Review: the Canon XF205 camcorder

Handheld camcorders

XF205 frame grab
A frame grab from original XF205 footage

Recording formats

Another strength of the XF200 and XF205 is their support for a wide range of recording formats. The cameras are based on a DIGIC DV4 processor and this allows recording at up to 50mbps and 4:2:2 as an MXF file.

Although broadcasters might not accept footage from a single-chip camera for long-form work, at the very least it allows producers to maintain a single file type and workflow across their programmes. The extra colour information and higher data rate should also be useful for anyone who wants to work with chromakey footage or other effects.

As well as MXF recording – which is to CF cards – the XF200 and XF205 can also record to an SD card, in MP4. This can be HD, or set to lower resolutions – for proxy files or dailies, or for web video.

It’s worth noting, though, that to record footage in MXF at the full 422, 50mbps, you need high-performance, Class 7 Compact Flash cards. In our tests, we only had access to lower-specification cards and were limited to recording at 35mpbs and 4:2:0, although this is a common format for news video – and the lower bitrate recordings still produced pleasing images.

Nor should the option to record MP4 files – on to an SD card – be overlooked. This is a very useful feature for providing a quick copy of rushes to an editor or a client. SD card media is also cheap and readily available, whereas Class 7 CF cards might not be.

In our tests, there was little visible difference between recordings in MP4 on the SD card and lower-bitrate MXF files shot on CF cards; the workflow for MP4 files is also easier. Being able to give a smaller-sized file to an editor for a quick turnaround piece is very useful in markets such as events video, where most content is, in any case, destined for the web.

Next: Lens, image and audio quality