Not yet confirmed for Australia, the new Canon XF300 features CompactFlash full HD recording at 50Mbps, 18x wide-angle zoom lens, 4-inch LCD and 1.55-megapixel viewfinder
When Canon announced its first pro MPEG-2 codec last February, it was obvious the company was finally readying solid-state products for its professional camcorder line and, sure enough, the company followed up with a couple of models to supplement/replace its two-year-old HDV models, the AU$11,500 XH G1S and AU$6500 XH A1S. The new CompactFlash-friendly XF300 and XF305 offer more compact, but heavier, redesigned bodies with some vastly improved features.
Of course, the main attraction is the move to CompactFlash — they support UDMA — with dual slots. There's an SDHC slot on the bodies, but that's for still images and transferring settings.
The new Canon XF Codec, the name of which now makes sense, encodes MPEG-2 video with 4:2:2 colour sampling at a maximum bitrate of 50 megabits per second. The camcorders can handle a variety of resolutions and frame rates, most notably a maximum of 1080/60i/30p/24p and 720/60p/30p/24p — which will no doubt be 1080/50i/25p/24p and 720/50p/25p/24p for PAL regions. The files use MXF wrappers for software compatibility.
The two models, like their older relations, differ only by a set of jacks that make the XF305 suitable for multi-camcorder (broadcast) environments: HD-SDI output, genlock and SMPTE time code (in/out). Canon has upped the resolution, now incorporating a trio of 1920x1080 CMOS sensors, and downed the lens from 20x to a wider-angle 18x model with a 35mm-equivalent range of 29.3-527.4mm and a theoretically better manual focus feel.
The lens also includes the image stabilisation advances that Canon debuted in its 2010 HFS series of consumer models, which provide better compensation for shake while the operator is in motion. Also like the prosumer models, the XF twins use Canon's DIGIC DV III image processor, which supplies some traditional consumer features, like face detection.
The LCD and viewfinders sound positively luxurious. The LCD is 4 inches diagonally with a 1.23-megapixel resolution, whereas the 0.52-inch viewfinder, though a tad smaller than the 0.57-incher on the XH models, has a resolution of 1.55-megapixel.
Although prices, availability and shipping dates have yet to be announced for Australia, both models are slated to ship to North America in June, where the XF300 will retail for US$7000 (AU$7500) and the XF305 for US$8000 (AU$8580). That's pretty steep given that they're Canon's entry-level solid-state models; Panasonic, Sony and JVC all have significantly cheaper entry levels, though not at the high bitrate Canon offers. Perhaps Canon's seeing all those indie film-makers who'd normally be the XF300's audience snapping up EOS 5D Mark IIs?