The C500 Mark II is the first digital cinema from Canon that’s truly modular. Pictured here with the optional V-mount back, shoulder mount/baseplate, rods, lens support, handgrip extension
At IBC 2019 in Amsterdam today, Canon introduced a new digital cinema camera, the C500 Mark II. I’m not going to go deep into the specs of the camera as they can easily be obtained from our news item. I’d like to posit what I see as the reason Canon updated the C500 Mark II, and what seems to be Canon’s strategy for continuing to update and refine the EOS Cinema camera lineup.
Top five headline features of the new C500 Mark II:
- 5.9K Full-Frame CMOS sensor
- User-changeable lens mounts
- Electronic image stabilization
- Internal cinema RAW light recording using a new media, CFexpress cards
- Modular body with thirteen accessories available
Of course, there are dozens of other interesting features on the C500 Mark II, but these five features, some of which are quite unique, mean that Canon is finally moving toward a more modular, customizable digital-cinema camera.
5.9K Full Frame CMOS sensor
This is the first 6K capable camera from Canon that can record the signal (ok, it’s 5.9K, close enough) internally. The C700FF can record a similar 5.9K signal, but only with an optional, expensive Codex recorder. The C500 Mark II can record that 5.9K signal internally using Cinema RAW Light, which is a significant factor for cost, weight, cleaner design with fewer cables and a host of other reasons.
User Interchangeable Lens Mounts
Other Canon cameras have had interchangeable lens mounts, but only were changeable with an expensive visit to a Canon Service Center. With the C500 Mark II, the user can purchase their very own (optional) locking EF Mount Kit and or a PL Mount Kit.
Electronic Five-Axis Image Stabilization
Not a lot of details about how exactly this function works were available at press time, but it is known that the C500 Mark II’s internal stabilization can work in concert with certain Canon IS and IS II equipped lenses to offer IS on five axis. If a non-IS lens is used, the C500 Mark II still offers three-axis internal stabilization. This is a an industry first: There are no other true digital-cinema cameras that offer this feature, which has become much more common on mirrorless cameras, like the Panasonic Lumix S1H, Panasonic Lumix GH5 and the Sony a7 variants.
Internal Cinema RAW Light Recording Using CFexpress Media
While long rumored as the next iteration of non-proprietary high-speed media card, the C500 Mark II will apparently be the first digital cinema camera to actually utilize the card format, which is itself launching at IBC 2019. Canon said this higher speed media was needed to handle the Cinema RAW Light recording at 5.9K resolution.
Modular Body with Thirteen Accessories Available
Unlike other Cinema EOS cameras, the C500 Mark II will have numerous accessory options available, including three different camera backs, two different EVFs, a remote paint box, separate baseplate, rods and handgrip rail package.
What Does It All Mean?
The C500 Mark II basic camera will retail for $15,999. The C500 Mark II is a professional digital cinema camera with pro audio and video connections, built-in ND filters, XLR audio inputs, etc., So, it’s definitely not a small mirrorless camera. Additionally, comparisons with low-cost leaders, like the Blackmagic Design Pocket 6K and the Panasonic S1H are probably not very relevant, since those cameras are used by different shooters, usually shooting different types of programming.
In a way, the C500 Mark II seems like a lower-end C700FF, but it’s much smaller, lighter (3.9lbs for the C500 Mark II body, 7.6lbs for the C700 FF body) and more agile.
The question is, will the C500 Mark II’s potential audience be willing to spend, realistically, about $18k to $20k for a fully optioned C500 Mark II? It’ll be interesting to see potential buyers reaction to this interesting, very full-featured camera. We will be doing a full, in-depth user review with the C500 Mark II as soon as it’s available to us. Stay tuned.