Saturday, April 11, 2015

Five 4K cameras you should buy instead of the $2499 Canon XC10

New Canon XC10

A few days ago, in a post entitled "4K Canon EOS One - the Panasonic FZ1000 killer?", HCR previewed this week's announcement of the $2499 Canon XC10.  We got the name wrong, but we did get one thing right:
"If Canon includes a decent codec, a headphone jack and more than 30 minutes of recording time, the EOS One becomes a very interesting video camera and serious competition for the FZ1000 (depending on price, of course). [emphasis added]"
Well, now we know the price.  Yes, Canon has come up with an interesting 1" sensor, fixed lens camcorder with a solid codec, 4:2:2 color sub-sampling and a headphone jack - but both the price and the still/video feature set are a real disappointment.

As a serious video camera, the XC10 fails on two fronts - if you're going to buy a fixed lens camcorder, you expect a viewfinder and a power zoom.  This camera has neither. And with this lens, Canon has delivered the worst of both worlds.  No DSLR-style interchangeability - and no camcorder-style servo zoom.  Fail.

In still camera mode, its challenges are more serious.  Its maximum still photo frame rate is a snail-like 2.8 fps, it has no built-in flash and it is a JPEG only camera (no RAW).  Many point and shoots can do better.

Worst of all, Canon has taken its usual path of overpricing a new camera and making it non-competitive in the broad marketplace - where there are better options at significantly lower prices.  This is similar to the mistake they made with the EOS M, which was initially overpriced - and now sells for bargain basement prices.

Eventually, we will see the XC10 marked down severely, but in the meantime, it is another pricing disappointment from Canon.

But instead of lamenting the lost opportunity represented by the XC10, HCR would like to offer alternatives to Canon shooters with budgets below $3000 who have been waiting for Canon to give them a worthwhile upgrade from their entry level Canon DSLRs - but who are not willing to pay $2500 for a fixed lens "camcorder" that has neither a viewfinder nor a power zoom.

So, without any further ado, here are the five 4K cameras below $3000 that Canon DSLR shooters might want to consider instead of shelling out $2500 for the Canon XC10:

1. $1498 Panasonic DMC-GH4 with a $599 Metabones EF Speed Booster.  If you need compatibility with your EF/EF-S glass, true 4096x2160 4K, 10 bit HDMI out, time code, color bars, hours of continuous recording, affordable Panasonic power zooms, a fully articulated LCD - plus the option to add the YAGH interface with its XLR inputs and SDI outputs - this may be the camera for you.  Here is a terrific piece from Elif Kalkan shot with the Metabones and Canon glass:

2. $1299.99 (on sale, as of this post) Samsung NX-1 with an $80 Canon EF to NX adapter with manual aperture control.  This camera would be #1 on the list if there was a Metabones-type Canon to NX lens adapter for it.  Its APS-C sized sensor, advanced h.265 compression and LOG-like color profile give it the edge over the GH4.  But, for Canon shooters, its limited compatibility with Canon lenses is a challenge.  That said, Andrew Reid is nevertheless creating beautiful images with the NX1 and adapted EOS glass:

3. $750 Panasonic DMC-FZ1000.  This camera is one third of the XC10's price, shares its 1" sensor size and UHD resolution - but also features the power zoom, electronic viewfinder, serious still photo chops and fully articulated LCD that the XC10 is missing.  No, it doesn't have a headphone jack, but you can buy a pretty nice recorder with the $1700 you'll save.  Here is the video image quality shooters are getting from the FZ1000:

4. $750 Panasonic DMC-LX100.  No mic or headphone jacks and no built-in flash, but this camera has a larger sensor than the XC10 and many of the still and video features the Canon lacks - e.g., a power zoom lens, an electronic viewfinder, 11 fps and the ability to shoot RAW stills.  It's a pretty darned good UHD video camera too:

5. $2695 JVC GY-HM200. If you don't need a large sensor or the ability to shoot stills, but want a 4K camcorder with pro mic inputs, SDI out and built-in web streaming - this camera is the best value for your money in this price range. The HM200 was just released, so there are only a few examples of what it can do - but here is one (please watch at 2160p):

And as a bonus for those who aren't ready to upgrade to 4K, there are still a couple of solid Canon 1080p alternatives:

1. $2499 Canon 5D Mark III. After recent mark downs, the full frame 5D Mark III is at the same price as the 1" sensor XC10.  If you like the "full-frame look", want native compatibility with your Canon lenses plus the option to shoot Magic Lantern RAW - you might want to consider upgrading from an entry level Canon DSLR to the Mark III.

2. $2999 Canon C100. For $500 more than the XC10, you can buy a real professional Super 35 camcorder with XLR inputs, a viewfinder and 100% compatibility with your Canon lenses.  This camera's 4K sensor, downscaled in-camera, still creates some of the best 1080p video in the marketplace.

The bottom line is that you can do a lot better than the XC10  - either near or well below its $2499 price point.

As always, if anything here has helped you to make a purchase decision, please shop using the links above or the displays below and in the margins. And even if you're not in the market for a new camera, please comment and make suggestions below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And for the latest deals, news, tips and techniques, please follow HCR on Blogger, Twitter and YouTube  - and circle us on Google+.

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