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Canon XA and VIXIA Series AVCHD Camcorders
For the Canon XA25, XA20, XA10 and all VIXIA / LEGRIA Series AVCHD camcorders.


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Old October 21st, 2013, 04:32 PM   #1
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First wedding with XA20

I gave the XA20 a pretty good workout this past weekend at an outdoor wedding. It was a pretty tough challenge because the ceremony was in a shady spot with a bright sun shining on a lake in the background. There were also spots of sun peaking through the trees on faces.

I put the camera in TV mode so it could control exposure most of the day. That seemed to have worked really well until I thought the B&G were way underexposed because of the bright lake and trees in the background. So I hit the back light button and according to the monitor all looked well. I had turned the zebra to 100 because of all the bright areas.....it was driving me crazy. Turned out to be a big mistake. After reviewing the footage yesterday, whenever I turned on the backlight the footage is way overexposed.....looks good otherwise. Turns out the cam new what was best.

The AC90 footage turned out good except for some focus problems. My wife was on the 90 with it mounted high on a tripod so seeing the screen was difficult. We have a 7" SD monitor mounted lower on the tripod but pulling focus is almost impossible on it. The 90 seemed to want to focus on the trees behind the B&G and pastor. I wish it had face detection like the XA, which seems to work well.

Some footage from the 90 looks better and some looks better with the XA, it all depends on the exposure and white balance, if you nail that with either camera you get stunning footage that will mix together well I think.


EDIT: After working on this project last night I find the XA footage to have more of a filmic look compared to the 90. I do have the 90 set kinda flat so I'm sure the scene files could be played with to get more of a cinema look. The XA's exposure has to be right on or it can look pretty ugly. I think the 90 is more forgiving in this respect.
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Last edited by Tim Akin; October 22nd, 2013 at 10:08 AM.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 05:38 AM   #2
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Tim,
how did you find the ergonomics of the XA20 when dealing with all that goes on at a wedding? Dis you use it with a LED light inside or did it cope well enough alone. Which coped better in low light, the XA20 or the AG90?
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Old October 27th, 2013, 07:13 AM   #3
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Re: First wedding with XA20

It handled really well, I prefer the size of the 90 but like the weight of the XA. I kept the XA on the Merlin up until the wedding then it went on a tripod. Handheld at the reception with LED on. The XA and the AC90 are almost identical in low light which is very good if you add just a little light. No grain or if any it is very fine and can't be seen easily. If I get time in the next few days I'll post some screen shoots comparing the two.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 10:04 AM   #4
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Appreciate your post, Tim. I agree that the wrong exposure with the XA20 can produce some very poor looking shots. It's a strange camera.

I still like the XA20, but the more I work with it the less I like it. For the price, a 20X zoom and XLR, it's OK, but the image quality is inconsistent. It can be very tricky to adjust settings in certain situations and get anything decent out of the camera. I'm referring to indoor lighting, not outdoor. I very much do like the face detection feature. Once it locks on I will usually hit the MF button to stop the drift, which it does a lot.

This camera is a classic case of getting what we pay for. Very usable, but limited in it's abilities by a lack of features that would take it to the next level. It does seem like a lot of camera for the money at times, and at other times I am scratching my head at a poor image and my seeming inability to squeeze a decent shot from it.

The majority of the time, it's fine, but it's those less frequent situations indoors where I can't seem to get it right that have caused me to not trust the camera. The XA10 seems more consistent to me.
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Old October 28th, 2013, 04:12 PM   #5
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Jeff,
what problems have you had? It'd be interesting to know if others have had the same problems.
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Old October 28th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #6
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Do you have the camera Andrew or are you planning to buy one?

Same as Tim outlined re: wrong exposure produces ugly images. I add that for me white balance is hard to achieve correctly in certain types of indoor light, harder than with the XA10, at least that has been my experience. Images are either just fine, or on relatively rare occasions, they are very bad.

It's not a problem with the camera, the camera is what it is.
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Old October 28th, 2013, 06:53 PM   #7
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Is it not possible then to just expose using the zebra's? I do that all the time with my Sony cx730 and that works equally well as with any other camera I have or had.
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Old October 29th, 2013, 04:38 AM   #8
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Jeff,
I'm thinking about buying the camera. I had a canon G25 which I sold as it was just to get me through this season as really would like a more pro camera. I always found it hard to match the colours with my Canon dslrs. The WB always seemed very different. I hope the XA20 doesn't have the same WB as it looks like a very interesting camera.
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Old October 29th, 2013, 06:29 AM   #9
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Re: First wedding with XA20

If you need more manual adjustment capability than the XA20/25 provides consider moving up to the the XF100. The XA10/20 are essentially very high end consumer cameras (think G20/30) that include a few selected features normally found only on pro gear. They are designed for use where the shooter does not have the time (or inclination) to deal with camera setup such as gamma, knee, coring, and so on and is content to rely on standard program modes for most image parameters.

They are small, not enough real estate on the case to incldue many manual controls. The zebra set for 100 IRE is spot on and it does super white highlights to beyond 105 IRE. The color holds up well in shadows too (see the thread on dynamic range).

The only features i miss from the XA10 is the component output jack, but a HDMI-to-component converter solves that for when I need it, and having the internal memory (a relatively minor issue).
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Old October 29th, 2013, 08:46 AM   #10
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Noa, I do not use zebra, normally. I go by sight. One of the issues I have with the cam is the flatness of the images on the LCD. Normally when exposure is off the image is simply too dark or bright, but with this camera those occasional situations have occurred for me wherre I have found I cannot set the white balance and exposure correctly with the XA20, at least not for a decent image. The image will just look ugly, as Tim puts it.

I do not have the issue with the XA10. The XA10 has it's limitations, of course, but to make matters worse the XA20 will on occasion not match up with the XA10 at all. Most the time it's perfectly fine, but in some rooms (for wedding receptions especially) it's just very hard to match that camera up with my XA10s.

Don, that was a very succinct summary of the cam you gave. Indeed, it is a high end consumer model with a couple of pro features. Some of us, me included, have tried to view it as a pro camera with missing features, which is one way to look at it, but a view that will lead to disappointment and discontentment.
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Old October 29th, 2013, 03:12 PM   #11
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Noa, I usually try to expose using zebras. The XA20 has two settings 70 IRE and 100. This wedding was a bad one to try out a new camera. It was in a shaded area with the sun peaking through the trees and the B&G were standing 10' from the lake which was reflecting the bright sun. In the distance were trees on the other side of the lake that were also bright from the sun. I had the XA set to 70 IRE but had to switch to 100 after getting discouraged with what I was seeing on the screen. Thought I had it right but sadly I didn't.

Like Jeff I also had trouble with the white balance but not inside, outside strangely enough. Nothing I tried seemed to look correct. Even tried manually setting WB. But indoors at the reception I got good results, odd.
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Old October 29th, 2013, 03:37 PM   #12
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Strong saturated colors (green grass, blue sky, etc.) with a wide brightness range from direct sun to deep shadow can cause fits trying to find the right white balance and exposure. That is why producton shoots have lighting teams, reflectors, etc. At that point the best bet is try shoot for a mid range, flat image that can be corrected in post. In some ways too bad it does not record a "raw" image.

The main lesson here is NEVER use a new camera (or any othe gear) for the first time on a money shoot. Always spend a bit of time ring it out and learn its limits first. And of course make sure the client understands up front if they are planning an event with problematic conditions.
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Old October 29th, 2013, 04:35 PM   #13
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Good points Don. I was able to correct most of it in post. The worst being overexposure. I don't think any non professional will notice.

Here's a trailer for it, ya'll can tell me if it looks bad.

Tiffany+Matthew - Trailer on Vimeo

Edit: Well I just watched the trailer to make sure the linked worked and realized there's not many ceremony shots in there. The only overexposed shot is the B&W shot at the end of him saying vows. Her vows is the AC90 which is focused on the trees behind them :(
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Old October 29th, 2013, 07:10 PM   #14
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Re: First wedding with XA20

I like it Tim! Very nice trailer, great work.
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Old October 29th, 2013, 10:51 PM   #15
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Re: First wedding with XA20

Well done, Tim.
It certainly looks like the XA20 will produce great images over a wide range of shooting conditions.
Next week I'll be starting a fairly big project using a new XA20.
Your trailer is a vote of confidence for the camera.
I had used the XA 10 quite a bit in the past- WB, exposure, LCD image fidelity, etc. was all very straightforward.
Hopefully it's going to be the same experience with the XA20...
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