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Canon XA10 Video Camera Review

by John Mueller 31. December 2011 08:26
John Mueller

For those of you looking for a new video camera for next season the Canon XA10 from Campbell Camera's is one of the most advanced compact video cameras on the market today. Small in size, but very big on features. This compact camera has all the bells and whistles. But it is still very user friendly, for guys like myself who aren’t video experts. Some of the advanced features actually make it easier for the novice videographer. I have used mine the whole 2011 hunting season and will now give you my personal review. I just know a lot of you have that Christmas bonus burning a hole in your pocket. This would be money well spent.

A few controls are located under the flip out viewfinder.

There is not much this little camera can't do.

My camera complete with the 3rd Arm Tree Arm.

There are many things I like about the XA10, but the number one reason I decided on this camera is its size. Since I do all of my own filming and hunt in very hilly terrain, I need a small lightweight camera, one that fits in a small pack or carrying bag and doesn’t weigh a ton. The XA10 is just that, not that much bigger than a point and shoot digital camera. I carry all my camera gear in the Campbell Camera’s small carry bag.

Not that much bigger than my Android.

Two other really neat features on this camera are the Infrared Mode and the Touch Focus feature. The IR mode allows for filming in complete darkness. Much like the IR trail cameras, this produces a black and white video with very good picture quality. I find this most useful when doing interviews in the stand. I can do an interview either before the hunt or after while still in the stand. Sometimes I don’t want to be talking after sunrise or need to wait till after sunset if there are deer near my stand. The Touch Focus mode is great for those of us that self film our hunts. Once you have your deer in your view finder you simply touch the deer on the viewfinder screen and the touch focus locks in on the deer. Even if the deer moves or you move the camera, the camera stays focused on the subject. This prevents the deer from becoming blurry if it walks behind a tree or a branch gets between the camera and the deer. I totally love this feature when self filming.

Just touch the deer on the screen and the touch focus keeps it in focus.

The XA10 has a 64GB internal flash drive which can hold 6 hours of video when set on the highest quality setting and also comes with 2 SD card slots for additional recording time or for simultaneous backup recording. This means no fumbling with changing tapes or worries about running out of tape in the middle of your hunt. The SD cards really make it simple to download the video to a computer for viewing or editing. Just pop the card in the reader slot and away you go.

Another great feature is the lowlight capabilities of the XA10. This camera can film right up to the end of legal shooting light as long as you don’t have to zoom in too much. I was completely surprised at how little light is actually needed to get usable video with this camera.

I don’t have enough time or space to tell you about everything this compact camera can do. The truth is I’m still learning myself. What I have learned is this camera is very easy to use, with most of the controls on the touch screen.You can be as basic as you want be or explore all of the features and make some amazing video with this outfit. I plan on doing more research myself and adding more to my videos next season.

Most of the options are controlled right on the viewfinder screen.

The handle houses the sound level controls.

Even though the XA10 only has a 10 optical zoom, I have been able to use the digital zoom with very good results. As long as I have a steady rest I have no problem zooming in to 60-80x.

If you would like to see some of the video I’ve shot using the XA10, click on this link.

You can also get more info on the XA10 and ordering info from Campbell Camera’s here.

The Highs and Lows of Self Filming

by John Mueller 7. November 2011 14:11
John Mueller

Self filming your hunts can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your hunting career when you capture that trophy of a lifetime on video or as I recently discovered, the most disappointing. You must remember to hit record to capture that hunt of a lifetime. I was recently bowhunting on my property and had a nice buck put on a fine show, but I never hit the record button. So I’ll relive the hunt in written form for you to enjoy.

The evening prior to my hunt I had seen my first shooter buck of the season cruise over the ridge I was hunting on. Later I could hear him grunting down the hillside, presumably chasing does. Once the chasing starts happening on my farm I have a stand I head to down in a hollow. There are a bunch of small fingers that feed into the area around my stand and the bucks cruise up and down these fingers and through the bottom looking for receptive does. I purposely have stayed out of this area, leaving it alone until the chasing starts.

The ridge the buck took down into the hollow in front of my stand.

My Lone Wolf Hang On high in a Hickory Tree.

It was particularly windy that late October afternoon when I headed down to the stand nicknamed “The Well”, for it’s location in the bottom of the hollow. I figured the wind would also push deer movement down out of the windy conditions. Once settled in I could see both scrapes and rubs from my stand. To say I was excited is an understatement. My first deer sighting was a small fork horned buck. This was appropriate; I think I’ve turned into a fork horn magnet this year. I’ve seen more of them than any other type of deer. I did get some good video of him passing by the stand and working a scrape, completely unaware of my presence.

One of the many scrapes in the bottom of the hollow.

A good sized rub nerby my stand.

About 6:00 I spotted a deer coming down one of the fingers in front of me. I threw up my binos and saw decent antlers on its head. In one motion I stood up turned on my Canon XA10 and wireless mics and grabbed my bow. I glanced up and he was still traveling straight to my stand. I searched for the buck in the cameras view finder. Considering I use reading glasses whenever I need to see something closer than arms length, this is no easy task. I finally find him on the screen and zoom in, all the while trying to decide if I’m going to shoot this buck. He’s no monster by any means, but I haven’t shot a buck in 2 years, so he’s looking pretty good to me. He proceeds down the small ridge into the bottom and stops at a scrape 15 yards directly in front of me. I swing the camera on him and catch him working over the earth in the scrape and then he turns his attention to the licking branch. First he rakes it back and forth with his antlers and forehead, and then he takes it in his mouth and deposits his saliva all over it marking it as his. Well after that show I figure this will make a great episode for Bowhunt or Die and if he offers me a shot, I’ll take it. After working the scrape for a few minutes the bucks takes a few steps and slightly quarters away and stops. I draw back, take aim high on his last rib and touch off the shot. I see my arrow disappear and the buck blasts off across the hollow and up the other side. As he comes to a stop 1/3 of the way up I swing the camera over and find him in the viewfinder just as he starts to crash down the hillside and come to rest on the floor of the hollow.

I’m thinking, wow did that just happen, that was awesome and spin the camera around to catch my reaction…………That’s when I notice the little light in the viewfinder that is supposed to be red………is still green. In my excitement to find the buck in the viewfinder as he was originally coming down the hillside, I never hit the record button. I had just failed to capture the whole hunt on video. So now I had a borderline shooter buck on the ground with absolutely no video footage of the kill. I wanted to jump out of the stand with my safety line around my neck. I literally felt sick to my stomach, as you can see in this week’s episode of Bowhunt or Die. This is not the reaction I wanted to record when I swung the camera around after the buck hit the ground.

There was a great blood trail, but I didn't need it this time, I watched him crash.

So about all you get from this buck harvest is my sick feeling in the stand, a shot of the bloody arrow, a short walk to the buck (interrupted by a neighbor) and me sitting behind the buck the next morning. I really didn’t feel much like filming after I got down out of the tree that night and I had to get 2 buddies just to help me get him out of that hollow. It’s too steep to drive my four wheeler down there to haul him out.

The buck I thought I was making a "Movie Star" out of.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy filming my hunts and have some great footage from other hunts that I will no doubt relive time and again in the future. But this was the low of lows and I can assure you it will NEVER happen to me again. If you don’t already do so, I highly recommend videoing your own hunts or team up with a partner and capture your hunts on video. When it all works out you have memories for the rest of your lives to share with family and friends and the hunting community. When you do decide to start videoing your hunts, give our friends at Campbell Cameras a call. They have everything you need to get started from cameras to wireless mics, tree arms and all the accessories too. Happy filming………..and don’t forget to hit RECORD!!

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