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Canon XF Series HD Camcorders
Canon XF305, XF205 and XF105 (with SDI), Canon XF300, XF200 and XF100 (without SDI).


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Old May 1st, 2010, 12:34 PM   #31
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So low light looks impressive?
Usability being much better than vDSLR is a given.
With you initial positive impression, I'm hopeful the image is dslr-like.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 02:28 PM   #32
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Don,

I think 'the look' is very appealing. I have cut a few seconds of my first clip and posted it to the link below. It is MPEG2 and opens in VLC or QT7. I transferred this via the Canon plugin for FCP, but set the format as 'native' which has obviously removed the MXF wrap.

The camera is pre-production model, so do not take this as final quality (it is likely to improve) + it was set on full auto, so I suspect there is a lot of gain + auto white balance etc. Nothing has been done to this clip.

I will be shooting a lot more over the next few days, so when I can I will post more clips. I'm also happy to shoot colour targets ( I have a bunch of XRite charts in the studio) and some skin in daylight if it is useful?

http://snipr.com/vx9oj-caj

Nick.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 02:38 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Wilcox-Brown View Post
I'll be writing a detailed review of this over the next couple of weeks ...
Nick, you've got mail! Thanks,
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 02:05 AM   #34
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Hi, Nick!

Please upload the native .MXF-files.
There are problems when viewing the converted files on PC (both VLC, QT7 and NLEs).
Thanks.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 07:57 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Levin View Post
Thanks for that. So Nanoflash is sort of a firestore, or P2 store storage device. Are these relevant since this camera and others that shoot to card and that you don't gain anything quality wise. In other words, isn't the image only as good as how it gets processed internally in the camera?

I realize that the nanoFlash hs much higher BR capabilities, but doesn't the camera dictate that?

And at 2800.00US....ow.

Learning something new...

Jonathan
Dear Jonathan,

The nanoFlash is quite different than a Firestore.

The Firestore and similar devices record the already compressed signal from the camera.

The nanoFlash uses the uncompressed HD-SDI or HDMI output. HD-SDI is 1,485 Megabits per second, as compared to the 25 Megabits per second signal from an HDV camera that goes into a Firestore. (Please note that some Firestores, for some cameras, use a higher bit-rate, up to about 100 Mbps).


The nanoFlash takes the full uncompressed signal, almost always 4:2:2, even on cameras that only record in 4:2:0, then compresses it using a bit-rate and flavor that you choose. You can also choose to record in Quicktime for drag and drop editing with Final Cut Pro, or MXF for Avid, Sony Vegas, and many others.

The image quality, as recorded by a nanoFlash can be outstanding. We typically get reports that the image quality is "Amazing".

So, if you camera can record at 4:2:0, 35 Mbps or 4:2:2 at 50 Mbps, or most anything else, the nanoFlash can record up to 280 Mbps, if you so desire. Typically our users record at 100 Mbps.

Disclaimer: I am the Director of Sales and Marketing for Convergent Design, the nanoFlash is our product.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 02:11 PM   #36
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Thanks for the clip nick. Though, i am still not impressed by this camera yet. Buy iy could be the auto settings for sure. I remember the first time i got the a1, auto gain was on the noise danced the whole image, i am hoping this is the case with the xf files?

To dan, thats very interesting, so nanoflash will take a 4 2 0 codec and create a 4 2 2 file? Also, with the hdmi on the 300 version, the option for hd sdi would not be worth it then?

I posted this in another post but maybe didnt get seen. Towards the end is the xf 305 footage on a theatre screen and from what i can see looks great. The sky looks clean, rich and unbroken in quality. My only speculation is if the used the hd sdi out and made uncompressed files to edit with and create this demo material, the xf 300 would not be as clear? Thanks for the help.

Dan

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Old May 2nd, 2010, 02:23 PM   #37
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Ivan,

The clips I have are too big to upload - I will shoot some very short ones after the long weekend and upload .MXF

The auto settings are not to be judged - it is the only daylight clip I have. More to follow shortly.

Nick.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 04:25 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Daniel Caruso View Post
To dan, thats very interesting, so nanoflash will take a 4 2 0 codec and create a 4 2 2 file? Also, with the hdmi on the 300 version, the option for hd sdi would not be worth it then?
Dear Daniel,

Almost. We do not magically generate 4:2:2 from 4:2:0.

Many cameras record internally using 4:2:0. If they have HD-SDI or HDMI outputs, the camera puts out the much better (more color detail) images, 4:2:2 images, via the HD-SDI or HDMI outputs.

The Canon XF series records 4:2:2 at 50 Mbps internally, which is one of the very nice features of the camera. Most other cameras in this price range record 4:2:0 at 35 Mbps or less.

In other words, most cameras can not record the great images that they are capable of producing, but are capable of putting out their full image quality, via the HD-SDI or HDMI outputs. That is how we obtain the 4:2:2 images.

The magic of the nanoFlash is that it can record thsee 4:2:2 images, at a variety of bit-rates, qualities, and file formats. Thus, if you want to record at 80, 100, 140, 180, 220 or 280 Mbps with the Canon XF series, then the nanoFlash is for you.

The image quality from HD-SDI and HDMI are equal. HD-SDI is the more professional of the two, and HD-SDI includes timecode. Timecode is not part of the HDMI spec.

HD-SDI uses locking BNC connectors and inexpensive cables that can be used for long cable runs.

HDMI's connectors also work well, but are no way near as secure as HD-SDI, and the cable length is limited.

If the footage that you have seen was recorded in camera, using the XF series, then it is 4:2:2.

If the footage was recorded via the HD-SDI or HDMI output, then it is probably 4:2:2 also.

I hope this helps.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 04:42 PM   #39
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Finally, and as promised, a couple of XF305 clips. Please remember this is a Pre-Production camera. I'm not sure the WB is perfect, but it could be user error!

Apologies, these are not .mxf, but I will upload a few MXF files to Chris Hurd over the next 24 hours and they will be online shortly.

These clips were both shot at 0dB gain (camera range is -6 to +33dB) on a custom white balance at 50Mbs / 1080p

011 uses on camera audio, 003 uses the external Rode NT4 seen on the clip.

There are two versions: .mp4 - MXF converted via Canon plugin into PR422 and then Adobe Media Encoder into mp4.

The .mov file is the same as one of the MP4 but ProRes422 direct from the plugin. Mac only from memory.

MP4: http://snipr.com/w26my-zbd (2 short clips)


ProRes: http://snipr.com/w276c-plu (1 short clip)
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Old May 7th, 2010, 08:42 PM   #40
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Thanks so much Nick. You mentioned these cameras are a big step up from the XH series in terms of usability / functionality.

What's your initial feeling on how IQ compares... is this also a significant leap, and if so, in which areas? Anything you could share would be wonderful. Thanks in advance,

Josh
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Old May 8th, 2010, 06:24 AM   #41
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Image quality is good. I'm not sure I would say quantum leap, but definitely a very noticeable difference from the previous HDV cameras. Again, bear in mind this is a pre-production camera and it is likely to be refined before release.

I have not tested heavily in low light, but at +12dB, I am happy to use this for client work whereas I would not say the same with my XHs. One of the .mxf clips is of a child's spinning toy shot at +12 in no light, so there will be an opportunity for you to see what you think. The other clip is my boy shot handheld in evening room light at 0dB gain.

I am hoping to get a slightly quieter time this week to give me the opportunity to shoot color targets under different gain settings before the camera has to be returned.

There is some serious image stabilisation on board, with 3 different options - I do not have a manual, so again, I need time to evaluate.

I am enjoying working with this camera: very usable and nice looking results + playback on set, to clients is SO useful. Log and transfer is a stunning improvement over tape ingestion too.

Nick.
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Last edited by Nick Wilcox-Brown; May 8th, 2010 at 09:16 AM.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 10:12 PM   #42
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Digital Crossroads

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Originally Posted by Josh Keffer View Post
So a friend of mine just sold all of his cameras and bought a bunch of 5Ds. To this point I hadn't given them a lot of thought, but now I'm starting to wonder.

As for me, I'm finally ready to sell the old XL2 and move to HD. I'm excited about the XF cameras, but I'm now starting to question whether to go in this direction or move toward the DSLR route.

I'm looking for info on why to stick with a purpose-built video camera. What are the advantages over DSLR?

I may start a similar thread over on the 5D page if there isn't already something similar. Thanks in advance for your input!

Josh
This is a thread that is near and dear to my heart. I've been a commercial still photographer for over three decades. I have just about every lens that Canon makes including the first 800mm in the US. My bodies are always three or four of the top of the line pro Canon gear. My video work has always been done on Canon, currently an XH/A1. I have two 1D MKIV bodies and am awaiting the 1Ds MKIV rumored in the fall. When I received the first IV what interested me was the increased file size and the smoking fast buffer. I shoot a lot of aviation and my 1Ds MKIII's are great, but a little slow sometimes depending upon my subject matter. The video capability of the IV intrigued me, but I didn't think I'd use it all that much. I missed that call by a mile.

The capability to shoot HD clips with my still camera has turned out to be a much bigger advantage than I anticipated. Three different times since I've owned the camera my clients have decided at the very last second they would like HD footage of the assignment. All three times I was able to oblige them, with a hefty rate increase, and they were overjoyed. Much of my work is done from a vantage point that is pretty tight quarters so being able to eliminate/reduce extra cameras, batteries, stabilizers, media is an appealing proposition. Another definite plus is the fact that my air to air work is often done in very fleeting light at the crack of dawn and right after sunset at altitude. The light quality literally changes from minute to minute, cloud colors and formations are there and in the blink of an eye they vanish. The ability to be ripping through still images one minute, then go to live view, pop my ZFinder on the preview screen and be rolling HD with the same camera, same lensing, is just a dream come true and as I said before, a profitable dream at that.

All of your comments and questions really strike a chord because, as much as I love the DSLRHD capability, as Chris said earlier, I don't see it as an either/or proposition. The more I see these cumbersome "erector set" rigs popping up (and at prices that rival some of the camera bodies themselves)
designed to aid the DSLRHD videographer in achieving his or her "cinematic" style the more I like my XH/A1. Don't get me wrong, these adaptations all serve distinct purposes, smoothness, follow focus, adding monitors, etc., but man, you have taken something that began as a convenient, fairly simple alternative to an HD cam and turned it into the lunar rover, not to mention doubling your investment. I'm not saying I won't end up with a couple of those rigs, but I really hate the thought of having more stuff to manage.

My view of all this might change, heck it already has, but I see my HDDSLR capability as a blend with my XH/A1 and soon my XF305. WHile there are folks making some beautiful "films" with their DSLR tools, it's a cumbersome technology at present and I don't see it being a solution for every assignment that calls for video.

You might enjoy this clip, it's one of those instances where I was able to wow the client with the IV. The aircraft in the clip is a WWII B-25 bomber that I use frequently as my photo platform. The tail gun/cone is removable so I can crawl out to the open tail, secure my harness and shoot incredible, and unobstructed perspectives of everything from current day fighters and business jets to vintage one of a kind aviation icons like the P-38 Lightning.

Here's the link.........

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Old June 17th, 2010, 12:00 PM   #43
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Great footage James! Beautiful light.

Practically flying over my house although a few miles east in Arlington.

Thanks for sharing
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Old June 17th, 2010, 12:07 PM   #44
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Thanks Tim!

The light was wonderful. Just as we were about to launch a plume of cirrus clouds blocked the setting sun so we waited on the ground about 30 minutes longer than we'd planned. The hourly operating costs of these aircraft is pretty substantial so circling around waiting for the right light isn't a good option. We had much less time to shoot because of the narrow window of magic light so the HD capability of the MKIV really was a life saver.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 12:59 PM   #45
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I think this new camera is an admirable successor to the XH series. I went from shooting with a 2/3" chip "broadcast style" camera to the XH A1 when they first came out. It served me quite well and I still have it. In late 2008 when I first saw "Reverie," I said, "OK, great look, awesome look...but that guy's an artist. He can take all day on a shot if he wants. Nobody will ever shoot 'real' video with one of those."

Then when the 7D came out last September, I got one because I needed a new still camera and thought it might be a good idea to have a backup to my XH A1 for out of town trips. I did a weekend test shoot with the 7D...and I haven't taken the XH A1 out of its bag since, except for two different Steadicam shots because I was having a problem with balance on the 7D (problem since solved).

In my day job I shoot mostly corporate things--training, sales, product knowledge type video. I also shoot local documentary things and footage to show on big screens to introduce a local film festival, etc. So, I am doing everything I always did with traditional video cameras with an HDSLR now. The only time I've had the moire problem is when I had a long shot of a brick building with strong sidelight. By moving to a slightly different angle, I worked around the issue.

I shot with the 7D from last October till last week, when I got a 5DMKII. My reason for going to the 5D was that I wanted to shoot mostly with primes, specifically my old Nikkors. I use wider angles more than longer lenses and needed the 24mm to be 24mm.

So, while some say the HDSLR is not really a full replacement camera, it has become just that for me. However, I'm still not going to sell the XH A1. If I ever have to shoot an event where I need long takes, the 5D won't do that. If I need a lens longer than my 70-200 L, I can add a telextender, or get a longer lens. The lack of auto settings doesn't bother me because I don't use them. I also don't use zooms (nothing says "corporate video" like a zoom, in my opinion).

Today I have pretty good control over all that I shoot, but if I were doing events, strictly documentary films, things like that, I probably would go for this new Canon. It may be the best 1/3" chip camera ever made (and maybe the last one too). As far as the hassle of HDSLR shooting--it's there, of course, but it's no more of a hassle than shooting film, which many of us did for years. In fact, HDSLR shooting is so much like film shooting that I've started saying "digital film" instead of "video."

One thing about HDSLRs, you should not go there thinking it's cheaper. The camera body is cheaper, sure. But you can spend $10K easily to get it the way you want it. That's still way, way cheaper than the nearest big chip video camera. I have about $3800 in my 5D, including a 50mm Zeiss and a 70-200 L. My primary lenses are my old Nikkors: 24mm, 35mm and 105mm. Those 3 lenses would cost about $4500 to buy today, or more. So you could say I have about $9K in my package, including the sound recorder, rails, follow focus, ND filters, etc. That's probably about average for what most people would spend if they plan to shoot "real" video with an HDSLR. The new Canon 1/3" chip video camera is a lot cheaper than that. You do the HDSLR thing for the quality and the look, not for the cost or ease of use.
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