August 29, 2012

Canon EOS C100 Super35 camera

Canon has announced a new entry-level HD large-sensor camera to compliment its existing C300 and the upcoming 4k-capable C500. The C100 records about half the data rate of the C300, but then it will cost about half the price….

The EOS C100 digital video camera is aimed at budget filmmaking. It records 1920x1080 HD video in the AVCHD codec (24Mbps, 4:2:0) to dual SD cards, for up to 12 hours recording on two 64GB cards.

Higher quality formats will require an external recorder, such as the Atomos Ninja 2 (via the C100’s uncompressed HDMI port – no HD-SDI, but the HDMI is lockable).

It has three seconds of cache recording, so you can capture what happened before you pressed the record button.

By replacing the C300’s Compact Flash recording, the C100 shrinks to about 85% of the size, and weighs 1020g (410g less than the C300).

It has push auto iris and one-shot auto focus – or full manual focus and exposure control, but it is being touted as being optimised for use by a single operator, although these auto functions are not available if shooting with Canon’s cinema lenses.

It also has a rotatable 3.5-inch LCD control panel, which is built-in rather than an add-on (as it is on the C300), plus a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF). Thankfully, there are built-in ND filters (2, 4 and 6 stops), which gives it a key advantage over Sony’s NEX-FS100 and all DSLRs).

For audio, it has dual XLR inputs (on the detachable handle), recording linear PCM two-channel audio or Dolby digital two-channel audio.

Super35mm sensor

It promises “reduced rolling shutter artefacts” in interlaced mode, enhanced gamma modes, cinematic depth of field (from the Super35mm/APS-C sized sensor), and “excellent low-light performance”, which should be achievable as it appears to use the same 16:9 CMOS sensor as the C300 (which performs very well in low light and delivers excellent dynamic range of a consistent 12 stops through the ISO range).

It captures 8.4 megapixels, with individual Red, Green, and Blue channels for each full HD 1920x1080 frame, and provides an ISO range of from 320 to 20,000 for work in low light with “minimal picture noise”. It also uses Canon’s DIGIC DV III image processor for better colour rendition.

Frame rates

There are multiple recording modes, resolutions, and frame rates (60i, 50i, PF30, 25p, PF24 and 24p), plus enhanced gamma modes (including Wide Dynamic Range Gamma and Canon Log Gamma) for a peak dynamic range of 800% and wide exposure latitude for creative post-production image processing, colour correction, and contrast manipulation (although if you are recording AVCHD with 4:2:0 colour space, you lose a lot of that).

The C100 has a similar modular design to the C300, so you can add accessories to suit your shooting style. A removable side-mounted rotating grip with start/stop button and miniature "joystick" menu control provides almost SLR-like operation.

A detachable handle on top of the C100 includes dual XLR connectors, built-in stereo microphone, a bracket for an external microphone, audio-input level adjustments, and a tally light.

It can record to both SD cards simultaneously or relay-record from one card to the other, but also outputs uncompressed 4:2:2 HD via HDMI, including superimposed time code and 2:3 pull-down marker information. The HDMI is lockable, and if you’re using external recorders you really need this. Additional outputs include a USB connector and stereo headphone jack.

EF-mount lenses

The C100 can be fitted with EF-mount lenses (of which Canon makes more than 70 zoom and prime lenses in its EF, EF-S and EF Cinema lens line ups, with other lenses available from third-party manufacturers).

There are now seven EF Cinema lens models, which are more suited to video use than stills lenses.

There are four zooms: the compact, lightweight CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L wide-angle zoom and the CN-E30-105mm (pictured above) T2.8 L telephoto cinema zoom (available in EF and PL versions – with a list price of $24,500); the CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L wide-angle zoom and CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7 L telephoto zoom (also EF and PL).

The primes are: the CN-E24mm T1.5 L, CN-E50mm T1.3 L, and CN-E85mm T1.3 L prime lenses. Two new cinema primes, the 14mm T3.1 and 135mm T2.2 (pictured), were announced today for release in the Spring.

Price and availability

The EOS C100 should be available in November, with a list price of $7,999 – our local dealers are pricing it at about £4,160 + VAT (just under £5,000 inclusive) – about €5,250 or $6,500 – so it’s a little more expensive than an FS100, probably its nearest rival (but considering what it offers, probably better value).

By David Fox

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