Compact 4K camcorder from Canon

It’s been so long since Canon updated its compact camcorder lineup that someone in the marketing department would appear to have forgotten their own naming convention. The new XF400 and XF405 are, quite clearly, nothing more than the newer sibling of the XA lineup, the last of that lot being the XA30/XA35 from beyond the distant mists of time.

Canon XF405 side view
Canon XF405 side view

Labeling the new kids with the “XF” banner is therefore slightly peculiar, we think, but sadly also hints perhaps that there won’t be any impending updates to the XF100/XF200/XF300 range because presumably the XF400 is it.

The XF400/405 is just a teensy thing (like its brother the XA30 – oh, did we mention that already?) with a single switchable-function lens ring and a few buttons scattered around an otherwise smooth shell, many functions being relegated to the touchscreen (just like the … OK, you get it). There is a tiny wheel which can be used for manual iris too, to be fair.

Still, there are some positive developments; the new kid shoots 4K (UHD) at – wait for it – 50p (60 US) and has a decently large 1″ sensor. Plus at last you get manual control over the ND filters instead of Canon’s automated system. And, lazy or run-n-gun shooters rejoice, it has the much-lauded Dual Pixel Auto Focus which is supposedly Very Good Indeed.

The recording format is mp4 at 150Mbps with Canon’s XF-AVC apparently coming later in a firmware update. The lens is a 15x zoom starting at 25.5mm (35mm equivalent)

We can’t help but notice you still don’t get a proper, standalone battery charger but have to charge on the camcorder despite it retailing for a whopping – we say again, WHOPPING – $2,999 with another $500 if you want the XF405. On the upside you do get a genuine tiny remote control which is much better than trying to operate the thing from a phone (though the camcorder can do that as well)

Canon XF405 from rear with LCD open
Canon XF405 from rear with LCD open

Just like the – ahem – XA30 and HF-G30 there is a consumer version of the XF400 called the Vixia GX10 which is pretty much exactly the same but lacks the XLR audio handle. Even that’s going to cost $2,499. And that’s the “consumer” version, cough, splutter.

We really liked our old XA20 here at Tubeshooter and shot a lot of YouTube videos with it. We really like our XF200 and still shoot some corporate jobs on it – it’s brilliant in form and function except for the crappy sensor’s image noise. If Canon could bring itself to release an updated XF200 with the specs of the XF400 – but at a sensible price, not the nonsense they’re currently listing – then we’d be really pleased.

As it is, we think the XF400 a tad too expensive but, with Sony having unveiled its new palmcorder lineup since we wrote this, the Canon gear actually wins on specs though we’ll wait to see if it’s better in practice. Meanwhile, Panasonic’s HC-X1 seems to have everything the new Canon has and at a much lower price as well as all the manual controls you could shake a stick at.

So, nice try Canon but no thanks at present.

See the US press release here; we couldn’t find it on the unhelpful UK website:

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