Review: the Canon XF205 camcorder

Handheld camcorders

For the diary:

XF205 side view
Upsized upgrade: the XF205 is rather larger than Canon's earlier XF100 and XF105 models.
XF205 side view
Upsized upgrade: the XF205 is rather larger than Canon’s earlier XF100 and XF105 models.

In film-making circles, Canon is perhaps best known for its DSLRs and large-sensor cinematic cameras, such as the C300 and C100. And, although the manufacturer lacks the large ENG camera offerings of Sony and Panasonic, Canon is a significant player when it comes to lower-end, handheld camcorders.

Canon’s three-chip, 1/3-inch XF305 has been adopted by broadcasters, including the BBC. And its single-chip, XF100 camcorder has carved out a niche for web video and lower-end corporate production.

The attractions of the XF100 – and the more fully-featured but optically similar XF105 – are a professional recording codec, capable of 50mbps 4:2:2 to CF cards and professional audio inputs, but all in a very compact camera.

The XF100 and XF105 sit above Canon’s semi-pro AVCHD cameras but without the bulk and cost of the XF305. They have also proved attractive to DSLR owners who want a more conventional camcorder, and pro audio recording, for use alongside cameras such as the EOS 5D. The XF105, which has connections for timecode and an SDI output, is also a popular option for live streaming, and its small size has made it a popular alternative to Sony’s otherwise similar, PMW-100.

Next: High and low end?