NAB Warning

(commentary)

bythom canon xc10

The National Association of Broadcasters convention (NAB) is next week, and the video-related announcements are going to start flying, as this is the place where the true video geeks get their geek on. Indeed, they’re already flying.

The Canon XC10 camera (above) seems to be the first of the high-flyers, getting tons of attention from the usual Internet site suspects. Is it a video camera? Is it a still camera? Is it a GH3 killer? Is it the future? 

Uh, it’s a video camera. How good of one is yet to be determined, but everything about its design and specs says “video” to me. Curiously, it’s a “10”, just like the Sony RX-10 and like the first two numbers of the Panasonic FZ1000, two other 1”-sensor cameras that claim to be hybrid still/video cameras. I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence or not, but at this point we have to expect a Nikon 10 of some kind coming soon, right?

It’s difficult for me to get excited about the Canon XC10. Oh, some of the specs do excite me, notably the high bit-rate 4:2:2 4K video stream. But it’s an untested variation on video camera design, one with a twist (literally). I’m not sure how I hold the danged thing in actual use; it just seems a little kludgy in concept as a handheld device (which is why I picked the above photo: not how far forward this is going to go from your eye when shooting handheld video), and it doesn’t really need the swivel if I’m using it on a platform. 

27.1mm f/2.8 wide angle for video also doesn’t excite me. I’ve already got a wide angle converter pretty much full time on my dedicated Canon video camera as it is. As for stills, 12mp off a 1” sensor we’ve seen before: it just won’t cut it the light goes down, I’m afraid. I’m also baffled by this strange bit: the camera is mostly driven by the touch screen, but I’m supposed to use that reflex viewer over the screen for hand-held video work? Can you say design dissonance?

Some folk, notably dpreview, seem to be lauding the XC10 with praise and proclaiming it something significant (even while spilling out a constant stream of “buts” and “onlys”). At the same price as an Canon XA25, it seems that the primary differentiation to the XC10 is that the XC10 has 4K video and 12mp stills, while the XA25 brings true pro audio and video connections, double the lens (and faster, too) in a traditional video package, but with only 1080P video. If I’m that fabled “multimedia” user that Canon (and dpreview) say the XC10 is so successfully targeting, I’d really want an XA with that new 1” sensor and capabilities, frankly. But we’ll see. Indeed, let’s see if dpreview puts its money where it’s mouth is and actually uses an XC10 to cover trade shows. 

Another curiosity: Canon doesn’t even know how to market it. On their site the XC10 ends up in the Professional Imaging Products section, Cameras & Camcorders, but in something they call Ultra High Definition Camcorders. The whole Cinema EOS thing has boxed them in: the XC10 isn’t an EOS ;~). So it had nowhere logical it could go. When the company making the product is having trouble figuring out how to market it and ends up burying it on their own Web site in a place people might not find...

I like that there are new ideas in the XC10. I’m not sure that all the wrinkles have been ironed out. Who knows, maybe I’d like it if I actually used it. 

Meanwhile, Canon’s high end cinema camera, the C300 has made it to Mark II status. It looks pretty good. Which it should for US$15000+. Would I consider moving my Sony F system over to the C300II? Not at the cost it would entail me. But if I were starting from scratch, it would certainly have caught my attention.

As I said, more announcements will be flying for the coming week. Some of the other camera companies may even have some tangential-to-stills announcements, as well.

FWIW, it seems that Nikon’s contribution to NAB press release wars is to pre-announce that they have firmware updates for the D4s, D750, and D810 cameras this summer that will support…timecode. While that’s a useful thing for some, it isn’t here yet, and most people using video on Nikon DSLRs will never use it.


Support this site by purchasing from this advertiser:

 

© Thom Hogan 2015 / All Rights Reserved bythom.com  @bythom #bythom