Canon has announced a firmware upgrade for its popular XF305 and XF300 HD camcorders that facilitates 3D shooting and adds double-slot recording.
Most of the new features were already possible on the newer, smaller, XF105, including the ability to configure two units for 3D HD video capture. The 3D Assist Function allows two units to be easily set up for 3D HD video, and adds an updated Scan Reverse function.
The new firmware includes the ability to use the optical image shift in the lenses to aid in optically aligning two XF305 or XF300 camcorders. There is also a Focal Length Guide that displays the zoom position of each camera in relation to each other to help calibrate zoom settings. This adjustment can be done through the menu system while the camcorders are mounted to a rig or tripod. Once aligned, the amount of the angle-of-view change is displayed after zoom adjustment, preventing camera misalignment and simplifying adjustment. This is similar to the 3D shooting functionality found in the XF105 and XF100 models.
The firmware will also update the Scan Reverse on the camcorders to allow for recorded images to be flipped on the horizontal axis, vertical axis, or both simultaneously to facilitate recording with 3D mirror rigs. The XF305, with its HD-SDI output, genlock, and SMPTE time code (in/out) terminals is more suitable for multi-camera or 3D production than the XF300 (which lacks these features).
Another new function that is already available on the XF100/XF105 is the ability to record footage simultaneously to both card slots, giving an instant backup of important content.
Relay Recording, where footage is seamlessly recorded to the second CF card as the first fills up, can now be turned off to prevent capture data from automatically being recorded to the second card. This allows the second card to be protected from recording and used only when designated or to allow the user to only copy or back up select takes to the card.
The XF300-series camcorders record MPEG-2 4:2:2 at 50Mbps (in a Material eXchange Format file wrapper), for 1920x1080 HD recording onto Compact Flash cards, and are accepted as full HD by the BBC for use on its programmes – as they are the least expensive camcorders on the approved list, they have become very popular for use on observational documentaries and magazine programmes.
The prototype firmware will be on show at NAB and is expected to be available for download in Q3 2011.
By David Fox