REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
CanonXF305 Professional Camcorder
 
4.5

(based on 25 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (17)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

92%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Zoom range/performance (27)
  • Easy to use (22)
  • Great picture quality (17)
  • Large clear LCD (15)
  • Image stabilization (12)

Cons

  • Poor in low light (3)

Best Uses

  • Documentaries (14)
  • HD shooting (13)
  • Movies/short films (8)
  • Weddings (8)
  • Low light (6)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Pro videographer (16), Business owner (3), Professional artist (3), Semi-pro (3)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (24)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Bottom line: get it

We field-tested the XF305 in documentary production over a three week period. Bottom line? We really regretted having to give it back to Canon, but we deferred buying four of our own.Read complete review

We field-tested the XF305 in documentary production over a three week period. Bottom line? We really regretted having to give it back to Canon, but we deferred buying four of our own.

One of the reasons for using a camcorder rather than a cinema camera is the servo zoom lens. The zoom range on the XF305's lens is quite useful in both width and placement, but the means of controlling it falls short. The rocker control on the grip is too non-linear in response, in that it feels as though it goes from creep to squirrelly with little or no in-between. Moreover, it's slow to respond to changes and appears to have a large deadband in response. Since this control directly translates the user's intent into significant changes in the camera's operation, it needs to be fully transparent. The best zoom control is the one that is so smooth and well-tuned that you do not even think about it being there: it simply does what you want, right now. This one does not.

Given this, the zoom control on the camera handle becomes slightly more useful, but limiting it to two fixed speeds is not helpful.

The lens hood is sturdy and well-proportioned, and the lens cap design is nothing less than brilliant. It should be made standard for all Canon lenses. No kidding.

Battery life is a major factor on a camcorder used outside the studio environment. The XF305 that we used claimed a battery life of four hours. Hah! Despite repeated efforts, including turning the camera off when not actually shooting, we were never able to get even a quarter of that. Less than one hour, with like-new batteries? One quarter of the advertised endurance? Think deal-breaker here.

Anton-Bauer's ElipZ battery looked interesting, despite its ridiculous name, but the temptation died immediately we saw that they force you to purchase a very costly dummy battery connector rather than use a simple and cheap power cable to plug into the camera's power socket. In fact, the XF305's DC input socket is an obvious feature very conspicuously missing from Canon's DSLR line.

Since we shoot in rough and awkward places - visualize hanging off the front of a railroad locomotive trundling across a trestle - we thought that the optical image stabilization would be invaluable. Wrong again. It is better than nothing, but not by much. There was no evident difference among the three modes, and the camcorder must be held almost perfectly still before the stabilizer appears to engage, at which point it does work somewhat usefully. Its controls are not well thought out for any application requiring quick and unambiguous response from the camera. The control arrangement for stabilization is clumsy and user-hostile, a theme that recurs with depressing frequency with this product.

The XF305 is literally covered with buttons and switches, as may be seen in its pictures. Think about shooting in the field, on the go, with no tripod and little time for setting up the scene. How do you hold the camera without inadvertently pressing buttons? You can't. We struggled with this every time we used the XF305. On a tripod or pedestal in the studio, you can take your time to select and push the right buttons in the correct sequence. Doesn't work like that in the field. When shooting hand-held, where, exactly, are you supposed to put your left hand, such that it does not press some button somewhere? We never figured that one out.

As for the notorious power switch, well, what needs to be added to the cacaphony already published? Yes, it is as bad as they say. What on Earth could Canon have been thinking, one wonders. In a similar vein, much has also been made about the placement of the start/stop button on the side grip. Did they test this with ordinary human hands? It seems not. The button should sit directly beneath your thumb. It does not. Why?

There are advantages to a smaller and lighter camera, but there are drawbacks, as well. To make a camcorder half the size and then force you to buy an expensive shoulder-mount rig that, in the best of circumstances, is still little more than a kludge makes remarkably little sense to us. The camera is a tool that needs to be as unobtrusive as possible and to fit the videographer like a comfortable glove: it is there, but it is never in the way.

Small details reveal a deficiency in thinking things through. The microphone clamp fits larger microphones. What do you do with smaller ones, such as the ubquitous 416? We cut a length of bicycle inner tube and used that as a filler. This screams, "Kludge!", although it certainly does provide a measure of shock protection for the microphone. It should not be necessary to use ANY kludges. The built-in microphone isn't bad, and wanting four audio channels rather than two is probably selfishness. The built-in audio limiter works extremely well, to the extent of dealing perfectly with a locomotive air horn not ten feet away. Impressive.

One inadequately documented factor is the CF cards. For various technical reasons that actually do withstand scrutiny, this camera is particular about the type and quality of card. Unfortunately, using the wrong type means that the camera works apparently correctly for a while, right up to the point at which, with no warning, it stops working correctly. Short version? Use only the cards that Canon specifies. It's that simple.

One feature that we wanted in a camcorder was auto-focus, and we tested it extensively in real-world situations. We did not see it fail once. It was directly responsible for one spectacular shot that would have been impossible with a manual-focus camcorder. Yes, we realize that the true videographer sets everything on manual and fine-tunes the camera to produce the image that he desires, but EFP sometimes demands that you shoot RIGHT NOW or lose a shot that can never be recreated or found again. The XF305 handles this very well, and that might by itself be worth the price of admission.

There's been a great deal made of shallow depth of field, but that ought never to obscure the fact that some work requires the deepest focus field attainable. We found that the XF305 does well in this respect, even in fully automatic mode. The automatic white balance also works very well, and the overall image quality, including color rendition and maintaining image quality in panning, straight out of the camera and before grading, is excellent. This camera will not be anyone's first choice for shooting a full-length feature drama, nor is it intended as such. For appropriate applications, it is an excellent choice.

One of the truly nasty aspects of contemporary digital video is the preposterous variety of codecs in use. The H.264 QuickTime used by Canon's DSLRs is easy to handle, something that can hardly be said of the bizarre MXF format used by the XF series. Where the EOS DSLRs produce a single file per clip (if you ignore the apparently useless thumbnail image), the MXF format produces a subdirectory for each clip, with an abundance of separate files. Want to look at one of them outside of the NLE? As far as we've been able to ascertain, the only means of doing so is Canon's own XF utility, and that one has more personality issues than a deranged teenager. An entire review could be written about the MXF format; suffice it to say that this is one of the very worst aspects of the XF series. Canon calls it an "industry standard", but it looks, smells, tastes, and behaves as proprietarily as do those much-hated memory card types that Canon correctly rejected.

Regrettably, there is more evidence of Canon's failure to think through the design of this camera. Consider the remote control. It works from the front, fine for videoing yourself, if that's what turns you on. It does not work from the side or rear, and that is a more useful application of remote control. Not on this camera. There is no quick-detach feature on the strap. Trivial? Of course; right up 'til it becomes an irritating issue. The power-save feature should be cancellable by pressing any of the record buttons; it is not. Perhaps Canon didn't care about this enough; the so-called power-save feature does not materially extend battery endurance. It would make sense to be able to turn off the EVF as a means of reducing battery drain; we never once used the viewfinder. The ejectors for the CF cards easily become confused. I kid you not. They frequently dropped out of sequence somehow, making it really awkward and time-consuming to eject the cards. The cards are hard to grasp once ejected, and you will find yourself occasionally pushing them back into lock when you actually wanted to remove them from the camera. Trivial, in the greater scheme of things? Of course, but still annoying and unnecessary. Also trivial but less irritating: there was no audio when playing the last clip recorded. As with every electronic product made in the last two decades, the XF305 has a printed manual in multiple languages. (At least there actually is a manual!) Would it kill them to print an English-only manual? The quality of information conveyed by Canon manuals is far better than the norm these days, so why not take one more step and achieve perfection? Also, the covers over the connectors are cheap and flimsy. This is not a consumer good; why not design in proper covers instead of those nasty rubber things?

The LCD display is nice. It swivels more than a Russian gymnast and has excellent image quality. It makes the EVF utterly useless. We used the camera in winter conditions and had no temperature-related issues of any kind (other than the cameraman continually whingeing about the cold). The XF305 would not be our first choice for low-light filming, but, as we never do any, who cares? For the purist, there may be objectionable lags in response time in the auto-focus and auto-iris operation, but we never found them objectionable.

If you value being able to respond instantly to an opportunity for a good shot, then this camcorder will rarely let you down. It does as much as you reasonably can ask it to, other than stabilizing the image.

Bottom line? Given its capabilities and price, we would not hesitate at all to purchase this camcorder for any project requiring a low-cost EFP camera with excellent image quality. Imperfections notwithstanding.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

LOW LIGHT FILMING???? NAAH

The camera could be all that one can rave about. But come low light situation or even filming with artificial lighting, it doesn't have the punch and the details are totally missing. Outdoor...Read complete review

The camera could be all that one can rave about. But come low light situation or even filming with artificial lighting, it doesn't have the punch and the details are totally missing. Outdoor filming at night with available city lights? Don't even think about it. The camera is too noisy and details are totally lost. As a Sports documentary film make, I prefer taking minimum gear. But with this camera I have to carry lights and a separate recorder. The footage recorded on the CF Cards is too bad.

Reviewed by 25 customers

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Tremendous value in a small format camera

By Justguynow

from Boston,MA

About Me Pro Videographer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Easy to Use
  • Good Image Stabilization
  • Great Picture Quality
  • Great Zoom
  • Large Clear LCD
  • Zoom range/performance

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Documentaries
    • Travel

    Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

    I've used two of these cameras for over three years, for broadcast and educational documentary work. I love the small form factor, and the Canon L glass can't be matched at this scale. When you're ready to ditch all the rigging for your DSLR, and you realize bokeh is achievable if you know your ratios, and travel is much easier when all your components are scaled way down - then the beauty of this camera becomes apparent. I shoot available light all the time, and if I need to bump the gain, it's clean enough for the most critical eye. Using CF cards is a lightweight gift, giving me endless storage in the field. Hey, I have a C100M2 also, but when I'm needing to get the shot in places I don't want to carry lenses, with dual slots, I'm traveling with my xf 305s.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Very Nice Camera

    By Kenny on the Gulf Coast

    from Houston

    About Me Pro Videographer

    Verified Reviewer

    Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

    I have used this camera for 4 years. I am a pro shooter since the days of the RCA TK "Big Blue".
    Working for myself after 25 years with a large production company
    I needed a broadcast quality camera that was reasonably priced.
    This camera is great. I shoot spots, shows. interviews, sports.
    It makes a beautiful picture. The very low light is not the best ever but if you
    dial the iris manually and keep the gain to 3db its pretty good.
    The gain in "full auto" is the biggest low light issue. Just don't use auto
    unless outside. I can dual record. The lens is beautiful and the autofocus is excellent and very fast. It also looks professional. This gives new corporate clients a sense of confidence in their hire.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (6 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

     
    1.0

    LOW LIGHT FILMING???? NAAH

    By Gabbar

    from Doha, Qatar

    About Me Pro Videographer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Easy to Use
    • Large Clear LCD

    Cons

    • Poor Image Quality
    • Poor In Low Light
    • Poor Still Image

    Best Uses

    • Home Movies
    • Weddings/Events

    Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

    The camera could be all that one can rave about. But come low light situation or even filming with artificial lighting, it doesn't have the punch and the details are totally missing. Outdoor filming at night with available city lights? Don't even think about it. The camera is too noisy and details are totally lost. As a Sports documentary film make, I prefer taking minimum gear. But with this camera I have to carry lights and a separate recorder. The footage recorded on the CF Cards is too bad.

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    (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Still awesome after one-year of use

    By Corporate Camera Commando

    from Reading, PA

    About Me Pro Videographer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Easy to Use
    • Great Picture Quality

    Cons

    • Poor In Low Light

    Best Uses

    • Corporate Training Videos
    • Documentaries
    • HD Shooting

    Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

    I've been shooting in-house corporate video for 20 years. I was given a budget that could afford a digitial cinema grade system. However, a majority of my target audience is online/web
    and a few 720p programs embedded in power-point. The quality/output of the XF305 certainly meets and exceed those expectations. The fixed L series lens is quite sharp.

    Second, this camera is light and compact enough to use on steady vest for run and gun with only minimal fatique, and only requires a small jib crane or medium duty tripod to support it,

    (a.k.a. less expensive gear). I do recommend at least a 720p, 7" external monitor (such as those offered by Ikan or Marshall), as the onboard LCD while suitable for framing is not the best for focus.

    For dedicated/large monitoring situations the HD-SDI output is convenient, and while on the

    boom I use a Paralinx Arrow HDMI wireless system, sending a 1080p signal to various HD monitors, (Including an 80" HD set in an adjoining studio for clients, whom always comment on
    how sharp and clean the image is).

    Granted, this is not the best camera in low-light. However, it's a subjective issue, (learn to light your scenes correctly or shoot in mid-day). The alternative to that one feature alone

    can be 4x the cost when you factor in all the additional hardware needed to support it. Since I don't shoot in the dark, it's a none issue.

    I don't use the onboard mics, opting for lavs via XLR, without issue.

    I'm also impressed with the MXF format and use of CF cards, which comes with a convenient XF capture utility for quick ingest. Canon's version of the MXF format performs well within PPro

    v2014.2, powered by a canned Dell Precision workstation with off the shelf components. A huge and welcomed departure from turn-key systems with expensive, problem prone capture cards and
    hardware.

    I also use it with a samurai blade for green screen jobs needing 10bit capture in 220 DNxHD, and the end results are stunning and key cleanly.

    Despite all the features this camera has, reliability still remains number one in my book. To that end, after one year of use, this camera has delivered. No drop outs, no lockups, no
    bricked cards. No connectivity issues. Happy clients and SMEs.

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    • No

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    (12 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Great camera

    By Jake

    from Houston, Texas

    About Me Pro Videographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy to Use
    • Good Image Stabilization
    • Good in Low Light
    • Great Picture Quality
    • Great Sound
    • Great Zoom
    • Large Clear LCD
    • Zoom range/performance

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Documentaries
      • HD Shooting
      • Indoors/Low Light
      • Travel
      • Weddings/Events

      Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

      Really great camera and pretty good in low light even at 18X gain.
      Sound recording from the camera is amazing.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (4 of 16 customers found this review helpful)

       
      2.0

      Very Bad Low Light Capabilities

      By Ari El

      from Bath, Uk

      About Me Semi-pro Videographer

      See all my reviews

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Easy to Use
      • Great Picture Quality
      • Great Sound
      • Great Zoom
      • Large Clear LCD
      • Zoom range/performance

      Cons

      • Poor In Low Light

      Best Uses

        Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

        The footage from this camera is unusable whenever you are in a low light situation. the menu is a bit complicated. Even though other people complained about on-board mic, I find it of a very good quality.

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        • No

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        (8 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Great Run and Gun Camera

        By Jenny

        from Daytona Beach, FL

        About Me Pro Videographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Easy to Use
        • Good Image Stabilization
        • Good in Low Light
        • Great Picture Quality
        • Great Zoom
        • Zoom range/performance

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Documentaries
          • HD Shooting
          • Indoors/Low Light
          • Travel

          Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

          I am a one woman band when I'm out shooting at golf events, so I don't have a lot of time to deal with changing lenses out and resetting everything. This camera has all of the professional features you need without much extra help. On the golf course, I'm able to go to the green and get a good shot of a player on the fairway, and also provides a great picture for close up interviews. Everything I need in a camera.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Great Camera

          By Josh Herv

          from Winnipeg, Canada

          About Me Semi-pro Videographer

          Pros

          • Good in Low Light
          • Great Picture Quality
          • Great Zoom
          • Large Clear LCD
          • Zoom range/performance

          Cons

          • Average On Board Audio
          • Heavy bulky

          Best Uses

          • Documentaries
          • HD Shooting
          • Indoors/Low Light
          • Movies/Short Films
          • Weddings/Events

          Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

          Upon receiving this camera, the first thing I noticed was its weight. This camcorder is quite heavy/bulky which will take some getting used to.

          That being said, the picture quality is FANTASTIC and crisp. In addition to the standard manual functions you would expect in a camera at this price, the picture profiles are also fully customizable and you are able to import/export up to 20 profiles on an SD card however, only one (1) menu setting is able to be backed up to an SD card despite the menu being necessary to set the few functions not controlled by any of the thirteen (13!!) customizable buttons. This requires multiple cards for multiple menu setups.

          Further to the picture quality, I have tested extensively in low light and while the image quality is excellent even in low light, some noise creeps in as soon as you increase the gain which is to be expected. The level of gain/noise that I would consider acceptable for my purposes does allow for a stellar performance in a dimly lit room. An on camera light should alleviate any problems whatsoever. The built in 18x Canon L-series lens is excellent quality and offers an acceptable zoom range for most applications. At the wide end, a 1.6 stop offers a suitable DOF for a small-sensor camcorder.

          The on-board microphone quality is a little bit disappointing for the price point, but the two XLF inputs more than make up for it. I will be using a Rode-NTG 2 microphone for interviews anyway, but it would have been nice to have the on board microphone quality be a little bit closer to usable. The handling noise alone is a deal breaker. Ultimately, while disappointing, I can't say that I expected more, so my 5-star rating stands. If I could do half stars, this is where it would become a 4.5 rating.

          Battery life is exceptional with the included battery lasting over 3 hours and the optional BP-975 offering approx. 6+ hours. For some reason, only Sandisk "Extreme" and up seem to work properly in all modes including under/over cranking, despite some cards that are not fully compatible having a higher rated read/write speed.

          Overall, I would recommend this camera to anyone wanting exceptional video quality at a reasonable price.

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          • No

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          (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Great One

          By Skandar

          from Bishop,Ca

          About Me Pro Videographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Easy to Use
          • Good Image Stabilization
          • Good in Low Light
          • Great Picture Quality
          • Large Clear LCD

          Cons

          • Remote Control Doesn't

          Best Uses

          • Documentaries
          • HD Shooting
          • Movies/Short Films
          • Weddings/Events

          Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

          Awesome. period.
          Only thing that doesn't work out of the box is the remote.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Exceptionally Great Camera & Glass

          By Don

          from Austin and San Antonio, Texas

          About Me Pro Videographer

          Pros

          • Bbc Approved
          • Easy to Use
          • Good Image Stabilization
          • Good in Low Light
          • Great Picture Quality
          • Great Sound
          • Great Zoom

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Documentaries
            • HD Shooting
            • Indoors/Low Light
            • Movies/Short Films

            Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

            The XF305 is a solid performer in all types of settings from daylight to lowlight. The 3-chip CMOS imagers with the 50 mb bit rate provides better image quality. Plus the long G.O.P. 4:2:2 MPEG 2 recording is exceptionally good not just for straight shots but process shots too. Making very clean noise-free edges on green screen talent.

            The features like the integral waveform monitor, face tracking, interval recording and storable white balance registers with auto transitions are really useful and handy. In full auto its works pretty flawlessly.

            I have throughly enjoyed using this camera so much so I just ordered a second one.

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            • No

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            (9 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Excellent camera !

            By Wally

            from Houston, Texas

            About Me Pro Videographer

            Pros

            • Easy to Use
            • Good Image Stabilization
            • Great Picture Quality
            • Large Clear LCD

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • HD Shooting

              Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

              I bought this camera to shoot daily stuff at the hospital I work at now. So far so good. I had my eye on this camera since last year at NAB. Looked at it again this year, and told myself this is the camera for me. I like that it records on CF cards. I also shoot with the Canon MKII, so it's nice that all the media works together. The battery life is great on this camera, I also bought two more batteries for the camera. I never run out of power. The flip out monitor has a clear and vivid picture on it. I like how you can have the monitor and viewfinder on at the same time. The lens has worked out fine for what I shoot also. I did buy the Century wide eye for the camera. I use a good sturdy tripod, and the glide track for those smooth moves. So far so good. When I shoot surgeries I just kick up the gain to 6db and it works fine. I bought the after market bracket to hold the wireless receiver , again no problem hooking it up to the camera. Bought a small shotgun mic that is just a little too small for the mic holder. Nothing gaffers tape won't fix. The picture quality has been excellent. I'm shooting at 35 mbs. I did try the 50 mbs, but I don't need such a large file. I keep everything in a nice pelican case , so it's ready to go next time. Love this camera !

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              • No

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              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Great Professional Compact HD Camera

              By Jrpause

              from Indiana

              About Me Pro Videographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Easy to Use
              • Good in Low Light
              • Great Picture Quality
              • Great Sound
              • Great Zoom
              • Large Clear LCD
              • Zoom range/performance

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Documentaries
                • HD Shooting
                • Indoors/Low Light
                • Movies/Short Films
                • SportsAction
                • Travel
                • Weddings/Events

                Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                We have integrated these units into our mobile truck and they work great! The zoom range is awesome and very useful in sports production. Be sure to access the menu settings to turn on your outputs though, they seem to be set by default to Off.

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                • No

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                (36 of 39 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                4.0

                Bottom line: get it

                By TestPilot

                from Rochester, NY

                About Me Pro Videographer

                Pros

                • Easy to Use
                • Great Picture Quality
                • Great Zoom
                • Large Clear LCD
                • Zoom range/performance

                Cons

                • Complicated To Operate
                • No image stabilization

                Best Uses

                • Documentaries

                Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                We field-tested the XF305 in documentary production over a three week period. Bottom line? We really regretted having to give it back to Canon, but we deferred buying four of our own.

                One of the reasons for using a camcorder rather than a cinema camera is the servo zoom lens. The zoom range on the XF305's lens is quite useful in both width and placement, but the means of controlling it falls short. The rocker control on the grip is too non-linear in response, in that it feels as though it goes from creep to squirrelly with little or no in-between. Moreover, it's slow to respond to changes and appears to have a large deadband in response. Since this control directly translates the user's intent into significant changes in the camera's operation, it needs to be fully transparent. The best zoom control is the one that is so smooth and well-tuned that you do not even think about it being there: it simply does what you want, right now. This one does not.

                Given this, the zoom control on the camera handle becomes slightly more useful, but limiting it to two fixed speeds is not helpful.

                The lens hood is sturdy and well-proportioned, and the lens cap design is nothing less than brilliant. It should be made standard for all Canon lenses. No kidding.

                Battery life is a major factor on a camcorder used outside the studio environment. The XF305 that we used claimed a battery life of four hours. Hah! Despite repeated efforts, including turning the camera off when not actually shooting, we were never able to get even a quarter of that. Less than one hour, with like-new batteries? One quarter of the advertised endurance? Think deal-breaker here.

                Anton-Bauer's ElipZ battery looked interesting, despite its ridiculous name, but the temptation died immediately we saw that they force you to purchase a very costly dummy battery connector rather than use a simple and cheap power cable to plug into the camera's power socket. In fact, the XF305's DC input socket is an obvious feature very conspicuously missing from Canon's DSLR line.

                Since we shoot in rough and awkward places - visualize hanging off the front of a railroad locomotive trundling across a trestle - we thought that the optical image stabilization would be invaluable. Wrong again. It is better than nothing, but not by much. There was no evident difference among the three modes, and the camcorder must be held almost perfectly still before the stabilizer appears to engage, at which point it does work somewhat usefully. Its controls are not well thought out for any application requiring quick and unambiguous response from the camera. The control arrangement for stabilization is clumsy and user-hostile, a theme that recurs with depressing frequency with this product.

                The XF305 is literally covered with buttons and switches, as may be seen in its pictures. Think about shooting in the field, on the go, with no tripod and little time for setting up the scene. How do you hold the camera without inadvertently pressing buttons? You can't. We struggled with this every time we used the XF305. On a tripod or pedestal in the studio, you can take your time to select and push the right buttons in the correct sequence. Doesn't work like that in the field. When shooting hand-held, where, exactly, are you supposed to put your left hand, such that it does not press some button somewhere? We never figured that one out.

                As for the notorious power switch, well, what needs to be added to the cacaphony already published? Yes, it is as bad as they say. What on Earth could Canon have been thinking, one wonders. In a similar vein, much has also been made about the placement of the start/stop button on the side grip. Did they test this with ordinary human hands? It seems not. The button should sit directly beneath your thumb. It does not. Why?

                There are advantages to a smaller and lighter camera, but there are drawbacks, as well. To make a camcorder half the size and then force you to buy an expensive shoulder-mount rig that, in the best of circumstances, is still little more than a kludge makes remarkably little sense to us. The camera is a tool that needs to be as unobtrusive as possible and to fit the videographer like a comfortable glove: it is there, but it is never in the way.

                Small details reveal a deficiency in thinking things through. The microphone clamp fits larger microphones. What do you do with smaller ones, such as the ubquitous 416? We cut a length of bicycle inner tube and used that as a filler. This screams, "Kludge!", although it certainly does provide a measure of shock protection for the microphone. It should not be necessary to use ANY kludges. The built-in microphone isn't bad, and wanting four audio channels rather than two is probably selfishness. The built-in audio limiter works extremely well, to the extent of dealing perfectly with a locomotive air horn not ten feet away. Impressive.

                One inadequately documented factor is the CF cards. For various technical reasons that actually do withstand scrutiny, this camera is particular about the type and quality of card. Unfortunately, using the wrong type means that the camera works apparently correctly for a while, right up to the point at which, with no warning, it stops working correctly. Short version? Use only the cards that Canon specifies. It's that simple.

                One feature that we wanted in a camcorder was auto-focus, and we tested it extensively in real-world situations. We did not see it fail once. It was directly responsible for one spectacular shot that would have been impossible with a manual-focus camcorder. Yes, we realize that the true videographer sets everything on manual and fine-tunes the camera to produce the image that he desires, but EFP sometimes demands that you shoot RIGHT NOW or lose a shot that can never be recreated or found again. The XF305 handles this very well, and that might by itself be worth the price of admission.

                There's been a great deal made of shallow depth of field, but that ought never to obscure the fact that some work requires the deepest focus field attainable. We found that the XF305 does well in this respect, even in fully automatic mode. The automatic white balance also works very well, and the overall image quality, including color rendition and maintaining image quality in panning, straight out of the camera and before grading, is excellent. This camera will not be anyone's first choice for shooting a full-length feature drama, nor is it intended as such. For appropriate applications, it is an excellent choice.

                One of the truly nasty aspects of contemporary digital video is the preposterous variety of codecs in use. The H.264 QuickTime used by Canon's DSLRs is easy to handle, something that can hardly be said of the bizarre MXF format used by the XF series. Where the EOS DSLRs produce a single file per clip (if you ignore the apparently useless thumbnail image), the MXF format produces a subdirectory for each clip, with an abundance of separate files. Want to look at one of them outside of the NLE? As far as we've been able to ascertain, the only means of doing so is Canon's own XF utility, and that one has more personality issues than a deranged teenager. An entire review could be written about the MXF format; suffice it to say that this is one of the very worst aspects of the XF series. Canon calls it an "industry standard", but it looks, smells, tastes, and behaves as proprietarily as do those much-hated memory card types that Canon correctly rejected.

                Regrettably, there is more evidence of Canon's failure to think through the design of this camera. Consider the remote control. It works from the front, fine for videoing yourself, if that's what turns you on. It does not work from the side or rear, and that is a more useful application of remote control. Not on this camera. There is no quick-detach feature on the strap. Trivial? Of course; right up 'til it becomes an irritating issue. The power-save feature should be cancellable by pressing any of the record buttons; it is not. Perhaps Canon didn't care about this enough; the so-called power-save feature does not materially extend battery endurance. It would make sense to be able to turn off the EVF as a means of reducing battery drain; we never once used the viewfinder. The ejectors for the CF cards easily become confused. I kid you not. They frequently dropped out of sequence somehow, making it really awkward and time-consuming to eject the cards. The cards are hard to grasp once ejected, and you will find yourself occasionally pushing them back into lock when you actually wanted to remove them from the camera. Trivial, in the greater scheme of things? Of course, but still annoying and unnecessary. Also trivial but less irritating: there was no audio when playing the last clip recorded. As with every electronic product made in the last two decades, the XF305 has a printed manual in multiple languages. (At least there actually is a manual!) Would it kill them to print an English-only manual? The quality of information conveyed by Canon manuals is far better than the norm these days, so why not take one more step and achieve perfection? Also, the covers over the connectors are cheap and flimsy. This is not a consumer good; why not design in proper covers instead of those nasty rubber things?

                The LCD display is nice. It swivels more than a Russian gymnast and has excellent image quality. It makes the EVF utterly useless. We used the camera in winter conditions and had no temperature-related issues of any kind (other than the cameraman continually whingeing about the cold). The XF305 would not be our first choice for low-light filming, but, as we never do any, who cares? For the purist, there may be objectionable lags in response time in the auto-focus and auto-iris operation, but we never found them objectionable.

                If you value being able to respond instantly to an opportunity for a good shot, then this camcorder will rarely let you down. It does as much as you reasonably can ask it to, other than stabilizing the image.

                Bottom line? Given its capabilities and price, we would not hesitate at all to purchase this camcorder for any project requiring a low-cost EFP camera with excellent image quality. Imperfections notwithstanding.

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                (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Best of the Best

                By Blue Bamboo Films

                from San Diego, CA

                About Me Pro Videographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Easy to Use
                • Good Image Stabilization
                • Good in Low Light
                • Great Picture Quality
                • Great Sound
                • Great Zoom
                • Large Clear LCD
                • Zoom range/performance

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Documentaries
                  • HD Shooting
                  • Home Movies
                  • Indoors/Low Light
                  • Movies/Short Films
                  • Weddings/Events

                  Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                  I film a variety of videos from sports to corporate events and I simply love this camera. The lens is great and the dual compactflash memory...well, how did I survive before them?

                  The weight is just right and feels like a high quality camera without the bulk. The little things that canon does is why I continue to buy their products, like the front of the handle perfectly balances the camera (like something a golf company would brag about). The placement of teh screen is great incomparison to the XH-A1s taht I am used to using.

                  The price seemed high when I bought it, but the more I use it the more its worth it and I see its true value.

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                  (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  XF305 Shines

                  By Amerigulf Filmwerks

                  from Houston, TX

                  About Me Business Owner, Professional Artist

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Complex Projects
                      • ENG work
                      • Independent Films
                      • Interviews
                      • In The Studio
                      • Steadicam

                      Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                      Can't add too much from what the others have said. For a different aspect though; this camera has become the 'Go To' for steadicam work for me and my company. When in a situation that there is no focus puller available (which in my market, there are none), the auto focus on this machine is oustanding. I've never seen anything like it. Add in facial recognition for tracking shots and it is golden.

                      In post, especially if you are used to using lesser cameras, is where this thing really shines. The color space, as well as 50mbps is a HUGE leap from ALL cameras in this price range and below.

                      If you are considering this camera, stop it and just buy it. If you have doubts; go to your local rental house and try it out, you won't regret it.

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                      (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Quality and build, suits our needs.

                      By Jeff (Zippy)

                      from Fargo, ND

                      About Me Pro Videographer

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Easy to Use
                      • Good Image Stabilization
                      • Great Picture Quality
                      • Great Zoom
                      • Large Clear LCD
                      • Zoom range/performance

                      Cons

                      • Average Low Light

                      Best Uses

                      • Commercials
                      • Documentaries
                      • HD Shooting
                      • Movies/Short Films
                      • Weddings/Events

                      Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                      I come from the still/print industry and pick cameras on image quality, build quality, DOF and/or lens options/quality and also reputation for reliability and usability.

                      I have chosen the XF305 to complement other cameras to be tools of the trade that I feel work well together to create artistic and creative motion graphics and video projects. Each one has a specific time and place to be used.

                      This camera was chosen primarily for its color space, feature set, great lens, great zoom, decent low light performance (still a small sensor camera), good build quality, fast focusing and good lens aperture throughout the range.

                      The primary use of the XF305 is a run and gun machine. But definitely not limited to this. It can certainly hold its own in other situations if wanting shallower DOF, just be aware of its limitations.

                      Very happy with the purchase? Yes. Would I change my decision? Absolutely not. No major complaints with build quality or performance in the field.

                      Camera will be used for documentaries, events and commercial production.

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                      (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      4.0

                      Nice Camera

                      By TFBFLee

                      from Columbia, TN

                      About Me Pro Videographer

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Easy to Use
                      • Good Image Stabilization
                      • Great Picture Quality
                      • Great Sound
                      • Great Zoom
                      • Large Clear LCD
                      • Zoom range/performance

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Documentaries
                        • HD Shooting

                        Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                        Purchased this camera after using Sony HVR Z7U for a number of years and not disappointed. Main reason was the use of CF cards. Still trying to make adjustments in low light situations, but feel confident I will get it. Lots of features that make shooting a pleasure. A little heavier than I thought it would be. Overall, pleased with my purchase.

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                        • No

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                        (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        solid go to camera

                        By josh sliffe

                        from raleigh, nc

                        About Me Pro Videographer

                        Verified Reviewer

                        Pros

                        • Easy to Use
                        • Good Image Stabilization
                        • Great Picture Quality
                        • Great Sound
                        • Great Zoom
                        • Large Clear LCD
                        • Zoom range/performance

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Documentaries
                          • HD Shooting
                          • Movies/Short Films
                          • Travel
                          • Weddings/Events

                          Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                          pros: definitely a great camera. love the zoom distance. autofocus is great. works better for me in premiere cs5. very sharp.

                          con: power button... can never get it where i need it without a second attempt. really can't use it past 6db of gain without significant noise though... but the 1.6 or whatever f stop lens makes up for that.

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                          (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          4.0

                          Good Quality Overall

                          By Jay the Filmmaker

                          from Wyoming

                          About Me Professional Artist

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Compact Design
                          • Easy To Use
                          • Highly Compatible
                          • Professional Quality

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Complex Projects
                            • Independent Films
                            • In The Studio

                            Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                            I am a professional in-house videographer and I use it for documentary style shooting. it shoots in great quality and the features are easy to handle. The one thing that wasn't the best for what I do is that it is a little heavy and hard to handhold, without a shoulder mount.

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                            (4 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            5.0

                            my canon xf305

                            By Big-E

                            from Port Arthur Texas

                            About Me Film Student, Hobbyist

                            Pros

                            • Compact Design
                            • Easy To Use
                            • Highly Compatible
                            • Improves Performance
                            • Lightweight
                            • Professional Quality

                            Cons

                              Best Uses

                              • Complex Projects
                              • Home Movies
                              • Independent Films
                              • In The Studio

                              Comments about Canon XF305 Professional Camcorder:

                              I love the canon xf305 below is a video I shot and edited with mine[@]

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                              • No

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