Cindy Baer
Cindy Baer

Cindy Baer is a film producer, director, actress and founder of Patron of the Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit company whose mission is to help emerging filmmakers & artists connect with donors that wish to support their new projects.

Meet the XF305 and XF300: Canon's Flagship Pro Camcorders

March 30, 2011

By reading the waveform monitor, the operator can see exactly which highlights are losing detail due to overexposure and which areas of shadow are falling off into black.

Storytellers of the World… Meet Your New Best Friend

Industry professionals choose Canon video cameras for a wide variety of projects: electronic news gathering (ENG), wedding/special event videography, feature film and commercial productions, and more. A Canon camera is an investment in long-term quality; a dependable workhorse that delivers the finest images time and time again in the most challenging environments imaginable, from a wedding on a sandy beach to the International Space Station. Each new camera design is based directly on feedback from you, our working professionals in the field. And now, the Canon XF305 and XF300 models have arrived, fusing unsurpassed lens quality, renowned ruggedness, and user-friendly body design with the latest in CMOS sensor technology and tapeless workflow. From pre-production through post, it’s destined to become a shooter’s new best friend.

Pre-production: Selecting the Right Tool for the Job

Pre-production is a series of choices dictated by the aesthetics and logistics of each project. The Canon XF305 and XF300 cameras assure that those decisions aren’t compromises.

HIGH-END RECORDING FORMAT
Whether you’re a news reporter in the line of fire or an independent filmmaker striving for big-budget production value, 1080p digital acquisition is the ideal choice. While the term “High Definition” is a buzz-word that refers to the number of lines of resolution, it doesn’t take into account the amount of compression applied to achieve this. The Canon XF305 and XF300 excel here, delivering a broadcast standard long-GOP MPEG-2 codec with a maximum bit rate of 50 Mbps and 4:2:2 color sampling. This 'Canon XF' codec brings a high-end level of quality — usually found only in cameras costing 5 to 8 times more — down to a budget level that will please producers while satisfying the critical eye of a professional shooter.

The XF305/300 cameras offers a full range of selectable frame rates:

  • 24p (23.976) Frame Rate
    24p matches the frame rate of a traditional film camera giving the same cadence and temporal motion needed for a "film look."
  • 30p (29.97) Frame Rate
    30p is the ideal frame rate for video viewed on the Internet. It is also an excellent choice for frame grabbing during playback.

 

  • 60p (59.94) Frame Rate (Available in 720p Mode Only)
    In addition to the standard interlaced frame rate of 60i, these cameras are able to capture at 60p. 60p is rapidly becoming the standard for fast-action sports.
  • Optional 25p/50i/50p Frame Rate Upgrade
    In addition to the native NTSC 24p/30p/60i/60p frame rates, the XF305 and XF300 can be upgraded to record in PAL frame rates of 25p/50i/50p, for added versatility. This optional upgrade must be performed by a Canon Factory Service Center at an additional cost.

Slow and Fast Motion Modes allow the XF305 to record a different frame rate than the playback frame rate, resulting in either a fast or slow motion effect during playback. Since the camera is recording real frames and modifying the playback rate, there is no quality loss and maximum image quality is maintained. In 1080 mode, fast motion is supported up to 2.5x the normal rate and as slow as 1/2.5x. In 720 mode, fast motion is supported up to 5x the normal rate and as slow as 1/1.25x.

CANON-MADE IMAGE SENSORS
Compared to CCDs, CMOS sensors draw less power while creating less waste heat, and the images typically feature less noise. The Canon XF305 and XF300 boast three 1/3-inch CMOS sensors with a resolution of 1920x1080, delivering outstanding image quality with a compact, lightweight camera optimized for greater mobility and quick shooting.

NON-PROPRIETARY CAPTURE MEDIUM 
In even the most extreme shooting conditions, solid-state recording is the surest way to get the shot while streamlining your workflow. The XF305 and XF300 contain two slots for non-proprietary Compact Flash cards, which allow for hot-swapping in the field as well as copying data from one slot to the other. A single 32GB CF card can hold approximately 80 minutes of footage, using the highest quality 50 Mbps setting. For more recording time, the dual card slots can be used as a “relay”: by swapping cards in an alternating fashion, you could capture a single, uninterrupted take that will last as long as your CF cards.

LENS QUALITY AND DESIGN
The image that hits the sensor can only be as good as the glass in the lens. Labeling something “HD” doesn’t take into account what happens to the light during its journey down the barrel. Canon lenses are second to none, and the XF305 and XF300 boast a genuine L-series lens with an 18x optical zoom. In 35mm equivalents, the zoom range is 29.3mm to 527.4mm, which is wider at the wide end than previous Canon models and most other competitively priced cameras. For an extra boost at the telephoto end, there is an additional 1.5x digital teleconverter that can be enabled within the menu system. The lens also features a 6-blade metal iris and glass ND filters (1/4, 1/16, and 1/64) which can withstand the hottest daylight shooting conditions without any warping.

Of special note for professionals is the inclusion of end stops and "witness marks” on both the zoom and focus rings. The zoom ring has the focal length measurements etched onto the barrel itself, whereas the fully manual/Full MF mode on the focus ring must be engaged to reveal the focal distance marks in a window on the side of the lens (measured in feet and meters). This becomes particularly valuable in narrative filmmaking situations, when a camera assistant relies on these marks and “rides” the focus while watching the talent, so the operator can concentrate on executing the perfect shot.

ADVANCED IMAGE STABILIZATION
The lens on the XF305 and XF300 adapts to any shooting style by offering three different modes of image stabilization. If you’re in a news or special event application where you need to smooth out the vibrations caused by the camera operator's walking, the new “Dynamic Image Stabilization” setting is designed to do just that. For handheld long lens photography, the “Powered Image Stabilization” mode will suppress vibrations at the telephoto end. This will come in handy while shooting nature docs or news events when you find yourself without a tripod, but the situation proves too dangerous to get close. The “Standard” setting is designed to reduce the widest range of different vibrations on every axis. All of the stabilization settings are accomplished optically, and do not result in any degradation of the image.

MAXIMIZING COLOR PALETTE AND VISUAL EFFECTS NEEDS
The 4:2:2 color sampling doubles the vertical resolution of color components compared to 4:2:0, which had been the previous standard for most smaller handheld cameras. This eliminates “jaggies” along the edges of colored objects within the frame, improves overall color reproduction, and therefore becomes crucial if the project involves any greenscreen or bluescreen work. 4:2:2 is essential for pulling cleaner keys.

ENSURING FLEXIBILITY FOR OFF-SPEED PHOTOGRAPHY
If your project calls for time-lapse intervalometer photography (such as a flower blooming in front of our eyes) or other off-speed effects, the XF305 (or the XF300) is the right decision to make. By switching to 720p, you can over-crank up to 60fps for slow motion action photography. Interval Recording can be set in 25 levels, ranging from 1 second to 10 minutes. Even stop-motion animation is now possible with Frame Recording, which allows a specified number of frames to be captured at a time: 1, 3, 6, or 9 frames (in 60i/30p mode) or 2, 6, or 12 frames (in 24p/60p mode).

In Pre REC mode, there is a continuous three-second buffer, so you won’t miss a sudden “live” event. Forxample, if the shot involves a lightning strike across a desert plain, you can wait until you see the lightning and then hit REC immediately. Not only will it record from that point forward, but the three seconds before you hit REC will also be added to the shot—including the elusive lightning strike.

CONVENIENT, VERSATILE FORM FACTOR
The comfortable and flexible form factor of the XF305 and XF300 is ideal for all types of productions. Small and lightweight enough to be handheld in front of the body, the new design also accommodates shoulder-mount shooting while monitoring the large, high-resolution LCD screen, which displays 100% of the image. Compared to previous Canon models, the right-hand grip has been moved more precisely into the camera’s center of gravity, since there is no longer a tape storage compartment on the side of the camera—one of the many benefits of moving to a file-based storage medium. For ENG shooters and documentarians, the cameras are small enough to be portable and unobtrusive, yet substantial enough to impress clients. Wedding photographers will appreciate the light weight and perfect balance, for long hours of uninterrupted shooting in the hot sun and crowded reception halls. Independent filmmakers require a camera that’s both substantial and well-balanced, so the operator can pull off a smooth shot with a camera assistant’s hand on the focus, a line out to the director’s monitor, and a wireless transmitter mounted on-board. The XF305 and XF300 will satisfy even the most demanding shooting scenarios.

Production: Canon’s Got Your Back

No matter how much preparation has been done, the actual period of production is a time to hit the ground running. With the clock ticking and the dollars flying, professional shooters have no choice but to trust the people in the trenches with them and the gear at their fingertips. The full and flexible feature set of the XF305 and XF300 have been carefully crafted to put the buttons where you need them quickly, with the least amount of fishing within the main menu system.

SUPERIOR LENS AND SHUTTER CONTROLS
Canon’s high-end HD lens features independent rings for focus, zoom, and iris—complete with witness marks and end stops on the focus and zoom rings. Controls relating to the lens functions are neatly and logically clustered together. Closest to the lens, a slider control allows you to select the different levels of Neutral Density Filters (off, 1/4, 1/16, and 1/64). Directly alongside the ND slider, there is a row of buttons controlling: Focus Mode (Manual or Auto, and “Push AF” to utilize Auto Focus even in Manual mode); Iris Mode (Manual or Auto); and Zoom Control (either “Ring” or “Rocker”). The Shutter control is situated below that, as well as the option to “Push Auto Iris”.

The Shutter control allows you to choose “Off”, “On”, or “Select”. The “Off” option reverts to the shutter speed that matches the frame rate you are shooting (for example, 1/24 for 24fps). The “On” option activates the “Auto Shutter” mode, which will adjust your shutter speed to keep exposure constant. Moving the slider into “SEL” mode allows you to choose whichever shutter speed or 'shutter angle' best suits your needs, including a Clear-Scan mode (CS).

PROFESSIONAL IMAGE ASSISTANCE 
A series of newly positioned buttons is lined up in a convenient column next to the lens controls. The “IS” button engages image stabilization, activating whatever mode has been selected in the camera’s main menu (“Powered”, “Dynamic”, or “Standard”). The “Peaking” button activates a focus assist function that electronically enhances the edges of objects within the camera’s viewfinder and LCD screen, allowing the operator to see clearly when the desired focus is achieved. The different intensities and colors of Peaking can be finely tuned within the main menu, and two independent Peaking levels can be set. Similarly, the “Zebra” button activates up to two different striped patterns that help determine areas of over-exposure within the frame, adjustable from 70% to 100% IRE.

Of particular note to industry professionals is the XF305’s and XF300’s “WFM” button. This activates a real-time waveform monitor within the viewing area, which serves as a graphic measurement of luminance across the entire frame. This essential tool removes all guesswork and variables when determining the exposure. By reading the waveform monitor, the operator can see exactly which highlights are losing detail due to overexposure and which areas of shadow are falling off into black. Not only does the waveform monitor help determine exposure in news and documentary applications, it also helps cinematographers light the set during narrative production. A second push of the WFM button brings up a vectorscope (measuring hue and saturation of colors) and a third push reveals Canon's exclusive Edge Monitor Focus Assist, which is a specialized waveform option that incorporates focus and targets specific zones within the frame. This system displays a red and green waveform monitor at the bottom of the LCD, along with three red focus check areas across the LCD. The green waveform shows overall focus while the red waveform shows the status of each focus check box. With this dynamic focus feedback, shooters can quickly tune focus in a specific area, and move between focus points in a scene with a whole new level of accuracy and speed. In the main menu, you can select different parameters and settings for the waveform monitor and vectorscope.

A NEW LEVEL OF CUSTOMIZATION 
All of the buttons are laid out in an easy, intuitive manner… but the XF305 and XF300 also leave the door open so users can customize the camera for their own particular needs. There are 13 numbered buttons located all over the camera, which can be assigned any of nearly 30 functions. For example, a shooter can assign the three different types of Image Stabilization to three different buttons, or add reference marks into a clip for easy access during review and editing. The “IS”, Peaking”, “Zebra” and “WFM” buttons can even be re-assigned. If there’s a function that’s not where you want it, chances are you can get it there. In addition, all custom menus and settings can be saved onto an SD card, allowing easy camera set-up and sharing of settings between multiple cameras to ensure consistancy of footage.

TOTAL IMAGE CONTROL
With the XF305 and XF300’s “Custom Picture” feature, you can virtually design your own “film stock”. Individual menu items allow the user to affect Master Pedestal, Setup Level, Black Level, the Knee of the gamma curve, and individual RGM Color Matrices to a degree usually reserved for much more expensive cameras. This menu system has been re-designed from previous Canon models, and is far more intuitive and easy to navigate. It has been wisely arranged so that the user can view the real-time waveform monitor or vectorscope while making changes to the gamma curve and color matrices. In other words, the operator can actually see the changes manifest on the oscilloscopes in the camera, without worrying about whether black levels have been crushed too far, or whether the reds have been pumped too high.

COMPLETE AUDIO CONTROL 
The XF305 and XF300 feature high-quality 16-bit linear PCM audio, at 48kHz. The two XLR inputs are line/mic switchable with the option of phantom power, and can be individually trimmed and/or attenuated within the main menu system. Per usual, the individual audio levels are set by using the two loackable dials on the outside of the camera.

ON-SET MONITORING 
Every on-set monitoring scenario is covered by the outputs on the XF305 and XF300. From traditional BNC and A/V analog ports to HDMI and Component, the flexibility is there to run a camera assistant’s on-board monitor or clamshell while sending an HDMI signal to the director’s monitor, while simultaneously feeding a signal to the sound-cart.

The XF305 offers the further flexibility of HD/SD SDI, which can be used to export the uncompressed digital signal. There are also Genlock and Time Code (In/Out) ports available on the XF305, which are not included on the XF300.

SIMPLIFIED MENU NAVIGATION
The new streamlined menu on the XF305 and XF300 offers an intuitive, easy-to-navigate layout. Particularly handy is the “menu memory”. For example, if you delve into the menu to access a specific function (such as going into the “Camera Setup” page to select the type of Image Stabilization), then turn off the menu to test the results, the next push of the menu button will take you directly back to the same place you left, instead of navigating from scratch all over again.

Post-Production: Finishing Strong

The Canon XF305 and XF300 take care of the image even after the shooting is done. By incorporating MPEG-2 4:2:2 50 Mbps codec, MXF container files, non-proprietary CF cards, and full compatibility with the major editing systems, the XF305 and XF300 ensure that your journey down the post-production pipeline can be smooth and worry free.

EDITING WHILE SHOOTING
The XF305 and XF300 ’s streamlined workflow makes on-set editing a reality. Individual clips can be accessed instantaneously, and the footage will be fully supported by major NLE systems including Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, and Grass Valley EDIUS. This means an editor has the ability to create a rough assembly of a difficult sequence before shooting has even concluded for the day. For ENG shooters and documentarians, this non-linear workflow is a great benefit when dealing with a large amount of footage.

PERFECT RESULTS
When the edit is locked and the sound-mix is complete, final color correction is the last step toward realizing the full potential of any project. After shooting with the Canon XF305 and XF300, this stage can be surprisingly easy. The gamma-and-color controls in the Custom Picture menus—used in careful conjunction with the onboard waveform monitor and vectorscope—can get the image close to perfect during production. If a keen eye is kept on the scopes while shooting, there will be far fewer wildly changing exposures and fluctuating color temperatures. Final color correction will always be faster and less painstaking when you have the right tool for the job during the shoot. However, the high-end Canon XF codec captures robust, accurate color detail that allows for any advanced post-production that may be necessary.

That’s a Wrap

Whether you’re in the business of shooting news, documentaries, weddings and special events, government or military applications, or independent feature films… the XF305 and XF300 are a perfect fit. The high-end feature set presents solutions for every challenge that may arise during the course of any production. With the XF305 and XF300 in hand, a professional shooter will be armed with unsurpassed image quality, a superior Canon 'L' series lens, flexibility to choose different frame rates at both 1080P and 720P, three CMOS sensors that are 2-megapixels each, the industry standard MPEG-2 codec with 4:2:2 color sampling wrapped in standard MXF container files, the flexibility of tapeless capture using non-proprietary CF cards, and full compatibility with the major editing systems. Canon takes all of this versatility and delivers it at an unprecedented low price point -- under $8,000. From start to finish, the new Canon XF305 and XF300 cameras will prove to be every shooter’s new best friend.

All information accurate as of April 9th, 2010, and subject to change

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.

All images are copyright Canon Inc

http://learn.usa.canon.com

© 2017 Canon U.S.A., Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.