New Canon pro camcorders: Get 'em in 2011

Canon announces compact, single-chip little brothers to the solid-state XF300/XF305 camcorders it shipped earlier this year. They won't be available until the first quarter of 2011, though.

Canon XF105 Canon USA

Canon finally announced a pair of entry-level (presumably) solid-state pro camcorders, which are probably meant to compete with models from Sony and Panasonic that have been out for a long time--and the Canon models won't be available until the first quarter of next year.

I say "probably compete" because without even ballpark pricing information, it's impossible to figure out where these models fit in the market, but I'm guessing somewhere in the $2,000 to $3,500 range. Following on the heels of Canon's equally tardy-to-market XF300 and XF305 , the XF100 and XF105 are essentially compact single-chip versions of those three-chip models, albeit with a different lens and other sacrifices to size.

Here's how they compare with their more expensive siblings:


  XF300/305 XF100/105
Sensor 3 x 2.1-megapixel CMOS 2.1-megapixel CMOS
1/3 inch 1/3 inch
Lens 18x
f1.6-2.8
29.3 - 527.4mm
0.8-inch min focus; 82mm filter
4 stabilization modes
10x
f1.8-2.8
30.4-304mm
0.8-inch min focus; 58mm filter
4 stabilization modes
Min illumination (lux) standard: 4.5
low light: 0.08
standard: 4.5
low light: 1.6
infrared: 0
EVF 0.52-inch tilting
1.6 million dots
magnification n/a
0.24-inch tilting
260,000 dots
magnification n/a
LCD 4-inch articulated 1.23 million dots 3.5-inch articulated 921,000 dots
Primary media 2 x CompactFlash 2 x CompactFlash
HD recording MPEG-2 (Proprietary Long GOP codec):
1920x1080/60i/30p/24p @ 50Mbps CBR 4:2:2, 35Mbps VBR 4:2:0;
720/60p/30p/24p @ 50Mbps CBR 4:2:2, 35Mbps VBR 4:2:0;
1440x1080/60p/30p/24p @ 25Mbps CBR 4:2:0
(50p/25p available via factory upgrade)
MPEG-2 (Proprietary Long GOP codec):
1920x1080/60i/30p/24p @ 50Mbps CBR 4:2:2, 35Mbps VBR 4:2:0;
720/60p/30p/24p @ 50Mbps CBR 4:2:2, 35Mbps VBR 4:2:0;
1440x1080/60p/30p/24p @ 25Mbps CBR 4:2:0
(50p/25p available via factory upgrade)
Max shutter speed 1/2000 sec 1/2000 sec
Manual iris Yes Yes
Accessory shoe Yes Yes
LANC No Yes
Audio 2 channel electret condenser mic;
2 XLR, 3.5mm mic; headphone jack
2 channel electret condenser mic;
2 XLR, 3.5mm mic; headphone jack
Video Component, composite, HDMI out/HD-SDI, genlock in, SMTPE timecode (XF305) Component, composite, HDMI out/HD-SDI, genlock in, SMTPE timecode (XF105)
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 6.0 x 9.3 x 15.0 in 4.8 x 5.8 x 9.8
Operating weight (pounds) 6.6 (est) n/a
Mfr. Price $6799/$7999 n/a
Ship date June 2010 Q1 2011

Like the XF300/XF305, they're divided between the individual and broadcast-sync versions. The XF100/XF105 add an infrared shooting mode, akin to Sony's veteran Night Shot feature, which no other camcorders in their presumed class have, and support for "true stereoscopic 3D production." The latter seems to mean in-camera tools to align the lenses and synchronize the focal lengths when shooting with a pair of the camcorders. And they do seem relatively compact.

On one hand, it's annoying that Canon's announcing them now but not shipping until Q1, and it's tempting to say that if you need to buy then don't wait; Sony and Panasonic have alternatives. But those companies use AVCHD for this market segment, with its 24 megabits-per-second cap on bitrate and at best 4:2:0 color sampling, so there are likely real quality differences. Then again, since we lack pricing information these may eventually turn out to be beyond your budget once they do ship. I always wonder in these cases: would you rather have not known? Or does the mere possible existence of the future product actually help you with your current decision making?

 

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