NAB 2012 PREVIEW – Canon To Release Two 4K Camera Systems And New Cinema EOS Zoom Lenses
Well, if you just plucked down $16K on your brand new C300, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your camera is now obsolete. Just kidding. The C300 is still a terrific digital motion picture camera and its 1920 x 1080 resolution is still the dominant format for both production and exhibition. For now.
But in case you haven’t heard, NAB 2012, which kicks off this weekend, is going to be all about 4K. And not just high-end F65 and RED EPIC 4K but 4K for the masses. JVC’s sub $5,000 GY-HMQ10, RED’s $16K Scarlet-X, the Sony $10,000 (approximately) FS700U all deliver 4K and are directly targeted towards the indie filmmaker. Now Canon jumps into the fray with perhaps the biggest 4K news yet. Hold on to your seats because they have three big releases for NAB.
CINEMA EOS C500/C500 PL The first and perhaps biggest news is the release of the Cinema EOS C500/C500 PL digital camera system that is capable of capturing 4K (4096 x 2160-pixel) resolution with uncompressed RAW output for external recording. Just like the C300, the C500 will be available in either EF- or PL-mount versions.
The C500 looks to be built along the same chassis as the C300 (with the exception of the C300′s rotating hand grip), but there is something entirely different “underneath the hood”. In terms of the 4K capture, the C500′s data stream is a 10-bit uncompressed RAW data stream with no de-Bayering (interesting) and also supports quad full-HD (3840 x 2160), as well as 2K (2048 x 1080) and full 1920 x 1080 resolution. All of the 4K formats can be operated from one to 60-fps. The system also employ a 12-bit RGB 4:4:4 signal format during 2K output, which can be selected to operate from one to 60 frames-per-second (fps) as well. If switched to a 10-bit YCrCb 4:2:2 mode, the camera can operate up to 120-fps. Along with outputting to an external recorder, the C500 records a 50-Mbps HD proxy video file to CF cards that can be used for offline editing (very smart).
The C500′s sensor is a newly developed Super 35mm-sized 8.85-megapixel CMOS that will be compatible with Canon’s range of EF Cinema and PL-mount leneses, as well as Canon EF lenses for DSLRs. Tech specs are a little sparse since the C500 is still in development. Canon plans on launching the camera later this year at a preliminary suggested list price of approximately $30,000. A prototype EF version of the camera will be on display at NAB.
EOS-1D C Canon announces a new camera system that delivers 4K (4096 x 2048) in the form factor of a DSLR. The EOS-1D C contains an 18.1-megapixel full-frame 24 x 36mm CMOS sensor and records 8-bit 422 Motion JPEG 4K video to CF cards at 24-fps or full HD from 24p to 60p. The sensitivity range goes up to an impressive 25600 ISO for low light situations. Although the bit-rate of the Motion JPEG capture is unknown as of yet, Motion JPEG tends to have a little more compression than the more popular H.264 codec. Previous Nikon DSLRs like the D90 used the Motion JPEG codec. (This was probably the trade off Canon had to make to deliver 4K to CF cards. More info on this after NAB.)
From the looks of the camera, the 1D-C looks very similar to Canon’s flagship DSLR, the 1D-X. One exciting aspect of the ID-C is that Canon Log is available with the system. The gamma setting, which was first employed in the C300, extends your dynamic range and delivers up to 12-stops of latitude. Although it’s not RAW capture like the C500, Canon Log does not increase the size of your files and can be captured to memory cards instead of an external recorder. I’m sure Canon is working with all of the appropriate NLEs to be able to work with the 4K Motion JPEG files natively.
For 4K capture, an APS-H-sized portion of the full image sensor is used while full HD can be captured by the full 36mm width of the CMOS or an optional Super 35 crop setting that allows cinematographers to match the industry standard S35 format.
Like the new 5D Mark III and 1D-X, the 1D-C has a built-in headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring, but unlike those cameras, it also has the ability to view the camera’s LCD screen while the HDMI port is engaged. I so wish the 5D Mark III had this feature.
As a still camera, like the 1D-X, the 1D-C has a sensitivity range of 100 – 51200 ISO and uses the new Dual DIGIC 5+ processor, which allows you to shoot stills up to 12-fps.
The 1D-C will also be available sometime in 2012 and has a suggested retail price of $15,000. Ouch! The price seems a bit high for Motion JPEG considering the Scarlet-X delivers both 4K and RAW capture but before placing any judgements, let’s wait and see what the images look like. Fyi, the ID-X has a price point of $6,700.
NEW LIGHTWEIGHT CINEMA EOS ZOOM LENSES
So now that you have your new 4K cameras, you’re probably going to need some great glass to capture your super high-resolution images. For professional productions shooting with a full camera crew, EF-mount DSLR lenses aren’t going to cut it. DSLR lenses are designed for still shooting and because of their AF function, the lenses have a short focus throw making it difficult for critical focus pulls. Making pulls within feet is feasible but within inches, you have to be a master focus puller.
Designed to resolve 4K resolution, Canon is releasing four lightweight zooms that can handle both handheld as well as Steadicam shooting. They include two wide-angle cinema zooms – the CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L S* (for EF mounts) and the CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L SP* (for PL mounts) – and two telephoto cinema zooms – the CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L S* (for EF mounts) and CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L SP* (for PL mounts). The lenses all feature a cinema-style body and have uniform gear positions, rotation angles and lens front diameters that professional camera crews won’t have to adjust to using a new lens system. There is no pricing on the lenses yet but you can expect them to be priced higher than say an EF 24-105mm f2.8 zoom. A lot higher.
I’m very excited about these new developments and they definitely mark a seismic shift for the production industry.
See you at NAB!