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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
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Old October 27th, 2011, 10:36 PM   #1
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Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

Ok, we all agree the XA10/G10 is a great camera. But no camera is perfect and if anyone from Canon reads this post, here are a few changes I believe would make it an even more powerful camera. This isn't meant to take away or degrade the camera in any sense. Just enhancements I think would improve it:

•Zoom Rocker. I think most users would say the G10/XA10 zoom arrangement is difficult to control precisely. It binds when trying to make that crawl zoom and then goes to a speed too fast. The zoom speed adjust via software is nice, but doesn't compensate for what I believe could be better designed. I think a real 'mini rocker' would be nice, or go back to a small lever like the HV30/40 has. Add an extra speed in there for smoother transitions from fast to slow. The handle zoom rocker is handy, but could use another speed to get better modulation from fast to slow. Especially frustrating when you compare the zoom control to other prosumer cams or even the zoom control of some older Canon consumer cams.
•Power On/Off Button - I like the push button On/Off button arangement, but where it is located is crummy. It makes it a two-handed operation to pick up and turn on the video camera. It becomes downright annoying after extended use, especially if you've ever used a cam with all the controls on the Rt thumb button. Putting the on/off switch on the Rt side next to the Record button would make activating the camera a smooth one-handed event. I like how the Sony prosumer cams have theirs. A flick of the thumb and the cam is on, push the Record button with the same thumb and 'boom' you're in business!
•Headphone jack. Putting the jack behind the LCD is ok on a consumer cam, but doing so for a prosumer cam is frustrating. The operator cannot use the headphones and close the LCD. If you have been shooting and taking a break for a moment or two and want to shut the LCD, can't do it w/o unplugging the headphones each time. If you want to use the viewfinder and headphones at the same time, which I've done frequently, and close the LCD, good luck! I don't use headphones a terrible amount, but I know guys that do. This must drive them nuts.
•Volume dial - Well, it doesn't exist. I'd like to see the option of using the existing dial in the back of the cam, the one that is a very nice exposure dial, also to be used as a volume dial for the onboard mic and 1/8" mini jack mic. One would think it would be a matter of just re-writing the software to allow such use. Using the LCD for volume control is frustrating IMO. Fortunately the AGC is pretty good and for most applications, I've found it to be good enough while using the 1/8 mini jack ...and the manual audio control generally not necessary to control. But there have been times and using the LCD is a pain. When using the XLR mic, manual control, of course, is a lot easier. The IDEAL situation I believe would be to offer a dual-dial system with two parallel dials (one stacked next to the other) in place where the current exposure dial is located. One dial (say, the left one) is for exposure or whatever, the other dial for volume.
-XLR Audo Limiting - I'm suprised Canon didn't offer this on the XA10. With all the other wonderful features, it's seems astonishing it wasn't included. Most prosumer cams have it. I've had many a blown out audio becuase of some freak loud noise I wasn't expecting. Hope it shows up in the next revision. While they are at it, maybe put smaller hash marks on the XLR volume dials for a little more precise positioning. Just a wish.
•Lens Shade - Everything up by the lens on these new cams is a huge improvement over the HVxx cams and some of the previous small cams. Canon is to be commended for the work they did to the lens and focus and lens shade. If the HV30/40 cams had the wide angle lens, focus ring and lens shade of the XA10/G10, they would have been nearly perfect cams. Canon could do the XA/G10 one better by integrating a lens cover system INTO the lens hood like Sony prosumer cams do. You flip the lever and the doors open. Wow, that's slick! You never have to fiddle with a lens cap again. An integrated system would be a nice touch. It's a want, not a need. But would be nice and protect the very nice lens.
•Viewfinder Rubber Cup - The XA10/G10 viewfinder is a nice improvement over some previous small cams but, what would make it a giant step better is if Canon supplied a larger, wrap-around rubber eye cup like some of the other prosumer cams have. You get two eye cups with many of the Sony cams, the short one and the larger, wrap-around style. The wrap-around eye cups keep the stray light out of your eye so you can focus on the image and make the correct adjustments. Really see what you are shooting. I found it really frustrating with the XA10 small rubber cup in bright light. The LCD sometimes isn't very visible in certain sunny conditions, and the viewfinder is great to resort to (I like viewfinders anyway), but the small eye cup doesn't keep stray light out very well. I wear glasses too, which compounds problems. Now, the small rubber cup IS more useful than the rubber 'bumper' used on the HVxx cams so I am thankful that Canon improved the viewfinder as they did, don't get me wrong. But a larger cup as an accessory would round out this professional unit. Sony hits a home run with their eye cups (the larger one). If such a unit were offered as an accessory, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. While talking about the viewfinder, if there was ONE enhancement I would ask for, it would be to make the detent that keeps the viewfinder extended just a little more firm than it is. Using the viewfinder, I frequently have it accidentally push back in due to pressure from my head. Just a little extra firmess to help prevent it from being pushed in would be helpful.
•ND Filters - Probably wishfull thinking here. Would love to have 'real' ones with a real 4-position lever (Off, ND1, ND2, ND3). Probably not enough room for them in such a short cam. But doesn't hurt to 'wish'.
•Accessory Shoe (G10 only). The XA10 has a nice accessory shoe located in about the only place it could fit, given the small cam body. Canon did a great job with it on the XA10. Why they didn't put the same one on the G10 is mystifying and equally disappointing as a consumer. I guess it's one way to push people to the higher priced cam. But the G10 is a $1,500 cam for crying out loud! It should have a full-sized shoe IMO. The G10 mini 'smart shoe' or whatever they call it located in the back of the cam behind the zoom lever is a shame. Lousy location, too small to do anything with. If the G10 had the same cold shoe as the XA10 does, or a combo cold shoe with smart-shoe features, it would be a real winner. I'm sure a lot of cam buyers would be extatic to see that. I can envision some users buying the G10 as a B cam, then retrofitting the top plate with a new XA10 top plate/shoe combo (from Canon parts) to get a full-sized cold shoe. You'd have a very useful G10 with that arrangement. Speaking of that, would be nice if the back hook-up of the XA10 used the same smart 'mini-shoe' as the G10, with size screws to hold the handle. Then you could use some of the accessories like the light. Some of the accessories aren't that 'professional' but I can see a time and place for it. A light that turns on/off with the camera 'Rec' button would be nice for reality show pocket cam use. This last point might be nit-picking a little, but something worth looking at.
-More snug XLR buttons: Personally this hasn't been an issue for me, but I know others have made noise about it. So, I'll add it for the sake of others. The buttons on my cam will rattle, but only if I shake the camera vigerously -- moreso than I would under normal shooting sutuations.

There are a few other things I could see adding to this list, you might have your own list of improvements. I think this is a truely wonderful cam. But as with anything, there are always ways to propose 'improvements' to increase usability for future cams. Canon clearly has listened to users who have been asking for a very small cam with pro-quality features. For the most part, they've hit a home-run as seen by the limited availability of the cams (that and the tsunami).

What are your thoughts? Am I off base with this list of 'wants'?
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Old October 28th, 2011, 06:24 AM   #2
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

That's a good list and I agree, the video and audio quality is great. Here's my thoughts based on just a couple weeks using the XA10.

Zoom - There's 5 ways to zoom (body, handle, LCD, wireless remote, wired remote). I find the easiest of the built-in methods is the LCD screen. It has micro control that I like and my hand is probably near the LCD anyway for stability or exposure control. It also minimizes the possibility of the creaking noise on the right side.

Power On/Off - I don't have a problem with it. I like that it's on the other side, prevents me from accidentally hitting it.

Headphone Jack - Placement is annoying. I've been considering a right-angle plug to at least allow closing the LCD most of the way. They should have put it on the outside in the back or maybe even near the mic jack. Or, put it on the handle.

Volume control - Also annoying but there are headphone in-line options.

Viewfinder - It stinks for all the reasons you said plus when the large battery is on it's nearly impossible to use. I've been toying with the idea of a plastic U-shaped clip that I can put behind the rubber piece to prevent it from sliding back in with the slightest pressure. Maybe attach it with a string around the hand strap.

My other thoughts:

Creaking - It's real as confirmed by a couple other users. The camera should be near silent when I move it. I've worked around it quite a bit but it's one of those things that's on my mind and I've got enough to think about.

Shotgun Mic Mount - It would be nice if it was a little lower as it interferes with other devices I put on the shoe. When I want an HDV-Z96 light, Azden wireless receiver and a shotgun it's a pain to have to maneuver things around the shotgun mount. I have a Vbracket but it just touches the mic mount and if moved slightly they click against each other. I'm probably going to have a single straight bracket option for all three and not use the mic mount in certain run and gun situations which means I have to have a screwdriver and some place to put the two screws that hold it on because they don't stay connected to the mount.

LCD Soft Controls - Usual shooting there's the FUNC, PHOTO (why?) and the last option as buttons on the screen. (a) have a software option to make the screen go completely blank and only if I touch the corners do the buttons appear, (b) a toolbar so I can see the functions I use most often for instant access (e.g. focus, zoom and manual exposure, etc.).

That's it for now. Cheers.
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Old October 28th, 2011, 09:09 AM   #3
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

My wish list is much shorter:
1) 1/2" sensor
2) 422 50Mbs
3) Can you make it smaller? Please?
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Old October 28th, 2011, 09:41 AM   #4
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

Most of what folks want would (except make it smaller) woud call for a larger, heavier machine with more real estate on which to plop conrols and jacks, especially gping to a 1/2" sensor - and a higher price point as well. But we can dream as we wait for technology to evolve.
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Old October 28th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #5
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

Kawaika,

I agree with you on the placement of the XLR mic holder. Lower would be better. I forgot about that until you mentioned it. On using the camera with the large, extended battery, I actually ordered the next smaller size batteries because I saw in pictures how much it stuck out of the case and was concerned about access to the viewfinder. What would be really nice is a viewfinder that not only would pull out (and stay out) but one that would articulate up/down as well. The technology is out there. I have an old Sony TRV17 DV cam that has a wonderful viewfinder mechanism.

The viewfinder weak detent is not a trivial matter. When you get into a good shot and suddenly the viewfinder 'pops' back into place from just a little too much pressure, it shakes the camera and ruins your shot. I also agree with your thought about the LCD soft controls. Better yet would be a joystick control feature. But I'm sure we're stuck with the touchscreen. Good suggestions..


One item I should have put at the top of the list of 'wants' is.... 60P. I can't believe I left it off. It's probably coming on the next version my guess would be. USB 3.0? how about it?
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Old October 28th, 2011, 04:40 PM   #6
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

60p please, please, please! I don't even care if it's 720/60p or 1080/60p, either one would be okay.
Bigger stock battery. If you look at the size and shape of the battery cavity it looks almost as if the XA10 was designed for the next battery up, but then at the last minute someone decided to switch to the tiny one it currently comes with.
Second regular sized cold shoe located towards the rear of the handle
Headphone jack and headphone volume on the rear of the camera
Dedicated external controls for white balance (the only thing I routinely have to visit the menu for)

That's all I ask! Not that I'd complain about having a little more zoom or a 4:2:2 codec either... ;)
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Old October 28th, 2011, 04:51 PM   #7
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

Oops, I agree. 60p. That was the only hesitation I had about this camera because I have $270 ContourHD cameras that do 60p so I thought surely they can put it in a $2K camera? But it was not to be. Not sure if it is for technical or marketing reasons but that would have been icing on the cake and I would have clicked the buy button a day sooner. Close one Canon.

I like the joystick idea. Not sure where they'd put it but even a virtual joystick would be cool. If you've seen the Wacom Intuos software it has a popup that has 8 selections and those selections can be sub-menus. We're in the world of gestures so maybe it's possible to do that here.

The good thing, I believe, is that some of this is firmware. But, it also means engineering time and marketing decisions (to not hurt sales of other models). Still a great camera and we have a dream. Cheers
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Old October 30th, 2011, 07:54 AM   #8
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

I respectfully disagree completely re: zoom button. Today I did several creeping zooms, each one was over 60 seconds from one end to the other. That is phenomenal. I have never had such gorgeous, slow zooms. You just get the hang of how to postion your index finger, and give it a gradual, slight push and you have got the smoothest zoom you could ask for. Absolutely wonderful.

60p was an obvious omission, to encourage next higher model purchase, IMO. I agree I would love to see it included, but doubt we'll see it anytime soon.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 10:08 AM   #9
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
I respectfully disagree completely re: zoom button. Today I did several creeping zooms, each one was over 60 seconds from one end to the other. That is phenomenal. I have never had such gorgeous, slow zooms. You just get the hang of how to postion your index finger, and give it a gradual, slight push and you have got the smoothest zoom you could ask for. Absolutely wonderful.
What I should have said was the variability to 'modulate' between zoom speeds is hard to do. Often the friction on the button binds ever so slightly, jumping a speed and going from slow to too fast rather than a nice progressive modulation. I've slowed my zoom down via software, but still difficult to do. I attribute most of it to the slide zoom control. It's plastic riding on plastic, not a lever directly controlling a switch.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 10:39 AM   #10
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

I suppose modulating between speeds is not perfect, now that you mention it, but as you can tell I don't mind. My zooms tend to be really slow or fast, no real in between for me, so I guess that aspect doesn't mean much to me.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:52 PM   #11
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

I would love to see an articulating viewfinder ( la Panasonic HMC-40, JVC HM-100) on the XA10, but I'm having trouble seeing where Canon could put one without making the body of the camcorder longer and bigger overall. One benefit of enlarging the body would be to have a deeper well for the battery, thus killing two birds with one stone, so to speak - affording a more flexible viewfinder and eliminating the problem of larger batteries getting in the way of the viewfinder.

I suppose the solution to the articulating viewfinder and 'more external controls' issues lies in acquiring the XF100, which has both.

If the XA10 does end up eventually being modified to a v2.0 spec, I doubt that the mods will do anything to pose a risk of cannibalizing XF100 sales. That is, knowing how Canon rolls, any changes are liable to be incremental and small.
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Old October 31st, 2011, 05:25 AM   #12
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kawika Ohumukini View Post

LCD Soft Controls - Usual shooting there's the FUNC, PHOTO (why?) and the last option as buttons on the screen. (a) have a software option to make the screen go completely blank and only if I touch the corners do the buttons appear, (b) a toolbar so I can see the functions I use most often for instant access (e.g. focus, zoom and manual exposure, etc.).

That's it for now. Cheers.
I agree about this. why do they keep "PHOTO" in one of the "fixed" buttons? what a waste of space.
it would be good to be able to decide which buttons to leave on the screen, and not just the last one used etc etc... PHOTO should simply go away.
In the HF G10 the audio limiter cannot be switched off completely, only Auto (on/off) or On all the time. why can't we simply turn it off for good if we want to?

nobody has mentioned it, but I would also like audio in the quick-preview function, and to be able to decide how long that is (how many seconds, or all clip, like in the EX1r)
finally it would be good to have video info accessible in camera, when browsing clips (such as aperture, wb, etc etc)

changes that are not just firmware:I would only ask a shot-transition function, and, most importantly, 50p!!! also a better touch-sensitive screen (like the wonderful one in the Panasonic TM900) would be the icing on the cake. I am still getting to grips with how awkward the Canon's one is.
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Old October 31st, 2011, 08:45 AM   #13
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

For the limiter you could set it at it's lowest setting, put it in manual. That would be the same as off.
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Old October 31st, 2011, 10:38 AM   #14
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
For the limiter you could set it at it's lowest setting, put it in manual. That would be the same as off.
I couldn't find the way to do this? will check again tonight....
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Old November 1st, 2011, 03:48 AM   #15
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Re: Things I hope Canon improves on the next revision:

Set gain to manual, then change setting to lowest setting. I'm not sure what lowest setting is, I haven't used it. I set it to 20db cause I'm usually working in church or in a reception and need the gain.

One thing I do not think can be done is to set it a a certain value and leave it at that. If anyone knows different please tell us!
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