It’s been a while coming – we thought it might have arrived last year when the XA10 was upgraded to the XA20 but no joy – but finally Canon has announced the successors to the XF105/100 camcorders.
By and large they seems to be a hybrid of the XF100 and the XA20, in that they offer a 20x optical zoom, WiFi capabilities for control, remote viewing and FTP, 35Mbps MP4 recording at 50p (60p in the USA) as well as the XF’s traditional 50Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 broadcast-standard codec in an MXF file.
So far so good then. But there’s more, notably in ergonomic improvements. The handle rotates, seemingly inspired by the now-defunct Sony EX1R, and the lens boasts three control rings, for Iris, zoom and focus – just like a proper camcorder should (readers will remember the XF100/105 had a single ring which was switchable between focus and zoom)
The sensor is the one from the XA20 so it’s a 1/2.8-inch single chip with 2.9 megapixels to provide scope for electronic stabilisation on top of the camcorder’s optical balancing. 5-axis compensation is promised. It works very well on the XA20 so it should be equally good on the XF200 and XF205.
As before the XF205 provides additional broadcast-style outputs over the XF200 eg SDI, timecode and genlock.
Now, we recall when the XA20 was launched – it too boasted all the flashy spec but in reality it was a bit of a disappointment. The FTP implementation for sending files back remotely is so poor as to be practically unusable. The much-touted dual codec recording in fact doesn’t operate when you use the camera in its top quality mode. And so on. So it remains to be seen whether the new pair will be similarly crippled.
Having said that, in this very interesting video (below) from B&J (a major US video equipment dealer), the Canon rep distinctly says that the new XFs can simultaneously record 50Mb MPEG-2 as well as 35Mb MP4 so perhaps Canon have improved the functionality with the new gear. We’ll be interested to see if the other XA20 failings are addressed – already we note the XFs boast a dedicated Histogram button on the inside which is a relief for a start.