Video review of the Canon XA-10, XF100 and XF105

Ethics statement: I have not been paid by anyone to do this. I did this review off my own back and purchased both cameras.


Sorry for the delay on this, but it’s worth the wait. I was able to spend a couple of months with the cameras before doing the review which is far better than a knee jerk one.

Why review a small chip camcorder? Are they not a thing of the past? Actually they are a very valuable tool. Easy to operate, stuff is in focus. Great B cams. Yes you don’t get the stunning aesthetic of a DSLR but you don’t get image issues and sound is a piece of cake. These cameras are great cameras for certain jobs and can work well in conjunction with the DSLRs.

First off is the video review, it’s quite long but covers all the info you need, hopefully, then there is some test footage I shot one afternoon whilst on my holiday in Greece with a Gitzo stills tripod.The flickering at around 4 minutes is some glitch. I will go back to the edit…



Review of Canon XA10 XF100 XF105 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Chania: Test shots done on the Canon XF105 from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

Some test footage I shot in May 2010 with the Canon XF105.

Check out my review of this camera and the XA10 at

Music is Nana Mouskouri,Mera Mayiou

Filmed on the Island of Crete in Greece whilst on holiday!

Although all cameras have the same sensor the XF100 is by far the best feature/ price camera out of the three.

The XA10 is lovely and small, has the same lens and produces great images, the detachable handle is excellent, the in built memory is useful… but it’s these below things that should make you want to look at it’s bigger brother:

The lack of customisable picture profiles that that XF line has.

Proper switches and buttons in the right place, not touch screen.

Superior codec, 50mbs 4:2:2 is a big deal for such a small camera. You don’t have to record in that high if you don’t want to but it’s there and the files are not that big!

Slow motion, both 720p 50/60p or proper overcrank in those modes. Having slow motion is such a bonus and doesn’t have image issues like the 720p of Canon DSLRs. It’s sharp and looks great upscaled.

Fantastic exposure assist histograms.

Better quality PCM sound on XF series.

Did I mention it has proper buttons?!

Only get the XF105 is you need the Genlock and SDI out. It’s a $1000 more.

You can order from B&H below, although stock is scarce…


  1. Great review Philip. Also loved the short film.

    There seems to be a little flicker comes from the clouds, is that from the light changing really fast and the shutter going?


  2. I own the 305 and 105 as well as a 7d, and the XF series are series cameras and are well worth looking at. Philip you are right the 105 is great as B cam but with the 305 it cuts well together. The 305 has many many more features that make it a superb broadcast camera as well as and I agree, the 105 is poor for timelapse were the 305 for timelapse is great. All in all these cameras are amazing. Thanks Philip for reviewing them. I would love to see a review and your thoughts on the 305. Thanks again..>Greg

  3. you need a thumb model. and too bad Tom Guilmette didn’t make this review, then it woulda been cool. hahahhaha, just kiddin, honestly tho- what’s with the american flags props: you limey unshorn surrogate! -although i love the accent, and your filming… more clarinetist please, and say hi to Tom for me.

  4. Thanks Philip! I was really looking forward to these reviews. I was surprised you didn’t find the 4:2:2 color sampling of the XF100/105 a significant differentiating factor to the image out of the XA10; this was a big part of the reason why I was leaning toward the former. Also, does the XF100 have a clean HDMI output? (I saw on their specs “HDMI Terminal: Yes (Type A)”

    Thanks again!

    1. honestly it makes little difference unless you really start messing heavily with the image or go through loads of processes. just off camera into edit looked same to me! XF100 has clean HDMI output

  5. Recently I had to use one of these small chip Canons on a shoot for a client and being a DSLR user for quite awhile, I was impressed by the images they were able to produce. While they weren’t as shallow as my DSLR, with the right amount of zoom and f stop, the images I was able to produce were pretty close.

  6. Hi Philip, how much gain can you add to the image in low light without losing quality? 6 db? The shutter in 50p/i stucks on 1/50?
    Thanks for the review!

  7. For XHA1 owners who are thinking about purchasing the XF100/105, your BP series batteries will also work on these new cameras.

  8. i enjoyed the review. Always good to know whats going on in the world of “video”cameras so to speak. The image quality really isn’t bad considering what your working with. Really good for people that just wanna hanker around shoot and have a blast and not worry about lenses, settings, and all that. At the same time the options are there. I nice Bridge camera for the DVX users of a past life into the land of HD.

  9. Hey Phillip, You mentioned that the XF105/100 (whichever name it actually called) has poor out-of-focus image quality when zoomed in or doing close ups. Does that same problem still apply to the XA10, or does that camera work a little better?

  10. I sold my Canon XHA1 to buy the XA10 as my run and gun camera and it’s amazing. I use the 7d as my beauty shots and the xa10 to get extra shots or interviews, works perfect together. I opted for the XA10 over the XF100 because I only do web video. Once I figured on how to set the custom dial, I was able to set Iris, shutter speed and gain quickly, no problems at all. The custom dial, auto focus, compact size and $1000 savings on purchasing the XF100 made it very simple. Yes, the XF100 is a superior camera, but as I sated if you’re only doing web video save the money, buy the wide angle and you’ll be in heaven.

    Thanks for the great review Philip, been waiting on this one for awhile.


  11. As far as the gain 12 is the max you really want to go to but here is something with the XF 300/305, if you don’t need to shoot in 1080 drop down to 720 and there is a big difference in sensitivity. I am not sure if this applies to the XF 100/105 but I will try to do a test in a few days. Here is a link to a test of the XF 300/305 with low light and 720 sensitivity
    It is almost 5 to 6 stops better and I have tried this. Works wonderful. Philip I hope you can get your hands on the 305 for a test. Nice camera and well balanced which you don’t see to often. Many more options as well. Both cams are great. I have tried to match 7d footage which is a little tough, more for the color profiles than anything. I wish canon was able to have matching profiles for cameras like 7d and 105 and 305 would make life easier so I am currently trying to make them. The 105 and 305 color profiles have much more control than the 5 and 7d so its tougher to match.

  12. Phil, what are your thoughts about the XA codec AVCHD? It takes me at least x2 realtime to log and transfer Canon XA10 files in FCP7 whereas the files recorded by the XF105 are handled natively by FCP7. For me this is a big reason to shoot the XF over the XA.
    Phil, do you know if FCPX handles AVCHD files natively? We bitched about HDV on tape loading at x1 realtime but so far AVCHD is twice as slow. AVCHD seems to be a good aquisition codec but awful for editing natively.

      1. Thanks Philip for another great review. I guess I have an issue with AVCHD due to the time it takes to transcode to ProRes. It’s at least 1.5 -2 x slower than log and capture off HDV tape.
        I work in broadcast news and transcoding time is critical.
        I find that FCP7 handles the mpeg 2 xf codec much more easily. Transcoding in log and transfer is extremely fast. As fast as files from the Sony EX1R and incidentally they cut together on FCP7’s timeline without rendering. They must share the same XDCAM codec.
        To answer your question. I have ingested mpeg 2 xf305 files using log and transfer and selected “native” in the preferences drop down box. It all runs beautifully.
        My question to you about whether or not FCPX supports AVCHD seems to be answered by the guest bog “A week with FCPX” Now we all need quad core processors?

    1. Have both, out of cam the GH13 has better color space but I can make the XF100 IQ even better with some post processing. I use Canon FD lenses, not the great Zeiss lenses that Philip uses, and the resolution of the XF100 smokes my GH13, much much better. Other people have said that even with great lenses the XF is much better. BUT YOU MUST CHANGE THE FACTORY SETTINGS ON THE XF TO MAXIMIZE IT’S POTENTIAL. I like to turn down sharpening and turn up fine detail. Still experimenting, the XF is not an out of the box cam, requires dailing in.

  13. These cameras seem to have some really great features but I still long for the day that Canon will finally take the best from their camcorders and DSLR’s to create some kind of truly great camera. What is taking them so long?

    Can’t they just lock a 5D and XF305 in a room with some sensual music and a bottle of cheap wine?

  14. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for this review. I am looking for a camera to do my interviews on (sound!). However, when I am recording on the 5D-II/7D, I either use CineStyle or a custom flat profile. Is it difficult to create a similar profile in the XF105 to make sure you have a common base to start the grade?

    Thanks much.


  15. Thanks for this great review: wonderful images (and music). I’m looking for a camcorder like one of these to record very low light theater shows. How would you say it compares in low light to the EX-1 and/or Canon 5D mkII? I usually film at ISO 1250/1600 with the 5D.

    For those interested, here an example of a show I recorded with two Canon 5D mkII’s. The projected film (inserts) in the show were recorded (by someone else) with GH1 and Nikon glass.

  16. The USA version of the XF100 has extensive time interval options, up to 15 mi urea interval and variable frames per interval if I remember correctly. I shoot on one.

    Also the XF have P M sound while the XA10 does not, only compressed sound. BH Photo has it listed incorrectly on their site. This is huge for producing sound that will scale to broadcast or other top end uses.

  17. Can not leave this discussion without emphasizing the great post processing latitude that the 4:2:2 color space gives you. I shoot flat, for DR, and then choose the look I like in post. No baked in looks as I get with my dSLR shooting. Love it.

  18. This was a great and useful review. I have been looking for a camera to upgrade the sports videos that I make and it looks like the xa10 has the write combination of features, especially if the low light capability is as good as you say. I think I can live with the 720p at 60 fps for the slow motion, since my target is the web and occasional blu-ray disks.

    Anyway thanks for the review, it gives me a lot to think about.

  19. As pointed put to me, on the NTSC version of the XF100 the interval setting can be set to 1, 3, 6, or 9 frames when the camera is set for 30p or 60i, just verified it on my camera. Shows you that Philip and I obviously shoot at 24p where the minum frame per interval is 2.

  20. You noted as does Canon in their description that the camera is upgradable to be a world camera. If I buy it NTSC what will it cost to unlock PAL? Just a ballpark is good.

  21. Phil,

    Enjoyed the review, as always, great insight and a good scratch through the jargon, explaining the nuts and bolts.
    We are currently looking at this camera to go with us on a motor cycle trip from London to Sydney.

    For field work where you are out for several days at a time what would you use for back up and storage of the footage if there was no space for a lap top?

    What other cameras would you give consideration too for this job?

    We are looking at the Sony HXR-N70E, the features on this camera do give it the edge but I am more drawn to the picture quality of the Canon.

    Your thoughts mucker?

        1. Hi Darren never used that Sony but am sure it’s good. The thing that gives the Canon the edge is that codec…50mbs 422 over the AVCHD 24mbs 420 of the Sony. But that rainproof is VERY cool. Tempted by it myself!

          Until I get a chance to shoot with it….

  22. Hi Phil.
    Thanks for all the great info!

    With the XA 10, when you use the footage shot at PF24, does in come into your FCP/PP timeline as a 24fps clip – or something else?

    I have another Canon camcorder, and the PF24 clips come in FCP and PP as 29.97 (and I’ve loaded them three different ways).

    I know my camcorder shoots in some 60i format – but when it says “native 24p”, I feel I’m doing something wrong.

    If the XA10 indeed gets in your timeline as a 24fps clip – I’d get one for my upcoming film shoot in a week – and use it as a “b” camera.
    Thank you.

    1. Philip

      At the end of your comparison there is a couple shot of what looks like a sea front showing the performance of the XF in low light. Looking closely, looks like some denoising has been used post production.

      Could you please confirm.


  23. Hi Phillip,
    I’m an aspiring documentarian and filmmaker. I’ve been looking at the Canon XA10 for a while, and i know your review said it was a good documentary camera, but I was wondering whether you think that for documentary work it’s worth the extra 1000 dollars for the XF105.

  24. Hello Philip
    Thank you for the review.
    I too would love to get your take and thought on the New Sony HXR-NX70
    (Vs. XF100)
    Not sure why but seem to be gravitating towards it.
    Thank you as always.

  25. Philip, thanks for your review and I loved your comments!

    Actually I come from Hong Kong and filming around is one of my hobbies…

    I wish to know if 5D mark II is working at the same time with Final Cut Pro, which cam will be better (of course price needs to be taken consideration), XA10 or XF 100?

    I know XF100 has a lot better than XA 10, especially 4:2:2 and better control, but if you need to work with 5D mark II at the same time and the video is only output as highest to blu-ray, will you still choose XF 100? I just confused to buy either of the cam….

    1. The XF is a better cam. Better bit rate at 50mbps, closer to the 5D and MUCH better controls. if you can afford it go for it…oh you can also create picture profiles in it to match the 5d…that should be the clincher!

  26. Philip, I loved your review and your comments.

    I was going to buy one HMC150, but after reading your review i have been in doubt: HMC150 or XF100.
    What do you say about it?

  27. hi man, great review for sure.

    need ur very advice to start my indie filmmaker. so, i want a tool to make a film to put into film fest. so really need movie look and dependable camera. i saw this review and absolutely fall in love with XF100. but iam blind about camera, so not too sure u know. some friend told refer me to SLR, not too sure.

    but what u think? would XF100 work for me?

    i quite fancy sony’s FX1000 thou, but XF100 beat it on resolution, so its what it is. beside its still use miniDV.

    would really nice to hear from u, very open to another kind of camera too.

    thanx alot, keep on ur good job.

  28. Thanks Philip, great review.

    I have a Canon HFS20 and I’m really struggling to get really good low noise audio quality. I’m using an external mic but when I turn off the AGC the HFS20’s internal video audio amp is giving be a lot of hiss when I crank up the gain to get around 12db on the audio meter.

    I’m mainly shooting interviews. I’m keen to either upgrade to a better camera and looking at choosing from the X10 and the XF100 or recording audio through an external recording device like the Zoom H4n.

    While I understand I’ll get better audio through an external device ideally I’d like to still use the audio from the camera to cut down on the post production. I’m keen to get an understanding on the audio quality from both these cameras. Do both cameras have a low noise audio stage and suitable for getting good low noise audio quality for interviews using a good quality shotgun mic?

  29. Thank you so much Philip for all the info on your website and videos. I get so much more out of my 7d since encountering your website…

    Based on all rumors and thing’s going on in the camera world, can you still recommend buying a XA-10, or is it worth to wait until November 3th announcements ?

  30. Hi Philip,

    I love this review!

    But can i make a request that you review the Panasonic AG-AC 130/160 cameras?

    They should be in the same price bracket as the x 100/105 cameras.

    I wanted to know what you honestly think about them.


  31. Philip (or anyone),

    The XF100 was recommended to me. I had a Panasonic HVX-200p on loan, but have to surrender, sadly, after two years. I’m told the 4:2:2 is necessary because I do a lot of green screen work and chroma key will be of much lesser quality (using AE CS4) with a 4:2:0 camera.

    Do you agree?



    P.S. Just found your site. I’ll be “baahk”!

  32. Hi Philip

    Thanks so much for taking the time to present a great review. At the end of the video there were some terrific low light examples done on the XF100. In your opinion, how would the XA10 fair for these scenes? Given the sensor is the same, I suppose it is comparable – what is your impression? Is the XF superior in some way over the XA?



  33. Fantastic review, thank you for so much detail. Two questions:

    Is there one DSLR in particular whose settings would match the XF100 (shoot interviews on DSLR for better depth of field, run and gun on XF100) and can the XF100 deliver such rich color saturation as you had in the review clip, or something approximate to that?

  34. Phillip – Great review.

    Can the XA10 zoom be controlled for enough variability for sports (football, soccer)?

    I am used to a zoom ring. This would be the one feature that would push me to the XF100; however, the XA10 size is attractive. How much different in size do they feel?

  35. Great review, though I sided with the XA10 as it was something that fit my budget…

    I was wondering whether you knew if the XA10 had a clean HDMI output in 4:2:2 or not? I was considering getting an Atmos Ninja recorder or the Black Magic Design Hyperdeck shuttle recorder only if I could squeeze more performance out of my camera down the road.



  36. Great review. Can anyone comment on image quality and performance of this camera as compared to the older Canon Canon XH G1? Both have 1/3″ chips, 4:2:2 colorspace, genlock, sdi. What’s been improved upon in this model?


  37. Hi Phillip,
    I recently bought the canon xa10 and am looking for a good mic to get for it. I will be shooting a ski related doc with it.
    Someone recommended the Sennheiser k6 me64. What do you think? Are there any comparable mics that might be a bit cheaper?

    I am on a time crunch, so the sooner you could get back to me the better!

    Thank you so much!

    Also do you recommend I get a wide angle adapter for this camera? If so what one?
    Thank you!

  38. Hello Philip,

    That was a great review, I really learned quite a bit.

    As beginner videographer for events and weddings, do you think the XA10 is a good starting camera for these purposes? I’m looking to purchase 2 of them because the price point is good.

    I’m not new to video so you know, i’m just striking out on my own and I don’t get to use all the corporate toys I used to love. Sound is very important I read in a few replys you had mentioned good pre-amp and xlr is a must and would just like to know your thoughts on the sound capabilites.

    Thanks for the reviews and keep up the good work.


  39. Great review Philip! Actually loved the one on JVC GY-HM100 too. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Currently using Canon Vixia HV30 but need to upgrade to better quality, pro-level camcorder and tapeless. I’m a loyal fce, fcp, and soon to be fcpx user so I’m concerned about transcoding time.

    Have read that low light quality is horrible with the JVC and that the image quality might be better with XA-10 and XF-100. I’m just not sure I like the idea of waiting around for transcoding time.

    I do documentary and sports videos on web and DVD.

    Any quick thoughts on JVC HM100, Canon XA10, and Canon XF100 keeping in mind apple fce, fcp, fcpx editing workflow?

    Thanks again,

    1. I think the Canon XF 100 is easier in FCP because of the less compressed Files.
      I’ve a XA10, much more compressed AVCHD files, but works like a charm with Premiere pro CS6
      with out transcoding.

  40. Phillip thank you for this review. It was very insightful, but I still have some questions I am hoping you can help with. I am just started learning Final Cut Express and on the search for a camera. I’m just a mom who absolutley LOVEs all things video. From coming up with creative concepts, writing scripts, shooting and editing. I’m looking for a camcorder that works great in low light. Mostly I have been helping families capture and preserve life’s moments( youth sports, birthdays, video baby announcements…), but I would also like to move into doing interview/docu vids that would help small businesses, artists, musicians, non-profits promote their business and share their passions.

    I am certainly not up to the level of creating any films or video for broadcasting. Most of my work now is burned to DVD or uploaded to the web. I was trying to decide between a Panasonic in the x900 series, the Canon HF Vixia G10, the Sony Nex VG10, and possibly the Canon AX10. I have an old Pani HDC-SD5 that records a beautiful pic (in the right light) and works seemlessly with FCE, but is terrible in low light, and I’ve heard that the newer versions (900’s) sitll dont compare to the Canons in low light, so I think I’ve ruled that one out.

    I’m not exactly a video guru yet, but from the info I’ve gathered it seems like the Sony’s work easier with a PC, and since I have a Mac, I’m not sure if I should nix the sony or not? I guess another question is do any of these camcorders work well with my editing program, which of course since I am a noob, is FCE. Would you happen to have any info on this? I guess my next question would be is my Mac powerful enough to handle the AX10? It have a 2.66 GHz Intel core 2 dou processor, do I need to consider this when choosing a camera?

    Lastly, have you reviewed the Canon HF Vixia G10, and if so how does it stack up to the AX10? Any insights that you have would be greatly appreciated. BTW, your sight looks great and I can’t wait to start exploring it!

    Thank you for your time,

    1. The Canon HF Vixia G10 is almost the same as the XA 10 but a consumer version: no pro audio XLR input, less
      internal memory (still a lot) 64Gb vs 32 Gb. They are both great with low light conditions.
      The look & picture is the same because of the same lens and picturechip.
      I’m afraid your Mac is a problem: a lot of consumer and prosumer camera’s produces video files with a AVCHD
      format and is very compressed, that’s ok but a very heavy job for your edit computer.
      Now the Edius 6 edit software is the most easy for your computer with AVCHD but not available for Mac.
      Premiere Pro 6 edit software from Adobe is probably the nicest on this moment and for Windows (64bit)
      and for Mac.
      But keep in mind It works better on a well balanced $ 1600,- PC (see Adobe Premiere pro hardware forum for
      great tips) then on a $ 4000,- Mac.

  41. Nice review and it looks like a good camera. I am agonizing over a choice for a camcorder to compliment my 7D but this one falls short with the 1/3 ” consumer grade sensor, not worth 3k in my opinion. It looks cool to have as an extra camera for behind the scenes stuff as you mentioned but for a main camcorder no way. I wish there was a choice between this and the xf300 which is a bit too expensive for me right now. I love my 7D for those artistic and close up shots but need something as a main workhorse, I just might have to wait another year or so for something better.

  42. Philip,

    Thanks. Best video review of this Canon series I’ve seen yet – no distractions, no cool guy stuff, just the info – and for a novice like me, it was easy to understand. I even learned a few things I didn’t know. I think I’ll go with the XA10.

  43. Hi Philip:

    Enjoyed your review of these Canon Camcorders. I have been looking at getting the XF100/105. Plan to use it indoors recording seminars/lectures. (fluorescent lighting in some buildings. In others I think it is tungsten – it is a rented hockey stadium) Also, I will be approximately 20 – 30 feet, give or take, from the speaker.

    That said, two things I would like to ask you. First, in your opinion will the XF100/105 work well indoors in a setting like that? Secondly, I have been told that zooming beyond a certain point (6x) will cause possible grainy/noisy video? This will be my first pro camcorder purchase and I want to make sure I make a good first investment. Recently, I got a chance to briefly look at the XA10 and XF100/105. The XA10 was nice and compact, but I found the touch screen menu very difficult to work with whereas the XF100/105 has a joystick type menu which made it easy getting around in. I would love to consider the XF300/305 but it is a lot bigger and I might have difficulty using it due to my health.

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to reply to my inquiry.


    Spanish Room, NL

  44. Hello there Philip, I’m a colombian film maker and i’m planning to buy the Canon FX-100. My goal is to make documentaries and corporative videos, but also, i want to make short films with a filmic look. Do you think this camera is the right choise? I know it’s not a 5D, nor a FS -700, but for a low budget independent film, to be released on the internet it could work. Please tell me what you think about all this. Thanks a lot.

  45. Hi Philip

    thanks for the review. It was really informative. I like your presentation style and your voice is easy to listen to.

    I was just wondering what you said at 15:22. You say “And yeah you can make a documentary with this, why not ? , not so good thats what the SLRs are for….”

    kind regards

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