Announced back in 2011, the Canon EOS C300 has been one of Canon’s most successful video cameras since the launch of their Cinema EOS division, and at NAB 2015, they finally upgraded the camera to 4K. The EOS C300 Mark II is targeted at a broad range of shooters (cinema, documentary, event) and contains a new 8.85-megapixel Super 35mm CMOS sensor (twice the readout speed of the C300), new Dual DIGIC DV 5 processors and a new Canon XF-AVC codec that lets you capture 10-bit, 422 4K files internally. The camera also can record full HD (1920×1080), 2K DCI (2048×1080), UHD (3840×2160) and 4K DCI (4096×2160). Like the C300, the Mark II is great for low-light shooting and increases the amount of light that hits the sensor, lowering noise levels and supporting ISOs up to 102,400.
Another big new feature with the Mark II is the XF-AVC codec, which compresses 4K files to H.264 so they can be captured in-camera with CFast 2.0 memory cards. If you need a better 4K signal, you can simultaneously output uncompressed RAW 4K through the camera’s twin 3G-SDI outputs to an external recorder.
Canon Log has been one of Canon’s secret weapons for filmmakers who need more dynamic range for color grading, and saves valuable time without the need to process RAW files (not to mention saving you valuable hard drive space). I’m excited about the Mark II’s new log gamma curve, Canon Log 2, which can capture up to 15 stops of latitude. For professional cinematographers, the Mark II also supports both the ACES and new Rec. 2020 workflows, utilizing its MXF file structure. With MXF, the Mark II is also compatible with all of the professional NLE systems, as well as with high-end network systems used by production studios.
The new Dual DIGIC DV 5 processors power a lot of the Mark II’s new specs and features, including bit-rates up to 410 Mbps, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, simultaneous 4K and HD proxy recording and 2K/UHD frame rates up to 120 fps. You can record 10-bit, 4:2:2 at all resolution settings, but if you only need to shoot 2K or full HD, like the C500, the Mark II also supports 12-bit, 4:4:4 color sampling for better color information.
One of my favorite Canon features is Dual Pixel CMOS AF. Compared to other AF systems, Dual Pixel focus pulls look very organic and "man-made." The C300 Mark II has a new version of Dual Pixel AF that expands the autofocus area to 80% vertically and 80% horizontally. It can also capture face detection with EF lenses, as well as Canon’s STM lenses. Shooters can adjust the speed, tracking sensitivity, and specific size and location of the focusing area for better control, and there’s a new feature called AF-Boosted MF, which gives you more stability.
Besides being a little heavier due to less plastic, the Mark II is similar to the original C300 frame, and it comes with a removable handgrip and an improved low-angle camera handle extension, giving you additional attachment points. Like the C300, the Mark II also has a removable LCD monitor with detachable cables and a control panel with XLR inputs. The C300 Mark II is offered with either a standard EF or PL lens mount, but can also be modified later by authorized Canon Cinema EOS service centers. (Yes, this will cost extra.)
The C300 Mark II looks like a true professional camera, and with 4K capability, the camera joins the ranks of high-end camera systems like the new ARRI ALEXA SXT, RED EPIC DRAGON and Sony F55. By the way, what’s going to happen to the C500?
The Canon EOS C300 Mark II will be available in September 2015, with an MSRP of $20,000.
A DSLR KILLER
The Canon EOS C100 was announced back in late 2012 and became an instant hit among indie filmmakers who grew tired of DSLR workarounds. Last year, Canon released the updated C100 Mark II, a compact digital video camera that contains the same 8.3-megapixel Super 35mm CMOS sensor in all of the Cinema EOS cameras and the new DIGIC DV 4 processor. Like the original C100, the Mark II isn’t much bigger than a DSLR, but gives you a true video camera experience. The C100 Mark II also adds several groundbreaking features, including Dual Pixel CMOS AF as a standard feature, and a redesigned and much improved 3.5-inch OLED panel.
Canon sent me a C100 Mark II review unit that I used to shoot interviews and new products at NAB 2015. For my interviews, I shot with the C100 Mark II with an EF-S 10-18mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens.
In my opinion—after using it for a week—the C100 Mark II is the best single-shooter video camera on the market. It’s extremely lightweight like a DSLR, but unlike a DSLR, it offers balanced XLR inputs, Zebras and Peaking functions, internal ND filters, a viewfinder and Canon Log. Unlike compact Handycam-like camcorders, you have the advantage of capturing cinema-style shallow depth of field with the C100’s Super 35mm sensor. Because of its 8.3-megapixel sensor, the Mark II has an effective pixel resolution of UHD (3840×2160).
If you’re a single shooter, you should buy the C100 Mark II for two reasons—Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Canon Log. Although it doesn’t have touch-screen AF like the Canon EOS 70D, the auto-focus is consistent whether you’re center-framed or using face detection tracking, although I recommend using an STM lens, which eliminates focus adjustment noise when recording. Mounting the C100 Mark II on a Manfrotto monopod, I actually was able to conduct interviews while still shooting, something that would be nearly impossible with any other camera. Even when the subject moved, the face detection locked in, and I never lost focus.
I also loved the redesigned 3.5-inch OLED panel. You can articulate the screen at any angle, as well as fold it shut so the screen won’t be damaged during transport. You can capture nearly 100% field of view, as well as have access and control over your menus.
You now can record in AVCHD or MP4. I’m confused on the benefits of using AVCHD over MP4, but the bit-rates range from 24 to 35 Mbps, depending on your frame rate. For my workflow, I captured MP4 files at 23.98 fps, which have a bit-rate of 24 Mbps. Since it’s still a 1080 camera, it would have been nice to offer the Canon XF codec (50 Mbps, 4:2:2), but besides 4K, a low bit-rate is perhaps the only feature where the Mark II falls short.
For my Canon Log workflow, I shot exclusively Canon Log at native ISO 850, protecting my highlights. Because of the low bit-rates of H.264, the files actually were much smaller than files I’ve shot with my 70D, which has a bit-rate of approximately 47 Mbps. I color-corrected the footage in Final Cut Pro X, applying a Rec. 709 LUT using the LUT Utility from Color Grading Central.
The Canon EOS C100 Mark II is available now with a retail price of $5,499.
For more information on the Canon EOS C300 Mark II and the EOS C100 Mark II, visit www.usa.canon.com.
From The Top
An interview with Canon’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Masaya Maeda
|At NAB 2015, we got the chance to interview Masaya Maeda, Canon’s Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations. In a small room above Canon’s huge exhibitor space, Maeda gave us his thoughts on 4K, Cinema EOS, mirrorless cameras and DSLR lenses, as well as the new XC10 camera. He keeps his cards close to the vest.
HDVP: Happy to see that the C300 Mark II is offering 4K. On that note, what sort of future does the C500 have?