What makes a good live streaming camera?

From SDI to IP streaming, XC Protocol to XLR terminals, discover the Canon camera features that can help to make your live streaming a success.
A Canon CR-N500 PTZ camera set up in a recording studio.

The Canon CR-N500 PTZ camera has a 3G-SDI output, making it a great remote option for live streaming in large venues such as sports or concert halls where you would need to securely run cable s over long distances.

The demand for live streaming was rising before the Covid-19 pandemic , but it's now an essential part of the new way of living – whether that's for industry events, music concerts, weddings and places of worship, or just staying in touch with friends.

"The number of requests and requirements for live streaming have increased significantly for us in the last two 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 live streaming with a number of new solutions for every level of videographer, such as EOS Webcam Utility software and a range of PTZ remote cameras, as well as the new Canon XF605, with its extensive connectivity and streaming capabilities.

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

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

A XF605 camera against a white background.

1. Accurate autofocus for live streaming

With live streaming, 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.

"Knowing that the camera is capable of giving you pin-sharp, accurate images every time takes that worry out of your hands," says Aron. "Dual Pixel CMOS AF is continually evolving, with our latest model, 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."

Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is used throughout the EOS range, from mirrorless and DSLR cameras through to PTZ remote cameras and Cinema EOS Cameras such as the Canon EOS C70.

A man filming with a Canon XF705 camcorder.

"The Canon XF705 has everything on board that you need for a fast and high-quality production process – a good lens and fast zoom, all the necessary professional connections for audio and video, and a modern codec," says Thorsten Rühle, managing director at Delta Vision Studios.

A presenter holding a camera is filmed in a studio 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 live streaming for news gathering, presentations and other streaming needs.

2. Powerful and fast zoom

If you're working in a small studio environment, or even live streaming 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 XF605's 15x optical zoom and 30x advanced zoom, can make all the difference.

"This is where our XA, XF and PTZ cameras, 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."

The Canon XF705's wide-angle zoom is one of the features that Thorsten Rühle appreciates. "The XF705s are used as 'classic studio cameras' for our live productions, which means that we are able to work with them on a tripod, with head finder, intercom and cameraman," he explains. "The camera combines our important technical requirements – a good lens and above all very fast zoom, SDI output and efficient recording options."

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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A Canon XA55 camcorder against a white background.

"Live streaming is a good example of the benefits of using an all-in-one camcorder solution such as the Canon XA55," 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."

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.

Canon's XA and XF Series camcorders, as well as all Cinema EOS cameras, include XLR terminals as standard. It's one of the key features that differentiates these 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 Canon CR-X500 PTZ camera against a white background.

The Canon CR-N500 PTZ camera supports major IP streaming and control protocols, such as Canon's XC Protocol.

4. Camera control for live broadcasts

Many Canon cameras have a range of assignable buttons to customise the user experience. The XF605 and XF705 professional camcorders also have 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.

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 set-up via the RC-IP100 remote camera controller.

4. Camera control for live broadcasts

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 live streaming, 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 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 PTZ and Cinema EOS cameras to seamlessly integrate into a live production workflow. Using the Canon RC-IP100 remote controller, 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 Cinema EOS cameras too."

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 Canon XF705 camera set up in a room also containing a teleprompter and a green screen.

"The Canon XF705's powerful UHD / 4:2:2 10-bit codec allows us to work in the studio with green screen and teleprompter," says Thorsten. © Delta Vision

5. Live streaming output options

Canon offers live streaming camera solutions 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.

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 live streaming software solution. It's another option to consider when you're choosing the right workflow for your needs."

كتابة Marcus Hawkins

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