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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
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Old January 24th, 2012, 09:58 AM   #1
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Canon AX10 vs HF G10

OK, so I am trying to figure out if the AX10 and the HF G10 use the same chip. I have searched the forums with conflicting results.

I know the AX10 has the handle with the pro xlr audio and IR and 64 gb of memory vs 32 gb in the G10.

But do these cameras use the same chip and glass? Do they produce the same picture quality? Is the audio the only major difference?

Sorry if this has been addressed before and I could not find it.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 11:27 AM   #2
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

I will call canon again to reconfirm but what I can tell you is that I have used both cameras side by side and per my test, the cameras yield two separate results. You can see my video test at


Per my initial call to canon, they said that the sensors in the cameras are different. Having used them both I can tell you that there are obvious differences in onboard audio; however, as I think more about it, I don't know that for me that I would justify the additional cost to purchase the XA-10, I think I would actually jump to the XF100. What I do like about the XA-10 but didn't know that it had is the infrared ability. I have used this as well and can tell you that it seemed to work great for me. No all that being said, I have already purchased the HF-G10 so realistically, it just wouldn't make sense to buy it at this point. If your just making your investment and you don't have the money for the XF100, get the XA10 or wait a few months after the new models come out and hopefully the prices will drop and you may have a better selection to choose from.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 12:13 PM   #3
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

I think you can be confident in assuming that the G10a dn XA10 share the same sensor and likely the same glass. The marketing literature will likely read somewhat different (but not be conflicting). After all, they do have different price points, features and target audience, and thus must not read the same.

The output image will likely be a bit different due to different presets in the internal digital signal processing and exposure programming as befits their different markets, and due to production line variances. For example I would expect the G10, being more consumer oriented, to have a more saturated, vivid color output, and more image sharpening, as its default setting. I would expect the XA10 to have a more "neutral" default image in addition to the prosumer feature such as XLR.

Which you get will depend on which features you need, which features you want, and your budget.

And always keep in mind that the gear is maybe 10% of the production quality equation. The remaining 90% is the skill of the screnwriter (if scripted), the talent (if performed), the shooter and the editor.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 12:16 PM   #4
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

Maurice, thanks so much for you great post! Don, also a great point about what makes a good production.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 03:46 PM   #5
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

Thanks Jerry, I'm rather new at this but, I continue to chug away at this in hopes that one day I can say that I have a skill other than spelling my name. That being said, I am confident that the two cameras have different sensors based on my conversation with both Canon and some of the other owners of the XA-10 and the HF-G10. Honestly, I hated the HF-G10 when I got it but with the comments received from other members here, I decided to stick it out and learn a little more about the camera and I couldn't be happier.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 04:12 PM   #6
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

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Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
And always keep in mind that the gear is maybe 10% of the production quality equation. The remaining 90% is the skill of the screnwriter (if scripted), the talent (if performed), the shooter and the editor.
The first major production I worked on (I put in and maintained the network) I kept a daily video log of what they'd done that day. The sets were fascinating to me.

Anyway, I had a cheap camera and kept saying I was going to buy a decent one so could get some good footage.
One of the production people borrowed it to get some video for the art department. He brought back some of the most beautiful footage I had ever seen.

You are 110 % correct.
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Old January 24th, 2012, 04:48 PM   #7
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

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Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
And always keep in mind that the gear is maybe 10% of the production quality equation. The remaining 90% is the skill of the screnwriter (if scripted), the talent (if performed), the shooter and the editor.
I also agree with this. As much as I want it to be the gear, in the end it's me and how I use it. It reminds me of a guitarist friend I have who when he was just starting out let me play his guitar and said, "My guitar doesn't sound like that when I play it." I took it as a compliment. Cheers
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Old January 25th, 2012, 07:32 AM   #8
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

Years ago I was on a police shooting range that was open for public use at select times. A citizen came in with a 5-shot hammerless snub nose revolver in .38 special. He could not hit the paper, and thought the gun was bad. The rangemaster came by picked it up and shot a possible with it (using a 50 yd target at 15 yds). The owners jaw dropped. (The range master was an Olympic-class piston shot.)

It is the gear only when you try to use it well outside of its designed operating envelope.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 08:12 AM   #9
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

Maurice, nice video, very good of you to post. It is the first such video I've seen of the cameras used side by side.

I am impressed by the similarities of the footage. Because the test was impromptu, and not precise, some differences I see between the two could be the result of just a few inches differences in camera placement, I just don't know. Most noticeable other than low light difference, was the evenness of the light distribution and less blown out areas with the XA-10. Not sure what you call that, there's a name for it.

Anyway, great stuff.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 01:52 PM   #10
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

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Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
I think you can be confident in assuming that the G10a dn XA10 share the same sensor and likely the same glass.
Even if the sensors are the same design from the same fabrication facility, quality control and testing could select the individual sensors that have the best noise properties and fewest dead pixels for use in the more expensive cameras. It would be interesting to know whether there is such a selection process being used.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 04:19 PM   #11
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

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Originally Posted by Maurice Covington View Post
I will call canon again to reconfirm but what I can tell you is that I have used both cameras side by side and per my test, the cameras yield two separate results. You can see my video test...
It's great to do actual tests. Unfortunately the test in full auto means each camera could be adjusting various parameters differently. Or the sensor could be identical, yet the firmware controlling those functions could be different.

Also full auto doesn't override all other previously-set parameters. E.g, both bit rate and frame rate remain whatever they were previously set to. Of the many other possible previously-altered parameters, I don't know which ones are overridden by auto and which aren't. Without shooting in full manual and verifying the many config parameters are the same, each camera could be set up differently.

It is *very* expensive to develop an image sensor. It wouldn't make economic sense to have two video sensors with the same size, same resolution, same pixel pitch, same bit rate, same readout channels, and use them on cameras with identical imaging specs and adjacent market positions.

All we know is the video looks different in this one ad-hoc test. Don't misunderstand, I think everyone is grateful for the effort in doing this. But based on this alone, we're not sure if that's because of auto mode variations, firmware or lens being subtly different, camera setup different, or just manufacturing variation.

If a low-level person at Canon says the sensors are different, we'd have to ask on what basis. Does he have access to the sensor spec? Or an internal memo that states how they are different? If the sensors are different why has Canon failed to communicate this to the many entities which have reviewed the cameras and declared the sensors identical? If Canon could honestly claim the XA-10 has an improved sensor over the G10, why don't they list that as a feature? They've previously been quick to claim this in cameras with improved sensors.

There are good reasons for getting the XA-10. IR capability could be important in low light situations. Double the memory is nice. The handlebar and XLR inputs are nice. For serious shooting you frequently want an external shotgun mic, so there's a place to mount that. I have the G10 and the DM-100 mic, XLR adapters, and a cheap 3rd-party handle. They work very well but if I could do it over I might get the XA-10 just for the convenience. It also looks more "pro", which for some clients makes a difference.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 08:29 PM   #12
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

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There are good reasons for getting the XA-10. IR capability could be important in low light situations. Double the memory is nice. The handlebar and XLR inputs are nice. For serious shooting you frequently want an external shotgun mic, so there's a place to mount that. I have the G10 and the DM-100 mic, XLR adapters, and a cheap 3rd-party handle. They work very well but if I could do it over I might get the XA-10 just for the convenience. It also looks more "pro", which for some clients makes a difference.
Pretty well said. These are the primary reasons I went with the XA10. I bought the G10 initially, but the lack of a real cold shoe (in a reasonable location), the memory, Eyecup, XLR made me re-think my decision and returned it for a XA10. If you don't need all that, than the G10 would be perfect for you. You can use a mini-mic like a Sennheiser MKE400 and they sound great. I use one on my XA10 from time to time when I don't want the bulk of a shotgun mic. I'd probably wait 2 months and see if a new model comes out with progressive, or other features. Otherwise, either cam shoots great video.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 07:31 AM   #13
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

Mark and Joe,, thanks for the great comments. Rather than me try to explain what I did, I'd like to offer to retest both cameras based on settings that you provide to me. Unfortunately, I will have to perform the test in the same facility. That being said, when I perform the test, the cameras are no greater than 2 inches apart with a slightly different vertical elevations (inches). If I close the viewfinders, I can get them side by side right up against on another; however, as you know there will still be some difference.

Please provide whatever settings that you want and I will do my best to get the footage uploaded tomorrow.

Thanks again guys!
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Old January 27th, 2012, 08:06 AM   #14
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Re: Canon XA10 vs HF G10

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It is *very* expensive to develop an image sensor. It wouldn't make economic sense to have two video sensors with the same size, same resolution, same pixel pitch, same bit rate, same readout channels, and use them on cameras with identical imaging specs and adjacent market positions.
Correct. My information from Canon professional support and other independent sources is that the XF100, XA10 and HF G10 use the same sensor and glass. However, there are substantial differences in other features, firmware, memory, CODEC, and DSP settings that account for the price and image differences. For example, the XA10 supports IR - to do this effctively I would expect a removable internal IR filter that may not be present in the other models.

If you look at the history of the Canon camcorder line, their profesional and prosumer products tend to have a 3-year market cycle, some like the GL2 much longer. It is in the low end consumer line that you see new models more often. I would not count on a revison to the XA10 (e.g., maybe an XA10s) until perhaps in 2013 or 2014. But I have no insider information to backup that speculation.

As to buying camcorders the long standing advice is do not buy a new camcorder until you need it because prices thend to fall over time and features/quality tends to improve, but do buy it early enough to give youself time to test it and learn to use it. Do not be an early adopter if you can avoid it, give a new camcorder at leat a few months on the market to allow shakeout of any immediate quality/performance issues, possible third party drivers issues, and also save a few dollars as discounts start to kick in.

Of course, if you just have to have the latest toys and have $$$ burning a hole in your pocket, go for it.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 08:56 AM   #15
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Re: Canon AX10 vs HF G10

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Originally Posted by Maurice Covington View Post
...when I perform the test, the cameras are no greater than 2 inches apart with a slightly different vertical elevations (inches)....
Please provide whatever settings that you want and I will do my best to get the footage uploaded tomorrow.....
Maurice, my suggestions:

(1) Closely inspect each camera. Make sure the lens is clean, and neither camera has a screw-in filter.

(2) Use either no lens hood or identical lens hoods on both cameras.

(3) Do a "factory reset" on both cameras. There's a tiny recessed reset button you press with a paperclip, etc. to the left of the camera/play button.

(4) Make sure both cameras have the same framing. You don't want one looking left/right/above/below the other. That would cause metering and focusing differences.

(5) Repeat your previous test in full auto, using the default factory reset values.

After that, but both cameras in these manual settings:

- White balance: set to manual K number
- AF mode: Normal AF
- Face detection and tracking: OFF
- Auto backlight correction: OFF
- Auto slow shutter: OFF

(6) If you have time, repeat again with above settings but use a fixed subject and set both cameras using manual exposure. E.g, Rec Programs->Manual Exposure, then set aperture, shutter speed and gain of each camera to identical settings, then shoot the same static subject simultaneously.

Thanks for all the hard work.
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