Review: the Canon XF205 camcorder

Handheld camcorders

Controls on the XF205
Controls on the XF205 follow a standard layout for a camcorder in its class.

Canon XF205: ergonomics

The XF205 follows the standard design for a compact camcorder: a fixed lens, combined with a flip-out, side-mounted LCD, a top handle with integrated connections and controls for XLR mics and a mic mount, and the electronic viewfinder, battery and connections to the rear.

Canon says that it has worked to improve the balance of the camcorder, and the XF200 and XF205 come with a rotatable handgrip. This makes it easier to operate the camera handheld for longer shoots, as well as to use it at high or low angles. The camera’s lens has separate iris, focus and zoom rings, all of which are smooth in operation. Anyone familiar with a broadcast camcorder will find the XF200 and XF205 easy to operate.

On the camera itself, the main controls are standard – with the setting buttons under the screen, and to the rear. Canon has also maintained its mini-joystick control for accessing menu settings. Generally the controls are clearly laid out and easy to find. Audio controls are on the camera’s handle, but the camera is not removable in the way it is on Canon’s smaller XA20, so it’s not as easy to strip the camera down to be less obtrusive, or to use in smaller spaces.

In fact, the XF205 is close in size and weight to a three-chip camcorder such as JVC’s GY-HM600 or Sony’s PXW-X180. It is certainly not the small, lightweight design that has made the XF100 so popular with self-shooters and video journalists or stills photographers producing content for the web. The XF100 could readily find itself a home in a large camera bag, as it is not much bigger than a telephoto zoom lens. That is not really an option for the XF205.

Mounting the LCD to the side of the body – rather than on the top of the handle, as on many Sony cameras – does reduce the size of the camcorder, at the expense of a little less flexibility. Take the XF205 out of the box, though, and it is clear that the camera is significantly larger, and heavier, than the XF100. The compensation lies in a richer suite of connectivity options.

Next: Connections and interfaces