5 things I love about shooting with the Canon XA45

Filming a music video on the Canon XA45 gave DoP Peter Demetris plenty of time to familiarise himself with its features – here he reveals his five favourites.
A man crouches down to film with a Canon XA45 professional camcorder.

DoP Peter Demetris put the Canon XA45 professional camcorder to the test on a music video shoot in London, UK. © Phil Hall

For a DoP who's right at home behind a full-size Cinema EOS rig, Peter Demetris is highly impressed by the potential of Canon's latest camcorder: the Canon XA45. "Having so many professional features on a tiny camcorder is just fantastic," he says.

The latest XA-series camcorder is certainly compact compared to Peter's Canon EOS C300 Mark III, but downsizing doesn't mean sacrificing performance. With its extensive professional feature set, including a 20x optical zoom lens, XF-AVC codec, and XLR and 3G-SDI connectors, the Canon XA45 punches above its weight.

Peter was an ideal choice to put the XA45 through its paces on a music video shoot, due to his background in both live broadcast and narrative productions. His route to becoming a self-shooting DoP began in his native Australia, where he served stints as a video technician, vision mixer and studio director, specialising in entertainment shows and multi-cam events. After relocating to London, his focus shifted to more narrative work, including a work-in-progress documentary on the making of Lost in London – the world's first feature film to be broadcast live – on which he served as live gallery director.

Here, Peter shares his thoughts on the Canon XA45's top five standout features.

1. Professional connectivity

Just like the Canon XA40, the Canon XA45 offers a wealth of connections in a compact body. However, in addition to HDMI, USB and remote terminals, it also boasts a 3G-SDI output that enables it to integrate easily into broadcast-standard equipment.

"If you're doing anything critical, and you want to output it to a big monitor so that you can look at levels, that's the best way to do it – straight out of a 3G-SDI," explains Peter. "HDMI out of a camcorder is fantastic, but HDMI connectors are domestic, and as they get smaller they get more fragile. You just can't beat a BNC connector and a BNC cable connected to a monitor for a rock-solid connection. They also tend to run further distances as well, so it's a great option if you need to get a long way from the camera for safety reasons."

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To ensure that the high-quality pictures are complemented by finely detailed sound, the Canon XA45 features two XLR inputs on its removable handle. "That makes the XA45 a terrific option for documenting behind the scenes on a small film production," says Peter. "The XLR connectors mean you can put radio mics on the camera. Often when you're working on film shoots, they'll have a radio signal on set that has a mix of the microphones. So, if you borrow a receiver from the sound person, you can shoot behind the scenes and capture all the audio that they're recording."

The XLR inputs on a Canon XA45 professional camcorder.

Peter says that being able to attach professional mics via the Canon XA45's XLR inputs is a huge bonus. "If you're shooting on location with the Canon EOS C300 Mark III, you've got four audio channels and you can put four radio mics on it. But what happens if a fifth person enters the room? If you've got a B-camera such as the XA45, you can put the radio mic receiver on top of that, plug it into the XLR and then you've got another audio channel." © Phil Hall

The ND Filter setting on a Canon XA45 professional camcorder.

The Canon XA45 comes with built-in ND filters. "That's particularly fantastic in bright daylight, as it means you can stop it down if you want to, in order to get that shallower depth of field," says Peter. © Phil Hall