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Canon Expands Cinema EOS Lineup With New C100

Smaller, lighter Cinema EOS camera with new run-and-gun friendly features

By Dan Carr | August 29, 2012

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Less than a year after the launch of Canon's Cinema EOS system they have announced the third camera in the lineup, the C100. Positioned at the opposite end of the lineup to the new 4k C500, the C100 shrinks the same form factor and adds a few new features designed to make this HD camera the choice for one-man operations such as news gathering and documentary work. With a list price of $8000 it now fills the void between DSLRs and the C300 and will be available this November alongside the previously-announced C500.{C}

When Canon launched the C300 back in November of 2011 I had the opportunity to interview Eric Allen, one of Canon's product developers on that project. At the time I questioned Eric on whether the Cinema EOS 4k DSLR was the camera designed to be a stepping stone up from the DSLR world and his reply was definitively no. The assumption that myself and many others made was that in time there would be a product that fitted beneath the C300 in terms of pricing, and indeed the main complaint about the C300 was the perceived high pricing. Canon also never shied away from saying that the C300 was just the beginning, and surprised many at NAB this year when the 4K ready C500 was unveiled just a few months after the C300 had started to ship. Just five months down the road we now have the third camera to complete what I think we can now call a lineup.
 

C100 Specifications



  • Same 8.3MP Super 35mm CMOS sensor from the C300

  • EF Mount Only, no PL this time

  • Uncompressed 4:2:2 8-bit from HDMI (with embedded timecode); confirmed to me by Canon technical representative

  • Rear mounted LCD screen

  • Built in stereo microphone & XLRs on removable top handle

  • 15% weight and size reduction over c300

  • Same modular design and same removable side handle

  • Built in, mechanically operated ND filters

  • No slow motion whatsoever

  • ISO 320-20,000

  • Canon log gamma available as with C300

  • Dual SD Cards

  • 24 Mbps MPEG-4 AVCHD/H.264 recording, 4:2:0 color sampling

  • Auto exposure and auto focus functionality



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15% smaller than the C300, the C100 maintains the same design and shape


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The top handle now features an integrated stereo microphone


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Rear mounted LCD screen


From an ergonomic standpoint Canon have kept things fairly similar to their other cameras and maintained things like the built in ND filters and removable side handle. My biggest complaint about the C300's physical design was the inclusion of the LCD screen as part of the removable top handle and this problem has been remedied by moving the screen to the back of the camera instead. The top handle now features an integrated stereo microphone as well as the dual XLR inputs and they have maintained the 3.5mm mic input for those that want to go super low profile with their system using something like a RODE Videomic Pro.

Canon's press release also notes the inclusion of an auto exposure button and interestingly an auto focus mode labelled as One Shot AF. It's my understanding, from reading information posted to Canon's European CPN site that this mode is not a continuous mode as some people have reported, but simply a pre-record auto focus. The user would press the AF button, at which point the screen will display and then focus on a 100% view of the central part of the image, most likely using contrast detect AF similar to that seen in liveview with Canon's DSLRs. A continuous focus mode was seen in the video function of Canon's recent EOS-M announcement but all reports of that so far suggest it leaves a lot to be desired and Canon were probably right in leaving that off the table for this camera at the moment.

HD-SDI connections are missing, though all is not lost for multi-cam shooters as timecode is available embedded in the HDMI output, as well as 2:3 pull down. Whilst a 24Mbps AVCHD signal is not quite up to par with a 50Mbps MPEG-4 signal from the C300, the ability to record uncompressed from the HDMI using Canon's log gamma will be a budget friendly way to get a decent gradable image for low budget productions.

Most conspicuous in its absence is any ability at all to record slow motion footage. In a time when sub $1000 DSLRs can shoot 1080p 60, you'd think this would be a no-brainer. Do they really not want to undercut the features of the bigger brother C300 (only capable of 720p 60) that much that they would cripple the C100's performance in that fashion? It seems even stranger when you consider that the C100's main competition in the marketplace will be the Sony FS700, a camera that has several high speed modes capable of shooting up to 240fps at HD. Whilst I appreciate that news gathering and documentary shooters rarely need to overcrank, to not even offer 720p 60 which has been available in all their DSLRs from the 7D onwards, seems like backwards logic and is already generating some backlash from other industry pundits. In fact it seems to be the only really negative thing in the specs of this camera.
 

DSLR Vs C100 - The inevitable comparison



More than 18 months ago I wrote an article detailing why I though that the predicted convergence of stills and video cameras would never happen. At the time convergence was the buzz word but the requested features from stills and video shooters were just too different to make it work. Jump ahead nine months from that post and Canon confirmed my suspicions with the launch of the C300 and a dedicated Cinema EOS lineup and now we have what I would call the camera that filmmakers wished the 5d Mark 3 had been. A small form-factor, large sensor camera with built in professional audio options and a repositionable EVF and LCD screen.

You have to ask the question now, why would you shoot anything professional with a DSLR ?

The $8000 list price is likely to become closer to $7000 by the time it becomes a street price and if you add up the value of all the accessories you need to kit out a DSLR for professional application ( or at least similar spec to what the C100 offers) then you will quickly get in the same ballpark, if not more.
 


  • Canon 5D Mark 3 - $3500

  • Stereo Microphone - $500

  • EVF - $700

  • LCD - $600

  • XLR Mixer like the Sound Devices Mix Pre-D - $750

  • Cables necessary to connect all these things to your DSLR - $300

  • Cage or support system to attach everything to the camera - $600

  • Fader ND filter - $400




TOTAL - $7350

And after that big shopping list you'll be left with an un-ergonmic mess of cables and trinkets that won't shoot an image half as crisp as what Canon's Super 35mm sensor is capable of. Unless you specifically want the full frame look, or positively need a camera that does both stills and video then to me this camera draws a new line in the sand. There's no longer a need to shoot with a DSLR for professional applications. Of course people are shooting many small commercial projects on basic DSLR setups and more power to them, but I'm referring to big, messy DSLR rigs on sets. They should now be on their way out.

I wasn't so convinced this time had come when Sony released the FS700 though because that camera is still quite large and requires a little finessing to get it into a comfortably shootable rig in my opinion, but at least with the C100 Canon have recognized and remembered one of the major things that got many people into shooting with DSLRs in the first place, the small form factor. This is a small, lightweight camera that is ready to go into documentary production right out of the box.

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Comments

Burn-E: | August, 31, 2012

No 60p? Gone are the times when Canon was innovating (remember Canon’s native progressive HDV camcorders? This format was later picked up by Sony). Now, a year and a half after Panasonic added AVCHD Progressive to AVCHD spec, Canon still does not offer 1080p60. Moreover, it does not even offer 720p60, which was in AVCHD spec from the very beginning. I am not getting it.

Drew Lahat: | September, 07, 2012

What Apple did for NLE’s, Canon is doing to the budget cinematography market. Again, a leading player decides to give up on the market it has capitalized and focus on its sales strategy. Even more than in the NLE niche, there’s no shortage of competitors.

As for the comparison, it’s inaccurate at best. My DSLR expenses were:

GH2 (or a 60D for that matter) - $700
EVF - never needed one to date
Lilliput LCD - $300
Microphone - already had a Sennheiser shotgun
Cage - $100
Recorder - PIX240, which was a $4000 investment but is a moot point since it does so much more than a Zoom, and you might want one anyway with your C100.
ND filters - got screw-in Tiffen ND .6 and 1.2 for $90, but decided later to invest in a matte box ($1,150)
So my total was $1,200 + the PIX recorder. Not $7,350. Still, we spent way more than that on a whole usable camera package.

My point is that it’s all apples & oranges - everyone has a different situation with distinct needs, and various solutions will have different costs and different values to them.

I’ve never bothered with the Canon DSLRs, we have Panasonic Lumix’s here. It’s pretty hard these days to complain about a lack of ways to shoot affordable high-quality video. So enjoy the onslaught of camera choices and focus on improving your script, directing and production design, and on hiring better (and properly-compensated) cast & crew.

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