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advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making

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heidi schrodinger
advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Dec 27, 2013 at 4:40:32 am

Hi peeps,
well it has been a while since I asked for advice on this here forum....

I am finally in the market for a video camera, having been broke for too long and only being able to borrow an old Sony PD 150 from a friend, with good results despite its age.

Still not exactly sure that I am not going to buy a DSLR for video, however, aside from that massive decision .... DOES ANYONE ABSOLUTELY LOVE or HATE their Canon XF 105, and why?

Or is there something similar that you love better?
I need broadcast quality for my next project.... aiming high.
I am hesitant about DSLR for video as my subjects are often moving ( wild children & animals ) and I only ever shoot alone so the focus issues might be too much on top of everything else.

I am mostly making short weird little films and grass roots documentaries, always and happily low budget
( and occasional event videography for some paltry income ).
I come from a visual art background so visuals and light quality are super important, I need to be able to shoot out of focus, often go for uncomfortably close up shots, love playing around with shutter speeds and exposures, but don't have a lot of technical skills and have limited idea what I am doing or true understanding of frame rates, codecs etc.
ie... I am an artist NOT a techie... ( oh to be both!!)
I edit in FCPX and will not budge from that... for now.
I get nervous when I even hear about having to convert video to even get it into FCPX.
I just want to keep it simple.
Oh, one more thing, I picked up a H4n recorder super cheap... can I plug that into a XF105 or similar as a better mike option?

Thanks in advance
Heidi :)

PS- if you really do want to talk me into going for a DSLR with HD video, go on, give me what you've got ... I was also thinking about a Canon 7D ( have seen good packages second hand ) as I have a few nice pro lenses for my old stills only DSLR.

'Getting back into making after a long time off'


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Al Bergstein
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Dec 27, 2013 at 5:28:45 pm

Heidi, I've owned an xf105 and the 7D, along with other cameras. I think that you are being forced into picking one tool to do all the jobs, when you need a couple of tools to do them right.

The 7D is not a great camera for events, as it cannot shoot long continuous filming without overheating, and it only goes 12 minutes to a clip. I've had mine overheat when pushed on an hour long presentation. It is not 'broadcast' acceptable, if you mean BBC standards. Check with your local tv station to find out what you need to do to make it so. You could shoot with an external recorder to get that quality. It does have a great Depth of Field look to it. It is good in very low light, but even then the footage is not great in low light. In fact the video footage is not as good as other cameras, and, I became quite unhappy with the look to the video after a while. I never use it for video these days if I can help it. It's really a still camera with an ok video ability if needed.

The xf100 is a pretty good all around camera that does shoot a broadcast acceptable format. It is not great in low light, but does have an infrared mode I used on occasion. It is lightweight and likely would be good for live performances. It has xlr's so you can easily hook up good quality microphones to it. It is somewhat more complex to shoot with, but has 'simple' automatic modes you can use until you are ready to get better. It can shoot all day long, has double card slots so you can have it either copy to both simultaneously, or one at a time, so on long performances you can change cards without stopping the camera. I would still have it but upgraded to a much more expensive camera, the XF300, so I sold the xf100.

I think it would do you well, it does have shortcomings, but there is no perfect camera out there. You can always pick up a 7D later to shoot closeups, etc.

Another concern I have is that your Mac might not be powerful enough to work with MXF footage. I don't use FCPX so I can't help you understand it's issues, but check out the Final Cut X forum to get a better understanding. You might need to substantially upgrade your Mac to edit the footage without issues. It's not just RAM and disk, but your machine, if it's old, could be too underpowered. I run some very powerful Macs to do Adobe Premiere, and have used the old FCP in the past.

I have a short ad piece I shot with the xf100 on infrared mode, here:


Al


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heidi schrodinger
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Dec 28, 2013 at 4:32:22 am
Last Edited By heidi schrodinger on Dec 28, 2013 at 6:18:56 am

Thanks Al... That is the honest review I've been looking for! Interesting to hear also that you aren't keen on the look of the video on the 7D... I wonder if that is why there are so many available second hand??
My father has a fancypants Nikon dslr that I can borrow for close ups, so the xf 105 is looking like a good option. One of my biggest issues with video cameras is that you can't get focus on close objects. I tend to view the world in macro.
I'm used to using sony... Having bought the vx1000 many years ago when it first came out to shoot a ( bloody awful) low budget feature when I lived in NYC. The pd 150 I have used in the past 10 or so years is very similar. Wondering if the canon xf105 is particularly different, being a Canon, when it comes to learning to use it properly.
Will have to check with the specs on my computer, but yes I am just running fcpx on a MacBook Pro with maximum added ram and a bunch of external drives. It has worked for recent docos ( shot on the old PD 150 I can loan ) very well, but that camera's technology is now ancient. However, a new computer is not an Option.. Or something I even thought about!!! That's a bit of a bummer really. Thanks for bringing my attention to it.
Great advice and subjective info... Much appreciated!
Heidi
PS- I just checked out the infra red vimeo clip.... nice! Haven't seen this function of the camera before. How much contrast work did you need to do in post?


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Johnny Wu
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Dec 27, 2013 at 11:47:15 pm

Congrats in the interest in getting a camera. I just recently sold my hvx200 and went all dslr. Lol

And I shoot a lot of action and green screen films. :) and some interviews for clients.

The reason I went with dslr is because I rather buy an equipment that is new now and easily being able to continue using for some time. And since hvx200 is now like $1000 compared to when I first got it in 2007.

I would suggest get something you can use for 5 years that can still be resale or being serviced then so you wouldn't have a camera that gets broken and gets expensive to repair.



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heidi schrodinger
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Dec 28, 2013 at 4:14:12 am

Good point about choosing something that is going to last! Because yes this will have to last me at least 5 years. Thanks!

'Getting back into making after a long time off'


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Al Bergstein
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Dec 28, 2013 at 8:20:05 am

Heidi, the xf100 is not great at macro. If you really need macro, you are going to have to look at something else. The xf100 is really a 'normal' video camera, no interchangeable lenses, but you can buy lens adapters for it. You might pick up a screw on macro adapter that would work. But again, check it's specs on the canon site.

Al


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heidi schrodinger
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Jan 21, 2014 at 11:02:36 am

Hi Al,
I still looking and thinkng about this damn buying a camera business!!! I went to 'play' with an xf 100 today and liked it a whole lot more than expected- being a rather petite woman I think the size factor really plays an important part- so easy to hold! I did NOT like the view finder however... But could get over that!
And then found at the major brand camera shop next door an ex demo remarketed xf 105 for quite a bit cheaper than the xf 100. ( they said it was an ex demo for /at canon itself ) In fact with a quality 64 gb memory card and two years extra warranty it is still $300 cheaper than the xf 100. The seller says that Canon are discontinuing the xf 105... Does anyone know if that is true, as I find no sign of it online?
Also, do I need to fill both memory card slots for any reason if I can't afford another card at present?
So..... I am sleeping on the decision and will probably buy it in the morning. Then test an edit with my computer set up and fcpx. If anything got wrong I still have the 14 day return.
Thanks for any further advice,
Heidi


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Al Bergstein
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Jan 21, 2014 at 2:00:33 pm
Last Edited By Al Bergstein on Jan 21, 2014 at 2:06:44 pm

Heidi, it sounds like a good deal. While the xf105 is not the best choice for low light it is a very competent camera. PhilipBloom did a good review of it. No, you don't need to fill both slots. As to the viewfinder, I never used it much, relying on the LCD which you have to train yourself not to trust for exposure. Always use the scopes to judge your exposure.

I have not heard that the xf100/105 is being discontinued but it wouldn't surprise me. It hasn't been out long enough to be discontinued by the normal ruleof thumb, but with 4:2:2 mxf recording you will have much better quality thanmany other cameras for a long time. You can also do interesting effects with the infrared mode. Good luck! Share your results on Vimeo with us.

I did virtually no push to the contrast on that infrared shot, by the way. The light worked in my favor. I did have a small on camera light I used for the musicians.

Al


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Paul Corey
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Jan 5, 2014 at 5:50:12 am

Hi, I have a XF105 and I like it. I use it to shoot weddings and some corporate events. Low light is not as good as the Sony's. I had a VX2000 and still have my PD-170. When the light get low I just have to turn up the on camera light a little more. For a two camera shoot my friend shoots the DSLR shoots and I get the video camera shoots and the audio. It looks good with the 5D and the XF105. With the 12 min limit on the DSLR we do not sweet it when it come to missing something because the XF105 can shoot all day. The Sony NX5u is good too but the XF105 shoots 50 mbs/sec 422 color to the CF card if you need that.

Paul



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Craig Alan
Re: advice on purchasing Canon XF 105 for indie film making
on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:49:12 pm

The 70 D is better for video than the 7D but given the type of stuff you want to do I would get a camcorder. FCP X works fine with most camcorders and DSLRs. And for an extra $50 you can get compressor. But mostly you won't need it. I have FCP X ingesting P2 clips, Canon 5D clips, Canon HV40 clips all without a problem. Sony, Panasonic, Canon all make good camcorders at different price points. For the most part you get what you pay for.

Go here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Pro-Camcorders-Cameras/ci/16763/N/4256818...

and enter the variables that matter to you. You'll get a good idea of what you get for how much. Don't forget the tripod, the camera bag, the media cards, the card reader, etc.

You'll need to learn the techie stuff enough to get the results you want. Google searches help a lot. And don't be shy about calling tech support. And the cow. The more specific your question the easier it is for people to give you a solution.

[heidi schrodinger] "I picked up a H4n recorder super cheap"

You can't zoom a mike. You need to get your mike close to the source. You can use the built in mike or better get an external mike and plug it in to your recorder. Use the built in mike on your camcorder as a reference so you can line up the audio in FC. I know that sounds hard but do a search. You'll get a ton of hits. Find one that makes sense and practice.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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