Best Canon camcorders: which all-in-one video camera should you choose?

Canon's XF and XA video cameras combine cutting-edge tech with an all-in-one, easy-to-use design. But which is the best professional Canon camcorder for your needs?
The Canon XF605 professional camcorder.

As an advanced all-round 4K camera, the Canon XF605 (pictured) is built to take on a huge variety of jobs, from news gathering and live productions to cinematic documentaries. Dual SD card slots also add convenience. "You are able to set different formats, different resolutions and different compression levels to be recorded to each card simultaneously," says Mehdia Mehtal, Channel Marketing Executive for Professional Video & Broadcast at Canon UK. "You can even separate the audio from the video, so you can record video to one card and audio to the other."

Canon's professional video cameras combine some of the best Canon video technology with a familiar, easy-to-use camcorder design. As dedicated all-in-one video cameras, they are easier to control than DSLR or mirrorless cameras, and their compact design makes them more portable than Cinema EOS cameras. This makes them an excellent standalone choice for fast-paced productions, from newsgathering and live events to documentaries and weddings. But which is the best Canon camcorder for you?

"It's one camera, one piece of equipment that you're carrying around with you," says Mehdia Mehtal, Channel Marketing Executive for Professional Video & Broadcast at Canon UK. "Although these camcorders have the option for adding audio accessories should you need them, you don't have to worry about changing lenses as you get a massive 15x or 20x zoom built in, depending on which camera you choose."

A technician wearing white gloves cleans the sensor of a Canon camera.

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And there is certainly plenty of choice available. Canon's XF and XA series of professional camcorders range from broadcast-focused 4K video cameras to budget-friendly Full HD models. As the latest addition to the XF Series, the Canon XF605 sets a new benchmark for convenience and performance, with intelligent AF tracking that can keep a subject's head in focus even when they're not looking at the camera. But even advanced Canon LEGRIA camcorders have features that will appeal to professional filmmakers and videographers, including outstanding image quality and professional-level control – see the section on the Canon LEGRIA GX10 below.

To help you choose the ideal video camera for your needs and budget, we've put together a guide to some of the best camcorders available today.

A Canon XF605 camcorder on a recording desk with rows of screens and panels behind it.

The Canon XF605 introduces a host of firsts to the Canon professional 4K video camera range, including Eye Detection and Head Tracking AF, plus enhanced control options such as a new touchscreen interface and improved Browser Remote for smartphones and tablets.

Best all-round professional 4K camcorder: Canon XF605

The Canon XF605 is the most advanced camcorder in Canon's professional 4K video camera range, blending superb performance with a flexible feature set.

It introduces an improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF, now complete with Eye Detection and Canon's EOS iTR AF X Intelligent Tracking technology. "This makes the autofocus even more reliable," says Mehdia. "It can now continue to track a person's head even when they're walking away from the camera."

The Canon XF605 camcorder.

Canon XF605

A versatile broadcast quality 4K camcorder, offering advanced AF, connectivity and streaming for demanding productions.

Just like the Canon XF705, the Canon XF605 features a premium L-Series 15x optical zoom lens and a large 1.0-type 4K UHD CMOS sensor. In addition, the XF605 is equipped with a DIGIC DV 7 processor that works in harmony with the sensor to deliver high-quality image processing with impeccable clarity and low noise.

Capable of recording 4K UHD 60P/50P in 4:2:2 10-bit XF-AVC and MP4 to dual SD cards, the Canon XF605 is a practical choice whether you need to run footage through post-production or broadcast it directly. A wide dynamic range is captured via Canon Log 3, while PQ and HLG formats are available when your production requires HDR formats. Slow & Fast Motion mode allows Full HD clips to be recorded at up to 120p, too.

An expanded range of Custom Picture profiles and support for Look Files (3D LUTs) enable users to achieve distinctive footage straight out of the camera. "We introduced Look File support in the EOS C70," adds Mehdia. "I think the concern with many people when they shoot Log is post-production and how much time they spend editing. But when a Look File is baked into the footage it can help to minimise the workflow."

The Canon XF605 is also one of the most connected camcorders. In addition to 12G-SDI, Ethernet and XLR, it comes with a multi-function shoe that can be used to add additional XLR inputs, and it's the first XF Series camcorder that can be connected to the RC-IP100 Remote Controller. A new Content Transfer Mobile app allows video to be transferred directly to an FTP server via an iPhone, and video output over USB-C enables the XF605 to be used as a webcam.

A woman being filmed with a Canon XF405 professional camcorder.

The face-tracking AF on the Canon XF405 camcorder is ideal for run-and-gun-style shooting – pin-sharp accuracy reduces the need for multiple takes, which is crucial if you're working in fast-paced environments.

A journalist sits in front of a bank of TV screens. A Canon XF405 professional camcorder is on the desk beside him.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity on the Canon XF405 enables fast and convenient transfer of files direct from the camcorder to busy newsrooms.

Best camcorder for newsgathering: Canon XF405/XF400

The Canon XF405 (XF400 without SDI output) makes short work of demanding shoots, coming with a 1.0-type 4K UHD CMOS sensor, 15x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 25.5mm-382.5mm, and the option of recording XF-AVC or MP4 internally to dual SD card slots.

A 1.0-Type CMOS sensor professional compact 4K UHD camcorder with 15x zoom lens.

Canon XF405

A 1.0-Type CMOS sensor professional compact 4K UHD camcorder with 15x zoom lens.

Choosing between the Canon XF405 and the Canon XF605 mainly comes down to whether you need the flagship camcorder's 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording option, compared with the Canon XF405's 4:2:0 8-bit. "The XF405 does enable you to record 4:2:2 8-bit or 10-bit externally, depending on the resolution, but that requires getting additional equipment," explains Mehdia. "Canon Log 3 has also been added in a recent firmware update, which gives you maximum dynamic range straight out of the camera."

As well as two XLR terminals plus a built-in mic for four-channel audio, the Canon XF405 features a 3G-SDI output that supports Full HD. It boasts Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity for FTP transfer and IP streaming, and benefits from wireless control via a smartphone or tablet with Browser Remote. Factor in its fast and accurate Dual Pixel CMOS AF and built-in ND filters, and you've got a robust camcorder that offers all the professional controls newsgatherers need.

Cinematographer Clemens Boecker filming celebrity adventurer Joey Kelly on a Canon XA55 camcorder.

German cinematographer Clemens Boecker used a Canon XA55 to film celebrity adventurer Joey Kelly on a trip from Berlin to Beijing in a classic campervan. He found it was ideal for delivering broadcast-quality footage without attracting too much attention while filming in sensitive locations. © Clemens Boecker

Best camcorder for discreet journalism: Canon XA55/XA50

The Canon XA55 is the premium camcorder in the compact XA professional video camera range. If you don't require the 3G-SDI support of the XA55, then the Canon XA50 gives you an identical feature set, minus the additional interface.

Taking some of the best features of the Canon XF405 – large 1.0-type sensor, versatile 15x optical zoom lens and Dual Pixel CMOS AF – and packing them into an even more lightweight body, the Canon XA55 is an easy camera to work with on long shoots.

The Canon XA55 camcorder

Canon XA55

A 1.0-type CMOS sensor compact 4K camcorder with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, 15x optical zoom lens and 3G-SDI.

The Canon XA55's diminutive dimensions and standalone weight of approximately 970g means that it's a great option for discreet journalism. "Cameras in the XA range can be used as professional camcorders, but if you remove the handles with the XLRs then you're basically down to a compact camcorder that's easy to go travelling with," says Mehdia.

In addition to recording 4K UHD in XF-AVC and MP4, the Canon XA55 features Over Sampling HD Processing for incredible Full HD image quality. It also boasts a useful infrared mode that is an advantage for some low-light newsgathering and documentary filming.

A woman in the sea at sunset flicks back her hair, creating an arc of water spray.

The ultra-compact Canon XA40 camcorder features slow and fast motion recording in both UHD and Full HD.

A silhouette of a woman with her hair flowing in the breeze, in front of bokeh city lights.

An infrared mode enables you to carry on filming in darkness and eight aperture blades deliver superb bokeh.

Best budget professional 4K camcorder: Canon XA40

If you're looking for an entry-level 4K camcorder with professional video and audio features, then the Canon XA40 should be on your shortlist. This palm-sized pro camera uses a 1/2.3-inch type CMOS sensor and DIGIC DV6 processor to deliver exceptional 4K images, in addition to superior Full HD images via Over Sampling HD Processing. The Canon XA40 supports 4K UHD 25p recording in MP4 at 150Mbps, and Full HD 50p at 35Mbps. XF-AVC recording has also been made available in a recent firmware update.

The Canon XA40 camcorder

Canon XA40

Ultra-compact, professional palm-sized 4K XA-series camcorder with a 20x optical zoom lens.

The camera's 4K CMOS sensor is smaller than the 1.0-type sensor offered by the other Canon 4K professional camcorders in this selection, but it's twinned with a longer 20x wide-angle zoom that delivers an equivalent reach of 29.3-601mm. A 5-axis optical image stabiliser helps to cut through camera shake when shooting at telephoto focal lengths too.

"It's the perfect video camera for covering corporate events and creating online content," explains Mehdia. "The price reflects the smaller sensor size, but you still have all the professional controls, dual card slots and XLR inputs."

Best Full HD camcorder: Canon XA15/XA11

For filmmakers and videographers whose resolution requirements don't extend beyond Full HD, the compact Canon XA15 and Canon XA11 are versatile options for news, weddings, corporate and online production. Both camcorders share the same professional specification, with the Canon XA15 adding an HD/SD-SDI terminal that enables it to transmit uncompressed 4:2:2 video.

The Canon XA15 camcorder.

Canon XA15

A compact, professional Full HD camcorder with a powerful 20x optical zoom and wide dynamic range.

At the heart of the Canon XA15 is an advanced HD CMOS Pro sensor and DIGIC DV4 image processor, delivering high-quality Full HD 50p video in AVCHD and MP4. A Canon high-definition 20x optical zoom lens gives the 35mm equivalent range of 26.8-576mm, with its 8-bladed aperture ensuring beautiful background blur.

"Probably the easiest way of thinking about the Canon XA15 is that it's pretty much the Full HD version of the XA40," says Mehdia. "And the Canon XA11 in particular has been a popular model for users who've been streaming during the lockdowns."

A man performing skateboard stunts is filmed with a Canon LEGRIA GX10 camcorder attached to a tripod.

You can capture vibrant Wide DR 4K, 50p video – even in demanding situations – thanks to features such as precision 15x zoom optics, a large sensor and 8-stop ND filter. © Mike Boyd

A Canon LEGRIA GX10 camcorder fixed to a tripod.

With its 1.0-Type CMOS sensor, 4K 50p recording, Wide DR Gamma that extends dynamic range to 800% and 100fps shooting option, the Canon LEGRIA GX10 has plenty of professional-level features. © Mike Boyd

Best budget 4K camcorder: Canon LEGRIA GX10

Although the Canon LEGRIA GX10 is considered an enthusiast or semi-pro camcorder, it includes many of the features that you would expect to find on a Canon professional video camera. These include 4K recording up to 50p, a large 1.0-inch sensor for excellent low-light performance and depth of field control, plus Dual Pixel CMOS AF.

The Canon LEGRIA GX10 camcorder.


Superb handheld 4K footage and professional level creative control for video enthusiasts and content creators.

"If XLR audio inputs are not an essential requirement, the Canon LEGRIA GX10 would be one of the camcorders I would recommend," says Mehdia. "In terms of specification it probably shares about 70% of what the Canon XF405 offers. So you have Full HD high frame rate recording up to 100fps, Wide DR, a 5-axis optical Image Stabilizer, built-in Wi-Fi and dual SD card slots.

"The main difference is that the Canon LEGRIA GX10 can only record in MP4, so it doesn't have the XF-AVC option which some people might require. But for online content, MP4 is the main format that you're going to need."

Mehdia suggests that as well as online content creators, the Canon LEGRIA GX10 is a great video camera for events, corporate work and education. "For documentaries and newsgathering, the XA and XF series camcorders, with their professional audio options, may be the better choice, but the Canon LEGRIA GX10 still gives you all the manual controls that you need."

Автор Marcus Hawkins

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