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Is Canon's 4K DSLR, the 1D C, the Perfect Hybrid Photo/Video Camera?

12.25.12 @ 8:27AM Tags : , , , , , , , ,

A lot of the talk around the 1D C has been the somewhat high price for a camera that has only a slight advantage in specs compared to the 1D X, which is far cheaper. Price aside, it’s important to talk about this camera in a way that might make more sense than as a 4K motion picture camera. The 1D C may very well be the the most affordable and the easiest to use hybrid stills/video camera in existence. We’re not talking about a camera that shoots great stills and HD video, like most hybrids, but a camera that shoots great stills and 4K video which photographers can use to pull still images from. Click through to check out a video showing off exactly that aspect of the camera.

Here is what Abraham Joffe from Untitled Film Works said about the camera and the video above:

We realized that the best and harshest critics to show these motion-acquired images would be photographers themselves. So on the 19th of December we invited some of Australia’s leading photographers to Sun Studios in Sydney Australia for a look. Reactions from each photographer varied from shock and amazement to almost disbelief. Understandably the discussion of would this negatively affect business was raised, but after some reflection everybody agreed that this is simply and exciting new tool for photographers and should not be feared. The art and skill of a photographer is still required when using a camera like the 1DC. Understanding and harnessing of light, composition and interaction with your subjects are all vital skills of a photographer and are not replaced by the idea of motion image capture. Photographers also use a variety of techniques to obtain unique looking images (like long exposure times and the use of remote flashes) these times of images would not be reproduced in video. I see the biggest step forward using motion image capture the ability to record many individual moments in time, all the while silently as there is no shutter being released. This could have great benefits in situations where you may want to remain more candid. Subjects could also feel more relaxed not knowing “photographs” are being taken.

Here is one of the still images (click for larger). Head on over to the Untitled Film Works website to see more of them:

This is some sort of strange revelation that I can kind of see what is going on inside Canon to create some recent products, like the somewhat underpowered Canon C100. While again I may not think a particular product is competitive for the price, if you really look at it, nothing quite matches what Canon is doing at specific price points. As of right now, the only other camera that realistically could be used for stills and video is the RED SCARLET and EPIC, but even with price drops, they are both a lot of camera for just photographers to be taking around with them — not to mention there is a lot more that goes into operating and maintaining those cameras than just turning them on and off.

I hadn’t really thought of the 4K mode as something a stills photographer could use, especially since this has been marketed as a cinema camera all along. Even though you’re not getting RAW stills, for people who need both stills and video in the same camera, a RED just may be too much camera, and really, there aren’t any other options. Of course, there are limitations, like anyone who has shot stills/video for RED knows. In order to get tack sharp photos, you might have to use a higher shutter speed, which may make your video look a little strange — otherwise, you can just shoot video as normal, and pull stills when there is an acceptable amount of motion blur.

I think as a motion picture camera, it’s a tough sell for anyone without a lot of money to spend. For $12,000 your money can go a lot further, and the best looking video format on the camera, the 4K MJPEG 4:2:2 mode, is going to use a ton of card space, not to mention that there are other video cameras in this range that can shoot 1080p video that looks as good, if not better, and won’t use nearly the storage space.

As for a stills/video hybrid, it makes far more sense to me, personally. If your shooting requires both at the same time, being able to get them in one camera is amazingly helpful. As mentioned above, it could also be useful for those photographers who want tons of different options to pull photographs without having to snap hundreds of photos — especially when doing so is bound to get on people’s nerves after a while, like at a wedding. Canon might do all right with some wealthy folks and Hollywood with marketing this as a video camera, but I think the best market is actually as a stills/video hybrid. You’re going to have to nail exposure more or less for both, but right now it’s the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish that task in one easy-to-use camera body. It might be expensive for only being slightly improved from the 1D X, but if you are someone who knows you might need a camera like this, there’s a good chance you can make it pay for itself.

You can check out more samples of the 1D C below:

What do you guys think? Did this change your mind at all about how this camera is being marketed? Who do you think this camera is best suited for?

Link: Micro Expression: Exploring Motion Image Photography — Untitled Film Works

[via Canon Rumors]


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Description image 57 COMMENTS

  • I think its an interesting new dimension to the camera but the image quality does not seem to have improved dramatically for the price point … im still very skeptical about the camera and canon’s technology vs the competition

  • DIYFilmSchool on 12.25.12 @ 9:01AM

    I don’t think it’s worth buying yet, certainly not at that pricepoint. One thing that I noticed in the test video is that there seems to still be a rolling shutter issue with motion, but that could have just been the web video itself. That said, it’s noticeably more stable than, say, the T-series of Canon cameras.

    That model in the second video has that apathetic, plasticized stare down pat.

    • I don’t know about “plasticized stare”. That’s just the look of someone who is extremely comfortable in front of the camera and is used to being photographed a lot.

      From the second video, is it me or does the image appear to be sharper than the 5D MK III?

  • Mike Collins on 12.25.12 @ 9:11AM

    The 1DC isn’t a tool for casual filmmakers. It is absolutely a professional motion picture camera and I imagine that it’s going to get a lot of use on features. It’s a rugged little beast that can be strapped nearly anywhere delivering a very lovely 4K image for a minimal cost. It’s priced for the market it’s aiming at.

    • Totally agree. There’s a lot of people keen to get their hands on this.

    • It’s isn’t a “professional motion picture camera” by a long-shot – it’s a 1DX running different firmware (I don’t believe Canon for a second when they say it’s completely different hardware from the 1DX). Further, and more importantly, it’s limited to an 8-bit colour-space that is then saved to a compressed format which retains no image metadata – this alone stops it being a “professional motion picture camera”. 10-bit is the minimum. 8-bit, and for this price? Give me a break.

      • There is uncompressed out to bypass the compression. As much as I hate 8-bit and desperately wish Canon would move up to at least 10-bit if not 12/14 this camera is going to see use on feature films. Its 1D X on steroids, and yes I do believe Canon bolstered up the internals, 4096×2160 frames at 24 frames per second could melt allot of cheap internals Canon might try and get away with on a few parts of the 1D X’s internals (not that the 1D X by any means is a slouch when it comes to ruggedness). If you can do a professional film out from a Canon 5D Mk.II’s even worse compression (Act of Valor) then you can do allot more with a 4:2:2 color space and other features.

  • I could see this being most popular for a lot of photojournalist who want to take quality stills but also collect 4k video for their archives. Unlike the C100, this thing is very unique and really has no competitor that isn’t a camcorder that costs twice as much.

  • Watching that first vid, Jim Jennard must be laughing. He had Steven Meisel shooting V and Vogue in 2008 with REDs. Canon gets, well, not that.

  • |) /\ |\/| | R on 12.25.12 @ 12:05PM

    As you say, C1 has an ‘somewhat high price’ and C100 is ‘somewhat underpowered’ so I would suggest that a blend of these two, with at least 60p at HD size, could be somewhat of an ideal Canon hybrid.
    I definitely see my self as a buyer of this kind of hybrid stills/video camera (much more than an dedicated video camera) but at this price point and without XLR, higher or even highly variable framerate I’m nowhere near to justifying that purchase.

  • The only reason to get this over a RED is because of longer battery life, lightweight, unbelievable fairytale high iso( you could literally shoot in the damnnn dark)

    other than that the cf memory cards are not that much cheaper than reds, and the red shoots raw,

    for 7000 i would snag about 2 in a heartbeat

    • Agreed – if it was 8k would sell very very well. I’m thinking of getting one – already booked a rental. Even at 12k, with a likely 3 year life cycle that’s doable. Plus the stills side is spectacular.
      As for the stills from video canard, isn’t each frame from a BMDCC about 5meg in RAW? That’s certainly big enough for a standard print. Just a thought.

      • |) /\ |\/| | R on 12.25.12 @ 1:17PM

        A good thought. I was also considering BMDCC as a hybrid camera option.
        RAW + resolution is good (or good enough) but we have to see once it’s finally released what is the smallest, most practical shooting setup.
        For now, as much I would want it, handheld and some sort of free shooting style is really not an option.

        • The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is really not an option for stills, as the 3.32 Megapixels in RAW means if you crop at all, you’re basically shooting still images with an HD camera. Granted, they are RAW, so you can do a lot with them, but I think the stills will really only be good for behind the scenes or promotional material.

          • Joe – I was meaning a standard 5 x 7 photo print:
            You can certainly do that with 3megapixels. Plus with decent software you could easily blow that up for editorial full page.
            I’m old enough to remember actually doing that for mags in the UK with 3-4 megapixel cams. :-)

          • Let me put it another way – could you shoot video, and pull stills for a tablet magazine from the BMDCC? Sure. In travel or fashion that’s a winner right there. Its certainly something worth exploring. I bet there are a few DNGs from the Mexico shoot that look amazing – and the model stuff from John Brawley you could have made an effective stills shoot from.

            • Of course you can pull stills, but using this as a stills camera doesn’t make any sense, especially because of the form factor which would require you to keep it locked down on a tripod or risk tons of motion blur. I’m not saying you can’t use this camera in lots of different situations, but after using it, I know it’s going to fight you in certain instances where you would have been better off using a different tool.

      • I’ve seen street price of $9K.

  • Raphael Wood on 12.25.12 @ 12:33PM

    Meanwhile RED cameras get used to create covers for Vogue magazine.

    • Yep.

    • Well, while the product Red makes is beyond impressive – I don’t really think we can compare it too much photographically. the frame pulls from the Epic are indeed fantastic, and really bring a new element to the idea of capturing photography – but the things I can do, and have seen done, with the 1Dx is just far more appeasing (to my eyes anyways). But i’m also comparing two completely different beats in terms of the sensor and processing. I do own both the Epic and 1Dx though, as well as a C300, and I while i think this 1DC appears to be a fantastic camera, I would be hard pressed to spend $12,000 on it when I’d probably only end up using it for photography.

      • Raphael Wood on 12.25.12 @ 1:35PM

        You make a fine point.
        Mine wasn’t so much about comparing cameras but rather the simple fact that we are getting to a point when our Motion cameras record motion comparable in terms of image quality, whether it be resolution, detail or latitude, to stills cameras. I would like to think that it’s the future and in 20 years or so photographers will instead wield Motion cameras.
        Regarding the 1D C, I don’t think it meets the criteria for what I mentioned since it doesn’t record RAW motion, nor does it’s compressed 4K footage come close to stills in detail, if anything it will make a good downscaled 1080p. Like anything Canon terribly overpriced.

        • I can agree with you there. I look forward to the new Red sensor and what implementation is to come in their business model. Canon has to open their eyes a bit in order to make some profound impact on the video community, but for the moment, I do enjoy their glass. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with their Cinema lenses as well, and hope to find myself with some of those in the future.

  • I think this cost wayyy too much. When the Bmcc is at 2.7k for only 3k bucks and you have the gopro shooting 4k for only 399.00 canon needs to lower the $$ if they are going to be back on top everyone had a canon dslr for shooting videos and for them to keep that up they need to price drop alot

  • I don’t understand all the hand-wringing and angst in the first video. SLRs have had continuous drive for decades. 8MP JPEGs have been around for years. So, this camera just has a mode where it will shoot 18MP RAW at 14fps and 8MP JPEGs at 24fps, and a latching shutter release for the second mode. Breathtaking! Revolutionary! A Complete Reinvention of Photography!


    I larf a bit at Philip Bloom’s statement that he hates external recorders. With this camera, you’re going to have to constantly be swapping CF cards all day long, and you will have “external boxes” you are juggling to hold them all. Meanwhile the CF format is very hazardous, as the pins inside the body can be broken easily, disabling the body. Say a grain of sand gets into one of the holes in the card, you push it in, the pin breaks and it doesn’t work, so you try the same sandy card in the other slot…and your shoot for the day has concluded. Don’t think that’s common? Ask a rental house. With all those additional CF insertions, the likelihood rises…

    But you have to convince people to buy the wrong camera because if they buy the right one they lose interest in reviews and reviewers for years. =/

  • make it shoot 4k 25fps/3k 50fps/2k 100fps without cropping , take out the mirror , add a better 10bit codec (xavc,avcultra,or make something ) with compression options and log profile, lower the price under 5k and we can talk again canon

  • Impressive! The 4K nightime bar scene shots of the flames at ISO 3200, ISO 12800, ISO 20,000 and at various shutter speeds seem to cut together well. Wow. However with the jittery Porsche car shots, the difference between 4K and regular HD doesn’t seem all that noticeable – at least as viewed on Vimeo. We probably need a 4K projection to see the actual quality. The ability to grab still photos from the movie is a clear benefit. Hey it’s Christmas day today I’m almost reaching to click the “add to cart” button on the B&H website. (The $11,999.00 is holding me back for now but this is so tempting…) For solo filmmakers, the Red requires too much stuff so this is the ideal next step stay in the resolution/dynamic range “arms race”. Would love to see more reviews like these.

  • VINCEGORTHO on 12.25.12 @ 4:29PM

    $12K and this just looks like healtheir 5DM2 footage.
    This doesn’t look as cinematic as a camera should look in this Price range.

  • Pulling stills from MJPEG? Okay then…

  • As somebody who came to video from still photography, I don’t buy the idea of using this for stills as the example wedding image doesn’y look anywhere near good enough to be useful for most print applications. Sure, TECHNICALLY, it’s about 8MP, enough for an A4 print at 300 dpi, but the actual image itself reminds me of the bad old days of upscaling lower res digital images to get to a native print size. It’s got the same, slightly plastic-y look and is nowhere near the resolution of a true 8MP still. It would be good enough for grabbing shots for the web but then, wouldn’t a decent 1920×1080 image like that the BMDCC be plenty big enough for that, and that gives you raw as well?

  • Doesn’t this scale up like the other DSLRs do so it’s not “true” 4K video, thus you’re not getting great MP or resolution to begin with?

  • As a Wedding photographer & Videographer I do not see using the Canon 1Dc for my business at all, beside the cost factor! For a wedding photographer who uses nature light to shoot would find themselves creating more workflow and no Raw files.

    Here is my my work flow as wedding photographer, using my two 5D Mark III and four 600ExRt allow me to rig up the lights in any dark environment such as Ceremony, reception and etc. The video would be useless without light set up for video?

    Like to hear any wedding photographer who does both Photography and Videography for the same assignment, would you be using the Canon 1Dc for photo + Video?

  • BMCC 2.0 @ 4K S35 sensor has a new marketing jargon to fill – first TRUE PHOTO/VIDEO Hybrid. This will be HUGE for wedding videographers/photojournalists.

  • The idea is awesome though..especially for our industry (weddings). And its great that a more proper format already exists and open at that! (Cinema DNG) . Real stills folder..RAW…uncompressed. So we can now charge for both photo and video with 1 camera..shooting once!:) So in the meantime the BMCC is the best camera for this application….2.5 K for mid sized photo albums is enough. But 4K and an S35 sensor who’s also super in low light would be awesome.

  • I think you’re spot on, it is a perfect tool for hybrid folks. In regards to price point, this camera is a first. Canon has every right to add a premium. Once the 4K dslr is democratized across manufacturers the price will naturally reduce. Another recent example of this sort of thing is Sony’s $20,000 4K TV.

  • Newspaper shooters are used to having to shoot both video and stills at one event, and for them frame grabbing is a really attractive idea. The problem, though, is shutter speed. If you’re shooting with a 180 degree shutter you’ll be at 1/50 or 1/60. This is just too slow to shoot moving subjects.

  • Iain Philpott on 12.27.12 @ 8:15PM

    Don’t doubt. I shoot Epic for stills with motion. This is a way cheaper alternative. It’s looking good to me – not for everything but it is looking good. Dragon needs to majorly step up the game to remain in the DSMC marketplace. I shoot for some pretty serious people but the cost of shooting Epic in terms of it’s weight when kitted to shoot means we are on a Fisher with a Dolly Grip. I can shoot with the 5D all by myself and one assistant on a Kessler Pod and Mini Jib. Bottom line on all of this if RED want’s to break into mainstream ‘owner operator’ stills territory (who are so used to the Canon workflow) they have still to reduce prices in what kit supports the main kit or just roll over and accept that Canon/Nikon/Phase are not far behind offering a DSMC solution (that I do not dispute RED invented) that just whips their butt’s.
    Interesting times that 6 months ago I would have put all my money on RED. Now I’m not so sure. Give me a 1DC that shoots compressed RAW (similar to RED’s compressed format) and then I’m super happy.

  • Maybe when Canon allows it to record a compressed raw format like what RED does with REDCODE, then it will be :)

    But the price is still out of reach for most people as well even in this form…

  • Shane Hurlbuts ISO test could have been really boring but I couldn’t stop watching that model, he’s a genius and that model the sexiest creature on earth, wow!

  • I’m convinced that Canon only made the camera 4K capable is to allow the shake to be removed from shaky footage and still have usable 1080p (or 720p) footage. Especially footage shot at any distance.

    Canon is not making the 1DC for film production. It’s for photo-journalist work in dangerous places and shaky footage.

  • Very interesting to read many of the comments above from obviously a wide spectrum of film and television backgrounds. I just want to give a response to a couple of things.. Firstly this wasn’t a canon paid promo. I approahed them asking to get my hands on a couple of 1DCs, and shoot our own projeç. Try had no input or influence on what we did. In fact canon Australia was suprised the “stills from 4k” was what we were focussing on. Secondly, I’m well aware that this is no way a first, I’ve been a RED follower for a long time. What I did enjoy exploring is the “solo” nature of run and gun shooting that this cam allows. (Ie Balancing it on the glidecam was easy.) One thing that isn’t as easy to appreciate in the film is the print quality. With the prints in front of you it’s easy to forget they are essentially 8bit jpegs. Comparing it to an EPIC i think is like comparing a great high performance BMW to a Formula One car. I totally agree the camera is well overpriced, and the “24fps only” is very limiting but I do see a place for this camera for news gatherers and certain hybrid-senarios. The 5Dm2 had so many crtisisms when it was released (in terms of compression, lack of DR, no timecode etc) and it did find a place for filmmakers. The only BIG difference I see here is that the price is very prohibitive and displays aren’t in place for the masses to soak-up the picture quality at 4k. Its been a fascinating debate all the same.

    • Couple of quick thoughts — (1) the extra dynamic range and lowlight of this camera are exciting, quite apart from the 4K; (2) for me personally, the image out of this cam looks good, regardless of colour depth; I’ve never entirely liked the look of the C300 and C100, though going by specs maybe you’d think they’d produce a similar image; I suppose internal processing is the difference; not sure; (3) rental option! Say they cost $400 to hire for a weekend, and you needed three of them for a wedding, is that so unrealistic to build into the price of a package? Or companies that shoot with just one highlights person and one or two documentary people could hire just one 1DC.

  • If this camera had raw or close to it at 2K, I would get it! 4K is awesome, but I’d much rather have a Full Frame 2K raw any day. Why doesn’t someone make this! Canon, or somebody, could make a 2k raw full frame camera that would give just as good of a “film look” as red, and do it much cheaper.