Finally I get a chance to asses the Canon XF100 since I have just bought one. The camcorder has a lot of features packed into its small body and non more so than full broadcast CBR 50MB/s 4:2:2 (CBR=Constant bit rate), this wee chap is a lot bigger in features than at first glance.
Before we go any further the Canon out of the box is far to noisy but you can improve you pictures 100% by following my instructions below…
UPDATE : Having thought about this setting I had a look at some real life footage and setting it to 4 makes for a fair bit of NR added which is fine for still but not so good for live action so my updated setting would be setting the noise reduction to number 2. Note the different contrast and white balances can be ignored if anything it helps to exaggerate the noise problem. You can experiment yourself but in Automatic mode the camera adds a fair bit of noise.
Lets start with the lens this is one feature that left the NX70 standing, although sharing a similar 10x optical zoom the Canon is far superior starting at f1.8 at the wide end and f2.8 at the tight, this lens lets in a ton of light compared to the NX70 which goes from f1.8 wide but f3.4 on the tight end and that makes such a difference when you need that extra light at the tight end. In order to get the same exposure as the Canon I had to put the gain up to 6dBs.
Chromatic aberration is something that has not hindered any of my filming with both my NX70s but it does seem to be a problem for some shooters so here is a test I have done with this problem in mind.
Chroma fringing is part of a low cost lens I am afraid but it only happens on the outer most part of both lenses, at under £3000 per camera this has to be expected, I could do the same test with expensive Nikon glass and the results would be the similar, but its not the problem some people seem to think it is.
Zoom rocker, if you are an NX70 owner like me you will cringe at the word zoom rocker, due to the waterproofing the NX70 was fitted with a component that affected its variability giving us a fast zoom, this has been addressed and Sony will update that feature in March 2012 with a firmware update. The Canon has no such problems and even has extra menu features allowing you to get smooth starts and finishes through its very smooth variable zoom range.
The HDMI on the Canon is full size but is badly placed just under the hand grip while the NX70 has a mini HDMI socket which is more fiddly to use on a shoot if you want to use an external monitor. The viewfinder on the Canon is far to small unlike the NX70s viewfinder which is very usable in those bright sunny days.
The audio switches are far better laid out on the Canon, simple to understand with the audio pots on the top of the camera. Both cameras have professional XLR inputs but the Canon has a more robust handle and a 1/4″ screw allowing you to attach a small magic arm if needed.
Without labouring on the subject both cameras delivered very high quality footage and although the NX70 does not have the luxury of 50MB/s 4:2:2 it does have 1080 50p. The one thing that does stick out is the Canons lens having f 2.8 at the tight end of the zoom does give you far brighter pictures in low light while the NX70 is having to use 6dBs of gain to even compete.
You have to dig deep in the Canon web site to find this CF card compatibility chart.
Ergonomically the Canon is in my opinion better laid out with both gain and shutter buttons on the outside of the camera and one of my gripes with the touch screen as used in the NX70 is how grubby it gets after a days shoot.
The Canon is more expensive to run using CF cards against the NX70s SDHC cards, that said you do have 2 card slots on the Canon which you can set to record to both, that is a great feature for archiving purposes, the NX70 has only one card slot and as yet has no way of recording to card and internal memory simultaneously but will be added in a FW update in March 2012.
The Canon does have syncro scan something I have missed as both the NX70 and the FS100 do not have this feature and the Wave Form Monitor (WFM) feature on the Canon is great for exposing your shots allowing you to see if your whites are clipping.
As usual both cameras will not match as they have their own colour profiles as I have a fairly large documentary coming up about diabetes I have decided to go down the Canon route with a C300 on order from H Preston Media, the XF100 will be a good cutaway camera and be less imposing for some shots and hopefully match the C300 better than keeping my Sony cameras.
The NX70 does give a great account of itself when you consider its up against 50MB/s and the superior 4:2:2, once you eradicate the inherent noise given off by having the noise reduction switch set to automatic the Canon excels with a very solid, punchy picture, the Sony produces a more natural red with the Canon producing a more pleasing skin tone. The external gain and shutter on the Canon does it for me as the NX70 can be a bit of a pain having to access many of the cameras functions via the touch screen.
I have enjoyed my two NX70s but time to move on lets hope I get the same pleasure from the Canon XF100 six months from now !
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