Canon C100 2012 Review

Categories: Miscellaneous 6 Comments

C100-title-v2

Matt Davis “Detailed images, great highlight control with both Wide Dynamic Range and C-Log settings, a small neat hand-held form factor and plenty of features for Pro Videographers rather than indie film shooters. WFM, Cache Record, Dual Media slots with an option to record simultaneously on two cards, the ability to fine-tune shutter speeds to wayward computer/TV screens, fractional iris and gain, 0-6 stops of ND and a solid Canon EF mount that incorporates Auto Focus and Image Stabilisation where fitted. It’s the joy of DSLR video but with all the Pro accoutrements.

You’re getting the C300′s sensor and processing, fed to the non-broadcast AVCHD codec which – in the world of Corporate and Event videography – will be absolutely fine. When you need 4:2:2, simply hook up a separate recorder (the Ninja 2 works very well) and you’re all set for Broadcast or Chromakey.

It’s definitely not a perfect camera. The main downside is that Canon’s Marketing Department were overzealous in crippling the C100 to protect the C300 – 720p50/60 is the standard for DVD material (great SD with web friendly HD) but is absent from the C100. There’s no intervalometer even though there’s a half-hearted Slow Shutter mode. The EVF is barely adequate for ensuring that the camera is pointing in the right direction, and neither the EVF or the Panel should be trusted for exposure and colour balance.

But it comes down to the pictures, which are lovely.

Slomo, Timelapse and 1080p50/60 aficionados must look elsewhere (specifically the FS700). However, if you’re shooting Run & Gun, need to be inconspicuous, work fast and light, the C100 is a very well balanced camera with very good image quality. However, it’s gaining a reputation as ‘the Gateway Camera to C300 ownership”.
C100-webC100 Moan/Wish List:

- White balance 1: please can we have a more ‘spot mode’ for white set – currently we must fill the screen for an accurate white set, often requiring we remove the camera from its position, move to the subject and white set. We don’t have long ENG lenses to isolate a bit of white, and I note how EASY it is to achieve poor WB if you don’t fill the screen with a white sample.

- White balance 2: please can we have a more intelligent ‘ambient white set’ like Sonys – if no real white is available, one can white set on a scene and certain colours (e.g. skin tone) are picked up on and a fairly good WB is achieved especially in mixed light (e.g. daylight/fluoro, tungsten/MH).

- Intervalometer: Timelapse is a staple of videography – make dull exteriors or boring subjects like crowds or queues interesting by a little timelapse (1 frame every 1-10 seconds) – WITH SLOW SHUTTER. The latter is vital to achieve the ‘smeary/dreamy’ look. We could bring a DSLR and do it properly, but 1) it requires another ‘camera ecosystem’ with power, lenses, etc) and more importantly 2) I work alone, and don’t want to leave a camera unattended where it could be a H&S or even theft issue. EX1 was a dream in this respect.

- Focus Magnify: we need to be able to move the focus area (like a DSLR) so we can check critical focus on areas other than dead centre during a shot. Rule of thirds composition usually means interviewees eyes are always tantalisingly out of the magnified area just when we need this most. Secondly, the 1x/2x/4x dual zoom mode found on DSLRs would be much appreciated – especially if using the EVF!

- Shot Duration: with almost all interviews, at the end of the take a presenter will ask ‘how long was that?’ – surely a simple option to incorporate a ‘Duration’ display in place of the ‘Timecode’ display would be easy to implement, but I see it’s not even on the C300? This is a very valid requirement on pro video kit! (we don’t have Production Assistants with stopwatches any more)

- Is it possible to set the progressive recording modes to a proper Progressive, rather than ‘PSF’ mode? Same thing, but it’s causing issues with editors who receive rushes – apps such as FCPX and Premiere Pro don’t quite understand this implementation and we’re seeing examples of incorrectly ‘deinterlaced’ PSF being put online that leads to ugly aliasing artefacts. This little engineering cheat is going to cause a lot of tears before bedtime between shooters and editors.

- Will Canon be encouraging AJA, Black Magic and Sound Devices to implement their slightly odd implementation of HDMI? Currently, only the Atomos Ninja plays nice with the C100 – due to a lot of hard work by Atomos.

- Whilst we have ‘Preset free-run’ TimeCode which can be approximated to Time Of Day Code, a proper ‘Time of Day’ code which respects the clock settings (specifically shifting the time zone) would be appreciated.

Matt-Davis

My thanks to Matt for this comprehensive user review of his Canon C100, while it is a great camera it looses points due to stupidness like not having 720 50p and a viewfinder that quite frankly is not worth having. Plus points are the splendid carry handle with XLR and internal mic which is far better than the carbuncle seen on the C300 and the ability to turn off the noisy fan. Due to some protest I have updated the star rating to 5 stars as it does have the same sensor as the C300 and low noise performance.

C100-update

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6 comments on this post

  1. JR Dziengel says:

    Just got one! Better than average sounds good to me. Thanks for the review. I agree with both its strengths & weaknesses. Hopefully, some of these minor stupid :) quirks will be attended to through firmware updates and third party vendor products. I’ll be checking out the new Zacuto Z-finder when it releases. I am bunching this cam up with my Canon dslr, Sony ex1-R and the Ninja 2. Ready to go!! Happy Holidays :) :)

  2. I love mine – I would describe it as practical awesomeness! Yes there are somethings that I would like to change but overall – I love it. Very happy

  3. Matt Davis says:

    +1 on David’s comment – ‘Practical’ sums it up very well. It’s not as glitzy or fancy as the FS700, but… Ye Gods, its image is to die for. As an FS100 owner, the C100 does tend to widdle all over it apart from S&Q and 1080p50.

    Against the FS700, it’s a far more interesting bout. The FS series are so paranoid and careful about aliasing that their OLPF and the resultant lack of detail hurts the image in comparison to the C100.

    I have considered (maybe after a pint or two) selling my EX1s and FS100 to fund a C300. But after a few strong coffees, I also consider selling my FS100 and an EX1 to fund an FS700, and I truly believe those two cameras (FS700 and C100), side by side, are an awesome team. But then 60% of my work this year was shot on EX1s, because it’s easy to walk into virtually any assignment and return with plenty of good quality rushes because it’s one little black sausage of joy. Nice pictures, easy to hold, reasonable codec and lens. The C100 does all that, but better, albeit with three lenses: 11-16, 24-105 f4 (or 17-55 2.8) and 80-200 f4. Oh yes, and the Sigma 50mm 1.4. And the Samyang 35mm 1.4 – actually, hold on, this argument isn’t working as well as I hoped.

    But yeah – C100 for R&G with IS lenses: it rocks.

  4. JR Dziengel says:

    Thanks Matt!! I’m Loving mine so far!! Best to you!

  5. Nick says:

    so where is it?

    its nearly a month later?

    no real view on this camera. its bizarre.

    HDW : Sorry Nick paying work comes before non paying reviews, I will get back on the case this week.

  6. Len Kaufman says:

    I have the C100. While the purists may not want continuous auto-exposure and auto shut-off, why not implement these, with the option to turn them off. If you’re doing RnG, you’ll miss a lot of great shots, trying to manually adjust exposure while zooming, framing, etc. C’mon Canon, let’s get real. Wait ’til you seem my invention for continuous auto exposure! Primitive, perhaps, but it works!Don’t need it? Try circling a subject in a helicopter while continuously adjusting exposure! Lotsa’ luck!

    Let’s petition Canon. When we pay for the auto-focus upgrade next month (?) maybe they can add that in. Sounds like a firmware-type feature.

    Len

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