What makes a good camera for livestreaming?

From SDI to IP streaming, XC Protocol to XLR terminals, discover the Canon livestreaming camera features that can help to make your live broadcasts a success.
A person films with a Canon XA75 camcorder on a tripod, with large office buildings in the background.

With 3G-SDI, HDMI and USB-C connectivity, the Canon XA75 (pictured) and XA65 can slot seamlessly into your preferred streaming workflow.

The demand for livestreaming was rising before the Covid-19 pandemic, and it continues to soar. It's now an essential part of the everyday content creation menu, from corporate, education and sporting events to places of worship, weddings and music concerts.

"The number of requests and requirements for livestreaming have increased significantly for us in the last few years," says Thorsten Rühle, managing director at Delta Vision Studios, a German media company specialising in corporate films, live event broadcasts and webcasts.

"Depending on the customer's requirements, we have two to 10 cameras on site. The outputs from these are transmitted or streamed via satellite or internet connection using an OB van or a mobile live control room. The cameras and presentations are mixed via the control room, and the produced streams then often end up on specially rented servers, which then distribute the content."

Delta Vision uses a variety of Canon cameras in its productions, including the Canon XF705, Canon XC15, Canon EOS C200 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III). But Canon has responded to the growth in livestreaming with a number of new solutions for every level of videographer, such as EOS Webcam Utility software and a range of PTZ remote cameras. Other options include the Canon XF605, XA75/XA70 and XA65/XA60B camcorders, with their extensive connectivity options.

So how do you choose the best camera for your livestreaming needs? "There are five components a camera should have in order to deliver high-quality footage for your livestream: reliable and accurate autofocus, powerful zoom, professional audio, intuitive controls and flexible outputs," says Aron Randhawa, Canon Europe Product Specialist.

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

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"Some elements of livestreaming are out of your control, including platform compression and the audience bandwidth. But if you start off with a setup that's built for the job, then it puts you in the strongest position for the best possible output."

A Canon XF605 camera against a white background.

The Canon XF605 is a professional camcorder ideally suited to livestreaming workflows, thanks to its accurate autofocus with Dual Pixel AF including Eye Detection AF for the first time in the XF Series, as well as powerful 15x optical zoom, XLR terminals, 12G-SDI and HDMI outputs and IP streaming capabilities.

1. Accurate autofocus for livestreaming

With livestreaming, there's no room for focusing errors. You can't edit out a bad shot, and if you aren't running a multi-cam setup then you will be unable to cut to a different camera if there's a problem. This is why Canon's reliable Dual Pixel CMOS AF system is a real asset for live broadcasts.

Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is used throughout the EOS range, from mirrorless and DSLR cameras through to PTZ remote cameras and Cinema EOS pro video cameras such as the Canon EOS C70. It's also employed in the Canon XA75 and XA70, adding additional livestreaming versatility to these professional 1.0-type 4K camcorders.

"The face tracking is a real benefit," explains Ram Sarup, Product Marketing Specialist at Canon Europe. "If you have one of these camcorders mounted on a tripod and you're doing a presentation – as a lecturer livestreaming to students, for example – then having the ability to maintain focus on your face as you move is fantastic."

Aron continues: "Dual Pixel CMOS AF is continually evolving, with the XF605 being our first camcorder to offer Eye Tracking and EOS iTR AF X (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition). This takes face detection to the next level by continuing to track a person even when they have turned away from the camera."

A controller sitting in front of two monitors on a film set which includes Canon PTZ cameras.

In addition to a 15x optical zoom that delivers full 4K UHD image quality, the CR-N700 PTZ camera goes a step further with its 30x advanced zoom in Full HD.

A presenter holding a camera is filmed in a studio with a Canon EOS C70 while another person monitors the stream on a laptop.

The Canon EOS C70 supports IP streaming in Ultra HD and Full HD. Simply connect the camera via the USB-C port to a supported IP streaming capable decoder and software, enabling livestreaming for news gathering, presentations and other streaming needs.

2. Powerful and fast zoom

If you're working in a small studio environment, or even livestreaming from home, then you're unlikely to need a far-reaching zoom lens. But if you're covering a larger venue, then a powerful zoom, like the Canon XF605's 15x optical zoom and 30x advanced zoom, can make all the difference.

"This is where the XA65/XA60B and CR-N300, which offer up to 20x zoom, truly shine," says Aron. "They provide extensive flexibility when framing the shot, and they can also perform subtle, motorised zooms while broadcasting live.

"If you're using one camera then you won't have the flexibility of cutting to a different angle, but you can slowly go into a close-up from a wide shot, for example, when filming a wedding."

Coupling a high-quality 4K lens with advanced 5-axis stabilisation ensures a steadier image, allowing you to take full advantage of the high magnification offered by camcorders such as the XA65/XA60B (20x zoom) and XA75/XA70 (15x zoom) when you're moving around.

To find out more about these professional models and more, read our guide to Canon's best camcorders.

A man sits alone in a darkened studio with multiple views of him visible on the monitor attached to the camera in front of him.

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The Canon RF lens range includes many suitable lenses for livestreaming with cameras such as the Canon EOS C70 or EOS R6 Mark II – including the pioneering Canon RF 24-105 F2.8 L IS USM and POWER ZOOM ADAPTER FOR RF 24-105 F2.8 L IS USM.

"The full-frame RF 24-105 F2.8 L IS USM represents the next step in optical engineering," says Aron. "It combines outstanding image quality with a fast f/2.8 aperture that's available throughout the focal length range.

"In live event situations, you can't necessarily control where you are as an operator in relation to the talent, so having that extra reach while maintaining a constant iris when you zoom is incredibly beneficial."

It's the lens' 20-pin connector that unlocks the RF 24-105 F2.8 L IS USM's true potential as a broadcast-style lens though. "Attaching the POWER ZOOM ADAPTER FOR RF 24-105 F2.8 L IS USM or a focus demand to the lens provides the operability that broadcasters are used to in a professional live environment," adds Aron. "Using a controller, such as the Canon RC-IP1000, it's possible to not only operate a compatible camera such as the EOS C70 or EOS R5 C remotely, but control the zoom as well."

A Canon XA75 camera against a white background.

"Livestreaming is a good example of the benefits of using an all-in-one camcorder solution such as the Canon XA75," says Aron. "You don't have to worry about switching out lenses, you already have the XLR terminals for recording high-quality audio that can be easily monitored, and you get exceptional 4K image quality from its 1.0-type sensor."

A Canon XA65 camera, viewed from the side, against a white background.

The Canon XA65/XA60B pack a 20x optical zoom lens in a compact body, making them a versatile choice when a camera with a small form factor is required.

3. High-quality sound recording

For streaming, audio clarity is just as important as the image quality. With two built-in XLR terminals, the Canon XF605 is compatible with an extensive range of microphones, whether they're self-powered or not, and offers four-channel audio. The Multi-Interface Accessory hot shoe can expand XLR functionality even further with an additional two inputs, with the monitoring of all four audio channels possible on the screen via a firmware update.

The majority of Canon’s XA and XF Series camcorders, as well as all Cinema EOS cameras, include XLR terminals as standard. The Canon XA75/XA70 and XA65, for example, all come with a detachable top handle that has dual XLR inputs, enabling users to record professional quality audio. It's one of the key features that differentiates these video cameras from the mirrorless and DSLR solutions. What's more, each audio input can be independently controlled, offering users greater flexibility.

"Recording the audio in-camera means that the sound is already synced with the image, so you can immediately just go live with it, whereas if you're capturing audio separately, you will need to sync the audio in post, resulting in a longer workflow," explains Aron.

A screen showing views from 16 different cameras via the Canon Multi Camera Management Application.

The Canon Multi Camera Management Application provides intuitive hands-on control of up to 200 connected cameras, which can be assigned to different groups. "You're able to monitor and adjust all those cameras simultaneously, rather than having to change them individually," explains Aron.

4. Camera control for live broadcasts

Many Canon cameras have a range of assignable buttons to customise the user experience. The Canon XF605 professional camcorder also has separate control rings for iris, focus and zoom, which means that single-camera operators working on the fly can easily adjust the image very efficiently.

"We also have many other ways of controlling our cameras," says Aron. "There's our Browser Remote, for example, which enables you to preview the image from our professional camcorders and Cinema EOS cameras over a network, as well as adjust the autofocus and the exposure settings on the camera. This can be an efficient way of controlling our cameras from a distance."

EOS Utility software for Canon DSLR and mirrorless cameras is similar to Browser Remote, and gives you control of exposure, focusing and other aspects of recording when the camera is connected to a computer over USB. "You can also instantly convert numerous EOS DSLR and mirrorless cameras into high-quality webcams using EOS Webcam Utility software," adds Aron.

There are Canon control solutions that are especially beneficial to camera operators working in a professional livestreaming or live broadcast environment. The Canon Multi-Cam smartphone app for iOS provides an intuitive and convenient way to control up to four cameras from a smartphone, for example. It is compatible with selected Cinema EOS cameras, such as the EOS C70, EOS C300 Mark III and the XF605, following a firmware update.

The PC-based Canon Multi Camera Management Application offers more comprehensive coverage. It has the capability to monitor up to 200 cameras, including almost all Canon PTZ cameras, a number of Cinema EOS cameras and the XF605.

"These are two different control solutions for different types of users," explains Aron. "While the smartphone app is ideal for a relatively simple setup where a solo shooter needs to control a couple of cameras, the Canon Multi Camera Management Application is geared towards a larger production ecosystem, such as a studio with numerous unmanned cameras."

A Canon EOS C300 Mark III camera set up on the wing of an aircraft.

The Canon EOS C300 Mark III gains the XC Protocol via a firmware update, enabling it to be controlled remotely in a multi-camera setup via the RC-IP100 or RC-IP1000 remote camera controllers, or the multi-cam software solutions.

A front view of the Canon RC-IP1000 controller.

"The Canon RC-IP1000 is a controller that's specifically designed for professional high-end use," says Aron. "It's incredibly intuitive in the sense that you no longer have to rely on software or even a monitor, as you can control multiple cameras and view multiple live feeds at the same time on the controller."

There are dedicated remote controls for Canon's video cameras too. "Canon Remote Control RC-V100 gives professional camcorder users extensive options for fine-tuning the image," Aron explains. "This is especially ideal for livestreaming, where you cannot adjust the footage in post-production.

"Another really interesting option that we introduced with our PTZ remote cameras is XC Protocol. We've since added it to the Canon XF605 and our Cinema EOS range, including the EOS C300 Mark III and the EOS C500 Mark II, via a firmware update, which can be downloaded from Canon's support pages.

"XC Protocol enables the Canon XF605, the PTZ and Cinema EOS cameras to seamlessly integrate into a live production workflow. Using the Canon RC-IP100 or RC-IP1000 remote controllers, you're able to adjust the pan, tilt, zoom, focus and exposure settings on a PTZ camera, and you are now able to control the other cameras too."

The more advanced RC-IP1000 is essentially a hardware version of the software multi-camera control solutions, enabling up to 200 remote cameras to be monitored and adjusted via a large joystick, 7-inch colour touchscreen and 56 buttons and dials. "Having a hardware controller with multiple buttons that are tuned to the way that the operator likes to work will help things in a professional environment where speed is key," says Aron.

A user's hands operate the Canon RC-IP100 remote camera controller on a wooden surface.

The RC-IP100 remote camera controller features a multi-function joystick and intuitive touchscreen for easy control of up to 100 cameras over an IP connection, Serial or both.

A crew films a band performing on a white set. The band members are visible on the tow monitors in the foreground.

Support for a range of protocols means Canon's PTZ remote cameras can be used as part of a wider system as well as "out of the box".

5. Advanced connectivity for livestreaming workflows

Canon offers camera solutions ideally suited for integration into livestreaming workflows with a variety of outputs, such as HDMI or more robust connections, such as SDI for linking to live production switchers.

"A camera's connections are the basic prerequisite for integration into a professional production environment, and SDI is mandatory," says Thorsten. "The 12G-SDI output of the Canon XF705 has very low latency and provides a secure cable connection." The Canon XF605 also features 12G-SDI output, which supports high resolutions and frame rates, including 4K 4:2:2 10-bit signals up to 60p over a single cable.

In addition to their 3G-SDI and HDMI terminals, both the Canon XA65 and Canon XA75 are equipped with a USB-C output which supports Full HD UVC streaming in Windows or MacOS. The Canon XA60, Canon XA70 and Canon LEGRIA HF G70 also come with the convenience of UVC compliant USB-C connections, ensuring that they're easy to set up and use with camera applications on your computer.

IP streaming capabilities also feature in many Canon cameras, including the XF605, EOS C70 and EOS C300 Mark III. "Although these will need a decoder connected to the camera, it means the signal is already in the required format to be efficiently streamed over a network," says Aron.

"Some people may want to simply take the HDMI or SDI output and put that into a production switcher, which will then encode it and stream it live. An alternative that requires less hardware, however, is to have your cameras connected to a local area network and then go through an IP-based livestreaming software solution. It's another option to consider when you're choosing the right workflow for your needs."

Support for SRT (Secure Reliable Transport), a broadcast-standard protocol that enables high-quality streaming in unstable or unpredictable network conditions, comes as standard with the CR-N700 PTZ camera, and it's also available for the CR-N500 and CR-N300 via a firmware update. Adjustable bitrate support for SRT is available via additional firmware.

The CR-X300, CR-N700, CR-N500 and CR-N300 also offer RTMP/RTMPS (Real-Time Messaging Protocol and Real-Time Messaging Protocol Secure), which enables content to be shared directly to platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

A Canon XF605 firmware update brings SRT protocol support to this popular professional video camera as well, giving ENG crews a reliable streaming option when they're in the field. The firmware also adds a chunk transfer function, which enables breaking news footage to start being uploaded to the newsroom while it's still being recorded.

"Bite-size video clips are recorded to the second card slot of the camera, which are then automatically transferred to a news server via FTP," explains Aron. "As a result, the newsroom will be getting the information much quicker and be able to process it while the video is still being recorded."

Livestreaming continues to be an essential part of the content creation mix and Canon is excited to be able to support this burgeoning area of production with tools that work effortlessly together, enabling users to focus on the content.

Marcus Hawkins

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