Canon Launches First Tapeless HD Pro Camcorders

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Hoping to capitalize on the growing demand for lower-cost HD
equipment, Canon USA
has launched its first tapeless HD cameras for the professional market.

The two new solid-state camcorders, the XF304 and XF300, record
in native HD to Compact Flash cards and are priced at lass than $8,000.

Canon hopes the low cost of its new XF305 and XF300 cameras,
coupled with some new imaging and lens technology, will give "these cameras the
broadest possible reach in terms of customers of any of the high-def camcorders
that Canon has put out," said Chuck Westfall, technical adviser for education in
Consumer Imaging Group Professional Products Marketing at Canon USA.

At the higher end of the market, Westfall noted, the camcorders
are capable of producing images "that meet the professional requirements for
studio work. That will allow us to start getting into markets as diverse as
digital cinema and television production."

Westfall also said he expects strong demand for the cameras for
electronic news-gathering and for the documentary, educational, government,
religious, and wedding and event video markets.

The camcorders record native HD images with "a new 50 [Megabits
per second] codec called the Canon XF Codec that has 4:2:2 color sampling" for better
color detail and finer transition in tone and color, Westfall said.

The cameras also come with a small, lightweight 18x HD
L-series lens that features the company's new SuperRange Optical Image
Stabilizer system and uses lens elements designed to minimize chromatic
aberrations.

"The lens and the sensors are all brand new," Westfall said.
"We're using the best quality L-series glass here, which means that there is
virtually no chromatic aberration ... This is also the first set of camcorders
featuring our new DIGIC DV III image
processor, which offers a tremendous range of tone and outstanding low light
sensitivity. It is certainly the best of any 1/3-inch CMOS
system we've seen and it rivals, if not exceeds, a lot of the half-inch systems
that are out there. It will support professional workflows where you need the
best image quality."

In recent years, Canon has capitalized on the demand for
lower cost cameras with HDV-format tape based camcorders and high end DSLR still
cameras that are capable of shooting HD video.

In the last two years, these DSLRs have been increasingly
popular for film, TV and advertising work and have been used in such network TV
productions as NBC's Saturday Night Live
and Fox's House. This season's House finale
was entirely with Canon's EOS 5D Mark II DSLR camera.

The CMOS image processor
used in the new XF305 and XF300 camcorders builds on Canon's extensive research
into CMOS imagers for its still cameras
during the last 10 years, Westfall siad, but they have some advantages over
DSLRs, which lack some of the functionality that broadcasters have
traditionally expected in a HD camcorder.

"With these cameras we are supplying a lot of the
functionality that is missing from the current generation of EOS," Westfall
said.

The two cameras will be available by the end of June,
with the XF305 priced at $7,999 and the XF300 at $6,799.

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