With the 2013 National Association of Broadcasters convention just a few days away, Canon pulled back the curtain on two new compact pro camcorders: the XA20 and XA25. The new camcorders are successors to the XA10 that Canon launched in 2011, but they sit below the XF100 and XF105 on Canon's pro camcorder totem pole. Canon also announced a now flagship consumer camcorder, the Vixia HF G30, which shares many of the same features and specs as the XA20 and 25.
The XA20 and XA25 feature plenty of updates over the stale XA10, most important of which is an entirely new image processor. The Canon Digic DV IV processor allows the XA20 and XA25 to—finally—record 1080/60p AVCHD video, as well as make use of high-bitrate MPEG-4 video settings (up to 35Mbps). The camcorders can also simultaneously record AVCHD and MPEG-4 video via dual SD card slots, which was something Canon's previous image processor wasn't powerful enough to handle.
At 1/2.84-inches, the CMOS sensor on the XA20/25 is a tad larger than the 1/3-inch chip inside the XA10. Canon claims it opted for the larger sensor in order to add more flexibility to the camcorder's updated image stabilization function, which has an option for using both optical and digital stabilization. The stabilization feature now includes seven modes, up from four on the XA10.
Zoom has been increased to 20x on the XA20 and XA25 (the XA10 could only do 10x), and the iris has been converted to an 8-blade circular design. A new seesaw zoom lever, as well as the ability to switch the focus ring to control zoom should please pros who want more control over optics. Even the touchscreen has improved, with Canon claiming the 3.5-inch OLED screens found on the XA20 and XA25 should be brighter and consume less power than the LCD on the XA10.
The camcorders even come with a new battery pack: the BP-A28. Canon made it clear the XA20 and XA25 will still be compatible with the XA10's batteries, but this new pack offers a helpful exterior charge display (just like the battery that comes with the XF305 camcorder). Built-in WiFi rounds out the slew of new features found on these camcorders, making the XA20 and XA25 capable of FTP transmission over a WiFi connection, remote camera control (via an iOS smartphone), and the ability to upload video directly to YouTube when connected to WiFi.
The basic design of the new camcorders hasn't changed much, although Canon did say the XA20 and XA25 will be slightly larger than the XA10. The new camcorders will still have a detachable handlebar with XLR inputs and a mic holder, as well as infrared capabilities for shooting in low light—all of which were staples on the XA10.
The XA25 comes with an HD-SDI terminal for the output of uncompressed video, but that is the only difference between it and the XA20. The presence of this port will make the XA25 more expensive than its near-identical sibling, with Canon tentatively listing the XA25 at $2699 and the XA20 at $2199. It's worth noting the XA10 launched with a $1999 MSRP, and came with 64GB of internal memory. Neither the XA20 or XA25 come with any internal memory.
With the camcorders still in prototype stage, it is unclear when Canon will have them ready to ship to consumers. But Canon should have pre-production models on display at NAB next week, so you can look forward to our First Impressions review when we get our hands on one.