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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 March 7th, 2012, 07:12 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Posts: 1
XF100 for Observational Documentary

Hello friends,

i'm thinking about getting a XF100 mostly for documentary work. Friends keep telling me that this and that camera (mostly, 5d, 7d or GH2) would perform better in several situations (such as low-light) and that shallow DOF is a must-have nowadays and stuff like that.
It's hard not to listen to these commentaries, but then again i feel that when i watch a documentary that i really like most of these image "preciosities" (not sure how to translate it) are the last thing that go through my mind (being, for example, a Maysles Brothers, Richard Drew and Frederick Wiseman fan). I'm not sure if i'm correct, but the DSLR type of cameras would require me paying more attention at the screen than in the actual subject i'm shooting... in 2009 i shot an observational documentary with 4 camera crews, each one with a Sony Z1, and i was perfectly happy with the results (and so was the audience), but those were days when the DSLR still weren't a fever...

what are your thougts on this? i'm not sure if i made myself very clear, but i would like to hear from you guys.

Thanks a lot and greetings from Sao Paulo,
Gabriel Tonelo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2012, 03:54 PM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Posts: 2,924
Re: XF100 for Observational Documentary

I don't think anyone can say there's one camera that's better than another for documentary filmmaking... observational or otherwise. I see it as it's a tool to make content in a way that fulfills your vision. If sDOF is an important part of that vision, then film accordingly. DSLRs aren't the only cameras that can do that. I made an observational documentary with only an EX1R INCLUDING sDOF shots. I could not have made the film had I only had a DSLR. Would not have happened. Period.

I don't know what is putting the XF100 at the top of your list but it's a tool like any other with it's own plusses and minuses. If you like a lens ring for direct control of zoom, focus and iris, you won't get if from the single ring XF100. But don't be fooled, you won't get it from a Canon DSLR either. Even expensive Canon L lenses don't have the silky smooth zoom and focus rings you are used to on your Z1 and the iris is controlled by a noisy wheel on the body that changes it in relatively large steps. And of course, there's no zoom motors on a DSLR for run and gun situations. Then there's the interview answer that goes more than 12 minutes that you miss.....

Do some searching here on DVinfo on the XF100 and you'll find plenty of discussion of it's capabilities. Ultimately, I think only you can decide what features are important to fulfill your vision. Beyond image quality, setup speed and getting the shot the first time may be important aspects of your project that also drive the decision. Then there's Codec, required accessories....
Les Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2012, 05:34 PM   #3
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 8,494
Re: XF100 for Observational Documentary

Honestly, I would not use a dslr for documentary work. Sure, if used right you can get some shots you never would be able to get with a small sensor camera and that's mainly in the area of very shallow dof if you use very fast primes and low light but that's about the only real "advantage" these cameras will give you. In all other area's they fall short compared to regular videocamera's.
Dslr's can be a real handfull and you need to find many workarounds to fix problems a normal videocamera doesn't have. It's easy to get your shot ruined with moire if you buy a canon or with out of focus shots if you have your iris wide open on a fast prime and a subject that is moving.

If a xf100 is on your list that would be a better choice if you ask me, it will be much more forgiving to get nice colorfull and sharp shots, even in full auto. And it at least has xlr, a semi professional VIDEOcamera in pocket size, just what a documentary maker needs :)
Noa Put is offline   Reply

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