Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Canon's EOS C100: The new entry point into Canon's cinema cameras

IBC is fast approaching, and in anticipation of the show, Canon just announced the EOS C100 Cinema Camera, its new entry-level model. According to Digital Photography Review, the C100 is approximately 15% smaller than the C300, but it has the same basic design. It has a Super 35mm 8.3 Megapixel sensor, and the camera supports any lens with an EF mount, including Canon's Cinema lenses. Unlike the C300 and C500, both of which use Canon's 50Mbps 4:2:2 video codec, the C100 is strictly AVCHD-based, with a 24Mbps 4:2:0 codec. It has two SD card slots and can record to both cards simultaneously for automatic backup, or in relay mode to permit one card to be replaced while the camcorder records on the other card. The C100 records in 1080p at 24/25/30 fps, and 1080i at 50/60 fps. ISO sensitivity is from 300 to 20,000.

With the C100, Canon has included many of the automatic features that were left out of the C300: One-shot auto focus, auto iris and auto white balance. Continuous auto focus and iris adjustment when used with Canon's EF stepper motor lenses (STM) will be added with a firmware update next year. The C100 has built-in ND filters and dual XLR audio inputs. Video output is via a lockable HDMI connector. Expected list price when the C100 ships in November is $7.999 (U.S.).

The camera that the C100 will most likely be compared with is Sony's FS700, which has the same $7,999 list price without lens, and overall, very similar specifications. The FS700 uses AVCHD, but unlike the C100, it offers the 2.0 version that supports 28Mbps recording and 1080p at 50/60 fps. It also has full HD slow motion to 240 fps, and up to 960fps at lower resolution, while Philip Bloom notes that the specifications for the C100 don't say anything about slow motion support. The FS700 also has a 3G HD-SDI output, while the C100 is limited to HDMI out. On the downside, the FS700 uses Sony's E-mount, which has fewer available lenses than Canon's EF mount. In addition, it uses the "Lego bricks" design of the FS100, which seems to be about equally loved and hated by cinematographers.

My suspicion is that this could turn into the video equivalent of Canon vs. Nikon still cameras, with camps of users who simply prefer the video from one manufacturer over the other. In any event, the C100 is likely to be a very popular camera with users and a very important camera for Canon.
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