Canon has a new high end camcorder out, the Canon XF705, that checks off many features that professional shooters have been asking for, including 4K at 60fps, a 1-inch sensor, 4:2:2 10-bit recording, and all in a very efficient H.265 codec.
The Canon XF series debuted in 2010 with the XF100 / XF105, serving as Canon’s flagship professional camcorder series. Since then, the XF100, XF200, XF300, and XF400 have been very popular cameras for independent filmmakers as well as broadcast video professionals.
The difference between the models that end with a 5 is an added emphasis on professional connectivity, which can mean an SDI output, GenLock, Timecode – or generally the added features that broadcast production professionals need over simple HDMI.
The new Canon XF705 is now the top end model in the XF lineup, and it sports quite a package for anyone looking for a pro camcorder today. While it’s not exactly cheap, the XF705 provides a lot of the specs that cinema camera shooters covet, but in a camcorder package that is generally preferred for TV, sports, documentary, reality, studio, and other production houses that favor fixed lens camcorders over interchangeable lens cinema cameras.
The XF705 comes with the standard pro video features, such as ND filters, exposure assist tools, XLR inputs, dual slot recording, and HDMI output. But as the new flagship pro camcorder in Canon’s lineup, it has a few features that make it stand out, such as”
- Larger and heavier than the previous iteration, the XF400/405, which uses the same lens, processors, and image sensor.
- It uses a larger battery, the Canon BP-A30 taken from the Cinema C200/C300 MkII lineup of cameras.
- It features three control rings for focus, zoom, and iris.
- TimeCode, GenLock, and 12G SDI for outputting 4K video over one SDI cable.
- 10-bit 4:2:2 H.265 XF-HEVC recording, which can capture 4K at 60p at 160 Mb/sec, and HD 120fps at 180 MB/sec.
- HDR video recording with Hybrid Log Gamma for live broadcast as well as post-production color grading.
- Dual Pixel AF with touch focus on the screen, and face detection.
- Wide DR Gamma and Canon Log 3 picture profiles for easier matching with Cinema EOS cameras.
- 4-inch LCD touch screen that can be used on the let or right side of the camera.
- LAN, WiFi, and FTP live streaming and data sharing.
- 5-Axis optical image stabilization.
Full specs are listed here.
Canon XF705 – A Camcorder with better specs than Cinema EOS C200
The XF705 has a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a 15x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom, so it’s meant to have high sensitivity to low light shooting scenarios, while also keeping the noise down with its dual processors.
More importantly, however, is that the XF705 has some of the desired specs that Cinema EOS shooters have been wanting, but didn’t quite get from the popular Canon C200. Namely, being able to record in 4:2:2 at 10-bit, at 4k and 60fps, at a very reasonable compression rate, is one of the top requested features many video shooters have wanted from a Canon camera for years. That, plus C-Log and DPAF and pro audio in an all-in-one professional package, makes the XF705 almost exactly what many of us wanted from the C200.
And of course, dual slot recording, since we can’t reasonably expect our cards to work 100% of the time on professional shoots.
Well, many of those desired specs are now available with the XF 705, but it’s a fixed lens camcorder, and that’s either a win or a depressing reality, depending on if you’re a camcorder shooter or avoid them at all costs.
Canon has to protect their higher end Cinema EOS line, which is mostly why the standard broadcast specs just aren’t there on the C200. But with the XF line, they can throw in every feature in the book when it comes to their top of the line XF705.
Canon XF705 vs Sony Z280
And maybe they have to throw in all they got, to compete with Sony’s pro camcorders. Currently the competition is the Sony PXW Z280 and PXW Z190 camcorders, which are similarly priced but have smaller 1/2-inch and 1/3-inch sensors.
The Sony PXW Z280 and the Canon XF705 are neck-to-neck with their price and features list, but for our buck, getting Canon’s color science, dual pixel autofocus, and Canon Log 3 along with a better sensor makes the XF705 a better contender.
But then again, Sony does a better job of integrating their pro camcorder line into their mirrorless and cinema camera lines, so there’s quite a number of Sony users out there who are picking up the Z280 because they’re already invested in the Sony ecosystem.
Canon XF-HEVC Codec
The feature that enables the XF705 to record at such high quality with a reasonable bitrate is the new XF-HEVC codec. It’s a version of the H.265 compression standard that can pack down a lot more data in a smaller package. Canon then wraps it with an MXF container, which can be edited natively in most NLEs.
It would be great to see this codec being used on Canon’s Cinema and high end DSLR (and now their mirrorless EOS R) cameras, but we may have to wait a bit for that to happen. Our 1DX mkII shoots 4k 60fps 8-bit footage at a whopping 800 Mbps, so cutting that data and storage need by 80% would be enough of a reason to switch cameras.
A B Camera for Canon C300 MK II
To us, the XF705 is not intended to replace Cinema cameras, or to compete with the C200. It has its place in the professional camcorder world, which happens to be very robust and often distinct from the world of solo cinema camera operators who own small businesses or work on small crews. Camcorders are a staple on the majority of television productions, and there’s a lot of television being produced still today.
Where the XF705 does come into play with the Cinema crowd is as a B-cam or specialty cam for small crews who need a second camera for recording long captures, shooting events, setting up as a B or C camera on interviews, and so on. The Canon XC10 and XC15 were initially thought to fill that void – a reasonable fixed-lens 4k camcorder with C-log – but the image can look galaxies different from the C300 mkII, making it hard to mix footage with the two cameras.
An XF705, however, has the potential to be a sharper and better B-cam to the C300 mkII (or the C200, C500, and C700). And in a pinch, it could also serve as an A-cam for interviews and B-roll capture, as long as the operator didn’t expect a very shallow depth of field at wide to medium angles.
We think the Canon XF705 sets a new bar for professional camcorders, and it’s hard to be mad about it having all the specs that we’ve wanted from the C200 or a Canon DSLR. There’s a lot going for this camera and it will become a workhorse for years to come.
Canon XF705 – Check current price at B&H Photo