Canon XF705 camcorder – IBC 2018

Enough of this Cine malarkey, let’s get back to proper camcorders. Canon’s latest flagship all-in-one ticks a lot of boxes: 4K 60p, new HEVC-based codec, wireless streaming… Abel Cine’s Jeff Lee spoke to Canon to find out more.

Cameras like this are all about the convenience of being able to shoot all day on a battery or two – getting coverage of developing situations with a lens that has a decent zoom ratio. What you lose in terms of not being able to change lenses you gain because you’re not missing stuff while you’re changing lenses.

Canon is aiming this at a wide range of filmmakers: doc shooters, TV news shooters, corporate video makers – anyone who’s likely to be working on their own or with a minimal crew and just needs to be able to shoot with as little fuss as possible. They’re using the word ‘workhorse’ to describe it and they see it as bringing the XF305 up to date and ready for both UHD and HDR production.

New Canon H.265 HEVC codec: A ‘future proof’ format

The camera’s new codec is the secret sauce that allows the increased colour depth and resolution while shooting to inexpensive SD cards. It’s based on the H.265 HEVC format, which Canon’s Paul Atkinson says is the ‘only sensible way to get [4K] onto affordable… recording media.’ And asked if this codec would find its way into other cameras the answer was ‘I’m sure it will’.

Al this means is you can shoot UHD HDR in either HLG or PQ in 4:2:2 10-bit quality and record it on SD cards. You can also lay off an SDR copy over 4G SDI with automatic gain compensation to allow for the different exposures you need shooting for HDR and SDR.

There’s a Wide DR setting to squeeze the most dynamic range from the sensor without needing an extensive grade; but also the option to shoot in C-Log3, primarily for shooters who want a workflow- rather than a camera-based approach to HDR.

Aiming for the single shooter

Canon is keen to stress they’ve listened to users of the XF305 in making the changes you can see in the 705. The new shoulder pad, for example, is positioned to put less strain on your wrist and to develop points of contact that will help the five-axis IS system when shooting handheld.

There’s also Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system, and the helpful focus assist system for when you’re shooting manually. And compensating for the lack of interchangeable lenses is a 15x zoom range, increasing to a mighty 30x if you shoot in HD rather than UHD.

There’s also an IR shooting mode and the ability to stream in 4K over IP from launch. So a lot of functionality in a familiar-looking package.

Canon XF705 price and availability

You should expect the XF705 to be available towards the end of 2018 at around $7,000 US or €7,000. So not cheap, but ticking a lot of boxes for a lot of potential users. And it will be very interesting to see if and when the new codec is rolled out to other Canon cameras in the broadcast and cinema lines. Yes, I mean the C200. What do you reckon? Let us know in the comments below…

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