The Canon XA40 is a powerful and compact UHD camcorder that uses Canon’s color as a weapon against the hatred that is directed against single-lens cameras in a world that uses s35mm and full-frame. After bringing this tiny but tremendous wonder with me to the family farm in Rolla, North Dakota, the overwhelming sensation that I had was one of astonishment.
Having a Conveniently Tiny Size
When traveling with a child and photographic equipment, it is inevitable that trade-offs will need to be made. What will make it easier to travel with a child should take priority over bringing more cameras and lenses, right? When my wife suggested that we take the Canon XA40, my initial reaction was to roll my eyes.
I was aware that the pleasant summer beauty of the northern plains may result in stunning photographs, so I planned to bring as much equipment as I could reasonably carry. I had the appropriate camera in my hands, as did my wife, and the journey was a breeze for all of us as a family. I was right, and so was my wife.
Everything that we know about the color space that Canon dips its pixels into can be found in the Canon XA40’s color space. You have a lovely sight on your hands if you take this acrylic-like color saturation and combine it with a sunset over the high plains. In the movie that can be found below, I exposed the yellows in the North Dakota Sunset to have the maximum possible saturation.
My anticipation was for a complete silhouette. After importing the UHD files (3840 x 2160) into DaVinci Resolve by Blackmagic Design, I was able to adjust the color and examine even deeper to see how well the Canon UHD h.264 files worked.
To my astonishment, the Canon XA40 UHD captured far more shadow detail than what was shown on the LCD screen or electronic viewfinder of the camera when I was shooting. This additional shadow detail came as a really pleasant and pleasant small surprise. If I had wanted to, I could have increased the darkness of the shadows even more. Who wouldn’t want more shadow knowledge, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want that?
Pixels with highlighted areas and peaks
When I shielded my highlights just a little bit, the transition from high values to peaked pixels was far smoother than I had anticipated a single-lens camcorder to offer. This was true for both the highlight and the smoothness. When I was shooting out of the windshield of a Chevy Pickup, I encountered a hard edge between the 100% peaked pixels and the rest of the image. This is the type of edge that is more familiar to me.
During the sunset on the family farm in North Dakota, the light did manage to peak through the clouds and turn those pixels a brilliant white. However, when viewed as a whole, the landscape gave off the impression that those pixels were an integral part of the scene.
In Resolve, I was able to determine that the image that had been captured on the camera was not the complete picture. Those editors who may need to match the Canon XA40 to other cameras will find that the camera’s ability to pull back highlights and/or shadows by about a quarter to a half stop in each direction will be a pleasant little addition.
A camera’s dynamic range and the overall image it can give may both be evaluated under bright, harsh daytime, even if sunsets aren’t included. This film of a soybean field was taken on a beautiful day at about three in the afternoon. To reduce the reflective quality of the soybean plants, I employed a low-cost polarizer.
When I apply a polarizing filter, I see flora reacting in a way that is comparable to how the skin does. A polarizer is an excellent tool for preventing glare and producing a picture that is of higher quality since leaves have the ability to reflect a significant quantity of light from all directions. I believe that the crisp UHD footage can be seen rather well here.
There is a lot of attention to detail in the leaves and soybeans. Even with the strong gusts, the camera was able to capture all of the finer details of the sea of green soybeans.
Automatic Functions and the Canon XA40
The auto mode seems to be the most natural setting for this camera. Every aspect is automated. You name the setting, and the Canon XA40 can go into the auto mode with it. This includes autofocus, auto exposure, and auto white balance, among other settings. As a photographer by trade, I try to avoid using preset settings wherever possible.
My decision to utilize the Canon XA40 in manual mode instead of its automatic mode allowed me to gain a deeper comprehension of the capabilities of this compact UHD camcorder. The Evaluation Of The Canon XA-40 Ultra High-Definition Camcorder The exposure, as well as the method one uses to select the aperture or the neutral density, is only one example, and I will discuss it below.
When the Canon XA40 was in its fully automatic mode, I found that the image it produced was somewhat unremarkable. The white balance was achieved successfully. The exposure was correct to around the center of the road. The one drawback I observed when using the Canon XA40 in fully automatic mode was that it produced images of mediocre quality. The result of any creative decisions that a professional would make would never be seen by the audience, which is probably the goal.
The density of Neutral Matter and Aperture
This camera does not have ISO settings; instead, it has Gain settings, which function in a manner that is quite similar to ISO settings. The lower the Gain setting on this camera is, in a manner very similar to how the lower the ISO setting is on other cameras, the less noise can be seen in the image. If you, as I did, found yourself facing the sun, then you will need to navigate to a more in-depth section of the menu on the XA-40 in order to activate the Neutral Density setting.
After that, if you wish to choose your aperture or iris, the neutral density will not be able to be selected independently. When the iris is adjusted, the neutral density setting comes into effect. In the next image, which is a closer look at the LCD screen of the Canon XA40, you can see that the ND 1/8 becomes visible somewhere near the F4.0 setting.
Users are unable to pick a neutral density strength and then adjust the aperture after making their selection. Both the ND and the IRIS are working jointly on this. At first, this was something that bothered me a little bit. I am accustomed to selecting my aperture and neutral density settings independently, which enables me to select the settings that are most appropriate for the situation. After some time, I was able to adjust to using this function.
Gain Settings for the Canon XA-40
How exactly did I adjust the gain setting on the camera? When I was shooting, the gain setting on my camera was almost always set to its lowest possible position. My practice sessions took place on a farm in North Dakota throughout the summer months. Even though there was plenty of brilliant sunlight available, I nevertheless put the Canon XA40 through its paces by putting it to the test in low-light conditions. I also took a color chart noise test, which you can view below.
However, I found that the higher half of the gain settings on the Canon XA40 were too loud for my purposes, and the comfortable point for me was somewhere around the middle of the range. As the gain was turned up to its maximum, I saw that the shadows had a blue or a green that was somewhat tinged with blue. I attempted to match these samples of noise to one another. The most extreme setting required a bit more adjustment, and even after that, I do not believe that it is completely accurate.
Strong Despite Its Size
The Canon XA40 is capable of recording a hefty Ultra High Definition (UHD) video with a resolution of 3860 by 2160 at 23.98/24/29.97/30 frames per second (150 Mb/s), 1920 by 1080p at 23.98/24/29.97/30/59.94/60 frames per second (17 to 35 Mb/s), and 1280 by 720p at 59.94/60 frames per second (8 Mb/s). Aside from the numbers, recording UHD into a decent SD card (I used an AngelBird 64GB) at a low Mb/s works wonderfully with this camera. Despite how much I like the UHD image, I also used the camera to record video at 1920 by 1080 resolution at both 35 and 17 megabits per second.
Because many television stations around the country still have not made the transition into the 10-bit 30P realm that higher productions occupy, they shoot in 35 Mb/s, which is why I am particularly interested in seeing how HD appeared when it was recorded at 35 Mb/s. Through its mini-HDMI connection, the camera has the ability to produce a resolution of 1920 by 1080 at 10-bits.
The image did not become corrupt at 35 megabits per second even though it was captured in the cab of a Chevrolet Pickup Truck, which included difficult lighting conditions. Even when I used DaVinci Resolve to make some adjustments to the image, the HD was able to keep it. Then I tested the HD at 17 Mb/s, where I discovered that the image was a little softer than it was in the HD at 35 Mb/s, but not by a significant amount.
What particularly piques my curiosity about the Canon XA40 is its high sensor resolution. It has a robust dimension of 5352 by 3950. My best estimate is that it was downsampled from 5.3K to UHD, however, I should clarify that I am not a camera tech. You don’t need to look any further if you want to know why I think the UHD image produced by this camera is so crisp.
Mode Infrarouge (IR)
There is an infrared mode available on the XA40 Professional Camcorder. According to Canon, the Infrared Mode will make it possible to record video in environments where there is very little or no natural light at all. In the tests that I ran, the Infrared Mode required a minimal amount of background light. Because my backyard blends into the surrounding forest, there is not a single source of light where I reside in Tennessee, which is close to Stone’s River.
When I pointed the Canon XA40 out the back door of my house, the backyard’s zero light seemed to be exactly that: zero in the infrared. The infrared operated when there was a small amount of light present. When I used the Canon XA40 and switched to the Infrared light setting, the Infrared Mode captured everything that was visible in the light.
Powered by XLR Phantom for Audio
During my time in North Dakota, I brought the Canon XA40 with me and used it to film a few interviews. Keep in mind that I am not a specialist in audio. If it works, then it typically works adequately for what I need it to do. The Canon XA40 made it simple to attach an external wireless lavalier microphone to the camera. The sound levels could be altered with little effort, and the top handle, which could be removed and revealed the external audio controls, performed admirably. There are times when we want something that is both straightforward and straightforward to utilize. In point of fact, I will always choose anything that is straightforward and uncomplicated to utilize.
Image stabilization using both optics and electronics
I had a positive impression of the image stabilization since it did a fantastic job of eliminating a significant amount of wind bounce and allowing me to hand-hold the camera while a Chevrolet pickup drove down a gravel road. You can see that the driving shots from inside the cab are quite well-balanced in the two most recent videos, one of which is located above this paragraph and the other of which is located below. That is to say, I am controlling the camera with my hands while the truck travels along a gravel road in North Dakota.
Taking everything into consideration, I believe that the Canon XA40 is a reliable single-lens camera. This compact camera’s most notable features are its ultra-high definition (UHD) resolution, its user-friendliness, and its image stabilization capabilities.
I can imagine a producer using this camera on a documentary, in a setting where they are gathering news, or even on a variety of different television news shootings or reality show productions. The resolution of the UHD is excellent, and the cost of the SD cards is reasonable. All of these capabilities are packed into a video camera that costs $1699.00
Several Features of the Canon XA40
- 8.29MP, 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor
- Integrated optical zoom lens with 20 times magnification
- Image stabilization using both optics and electronics
- Recording at both UHD 4K30 and HD 59.97 frames per second
- Dual XLR, 3.5mm mic/line audio inputs
- recording in MP4 format
- DIGIC DV 6 processor
- There are two slots for SD memory cards.
- Mini-HDMI output
- 1/4 inch-20 thread for attaching a tripod.