The XF100 is an older camera now so arguably past its ‘review worthy’ stage. However, it has also been superceded by the XF200/205 so that, together with the beginnings of 4K adoption, will undoubtedly see a number appearing for sale on Ebay. If you deliver in nothing more than 1080p, you could really pick up a great camera for a low price in a few months or so.
So how does it fare? Having used one for a couple of years, I’m not going to write a review. I’m just going to give you the good and the bad. If you are looking to purchase the camera, hopefully this concise list will give you a clear steer as to whether it is suitable for you from an unbiased source. If you have any specific questions about this information or any other questions about the camera, please get in touch.
- The 50mbps 4:2:2 colourspace MPEG2 codec is absolutely superb. This alone puts the camera ahead of other cameras with the same sensor.
- In good lighting and used correctly, the image quality can be stunning. Let’s face it, that’s pretty important.
- Physical control. For such a small body, you have access to everything with 10 programmable buttons.
- Decent audio. Full XLR balanced line mic inputs (+48V phantom) with 48kHz 16-bit PCM wav audio…i.e. uncompressed. The internal mics are good quality too despite their obvious restrictions.
- Custom picture profiles giving access to control gamma, white balance, knee, sharpening etc. Complete image control.
- Peaking and zebra. Once used, you’ll never want to be without.
- Punch in while recording. Useful for checking focus when peaking is not enough.
- Live YC waveform and RGB parade. It takes up a bit of the screen but it can be so useful and can be easily turned off.
- A decent wide shot when fully zoomed out and zoom to about 300mm 35mm equivalent. Not bad.
- Built in infrared capability to shoot in pitch black darkness.
- It’s small, light and compact for a camera of this type.
- Menus are accessed via a joystick not a touchscreen leaving the screen to stay clean and untouched.
- Built in ND to allow shooting in bright light while keeping wider than c.f/8.0.
- This is a camera designed for continuous recording. No file length restrictions here or overheating.
- Dual CF slots for simultaneous or continuous recording.
- Full size HDMI. Non of this mini or micro crap that bend and break.
- Decent battery capacities available giving hours of shooting on one charge.
- Good solid build quality overall (except in two areas…see below).
- Decent meta information saved to file plus timecode information.
- When available, the bokeh can look beautiful. It’s not what this camera is really about though.
- It’s a consumer grade sensor. It does well with it with that codec but it should always have been a non bayer filter arrangement.
- As a result of the above, low light performance is noisy. It can be well dealt with in post but you will see better noise performance from an iPhone!
- The viewfinder is dreadful. It’s poor quality and the mechanism is rattly and plastic.
- The audio switches are loose and plastic. They can make noise far too close to the internal mics if you are using them.
- The screen is left hand side only. It doesn’t flip over onto the right.
- ND is automatic or off only.
- There is only one large ring which is switchable between focus, iris and zoom. It needs all three (now added on the XF200).
- 1080 is 25fps only. No over cranking here I’m afraid, only at 720p (50fps) (30 or 60 at NTSC).
- Poor white balance control. It’s great once you get it right but it can be very unpredictable and takes some learning.
- Filters can be tricky to fit with the lens hood (e.g. an extra ND to open up the aperture).
So there you are. What do you think? If you’ve used the camera and can think of others, let me know.
For those of you currently using the XF100, the custom profile I currently use on the camera can be downloaded below.Download Picture Profile