January 21, 2013

Which is the Better Value, Canon C100 or C300? Plus a Short Film Scene Shot with the C100

This camera seems to be getting as much vitriol in the comments on this website as the Canon 1D C, but the Canon C100 also has its share of defenders. It might not be priced perfectly considering the features, but it's a camera that should just work out the box without much fuss, and Canon has made some key changes compared to the C300 that might be a deal-breaker for some, but well worth the cost-savings for others. I've said quite a bit about where I think this camera can fit in, but don't take my word for it, here is Philip Johnston with his review (which is also available for download):

Obviously Canon didn't have many options on where to put the LCD since they decided to shrink the camera down, but I think since the viewfinder on the back isn't great according to most reviewers, a loupe attached to the LCD is probably going to be a great option for getting critical focus (you thought you left those behind on your DSLR, huh?). I really think this is almost a perfect incognito documentary camera for low-light situations. Even though it doesn't already have a broadcast codec built-in, an external recorder should really be able to fix that without adding too much cost to the rig.

Speaking of external recorders, Ryan Emanuel, who frequents the site, has been testing the C100, and used a Hyperdeck Shuttle to record ProRes 4:2:2 HQ. Here is a little bit of his process, and the scene below:

It was shot handheld but on a wooden camera rig.

2 Sennheiser EW 100s hooked up to the xlr ins

Zeiss ZE 35mm 1.4 50mm Makro and 85mm 1.4

I used Canon log, I feel it gives by far the best results for narrative. In my CP, I adjust the white balance point 5 Magenta and 1 Blue. I think that though the c100 can mathematically white balance, it still has a green tint to it, but you can fix it. Canon log is preset at -10 on the sharpness, I turned that up a bit, and added a little color saturation in the darks, thats where the camera struggles a little bit.

I graded in davinci resolve but for the most part the look was derived in lighting.

http://vimeo.com/56264185

This is some of the better looking footage that I've seen out of the C100, and if it wasn't already clear to me before, it's definitely clear now: this camera can and will be used for narrative work. With a few modifications, you can basically get all of the benefits of the C300, and save a few dollars in the process. It's not clear what differences there are internally between the C100 and the C300, but at almost half the price, the C100 does most of what its higher-priced sibling can do -- except for the missing slow motion options (even though with a little work it's technically possible to somewhat replicate a 60p look using the 1080 60i setting in the camera).

Just to put it into perspective a bit, here is a comparison between the Sony EX1, Canon 5D Mark II, and the C100:

http://vimeo.com/57615567

The EX1 is still a $6,000 camera, and even though it does include a few more options like a built-in lens and 10-bit 4:2:2 out of the HD-SDI port, internally it's recording to a similar (or worse, depending) 35mbps 4:2:0 codec, and only does 720p 60fps. Just a few years ago this was one of the best 1080p cameras around for the money, but it's clear that there are many more advantages to having a large sensor, especially for cinematic purposes.

What do you think of the cinematic possibilities of the C100? Do you think we're spoiled because of so many low-cost cameras with large sensors in this price range? While they are aimed at totally different markets, what do you think about the fact that the EX1 is priced around the C100? Has any of the footage above changed your mind about the $6,500 C100?

Links:

[via Notes On Video]

Your Comment

91 Comments

Feels like a camera for weddings. And a camera that is too late out. It is on par with the "old" fs100 and both these camera will be outdated in 3 months after NAB 2013. Sad but true.

January 21, 2013

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mike

Neither! Buy the BMCC! Problem solved! :)

January 21, 2013

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some guy

Bmcc is the correct answer.

January 21, 2013

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vinceGortho

As a high school teacher in film and television I regard the EX1/EX3s very high when it comes to multicamera setups and "studio" work. Great introductions to "real" cameras and ENG work, we get the whole workflow together with Media Composer (most used combo in Swedish TV), but also for narrative. Starting with good autofocus and then moving over to manual focusing and then to manual focusing with a larger sensor.

We use DSLR as well (some students bring their own) and we optimize them (looking at hacking and patches), how they compare to ENG cameras and so on. We also rent a RED package once a year for the students to try out and soon we'll have a BMCC package.

January 21, 2013

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Hampus

Wow, I wish that's where I'd gone to high school! :)

January 21, 2013

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Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

Yeah, the C100 is an all around decent camera, however I much prefer the image coming out the BMC for stuff I like to do. It has a very cinematic image that's great for narrative films. The C100 would make an incredible documentary or wedding / event camera.

January 21, 2013

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JC

His Glasgow accent slays me every time. Good review though.

January 21, 2013

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marklondon

I love my C100 with Atomos Ninja 2. I get the same look, great files for a reasonable price. For one, I don't like the BMCC. I shoot run and gun stuff. I need to have built in ND filters, I need to have XLR inputs, I need to have a viewfinder, I need to have a usable form factor out of the box.

It always make me laugh how people bash products or tools just based on spec list.

January 21, 2013

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Sebastien D'Amour

My high school sucked balls, the 5D mark II just came out at the time but instead they wasted money on those shitty panasonic hvx200s. I visited their film program as a guest last year and THEY were still using those same cameras, and a t2i and awful sigma lenses (seriously? for a private school with tons of money...) for B roll. The students are given little sony camcorders for their own projects. I dont get how out of touch they are.

January 21, 2013

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john jeffreys

Count yourselves lucky - when I was at film college it was SVHS.

That horrible period between real film and DSLRs, where all the equipment colleges would buy was VHS and you had to edit on basically 2 VCRs connected together.

Oh yeah, I was born at the worst time possible.

January 22, 2013

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Fresno Bob

VHS, when every film looked like a porno without the fucking, haha

January 22, 2013

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Hampus

absolutely haha

January 22, 2013

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Curtis

Hi Hampus:

Did you say you're a high school teacher?

"when every film looked like a porno without the fucking,"

Nice quote.

January 22, 2013

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David F

Lol I remember the days.

January 22, 2013

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Christian Anderson

I bet you went to an Art Institute, like myself.

January 22, 2013

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Nick Seaney

Everything I see from the C100 looks like a soap opera

January 21, 2013

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john jeffreys

I can't speak for the other stuff you've seen, but I think this scene looked like a soap opera because it sounded like a soap opera. I just don't get narrative scenes where actors wear lavs unnecessarily. If you turn off the sound and watch it again, it looks less daytime drama and more like small cable network drama, which I think is somewhere this camera may serve well.

January 21, 2013

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Still bad looking to be wearing a Cinema "C" Badge.
Why not just put a cinema badge on a t2i?

January 22, 2013

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VINCEGORTHO

dude you arent even trying with your trolling.

January 22, 2013

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john jeffreys

Thanks for the comments guys, but I really just shot this piece to focus on cinematography not directing. I gave the actors a premise and they improved. I wanted to do a underexposed night scene with some blocking. The actors wore lavs because I had no crew. It was me and one other colleague.

January 21, 2013

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ryan

You did a great job with minimal resources. Don't let the pricks get you down.

January 22, 2013

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marklondon

I didn't mean any offense. I think it looks great. My comment about the lavs didn't come out right. I mean, that is how soap operas sound, which can shape a viewer's impression of the footage. I think this footage looks as good as most current (non-soap opera) television drama, which isn't a bad thing at all.

January 22, 2013

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First it was a nice example video to really look at when taking in the C100. It is a camera I personally am taking a long look at since the AF100a really didn't set up as much as we wanted.

Based upon some other video I've seen this camera is really good at low light. The form factor seems to be liked by everyone that is using it actively, when Im shooting form factor is important. It looks like a very simple and forgiving camera that should be pretty flexible other than no overcrank and I don't think it has time lapse capacity which is a shame due to the low light performance.

January 24, 2013

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Allan Crocket

are you serious? as much as I don't like the camera, it looked really nice. well done ryan!

January 22, 2013

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jake

this whole comments section is a soap opera.

January 22, 2013

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This looks pretty good with the c100 https://vimeo.com/57565677

January 21, 2013

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mike

No it does not.
Who can tell with it's yellow poluted look of bad color correction. Sorry. :-(

January 22, 2013

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VINCEGORTHO

Sebastian, in fairness, the BMCC and the C100 are two different cameras for different applications. For $7,500 (with atmos ninja 2) you can get a slightly lesser quality image as the BMCC that costs $4,000 with Juiced link xlr box. You're still going to have to buy a cage for either camera. The only real advantage I see with the C100 is the built in ND filter, but come on, that's not a deal breaker, and certainly not worth another $3,500.

Don't get me wrong, the C100 is a good camera. It's just that now with the new (cheaper) and better cameras coming out, Canon is going to have to come down on its prices.

January 21, 2013

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some guy

Don't forget the bmcc has a 2.5 crop, while the c100 has a super 35 sensor

January 22, 2013

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Rob

I have both cameras. The BMCC moires like a canon 7d. The C100 will alias here and there, but the image is tight just like the C300. Workflow for each camera is so far apart. If you want to compare cameras by price, start thinking of the terabytes of HD space you will need to archive your BMC footy. THe BMC does make a good image, as long as you shoot like you would with a moire ridden HDslr. Then, start thinking about your IR filtration, sound solution, SSD's, LENSING, and support if your camera goes down.
Between the two, I would take the C100 on 9 out of 10 jobs.

March 11, 2013

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chris

I've been looking at c100 tests including the ones already posted, but there are more videos out there that seem to really show off the image quality of the camera as well as it's dynamic range... http://vimeo.com/57329530 It seems pretty good for all sorts of shootings whether it be events, weddings or film. Might be a right balance of minimal shooting, ergonomics and workflow - so in that sense, I do find the c100 a tad more appealing. The need for "higher specs" may sound spoiled, if not looking to future proof an investment and film/video/broadcast submission requirements (something that an Atomos Ninja 2 could easily avert). I suppose that's the appeal of the BMCC as the c100 would be more desirable at a lower price.

Still, it would be foolish to immediately brush off any camera that shows potential. The c100 certainly does have something.

January 21, 2013

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Marti

*minimalist

January 21, 2013

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Marti

The BMCC has balanced jacks instead of xlr. Isn't it just a matter of using a jack to xlr cable instead an xlr to xlr?

January 22, 2013

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Sam

Yes, but I was giving the benefit of the doubt for those that wanted a straight XLR breakout box with phantom power for use with the BMCC, to be a more balanced comparison. Still, you could buy two BMC cameras for the price of one C100 with Ninja 2 recorder. Or one BMCC and ten HD Hero 3 cameras. :)

January 22, 2013

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some guy

Some guy:

I don't see why you need to purchase a cage for the C100?

I use it hand held,on monopod, slider, sticks with my 24-70 f4L IS or my primes (24L,35L,50L,85LII,100L,135L,400LIS).
You might only shoot at one camera so exposition with variable ND's is acceptable but we shoot at 3 cameras all the time. We need to edit quick and colour correct fast. (no lack of sharpness and green cast from variable ND's) I can also easily bring all of my gear in one ThinkTank Airport International V2 in any planes with me. The size of the BMCC + external devices needed would not allow me to do such a thing.

The other factor that bothers me a lot is after sale service. I never had an issue with Canon in 7 years (According to the web, I am a lucky man...hahahaha). What kind of support can we expect from black magic design? I am also already shooting my project with my C100 + ninja 2. Are you shooting with your BMCC or are you still awaiting delivery?

I am lucky to have a friend that received one so I test drive it. IMO If you shoot slow productions like cinema, BMCC is "better" but for interview, docu and events. To my eyes the C100 is better.

I see the judgment of others on the camera but how can you judge without using it? Who knows if the user is competent or not?

January 22, 2013

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Sebastien D'Amour

By competence, I am not talking about this piece here but a lot of examples on the web.

January 22, 2013

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Sebastien D'Amour

I agree with Sebastian. The C100 ergonomics make the use of a cage and other attachments rather pointless. Due to the design, the film plane is very close to your nose when shooting with the viewfinder, and this is the most stable place on your body. I hardly use Steadicam at all since purchasing the camera because I've found it to be adequately stable for most shots that require steadicam on other cameras.

With the new 18-135mm STM IS lens, it is remarkably versatile handheld. I've used the C100 along with Sony F3 and Sony FS100 (which yields similar colors to the FS700) and have noticed better color reproduction from the C100 when comparing shots from similar angles on the same scenes. We record to Ninja recorders when possible, but the C100's AVCHD is insanely good considering the bit rate. In most cases, it will be very difficult to see the differences unless you plan on remapping your hues into luma channels, or (of course) if you are shooting Chroma Key. Chroma Key off the C100 + Ninja 2 ProResHQ is absolutely superior to chromakey from the FS100 into a similar recorder. Skin tones are much better with the C100 than our other cameras. The camera's most unique benefit is its very high color sampling from the 4K sensor. This in many cases makes up for some of the technical features which we find on other cameras. Also, the built-in viewfinder is useable. Granted, it isn't as good as the one on the much less expensive GH3, but it is much better than the viewfinder on the Sony EX1.

February 4, 2013

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BMCC or Digital Bolex

January 22, 2013

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eltaurus

??? And your comment means what exactly. Presumably you're saying that the BMCC and Digital Bolex are both cameras that are barely available and even the one that is available is for all intents and purposes a beta model. C100 is at least available to buy now and it works right out of the box.

January 22, 2013

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Neil

The low light/high ISO test result is pretty awesome. Sorry to hear the viewfinder on a $6000 camera is not very good. Agree that the C100 should have more FPS options. Even the World War II era wind-up Filmo cameras had variable FPS...

January 22, 2013

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Rob

I think BMCC is forward-thinking. Of course, I can only speculate because generally BMCC currently only exists in theory for most of us (delays). Nevertheless, NAB will be the deciding factor for me. The C100 looks great, of course, as a lot of online footage does with an array of cameras. C100's specs are yesteryear's and having to clamp on an external recorder to bring it up to par seems cumbersome.

And since we're discussing narrative, I would prefer to clamp audio stuff onto a BMCC that shoots ProRes or raw, than clamp (via rails) a Ninja onto a C100. I shoot sound-intensive narrative run-n-gun docs with a DSLR rig and achieving phantom power is easy, there are many approaches, you just have to know what devices offer 48v and take it from there, and I'm not referring only to a mixer.

Lavs don't even need phantom power or XLR, and if you're good with a gun (soldering gun) and fathom audio signal workflows, the BMCC's 1/4" TRS inputs are no problem. You have to go beyond manufacturing limitations and devise your own stuff. It seems a big complaint about BMCC is its audio and lack of XLR....hell, I wish it was 3.5mm TRS instead of 1/4" and use the extra space for more electronic circuitry such as active m43.

I won't buy a camera based on XLR. As I mentioned, it's easy to achieve 48v, and outside of docs, how many films use production sound anyway, vis-a-vis B-roll, ADR, VO, or musak?! I'll buy a camera for its visual apparatus. Internal ProRes and raw appeal to me. That's the future.

January 22, 2013

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Ronnie Albert

If I'm investing thousands of dollars on a camera system I shouldn't have to DIY anything. Sometimes it seems like folks are more concerned with gazing in awe at the multitude of pixels with great dynamic range etc. than the practicality of actually OPERATING the camera on set.

January 22, 2013

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Neil

Amen to that.

The BMCC seems like an awesome camera for fantastic images and I would love to have it for personal, non-commercial projects. However, a production camera it is not.

If the C100 paired with a Hyperdeck Shuttle or Atomos produces the same images as the C300, then it is a pretty stellar production cam for the price. Considering Mobius was shot on that camera.

January 22, 2013

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Mischa

IMO it makes more sense to pay the significantly lower price for the BMCC, and you can then spend the difference on kit to make it "production ready" if that's a concern. Admittedly I've not used it, but it seems to me it shouldn't be too hard to turn it into a relatively small all-in-one solution. If you're going to add a recorder to the C100, surely you may as well add a compact rig and audio solution to the BMCC?

January 22, 2013

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Luke

What kit will make you see the aperture and space left on your HDD?

I'm sure these features will come in a firmware update or two, but for now, it's just not a practical cam for commercial work.

January 22, 2013

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Mischa

Not much "forward thinking" when it comes to chip size. You can't use super 16 cine glass and finding fast wide angle glass for the BMCC is not viable.

February 24, 2013

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Lavs require bias power of 1.5-5V, at least any pro level one does - sony / sanken / senn / DPA

August 25, 2013

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We've only been going for two years, but it was scary choosing equipment on that kind of budget and not fall into the kid-in-a-candy-shop-syndrome. But looking at my former workplaces and what I thought was shitty about my own high school (and film school for that matter) is was a no brainer going with the EX cams and Avid. But it's still a bit concerning with tech moving forward so fast, makes you wonder how much time I got left before I gotta tell my boss that the equipment is fine but outdated. Today I think the EX cameras are overpriced. Not much, they're amazing work horses, but a it could be cheaper when the demand is larger for large sensors now.

January 22, 2013

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Hampus

"Feels like a camera for weddings. And a camera that is too late out. It is on par with the “old” fs100 and both these camera will be outdated in 3 months after NAB 2013. Sad but true."

What about documentary? I think it's huge for that. It really isn't on par with the fs100, the perceived resolution is much higher, also the ability for high clean iso is big deal. It definitely is a bit late, and certainly for that price point!

January 22, 2013

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Bob

i've owned the ex1 and now the c100.. with the c100 at the same price the ex is redundant as the c100 destroys it.. i don't know a better doco option under 10k than the c100.. in fact it almost stands up against the c300 as a viable option being smaller and having clean hdmi out.. this camera is definitely far more capable than weddings.. it also performs beautifully in well lit conditions with nice glass.. ultimate affordable alrounder at the moment..

January 22, 2013

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J

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