In preparation for a school assignment, I decided to purchase a Canon XA20. Why would you want to buy a camcorder that has a sensor that is relatively small? Doesn’t it seem like everyone these days uses a camera that doesn’t have a mirror?
A single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) may produce high-quality photographs at a reasonable cost. However, not everyone will find that to be the optimal option. It is entirely dependent on the kinds of movies that you intend to produce.
The majority of still images are captured by DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Because it is an optional feature that has been tacked on, video has several limitations. If you intend to make extensive use of them for filmmaking, you are going to require additional equipment. You can obtain fantastic results if you have the time to put in, as well as the ability to work around their restrictions. Camcorders are something you should look into purchasing if you plan on capturing things like documentaries, live events, and news.
What are my thoughts on the XA20? It’s wonderful. I had forgotten how much simpler it is to film with a “real” camcorder until I switched back to filming with SLRs after using them for a few years. In addition, the XA20 is a camcorder that features an exceptionally refined design.
If you are interested in filming on a more professional level (and don’t require 4K), you should think about purchasing a secondhand Sony XA20 as an alternative to purchasing a consumer camcorder or an entry-level mirrorless camera.
How Professional it is?
The top handle is the primary advantage of this product. If you remove this, it seems to be nothing more than a huge amateur camcorder. To be more specific, it has the same appearance as its younger and more affordable sibling, the HF-G30. You might want to consider getting one of these instead if you’re concerned about your finances.
This top handle is equipped with two XLR audio connectors, allowing professional microphones to be plugged in and used. When the microphones are linked to the top handle, it also contains manual switches and knobs for selecting audio sources and settings, as well as a separate zoom rocker and record button (for low-angle shots).
The professionals in the film industry with whom I was working were astonished by how small it is. In addition to that, it offers uncompressed professional audio and XLR inputs. However, it is not a professional camcorder in the sense that it is unable to record content that would be acceptable to major broadcasters such as the BBC or PBS.
It’s true that the film is incredibly crisp and clear, and the colors are nice, however, the aspect ratio is simply 4:2:0, the same as most DSLRs. “Real” professional camcorders are pricey and shoot in at least “4:2:2.” Because of this, the colors come out looking nicer and are much simpler to alter and “grade” later. In addition, broadcasters want a ‘bit rate’ of at least 50 Mb/s, however, the XA20 can only reach a maximum of 35 Mb/s. Additionally, the sensor is far more compact than that of a DSLR.
The Sony PWX-70 has a similar physical factor as the Sony XA20 but with a larger sensor. It can shoot actual broadcast grade 4:2:2, and it includes an SDI output for connecting to professional TV equipment. If you have the budget for it, you should consider purchasing the Sony PWX-70.
The absence of knobs and buttons on the main camera body is another aspect that does not give the camera a professional appearance. You will need to navigate through the touchscreen menus in order to access the majority of the settings. This is disliked by industry professionals due to the fact that it is a slower alternative to using physical controls.
The XA20, on the other hand, has six buttons that are fully programmable by the user, allowing quick access to the primary adjustments that are most frequently adjusted. This video, which was created by Ryan Jackson of the Edmonton Journal, demonstrates how he configures the camera and its controls in order to make its use more efficient. (The product being discussed in the video is really the more costly XA25, which is similar to the XA20 with the exception that it includes an SDI output.)
There were a few aspects of the camera that took me by surprise. To start, it performs a lot better in low light than I was anticipating it to (the new XA11 is significantly better). The second point I want to make is about how effective picture stabilization is. It makes it possible to photograph without the need for a tripod, which is something that cannot be done when using telephoto lenses on an SLR camera.
It is also a plus to have adequate audio settings and an easy way to check the sound using headphones. It worked perfectly with both the Rode VideoMic Pro and the Rodelink wireless system, which I utilized. Although none of them is an XLR system, the XLR handle proved to be rather helpful. Both of these use minijacks. By using a Rode VXLR adaptor to connect to the XLR sockets on the board, I was able to adjust the volume using the dial rather than the on-screen options.
The lens is excellent in quality. It has a long optical zoom range of 20 times, extending from a true wide-angle setting of 26.8 millimeters (29 millimeters with image stabilization switched on) to a long telephoto setting of 576 millimeters. Flare is managed quite well (far better than on my earlier, “pro” XF100), and there is a cool lens hood that flips down and out of the way.
Additionally, operating this camera is a breeze. You have the option to manually set the focus, white balance, and exposure, however, the “full auto” setting is recommended for the majority of shooting scenarios. I put it to use on a number of summer youth film projects, and participants as young as 12 years old produced some impressive videos with it.
The XA20 is a compact, well-organized, and easy-to-use device. It has a professional appearance and feel, yet its use is not overly complicated, making it an excellent choice for use in educational endeavors.