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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
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Old April 4th, 2012, 11:40 PM   #1
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Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

I haven't looked at cameras in a long time, so I've been reading as much as I can here to get a feel for this camera. As I've gotten older I've given up on weddings and now am involved with high school and community groups to provide coverage of stage events. Throw in one or two dance recitals as well.

I was wondering if I had two of these cameras ... would they work well for the stage? I currently have a Sony FX1 and Z7, but I want to cut back on the weight and certainly no more tape.

The size is appealing, it's on the FCPX compatible camera list, AND it has XLR inputs, which is a huge bonus since I like to take a feed from the board.

Any feedback would be greatly welcomed.

Scott
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Old April 5th, 2012, 07:51 PM   #2
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Hi Scott,

I have had an XA10 for a month or so, and I'm still coming to grips with it... I used to it record a classical concert for the first time recently. I found image quality and low-light capability satisfactory, but bear in mind the lens does not have a great reach if you are trying to get performer close-ups. I used it with the TL-H58 accessory teleconverter *and* the inbuilt digital 2x teleconverter, and found this worked OK. But this is not convenient if you need to rapidly change back to wide shots.

Hope that helps!

Cheers,
Steven
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Old April 5th, 2012, 10:58 PM   #3
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Great cam for school functions, but as stated it's 10X zoom is limited. Otherwise it's a great camera for your purposes.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 11:28 PM   #4
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Normally I don't go extremely tight for the stage. Still, 10x might not be so great. I'm not sure what the FX is ... probably same as Z7 which is 12x. I rarely use the digital extend function.

I don't know ... at this point in life I really didn't want to go over $2000 per camera. At one point I wouldn't have cared, but then I was young and stupid. Now I'm just old and stupid. :-)

If not this camera ... not sure where to go.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 06:48 AM   #5
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

The camera is fairly wide at the wide zoom setting (great for event work like weddings and working in smallish rooms where you are in close). As noted above, the lens is 10x zoom ratio and that means no real close-up shots from the back of the auditorium. A tele-converter and "digital zoom" can work around this subjct to some limits. Digital zoom is OK if the ultimate delivery format is DVD but will give up some resolution if you deliver in HD or Blu-Ray. Tele-converter costs some lens speed.

I've used 2x digital zoom (zoom in the NLE, nto camera) on HD material and it worked acceptably well when authored to DVD.

I think in a two camera setup, one locked down for a full stage view from the back, and a second close to the stage for close-ups they would do well at their price point. The primary thing you would have to practice is the manual management of zoom, focus, and exposure given the physical controls on the camcorder.

If you can try borrow or rent one and give it a test in a venue of interest during a rehearsal.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 01:54 PM   #6
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

I use a combination of XA10 and the HFG10 for stage (classical concerts), along with some HFS200's for cut aways. The XA10 and G10 are significantly better (color and low light) than the HFS200's, and with their wider view I very rarely need a wide angle lens attachement like I often did on the HFS200. That said, I agree with earlier posters that at the long end, the zoom leaves me somewhat wanting...can't zoom in as much as I'd like from the back of the theater.

I use the XA10 as my main camera, taking the audio from my good condensor mic's at the stage directly in to the XLR's on the camera, as well as from my preamp to a seperate audio recorder in full uncompressed PCM, but this way I still have EXCELLENT audio right on the camera for backup or easy syncing. Then I use the G10, which has identical video to the XA10 but much cheaper, for a fixed wide shot of the stage. If I had budget, I'd add more G10's as I don't need all the cameras to have the XLR inputs.

In this clip

The wide stage shot is the G10, the closeup on the soloist is the XA10 (from the back of the auditorium), and all the other angles are HFS200's. Lighting here was "harsh", very bright under the spots, but then really dark at the edges of the group, but this is a good representation of how I use these cameras.

Last edited by Ken Kaiser; April 6th, 2012 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Add link
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Old April 6th, 2012, 02:15 PM   #7
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Scott, in re-reading your post, the XA10 seems like it's ideal for you. You really want the XLR inputs, and at this price point this is as good as it gets, I think. Probably the best choice for you, I"m thinking.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 10:19 PM   #8
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

I really appreciate all the replies.

Some how I missed the part about the 2x digital extender. ALL my footage ends up on DVD for delivery, so it sounds like that wouldn't be too bad.

In looking at the clip posted ... I would be extremely happy with that. I have two events that I shoot each year where the stage is set up on one end of a basketball court and the sound board and platform for me to shoot are at the other. That is the furthest I ever have to shoot. Everything else is much closer.

The ones in a gym ... one is a video feed for an over-flow crowd at graduation. The second is a university dance contest. Theatre lighting is always tough to say the least ... but the lighting on the fraternity/sorority dance contest is unbelievable ... strobes, deep reds and blues ... people in front blown out and everyone behind them are perfect. I'm better off just sticking the cams in auto mode and letting them run rather than keeping a finger on the iris ring.

XLR ... very important to me, so this is really starting to sound like the direction I want to go.

OK then ... a few other questions if you guys don't mind. B&H is now shutdown for a while (which I respect), but I would like to get these cameras before they open back up. There is a production in two weeks and while it wouldn't be horrible to use what I have been using ... I would really like to get the newer ones before then. Does anyone have experiences with other vendors?

Which microphone would you suggest that I purchase for the cameras?

Battery recommendations?

Memory cards ... do I even need them?

Anything else I might be missing?

Thanks again for all the help!

Scott
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Old April 7th, 2012, 02:20 AM   #9
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Brooks View Post
but the lighting on the fraternity/sorority dance contest is unbelievable ... strobes, deep reds and blues
CMOS sensor camcorders such as the XA10 can have surprising artifacts with strobe lights.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF_9FhAlxi4
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Old April 7th, 2012, 05:22 AM   #10
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

If you're on a budget the Wasabi batteries are highly recommended. I personally have used only Canon batteries, but everyone keeps talking about how great these are: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0049VMMZ2/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_3?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B004HW7DY8&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1DWNX4Q3TT06FSMJKERQ
You actually do not "need" a card with the camera, as 64GB will hold hours worth of footage, you'd be set.

I just ordered my second XA10 and I am going to order the Wasabi's because you get two of them and a charger, all at 1/3 of the price of one Canon battery. I dislike generics, but these are so popular they are worth a try.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 07:20 AM   #11
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Scott, I've found the XA10 for $1849 at two places, B&H and J&R Music. It seems every other reputable vendor is charging $1899 or $1999. There are other less reputable vendors charging less, but I'd avoid them as a rule.

Call J&R for the status of the cameras, they are backordered. They had only one camera backordered that wasn't accounted for, and I bought it. Salesman told me there are 15 on backorder total, but when they are arriving he didn't say.

There is a used one at Amazon for $1749 or so, but I prefer to pay an extra $100 for new, so I bought mine from J&R.

Adorama is a great vendor, and they have them in stock but are charging $1999. You could see if they will price match B&H, it would cost nothing to ask.

Caution with the XA10, Scott. You will lack the manual switches you are used to with your current cameras, so be aware you will initially find frustration with your cameras out of the box. That being said, they will work for you just fine, you just have to learn how to use the camera, there is a learning curve.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 07:45 AM   #12
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

For another source of the cameras I would give Texas Tape works a call and talk to Scott. I have purchased three cameras from them and received good service and fair prices. (They are also a sponsor)

You don't NEED SD cards, but it is easier just to remove the card versus plugging in the camera and downloading the footage.

I have a couple of those Wasabi batteries Jeff talks about and they work fine.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 08:20 AM   #13
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
Caution with the XA10, Scott. You will lack the manual switches you are used to with your current cameras, so be aware you will initially find frustration with your cameras out of the box. That being said, they will work for you just fine, you just have to learn how to use the camera, there is a learning curve.
He is so right and make sure you are OK with the touch screen menu system. I dislike it greatly but the kids seem to think it's fine. (I'm old) I bought a HF 40 which uses the same sensor as the XA 10/G10 and for a second camera you cannot tell the difference in footage. For less money than two XA10's I would buy an HF40 for a second camera and XF100 as the main camera. Have fun and good luck!
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Old April 7th, 2012, 09:11 AM   #14
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

Scott,
For memory cards, no you don't "need" any, however I also find it much easier and faster to simply copy the files from SDXC card then from the camera. I used to use the Kingston class 4 32 Gb cards since you can get them for $35 from B&H and go for almost 3 hours at full quality. Recently though I got the Lexar USB 3.0 card reader
Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader LRW307URBNA B&H
and the REALLY NICE 64Gb Sandisk Class 10 card
SanDisk 64GB SDXC Memory Card Extreme Pro SDSDXPA-064G-A75 B&H
and I couldn't even believe how much faster I can copy the files, that's all I'll go with moving forward. No difference in the camera or picture quality of course, but wow...now I can go almost 6 hours on a card and the file transfers are so much faster I couldn't believe it.

Definitely get extended batteries. I don't know about the Wasabi's, they sound good, but I still use the Canon BP-827
Canon BP-827 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (2670mAh) 3185B002 B&H
My unmanned cameras need to go over 3 hours untouched, and the 827 will do that with plenty of margin, the factory included battery won't.

I also use the Rode SVM when I have to record directly at the camera, it's not bad. For classical I use a stereo pair of Shure SM81's if I am recording in a venue that allows it. Even when recording from the camera with the Rode, I will often put the mic on a light stand next to me (off camera) to completely eliminate any handling noise, as well as having the mic not move when I am panning the camera (note that I mostly do music).

Regarding your lighting, yes strobes are tough as noted above, I don't think you can do anything about that with any of the CMOS cameras that are out there, but for the colored/changing lighting I think you'd be better off manual WB and lock the exposure, otherwise the camera will be changing all over the place. Here is a sample I did recently with color changing LED lights. I tried it a couple ways, but what worked best was locking the WB on "daylight" (since these were LED), and locking the exposure for a decent overall balance. When I left it on automatice the colors never seemed right, and during the darker lighting the camera was boosting the gain, it just didn't look as good to my eye, at least in this particular setting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vGOrYwXwMo

Again, the wide camera and the panning camera are the G10 and XA10, the side/drummer shots are with HFS200's. If you need multi cameras I still recommend considering supplementing with G10 as you will have absolutely matched video/color etc... and save a bit of money.

The last thing to remember for the zoom, is if you are going to output to DVD, you'll be able to do quite a bit of zooming/cropping in post and still have an excellent DVD image. I've found sometimes it's nice to shoot slightly wider, then do a zoom/pan effect if post, it gives you some flexibility.

All that said...I still want the XF300! Not going to happen though...

Good luck, hope you can find one, or two...
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Old April 7th, 2012, 09:37 AM   #15
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Re: Canon VIXIA XA10 for stage events?

I second Texas Taper Works, reputable seller for sure. I think the issue with prices MIGHT be that Canon lowered the wholesale cost but many vendors might still be selling old stock. Or they might have given some vendors, like B&H and J&R, a discount but not others. I don't know how it works.
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