This last Thursday Canon unveiled their flagship Cinema EOS camera, the $35,000 EOS C700, to many of the world’s most preeminent cinematographers at the ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood. Centered around a panel discussion on short film “The Calling”, the first project to be completed with the EOS C700, documentarian and commercial director Tyler Stableford, 1st A.C. Craig Grossmueller and Oscar-winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter, ASC (famous for his historic win on the film Titanic) discussed their experience with beta versions of the cameras in a field environment. Shooting in the mountains outside of Denver, backlit cliff-climbing scenics and ranching theatrics gave the team a chance to highlight the low-light capabilities, dynamic range and wireless abilities of the system. As the first Canon camera to offer anamorphic (2x and 1.3x), they were also able to use Cooke glass with 2x squeeze on the Super 35 sensor.
“Five years ago, when we came here, we considered the DPs and the 1st ACs who use and rely on our equipment,” began Eliott Peck, Senior Vice President at Canon USA, as well as associate member of the ASC, introducing the event and the camera, “and it was critical that we listen to you to deliver a product line that can help tell your story.”
Peck also announced that in-line with their dedication as a company not just to tech, but also to service, Canon would be moving the Canon Hollywood facility from Sunset Blvd to Burbank, where they will also have prep bays, 4K screening room and DI suite. More than 40,000 Cinema EOS cameras have been sold since Canon first introduced the line with the EOS C300, not coincidentally, to the date: November 3rd, 2011.
“There are four cameras in the world and they are all here at the moment, placed in various spots. The one that is outside is probably completely unguarded at the moment, ” laughed Canon’s Senior Technical Advisor, Tim Smith, just prior to introducing the film in the screening room of the ASC Clubhouse. “and then you have several ones in here, as well as one that you can put on your shoulder that looks like silver (*seen below). We left it that way intentionally because that’s a prototype without paint on it. If I hear one more time that our cameras are made out of plastic, I’m going to punch somebody! This is a magnesium-alloy camera, and when we paint it, it feels like plastic, but it’s still all-metal.”
The EOS C700 will be available in interchangeable Canon EF mount and PL mount, though Canon must perform swaps. (The Canon EF mount utilizes the stronger and more secure Canon Cinema Lock EF mount, which was first introduced in the C300 Mark II, and I first saw on the Canon ME20F-SH, reviewed in the October issue, on stands now. Similar to PL, it rotates to lock.) A third model, the $38,000 EOS C700 GSPL, planned for early 2017, will offer a global shutter rather than rolling shutter, which can cause jelly-motion during fast pans or highly detailed backgrounds. However there is a sacrifice to dynamic range and resolution with only 14 stops rather than 15 stops and 4.2K resolution rather than the 4.5K you find in the EOS C700 EF and PL versions.
Stableford, who also worked as camera operator, put together the shoot within only a couple of days. “We were shooting backlit horses, and cowboys galloping at us, and fast-moving scenes,” he explains about the narrative photography used in The Calling. “What does that mean? Well, we’re setting up the camera and we are able to hold about fifteen stops of latitude. We’re not even challenging the waveform at all as we’re shooting. We’re holding the highlights and we’re holding the shadows with plenty to spare… That’s a technical answer for you, but what it means is that we have more time to be creative, and to play. We’re not setting up 20×20 bounces against the wind, and we’re able to keep our shoot moving, with an aggressive shot list, and get footage that looks sensational.”
After asked by Tim Smith during the panel if his expectations were met in grade, or if anything surprised him, Carpenter was equally as enthusiastic about the system. “My first comment was why are you rating this camera at ASA 800, because I feel like it could totally rate this at 1600 ISO or 2000 ISO, all day, and never see any noise in the blacks. That was pretty astonishing.”
“The biggest learning curve for me, being a neophyte of HDR,” he laughs, “there are staggering amounts of detail out there, and as cinematographers, we won’t be able to get away with some of the tricks we used to do. ‘Oh this is just going to blow out.’ Well, it’s not going to just blow out anymore.”
As top-shelf Cinema EOS cameras, these features only begin to tap the surface of what these EOS 700 models can do. Following up on the first public workshop yesterday morning at Canon Hollywood, Loren Simons will lead a three-hour “Evening with the EOS C700” session looking at the new camera on November 12th from 5-8pm. Free registration is available on that here. (Canon Hollywood offers a number of upcoming classes and one-on-one sessions, see a calendar here.)
HDVP will be taking much longer looks at the cameras soon, as well. In the meantime, find the full list of EOS C700 specifications at Canon’s site here.
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