For a couple of years now cinema and video hounds both amateur and professional have been jumping up and down awaiting the debut of the RED camera technology. Many have held off major purchases of anything else, others got tired of waiting and reluctantly invested in lesser alternatives in order to get work done.
Canon has just launched its EOS C300 digital cinema camera and the RED’s long-awaited Scarlet. I do not remember that it was initially from Canon but it is now. The concept unit to the best of my memory were different but regardless here is what we have.
This latest event was a big deal! Canon dragged leading cinematographers on stage to co-sign and lend their approval of this breakthrough development.
Canon released its new camera on Hollywood’s Paramount lot.
Seen In attendance: Marty Scorsese and Ron Howard.
Though it records to the same video codec as previous Canon cameras (50Mbps 4:2:2 Canon XF) ‘video camera’ would be a misnomer. Digital cinema camera would be more appropriate with the S35-sized 4K sensor designed to appeal to budget film makers and episodic TV producers. Canon sees an opportunity to sell the equivalent of an Arri Alexa for a third of the price and compete with Sony’s CineAlta F3 large sensor offering. Of course, Canon has a bit of a psychological advantage in this regard.
Whilst a number of ‘Heath-Robinson’ arrangements were available for shooting film style on small sensor video cameras, it was the addition of a video mode to the Canon 5D MkII that really popularized the ’24 frames per second, shallow depth-of-field’ film style that’s all the rage these days. Of course, if you had some money and wanted to seriously go down the digital cinema route you bought a RED One – but that’s another story.
Cinema standard PL lens mount form
Canon EF lens mount form
- 4K-capable cinema-specific lenses -
- 14.5 – 60mm T2.6 wide zoom in both mounts
- 30 – 300mm T2.95-3.7 long zoom in both mounts
- EF-mount-only 24, 50 and 85mm cinema primes (work great on AP-C sized Canon still cameras)
- Camera’s sensor: a Super-35 sized CMOS of 3840 x 2160 pixels
- Quad HD rather than cinema 4K
- Only records 1080P at 24 – 30fps onto dual Compact Flash cards.
- No 4K output
- Superior color
- Superior low-light performance
- Shallow depth-of-field effects
- The picture can be saved with a Log Gamma (very flat, low contrast but high detail – suitable for post-processing) or with a
- Film-style look baked in
- Picture quality is very good.
- Nominal speed rating of the sensor is 800ASA with a potential 11 stops of latitude using Canon Log gamma.
- Slo-mo overcranking capabilities (60fps only available at 720P resolution)
- No automatic facilities on the camera only manual focus, manual exposure, manual white balance and manual level control on the two XLR mic inputs.
Its seems like the “razors and razor blades” sales approach. The camera comes as a kit, sans lens, but with a combined XLR audio input/LCD monitor unit, top handle, side grip, battery and charger.
Timeframe: Deliveries start at the end of January
Pricing: US$20,000 (GBP12,500 / EUR14,500). Higher than the predicted $16,000, street price ?. comparisons to he Sony F3 are inevitable.
The Canon records with a higher data rate (50Mbps as opposed to 30) and though that may not be be significant, the buzz is that the Canon edges the Sony on picture quality. The Canon only possesses a single SDI output connector whilst the Sony has two, enabling high quality 4:4:4 signal to be recorded directly from the sensor block.
Sony charges you $4,400 (GBP2,700 / EUR3,100).
Canon’s advantage will be it’s lenses and there can be no concerns about the quality of the new cinema primes.
Canon hopes to impress Hollywierd by setting up a new service, support and research facility in the region. This is clearly the first step for Canon (a 4K SLR style shooter is in the works). Visit their new site for clips and more info.