Friday, 8 April 2011

Firmware upgrade for XF305 + XF300

Canon has announced a firmware upgrade for the XF305 and XF300  to help those shooting in 3D and adding double-slot recording.

Most of the new features were already available on the XF105 (because it was launched after the XF305) including the ability to configure two units for 3D HD video capture.

But, there are some things I feel are still missing, that could easily be added.

If you are looking to shoot low budget 3D then the XF105 is already a good choice. But the new firmware for the XF300 and XF305 includes the ability to use the optical image shift in the lenses to aid in optically aligning two 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).

Double-Slot Recording

What is interesting to me is the ability to record video simultaneously to both card slots, giving an instant backup. This feature is already available on the XF100/XF105.

Relay Recording, where video is recorded to the second CF card once the first card is full, can now be turned off. This ensures that a single video shot is not split across two cards.

But, don't get too excited by this upgrade it won't be available for download until Q3 2011. But, if you are going to NAB in Las Vegas next week you'll be able to see the prototype firmware on the Canon stand.

I Wish

I do still have a request to add to this upgrade. Dear Canon can you add an extra page to the Status pages which includes all the really useful info about audio; something like the picture below from a Sony EX1 would be nice. See, nice big audio levels and a diagram to show which channels input 1 and 2 are being fed to.

Sony EX1 audio status page
Some indication of whether the phantom power is on or off would be great too, as shown by the Sony HVR-Z1's status page (below).

The phantom power and mic and line switches are tucked away under the lens - not an easy place to check they haven't been knocked. So, adding that to the status pages would be very useful too.

Sony Z1 audio status page

Go on - if Sony worked this out over 6 years ago - it can't be that tricky and it would be very helpful.