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Canon XF Series 4K and HD Camcorders
Canon XF705, XF405, XF305, XF205 and XF105 (with SDI), Canon XF400, XF300, XF200 and XF100 (without SDI).

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Old September 23rd, 2011, 11:41 PM   #1
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XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Hi everyone,

I'm a 5D MKII user, which I love for its shallow depth of field and low light capabilities, but I'm looking ofr a second, primary camera to shoot video packages and stories that would include interviews, b-roll and perhaps some breaking news.

I was debating either the Panasonic HPX 170 (I don't think I am able to wait for the newer 250 to arrive or another Panasonic arrival in mid-November), but am not sure how I feel about the P2 media and I've also never used a Panasonic before.

I'd also like something I could possibly match, at least a little better, if I were to mix it with footage from my MKII. I spoke with someone from BHPhoto who said that the HPX170 would require color correcting if I was to try to match it in the timeline with MKII footage and the Canon would give me a closer look.

Our conversation really came down to either the HPX170 or the Canon XF300. He recommended the latter, saying it was an amazing camera with incredible picture quality and ultimately, although about 2k more (when you consider the P2 media for the HPX170), it's still a better value he thought.

This conversation, I should add, was done over the phone. I'm living in Central Asia and there are no camera stores anywhere around, so I'd be buying a camera without actually being able to hold it myself.

However, looking through the posts on these forums, it seems the Xf300 might be a bit too big for me? I can't boast about my upper arm strength (of which I have little!) and I'm concerned it might be difficult for me to handle? Also, it seems bulky to carry around.

Since I'm working in environments where I don't always want to draw a lot of attention to myself, Im not sure if the XF300 would do that more thn I'd like.

I've tried to find comparisons b/t the XF105 and the XF300 but I was only able to find posts related to the XF100vs XF300 and even on BHPhoto, there's only two reviews about the XF105 and they both seem to be meant for the XF100 and posted there accidentally.

Can anyone give me an idea of how much difference there is between these two cameras? I know the XF300 has a longer zoom, but for the purposes I mentioned, could I use the XF105?
Would that be, for example, better than the Panasonic HPX 170?
Or should I just fork up (well on the 6 month pay later plan!) the extra money for the XF300?

Hope I haven't rambled and I apologize if this is posted elsewhere and I just didn't find it through my searches. Would love to have feedback!

Many thanks,
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Old September 24th, 2011, 01:09 AM   #2
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism


I don't have any of the camcorders you're talking about, but I think the Canon XF100 is the best choice for you. It is small and inconspicuous. Earlier posts in this forum say it has almost the quality of the XF300. Reading posts about the XF300, some users say it is bigger and heavier than they expected.

One drawback of the XF100 is that you don't have control over the internal ND filter. It only comes into play once the lens is stopped way down. So if you wanted to do shallow DOF, you'd need external ND filters.

Now I have to confess: Even though I'm recommending the XF100, I'm probably going to get the XF300, but only because I intend to do a lot of green-screen work. The 3 sensors should do a better job of separating colors than a single sensor could do, even though people have reported that the XF100 image is very close in quality to that of it's big brother.

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Old September 24th, 2011, 02:27 AM   #3
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Hi Ken,

Thanks so much for your input. The size of the XF100/105 appeals to me, and if its image is very close in quality to the 300, that's what I'd be looking for.

You mentioned the XF100--what do you think about the XF105? What is the difference between the 100 and the 105?
On BHphoto:
Canon XF100 HD Professional Camcorder 4888B001 B&H Photo Video
Canon XF105 HD Professional Camcorder 4885B001 B&H Photo Video

The only distinction I can really see is that the 105 has "HD/SD-SDI, SMPTE Time Code, Genlock" while the 100 has "HDMI, Component, Composite Outputs"

Seems like it might not make much of a difference for what I'd like to use it for, although the 105 is 1k more.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 02:33 AM   #4
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

I own both the XF105 & XF305 (the x00 variants don't have HD-SDI I/O) & can honestly say in normal use that video quality is indistinguishable. The XF100/105 is an amazing little camera & again in normal use the only major difference I notice is the lack of the long zoom lens of its big brother. The XF305 is bulky rather than heavy & seems surprisingly light for its size. There is easier access to the manual controls particularly three separate rings for zoom, focus & aperture rather than the single ring & 3-way switch of the XF105.

I am very happy to have both cameras. The XF105 is small discrete & easily handheld. The XF305 looks the business if you need to impress your clients with a 'professional' camera. I keep feeling that it would be more comfortable on a shoulder mount. To be honest if the XF105 had come out before the XF305 I am not sure that I would have bought the larger model.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 03:08 AM   #5
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Nigel, that's really very helpful. Thank you!

Could you please just clarify the actual difference between the XF100 and XF105? I can't seem to find any distinction, really, except the 105 is about $1,000 more. Is the quality better? Should I get the 100 or 105?

Also, in terms of 105 having a single sensor and 300 having three sensors, do you feel this hasn't really made much difference?

Many thanks to both of you again!
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Old September 24th, 2011, 03:14 AM   #6
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

I think I just found the answer to the difference b.t the XF100 and XF105:

"The only difference between the two camcorders is that the XF105 features a set of professional ports and terminals—including Genlock, Timecode, and HD/SD-SDI—that are not found on the XF100. "

It sounds like this wouldn't be a necessary feature for me.

So, just to get one last question in, where would the three sensors that the XF300 has make a difference instead of the single sensor the XF100 has? I mean, in what sort of shooting conditions might that difference be noticeable.

Also, regarding the 10x zoom...what does convert to in terms of mm?

thanks again!!
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Old September 24th, 2011, 06:21 AM   #7
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Hi Elissa,

The XF100/105 has a 35mm equivalent range of 30.4 - 304mm (10x zoom)
The XF300/305 has a 35mm equivalent range of 29.3 - 527.4mm (18x zoom)

Each has its own optional wide and telephoto adaptor lenses (in the$500 range) and both have built in digital tele-converters accessed via menu if you need a little extra reach without buying the telephoto adaptor. At 1.5X you don't lose too much apparent resolution but beyond that the image does start to more noticeably suffer. I use the optical wide adaptor on the XF105 all the time; it is a NICE piece of glass, but not surprisingly has the barrel distortion you'd expect in a wide adaptor.

If you are a one-camera operator (or if your other camera is a 5DmII that doesn't have timecode anyway), you don't need to spend the extra $1000 for the Timecode/Genlock BNC capability. In my case, I usually do multi-cam shoots and it was well worth the extra cost to have the timecode synched between cameras. Just depends on the type of shooting you'll be doing.

I'm guessing light weight and mobility are important to you, in which case I have to echo Nigel's sentiment. Unlike the XL cameras that came before, the XF300/305 is not really designed as a shoulder-mount camera; its a big and (to my taste) fairly heavy hand-held camera, so I made exactly the same comment to a Canon rep who asked what I thought of the 305: I wouldn't be doing too much hand-held with it. The 100/105, however, is really small, light-weight, inconspicuous and easy to operate. Because it is smaller and has a couple fewer buttons, you do have to go into the menus a little more if you're a tweaker. If you don't tend to change camera settings "on the fly" too much, this won't be much of an issue. I love the 105 for its portability and light weight.

Although on principle I don't like the idea of a pro camera that doesn't give me manual control of the ND filter (other than Auto or Off), in practice I haven't found the 105 auto ND filter to be a hindrance to getting the image I want, either. The 300/305 has traditional manual ND filter control.

Image quality difference between the 100/105 and the 300/305 does exist but is not noticeable for everyday production purposes. As mentioned earlier, if you're going to be doing advanced compositing etc, then the 300/305 has the edge. If you're pairing it as a B-cam to a 5DmII, either XF camera is going to significantly exceed the DSLR in pure resolution so probably not an issue for you. Sorry that I shoot almost exclusively stills with my 5DmII so can't really give you a personal opinion on cutting DSLR and XF video together.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 06:28 AM   #8
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

@Elissa, I don't mean to throw it all up in the air but is there a reason you aren't looking at the venerable Sony EX1R? It and it's bigger sibling the EX-3 are widely recognized as best in class.

You need not stick with the Canon brand to match the 5DMK2. EX1R and 5DMK2 is a common pairing. Here's an example of unretouched or color graded 5DM2 and EX1r.

To answer your question, the SDI and Genlock connections of the XF105 and XF305 are useful for a variety of things many of which may be of no concern. The Genlock is basically for multi-camera environments to keep them all in sync. The SDI output is for recording on external units capable of higher quality than the built-in recorder. It's also useful for attaching larger displays. As you note, the extra $1000 is noticable. By comparison, the EX1R has the SDI output but not the genlock and it's price reflects that savings.

Search around here and you'll find comparisons of the XF and EX cameras. Ultimately, I recommend you decide what's important to you and not outsource the decision to a sales person at B&H or for that matter, anyone here.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 12:49 PM   #9
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

I take my xf 100 on a lot of run and guns in the villages of china, and recently in Ethiopia. It is just absolutely amazing, image quality, controls, zoom rocker is awesome (jvc and sony's zoom rockers on similar sized camcorder is literally garbage, I have used both).

With a medium timbuk2 bag, along with camera padding case bought in HK, I can stuff the xf 100 and a nikon d700 with 24-70mm 2.8 lens into it. I have both cameras at all times with me, ready for anything. I also recommend using a carbon monopod, it makes for much steadier footage , especially after hiking up rice terraces and then having to shoot..

Go with the xf100, you will not regret it.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 12:56 PM   #10
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Elissa, I have the XF100 and a 5DMkII. Undoubtedly the XF100 will meet your needs. You will end up using the 5D less because the XF100 is so versitile, but it does match the XF100 pretty well when you use both cameras.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 03:25 PM   #11
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
@Elissa, I don't mean to throw it all up in the air but is there a reason you aren't looking at the venerable Sony EX1R? It and it's bigger sibling the EX-3 are widely recognized as best in class.
That is why the EX1R and the EX3 are only 'Silver' certified by the BBC and the lesser - at least by your statement - XF-300 and XF-305 are 'Gold' certified, I assume? In the handheld category, only the Canon is certified for HD delivery, the Sony's only if using an external recorder using a bitrate of 50 Mbps or above.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 05:28 PM   #12
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Elissa I have both the XF300 and XF100 but I can't claim to have anywhere near the knowledge a lot of the folks on here have so take what I say with a pinch of salt.

Both camera are excellent and to my eyes the results look almost identical. I have the XF300 mainly for the large zoom (I shoot aviation a lot). Having said that the fact that the XF300 has most of the controls on the body can be a help.

The XF100 is such a nice size and can be fairly easily carried in a normal hiking style bag, which I use so as not to attract unwanted attention which a fancy camera bag might attract. The XF100 is small but it's not really tiny. I guess it depends how unobtrusive you need to be for your work. Another point on that is that the XF300 requires a larger tripod which is both heavier to carry around and would attract much more attention (if you are using a tripod that is).

If it would be of any help I could post a photo of the two camera side by side for you to get an idea of how different the size is?

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Old September 24th, 2011, 07:49 PM   #13
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

I have used the 105 a bit and have owned the 300 for a while. They are awesome cameras but do fill different niches.
The 300/305 are the flagship cameras from canon right now. The 100/105 are the bad-ass little brother. The differences have been discussed as well as the fact it's hard to tell the footage apart. Either will serve you well picture-wise so it's down to size and lens throw...oh and the price difference!

The main concern I want to bring up is matching your 5D. I shoot and edit a weekly TV show with another shooter who uses the 5D and I use my 7D and 300. Out of the box, the three do not match. The 5D and 7D are close but the 300 is a different animal. I'm strictly talking about color NOT the DOF as that should be obvious.
What we ended up having to do was come up with custom profiles for all three cameras to get them on the same page for editing. Essentially flattening the look of the DSLRs a bit and using a bit of enhancement to pump up the 300 so they meet in the middle.
After doing this it's very easy to put some punch back in during post. Before we did this it was a pain to correct in post as the DSLRs had such a different saturation and curve to them.

It should also be noted that no matter what camcorder you choose you will need to spend time setting up profiles so they match or are at least close enough to be easily tweaked in post.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 07:59 PM   #14
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

I owned the XF-300 and found that it was just too bulky for my needs.

I switched to the XF-100 for its size and to be truthful, I can't tell a difference. Perhaps, maybe the XF-300 is slightly more light sensitive and has a longer lens, but the difference is not a $3500 US difference in quality. AND.....nobody can tell the difference in the finished project.
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Old September 25th, 2011, 12:12 AM   #15
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Re: XF105 vs XF300 for videojournalism

Pete, Les, Sam, Charles, Harem, Andy, Robert, Lou--thank you all very much for your insight!

So the 105 is really only worth the extra $1,000 if you're doing studio work, which is good to know.

Les, I did look into the EX1--I'm sure it's an amazing camera and could easily be matched with the MKII footage with some post-production tweaking, but I've always been a Canon user and I think the XF100 would probably suit my needs as a second camera (also, the significant price difference!)

Sam, helpful to know about your kit--I also have a 24-70 on my Canon, so seems like it could fit in the same bag with the XF100, which I could take with me on all my shoots.

Andy, thanks for the offer about posting photos of the two cameras side by side. That might be helpful if you had time, not just for me but for perhaps future users looking at this message board who'd like to see?

Robert, would you mind sharing how you set up the custom profile on the MKII to match the XF100 (or vice versa)?

Really great to know that it's very hard to distinguish between the two cameras. I'm sure there is a difference and that the XF300 is technically better (along with a longer zoom) but if it's pretty indistinguishable, I think the XF100 is the way to go for me.

Thanks again for everyone's help! Really grateful!
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