The choice that Canon made about the recording format is the first item on the long list of reasons why these celestial twins are wonderful. They compress full 1080p/I HD using 4:2:2 MPEG-2 at 50Mbits/s, and then they save the MXF files that are produced as a consequence on good, publicly accessible, and reasonably inexpensive Compact Flash cards. This is done at the maximum quality settings.
Those manufacturers who demand exorbitant prices for their specialized cards deserve to get screwed. Yeah, boo, and suckers to them. You can record at up to 50 frames per second at 720p resolution if you choose a format that is less than 1080p. However, there are other formats that provide you with more recording time on a card. You should have roughly 80 minutes of recording time with a 32GByte card if you’re recording at 50Mbits/s, plus there are two card slots, so you can hot-swap between them. In addition, there is a slot for an SD card, which may be used to save individual user preferences.
The XF305 makes use of three CMOS sensors that are one-third of an inch in size and can capture full 1920 x 1080 resolution. These sensors have an optimized, quick readout that helps reduce the ‘rolling shutter’ issues that are typically associated with CMOS.
In front of the image, the sensor is an 18x zoom lens that carries Canon’s famous ‘L’ grade. This is the red ring that is seen on Canon’s professional lenses that employ Ultra Low Dispersion grass with aspherical elephants, or something along those lines.
The lens has a focal length of 4.1 millimeters when it is set to its widest zoom setting, which is roughly comparable to a still frame of 29 millimeters on a 35mm camera. The maximum aperture may be set anywhere between f/1.6 and f/2.8.
The XF305 has two absolutely outstanding features, the second of which is this lens. I’ll get to the image quality in a little, but first I want to point out that Canon makes a big fuss about the degree to which they consulted broadcasters and cinematographers during the design process for this camera. The lens handling is where you can see this collaboration the most.
It is possible to utilize the focus ring as a genuine manual control, complete with a scale that can be calibrated and end stops. However, if you push a button and spin the lens barrel behind the focusing ring, the calibrated scale will be removed, and the focusing ring will transform into an “endless encoder” that may be used for both manual and automatic focusing. This is a feature that I truly like using.
When we talk about auto-focus, we should mention that the XF305 has Canon’s incredible, magnificent, and one-of-a-kind auto-focus assist sensor. In order to achieve an auto-focus response that is both quicker and more accurate than that of any of their competitors, the camera electronics focus by using a combination of the data from the image sensors and this unique, external sensor.
When you see how quickly Canon camcorders can focus, you won’t want to use anything else for run-and-gun filming after you’ve had that experience. The ring that controls the zoom is also calibrated and has end stops, whereas the iris is controlled by an infinite encoder. Unfortunately, the zoom ring does not have a power source, and if you switch to utilizing the power-zoom rocker, the zoom ring will no longer work.
The operation of the camera requires careful attention to detail, and this is not limited to lens adjustments alone. There are a lot of specific buttons for things like zebra, peaking, image stabilization, and other things like that. All of these buttons are neatly placed and logical, and there is none of the fiddliness that plagues Sony’s HXR-NX5.
The menu thumbwheel does not have a “press to choose” function; instead, you must press the Set button that is located right next to it. However, I would rather have this limitation than the NX5’s too-sensitive click, which caused me to pick unintended and erroneous menu items.
There is a joystick located on the handle that may be used to navigate the menu as well as make selections if you would prefer to only use a single control. The menus themselves are not complicated in any way.
This takes me to the second remarkable characteristic of the brand-new Canon, which is the liquid crystal display (LCD). It has a four-inch diagonal, 1.23 million dots, a real 100 percent view, and an unusual attachment that enables it to be used on both the left and right-hand side of the camera; when it is stored, it resides underneath the transport controls on the handle.
The size and high resolution make me think of using an old film camera with a ground glass screen, but this one has the added advantages of ‘peaking’ focus assist (two selectable settings, each with programmable color, gain, and frequency), magnification, and a very comprehensive waveform monitor and vectorscope inlay (as well as the usual suspects of camcorder on-screen data).
It is difficult to see in direct sunshine, as is the case with most big LCDs; thus, you may wish to invest in a shade or simply switch to utilizing the great electronic viewfinder instead.
Quality of the Image
The XF305 features a very high-quality lens with an L-spec designation. At the widest setting, there is some barrel distortion, but there is not the slightest trace of chromatic aberration anywhere in the image. Rendering of out-of-focus areas is strong, and contrast is kept strong even in scenes with flaring lighting circumstances.
The lens and sensor combination is rated to resolve “1000 TV lines or more (1920x1080i mode),” but the review unit I tested was able to resolve many more than that, even at the frame boundaries when the lens was fully open. The noise is effectively managed, especially considering the small size of the sensor, and the color reproduction is superb, with smooth tonality and a great dynamic range.
Digital image management includes the typical cine-style gammas and color mapping (custom configurations can be programmed), all of which contribute to the XF305’s exceptional capacity to capture photographs that are truly breathtaking. The little sensor will always have a disadvantage in terms of sensitivity when compared to cameras that have more silicon to catch the photons, but other than that, the XF305 has supplanted Sony’s EX1 at the top of my cleverly called “Best Pictures from a Fixed Lens Camcorder List.”
There are two XLRs with phantom power and limiters in addition to the built-in, handle-mounted stereo mic, and sound is recorded using 16-bit linear PCM. Because these microphones and the LCD mount stick out somewhat far in front of the lens, you might need to take this into mind if you wish to add a matte box that was manufactured by a third party.
People are concerned about tapeless workflows, but Canon has developed a plug-in that can be used with Final Cut Pro and the majority of other NLEs (Avid, Adobe Premiere, and GV).
The camera features a USB interface, and because it uses an “open” standard card format, you can also use a very inexpensive external card reader with it. The plug-in in FCP will automatically transcode the MPEG 2 into the standard ProRes format; however, you have the option of selecting any of the additional ProRes choices or importing the material in its native format. It really couldn’t be much simpler.
Canon XF305 Specifications
|Built-In ND Filter||Mechanical Filter Wheel with 2 Stop (1/4), 4 Stop (1/16), 6 Stop (1/64) ND Filters|
|Minimum Illumination||0.8 Lux|
|Optical Zoom Ratio||18x|
|Maximum Aperture||f/1.6 to 2.8|
|Filter Size||82 mm|
|Video I/O||1 x BNC (HD-SDI) Output|
1 x BNC (Composite) Output
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRRS A/V (Composite) Output
1 x HDMI Output
|Audio I/O||2 x 3-Pin XLR Mic/Line Input|
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Headphone Output
|Other I/O||1 x Mini-USB|
1 x 2.5 mm Sub-Mini (LANC) Control
1 x BNC (Genlock) Input
1 x BNC (Timecode) Input
1 x BNC (Timecode) Output
|Operating Temperature||32 to 104°F / 0 to 40°C|
|Package Weight||13.45 lb|
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)||19 x 12.5 x 10.5″|
Pre-orders for the XF305 are presently being taken in stores at a price of around £6200 plus VAT (the XF300 is available for a lower price of £5500 plus VAT). Although that is a significant sum of money, it ought to become more affordable as the product becomes older. Nevertheless, even if you have a large enough budget, you won’t be able to find a camera with this form factor that is either simpler to operate or that takes photographs of a higher quality.