Canon XA65 review: great pro camcorder let down by its AF

Canon XA65 is a compact but capable option that performs best when light is abundant

A side-angled view of the Canon XA65 camcorder
(Image: © Lauren Scott)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Canon XA65 is a versatile camcorder for news gathering or documentaries. Although designed for professionals, it can be used completely automatically and still yield high-quality results, and it's small enough to be carried with you in a backpack. A detachable handle also makes it easy to shoot from low angles, while 5-axis Stabilization keeps things relatively shake-free. Video capture is customizable for different pro workflows with the option of 3G-SDI and HDMI outputs. But while autofocus using the 20x optical zoom lens is generally good, especially for face detection, the XA75 struggles to lock on at the far end of the zoom. It's an ideal camera for live conferences, weddings, and shows if you want an all-in-one video solution, but the lack of Wi-Fi and waterproofing let it down.


  • +

    Versatile video formats

  • +

    Professional mic inputs

  • +

    Comfortable and easy to use


  • -

    Lacks Wi-Fi connectivity

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    Hybrid autofocus can be slow

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If there's one thing I've learned while testing and reviewing the Canon XA65, it's that the acronym ENG stands for electronic news gathering. The XA65 is an ideal ENG video camera, given that it's capable of being operational seconds after being switched on. And that its epic 20x optical zoom range (29.3 – 601mm on a 35mm equivalent) and 40x digital zoom is enough to capture breaking moments up close and far away almost instantly.

Camcorders have a somewhat unfair reputation for being dated, clunky, and old-fashioned. And in many ways, the Canon XA65 is less sexy than some of the best mirrorless camera and the best cinema cameras. But if you're someone who gets paid to make news or journalism-style content, or you're a documentary filmmaker in search of something capable but compact to shoot video but not stills, the XA65 might be enough for your needs.

Canon HF G70

The Canon HF G70 is a cheaper camcorder aimed at prosumers rather than pros, but its specs and handling match the XA65 in many respects. You still get a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD and a 20x optical zoom, but no XLR terminals for high-quality audio or a detachable handle that also offers greater control.

Panasonic Lumix S5II

If you need a mirrorless camera for shooting stills just as well as video, the Panasonic Lumix S5II is a top hybrid option. It's similarly priced (body-only) to the XA65, and you get unlimited 4K/60p 4:2:2 10-bit recording internally, plus a larger 24.2MP full-frame sensor.

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar,, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.