The Canon XF105 was on display at the Canon Expo, and though it and the XF100 aren't going to be available until early next year, they had functioning units to look at, and were able to demonstrate the features. However pricing and final functionality are still being nailed down.
Pricing and Positioning
It seems that Canon will be pitching these as the "cheapest 50Mbps camcorders that support 4:2:2." They are also being billed as "smaller brothers to the XF300" series, and the 3D capabilities are being pitched as well.
Pricing is a concern though. At the show I heard the XF100 quoted as being $4,000, while the XF105 would be $5,000. Previously, street prices of $2,999 and $3,999 were quoted (on a forum) that were reportedly from a Canon source. But what will these be compared to? The Panasonic AG-HMC40 (~$2,000) or the AG-HMC150 (~$3,250) or the JVC GY-HM100U (~$2,800) or the Sony HXR-NX5U ($4,000)? Or will they be compared to something else?
We'll have to wait and see, but at $4,000, it looks like we'll get to see whether 50Mbps 4:2:2 from a single chip is much better than the image from a three-chip camera, compressed using AVCHD, which all of the competition offers.
One thing that was surprising about the XF100 series is how small they are. I first realized they weren't as large as I first thought when I saw a picture of Philip Bloom's hand holding the camera, and I thought "that's tiny!" But when I saw it in person, it seemed a bit bigger.
Philip Bloom must have huge hands. [NOTE: Philip Bloom claims that it's Rick McCallum that has huge hands!]
Yes, the camera is smaller than the XF300, but it's not handicam small; it's considerably larger than their HF S20 cameras.
The XF300's have an L-series lens, but the XF100's don't. I was curious what defined an L lens, so I asked one of the guys at the booth. He started into a lecture about L lenses in general. Turns out there's a lot of things that define it, including the materials it's made from (i.e. fluorite), how it's polished vs moulded, the construction of the barrel, weather proofing, all good stuff like that.
"But why is the XF300 considered an L lens and the XF100 isn't?" I asked.
"Actually I don't think the XF300 includes fluorite," began my helpful answerer. "Though [the XF300] has the least amount of chromatic aberration I've seen in any video lens."
"Okay, but why is this one not an L lens I asked?"
He paused. "It's how it's made," he said.
And really, I guess that's as much as we need to know.
The Canon XF100 / XF105 have a couple of features that 3D filmmakers might be interested in. Three if you include the genlock capabilities. If you are intending to do 3D, and you're thinking of buying one of these cameras, you'll want to get the XF105 for the genlock. That way the frames from both cameras will be exactly in sync.
The first 3D feature is a numerical display (in the LCD panel) of both the zoom distance (on a scale of 1 to 100) and the focus distance. This lets you set up the two cameras and be sure the settings are identical. You can also adjust the zero point in case one of the cameras is slightly in front of, or behind the other, so that these values match.
The second adjustment - available when optical image stabilization is on - let's you adjust the position in space of the lens by a small amount, moving it left or right, and up or down. These adjustments are intended to help get the alignment of the two cameras exactly right, i.e. first position and align the two cameras as closely as you can physically in the 3D rig, then with an alignment chart you can make small adjustments in-camera to get them in position without having to constantly adjust the position on the rig.
Also at the show, Redrock had a prototype 3D rig, holding two XF105's. They weren't announcing anything yet, though they said they had been experimenting with 3D for some time, and when Canon showed them the XF105's they thought they'd be ideal for the rig.
B&H: Canon XF105