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Review: Canon XA25, Part 2--AVCHD Image Quality and WiFi Capability

In Part 2 of our in-depth look at the Canon XA20/25, I'll touch on a feature new to Canon's pro line of camcorders, and to see how the AVCHD image stacks up.

Unfortunately, there's no histogram in the Remote App, and it's really hard to judge the exposure by the Live View video as it differs greatly from what I see on the camcorder's screen. Also, all the on-screen icons that are on the camcorder do not get passed through to the WiFi Remote app. So you cannot see audio levels, zebra, etc. Nor can you delve into the camera's other menus. It's just a clean video feed.

I can see where this could be handy setting up a camera in a remote place where it has access to AC power and I can start and stop it at will from some distance. But I would have liked to have been able to have the on-screen indicators of levels going into the camera like zebra, audio, etc. Without them, the ability to manually adjust exposure is done solely by eye, and with some guesswork.

There were times when the camera became unresponsive over WiFi because of distance, or after a period of inactivity. My phone would then switch to my office WiFi and trying to use the Canon Remote would be impossible. I would have to re-access the camera's WiFi and then the remote page would work fine.

You can set it up to use a wireless access point, and that can serve as the bridge between your device and the camera, but you have to set everything up manually because when you have the camera do it automatically, it doesn't tell you what its IP address is, so you have no way to easily figure out how to directly address the camera over the wireless network. At least, this geek wasn't able to easily figure it out.

 

Image Quality

Laws of nature dictate that, if you’re going to have a 20x optical zoom in a camera this small, the sensor absolutely must be smaller. To have a 20x optical zoom with a full-size sensor means you have to have a very big lens with very heavy glass. So, I'll take this compromise for the small size and ease of use of the XA20.

Add to this the smooth-functioning zoom, the myriad ways of setting up the zoom that I discussed in Part 1 of this review, and the very capable dual-mode image stabilization, and the ability to get a clean, usable shot with this tiny camcorder is amazing. Once that image goes through the lens it is up to the sensor--and the DIGIC DV-4 processor--to maintain as much of that detail as possible through the compression.

It’s also nice that the XA20/25 gives you the option to use AVCHD or MP4 compression. On a Mac, especially with recent versions of the OS, being able to natively open AVCHD files (with the .mts extension) requires using a third-party app, and they show up as generic icons in the Finder. This makes sorting and organizing your files much more annoying than it needs to be because all the audio and video data is stores in the one .mts file.

Related Articles
An in-depth discussion on the features and usability, image quality, and capabilities of the Canon XA20/25, along with comparisons to the predecessor XA10 and next-higher models XF100 and XF300 featuring the author and Andrew Jones of Dallas's The Movie Institute.
How the Canon XA25 and Livestream Broadcaster proved a straightforward and effective no muss, no fuss solution for live streaming of a series of trade conference with little ramp-up time or gear-up budget.
The Canon XF205 pro camcorder resembles the acclaimed XA25 consumer model introduced last year in several respects, but adds welcome features such as individual rings for iris, zoom, and focus; 2 additional channels of internal microphone recording; 1080/30P HD-SDI output in the XF205, and more. As such, the XF205 comes highly recommended as a camcorder well-suited to webcasting workflows.
Both camcorders feature a genuine Canon 20x High Definition Optical Zoom Lens and a new, advanced HD CMOS PRO image sensor with low-luminance noise of +3dB for improved low-light image capture