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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a DSLR...but quite serious and really fun.
I own a MKIII, MKII, & 60D, prior to the MKII I owned a couple of HMC150's (and G12's prior). After shooting exclusively with DSLR's for a few years...I've missed the functionality of the HMC's but not the bulk. Enter the XA20 (B&H purchased). I've known for awhile that I was going to shoot a pilot for a travel show this fall and have been somewhat nervous about...
Published 19 months ago by Marc Brown

versus
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No quick settings in and out of most used features.
XA20, XA25, HF G30 (same cmos, same menus)

This camera works great for my use of corporate video recording. However it doesn't meet it's potential. I'd hope that firmware, Magic Lantern or SDK would solve.

1) It is great to have a camera control unit via WiFi - but as soon as this camera begins recording you lose control of iris and other...
Published 15 months ago by My Amazon Profile


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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a DSLR...but quite serious and really fun., July 23, 2013
By 
Marc Brown "photomarc" (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
I own a MKIII, MKII, & 60D, prior to the MKII I owned a couple of HMC150's (and G12's prior). After shooting exclusively with DSLR's for a few years...I've missed the functionality of the HMC's but not the bulk. Enter the XA20 (B&H purchased). I've known for awhile that I was going to shoot a pilot for a travel show this fall and have been somewhat nervous about attempting run and gun with a DSLR and rig...well I'm now excited about the prospect. After owning the camera for a week and shooting roughly 6 hours with it and putting it through the paces in various lighting/action scenarios I'm confident I've found the right camera. The size is terrific and the build is really solid. The zoom ring, adjustment dial, and input handle all feel terrific and I can't believe I'm saying this, but the OLED touch screen is so much easier to negotiate...the response is really good. The lens is pretty much insane and shooting long with the 8-blade aperture system produces better bokeh than I've ever seen in a camcorder. 60p at 35mbs MP4 is outstanding for FCPX. Low light is solid as well...as good as the 150's and pretty close to the 60D. I also bought the BP828 battery and CG800 off-camera charger (pretty much needed if you're serous)...both perform quite well. So why 4 stars and not 5 stars? Well there are minor issues...the touch focus can be finicky at times and the focus ring while it feels fantastic...has quite a bit of resistance when pulling focus...which makes it feel quite solid, but a bit slower than I'd like even after setting the response to the fastest speed. I'm pretty sure I'm subconsciously comparing it to the HMC150's...and perhaps after playing with it awhile longer this may not be an issue. Also, the placement of the on-camera mics is poorly chosen...they are right next to the focus ring...rendering themselves usless as long as you're using the focus/zoom ring...which any serious operator is using. That being said, for serious productions, I won't be using them anyhow. Just a bizarre choice if your just goofing off with family etc. Finally...the sensor is great, the bokeh is great...but just don't compare it to a MKIII, that being said, try shooting a documentary with a MKIII!! The XA20 is a great camera! Highly recommended! But I'm ready to have my cake and eat it too....put a full frame DSLR sensor into this form factor with this ridiculous lens and IS system (forgot to mention this...it's insane!) and we're there. Until then I'm still a pretty happy guy.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable value in a prosumer camcorder., December 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
I teach media production at a private school, and do some freelance video production on the side. Over the past few years I've done most of my work with DSLR cameras and a separate audio recorder. I wanted all-in-one production solution for event videography and run-and-gun shooting. I finally chose the XA20, and am very glad that I did. Here's why:

The video quality on the XA20 is really outstanding. The lens has a huge zoom range from 26.8-576mm (in 35mm equivalent). You can frame practically anything within 100 ft with the XA20. Even if aren't mounted on a tripod, the optical image stabilization is the best I've ever seen on a camera in this price range. I don't have much trouble getting a stable shot fully zoomed in telephoto. The color depth in the video is very good, and the footage looks very lifelike. This is also the first camera I've owned that will shoot full 1080 at 60p, which I'm really enjoying. Even shooting at the high framerate, the motion in the footage doesn't look "plastic" or overly smooth. Plus you have the option of slowing it down to 30 or 24 fps for dramatic slow motion effects.

The auto-focus is lightning quick. When enabled, the XA20 picks out faces and focuses on them faster and more accurately than I can. The XA20 can also focus like a smartphone by tapping on part of the frame, and there's a manual ring which can easily be assigned to focus if you prefer.

The camera shoots MP4 and AVCHD at bitrates ranging from 4mbps to 35mbps (for MP4), so you can choose whether you want high bitrate (example, for chroma key) or lower bitrate for smaller and more manageable file size. There are 2 SDXC card slots on the camera, and it will support shooting in 2 different formats or bitrates on separate cards. I thought that was seriously cool.

I didn't know how I would like the touchscreen interface, switching from Panasonic DVX-100 series with manual buttons. There are programmable buttons on the body however, and once I got my most common settings assigned (which was a massive pain), I haven't had any problems getting the camera to do what I want.

Having the XLR inputs up on the handle is great. It distributes the size and weight of the camera (which is negligible to begin with) more evenly, and makes an already lightweight camera even easier to shoot with all day. Plus it's very easy to remove the handle and XLR inputs if you need the camera to be even smaller. The LinearPCM audio sounds great, so an external audio recorder isn't really needed for most applications. I've even chosen to record voiceovers with the camera and an Audio-Technica AT875R, which is a 7 inch long shotgun mic that costs <$200, and they sound fine.

The XA20 also has wifi. These features are obviously 1st generation and are mixed in usefulness. You can point a web browser to the IP address of the camera on a specific port and "remotely control" the camera. I use quotes because this feature sucks. Don't plan to do anything other than hit the record button or do the tiniest zoom with this feature. It's laggy, the video quality over the wifi is really bad. If the camera is switched to "media" mode for footage review, the feature is better, but not great. You can review footage in decent quality, with audio that lags, and you have to physically touch the camera to switch to "media" mode - so I don't know why you wouldn't just review the footage on the camera.

There is one part of the wifi feature that is amazing and I love: uploading footage directly to an FTP server. It took me about 30 minutes to get the FTP and wifi connections all configured properly to work, but now that it's configured the feature is INCREDIBLE. At our school, we have wifi campus wide. So, I can send someone out with a camera, they dual shoot a high-quality copy on one card and a low bitrate MP4 on the second card. Then they can press a button and upload all of their footage directly to my NAS and another team can start rough editing immediately. After the edit is done and the shooting team is back in the room, we pop the other card out and Premiere will swap all of the low bitrate footage for the good stuff based on timecode. This workflow has already saved us countless hours by letting both teams work at the same time.

Overall, Canon got it right on the XA20. If you're looking to upgrade from a tape or HDD based camcorder to something more modern, the XA20 has no rivals at this price point. All of the basic production features you would expect on a pro rig are present here (color bars, 1kHz tone, audio level meters, focus peaking, zebras, focus assist, etc.). And some of Canon's new ideas that they put into the XA20 have turned out to be really useful.
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's all you'll ever really need in a prosumer camcorder, July 5, 2013
By 
Martin "Martin" (New York / New Jersey) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
I bought this video camera to upgrade my HG20. The HG20 is hard disk based and is overall a good camera. Has served me well. But I wanted an upgrade. Some of the earlier Canon cameras did not come with a Wide Angle - so that was an extra 200 add-on for my HG20. This camera has a nice wide angle, and if you disable Dynamic Image Stabilization - it gets even wider. You can have image stabilization going on - just not 'dynamic'.

Has XLR inputs, standard 3.5mm, USB, HDMI and all the stuff you'd expect. Also has dual SDXC slots. **By the way - if someone cares to explain this to me ... I bought a 128 GB card, b/c in the manual, on page 37 it says "SD memory cards with a capacity of 64 MB or smaller cannot be used to record movies". Lord must only know what they are talking about, because on page 84 it shows spec for 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128 GB memory cards for both MP3 and AVCHD. Can someone kindly let me know what they may have meant? (Update : Thanks to J.Wales : I totally overlooked MB vs. GB. So, you should be fine with any card from 8-12 8GB, per the manual). I went with the 128 which was a $150 add-on.

I did try calling Canon, but their customer service department only knows how to look up spec (the same spec I already looked up before I called). In fact, because they are generalists - you'll most likely know more than the person on the phone - so hopefully that gives you 15 minutes of your life back. Don't bother.

The only complaint is the stock battery does not have a long life. So, like on my HG20 (that I had to buy an upgraded lens), with this camera - I'll most likely be dropping another $200 on an extended battery. Truthfully - for $2000 - Canon should have included one. I don't like being nickeled and dimed when spending this kind of $$ ...

Oh - if you add the $200 for the extra battery and the $150 I spent on the SDXC card - you're another $350 into a camera. I do believe I read somewhere that they have this same model for overseas markets that have built in flash mem option. Not sure why they didn't include for US markets??? Again - goes back to being nickeled and dimed. I don't like spending $2000 to realize I have to spend another $350 to get the camera how and where I want it to be. (Note to Canon : concentrate on getting NEW customers, not milking your existing customers!!!)

Other than that - I'm happy. I do honestly believe this is the best prosumer camera out there. Despite the extra $$ I have to spend, and despite the fact that their customer service and policies on what is included is not what I'd like it to be - I think this is a good camera. (Oh, did I mention optical 20x zoom? That's huge!!).

And, for what it's worth - I actually returned the Panasonic x920 to buy this. The Panasonic had trouble focusing in low light (was very twitchy). Canon handles without any problem at all. Plus - when you flip the screen around to film yourself, (podcast, etc.) .. all of the controls are present (unlike the Panasonic).

Overall - I'm happy. NOT happy about the battery life. NOT happy that Amazon.com now charges NJ Sales Tax. Not happy that Canon customer service sucks ... But I am happy that I have the right camera that will serve many years of top notch video.

Hope this helps the next guy (or gal).
Rock ON!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No quick settings in and out of most used features., November 25, 2013
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
XA20, XA25, HF G30 (same cmos, same menus)

This camera works great for my use of corporate video recording. However it doesn't meet it's potential. I'd hope that firmware, Magic Lantern or SDK would solve.

1) It is great to have a camera control unit via WiFi - but as soon as this camera begins recording you lose control of iris and other settings.

2) The user interface / menu takes a while to know - and to quickly get to the most used settings. The custom buttons do not offer all of the setting options.

3) My biggest complaint is not being able to quickly switch from auto exposure to manual exposure. I usually rough set exposure using the camera's automatic aperture - then with a single button or lens slider switch to manual exposure to increase or decrease F stop. This camera doesn't allow for a one step process to do so. It is great that in manual setting the custom button on bottom next to rotation knob allows you to toggle between aperture, shutter, and gain - but there isn't a quick auto aperture to get out of the manual setting. If you set one of the buttons to custom as exposure - it doesn't work in manual setting.

Pros - gain does a fine job with low noise.

I hope this can be fixed with firmware updates.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great step up from DSLR video, August 29, 2013
By 
Scott Skibell (Overland Park, KS USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
If you're shooting video with a Canon MkIII or a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema, you may not like this camera. If you're thinking of stepping up from one of the Canon Rebel cameras though, I've found it to be well worth it. Here a few reasons why...

* 60 Frames per second - I shoot a lot of sports videos. The original XA-10 didn't offer 60 fps and I ruled it out right away. Some DSLR's might but I found the rolling shutter to be too much to overcome. My sport videos are pristine now.

* Real audio - I need to have have a visual audio meter on the screen and a headphone jack. DSLR's might have a Magic Lantern firmware upgrade available but can you count on it? Nearly a year later, there still wasn't one for my T4i like I had with my T3i. Canon should build that into the firmware but they won't. And yes, real audio means real XLR microphones too but it still has a 3.5mm mic-in jack.

* Fast start-up - I found trying to get a DSLR setup with audio and focus to be a bit of a pain for run & gun type shooting. The ergonomics of the XA-20 makes it much easier. The whole unit is easier to carry.

* 20x Optical Zoom - I had all sorts of lenses for my DSLR. You need the gamut to get the right shot. It also meant having to take all the lenses with you. The built-in 20x optical zoom gives me enough wide and telephoto options without having to bring a whole camera bag with me. I've found the picture quality to be very good. No it's no the same as having a fast prime on my camera but you know what, it's pretty darn good and so much easier to work with.

* Remote - It's nice having a remote again. I do a lot of self videos for training purposes and I forgot how convenient it is to have a remote to start/stop/zoom.

There are lots of other reasons and some reviewers have covered those well already. Your mileage my vary but I do at least think it's a worthy consideration if you're looking to upgrade and you're primarily using a consumer DSLR for video.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely PHENOMENAL camcorder!, June 15, 2014
By 
Brian Baker (Santa Clarita, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
This is THE best camcorder I've ever owned in my life, and I've been shooting "home movies" with them for almost 30 years, and using film-based equipment even before that.

Throughout my experience with non-film cameras, I've always bought the best equipment I could afford at that time, which were all top-of-the-line prosumer units. But this Canon XA20 takes the experience to an entirely new level.

The last dedicated camcorder I bought was the Sony DVD403, a truly excellent unit for its time... which is now over. It's Standard Def (SD), and we're now in the era of High Def (HD).

For the last couple of years I've been trying to find a solution that would meet my needs - primarily run-and-gun - and would give me good results while also minimizing my need to drag a lot of equipment around with me.

I've been using a Nikon Coolpix S8100 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom-Nikkor ED Lens and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black), which gives good results both for movies and stills. The big - and I mean BIG - problem with that unit is that your finished movie product has a very annoying clicking sound constantly on the soundtrack from the action of the auto-focus. Very handy as far as portability and size, though, I will say that.

A while back I added a Nikon D7000 Digital SLR (Body Only) (OLD MODEL) to my arsenal. Another truly excellent camera. There are problems with the DSLR approach to movies too, I've learned. The picture quality is excellent, of course, and very versatile due to the ability to change lenses. But this approach doesn't lend itself to the run-and-gun environment.

Again, the problem of noise from system operations, in this case the lens's autofocus and vibration reduction (VR). It requires the use of a shotgun mic to minimize that effect. Further, at long tele ranges (in the 500MM range), the lens VR simply can't compensate adequately for handheld shake. A monopod (at least) is required. It doesn't have the ability to "snap" the autofocus onto the subject reliably in a mobile environment. It's awkward to handle as a "camcorder". I'm always dragging around a bunch of lenses, and losing time changing them to suit the shooting environment.

Enter the AX20. I spent the last couple of months researching my options, and narrowed them down to the Sony HXR-NX30U Palm Size NXCAM HD Camcorder with Projector & 96GB HDD with 3 Piece Multi-Coated Filter Kit (UV-CPL-FLD), 16GB SD Memory Card, USB High Speed Memory Card Reader, Extended Life Replacement NP-FV100 Battery, PRO 70 inch Tripod, Carrying Cas..., the Panasonic AG-AC90 AVCCAM Handheld Camcorder + 32GB SDHC CARD, and this one. All offered essentially the same features: prosumer/pro capabilities; similar price points; highly effective image stabilization; auxiliary sound inputs; excellent low-light performance; a handle either permanently attached or attachable; great picture quality; great audio quality; and size.

All of them produce excellent movies. Let there be no doubt about that. But here's where this camera really outshined the others:

First and foremost, it has the longest lens-range zoom of the bunch, at a full 20X magnification without any artificial electronic compensation. Further, it has a built-in 2X tele-extender which works wonderfully. That means you can go from the app. 28MM (35MM camera standard) wide to about 560MM without even activating that tele-extender. Even if you do, I noticed NO image degradation at all when I did so.

It also has "electronic zoom" WAY out further than that (why would you need it?), and I fiddled around with it, and as expected, the image quality did degrade the more you used it. Even then, though, it wasn't awful, so I guess if you had to use it, it would be better than losing the shot altogether.

The image stabilization is, simply, AWESOME. I experimented with it shooting with the lens cranked all the way out, and even just hand-held there was VERY little jitter with my images.

I use it with the handle attached even if I don't need the additional audio inputs. It makes it easier for me to hold it in unusual positions without trying to bend my body to accommodate those positions, and there's the "cool factor" of using a camera that looks that way, too. Further, the on-handle controls work beautifully.

The touch-control menus on the flip screen are laid out logically and very easy to use.

I think the only gripe I have with this camcorder is one that I think at least one or two other reviewers have mentioned: the way you take a still picture with it. I mean, c'mon. You guys got everything else right, and you couldn't find a place somewhere on that body for a thumb-activated physical button to take a still? Really? You have to press an icon on the flip-out OLED display to do it, which almost automatically induces vibration?

Lame.

That's why I'm deducting one star, and only rating this a 9 out of 5.

This is literally the absolute BEST dedicated camcorder I have ever owned in my life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent prosumer video camera, December 2, 2013
By 
S. Martin (Albuquerque, NM) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
I bought this video camera for shooting music videos, travel, and family videos (interviews). It is not quite as good as the 5D mark II in low light, but is much easier to use for shooting videos. The auto focus (with face recognition) is excellent. And the 20x zoom is very handy; the zoom action is very smooth also. Image stabilization is superb, even when zoomed out. The camera is a nice compromise between portability and video quality.

I recommend getting the Audio-Technica AT875R microphone (nice quality) and the Canon BP-828 longer-life battery. You might also want the CG-800 battery charger; then you can charge the battery without it being in the camera.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent video camera; terrible battery life, August 5, 2013
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
I bought this camera based on my experience with other Canon video cameras I have owned including the XA-10. To say that I was disappointed when I discovered that the long play batteries I already purchased for my XA-10 would not work with the XA-20 is an understatement. This strategy of creating incompatibility between an upgraded model is totally unacceptable. Had I been made aware of this prior to purchasing this camera I probably WOULD NOT have bought the camera. The only significant advantage to buying an XA-20 over the XA-10 is the 20x lens. There are other minor features that are included but trust me it is not worth paying the difference. Note to Canon: I resent having to pay $300 more for additional batteries just to insure I have enough battery life to film a project. As a semi-professional video producer, when it comes time to purchase new equipment I am less inclined to go with Canon equipment. I will give you an 'A' for camera design and quality but an absolute 'F' when it comes to marketing a new product.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall Great Camera for the cost!, October 29, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
Went from the Sony NX5U to this camera and i'm very happy with it. The NX5U was just to bulky for what I used it for. Some cool features of this camera is the infrared. The only thing I miss from my NX5U to this is the Expanded Focus, but overall I am very pleased with this camera. Since the camera is still new to the market there is not a 3rd party battery out there yet and the stock extra battery is over $100. And they only last a couple hours. Very simple to use!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Quality and Features, September 21, 2013
By 
J. Repp (Millville, NJ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Canon XA20 Professional Camcorder (Electronics)
Bought this to document work and trips I take. A recent trip to Panama sparked the purchase, but it was something I've been meaning to look into for a while (and a camcorder I will use for some time to come). Before leaving I had the chance to check it out and was very impressed with the quality and zoom capabilities. I knew this would be a great camcorder to record video.

I really became impressed with this during my Panama trip when we were hiking through the jungle on a very slick and steep trail (well not really a trail or even a path, more like following someone through the thick of the jungle not sure where you are headed). I had a colleague using the camcorder while I took stills (also with a Canon, 5D Mark II) and he slipped quite a few times, landing the camera in the mud and muck. I was worried it might be damaged, but safety and getting through this was a bigger concern. I am very happy to say that after cleaning off with a damp cloth you would never know if had even been in the jungle, let alone hit the deck a few times. I wouldn't recommend abusing it, but it seems like it can take a hit or two by accident.

So far I am extremely pleased with my purchase and would definitely recommend this to anyone.
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