, which embeds the date and time into the video image, and an infrared mode to capture footage in the dark.
It’s also possible to easily integrated these new models into a multi-camera set up, thanks to the custom picture menu, allowing users to colour match footage with other Canon cameras. There are also two XLR audio inputs to enable the use of pro-spec mics, and 4-channel linear PCM on board, to set the recording level along with input sensitivity.
The model aimed at the prosumer, but which would also have the potential to be used on professional projects at a pinch, is the Legria HF G70, a multi-functional camcorder with what’s designed to be an easy-touse form factor. Utilising a 1/2.3-type CMOS sensor and a 20x zoom lens, this camcorder captures 4K UHD video in MP4 and oversampled HD footage for enhanced video resolution. HDMI and USB-C output is onboard so that the HF G70 can be turned into a web camera. Additional scene modes are also available, including night mode, on-screen display recording and audio scene mode, which adds sound recording that’s tuned to the shooting environment.
“Entry level camcorders like the Canon Legria are a great platform to learn on for new filmmakers wanting to improve their skills or to just capture imagery quickly and easily,” remarks Jake. “These types of camera have a good mix of image quality, video features and simple controls, which makes them perfect for entry level filmmakers and videographers.”
Panasonic also chose the setting of IBC to launch its 4K HC-X2 and HC-X20 models. Both of the new products include professional video production features such as 1.0 type sensors, a 20x optical zoom, a simultaneous display on the LCD monitor and Electronic Viewfinder, Triple Manual Rings for easy control, XLR audio
input terminals, ND filter, dual SD card slots, unlimited shooting length and built-in Wi-Fi.
The HC-X2, the higher-end model of the pair, additionally offers HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) and V-log recording for creating 4K HDR content, as well as Ethernet connectivity and simultaneous SDI/HDMI output and HD live streaming capabilities via a range of streaming protocols.
“The key benefit of camcorders over other video camera options is the fact that they’re simple to pull out of a bag, turn on and shoot,” notes Jake. “There’s no need to bolt on loads of accessories, massive lenses that you need to swap out for different scenarios or ND filters that need to be attached to the front of your lens, since they’re built in. Having a smaller sensor also makes it possible to have massive zoom range lenses built into these systems, that still remain compact.
“All of these benefits means that this type of self-contained camera is perfect for the kind of unpredictable work where you need to change your frame in a flash, and having the ability to move quickly from a wide shot to a tight frame is brilliant. Some camcorders also have servo zooms, which can make for some really nice smooth zoom shots. Panasonic’s new HC-X2 and HC-X20 are similar to their predecessors, but they come with some key live streaming and connectivity features added.”
While all of the seven camcorder models launched at IBC come packed with really useful and usable high-end features, even the highest specified of them is not off-the-scale expensive, yet another benefit of camcorder cameras. The Panasonic HC-X2 and HC-X20 are available from CVP priced at £2879 and £2249 respectively, while the Canon Legria HF G70 costs just £1089, the XA65/XA60 are £2089.99 and £1540 and the XA75/XA70 are £2719.99 and 2179.99. For the money they are highly capable machines, and for those that can harness their advantages they can make a really sound investment.
“There are plenty of productions that a camcorder might be well suited for,” says Jake, “such as corporate work, documentaries and run ‘n gun productions. They can also come into their own for live streaming and broadcasting, news gathering, journalism and much more.”
As always, if you’re looking to find out more about whether kit you’re interested in might be right for your business, fix up a meeting with the expert team at CVP for an equipmentagnostic run through of what might best fit your requirements. There’s guaranteed to be no hard sell, and it’s an excellent way to try before you buy!
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