Canon XC10 key features

  • 12 Megapixel 1" CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC DV5 image processor
  • Fixed 10x (24 - 240mm equivalent) zoom lens with image stabilizer
  • Face Detection/Tracking auto-focus mode
  • Records 4K XF-AVC UHD (3840 x 2160) video to CFast 2.0 cards
  • 305Mbps video codec (4K)
  • Canon Log (12 stops of dynamic range)
  • Slow and Fast motion capture
  • 12 Megapixel stills (JPEG only, no Raw)

Hybrid cameras are those capable of capturing both high-quality stills and video. Although they have been around since the release of the Nikon D90 and Canon 5D Mark II, a professional mirrorless hybrid camera is a new category for Canon. When Canon announced the XC10 at NAB 2015, there was some confusion as to what kind of camera it was. Was it a system targeted towards Canon DSLR shooters or Vixia shooters? A drone camera? Or a micro ENG camera? The only thing that was certain was that Canon positioned the camera as one that could credibly be used for both video and still photography work.

The XC10 is an all-in-one compact hybrid camera that features both 4K and Full HD video capture as well as 12 Megapixel stills. It has great ergonomics for handheld shooting, is built around a 1"-type sensor, and includes the ability to record Canon Log, providing up to 12 stops of dynamic range. Optically, it uses a fixed zoom with a 2x Digital Teleconverter and Optical Image Stabilization, as well as a built-in ND filter.

The XC10's lens gives you a focal range of 27.3-273mm equivalent for video capture and 24.1-241mm equiv. for stills. For monitoring, the camera features a touchscreen with Vari-Angle LCD monitor and an included loupe to mount to the LCD for viewing in bright environments. Unlike the 1080p EOS 5D Mark III, the XC10's video workflow options should meet the standards for professional video shooters, offering H.264 4:2:2/8-bit MXF 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) files (up to 305Mbps) to internal CFast 2.0 cards, or Full HD (1920 x 1080) to SD cards.

Its form factor sets the XC10 apart from typical DSLR and compact mirrorless cameras like the Sony a7R II or Panasonic GH4. With its adjustable side grip and loupe attached for continuous run-and-gun video shooting, the XC10 slightly resembles Canon's Cinema EOS cameras, such as the C300 Mark II and the C100 Mark II. With its side grip and adjustable LCD, you can comfortably shoot and monitor your shots at any angle.

Though probably intended for slightly different audiences, on paper the XC10 has a couple of competitors in this space: Sony RX10 II/III and Panasonic FZ1000. All three cameras contain 1"-type sensors and capture 4K video. The RX10 II/III also give you cinematic picture profiles, including S-Log2 which, like Canon Log, extends the cameras' latitude. Unlike the RX10 II/III and FZ1000, which are aimed at stills photographers, the XC10 does not support Raw image capture. Also, the XC10 is by far the most expensive of the three with a retail price of $2,499 (though street prices hover around $1,999).

And if video is your primary format, the XC10 could well be a solid replacement for your DSLR, especially if you need to capture 4K. So the question becomes, can the XC10 be a credible stills camera for people who primarily shoot video but need high quality stills in certain situations? Let's find out.