One of the most popular video's I've posted on YouTube is oddly enough this little piece on the Canon XF100 [$2,995] XF105 [$3,999] taken at last year's Canon Expo in New York. [Yes, I have no idea why it had 57,000 views either...-Ed]
I think people must assume I work for Canon or something, because I get questions about the camera, like the one's below. And even though I've never even used the camera, I'm happy to take a swipe at answering them:
Hi there... here are some questions I have about this camera:
1. Has it got a good zoom? How much?
It's pretty good. 10x (30.4mm-304mm, 35mm equivalent] I don't know how smooth the zoom is on the camera (or whether that's important to you.) I'm told that it has the same lens block as the HF G10 [$1,298] and VX10 [$1,899]. I have the HF G10 and it has okay zoom control control - for a small consumer camcorder - but it's NOT the best I've ever used; sometimes it's a bit difficult to get exactly the speed I want when zooming.
2. Is it 1080p full HD?
3. Is there a single button that you press and it focuses?
I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but there's fully auto focus and manual focus modes. There is a focus ring, and peaking to help with manual focus. You can switch between Fully Automatic and Manual by pressing a button.
4. If I am VERY far from the camera, will it capture my voice?
The microphone is pretty good, but if you're VERY far away, you'll need to use an external microphone, either wired or wireless. Pretty much no camera mic will solve that problem, even shotgun microphones. That being said, I suspect this camera mic will do about as well as any other camera mic that's out there.
5. What format is it?
Video format? The files are MPEG-2 in a .MXF wrapper.
6. Can I import footage from this camera into Sony Vegas or After Effects?
You can definitely use it in After Effects. I checked, and Sony Vegas Pro 10 definitely works with the .MXF files. Earlier versions may not work.
7. What's the price(euros)?
No idea. You'll have to check with a dealer there.
8. Do you recommend it for PROFESSIONAL movie making?
It's a professional video camera, yes, but whether it's the camera for you really depends on what you're doing. For documentary, web and television work, it should be acceptable. It has 4:2:2 color sampling, XLR audio inputs, and two CF card slots for relay recording etc. It's also fairly small. It's possibly even useable for indie film making, but it's probably not a camera you'd use to shoot a feature film.
Many would consider it's biggest limitation is that it's a small sensor camera, so it's much harder to get very shallow depth-of-field shots. For that reason, it may not be as useable for advertising work (dreamy product shots etc.,) and narrative shooting. Ultimately, it all depends on the look you are trying to achieve and the situations you are shooting in.
Just one more question... does it record well in lowlight conditions?
Hard to answer that. It certainly does pretty well from what I've seen (and when compared to cameras of a few years ago it's very good.) However, I don't think it does as well as some of the even newer large sensor cameras (partly because the cameras are newer, and their sensors are larger.)
For example, the Sony NEX-FS100 probably does better in low light.
But I don't think the XF100 will compare badly, and the NEX-FS100 would end up costing you twice the price!
So is the Sony NEX-FS100 a better camera?
It's difficult to say that, because it's a very different camera with different strengths and weaknesses. The simple answer might be "Yes," but it's more expensive, and more complicated to work with. The lens that comes with the kit NEX-FS100 (you can buy the camera with or without the lens) is rather slow, but you can buy other lenses and get really great shallow depth-of-field. And it has a sensor that seems to do spectacularly well in low light.
However, it's more complicated and awkward to use. The auto-focus with the kit lens is good, but you lose auto-focus with most third-party lenses.
If I was doing documentary work, and wanted something small and quick to use, I think I'd get the XF100.
The NEX-FS100 is sort of a cross between a DSLR and a video camera. If I was doing primarily creative material, I might prefer the NEX-FS100.