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Is the Canon C100 Currently the Best Fully-Featured Budget Filmmaking Camera?

12.24.12 @ 8:57AM Tags : , , , , ,

The Canon C100 is an interesting addition to the Cinema EOS line. Available for about a month now, the camera spec-wise falls right in line with the Sony FS100, except it has ND filters and isn’t capable of anything higher than 30fps. It’s designed to be a budget camera from Canon — as it’s basically a shrunken C300 with a different internal codec — but it’s more than twice as expensive as the nearest somewhat-affordable and high-quality DSLRs, the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800. Many have now gotten their hands on one, so let’s take a look at some of the results, and check out some more real-world footage examples.

This was a piece done by the team over at stillmotion for the launch of the C100, so while they aren’t going to bash the camera, I still believe you’re getting much of their honest opinions about using the gear:

Here is the behind the scenes video on that shoot:

Video review from Luke Neumann. The lenses used were: Nikkor Ai-s 20mm f 2.8, Nikkor Ai-s 50mm f 1.2, Canon 70-200 f 2.8 L II, Canon CN-E 85mm T 1.3 and an Isco Ultra Star 1.9x Anamorphic lens provided by Vid-Atlantic. Luke also has uploaded raw footage, so you can head on over to his site to check some out:

Some footage from , captured in cinema lock to ProRes 4:2:2 with the Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle 2, and only slight color adjustments in post.   You can download this from Vimeo and get a better sense of the quality. On a side note, the C100 HDMI output is funky just like many other cameras, so you’ll have a 24p image (whatever your frame rate might be) wrapped in a 60i file in post, unless the external recorder can extract the 24p image on the fly, like the Atomos Ninja and the AJA Ki Pro.

Video review from :

When this camera was first announced, I don’t think I really understood why Canon was pricing it at $8,000. As it turns out, they were playing their MSRP to Street Price game, and the final price was always intended to be $6,500. Most of the big manufacturers do this with their video cameras, but not with their photo cameras. If anyone can explain this to me, I’m all ears. It could have something to do with tariffs or taxes, but from now on if Canon or Sony announce any new video cameras, it is safe to assume the prices will be 15%-20% lower than MSRP.

Watching the footage from Ryan above was actually one of the first times I really considered this to be a possible filmmaking camera. Up until now, I thought this was a good documentary/small commercial/wedding film camera. For those purposes, it’s fantastic, even if it is a little more expensive than the FS100. You’ve got great low-light performance, ND filters, and if you need to shoot internally, codec-wise you’re in the same ballpark as other Canon DSLRs — you won’t be able to push it infinitely and do tons of secondaries, but it’s going to get the job done, especially for web video. For some of those situations, however, two cameras might be better than one, and while you could buy a couple used Mark IIs and a Mark III for the same price as this camera, if you need more than one C100, you’re looking at $13,000. That’s a much heavier investment, but let’s get into where I think this can actually be used as a filmmaking camera.

If you’re trying to make a film for no money and steal shots (which I’ve done countless times), this camera will give you the best image, for the least amount of money, in the smallest and most fully-featured/ergonomic package possible. Yes the Sony FS700 will give you slow motion and eventually 4K, but it’s a bit more expensive, and the camera is a bit bigger and more unwieldy. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is not shipping in volume yet, but it’s a far quirkier camera in terms of overall features, and it trades features for better image quality than either the C100 or the FS700/FS100. I don’t think the C100 is the best camera for all filmmaking situations, but if you make work consistently in a specific way, and you want better resolution and image fidelity than you’re currently getting with a DSLR, this camera makes a lot of sense. As far as whether it looks “cinematic” or not, I think it looks as good as any DSLR, and there is no question plenty of great work has been made with those cameras.

It’s unfortunate that Canon didn’t have a much higher quality codec that they could have put in the C300 and the C500, and then put the 50mbps 4:2:2 codec into the C100. If that were the case, I might not even bother with an external recorder for most situations, as that codec is very robust. For the type of running and gunning that people want to do, an external recorder could slow you down significantly — not to mention there is always a risk of the HDMI being pulled out during a critical moment since this camera does not feature HD-SDI.

So there you go, I have seemingly done a 180 on this camera, but not necessarily for every situation. If your budget is about $3,000 to about $8,000 (keeping in mind that cameras always cost more than their street price), there are really only a few options for large sensor video cameras. You’ve got the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, FS100, C100, and FS700. If you aren’t constantly running and gunning, and more cameras is better than one good camera, the C100 might be a bit too expensive, and the only other two options are the FS100 and the BMCC. If you’re in controlled situations much of the time, and you don’t need the low-light performance, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is going to be the best bang for the buck (whenever they finally start shipping). The next more expensive camera, the FS700, gives way better slow motion options — so if that’s what you need most, I wouldn’t even give the C100 a look — but it’s not going to be the most comfortable or the most discreet camera in the world.

If, however, you’re shooting in lots of different situations with varying degrees of lighting control, you shoot anything from narrative to documentary to commercials, you need to operate with a tiny rig or no rig at all, you want XLR and ND filters on-board, and you need/want better resolution than a DSLR, then I think the C100 might be your best option right now. Does that mean it will always be that way? Of course not, but you shoot with the best camera you can get right now, because there will always be something better 6 months down the road. The C100 might have some slight usability issues, but if you look at the rest of the pack, all of the cameras below $10,000 are sacrificing something to save on the final cost.

I don’t think we’re too far off from having excellent cameras that are as good, if not better, than this one in the $3,000-$6,000 range. I would have loved to have seen Canon introduce this around $3,000-$4,000 and really put pressure on the rest of the industry, but they are a business and what I think something is worth is irrelevant — because it’s all about how much it’s worth to you if it can make your life easier and let you achieve high-quality results. If you look at it another way, this is a great rental camera if you’re on a really tight budget. While the C300 usually rents for only a little bit more, if you’re trying to save every penny, you could rent 2 of these for only a little more money than one C300. I think when it comes down to it, in a right camera for the right job scenario, the C100 checks off plenty of boxes.

What do you guys think? Has any of the footage above convinced you otherwise about this camera? Could you see yourself making a full narrative film with the C100 on the cheap? What about as a rental option? Let us know what you think in the comments.



We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 109 COMMENTS

  • Besides ND filters and codecs, what does the C100 provide that a 5D3 does not? Does it e.g. solve rolling shutter issues?

    • I think the most important features are (effective) resolution and dynamic range. The final image has substantially more useful information than that of a 5D3.

      Also my opinion is that the images from this camera are subjectively very nice.

      • The C100 paired with a Ninja 2 is a killer combination for a great price. It cannot be compared to a 5DMKIII…

    • Also XLR inputs

    • While i appreciate the post and to answer your question and questions of others, Let me ask does the FS100,D800, OR 5D MARK III HAVE A 4K SENSOR? No neither of those cameras have a damn near 4k sensor, which is the most often overlooked spec of this camera.

      The footage from this camera could be projected on a 2k or 4k camera and actually hold up without fancy upscaling that you would have to do with fs100 or other dslr’s with the exception of the 4k 1dc.

      This is what seperates the camera from the pact. Not to meniton battery life, lowlight capabilities that overshadow the red epic, or any other cinema camera.

      The fs100 or dslr’s are not cinema cameras because of there inferior sensor.

      • While I understand what you mean, both the 5D and D800 have a sensor with more pixels than 4k.

      • The FS100 has a 3K sensor, the D800 has a 7K sensor, and the Mark III has a 5K, almost 6K sensor. Now, in video, none of them are capable of more than 1080p, so I think what you’re talking about is how the images are downscaled and how much resolved detail makes its way through to the final image before aliasing.

        If that’s what you mean, the FS100 and the C100 are in the same league in terms of resolution, and they would both likely upscale to 4K in a similar way. The D800 is just below those in resolution, and the Mark III is below all of them.

        • JOE neither the fs100, nor does any dslr south of 1DC have video picuture final resolution of the c300/c100

          Are you saying the the fs100,d800 are on par with the c300? And im not talking about upscaling etc, im talking right out the box with no extra post upscaling, can the fs100 and d800 compare with final video resolution of the c100/c300? i dont think so, which should downplay the question of even comparing the latter of the mentioned dslr cameras paired up against the c100 which is basically a c300 with external recorder minus about 26mbps.

          • What do you mean by final resolution? I think you’re referring to resolved detail, which comes from shooting a camera on a resolution chart. I’ve seen the FS100 and the C300 on the big screen, on a 2K projection, which is why I linked to the Zacuto shootout.

            Right out of the box the FS100 is on par with the C100 and the C300. This isn’t guesswork, this comes from actual measurements and real-world examples. Which image looks better is completely subjective, but they are still just 1080p cameras.

          • Have you ever seen an actual FS100 footage up close? The resolution is awesome it could intercut with a BMCC footage anyday. It wont grade as well, but sharpness, detail and resolution wise the fs100 can hold its own. And don’nt even get me started on its lowlight capability. It will crush any full frame camera any day. I think its one of Sony’s most amazing sensor ever (same one as in the F3) and would LOVE to see it in a new more ergonomic cheaper model. To answer the question of this article, no the C100 is not the best value for money run and gun cinema camera..its the FS100. If only. But please Sony, update it with a new design, keep the sensor, make it look more like a dslr/bmcc.

        • The c100 do a 4k actually, but the final output is 1080, but i can’t see a real deference from other cameras with big sensor, especially in 4k screen projector, so i think the canon c100 is a full HD camera with big sensor.

    • Does it solve rolling shutter issue though, as per original comment? Does sensor overheat?

    • Both a C100 and 5DMIII shooter here. Another noticeable difference between the two cams is the level of sharpness and detail. The C100 blows the 5DM3 in IQ. Of course you can do magic lantern RAW on the 5DMIII but the workflow is pain in the butt.

  • After selling my ex1 almost a year ago, and having the challenging task of relying almost solely on DSLR for all of my work (weddings/events/web commercial/doc) the limitations of DSLR had frustrated me so much that I had become almost desperate to find something that could deliver the image i had become accustomed to with the 5d, with the features i loved on previous video cameras. Seemed like the promises were endless, but nothing was stepping up (that didn’t have considerable short comings re: fs100). The fs700 came close, and I came very close to buying it, but poor ergonomics, despite great image and slow mo put me off (after hiring). This came along and I knew straight away it was for me. I’ve had it for 4 weeks now, shot a couple of weddings, a few short commercials, a few lectures and some musical performances. Each situation it’s outperformed my mkiii (which you would expect) in all areas – ergonomics, ease of use, low light, image quality, dynamic range and of course xlr audio, zebras etc are great. This to me is hands down the best budget prof. camera going around – for my work anyway. As mentioned in one of the videos.. the EVF sucks (perhaps calibration would help – must get round to it).. and the codec/lack of frame rate variability is very disappointing – and no slowmo/timelapse has robbed us of important tools (can someone hack this? plz).. other than that, I really think this camera will be a very strong (albeit quiet) achiever.. there’s definitely room in the market for something to trump this.. but i’m guessing it will be a few years before we see it. And with samples like that from Ryan coming along, it’s exciting to see the camera’s genuine potential for cinematic performance, as well as it’s very practical uses in the type of work myself and i’m sure many fellow readers undertake.

  • @David, the codec is actually pretty much the same as the codec used in the 5D3; so it doesn’t really “solve” that. What the C100 offers is sharpness, much better dynamic range, less moire, and a locking uncompressed HDMI output. Check out this comparison, and you’ll see the differences:

    @Joe Marine, you took the words right out of my mouth. Yes, the BMCC footage is incredible, and the Sony FS700 has insane slow motion capabilities, and DSLRs are cheap, but the C100 has a place too. I had also given up hope that this could work as a cinema camera, but that short from Ryan really convinced me otherwise. Think about it this way: C100 + Atomos Ninja 2 + Zacuto Z-Finder = about $8500. And suddenly you have a C300! (minus the measly 720p 60 fps, which is a huge bummer–I am still baffled that they didn’t allow any overcranking at all). Sure, with an external recorder the package will get a little more bulky, but it still won’t be as bad as a Scarlet or an FS700+external recorder. For someone that wants to do some cinematic work on the cheap, using existing light, this is a great camera.
    I’m seriously looking at it as a possibility for a noir picture.

    • Agree you have some that may complain about the bulk of adding external recorder, buy technically the BLACK MAGIC camera will require a external battery, which will require a battery plate and basically most prime time cinema cameras used on sets are all rigged up, im upset of them not allowing the internal 422 codec but the atomos is not that bad.

      4k sensor+atomos= c300 , long battery life just amazing camera

    • thanks for the link, shall check it out! i find that with cinestyle flat picture styles and a few other tweaks, the dynamic range of even a lowly 7D can be pretty impressive (as in shooting outside in the snow on a blinding sunny day works) so range does not seem to be a really big concern at this point, while xlr inputs and uncompressed hdmi definitely add to the appeal!

  • Actually the C100 does allow a 60/50i overcrank. You then effectively get a 1920×540 60 frames per second. It takes a bit more work than 720p but it is there. Interlaced is always a bit of a pain but way before 720p became the norm, people regularly did slowmotion with 50i/60i. Has that skill disappeared?

  • Just for price comparison, the new Panasonic AG-AC90 does 95% of what the C100 does for $1,850. Sure there is no lens interchangeability, its not great in low light (has some very nice noise reduction though), but it has a very advanced OIS, time lapse, has a built-in (although automatic) ND, shoots very sharp 60fps 1080p, can shoot 4.4.2, and has a very advanced automatic mode. My point is the C100 is way over priced in todays market. I think $4000 – $4500 street price would have been more realistic. Yes the ability to put on the very pretty lens is a factor, but so does the BMC. So you could buy both the AG-AC90 and the BMC for LESS than one C100. Anyone shooting events knows 2 cameras are better than one so you would be way ahead.

  • I’m not sure it’s meaningful to say a budget range is $3k-$8k. That’s a HUGE difference. I am squeezing the pocket book to death to make $3k work (previously using 7D’s). I don’t consider almost 3 times that amount ($8K) in the same category. We are still waiting for our BMCC [argh], which seems to be the absolute best bang for your buck at the moment. I’m sure this will change soon, as with all things tech, but I don’t consider the Sony or Canon in the same price range as the BMCC (they’re more than twice as much). We also shoot in more “controlled situations” as the article mentions, so we have that luxury when it comes to the possibility of using the BMCC.

  • The C100 with the Atomos Ninja2 and SSD is the best small, guerrilla-workable camera I’ve ever worked with. And I’ve worked with Scarlets, all flavors of HDSLRs, and on and on. The picture is pretty amazing, and capturing in ProRes HQ with the “cine switch” on means you get a ton of color gradability in post. We’re using our C100 for a documentary for Oxford U right now, and we’ll be doing a nighttime short film with it in a couple of months, too.

    • VINCEGORTHO on 12.24.12 @ 1:10PM

      I would argue that the D800 is.
      Stills and photo.
      Clean image capable of 8bit 422 color.
      Only diff is XLRs and great low light.
      buc compare a complete $4k package for D800 with Ninja, to $8k package for C100 and Ninja.

      • I’ve never shot on D800, so I don’t know if it has on board IR ND filters, but that alone makes for a better deal if the D800 doesn’t have it. To get similar speed in adjusting filtration, you would need a matte box , IR ND filter, ND filters, and rail support system, and it still wouldn’t be as fast as flipping a switch. Most likely you’ll have to have a camera assistant to swap lenses and filters for daylight filming. Though you’re upfront costs might be less, the cost of production and crew would be little more I think.

      • image of c100 is much better than d800

        • I would love to see a comparison between the Nikon D800 with the Canon C100 with an external recorder for both. I love the look of the Canon C100 but the Nikon D800 is definitely better than the Canon 5Dm3. I wonder how much of a difference there is in the dynamic range and resolution. I can’t find any videos on the internet comparing the two. From looking at Sekonic dynamic range profiles, it seems the two cameras are evenly matched (but I have to see practical tests to verify that).

  • I have to ask when $6500 became “budget”. I think that cutoff is around $3500 max for an individual who isn’t wealthy. Kinda like how a $30,000 car isn’t “expensive”, but is far from “budget”.

    Having said that, this does seem to be the best camera in it’s price range if you aren’t too tied to having slo-mo (an unforgivable omission for a ~$7000 camera). The XLR, lowlight, interchangeable batteries, articulating screen and ND filters make it a much more convenient camera than the BMCC which I think a lot of us consider to be the alternative to this camera. Also easier to find fast/wide glass for it.

    I’m still opting for the BMCC because it’s cheaper for me (I own a lot of the kit you need) and the image quality is better.

    • It’s all relative. I’m talking specifically about large sensor video cameras when I mention fully-featured, which can still cost over $100,000. So $6,500 vs. $100,000 is definitely budget, especially when you consider that any camera for filmmaking before DSLRs was in that same range of about $4,000-$8,000 or more – and those were budget options then when you compared them to expensive shoulder cameras.

      • Augusto Alves da SIlva on 12.27.12 @ 7:38PM

        I think most people are either new to the business or have lapses of memory… ;-) A few years ago a Sony Betacam SP camera recorder(BVV-5) cost over 10k….a Sony D-30 (camera head) was easily with a fujinon budget zoom lens at least 25k. Now we have a full HD camera that records digital files (no tape) and people think 6.5k is not budget??? A Sony Digibeta recorder/player still used in broadcast standards all over the world was priced at 50k a few years ago!!! Come on guys is your work cheap? I am sorry but mine isn´t…I make good money but it is Canon, Sony, Panasonic etc…that supply us with the tools. A balance is required, I know manufacturers could give us the perfect camera today but in reality they have been funding their own R&D due to the fact we now can make better quality movies than ever before with a 1k photo camera….Is this not enough? People comparing film dynamic range with 10k cameras? If the market was like this 25 years ago when I started I would have already fulfilled almost all my professional/artistic dreams. Please be grateful and enjoy what is given to you in these exciting times.

        • Jacques E. Bouchard on 12.29.12 @ 3:06PM

          Yes, we’re all blubbering masses of gratitude. But I think you’re confusing “limited budget” with “stinginess”. Doesn’t matter how inexpensive a camera is if you can’t afford to buy it. Most of us aren’t dedicated cameramen, we also have to purchase – and upgrade! – other production equipment (sound, lightning, studio accessories, backdrops, computer, software, etc.). So if we’re spending $10k on equipment in a year, it can’t all be on a camera.

  • I kinda have to agree that $6500 isn’t really a “budget” camera for most of us NFS readers. To me right now a Sony FS-100 used seems to be the most attractive option by far. Waiting for what Sony’s next iteration of the camera might be before pulling the trigger on that one.

  • Chris Lambert on 12.24.12 @ 12:03PM

    It’s a lot cheaper than many car’s and this is what people are going to be making their living from, it’s an investment! For anyone looking to make the step up from DSLR’s it certainly is budget compared to the new Sony’s, Red Scarlett ETC.

    Add on the cost of a decent DSLR rig, an audio work around and a ton of CF and they begin to become a lot more competitive in price

  • Honestly, it’s just not a good bang for your buck. It’s a fine camera, but in low budget situations you could get similar results (if not better) with cameras that cost a lot less and that take EF glass. Those thousands of dollars in the difference in price would be better served for other production costs.

  • Thanks for the shout out Joe on the short film. One thing I would like to point out thats great about the camera is the color science. Since there is no spec per say to identify great color science, the c100′s claim to fame is missed especially when people are hung up on 8 bit. But periodically in the edit I saw a similar color contrast to the BMC, the C100 skin tones were accurate and there was hyper saturation of medium saturated reds and blues. What I really like is that secondaries are not as necessary to use as with RED to create saturation contrast.

    I feel like C series are trying to get the best possible image with the least amount of work both in operation and post, maybe not the c500. I shot another camera test with controlled lighting below.

    I had a crew of two including myself, and the camera was very easy to manage even on a rig. I have a Scarlet, but it would have been impossible to manage that beast with only two people and focus on lighting and directing. If you have less 5 people and you’re trying to get short film, the c100 is fantastic!

    The only downside that I have been able to find is that detail in the darks is a little bad. The second you adjust contrast naturally, brown hair in the fill light goes black. But if you overexpose by a stop you can get some detail down there. I’m definitely more weary about the darks than the highlights. I feel like if you expose properly in canon log highlights are rarely an issue.

    One last thing, I don’t recommend cinema lock anymore. There is a slight green cast when white balanced properly in tungsten. Cinema Lock doesn’t allow a manual adjustment white balance RGB to fix it. Art Adams talks about the issue at on the c300. Its a common issue in most digital cinema cameras

    • Ryan you say you wouldnt recommend cinelock, great info , by anychance do you have a vimeo channel link to your work, basically trying to get as much info on this camera before making a decision of getting 2 or more for productions.

      What im getting so far is that the c100 paper specs dont equate to what the final picture does in terms of quality. Im getting that image in dark is not the best but other than that, skintones and highlights hold up pretty damnnn well .

      Ryan appreciate the words and info and Joe you have provided alot of great information, really appreciate it

    • Nice work Ryan I thought you were going to demonstrate Godard’s maxim and have her pull out a gun from that bag at the end. ;-)

      Are you saying cinelock is not perfectly balanced even with custom white balance? For quick use of tungsten preset I was using -1 anyway…sort of a hidden feature that you have tweak numbers on tungsten and daylight if you don’t have time to custom white balance. I found tungsten -1 better than what I could get with Kelvin. I also typically do a minus green -1 on DSLRs…note the BMCC doesn’t have this function for ProRes shooters, and its sensor seems to have an inherent green cast anyway.


      Joe, above, I’ve mentioned before that locking HDMI cables are available (e.g. from Gefen) for the C100, there’s a picture of how they screw in on Canon USA’s C100 page. The same screw mount is available on the Zacuto EVF, which I also have, but sadly not on the Ninja 2. However I haven’t had any problems with regular or swivel-type HDMIs falling out of either jack.

      Also I’m surprised you say “the footage looks as good as any DSLR.” Joe the footage from the C100 + Ninja is in fact better than the C300′s internal or external for half the price since they use the same exact sensor and engine but have tweaked the color science on the C100, fixed fringing, and improved other things. If you want to see what the C100 can do, look for externally recorded Canon Log video from the C300, and improve the color. As I posted the other day I just shot multicam C100/Ninja + 5D3 and some other DSLRs and the footage from the Ninja was so much better than any DSLR I threw all that footage out.

      The Ninja is THE essential add-on for the C100…it’s completely designed around it and that’s why there’s no slo-mo (due to the limits of the HDMI implementation). They work absolutely hand in glove and the Ninja does the 3:2 pulldown perfectly after taking a second when first booting up to analyze the image. I doubt I’ll ever use internal footage and I really don’t care about people’s opinions of the camera or its image that haven’t worked it with the Ninja 2. Missed the boat completely.

      As Ryan mentions you need to understand white balance and exposure and shoot Canon Log (I’m fine with cinelock and custom white balance personally but I’ll do further tests to be certain). Otherwise you aren’t getting better 1080p24 images out of anything under $20K TCO… teeny moire-ridden BMCC sensor included. Because this is a cheaper camera, a lot of people who can actually shoot and grade etc. won’t take it seriously, but the ones that do will save a fortune over the C300 or Scarlet packages they might have otherwise been asked to buy or rent.

    • Jay here’s a rough cut of a short film I shot on Saturday, I posted some clips before, still needs a sound mix but…

      Peter, I found that the custom balance gives a small green cast. Even when the custom balance reads 3000K under only controlled tungsten light. When RGB channels are overlaid for the grey card, I was seeing a tint even though mathematically it should have been grey. I was looking at it on an FSI monitor with their color fidelity engine in rec 709. I got the same results as in this article

      The other reason why I’m not down with cinema lock anymore is that the sharpness is locked at -10, Cinema Lock is a great feature, you know you’re settings will work no matter who uses your camera, but I need a little customization.

      I’ve found that I need to over expose over 32% IRE by a stop to get detail in darks, after a contrast adjustment. Have you had a similar experience?

      • “reads 3000k”

      • I ran tests on cinelock with custom white balance. Yes subjectively it may look a bit green, but I checked on my scopes with saturation full up and middle gray is dead on the money.

        I made a custom picture from CINEMA to play with so thanks for nudging me toward that, but I think in grab & go situations I’m still going to use cinelock because even if you think it’s off a touch, it’s going to be consistently off every shoot and you can have a standard treatment in place that’s going to be just as good as doing it in-camera in practice (because the difference is so small). And as that article points out the skin tones are always good on the Canons which is what matters most.

        I haven’t played with sharpness control yet. I haven’t felt a need for sharpening in post, nor am I seeing haloing. This camera is so detailed already compared to DSLRs I’m still getting used to it…it can be very unforgiving to talent compared to a 5D3. There is a lot of latitude for exposure so if you want more shadow detail or highlight detail go ahead and expose accordingly. You can compensate with the LCD brightness setting for comfort.

        I’ve been trying to rescue the use of my 5D3 with Cinestyle…I’ll update with what I find works if anything. That you need to underexpose fairly dramatically to get highlights out…it’s going to be a tradeoff. A C100 in cinelock with custom white balance and exposed to taste in View Assist wont provide quite as much latitude as RAW but I think it will be all I need without regrets.

        Situations where I shoot with the camera completely mis-set you could argue that RAW would save the footage, but if I’m in such a situation most likely the camera won’t be set to RAW capture anyway when I grab it. Use green rectangle on a DSLR or an iPhone if you’re in that much of an emergency shoot. All the shots I’m going to do in practice I can custom white balance with one button and dial in a decent exposure (also with the one auto-iris button if all else fails, or one knob on a manual iris lens). So I don’t miss RAW nor do my hard drives.

  • The c100 is a terrific choice for event guys, live music, doc work, especially with a Ninja, and of course you can make narratives with it. However, it’s 3k overpriced and no immediately workable slowmo is nuts. And the viewfinder is terrible. If you are earning your living shooting corporates and events this is a great choice if you can afford it. However, the BMDCC is far better quality for the money. It’s not even close. I’ve worked with footage from both.

    • Again, though, you know this, you can’t work with a camera that basically doesn’t exist, and right now, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera might as well not exist, and there’s no guarantee when you’d get one if you pre-ordered tomorrow.

      While I am confident they will resolve their production issues, from a shooting standpoint, the Cinema Camera is 2-3 firmware updates from being as complete in a production situation as the C100 is right now. While it looks like aperture display is coming, you have no idea how much footage you’ve shot and what’s left on the card, and there is no media management within the camera, and no way to format cards. Even in a controlled situation these are major issues. I’m all for the BMCC, and it does have better image quality, but at this point it’s going to fight you for it.

    • I have the BMCC (after waiting a year for it) and I do love it…. the image quality is far superior to my c100 with a Ninja attached. Being able to drop an SSD drive from the BMCC into my computer’s SSD port and grade immediately in DaVinci is huge. That said, by no means is the BMCC a 3K camera. First off you need, at minimum, an $8K workstation (like an HP Z820 b/c even a top end Mac Pro tricked out by OWC won’t cut it. I tried to stay with Mac but ended up having to go with the worst OS in the world…but PC’s have the power to render RAW in real time). You also need a massive amount of storage to even be able to handle the RAW footage you’ll quickly accumulate. My 20 TB external chassis is filling up fast. Add $2K there for the chassis. So we’re at $10K now just for the computer(haven’t even included dual monitors: 2K each likely for a decent one). Then, to get the BMCC itself camera up to snuff for serious filmmaking, you need a battery, variable ND filter, mattebox (optional but I’d get one) pre-amp with dual XLRs, an HD monitor with SDI inputs that has built-in focus peakin, audio monitoring etc…(perhaps they will add this to the BMCC camera in a future update), lots of external 480GB+ SSDs ($500+ each) a thunderbolt to firewire adapter if you don’t have thunderbolt on your computer, a rig or camera cage of some sort, follow focus is really needed for this camera etc…(if you use strictly manual lenses or have the MFT model, you will have to spend even more on your rig). And if you’re serious about making films with this camera, you have to drop at least a grand on a decent pre-amp(don’t buy juicedLink despite the hype)…sound is paramount and the last place to skimp. Skimp on the lenses before you skimp on audio. You need a great mic/many greats mics if you don’t have any(3K at least if you take sound seriously) ..but that goes for any camera so I won’t include that. You’re going to end up paying for books and tutorials on the BMCC as well. The list of gear required to pimp out your BMCC is endless. For some, this is fun and what they love to do. For others, this will be a nightmare. A Sony FS700 with everything basically included already will make much more sense. Bare minimum, to make the BMCC worth your while, will run you 3K + 1.5K for a decent monitor + 1K for a preamp + 500 for battery pack, connectors and variable ND + 1K for 2x 480GB SSD(you need at least two b/c these things, amazingly, die on you = around 7K just to get going. But don’t forget that the entire point of this camera is the ridiculous dynamic range(no need to worry about white balance with this thing), a 2K workflow, and DaVinci Resolve($1000 you’re paying right there so I hope you plan on using it). Do you have a computer with multiple GPUs and 12 -16 core processing that can even use DaVinci? If not, you’re going to need to drop another $10K on a supercomputer. Check the Blackmagic website. They tell you exactly what you need to run a 2K workflow on DaVinci. $8K was the cheapest I could find without having to build my own computer. So, in reality, the BMCC is a $17K camera(haven’t even talked about lenses) if you’re serous about filmmaking and taking advantage of what this camera can offer. If you can afford all that, this camera will blow anything out there away…including RED. The footage I’m getting reminds me of what you get from an Arri Alexa. I’m not using super expensive lenses either. All my lenses are $1K and you’d be hardpressed to noticed much difference between them and Brawley’s $20K lenses. But what’s the point of being able shoot Arri quality footage if you don’t have a machine that can handle it. Something worth thinking about before buying the BMCC. Like the RED cameras, you’re really just getting a brain. Albeit, this brain is a lot cheaper and I actually think the footage i’m getting is better(or at least more cinematic-looking thanks to massive dynamic range and Resolve) which is strange b/c the sensor is so small. But don’t expect to shoot with this camera and for your footage to like cinema-like straight out of tube. It will look flat and dull. Hence, why you need to be able to grade in Resolve. I’d go with the C100 and even the new AF100A which is 10bit 4:2:2(and only 3300 I think) if you’re computer is weak and you don’t need 2K+ workflow. They don’t talk about this part of camera. All I know is that it’s not 3K when used as intended to be used.

      • Too bad this is a continuous string of characters or I may have actually read what you wrote.

        Please learn to make a new paragraph.

        A little separation goes a long way…


  • Don’t forget the Panasonic GH3 too if you’re looking at really low budget stuff :)

    • Also true.
      Best value cam under 20k : F5
      Under 15: C300
      Under 10: C100
      Under 5: BMDCC
      Under 3: any major DSLR
      Under 2: D600
      Around 1k: GH3
      Under 1k: hero3

      That’s an amazing list when you think about it, and considering there are many other choices within that range that could be argued for, that’s really inspiring.

      • john jeffreys on 12.24.12 @ 1:29PM

        You can get DSLR’s under 1k that are way way better than a gopro

        • The key was value not just image quality. No DSLR I know of can give you 120@720, AND 4k at 15fps AND shoot 2k at 24. Just in the last month we’ve seen more GoPro footage on large projects than we’ve ever seen out of a T4i. It grades pretty well, and looks terrific used right.
          It’s not the perfect starter cam – it’s just awesome value,

          • john jeffreys on 12.24.12 @ 10:42PM

            In what universe will you make a film in 4k 15fps? It was a gimmick feature, added on to get marketing hype from sites like these

        • Well said. My old T2i beats the crap out of a GoPro.

          • Well, my lovely old t2i doesnt shoot 120fps. It also struggles mightily to shoot 2k. And I strongly suggest you have a look at that 15fps stuff. Pay close attention to tomorrow’s NBA games. There’s a spot with several 4k 15fps GoPro sequences in it. And you’re going o see many more. It may be a gimmick, but it has fans.

            Finally, the best value DSLR under 1k is still a 60D. But you could make a case for many other cams. I happen to think the GoPro Black is incredible tech for the price.

          • I’m also assuming you haven’t shot with the new one.

  • i think the camera is very cheap. the c100 + ext. rec. + ef lens + batteries + monitor will cost less than 100 euro per day. that is very cheap. btw dont buy new cameras, rent them otherwise you will lose money. if you have enough light the scarlett is a good option.

    • Jacques E. Bouchard on 12.29.12 @ 3:15PM

      That is an excellent point. I only buy/keep the equipment that allows me to go out and shoot at a moment’s notice, or to produce my pet projects with little to no money. Everything else I either rent or hire with the operator and work into the budget. It’s just not economically feasible to try and buy every toy, not unless you won the lottery or married into money.

  • Has anyone rigged this camera up with a 4″ SmallHD monitor/EVF on an articulating arm? Seems like that would be an excellent monitoring solution that would fit the camera’s ergos better than what it comes with.

    • You want the Ninja which is about the size of the SmallHD but records the full resolution of the camera output direct to ProRes 422. It doesn’t have as nice a monitor as the SmallHD but it does have peaking and false color. People have mentioned trying to use the SmallHD loupe on the Ninja but I don’t know if that does work.

      I have also flown a Zacuto EVF with its cheese bar off the top shoe mount to replace the C100 EVF…it’s a bit heavy and clunky but so would a full-size diopter be on the C100. There is talk of a possible 3rd party diopter replacement that would unleash the power of the built-in EVF. In the meantime, Zacuto is selling a custom 1.8x loupe that attaches to the C100′s built in articulating screen. I use a Hoodman HD450 on that screen when in sunlight but am not getting the Zacuto loupe, I’m happy with their EVF which also has features like frame matching etc.

      I prefer just flying with the Ninja (if you are shooting handheld you can fly it off the bottom as ballast and get some steadicam effect that way) and using the Zacuto EVF when needed in sunlight or on sticks. The built-in EVF can be used in a pinch, you can lean your forehead against the back of the top handle and maybe gaff on some kind of eyecup.

  • I shot three promos with the C100 in Canon Log mode and was impressed by how workable the codec is. On a couple shots I used a secondary mask that held up pretty well. Underexposed scenes got noisy when I brought them up, but added a Denoiser and it cleaned it up nice. The grain is much more organic than any other camera I have shot with. Very little RGB specks. I was surprised that Canon put a Log on a AVCHD camera, but they must have known you can grade it and you can. Here is the promos I shot with Canon Log.

  • I tried commenting before but weirdly it didn’t show up. Thanks for the shout out on the short film Joe. I think the camera is really awesome for narratives. The biggest pro of the camera is more set ups. I shot another test with controlled lighting with a crew of two including myself. We had five set ups in half a day. That would have been much more difficult to do with that little of crew on BMC or RED and the quality of the fs700 is beneath the c100 at 24p. So with the c100, you can be more creative and add more shots and different angles to the production in the same amount of time. In theory, yes you want image quality to be as high as possible, but when you are in the thick of an actual production, being able to shoot a larger shot list is more benificial, at least to me it is. I feel like if you are a budding filmmaker and you are trying to explore composition and lighting, this camera will allow you to get the most experience. Espcially if you have a very small crew, this is really the only option for great quality.

    Joe can I post a link to Vimeo where there is some more footage of c100 with some dramatic lighting? I tried before but the comment didn’t show up?

    • heres a link to some shots from a narrative I’m filming on c100, theres only scratch audio and the shots are not selects, but the image was graded so its what the final will look like. The film will be done in a few days

    • Not sure why but it ended up in spam. I fixed it and it’s posted now.

  • Sebastien D'Amour on 12.24.12 @ 1:25PM

    I purchased 2 Canon C100 for our startup production company. Liked to an Atomos ninja 2 recorder, the setup is light, has a viewfinder (not perfect but still usable) a great screen, functions you can actually use while recording (peaking, magnification, ND, XLR plugs with monitoring and adjustment on the fly, etc)

    I use the Atomos to record directly in DNxHD since we edit with Avid Media composer. The import time shrunk and the files are native so no need to recompress and damage the data.

    Yes it’s shoots only 24P and 30P but if I need 60P I have a 5DMKIII for that and still do I need slow motion to add to my story? Not me.

    I love the camera. Yes it’s expensive compared to the Sony FS series but I don’t like the ergonomics, the final look of the image from those cameras.

    My .02

    • Question the for the Ninja, are you able to record in DNxHD RGB mode, or ONLY in rec 709 422?

    • You’re lucky you don’t shoot music videos, slow mo is our ‘trump’ card! Frank Glencairn’s G Log Ultimate pic profile really makes the fs100 sing and it’s really brought that camera on in terms of delivering a nice image. I’ll post a link to the music vid we just shot, fs700 side by side with 100, the 700 looks horrible in comparison, but the 100 was awesome. Go figure.

  • Thanks for the shout out Joe! Simply put, the C100 is “missionary style” solid in every way. It won’t let you down, you feel comfortable with it, it’s safe, it’s reliable, it’s “good enough” for just about any job!

    I think people have a hard time paying $7,000 for a missionary style camera though. That IS it’s number one problem. The camera is great, the pricing is not. Solid rental option if you have a big event that needs a workhorse though. Really comes down to what you shoot the most of and where you make your money. If it’s music videos I would probably stay away from this cam, if it’s documentaries or live events that don’t require slow mo, I would be all over it!

  • Honestly, you’d think there’d be some mention of the fact that many of us invested in EF lenses. The metabones adapter for the fs100 is great but it’s still buggy. These cameras should be treated like cars, do the maths, work out what you need to do no pay the camera off with work, sell at the right time and trade up again. C100 or fs100 you still need to have a crew managing what’s in front of your lens. Fs100 can look terrible for sure but then it’s delivered some of the nicest footage I’ve ever worked with. It’s limited, so’s the c100 but compared to the cameras we could buy a few years back. Terew’s arguments for both but if you can’t get the work to pay it back then you’re an aspiration all hobbyist and it’s probably not a wise investment.

  • I can’t help but think it’s very possible to hack the C100 and get it recording in the C300′s codec, but the problem is, who wants to gamble their $7000 camera on a potential hack? It’s already risky enough with sub $3000 cameras.

    Anyone heard anything on this front?

    • Clayton Arnall on 12.24.12 @ 10:49PM

      Magic Lantern has already said they won’t touch the 1DX because they feel it could get them in trouble with Canon because there’s deliberate software crippling going on (compared to the 1DC). I’d be surprised if they’d touch the C100 for the same reasons.

      • Technically Magic Lantern said it would not get them in trouble , it just depends on how the approach the 1dx situation, there is always a loophole and way to get around legal stuff.

        The problem with the 1dx and 1dc is that magic lantern would need someone to donate a 1DC AND 1DX $7000 and about $12 respectably to dump firmware files legally , but for no one is jumping to donate or send in 18,000 worth of equipment and no one really is running out to buy 1dx cameras either.

        Its sad because the 1dc 4k picuture and even the 108o and slow motion hd from camera is amazing

        i would love to own a 1dc but paying 11k is absurd

  • For a while, I’ve been looking for a replacement B-cam. After years of dealing with moire and other typical DSLR issues, I want to retire my 5D2 to what it was made for – shoot stills (read: timelapses). I’ve taken the plunge with the c300 and how I love that camera. So the c100 seemed le a logical companion. Two things that keep me from buying it, even though Nino Leitner has managed to get a substantial discount (check his blog):

    1. PsF wrapped codec: it means you have to correctly interpret the footage in your NLE, otherwise it treats it as upper field first, instead of progressive. If you’re, like me, working with multiple editors, this really is just a pain. Perhaps minor, but not hasslefree.
    2. Unusable camera w/o sidehandle attached. Unlike the c300, the c100 only features one joystick (on the sidehandle) to control ISO, color temp and shutter speed. Without the side grip you can’t adjust those.

  • Still have yet to see any samples that dont sceam cheezy video.. at the end of the day you can praise its versatility and ease of use etc etc…but you are still left with quality FAR below the bmcc. It is a different tool I guess..but I rented a c300 and was not impressed at all.

  • Not sure why the audio dongle was designed so the mic cables get plugged in right above the lens, where it could get into the shot more easily. The handle/dongle looks awkward and dorky to me. Also it’s disappointing to hear from the reviewer that Canon couldn’t get the eyepiece and diopter right when this tool is supposed to be used by the cinematographer’s eyes! Especially when they seem to have done better for the C300. It seems rude and unthoughtful to the consumer to compromise that aspect on $6000 camera. Seems too expensive for what it does given how fast the technology is moving and improving.

    • The audio cable doesn’t get in he way its very stiff so wont flop around, but if it has issues off to Canon the handle with integrated audio goes.Not cool. It is very well made so I dont think it will fail.

  • lemur_1080p on 12.25.12 @ 2:24AM

    I don’t think I could recoup my investment on this camera before it goes obsolete. As glamorous as the C100 is, according to the (sponsored?) videos, the specs e.g., bitrate don’t spell longevity. Many commenters recommend slapping a Ninja on it. On one hand promote it’s smallness, on the other hand add Ninja and other stuff? Bro, it ain’t small after all that!

    If the BMCC can be released within reasonable time (questionable), the BMCC price and features seem recoupable with longevity, respectively. For the two or three of us on NFS who don’t have supermegabucks clientele, it could take a year or two for fiscal blowback. Within that time ProRes and 2.5k might still be viable and marketable formats. Mathematically the BMCC seems logical. Can’t say the same about C100 in my case, but I’m just one of the very few poorboys in this camp.

    • Ain’t Small….. Never worked with a broadcast camera.. Sounds like a first world problem. Many real professionals will snap this beaut C100 or C300 up in a heartbeat. Life as a video operator had become heavenly.

    • I for one payed cash to rent the C100 so my review cost several hundred dollars. I think you need to reevaluate how much a BMCC will actually cost to operate and if you have the computer to handle Resolve. With the C100 all you need is a few EF lenses. No rig required. Good luck shooting without one on the BMCC. Right cam for the right job.

    • Your external battery for the BMCC will be just as big and weighty and clumsy as the Ninja, but won’t double as a peaking monitor for the focus puller etc. And you’ll only be able to work briefly without it, while the Ninja records on its own power for a good six hours without being touched.

      The first-gen BMCC will be obsolete and off the market long before the C100 is even taken down from the store windows. The C100 will still be the grab & go cam of choice for at least two years while a year from now BMD will either have a new product line or be out of the camera biz.

  • Bryan Arnold on 12.25.12 @ 12:08PM

    I keep reading these “C100 can’t do slowmo” comments and tried a little test:

    Vimeo (basic account, so 720p only)
    Youtube (1080p)

  • I think the basic answer to Joe’s question is “Yes”. Lots of qualifications to add, but, for features, it produces a nicer image, slowmo aside, than the FS700 and is far more practical than the BMC. Most people are heavily invested in EF glass, so that just makes the choice easier.

    But Joe’s grudging tone through the article is also deserved. Everyone knows that this is a camera that will date fast. 8-bit, unwonderful codec, outmatched in resolution and DR by BMC, etc. Yes, there’s always something better 6 months or 12 months down the track, but some cameras are more future proof than others.

  • Does the C100 + Atomos Ninja 2 record a 10-bit image? Only the images recorded internally get downgraded to 8-bit. This means the signal (via HDMI) comes directly from the chip, right?

  • And the main inspiration of this evolution was the increasing
    human demands for technology that matches their fast paced life
    style and lets them perform their routine computing task anytime, anywhere.
    Tethered Modem browse the web, log in to your corporate intranet or download
    and send large files like presentations and reports directly from your computer.

    The phone will keep your list of contacts, allow you to view and edit documents, let you create
    and save memos, and allow you to manage your email.

  • What about a second hand Sony F3? They run from about £4.5k – and thats with S-log installed, 60p full HD, NDs, and a 10 bit 4.2.2 external output.