Author Topic: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help  (Read 13954 times)

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Offline KF5OBS

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Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« on: May 11, 2014, 05:18:02 am »
Hey guys, I need a bit of decision help for buying a new camcorder. I have a good budget but really not much of a clue about cameras. My two favorites that are right in my budget are the Canon XA25 and the Canon XF100.

Link to XA25 description: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/963141-REG/canon_8443b002_xa25_hd_professional_camcorder.html
Link to XF100: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/733533-REG/Canon_4888B001_XF100_HD_Professional_Camcorder.html

The two main things that stick out to me is that the XA25 seems to have a better low-light performance and has the higher resolution. The XF100, however, has a 4:2:2 color-space as opposed to the 4:2:0 of the XA25. Since I'm going to introduce some chroma keying into my blog rather shortly, this may be relevant.

So to all the camera experts on here, if you'd had to choose between the two, which one would you pick and why?
Electronics enthusiasts and master of RF circuit design, also known as the art of Voodoo. My blog: http://jaunty-electronics.com
 

Offline KF5OBS

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2014, 06:41:14 am »
Quote
[...] secondly you ask which camera we might choose.

I'm doing this because someone else's pick will most likely mention some factors I haven't thought about. Cameras have always been like software is to many HW designers, a necessity that I did never think much about. I have used professional cameras in broadcast TV environment but even there did never spend much time on the camera itself. It was a tool to get the job done.

Quote
They seem to be overkill for blogging work. It would be helpful to know what about your present equipment is limiting you. Then go with the one that overcomes this. If either one will then it probably won't make much difference.

The reason for shooting a bit at overkill is that one of my newly acquired sponsors pays the bill. And if someone tells you that you can spend up to $ 3000 in video / audio gear, you - if you think economically smart - wouldn't spend a dollar less. My real limit with my current gear is more on the audio side. My camera merely has a mono 3.5 mm jack for an external microphone. So even though I have several wireless mics, I have to use a handheld mic or a mixer if I want to capture more than one person. In my lab no problem, I have an audio mixer and a Tascam DP-006 recorder, which I sometimes use to merge several audio sources late rin editing. But It looks like I have to be more portable and do more film work at trade shows and where my sponsors are located.

The other side is that more and more sponsors actually ask me to do video work for them directly out of the blogging domain. And through those requests I somehow skewed into creating video for third parties I meet in the process. So having professional gear is both a psychological and a operational aspect; The better my gear, the more confident the guy who's paying and the more options I have when shooting footage. I know that the psychological effect is more a pseudo-psychological effect. Someone skilled with a DSLR will probably outperform me with a JVC790 CHU (if I had one), but someone who pays a lot of money does expect to see a certain type of gear, unfortunately.

My personal favorite seems to be the XA25, however, I am not sure what a great difference 4:2:0 vs. 4:2:2 really does. I know that my current camera gives the chroma key edges a nasty transition, no matter how well I tweak the settings in Sony Vegas.
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Offline mariush

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2014, 07:00:53 am »
They're both overkill for video blogging.

XF100 is nice with 4:2:2 but 50mbps mpeg2 will be a pain in the ass to edit and not so nice due to large file sizes - you'll probably want to preserve the original recordings so be prepared to buy loads of dvds or bluray discs for backup). Keep in mind that in the end, you'll still have to compress in 4:2:0 for Youtube, otherwise Youtube will recompress it for you, so 4:2:2 will only be useful during editing (for chroma-key).

At that kind of money, and considering it's for blogging, I'd actually recommend going for something like Sony FDR-AX100.

It's a 4k camera ( 3840x2160 30fps or 24fps progressive) , has big CMOS sensor, saves directly to 60mbps h264  with stereo or 5.1 dolby etc etc  and can also record to 1080p 60 fps at 50mbps (so very good quality at compression)  and it also supports 720p @ 120fps if you want to do some high speed recording for example.
As the sensor is large and the lens are also good for 4k, the quality for 1080p is great so you can record to 1080p or,  you can record in 4k and then resize to 1080p during rendering of the content for better quality.
Works with SDXC class 10 cards for 4k content, sdxc or sdhc class 4  for 1080p... has microphone and headphones inputs... has 62mm filter ring but it has built in ND filter so no need to buy that one separately..

The only weak point really is that it doesn't handle well very fast motion when recording in 4k, due to the fact that it's limited at 30p (rolling shutter, moving trains or stuff like that won't record well). But for blogging, it's perfect.

Set the below video to 4K and watch the review:



 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2014, 08:14:01 am »
Forget image quality and other such aspects unless you are shooting a hollywood feature film. Everyday practical stuff matters.
The XA25 has dual SD card slots, the XA100 uses more troublesome CF cards.
The XA25 has WiFi, the XA100 doesn't.
The XA25 has the new DIGIC IV chip (don't know the benefits, but you know, newer is better...)
The XA25 has higher res screen. I shoot most of my videos "through" the screen, and the higher the res the better IMO.

I thin khe choice is pretty obvious, unless the (older model) XA100 has some very specific feature you need.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2014, 08:16:20 am »
They're both overkill for video blogging.
XF100 is nice with 4:2:2 but 50mbps mpeg2 will be a pain in the ass to edit and not so nice due to large file sizes - you'll probably want to preserve the original recordings so be prepared to buy loads of dvds or bluray discs for backup). Keep in mind that in the end, you'll still have to compress in 4:2:0 for Youtube, otherwise Youtube will recompress it for you, so 4:2:2 will only be useful during editing (for chroma-key).

I concur with this. Overkill for video blogging. I shoot in 17Mbps, and even used to shoot in 12Mbps 1440x1080 to save space, as I also keep all my original files.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2014, 08:25:26 am »
To the first point, I envy you the budget you have. You wouldn't need low light performance for blog work in most instances.

Not true.
I wouldn't go back to use any camera less than the Cannon HF G10 I have now in terms of low light performance. Low light isn't just night time, it's a few hundred lux in regular indoor light.
Try getting a good depth of field (by manually increasing the F stop) on a PCB or product shot whilst maintaining a noise free image in regular office or other lab light. The big sensor in my HF G10 is just able to do this in even 500lux of light on my bench.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2014, 08:29:15 am »
The other side is that more and more sponsors actually ask me to do video work for them directly out of the blogging domain. And through those requests I somehow skewed into creating video for third parties I meet in the process. So having professional gear is both a psychological and a operational aspect; The better my gear, the more confident the guy who's paying and the more options I have when shooting footage. I know that the psychological effect is more a pseudo-psychological effect. Someone skilled with a DSLR will probably outperform me with a JVC790 CHU (if I had one), but someone who pays a lot of money does expect to see a certain type of gear, unfortunately.

Yes, I can certainly understand that. The XA25 with a big arse shotgun will look the business. Throw in some Senheiser wireless mics in a custom attache case, and maybe a big HDMI external monitor and you'll look like a real pro.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2014, 09:20:01 am »
To the first point, I envy you the budget you have. You wouldn't need low light performance for blog work in most instances.

Not true.
I wouldn't go back to use any camera less than the Cannon HF G10 I have now in terms of low light performance. Low light isn't just night time, it's a few hundred lux in regular indoor light.
Try getting a good depth of field (by manually increasing the F stop) on a PCB or product shot whilst maintaining a noise free image in regular office or other lab light. The big sensor in my HF G10 is just able to do this in even 500lux of light on my bench.
For well controlled environments the typical argument would be to spend more money on lighting than a camera that works in lower light. Modern CFL and LED based instruments dont have the heat issues that make the space uncomfortable, and with some appropriate stands they will take up very little space.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2014, 10:34:32 am »
The reason for shooting a bit at overkill is that one of my newly acquired sponsors pays the bill. And if someone tells you that you can spend up to $ 3000 in video / audio gear, you - if you think economically smart - wouldn't spend a dollar less. My real limit with my current gear is more on the audio side.

Don't skimp on audio. For wireless it's either top quality that works, or crap quality that doesn't work. For field use, you'd want two sets of wireless mics, get the Senheiser G3 and be done with it. There is $1200 right there.
Rode Videomic Pro shotgun is another few hundred, although with those cam you have phantom power options. Once again, go Rode.
With a $3K budget you are hard pressed to afford either cam with a proper mic solution as well.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2014, 10:39:35 am »
For well controlled environments the typical argument would be to spend more money on lighting than a camera that works in lower light. Modern CFL and LED based instruments dont have the heat issues that make the space uncomfortable, and with some appropriate stands they will take up very little space.

You could very well make that argument, but studio lights are a PITA in an everyday lab shoot, trust me. You are already fiddling with enough stuff, the last thing you want is studio lights right next to you. Going from talking head shots to bench work, to closeups etc.
In any case, a $1k camcorder has decent enough quality to get the results in ordinary room light (with add-on macro lens). I'm just pointing out the low light myth that seems to get propagated, that "low light" only means darkness.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2014, 11:21:49 am »
Lest I get blown up on Mythbusters,
Quote
You wouldn't need low light performance for blog work in most instances.
I was referring to the headline 1.2 Lux figure quoted in the specs. The one they charge extra for.

Yeah, but that translates into better performance at higher light levels too, or less available light on the sensor when you increase the F stop as I mentioned.
You might have 500 lux on your object, but very low light levels on the sensor when trying to get those big depth of field shots, and with an additional macro lens that has some loss too.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2014, 11:27:36 am »
At that kind of money, and considering it's for blogging, I'd actually recommend going for something like Sony FDR-AX100.
It's a 4k camera ( 3840x2160 30fps or 24fps progressive) , has big CMOS sensor, saves directly to 60mbps h264  with stereo or 5.1 dolby etc etc  and can also record to 1080p 60 fps at 50mbps (so very good quality at compression)  and it also supports 720p @ 120fps if you want to do some high speed recording for example.

Forget the 4K, that 120fps at 720p is impressive and worth the money. Want.
 

Offline KF5OBS

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2014, 07:19:12 pm »
Okay, that's a lot of input. Thanks. Does anyone have an opinion how how badly 4:2:0 vs. 4:2:2 will affect chroma keying? I'm well aware that once it's on YouTube, the difference between the two color spaces will probably fade anyhow. But for the post-production steps involving chroma keying or color grading it appears that at least in theory the difference should be huge.

Some people across the interwebs insist that the XA25's HD-SDI output delivers 10-bit 4:2:2 information. While it may sound weird that they do offer two different color spaces, Canon clearly targets professional ENG environments with this feature. And I'm not sure if they'd accept 4:2:0. Then again, the broadcast station I worked for would heavily compress HD video to 6 Mbps MPEG4 before transmitting the live-shot back to the station.
If it's true that the HD-SDI output is 4:2:2, I could just record my chroma footage directly using a BlackMagic UltraStudio SDI.

Quote
Don't skimp on audio. For wireless it's either top quality that works, or crap quality that doesn't work. For field use, you'd want two sets of wireless mics, get the Senheiser G3 and be done with it. There is $1200 right there.

Yes, the $ 3k is budget for camera only. This is the audio gear I'm buying: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/877198-REG/Sennheiser_ew_100_ENG_G3.html/prm/alsVwDtl

Already have a few shotguns with "dead cat" that'll work well.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 07:23:28 pm by KF5OBS »
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Offline Someone

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2014, 05:45:28 am »
For well controlled environments the typical argument would be to spend more money on lighting than a camera that works in lower light. Modern CFL and LED based instruments dont have the heat issues that make the space uncomfortable, and with some appropriate stands they will take up very little space.

You could very well make that argument, but studio lights are a PITA in an everyday lab shoot, trust me. You are already fiddling with enough stuff, the last thing you want is studio lights right next to you. Going from talking head shots to bench work, to closeups etc.
In any case, a $1k camcorder has decent enough quality to get the results in ordinary room light (with add-on macro lens). I'm just pointing out the low light myth that seems to get propagated, that "low light" only means darkness.
That 1k figure is around about the tipping point, as you found with your experiences. Beyond that the gains in light performance get expensive.

The other side is that more and more sponsors actually ask me to do video work for them directly out of the blogging domain. And through those requests I somehow skewed into creating video for third parties I meet in the process. So having professional gear is both a psychological and a operational aspect; The better my gear, the more confident the guy who's paying and the more options I have when shooting footage. I know that the psychological effect is more a pseudo-psychological effect. Someone skilled with a DSLR will probably outperform me with a JVC790 CHU (if I had one), but someone who pays a lot of money does expect to see a certain type of gear, unfortunately.
Nothing says serious quicker than lights and flags, and a matte box on the camera. Also for video work the tripod can often cost more than the camera bodies.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2014, 05:48:12 am »
Okay, that's a lot of input. Thanks. Does anyone have an opinion how how badly 4:2:0 vs. 4:2:2 will affect chroma keying? I'm well aware that once it's on YouTube, the difference between the two color spaces will probably fade anyhow. But for the post-production steps involving chroma keying or color grading it appears that at least in theory the difference should be huge.

Some people across the interwebs insist that the XA25's HD-SDI output delivers 10-bit 4:2:2 information. While it may sound weird that they do offer two different color spaces, Canon clearly targets professional ENG environments with this feature. And I'm not sure if they'd accept 4:2:0. Then again, the broadcast station I worked for would heavily compress HD video to 6 Mbps MPEG4 before transmitting the live-shot back to the station.
If it's true that the HD-SDI output is 4:2:2, I could just record my chroma footage directly using a BlackMagic UltraStudio SDI.
Might be easiest to do some tests yourself, grab some 4:2:2 material and export it at 4:2:0 then compare how that composites against the original.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2014, 05:57:24 am »
If it's true that the HD-SDI output is 4:2:2, I could just record my chroma footage directly using a BlackMagic UltraStudio SDI.

My first question would be - why do you have to do chroma keying?
What is the advantage to your blog in using this?, or is this strictly for client work?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2014, 06:02:06 am »
Nothing says serious quicker than lights and flags, and a matte box on the camera. Also for video work the tripod can often cost more than the camera bodies.

Indeed.
There are really two problems here. The camera and gear needs for professional studio and field work don't necessarily lend themselves to being practical for general blogging.
I've seen quite a few bloggers go overboard on production, because they have access to professional gear and a proper studio etc. And then complain that it takes them all week to setup and shoot and edit one video that could have easily been done in a day with basic gear and pressing record.
 

Offline Legit-Design

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2014, 08:49:39 am »

What about New Panasonic GH4 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1028453-REG/panasonic_dmc_gh4kbody_lumix_dmc_gh4_mirrorless_micro.html). Or is it more those amateur film makers who want to do fancy camera tricks and change lenses between camera shots?

Panasonic has specifically made it for shooting video. GH4 has 4K video both cine 4k and UHD, 1080p @ 96fps (no sound), facetracking focus. Claims significantly improved autofocus. Shoots in modern video formats up to 200mbps (need fast and big SD cards), none of this MPEG-2. Also has 4:2:2 recording. Remote control and liveview while recording with smartphone app. Needs external microphone, maybe external recorder? But it's also cheaper at 1700$ on B&H, need lens and all that. But you can get exactly the lens you want and need, Image stabilization is in the lens. Is rolling shutter huge problem?

For XLR inputs there is with Interface Unit but that is over budget.

Video comparing GH4 to GH3 and demonstrating some of it's pros and cons:

I know Dave has mentioned on several occasions that DSLR and the like are not worth the hassle, or have to spend too much time tinkering with the camera and lens. But don't people buy those professional camcorders so they can manually zoom and focus the lens and have focus peaking? GH4 also has those. GH4 is more compact and weight is less, but maybe doesn't look as professional? After all the required accessories it might be in the same price category.
 

Offline KF5OBS

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2014, 07:24:43 pm »
Just talked this over with a few friends that work in broadcast. And since I hate it when people open threads but never post their resolution, I'd like to fill you all in. One of the friends said that if it's just about the chroma, go with the XA25 - just like most of you said. And as far as capturing 4:2:2 via the HD SDI output, he suggested a Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle 2. It's a very small and fairly inexpensive (USD 350) recorder that records in various formats onto a SSD. Since I have a spare 240 GB SSD, that sounds perfect.

For my new editing PC I'll also get SDI input / output cards. Looks like Sony Vegas Pro can handle the Blackmagic cards directly. I might also get a Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio switcher. It's a neat little switcher. It has inbuilt chroma key for live events. I'll stick it in a small 19" rack with a large SDI / HDMI monitor for the multi view monitoring. That way I'm ready for live stuff that I'm talking about with some of the sponsors. For a larger live event I can always rent a 2nd and 3rd camera to actually have multiple switcher sources.

I know... overkill, however, I'll use 0 of my own money so I would feel bad not spending all of it.

Quote
My first question would be - why do you have to do chroma keying?
What is the advantage to your blog in using this?, or is this strictly for client work?

I don't have to. But I want to. Not sure if it will be good but if I drop $ 3k on equipment I'd like the option.

Quote
The camera and gear needs for professional studio and field work don't necessarily lend themselves to being practical for general blogging.

Absolutely. The few 5500 K lights with umbrellas / reflectors that I have standing around here get in my way often enough. That's another thing I'll invest some money in; Actual ceiling mount lights that don't get in my way. Not sure if I'll do it as simple as mounting some sort of lights directly, or install a very small truss and hang some more professional lights.  But looking at Dave's videos, I see no reason to go fancy.

Quote
I've seen quite a few bloggers go overboard on production, because they have access to professional gear and a proper studio etc. And then complain that it takes them all week to setup and shoot and edit one video that could have easily been done in a day with basic gear and pressing record.

Well, you do what you're used to. Habit often creates problems. When you work in broadcast, you learn certain things. Like for instance, do pull a new manual white-balance whenever you change position or the light changes. If you film outside, you want to do it every now and then just to be safe. That's a habit I found myself in during the APEC conference. Watching your white-balance is certainly a good thing. But overdoing it is simply a waste of time. The difference is Broadcast vs. asynchronous blog. Broadcast is often live, my footage needs to be perfect now. For the blog not so much, most editing SW has white balance and color correction.
Electronics enthusiasts and master of RF circuit design, also known as the art of Voodoo. My blog: http://jaunty-electronics.com
 

Offline KF5OBS

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2014, 11:33:41 pm »
And just when I decided that I had a viable solution, I found this: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1043893-REG/canon_9592b002_xf205_hd_camcorder.html

The specs seem to be very similar to the XA25 but it has - among other things - 4:2:2 color space. If I even give up on the HD SDI out, it's available for USD 3499 as XF 200 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1043891-REG/canon_9593b002_xf200_hd_camcorder.html/prm/alsVwDtl). Is this camera worth waiting 'til June or should I just go ahead with the solution outline above?
Electronics enthusiasts and master of RF circuit design, also known as the art of Voodoo. My blog: http://jaunty-electronics.com
 

Offline Adamant

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2014, 01:59:58 am »
And just when I decided that I had a viable solution, I found this: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1043893-REG/canon_9592b002_xf205_hd_camcorder.html

The specs seem to be very similar to the XA25 but it has - among other things - 4:2:2 color space. If I even give up on the HD SDI out, it's available for USD 3499 as XF 200 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1043891-REG/canon_9593b002_xf200_hd_camcorder.html/prm/alsVwDtl). Is this camera worth waiting 'til June or should I just go ahead with the solution outline above?

G'day. I was googling and came across this forum and your post. Just thought I'd put my bib in and give you a heads up about the Canon XF cameras. I bought an Xf100, because it had 4:2:2 colour space and was affordable for me. I did a lot of googling of reviews and opinions and tests of the camera before I bought it. Found some negatives but mostly positives, and I really wanted something that could handle chromakeying well.

Got the cam, tried it out, and nearly wept with disappointment. Image quality is pure excrement. And despite a boatload of tweakable settings, I still haven't found a CP that will get a good image out of the camera.

Interestingly, (or should I say frustratingly), I've since found a whole bunch of very negative reviews of the camera, with some people positively vicious in their reaction to the camera's image quality. And it seems to me that owners who defend the camera are actually just defending their bad decision in buying it.

I know you're considering the XF 205, and I don't know anything about that one. But if it's anything like the XF100, I'd advise you not to touch it with a forty-foot pole!
 

Offline KF5OBS

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2014, 04:27:55 am »
Thanks for posting your XF100 experience. I have settled on the XF205. Since it is a whole lot newer (brand new release), I hope that it does not have any of the issues you referred to with the XF100.
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Offline KF5OBS

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Re: Canon XA25 vs. XF100 - Decision Help
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2014, 06:25:40 pm »
Got the XF200 in the mail, finally. First attempt to make my cat famous...



Straight out of the box in "full auto" mode.

EDIT:

« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 09:42:55 pm by KF5OBS »
Electronics enthusiasts and master of RF circuit design, also known as the art of Voodoo. My blog: http://jaunty-electronics.com
 


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