Is Canon's pro video camcorder form factor done?
I have a XF300 which I bought in 2010, after an XL1, XL1S, XL2, and all have been terrific cameras. But I noticed the Canon trend of putting out new cameras in the "DLSR" form factor.
I still greatly prefer the camcorder form factor with all the built ins , ergonomics and Pro look.
Does anyone know if Canon will produce a successor to the XF300 for the high end or are we "stuck" with the semi-pro DLSR form for their high end.
I don't know about a successor to the XF300 exactly, but Canon certainly hasn't abandoned the traditional video camera market in favor of DSLRs.
The C100, C300, and C500 are fantastic cameras, and function exactly like traditional high-end video cameras, and not at all like DSLRs.
They have all the exact controls, abilities and behaviors of previous Canon video cameras (much more, actually). So far at least the C300 has been just about my favorite camera ever.
Of course the "C" line has a fairly unusual body shape that is ergonomically different from past Canon video cameras, but they are not at all like DSLR bodies either. They are ergonomically really more like cine cameras, more like the size/shape/weight and balance as a 35mm motion picture camera body, which I'm sure is not by accident. Any of these can be rigged into handheld configurations that work and balances just fine, as you are used to.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
The XF 300 is a fantastic camera with a terrific lens, good body control and most of all, the ability to really dial in a picture setting you like. It took me almost a year to really get a setting right, but the picture quality is superb, similar to a 35mm 5247 Kodak film stock. Having owned the XL1, X1s, and having shot a horror film with the XL2, these cameras were great, but the XF300 beats them all in picture quality. And considering you can get on for 4k,vs. what I paid, 8k when it came out, that's a steal.
One caveat: The viewfinder always burns out when shooting in the sun, causing big yellow burn in's. This has happened to me 5 times in 4 years, and I am really careful. This is a glaring weak spot for Canon as I never had this problem with Sony or Panasonic.
Here is a Lexus spot we shot with the XF300 to show picture quality:
BTW, the ergonomics on the XL series of cameras was far superior to the XF for hand holding. Having the viewfinder midway is better than the awkward viewfinder at the end of the XF, placing all the weight and balance of the XF in front sort of point and shoot.
This is something I'm struggling with myself - but how do you like the XF300? - I have the older XL-H1's, and wanted to see if going to a XF300 or 305 would be an upgrade, or downgrade :-)
I think that Canon is following the market, with good reason... their biggest share is DSLR... so why spend the $$ to roll out another camcorder? I think we, meaning us that ask this very same question, are only about 20% of their market now...
But, Sony on the other hand, still has some good choices, as does Panny, but I never liked Panny cameras for some reason... of the big 3, they are the Chrysler! lol You don't see many Ram pick ups with a snow plow on the front.... Plenty of Ford F250's though :-)
Anyways, love to hear back from you Don on this - I've owned the XL line all the way through, and wondered what you miss from, say, the XL2 (not taking image quality, just layout of the camera)
Each manufacturer has its advantages. Panny's lenses on their all-in-one camcorders aren't stellar, but damn, they get their gamma right, and their color rendition is pretty nice, too. Canon is great at color rendition, and Sony is always pushing the codec envelope.
Having been a big fan of Canon for a long time, I just today bit the bullet and ordered a Sony FS7 kit.
I love the Canon glass and color rendition, but hate that they are two damn years behind on their feature sets on their camera bodies, which, BTW, are extremely expensive. The FS7 is going to get me 10 bit HD 4:2:2, true log gamma profiles, 180fps (!!!) overcrank, and 4K options...plus, I can adapt whatever glass I want. For half the price of a C300 mkII.
When it comes to the Big Three (Panny, Canon, Sony), I'm at the point where I just get the camera that serves me best, and to hell with brand loyalty. But I don't buy JVC. I fully admit I am prejudiced where they're concerned.
We always used Sony cameras after we stopped shooting in 35 during the 80"s and early 90's,then went to Sony Betacam, Betacam sp and they were reliable cameras for all conditions except they had the deadly"video" look which was bad for commercials, etc. When Sony came out with the VX1000, things changed, then of course the XL1 revolutionized cameras.
I find Sony's pictures good, but I can never get enough Saturation in the image from the camera, plus I don't like the software interface in the cameras, too industrial. Also, I prefer Canon lenses to Fujicon. I may seem naive, but I believe the XF300 images rivals the Alexa for a saturated image.
Also, The BlackMagic Ursa image seems a bit cold to me.
This chart of aspect ratios may be helpful.
I may seem naive, but I believe the XF300 images rivals the Alexa for a saturated image.
I can't agree with you there. Maybe in saturation, but not in dynamic range, which is what really matters for getting that coveted cinema look.
I wouldn't say the XL1 "revolutionized" anything. I mean, it was a nice prosumer DV cam. If anything, the Panasonic AG-DVX100AP was the camera that made everyone think you could shoot cinematic video (first readily accessible video camera to do 23.976 via 3:2 pulldown, cine-like gamma).
I think the Panny's in general do a pretty good job of rolling off their highlights, even on their cameras with lower dynamic ranges. And the latest Sonys, with 14 stops in the log profile, give you a ton of latitude. I mean, if you're not getting enough saturation out of the Sonys, the codecs can be pushed! Hell, the Sony X70 has a 10-bit 4:2:2 codec, recording internally, for $2k! I just don't think Canon is up there with them when it comes to sensor and codec technology. The best Canon's got is 8-bit 4:2:2. Sure, you can go off-board to an Atomos or whatever...
Which brings me to another point. If you love that XF300 so much, why not pick up an offboard recorder, and get your footage in ProRes 4:4:4 so you have additional latitude from the camera? Might breathe a few more years of life into it, and give you additional options.
That makes sense, however most of my clients hardly know what HD is let alone more latitude. But that is a good idea for our feature docs. Thanks for the info.
I am looking at a second camera, either the C300, or the Blackmagic Ursa Mini.
The Ursa Mini gets expensive faster than you think, what with the CFast cards, V-mount batts, and expensive OEM accessories which are not included. Plus it is totally unproven...
If you want the dynamic range, consider the FS7. Comes fully loaded, and works with Canon lenses with a Metabones adapter. Ping me in two weeks, I'll tell you how I like it :)
I'm no fanboy of any particular brand (though I'd likely not buy a Panasonic), and have shot just about anything and everything through the years. I presently own two Sony cameras, four Canon cameras, and could probably still scrounge up a couple of film cameras if I cracked enough cases in studio storage.
My camera choice all depends on what in particular I'm going to shoot, and how I want to shoot it. Different cameras for things. Right now I shoot the C300PL as my primary camera, because that's what usually fits my needs. I mostly shoot broadcast commercials, and usually I'm trying for a cinematic "storyteller" look, and for that the C300 is perfect. Would I ever use it to shoot sports, though? Likely not... for that I'd probably pick one of my Sonys. For an ENG-style run-n-gun setup... probably not either. I'd likely still shoot one of my Canon cameras, but not the C300.
You definitely need to look at your projects (or potential ones) and see what features, form, and look fit the way you do things. Or the way you want to do things. The C300 is a good example of that with us, as it is so light sensitive that it has drastically changed the way I light. I used to travel with a truckload of lighting gear including bigass HMI instruments... but now I light almost exclusively with battery powered LED fixtures (and am so free from never having to run stingers or look for power). The C300 beats the pants off most cameras as far as low-light capability goes, up to 20,000 ISO (and you don't really get any noise until about 16,000.. and even then it looks very organic, more like film grain than video noise). Our next camera will likely be the C300 MarkII (an unbelievable 100,000 ISO), but I could definitely change my mind before that if our needs change.
I think this thread is in danger over being "over-spec'ed" to death... it's always a danger when camera conversation evolves predominately into a discussion of "technical specs" rather than "looks." There are several people that I know on different (non-COW) forums that are the most knowledgeable people I've ever met when it comes to camera specs... they can discuss all the bits and pieces and particulars all day, from gamma curves to exposure latitudes to sensor bayering and everything in between. I am humbled at their sheer knowledge and they make me feel stupid. But you know what?... look a their work and you'll quickly see that two of these guys who are the most knowledgeable are (quite sadly) the most incompetent cinematographers you'd ever want to meet. They just have no eye for composition, framing, or even rudimentarily adequate lighting designs. Tech experts, they are... DPs, they are not.
Check and pay attention to all the technical goings-on, certainly. But in the end, when choosing a camera there are only two test instruments that really matter... your eyeballs.
So... while specs are important, its good not to wallow in them. Don't get bogged down in the science and end up sacrificing the art.
On a completely different note... as an extreme old-time host of this forum I'm really glad to see some lively traffic in here. It had been ghost town slow in the recent past.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Todd, you have pinpointed the problem we face today. Anybody can buy a cheap HD camera, turn it on and capture a good looking picture. But since 95% have no cinematic training, it ends of having no substance and creativity. And I have seen this even at the high level in broadcast TV and even features.
The plethora of low end people with HD cameras has created a glut of so called camera people or filmmakers who have no real idea what it takes. This has impacted our business at the low end, but a lot of these clients probably wouldn't use video at all for their products if it didn't cost only $500.
And the over concern with tech is BS. In film school, in the real world, we shot some great stuff using an Arri IIC or BL because we know how to do it to move the story along. I'm afraid story is a lost concept today.
I will get in touch with you when you get the Sony. BTW, does Sony have similar picture adjustments as do Canons', for example adjusting the gamma, knee, blacks, color, etc. I think is a big part of Canon's strong picture quality output.
There are various gamma settings available in most of Sony's professional cameras, including settings for the knee and blacks. The FS7 allows you to load LUTs that you can either view only in the viewfinder or bake into the footage--part of the reason I got it. I will likely shoot with a base Rec.709 LUT on the Log footage for a lot of my day-to-day corporate talking head stuff, but when I have a more documentary or narrative project, that's where shooting flat will be a bonus for me.
Todd, I agree with you that it's not ALL about specs...but things like 10-bit 4:2:2 vs 8-bit can get important really fast if you need the ability to create looks in post.
But yes, a camera isn't good unless it has a good driver!