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1080P is Better Than 4K (Or Why I Chose the Canon C100) with Ryan E. Walters

05.3.13 @ 5:22AM Tags : , , , , ,

This is a guest post by Cinematographer Ryan E. Walters.

After many years of owning a wide range of camera systems, including a RED ONE and an EPIC, I decided to sell it all and rent. So for the past three years I have been exclusively renting cameras on a per project basis, that is, until recently when I made the plunge and bought the Canon C100. Little did I know how many eyebrows and questions it would raise when I posted a picture on Facebook. Here is why I chose a 1080p, 4:2:0 camera over a 4k RAW camera.

Reason 1: It Is The Craftsperson, Not The Tool, That Matters

I am a firm believer that it is the talent behind the lens that matters most, not the camera. I want to surround myself with people and productions who value the craft more than the tech. When was the last time you hired a carpenter and asked what brand hammer he was using? Or what brush the painter used on the oil painting you bought? Or how about the contents of this blog — does it matter if I am writing it on a Mac, PC, iPhone, or Android?

What matters most is the craft that goes into delivering results that are appropriate for the project at hand. The people who get that, and have those values, are the ones who I work with. I’m not a monkey pushing buttons on a camera.

The C100 is a tool that checks off enough of the boxes that are important to me in owning a camera system. It is far from perfect, but it is a capable camera system that will allow me to create the images I want.

Reason 2: I’m Not A Rental House

While I do rent equipment on the side to generate additional income, the tools I buy are the ones I use frequently. I am not interested in owning everything, nor am I interested in worrying about making a camera work every month in order to make it pay for itself. Instead, I would rather choose the appropriate tool for the job, and not force a camera onto a shoot just because I own it and need to make a payment. For example, last year I chose the Alexa, Epic, Canon C300, Sony FS100, and the Canon 5D MKII & MKIII to shoot different spots for Adidas. Each tool was appropriate for that specific application.

With the instant $1,000 rebate on the C100, I felt that it came in at a price point that allows me to own a camera system objectively without forcing me to choose it due to financial reasons. (Although at $5,500, I think the camera is still about $1,000 over priced for the features it offers…). But I can’t complain too much. Within a week of buying it, it is already going out on rentals that it is a good fit for. And with no payments on it, that is a great feeling!

Yes there is a 5D in there somewhere…

Reason 3: Some Tools Are Easier To Use Than Others

A 4k camera for $4k sure does sound appealing; I can’t deny that. However, the truth is that in order to get that camera to play nicely on an actual shoot it has to be outfitted with external batteries, audio adapters, and other accessories. So the cost is more than $4k. (The same can be said of DSLRs). As cameras get smaller and smaller, my frustrations with them grow.

Straightforward and simple= no mess (But what's the deal with that handle?)

Straightforward and simple = no mess (But what’s the deal with that handle?)

The C100 comes in a form factor that works straight out of the box, with real professional, industry standard connections (1/4″ is great for mics & guitars… XLR is for video), and even an included microphone. (Not that the on camera mic is good for anything other than natural sound/scratch track). I don’t have to buy any accessories to make it work on a shoot if I don’t want to. Instead, the accessories I buy will be for my own needs and style of working.

Reason 4: I’m Not Interested In Hype, I’m Interested In Reality

Reality check: 4k is not here, nor will it be for at least 5-10 years. Camera manufacturers and sales people love to play on our insecurities and want us to buy into their 4k and beyond hype machine. It is how they make their money — selling us new technology. If you were at NAB this year, 4k was everywhere, just like 3D was everywhere last year. (And 3D was nowhere to be seen at NAB this year… but I doubt 4k will disappear like that).

However, I found it interesting that out of all of the booths displaying 4k content, NONE of them had it next to 1080p content for a side-by-side comparison. To me that is very telling. When we made the transition from SD to HD, the show floor was FULL of SD and HD comparisons and it was easy to tell the difference on the same sized screen. THX even states that most people will not see a benefit of 4k content on a 50″ screen, which supports the claims of this chart: 1080p Does Matter, Here’s When. So for the vast majority of end viewers and clients, all that 4k does is add overhead, expense, and complication without any real reward.

By the time the marketing machine has gotten us all to succumb to our insecurities and upgrade our tech to 4k, it will be light-years ahead of where it is today. And that will be the time to make the switch. Today’s 4k+ cameras will not be able to compete with what is next. When 4k is a reality, I HIGHLY doubt that Adidas, Autodesk, or Nike will be wanting to have their 5+ year old commercial remastered in 4k. They will be on to new marketing campaigns shot with the newest cameras/tech available.

This is NOT to say that 4k doesn’t matter; it does. Especially at origination of the recorded image. A 4k image down sampled to 1080p will have more detail in it than a straight 1080p image. This is where the brilliance of the C100 comes into play. The C100 has the SAME 4k sensor as the C500 and C300. So I am getting the same performance as their $26,000 camera at 1/5 the price without the added expense or complication that 4k brings with it on set or in post.

Reason 5: Protecting Vision Is Important

While I have to admit that I like working with RAW 4k images (I did own a Red after all), it is a double-edged sword. The proliferation of affordable camera tools and post tools means that a lot more people can play with and manipulate footage. This is GREAT when working with people who care about the quality of the finished image, and who work with you to get the most out of it.

This same power can be disastrous when people who think they know something start playing around with reframing and grading the images, destroying what I have worked hard to create. I have been burned on projects by people who have done just that — poorly reframed images & poorly graded them.

In an industry where you are only as good as your last project, this can have a real negative impact on your career. Which is why I am now selective about whom I work with. (And I’m not alone, other cinematographers on CML have expressed facing these same problems).

The compressed footage, and the fact that the C100 only outputs a 1080p file means that there is a lot less that can be done in post to drastically change what was shot. Another upside of the compressed format is that it keeps me honest while shooting. I have to be much more precise in what I do as I have less flexibility in post if I screw up — I HAVE to be on my A-Game at all times, and I like the discipline that it reinforces in my work.

Comparison of Dynamic Range Of Various Camera Systems

Reason 6: Dynamic Range In Over Exposure Latitude Is Important

The smaller the production’s resources, the more important the overexposure latitude becomes in the camera choice. The smaller that range, the more work has to be done on set to protect the highlights by bringing up ambient levels on the set. (Or a compromise has to be made by letting them clip). That is one of the major reasons why the Alexa is my favorite cameras to shoot on. With ~7 stops of overexposure latitude, it is hard to clip highlights, and even when they do clip it is more pleasant than other camera systems.

The RED ONE MX and the EPIC-X*, on the other hand, have ~5 stops of overexposure latitude. While this is a lot better than previous cameras, the headroom is not the same, nor is the roll off as pleasant as the Alexa. (As demonstrated by my extreme test). The Blackmagic Cinema Camera also has a similar overexposure latitude, as does the C300 and C100 (and presumably the C500, but I haven’t tested it). So if all of the cameras have the same overexposure latitude, then I do not see a reason to jump on the 4k+ bandwagon just to be cool. All I am gaining is additional expense/work on set and in post.

I wish that the C100 had more overexposure latitude, but at least it doesn’t have less than the other “affordable” options out there.

*I realize that the EPIC-X has HDR-X. However, I have yet to see an implementation of it that I personally like. Furthermore, it adds extra hassle and potential for BIG problems in post. See Reason 5 above.

Reason 7: Low Light Performance Is Important

Cameras these days can see more in the dark than our eyes can. The ability to work with and shape existing light on an exterior night location should not be overlooked, especially when working with a small crew. When a camera performs well in low light, it becomes more about removing light than adding it. And that directly translates into smaller setups, smaller power requirements, smaller everything. (Side note: I’m really interested in testing out and working with the F5 & F55 for this very reason).

This is where the C100 really shines over the RED MX, EPIC-X, and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Coming from the pedigree of the C300 sensor, the C100 allows for astonishing clean imagery at EIs (A.K.A. ISOs) of more than 3200.

Yeah, but the C100 is only 8 bit 4:2:0…

Yep, it sure is. One of the huge takeaways I had from participating in Zacuto’s Revenge Of The Great Shootout is that today’s 8-bit 4:2:0 is not the same as when it first came onto the market. Now it doesn’t come close to 16 bit 4:4:4 imagery, but if it is shot correctly, it can be graded well, delivering beautiful results. And, as a craftsperson, I should be skilled at choosing AND using tools that are appropriate for every job.

When I do find that I need a 4:2:2 color space (for green screen, or other VFX), then I can always add a Ninja 2. And if I find myself on a project that needs more than that — then I can rent a better tool for the job. This is the beauty of owning an affordable camera system. See Reason 2. :)

Yeah, but the C100 only shoots up to 30p at 1080…

Correct. :) That is why I think this camera should be priced at $4,500. After all, even cameras like the AF100 can shoot in variable frame rates up to 60 fps in 1080p. This is a major oversight by Canon. I think they are working too hard at protecting their higher end cameras. The sensor is capable of 60 fps at 1080p. Why cripple it, other than to make more money?

This is when I have to realistically evaluate the work I do. While I would love to have 60 fps at 1080p, I don’t shoot a lot of high-speed work. And when I do shoot high-speed work, it tends to be around 100-120 fps, which means I’m renting anyway. So while this is a downside for the camera, it isn’t one that will impact me significantly.

The Bottom Line

Is the C100 the end all, be all camera? Not even close. I like it, and it will allow me to do what I need for the money I spent. If you haven’t caught on by now, let me say it clearly — I’m not interested in being a fan boy who is entrenched in one camera system or platform. The end all, be all camera doesn’t exist. There isn’t one camera system that fits every situation. It is about knowing the camera and using it effectively. After all it is just a tool.

What are your thoughts? Am I completely crazy, or only partially? ;) Why did you choose to buy the camera you have? Or have you chosen to continue to rent?

This post originally appeared on Ryan’s Blog.

Link: 1080p is better than 4k. (Or Why I Chose The Canon C100) — Ryan E. Walters

Ryan E. Walters is an award-winning Oregon-based cinematographer. His work has allowed him the opportunity to travel worldwide in the pursuit of telling stories that are visually compelling. His experience includes feature films, documentaries, commercials, and shooting for Comcast, TLC, Oxygen, and the Discovery Channel.


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 330 COMMENTS

  • Harry Pray IV on 05.3.13 @ 5:33AM

    He’s got some great points. He actually sold me a little more on the C100 than I had been. Still, I am not running out to purchase it.

    • Thanks. :) A point of clarification- I’m NOT trying to sell the C100. It is only one choice of many capable tools that I use. I’m just sharing why I decided to buy one. :)

      • Harry Pray IV on 05.6.13 @ 2:44AM

        I know. I don’t mean literally sell. Though, if I were you, I’d have interjected the same disclaimer as well. Thanks for your tests and blog, Ryan. I know I’m listening intently to your posts and loved your BMCC, Red Epic, and Alexa comparson test. The IR part was particularly useful.

  • Great post, Ryan. I agree completely with Reason 1 – people have become obsessed with the tools sometimes to the detriment of the craft. You make a compelling case for the C100. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll give it a whirl.

  • Reality: Hollywood produces the most expensive crap nowadays. Great visuals but terrible acting, casting, storytelling etcetra.

    The amount of crap in cinema today is mindboggling.

    Just look at this scifi short movie. Made by 1 guy. Best scifi i’ve seen in years.

    Or this beautifully shot,edited,graded short docu/portrait on a Canon 550 D

    ‘A talented musician also will sound great on a old cheap guitar’

    • Great point Jay. :) And I think that fits along the line of what Steven Soderberg was touching on in his state of cinema speach:

    • Sasso Palmieri on 05.5.13 @ 5:07AM

      Sorry but I disagree regarding R’ah. Accomplished VFX but far too much expository dialogue (‘show, don’t tell’) and anaemic CGI. That might be more taste but film, for me, is sets/locs, H&M, wardrobe, props, and talent. It’s a collaborative process, and that’s excluding the screenplay and crew. Certainly CGI has its place but it should always service the writing. Watching Toy Story, I’d forgotten within mins, because I was absorbed by the plot. Watching R’ah, I was acutely aware it was all CGI. As I said, it was a technical accomplishment. But as a film, it didn’t hold me.

  • That hammer analogy really doesn’t apply to cameras. Technology matters. It’s why there is such hype about these new low cost cameras with such great DR. If the camera didn’t matter we’d all be shooting on camera phones. It will never matter more than story though!

    I think a better argument might be: “Use the right tool for the job and for most of my day to day general use the C100 is the right tool, hence I bought it.”

    I do however agree that we shouldn’t buy into the 4K hype. I recently finished a film on the Alexa (1080P Prores 422). 1080P from a decent camera is mind-blowing.

    • That would be my thoughts, too.
      We should stop thinking technology vs creativity. They just need to go hands in hands.
      A better camera for a good story can support the story better than a lower-quality camera. So good quality will alway be better, even if you’re after a special lo-fi look, but that’s a specific case.

      The thing we should probably balance more is all the other aspects of a camera aside image quality and resolution: form factor, portability, audio, monitoring accuracy, battery life, etc.
      There are even situations where shooting with a RED would be impossible due to the reactions of people in the street, so a DSLR would be the only option…

    • Fair enough. :) It is also why I backed up what I said with my real world example of shooting commercials for Adidas on 5 – 6 different camera systems. Some VERY high end, others not so much. :)

  • You will never get me to pay again several thousands for a camera with block artefacts on film

  • I completely agree. I shoot with the C100 all of the time, because it’s great for a lot of my work. Now the past two days I’ve been shooting with a rented Epic package because the job called for a camera with its capabilities and form factor. I think it’s important to understand the technology that’s available so you can make the best camera choice to suit the needs of the job.

  • People own gear and tell everybody how great it is…nothing new.

    • Perhaps they own the gear because it’s great and it is not great simply because they own it.

      • That is also a valid point. :) Although with all of the camera hype these days, I wonder how true that is … I see a lot of people in my area buying cameras based off of hype rather then reality, and all it does it put them into massive debt and their work isn’t any better …

    • But that is kind of the opposite of my points in this article. The C100 is only one camera, one choice among many. I like what it does for the money, but it doesn’t force me into using it because I own it. Making a choice based purely on ownership is short sided in my opinion. :)

  • lol.

    Not a tech person but own every camera possible, and writing a whole article on why this gear is great.
    And, by the way, you can be bot craftmen and techmen. Thinking you must one or another is a mistake.

    If technology doesn’t matter, keep shooting in DV, or in film ( wich is great, of course)
    If every project is different and have differents needs, why did he come here to talk about this cam specifically.

    Tool in cinema is important. The possibility in story telling comes also with the technology.

    Rethink about that for agriculture.

    • Awesome- congrats. Glad you have the business model to support owning every camera. :) That is a great place to be in. :)

      You are correct- it is important to be both a technician and a craftsperson. :) See reason #3. And if you take a look at my blog, ( ) you’ll see a lot of highly technical articles. :)

      But I think today, we focus on the tech to the detrement of the craft. Which is why my first two points are more about craft, and I end the article talking about craft. :)

  • I like your post mate, the c100 is one of the most underrated cameras out there, I do agree however with the price needing to be 1K lower.

  • A used fs100 with a matte box and filters is a better deal than a c100 at the moment.

    • No doubt. There are better deals to be had, and if that is your preference, jump on it. :) That was another camera I was considering, however two things turned me away from it and to the C100:

      1. Built in ND. While 90% of the time I have a matte box and ND on me, having the option to go ultra small and still have ND control was important to me.

      2. The bigger factor for me was color science. Straight out of the box, I like how the skin tones are on Canon cameras better then Sony cameras. (And I’ve own both.) This is purely a personal preference- both make great images. :)

  • I agree. I have similar reasons for having bought and stuck with the FS100.

  • Very interesting article. I also feel that there is no “One Cam Fits All” but without an unlimited budget I have found that I often have to work with what I have. I still often shoot with a Canon GL2 in SD as a backup because I still haven’t found a camera as versatile for under 5k. It really must be replaced, however, and I have been searching for a suitable replacement.
    I was thinking about moving into the 4k space with either a Black Magic Production Cam or JVC GY-HMQ10 but now I’m not so certain. So the search continues for a camera that will fit my needs.

    • Good luck on your search- that is the tough part- finding something that will meet your needs at a price point you are willing to pay. :)

      The Blackmagic Production camera will not come in under $5,000, unless you only plan on shooting with the internal battery, the monitor on the back, no audio adapter, and you already have the lenses. If that is your plan and it works for your needs Great! But if you are expecting it to function like the GL2, then you may be disapointed when it comes time to buy the accessories …

  • Yes, you are completely crazy. Placing value on the technical ability of a camera and good craft are not mutually exclusive.

    • Glad to know I’m completely crazy. :)

      You are correct, the two are not mutually exclusive. :) And that is why the first part & last part of my article is about the craft, and other parts focus on the tech. Obviously I could have done better to emphasize that point. :) (Check out the rest of my blog, as I have a lot of highly technical posts on there- tech matters …)

      However, I think we in the film industry, and especially us camera geeks, get too focused on the tech to the detriment of the craft.

  • I’m pretty sure that not everyone using a Red feels like a monkey pushing buttons. Just sayin.

    But yeah, the c100 is less expensive and smaller, easier to handle, I’m sure. But better? If less expensive and smaller means better, then it is better. ‘Better’ is in the eye of the beholder.

    I’d like to see the best 1080p from the c100 compared to this:

    • But it’s true, 1080p does look great. And for the money it’s better. Just about anyone can afford 1080p. And 1080p is in its heyday now. But there’s nothing to sustain that heyday, especially with the Sony 4k tv coming out in a couple weeks. Once people walking through Best Buy see the 4k picture they will be anxiously waiting for the day when 4k tvs come down in price and tv shows and movies are available in 4k.

      4k cameras will eventually come down in price and be in a smaller, easier to handle unit, like the c100. No one will use 1080p then.

      But for now, yeah, 1080p looks absolutely fantastic, even in the GoPro Black at 60fps:

      • Opps, this was done in the HERO2, not the Black. This is a Black, 1080p, 60fps. I really like how the sun and shade looks on the dirt:

    • Peter Kelly on 05.3.13 @ 8:25AM

      that video is boring

      • The one in 4k from Jacob Schwarz? Did you click on “Original” in the quality button and wait for it to download?

        • I did. Watched it in “original” on a 1440p monitor, and was completely underwhelmed.

        • Peter Kelly on 05.3.13 @ 9:16AM

          no because i dont have a 4k monitor, its pretty but its just flowers, the music is slow and dull, its too long. I turned off halfway through.

        • From the other comments listed, it is easy to tell that there is more to our craft then just the tech. Great tech doesn’t automatically make for a great end result. (I think the movies coming out these days are a great example of this …)

          Also, keep in mind what I said in Reason 4- 4k does help in the origination of the image. (A 4k image down sampled to 1080p is “better” (has more detail) then a straight 1080p image.)

          • So you’re just saying that because of cost, less cumbersome to use, and familiarity with the C100, are the reasons you’re not going 4k at this time.

          • I’m not going 4k due to all of the reasons I listed above in the article.

            I have shot, and will shoot on camera systems that shoot at all kinds of resolutions depending on the needs of the production. It is about the story, the craft, and the needs of the production. I use it when appropriate, not just because it is “cool” or the hype of the tech … in the end it all gets delivered to 1080p …

    • My point wasn’t that people who shoot on Red are monkey’s, (I know I don’t feel like a monkey when I’m shooting on one.) you missed the point. My point was that it is the craft that matters- if it is ALL about the tech, then anyone behind a camera becomes just a monkey pressing buttons, and will be replaced. :)

    • Um, did you even read the article? He said it was good for what he was normally shooting and if he had to do slow motion and intense color correction he would get a different camera for those shoots. Finding shots that a camera is not designed to make is pointless. This is like me complaining that my Gopro doesn’t do good interviews.

    • Wish you would have posted this one of Jason’s instead Gene

      …mostly because I helped with it… :P

  • Bryan Arnold on 05.3.13 @ 8:13AM

    Nice article!

    The C100 is overpriced but it’s fun to shoot with it. I can rent a package for about €100 a day. And yes, it can do slowmo. Check out my C100 slow motion test:



    • Thanks for sharing Bryan. :)

      I’m looking into shooting at 60i & 50i and converting it for slow-mo as well. I think that is one work around that has potential for some limited uses in the work that I do. (I’d rather have “true” slow-mo, but this is an option.) :)

      • Bryan Arnold on 05.3.13 @ 11:31AM

        You’re welcome. Thanks for taking time to reply. Keep up the great work you’re doing :)

  • thank you. thank you. i’ve been considering a new camera buy for about three weeks, and my work has just about ground to a halt with all the research. bmcc ? c100? sell the lenses and flip to d800? pray the ML guys can hack my mk lll ? used ? 1dx ?

    this is the clarity i’ve been looking for. and yes: it’s probably still a bit overpriced, but the $1k rebate on now makes it a lot more palatable.

    • Anytime, glad to help. :) It is just one tool of many options out there. If it fits your needs, it will serve you well. (But the C100 isn’t for every production.)

  • Blah blah blah, the old “what I’m shooting on is the best camera!” circlejerk. We get it – you bought a camera and have to justify it for yourself (and now, thanks to the Internet, to the whole world). Big deal. Let people buy whatever they want to shoot on. But don’t go around acting as if 1080P is objectively “better” than 4K.

    • Glad somebody said it. I get some of this sure. The hammer thing doesn’t really work – I’m not going to shoot green screen with a 4:2:0 at that price.
      But the overall attitude is pretty uppity for someone sitting on an Epic.

    • Did you read the post? I think you may be misunderstanding…

    • Um, I think you missed a lot of what I said … as that is exactly the OPPOSITE of what my post was about. At the very least I’d highly recommend going back and reading what I said in The Bottom Line.

      No circle jerk here. :) I use whatever tool fits the needs of the jobs I work on. From the big boys all the way down to the DLSR’s and I’m ok with that. :)

  • This pretty much summs up why I’ve bought a C300 16 month ago (nobody knew about a c100 back then).
    Great allround tool for so many tasks. Not the best for every, but good enough for most.
    The C300 adds a few things up. But I could do a lot of my work also with a C100.

    They look weird first, the price might be not the best if you compare spec sheets. But as soon as you worked with these cams you will love the out of the box package that lets you just work without playing Lego everytime and spend money on additional stuff.

    • For sure. I have loved working with the C300, and I’ll continue to shoot with it. :) You have some great points about the form factor and playing Lego. :)

  • Interesting article but the first line makes NO SENSE ….
    ‘After many years of owning a wide range of camera systems, including a RED ONE and an EPIC, I decided to sell it all and rent. So for the past three years I have been exclusively renting cameras on a per project basis…’

    The RED ONE is only 5 years old and the EPIC 2 the most so you can not have been renting cameras for 3 years ….

    • Sure I can. Here’s how: I owned a Red One. When Red announced that they were making the Epic, I sold my Red One and got in line for the discount for the Epic. Red missed their deadline for delivery for the Epic by 1 year. So I have been renting for 3 years. (When my Epic finally did arrive a year late, I sold it.)

      Easy math. :) (Although I admit that I could have done a better job at explaining that part. But I didn’t think it was crucial to the rest of the article. :) )

  • I admit the lowlight capabilites of this camera are nice indeed, but sorry I am not going out to buy a $6000 8 bit camera, when technically a black magic pocket camera can provide a better picture quality for only $1000.

    Also i would rent a 1dc for low light over a c100 especially if it was for a indie film

    • To each his own- that’s why there are options. :) And they are all tools that should be used in service to the project and the story. :)

      The pocket camera is VERY interesting, and I am interested in using it. But don’t fool yourself, that $1,000 is NOT $1,000 by the time you get it to work like a proper camera with the added accessories you will be much closer to the price of a C100. And then you have the sensor crop factor to deal with …

      • Great write up, Ryan – I’m glad I’m not the only person that thinks 1080p can work wonders for most of the work NFS readers are doing. A competently rendered and projected 1080 image will look just as good to most viewers in a theater as a 4k capture/2k render. Anyone see THE RAID: REDEMPTION? Shot on a AF100 with external capture.

        Curious about your comment on the BMPCC accessories that would get its base cost close to a C100. Are you talking about rigging, or lenses? I’m biased – I put in a preorder in the day it was announced – but in part I put that in since I already have a set of m43 lenses and Nikon glass fitted with m43 adapters. It looks like the only thing I’ll need to invest in is a few extra Nikon batteries (less than $20/piece) and some faster SD cards than I have (maybe $200 all in). If I decide to pick up an external monitor, that might be another $600-$1k, but that’s still way under $6k.

        If you meant getting everything you need from scratch – rigging, lenses, sound, etc – then certainly that’ll be considerably more than the $1000 price tag, but the initial buy of any camera is going to have addons.

        What I’m definitely not getting with my preorder, though, is the lowlight performance of the C100/300. Tradeoffs :-)

        • Put ‘The Raid’ side-by-side with the ‘Hobbit’ and see if you still believe that “A competently rendered and projected 1080 image will look just as good to most viewers in a theater as a 4k capture/2k render” nonsense.

  • I have a C100 and a Ninja 2 and it’s a superb combination. Shot a video on the F5 last night and the C100 is so much faster to use, albeit with inferior spec.

  • Great article! I was fortunate enough to work on the Zacuto Great Camera shootout with Ryan. I was shooting on the FS100 with Den Lennie on that job. I too found it extremely enlightening and educational. Not only to spend time with the other DP’s and learn from them, but to see all these cameras compared on the big screen and just how capable the less expensive cameras were when directly compared to the higher end of the market. I too bought a C100 in December last year and it is one of my favourite cameras to shoot on. Very versatile and produces stunning images in my opinion. I also recently purchased a Sony F55. For me it has been a really crazy time to purchase cameras, considering how quickly they are advancing in features and plummeting in price. I chose the C100 as an “all rounder” and because I absolutely love shooting on it, for all the same reasons Ryan mentioned. The F55 ended up being a purchase instead of a rental because it simply worked out more economical to actually buy it than rent it for the 9 week period that I would need it. I am currently shooting a green screen VFX series that uses the 4K resolution for a mixture of live action and animation and affords the post team much more room to move the images around within the HD frame that we will deliver. I agree that 4k distribution is still a while off and to be honest I could see no real benefit to that resolution on a domestic TV sized screen. 4K is here as a production tool and I too think it will live in the production realm for quite some time before we see an uptake in distribution and delivery of it. Thanks for the article Ryan, a great read!

    • Thanks Mic. :)

      Great perspective. I would love to have the business model to own the hire end cameras, but it just doesn’t pencil out for me. I’m glad that it does for you! :) Congrats on the F55- what you said makes A LOT of sense. :)

      By the way- if anyone hasn’t checked out Mic’s work- check it out. He is a talented guy. :) (And a pleasure to hang out with.) Watch his stuff here:


  • The one part i find most interesting about this post, is where Ryan says he likes the fact that you are more restricted in post when shooting 1080p.

    We’ve been hearing for years now, since Star Wars Ep1 really, how amazing it is to have all these capabilities in post since the invention of HD, and its continued with the evolution of UHD. And not just from amateur/professionals who do mess up the final product with bad reframing and grading, but also from big names in the business.

    I just find it interesting that we’re now heading in an opposite direction.

    • Yep, restriction in post does force you (me) to make more selective choices while shooting, which means I have to be a lot more present, and make sure I’m on my A game. The discipline it brings makes for a better craft in my opinion. When everything does become 4k, that same discipline in craft will translate over. :)

  • Travis Jones on 05.3.13 @ 9:37AM

    Thanks for sharing you thoughts Ryan. Very brave.

  • What’s a 422 color space?

    And even if there were such a thing, why would any professional aim to use 422 chroma subsampled media for green screen work?

    • Oops, nice catch. :) Wrong terminology used for that sentence. :) Thanks for catching it. :)

      Personally, I’ve found a sampling of 4:2:2 to be perfectly adequate for many of the projects I work on. Sure 4:4:4 is better, but the data overhead is not always welcomed by the production, especially when 4:2:2 will get the job done. Now if it is a heavy VFX project, that could be a different issue … but it is not the work that I do. :)

  • As someone who works in post I agree that 1080p and a well shot image at any compression can be more than enough. I also feel that there’s a HUGE benefit to having extra resolution to play with. For example, on a recent project the DP shot 4k on a R1MX and captured all the interviews at a mid-shot. We were finishing at 1080 so I had a LOT of room to punch in and make the edit much more dynamic. I guess with the ease of use and the cost you could just buy two C100′s, but I feel that little things like that make a big difference to the final product in the end and a 4k image makes that possible.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. :)

      I chose the Epic and shot in 5k for one of the spots that I did for Adidas because we needed the extra resolution to push in past the level I could go on the lenses we were using. So I hear you there. :)

      While I get that for an interview, you can punch in and get “two” shots for the price of one when shooting in high resolutions, it is an aesthetic that I personally don’t care for. Punching in like that never feels the same as when there are two different cameras at different angles using different lenses. (But if it is a one time event, and there are only the resources for one camera, I can see the appeal / need.) :)

  • I would agree, If it fits the work you get then it the camera for you. I also agree with your thought on 4K, its not here yet, and when it will be the tech of now will be outdated by the tech when it is feasible then. Great article.

  • Simply put, most paying projects don’t require more quality than what the c100 offers.

    • Great point. :) We can wax philosophical all day- but at the end of the day we have to make a living. :)

      • Thanks for this. Great read!

      • Rachael Dakoda on 05.3.13 @ 12:53PM

        Great post. This reflects my feelings about equipment.

        I produce learning modules in PDF format with embeded video. I do it all with my 7D. I shoot the video at 30p at an shutter speed of 1/60. I set the camera to shoot the stills at the same setting so I don’t have to adjust any camera settings. Post is a snap.

        I went to NAB this year and looked at all of the new and reinvented “gear” and decided that the 7D is just the right camera for what I am producing. I own great lenses and some older still lenses that I have adapted to the 7D.

        If I need any other video with the video look, then I use my XA10. It too is just fine for the small screen and laptops.

        Most of the readers of this site are doing other projects beyond mine, and that’s fine, but this Post is about having the right gear for the job, and I do.

        Thanks for the great post.



  • Thanks for posting this. I’m constantly back and forth on the C100 and whether we should invest in it or not, so I really appreciate your statements here.

    ” As cameras get smaller and smaller, my frustrations with them grow.” I could not agree more. I know the perfect camera doesn’t exist, but for me, the closest thing I’ve had yet was the EX3 (especially when paired with a lovely 35mm adapter). Yes, there are cameras that can make prettier pictures with bigger sensors, but from a standpoint of size, functionality, out-of-the-box shooting, etc. it’s hard to beat. I’m still waiting on a true upgrade to that wonderful camera.

    The C100 is among those that I think are close. Just wish Canon wasn’t nearly as obsessed with protecting their more expensive options. And yeah – it needs to be 1k less to match the features it is missing.

  • “However, I found it interesting that out of all of the booths displaying 4k content, NONE of them had it next to 1080p content for a side-by-side comparison. ”

    You don’t need a side by side comparison to see the difference. It is night and day. I was at NAB too. Furthermore, I much rather use a camera that supersamples from 4k to 1080P than something that is limited to 1080 acquisition. Cleaner, sharper, and more DR.

    • Which is what the C100 does- samples the 4k sensor down to 1080p. :)

      However, resolution is different the Dynamic Range. Just because you have a lot of resolution it does not mean you have a lot of dynamic range. Take the older digital DSLR’s for example, they had high resolution, yet limited dynamic range …

  • I usually don’t comment here because I don’t have more time to write meaningful contributions, I wish I had.. I think most of my comments are about how inexpicably angry some of the people here are. I don’t know….I think I have a sad curiosity about why all of this hatred, and this kind of behavior exists on almost every comments section I read. Have you guys considered taking yoga classes or something? Tai-shi perhaps? Or just a morning meditation would do. Peace.

    ps: by the way, nice post Ryan!! Lucid thinking.

    • Thanks Raoni. :)

      The questions you raise are ones that I have wondered as well. Yoga, meditation, going for a walk on a nice sunny day sure would be beneficial. :)

    • There is a new diagnosis for the condition referred to as monocameria, and many potentially on here are showing symptoms. When a video guy has not produced watchable material in a prolonged duration of time, and then is exposed to marketing material from camera manufacturers they form a complex. As their logic deteriorates they obsess over whatever manufacturer of the day has the largest specs for the lowest price with a undetermined release date, neurotically they swarm message boards the advocate their one camera in all threads no matter what the subject. Specs and price of the camera body is all that matters with monocameria, and though those without the complex can easily understand there are many other variables, monocameria patients tirelessly pervade threads regurgitating the same marketing specs and price points that caused their condition. Then when a new camera is announced with even more specs for a lesser price, those with monocameria cancel their pre-orders to get other pre-orders and the cycle of denial continues.

    • ” Have you guys considered taking yoga classes or something? Tai-shi perhaps? Or just a morning meditation would do. Peace.”

      Raoni, you ´re spot on. BTW, the most simple meditation ever is the buddhist anapana, you just sit with your back straight and breath in and breath out slowly via the nose, pay your conscious mind attention into the nostrils and the air coming in and out and let the thoughts go on and on without holding (feed) them in your conscious mind… simple breathing and relaxing… great as a morning meditation for sure! :D :D also great when anger possess us! :D

      I used to be an angry S.O.B. and explosive martial artist, so one day life took away a very dear person and I got shit depressed and as a “cure” a friend introduced me to taiji and after that I got into deep daoist meditation (small universe)… best thing in my life! i got even more energy now! also it made me S.M.I.L.E. (Start My Inner Love Engine! :D) Life never was SO FUN! I discovered I live in an organic asymmetrical hologram (time-frequency uncertain principle from dennis gabor explains it well! :D) and that I´m, as a temporary identity, I am a piece of fiction as the ones we like to create in comics, movies, novels, short tales, so on! :D :D we are all funny self-recursive “tulpa” (the tibetan word is the only one to explain this for me! :D)

      Now, back to the subject of the article… :D :D

      Ryan Waters, your article is PERFECT, reading it from my erisian reality tunnel! :D :D
      I got one RED Scarlet and a couple of Gh2s and 5Ds and one 7D for “professional” corporate stuff, but for my next short I´m dying to get a pocket cine cam from blackmagic and go minimal with micro 4/3 lenses and c-mout lenses but with 13stops (!), because I got my love for cinema from a long friendship I had since college with, now dead, one of the masters of authoral and underground cinema in my homeland, Brazil, a lovely man called Carlos Reichenbach, for whom the ideal way of filmmaking is the one you make at home, with friend, to express your singular view of the world, kind like Cassavetes, Hal Hartley, Shane Carruth, etc, cinema as freedom of speech mostly and as an urge of invention (coming from the lack of too much resources! ) -of course it´s not the ONLY or the BEST way, there is lots of different ways for all kind of reality tunnels, people, taste, desires, etc, in the lovely fictional holographic universe of ours! :P

      But that´s it, also I don´t get this “future proof” thing people are getting into… like the quality, even in 2K of David Fincher´s “Zodiac” (his best movie for my taste!), the 2K of Haneke´s “Amour”, the 2K of the gorgeous cinematography from “Skyfall” plus the elegant modern rewrite Sam Mendes did to the series, or is not Cronenberg´s “Cosmopolis” NOT future proof because it was shot with Alexa @2K????, even the 480p images from Lars Von Trier´s “Dancer in the Dark”, etc, etc, or the 1.9K of the anarchical little master piece that is the unpretentious and fun “Crank” from neveldine/taylor, like these lovely films don´t have their future guaranteed ONLY because they can´t be shown into a 4K TV without getting a little soft! I really don´t get this kind of sharpness of image fetich!!

      Sometimes an art form that depends too much in technological stuff to generate itself can blind us from what makes great art in the first place, be it 1.9K, 2K, 4K or 8K…

      KALLISTI! :D

      • Nice contribution guto!! I’m starting a little research about meditation, how to avoid stress and how to be a more positive and light person. I’m going to look for information based on what you described.
        I’m from Brazil too (fiquei pensando se escrevia essa mensagem em inglês ou português rsrs) and also admire the way Carlão Reichenbach saw the filmaking process. He trully is one of the biggest names in the brazilian cinema culture. All the best to you and keep up with the “mucho take it easy” exercises! Abraço!

  • The sanest comment about 4K I read lately. It makes me sick reading all that junk about “4K is now” at Reduser, I also work as a senior visual effects artist and can tell you that 4K delivery for visual effects is not happening anytime soon in the next years.
    Also I agree with you, if you do a great work on set you don’t need to stress the footage in post, for my short, I loved what I got in camera, however it was nice saving a couple of shots since I shot in 4k (reframe=ing), and I mean a couple (literally) not every shot :)

  • I grudgingly admit that even the C100 has a sharper, more cinematic image than my 5D Mark III. Whew! That was a tough one. That said, for me it’s not worth selling it to trade up. I’m getting a decent amount of photo gigs. As a freelancer, I have to be flexible, and I often offer video clips to photo clients and professional still photos to video clients as icing when bidding for jobs. It works. Also, I’m getting better than 50 mb/s bit rate with the all-I codec, more than enough for broadcast, so don’t feel like I’m missing out on image quality. Adding 20% sharpness in post to the 5D image works subtle wonders. Where I’m really feeling left behind is in the dynamic range race, which has replaced the megapixel race. Your points about overexposure latitude are well taken and dynamic range is where I see the biggest advantage of a C100. But that is mostly an issue when shooting outdoors in full sun. I’m looking at keeping the 5Dm3 for indoor low light shots and hopefully grabbing a BMCC pocket camera for outdoor, high contrast shots. I also have a Ninja 2 for the extra color latitude in post when I need it. Until there’s a camera with the BMCCs dynamic range, the C100 low light capability/sharpness and the 5Dm3 price point, it’ll have to be work-arounds or rentals for me.

  • Ryan,

    Thank you for saying this. You just reinforced my plan to forgo a 4K option at this time. I think the C300 is the camera for me. I’d rather have the 50Mbs Codec internally. Good luck with everything.

  • Terrific post. I feel the same way with the Sony EA50. It does the job without question and yes, creativity is in the person, not the tech. Great article without question.

  • i think this is your don-draper-letter-to-the-tobacco-industry moment.

  • Whilst I agree to an extent, I would much rather have a BMCC 2.5K than a C100.

    I’ve spent £2800 in total including ND’s, storage etc and have a camera that records ProRes internally and if I ever feel like it 2.5K RAW.

    I’d much rather have this than have spent £4500 on a camera that records 4:2:0 internally and have to buy an Atomos Ninja to go any further.

    I’m not sure how anyone can justify the price of a C100. It’s far too expensive for what you get. If it was £2100 then it would be more attractive…

    • Peter Kelly on 05.3.13 @ 2:03PM

      Just curious to what kind of work you do with the BM?

      • Adam Smyth on 05.3.13 @ 4:00PM

        Corporate and Events as a freelancer and I work 30 hours a week for a charity producing all of their promotional work.

        • What!! Event and Corporate?! What is your battery solution on BMC? How much time do you spend changing and storing ND filters? How do you format cards at an event? Do you know that you can operate for 10 hours easily on c100 with no computer present, no dropped frames, and two batteries. What do you do in dark rooms where you need higher isos than 1600? Reduced rolling shutter on c100 wouldn’t help running around an event? I’m stumped how events could benefit more from a BMC than a C100.

          • Peter Kelly on 05.6.13 @ 2:35AM

            Adam I think Ryan above justified it very well.

            Your working life would be much easier with a C100

  • Great post! Filmmakers have to work with their business plans. If the camera earns you money, buy it! If it costs you more than you earn, don’t buy it. It’s really simple and there’s a lot of hidden costs in post production: FX, reframing, syncing sound, converting files and so on.

  • It’s a great point! It really changes some one new, like me, to think realistically about a projects and my money.

  • Anthony Marino on 05.3.13 @ 12:12PM

    Great article. Nice to know how the pros think too. Plus we need to address the workflow issues associated with rendering 4k images. You can’t realistically edit 4k on just any system, even 2.5k is a task. What’s the point of shooting 4k if you can’t handle it? Hi quality 1080p footage with an external recorder on a newer iMac or even laptop is certainly feasible, jump to 4k you’re entering into a spending frenzy. That decent $2500/3000 system you need now just doubled (at the minimum) to get where you need to be. Right now there’s a few more reasons to wait it out than to jump into the 4k revolution. I think Ryan’s article is spot on. Thanks

    • I edit Red footage all the time (including a commercial I’m finishing up as I’m typing his) on a newer macbook pro retina. Editing is very quick and smooth (at 1/4 res of course), it doesn’t slow down until I get to grading. When it comes to VFX you need a MONSTER machine whether you’re working in 4k or 720p. Granted, 4k does take longer to edit, but it’s totally realistic to do so with a laptop… or at least a $3k Macbook Pro.

      • Anthony Marino on 05.3.13 @ 1:57PM

        You do what you gotta do, glad to hear your Mac is somewhat capable. But, 1/4 res, no VFX (even mild is a bitch I know). I have to say no thanks in spending $3000.00 for such limited system.

        • Heh, 1/4 res of 4k = 1080p playback. Downscale to 1080p for heavy VFX, and on anything but a massive machine, VFX is a bitch no matter what.

          • Anthony Marino on 05.3.13 @ 4:55PM

            True, I’m not knocking you or anyones system. I’m sure red and the rest of the crew will be making it easier and easier as time goes on. However I do know to effectively edit most 4k material a $2500 system will most likely struggle. I never said it couldn’t be done.

    • Frederik Olaf on 05.3.13 @ 1:00PM

      You don’t need a super computer to handle 4k footage. Your statement is so 2010.

      You can edit 4k files on a 1200 $ machine. With the Mercury Playback Engine you can edit on a 4k timeline, and if you have a more advanced machine (1700 $) you can playback 4k in realtime. (No need for Red Rocket)

      Intel 6 Core 3930k = 550 $
      Take a decent GTX 570 and a fast SSD and you are ready to go.

      The cheapest Imac is round 1200 $ and it is basically just laptop hardware and therefore not suitable for heavy post work.

      • Anthony Marino on 05.3.13 @ 2:07PM

        The SSD now are great. But still limited to huge files. Like I stated after you add you hardware to effectively edit 4k footage you need to spend $$$. Sure you can sit there all day and edit at 1/4 res and constantly off load your footage. But in a semi professional environment editing 4k or even 2k with those specs you mention are just silly. Talk with a guy named Eric Bowmen from ADK (google it) and he’ll tell you the bare minium you need. Trust me I got it and don’t see how anyone can find a somewhat blissful editing experience with anything less.

        • Frederik Olaf on 05.3.13 @ 3:36PM

          ” But in a semi professional environment editing 4k or even 2k with those specs you mention are just silly. ”

          Not true. Check out this video:

          It shows how Tom Lowre can edit his 5k .r3d-files on his home PC with a 4k timeline and make a 4k finish. (You can buy Timescapes in 4k).

          • Anthony Marino on 05.3.13 @ 5:06PM

            I’ve seen that. It’s amazing. But look at all those drives…he has 2 systems tied together (one edits the other one renders). I’d say with his system including monitors he’s well into 5g’s. Again I’m not saying you can’t do it. I meant edit 4k effectively. Most post houses even the smallest guys would never attempt to edit for a paying client based on those specs. I’m sure even Tom has upgraded by now. Hey Its new technology to the masses, most people believe a 3930k, gtx 680, and 64GB ram is all you need. Again, It’s way way more than that. Depending on how it’s wrappped the CPU isn’t even where you see the bottleneck. Go price a 6 drive (WD RE4 totaling 12TB) raid array with a lsi 9271-8i card…that’s almost 2 grand alone. Add some SSD on top of it, forget about it. You way passed the 3 grimed mark.

      • Some people here write about possibilites to edit 4K and of course it’s much easier with the solutions we have today. But filmmakers need to work with their businees plans. It’s not about what’s possible or not in editing or what will happen in the future. It’s about how time consuming it is. If you can bill more hours then you will earn more. If you have to wait for something or do extra work then you will earn less per hour. That’s being realistic. Jump on the 4k bandwagon when it’s really affordable and you can make a good profit or buy a 4k camera now if it will make you a good profit now (not in the future). Another advice: start to think like the camera manufacturers. How do I earn more money? Again, it’s about business plans not cameras.

  • This mirrors my recent comments regarding 4K. It seems premature for a market sector just recently gaining access to cameras with HD minus the lossy compression to make such a huge leap to 4K. 1080P/4:2:2 is still a really good place to be.

    I’ve decided on the Sony FS700 after much deliberation and renting Canon C-series for most of my jobs in the last year (I really do like the footage I’ve acquired with it), and the C100 would have been my choice if the FS700 did not receive so many affordable accessory options that improve it’s value considerably. I can get the quality I need right now shooting 1080P, and I’ll have an affordable upgrade path to 4K when the need arises. It also records slo-mo at the speeds for action sports shooting that I need at a much more affordable price-point than a C500.

  • Lance Bachelder on 05.3.13 @ 12:39PM

    Great post. I agree that the whole 4k thing is a bit out of control right now, especially filmmakers that think they need 4k RAW. I just worked on a show where the Director wanted 5k for talking heads in case he wanted to re-frame – this causes such a massive bottleneck in post, even with Red Rocket cards it’s worse than waiting for film dailies from the lab and just as expensive!

    In fact I believe the 4k RAW workflow is helping to keep film alive here in Hollywood because the hassle and expense of DIT’s, storage, data wrangling and post processing is a bigger pain than shooting 35mm. Look at Oblivion – it was shot in 4k but had to be finished in 2k because they didn’t the budget ($120million!) or time for a 4k post workflow!

    As far as the C100 – I’d never given it a second thought based on the specs and price until I saw the footage in the Canon theater at NAB. The footage from the short “Bart” on the big screen looked fantastic and totally changed my mind about the camera. It definitely has a very filmic quality and the AVCHD capture is not a deterrent at all. The rich color combined with the Super 35 chip give it a superior quality to other cameras in it’s price range.

    • Yeah! 4k is out of hand. It’s pushing the boundaries of the technology currently available! Pushing companies to make it cheaper, faster and easier to edit 4k footage is progress that is just way too hard. I remember when 1080p footage was incredibly expensive, it cost companies millions to switch over and eventually be made cheap, it should have stayed where it was! I watch my films on a 1080p projector in my living room, the screen is huge and I can see every pixel! 4k might make impossible to see the individual pixels at all, who wants that?!

      • Lance Bachelder on 05.3.13 @ 4:07PM

        1080p only became feasible when we had high quality compressed codecs like Cineform, Pro Res and DVxHD – before that it was outrageously expensive to edit and store – SD offline to HD online etc. – I know, I lived it.

        The problem with 4k is even the first-time indie filmmaker thinks he needs 4k 444 RAW or his film will suck. This is fine for big budget fx driven shows. But there is hope – Pro Res 4k is manageable and new codecs like XAVC on the F55 should improve workflows dramatically.

        A 4k projector in my living room would be great, but where/when do I get the 4k content?

  • Love it. I own only a basic camera setup as well, and then rent up when the project calls for it. It’s a more stress-free way to do it for sure.

  • Thanks for sharing Ryan some great thoughts. I don’t know if you saw this post by Jonah Kessel but he took a C100 to Burma and made an excellent write-up about it.

    I’m curious about renting out your gear. How do you find renters and does it actually bring in enough money to be worth the hassle & wear & tear on your gear? I’ve got quite a bit of gear I’ve collected over the years and would love to find a way to make it work for me.

  • “That is why I think this camera should be priced at $4,500. After all, even cameras like the AF100 can shoot in variable frame rates up to 60 fps in 1080p. This is a major oversight by Canon. I think they are working too hard at protecting their higher end cameras. The sensor is capable of 60 fps at 1080p. Why cripple it, other than to make more money?”

    The C100 is technically a 4k 30p camera that down-converts that to output 1080 30p. In order to output 1080 60p with no subsampling (to keep the quality), it would need to have the horsepower (and the cooling system) to handle 4k 60p in the first place. Maybe the processors that are in the C100 don’t have that ability (handle 4k 60p), and this would be the main reason why the camera cannot output 1080 60p. Just a thought.

    • This is correct. It’s the ASICs that can’t do it, not the sensor. It’d be like saying a Scarlet is only software crippled to not be an Epic. It’s parts of the article like this that make me baffled by why this post would be republished here.

  • Clayton Arnall on 05.3.13 @ 12:56PM

    Ryan, how often do you pull out the Ninja 2 when shooting with your C100? If you were shooting a short narrative for example and wanted to make it the best you could, but it didn’t have green screen or VFX, would the internal codec be good enough for a nice color grade?

  • vinceGortho on 05.3.13 @ 1:04PM

    The C100 look is great for weddings and event coverage. For cinema, not so much. The examples I’ve seen, some well lit, some naturally lit do not measure up against 10 or 12 bit color.
    I enjoy my dslr now. Its cheap. Small and I make money off if it while doing short films to develop my craft.
    When I shoot my feature, canon video will not be a factor.

    • Would you say the same about the C300 and the C500? I’ve shot with both the C300 and and C100, and the only difference I noticed image wise was that the C300 footage held up better at high ISO’s in near darkness.

      • vinceGortho on 05.3.13 @ 3:12PM

        I don’t like canons 8bit look. They have s nice color science. I would like to see how it looks at 10 and 12bits.

        • its not a 8 bit look its a 12 bit look in 8 bits

        • I also don’t like the look of inter-frame motion. Never looks as “filmic” as independently encoded I-frames. Both the C100 and C300 suffer from this with the internal codecs. Inter-frame coding on capture always looks a bit “soap-opera”-ish.

  • john jeffries on 05.3.13 @ 1:09PM

    This article reminds me of the one time Bill Gates said, in the 80′s, that 640kb of memory was more than enough.

    Just like how 1080p is more than enough, right?

  • Hey Ryan,

    One point you didn’t touch on in your article: Lens mount.

    EF mounts have a difficult flange distance for mounting PL glass. Do you feel that there is sufficient quality EF glass for your needs? If I’m not mistaken, Zeiss CP2 series would be about your high water mark for lens options with an EF mount?

    In general I’d rather shoot on a GH3 with great glass than a c100 with mediocre glass.

    Though again, as with all things, different tools for different jobs—If I’m doing run and gun doc work I’d take the shit glass and xlr inputs/built-in NDs on my camera over great glass with having to deal with external audio.

    Just curious to get your thoughts on lens mounts. Had you gotten the c300 instead, would you have opted for the PL option, or stuck with EF?

  • I think shooting a camera capable of 4K gives you more options, as does buying a camera that shoots high speed. I also think choosing a camera today depends on what you intend to shoot with it. For me, at this point having lived through the SD to HD transition, I wouldn’t invest in a camera that doesn’t shoot 4K unless it was a DSLR.

    If you wanted to shoot more 1080p without the 4K hassles, I’m surprised you didn’t keep your EPIC and wait to buy the new Proxy Module ($2,500) for recording straight from the camera to ProRes, DNxHD or H.264. At least then you’d have the option of having 4K and high frame rates when the project requires it.


  • Just the post I was waiting for after all the 4K hype at NAB and the recent hate on Canon after the 5Dmkiii firmware caused a stir. As a proud 5D owner, I agree that there’s nothing better than having a dependable camera that gets you paid every week but doesn’t break your own bank.
    My 5D may not impress other camera enthusiasts, but my results always impress my clients when I do my best with what I have.
    The $4k 4K BM camera is definitely an awesome milestone to look forward to, but mostly because it will push everyone else to upgrade their resolution, dynamic range, and lower their prices if they want to stay competitive.
    I believe that the next camera I own will shoot 4K, but I don’t think that will be at least for 2 or 3 years.
    I just love my 5D.

  • marklondon on 05.3.13 @ 1:47PM

    Great post! Love that the major trolls on this site got no bites.
    You and Jonah Kessel have made a great case for the C100, and have to say, most of the stuff I’ve seen looks great. If it overcranked even to 48fps I’d buy one for my personal rig tomorrow.
    No payments! No renting out! I lasted exactly one hire as a rental company. Too stressful for me.

  • I think some people think that other people think that they NEED an expensive camera in order to make something good or an expensive camera will make them make something good. That is true that some people think that but we should remember that this is not true for 100% of all creators. I myself know I don’t need a Sony F55 but its never been about what I need, It’s always been about what I want. I “want” to create visual art. I “want” to use certain tools to create visual art. Technically I don’t “need” to create art period but it’s just that I really really “want” to. I think people should use any tools that they themselves feel they find joy in using in order to express themselves. I would never tell someone that they don’t need a ferrari to go to the grocery store. If it’s what they “want” to do, then enjoy it.

  • I love how Ryan not only made a wicked smart decision for his business, but how he’s intelligently and non-confrontationally being very active in the comments. So far, this comments section has a bit fewer camera troll comments, and more intelligent back-and-forth. Maybe that’s because it’s harder to be a dickhead to a person who engages you.

    We also sold our REDs and went Canon for owning, and rental for Alexa and Epic, etc. Did it back in November, and it’s been a VERY wise decision for me- no regrets.

  • Greg Greenhaw on 05.3.13 @ 2:34PM

    Canon’s leadership is so clueless and deserve to be fired. It would have been so easy for them to really listen to their clients, ignore pressure from competing departments inside canon, and build a great cinema camera that was not intentionally limited. I can’t possibly support that company any longer.

    The C100 requires just as much rigging overhead as a BMCC or DSLR for that matter.

    How does the C100 down sample the 4k footage? Line Skipping?
    I’m sure its the done in the stupidest possible way.
    All it has going for it is its low light performance.

    Can you trust the S/N of the canon internal audio preamps? If not, then you need a audio preamp anyway so the built in xlrs vs the BMCC 1/4″ inputs are irrelevant.

    The button layout is so bad, this user on canon own website had to put bright tape over the buttons to see them:

    I’m preordered BM production camera despite the bad low light and lack of 60p. I respect their attempts I hope they delver on the firmware improvements.

  • Pavel G. Roytberg on 05.3.13 @ 3:02PM

    Thanks for your opinion Ryan! I thought about C100 but ended up with 1DC because I like to have foto camera is the same body. But it really misses all the bells and whistles (like focus assist etc) you’ve got in C100 :)
    Form factor is the great selling point for C100 – imho one of the best on the market.

    I’ll share your post with all my friend who are still considering different cameras!

  • I really dig this blog, but this is a horrible post, a big step back . I agree that talent behind/front of the camera and content is of extreme importance, but don’t look back. I loved my dvx100 and it changed the game giving us beautiful color, 24fps and awesome xlr audio,but I’ll never shoot on her again. We need better color space options on 4k raw, but 1080? Are you serious? Horrible call very disappointed.

    • It’s Ryan’s opinion and it has inspired some great discussion. For example, I’m a believer in 4K but I see Ryan’s points and they make sense for him. No need to ask us if we’re serious.

    • You should try making stuff that doesn’t look terrible before you complain.

  • One thing should be made clear: 4K is not hype anymore. It IS the future. Now, you can debate its merits all day long but that has nothing to do with its inevitability.

    The pro audio world saw a similar scenario play out with digital audio some years ago but overcame it relatively quickly due to the less demanding requirements of audio capture and manipulation compared to the very high demands of high resolution video. But I think people are confused by acquisition vs. distribution. I find a lot of the logic of not wanting to shoot 4K because your final product will be 1080p or less to be flawed. I doubt any Nashville based (because they have some of the best studios in the world) recording engineers ever thought they might as well capture instruments and vocals at 320kbps because the songs were going to end up as MP3/AACs anyway. Unless you’re going for a specific effect, you record the highest quality you can and master for various distribution methods from there.

    The best reason to not shoot 4K today is because you can’t afford it. If you can swing it AND the project is shot with longevity in mind, it seems dubious not to at least consider doing so going forward (please don’t mention Skyfall, it’s in a different league than you and I are). You don’t have to finish in 4K and, as Ryan pointed out, Adidas isn’t going to go back and remaster an old commercial in 4K, so a 4K finish may not be necessary for everything. But, even if the majority of your work is for other clients in HD, if you’re buying a camera and you have material of your own you want to share with the world, why wouldn’t you want to capture it with the far future in mind? I understand present day and near future concerns but don’t completely ignore what’s staring you in the face if you may be in a position to capitalize on it later.

    I always bring up I Love Lucy on this site (and it always goes ignored) but it was shot on film in the 1950s. It still runs somewhere in the world to this day. When 4K takes hold, the studio will remaster in 4K, it’ll look great and they may get another 50 or 60 years out of it. All in the Family? Not so much. You don’t know which one of your personal projects is going to take off, unless, for some strange reason, you never expect anything you do to be well received. The first significant 4K programming is going to be in need of 4K content just like MTV was in need of music videos in those early days. The groups that already had them greatly benefitted and got played – a lot – and those that didn’t, didn’t. It’s as simple as that. Shoot your breakout hit, coming-of-age masterpiece this fall in 4K and finish in 2K. 5 years from now, remaster it for the 4K-only channel seeking quality content and enjoy renewed interest and another revenue stream. It sounds like a pipe dream but SOMEBODY is going to do just that. Why not you?

    One thing I’m pretty sure of – when 4K becomes as common and easy to deal with as HD is now, almost none of you are going to complain that you can’t see the resolution or long for the days of 1080p. All that handwringing and harping on how much we didn’t need 4K will have done is insure you weren’t at the forefront where you could’ve had a greater chance to make an impact.

    To reiterate, I know cost is a huge factor. If I didn’t already own a 4K camera and the upcoming BMD Pocket Cinema Camera was right around the corner when I was ready to buy my cam, I would’ve seriously considered it, especially given my financial situation. However, I don’t regret my purchase for all the reasons I’ve outlined above. It’s up to me now to make the best use of the 4K abilities it offers me for the future.

    Having said that, the C100 is probably more than enough camera, quality and feature-wise, than most people know what to do with.

    • Lance Bachelder on 05.3.13 @ 3:59PM

      I agree that 4k is great for acquisition, but my take is that it will be at least 20-25 years, if ever, before we see widespread usage in the home. Most consumers just don’t care and don’t even have their home TV’s set up properly – watching squeezed/stretch standard def channels on their shiny new HD set. They may have an ahaa! moment when I set up their set the right way and show them where the HD channels are that they’ve been paying for, but they’d have gone on for years if I hadn’t stopped by lol.

      Just look at Redbox Top 20 – standard def DVD’s still rule the rental market and I know folks using Vudu and iTunes who won’t pay the extra dollar or two for an HD show because they say they can’t see the difference! You think you’re gonna get them to buy a new 4k TV? Never happen.

      • It will be much sooner than that. 4K tvs were everywhere at NAB this yr. It will only takes a few years for content to become available.

        • Will Thomas on 05.3.13 @ 7:42PM

          Yeah so were 3D TV’s…

        • The average household replaces its Tv every 8 years or so. That’s how long it’ll take before you’ll see anything happening. Right now, there’s no content and no distribution, so 4K content is still a long way off…

          • That timeframe may be accurate (I don’t know) but your reasoning is off. It’s not like everyone who owns a TV bought it new yesterday so no one will be in the market for a new TV until 2021. Those people who bought a set 4-5 years ago will be ready for a new one 3-4 years from now when 4K TVs will be more affordable and worth considering.

      • I beg to differ. They’ll buy the 4K TV a) when they don’t cost any more than an HD set costs now, b) when that’s what the majority of new sets are and c) because 4K is more and people like the idea of more, even if they don’t understand it or know how to take advantage of it.

        I’d say your 20-25 years estimate is based on the history of broadcast analog TV. Digital is going to expedite things tremendously. YouTube didn’t flirt with 4K for the fun of it. They have plans for it. If you have a new TV it may already have a YouTube app built into it (as well as Netflix). When 4K TVs account for a significant number of all TVs manufactured, YouTube will have 4K capability ready for it.

        • The push for 4K will happen much sooner than most people think. Sony is already talks with DirectTV, DISH and FIOS to add 4K channels.

          • Lance Bachelder on 05.3.13 @ 7:03PM

            Hey listen, I’ve go earlyadopteritis – I was at NAB lusting after the new Sony 4k consumer TV’s – but we’re all in the biz and of course we want the latest greatest ASAP! But we haven’t even gone fully 1080 yet – some big networks are still broadcasting 720p! You have to look at this though the eyes and wallets of the average consumer – like Brian said it gonna happen until 4k sets are as cheap as current 1080 sets.

            I’m not saying there won’t be 4k content and ways to view it in the home in the very near future and that there will be folks anxious to jump in (including me). I’m saying it will be DECADES until the masses fully adopt 4k in their daily viewing and that will only because it’s their only choice and it doesn’t effect their pocketbook.

          • No. All networks are broadcasting in 1080p. Whether you have digital cable or satellite determines whether you receive that 1080p stream or not.

          • Lance Bachelder on 05.4.13 @ 2:35AM

            Marcus: “No. All networks are broadcasting in 1080p. Whether you have digital cable or satellite determines whether you receive that 1080p stream or not.”

            Marcus this is not true, in fact NO ONE is broadcasting in 1080p – it;s 1080i or 720p – here’s a sample list of those still broadcasting in 720p (this is a few months old and may need updating) ABC, Fox, ESPN Networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN 3D), A&E Networks (A&E, History, History International, Crime & Investigation, Biography), Fox Sports Net, Fox News, Fox Business, FX, CBS College Sports, MLB Network, Disney Channels (Disney, DXD, Disney Kids, ABC Family), Speed Channel, Fuel, Big Ten Network, SportsSouth, Sunshine Sports Network

            This is for the USA – maybe you’re in another country?

      • 20-25 years ? Nope. I’m betting 2 or 3 years.

        20 years ago, we had DV in SD. And 4:3 aspect ratio. I’m sure 4K will be a thing of the past 20 years from now.

      • Are you joking? 20-25 years?

        It takes real balls to make ANY claim about the state of technology two decades away. Ask anyone in 1993 if they could envision 1080P video in the palm of your hand – not only watching it, but SHOOTING it.

        • Lance Bachelder on 05.4.13 @ 2:40AM

          So that was you staring at my balls…

          We’re NOT talking acquisition here – shooting in 4k is great – unnecessary (biggest movie of all time was shot at 1080 and the last 2 Oscars for Cinematography were both Alexa), but great!

          4k viewing at home for the masses is a loooooong way off people.

      • marvinsheldon on 05.27.14 @ 5:38PM

        4k will take off big when there will be a playable format that can capture it like Blue Ray. Even if there is no broadcast content if you can play a movie in 4K at home, everybody will.

    • Fair point. Your argument seems to support the idea of ‘If you can afford 4k, then shoot 4k. If you can’t, then don’t.’ I don’t think any one in the position to shoot 4k are scratching their head on whether or not to do it. It’s the people with less means that question sacrificing all for 4k that this post is addressing.

      If 4k is 35mm,.1080 is 16mm, etc, what ever will they do with black swan, buffalo 66, pi, and every other film not shot on 35? I realize the difference between film and digital, but its truly not a big deal in the end. To anticipate ‘your films digital future’ (in regards to pixel count, etc) or lack thereof is not your concern. No offense, but most whom can’t afford 4k will not be burdened with the issue of remastering to another format. The few that will won’t have to worry as history has shown many technically inferior formats being remastered regardlrss, be it 16mm, dv and even 8mm. In other words, no ones gonna throw your masterpiece in the bin if its a great film – they will, however, toss it if It’s shit , even if you shot it in 4k.

      So, once again, if you can’t shoot 4k don’t worry about it. If you can, then carry on! (*hint* there’s more filmmakers waiting for the cash to shoot 4k than there are filmmakers going out and shooting films. Try the latter and you may just earn those dollars to shoot 4k on the next one.)

      • That’s a rough approximation of my point. To say it more accurately (and succinctly this time), we’re all going to be dealing with 4K footage in the relatively near future. To not shoot 4K for any other reason than you can’t afford it, the situation (one-off sales video, corporate retreat, etc.) truly doesn’t warrant it or you specifically chose the look of, say, the Alexa, is to be giving a whole lot of negative lip service to something you’re going to readily accept in the next few years. Just let Canon announce a cinema camera that’s not 4K five years from now and watch the explosion of incredulity and disbelief on this site.

        Material shot at 1080p and 2K will be scaled up, no doubt. For the most part, it will look soft compared to the native 4K stuff but it will look fine. I don’t want to give the impression that I think it’s a dire situation and to shoot anything less than 4K dooms your project to uselessness once the switch happens. All I’m saying is doesn’t hurt to be forward thinking in this business, because it is a business.

        • Spot on. It is definitely an inevitability. And not 15-25 years… like 5 or less. But in all seriousness, I have no f**kin’ clue. These things happen quicker and quicker… or not at all sometimes.

          • Lance Bachelder on 05.4.13 @ 2:52AM

            You guys are missing the point – 4k acquisition is obviously already here and prevalent – but 4k delivery and broadcasting to the masses is so far off because the public doesn’t care! I have friends in the biz here in Hollywood that won’t even watch a Blu-ray – only DVDs – because they’re too clean! Insane yes but that’s the crazy market we’re in.

            There’s no way we’re gonna be watching hundreds of 4k channels in the next few years. For what? Is the public crying out for 4k House Hunters? 4k Storage Wars? 4k Survivor? Yeah I want to watch 4k at the theater (4k all the way through the pipe to the big screen) and 4k movies at home but even that will take years…

          • The general population doesn’t know what 4k is. They haven’t heard of it yet.

          • The public has little say in the matter. As long as manufacturers start phasing out 1080p sets and 4K TVs are within reach for the average consumer, the 4K transition will happen like the HD transition did. Like it’s been pointed out, people have HD sets and don’t realize they’re not really watching an HD signal. You think they’re going to draw the line at 4K for some reason? They’ll buy the 4K sets because it looks awesome in the store (provided they set it up correctly), it’s the latest tech and represents more for a similar cost. The new Sony 4K TVs start at $4,999 for a 55″. Their 65″ 1080p HX950 Internet TV is on sale for $5,199 and I’m missing the point? Sony is always a little more expensive and prices are only going to improve.

          • Cameron Glendinning on 05.4.13 @ 11:48PM

            With the vast numbers of cinemas now are equipped with 2k projectors world wide, for the majority of cinemas this is the first time they have had to change the projector since they opened. Yes many of the older cinemas had projectors dating all the way back to the 1950′s etc as the visual improvements were in the film stock not the technology. This modern technology is being paid for by a complicated “virtual print fee” from the film distributor to the 3rd party integrator.

            I personally agree with the article that if your making a film for a cinema release 4k will not be important or vital for many many years for the majority of cinema screens world wide let alone the home market.

            Even most digital IMAX theatres are basically still 2k as they are waiting the cold laser light technology that will create huge images (without melting the sensor) to be ready later this year. If you feel like making a giant screen film in 4k, it might be as soon as next year that you see it in full quality on a 100 ft plus wide screen however.

  • It’s not clear how much people are even watching in true 1080p at this point. I wonder what percentage of tvs in use are 720, not 1080.

    • There is a drastic difference between the large amount of 1080p screens versus 720p.

      • marklondon on 05.4.13 @ 2:35AM

        Got some stats to back that up? Because mine right here tell me that ESPN is watched via 720p 2:1.

  • Also, the Canon ‘c’ lines are fantastic. I’ll be shooting my next feature on a c-300 and bmc pocket. :)!

  • I’m sorry but the price of 4K is already dropping quite rapidly and I expect that his projected 5 year mark is not accurate at all. I expect that at the 5 year mark 4K will be every bit as affordable as 1080p is now and that vector based video codecs will start to emerge (very slowly but for the best) as a distribution format.

  • What’s with this “4k won’t be adopted for another 20-25 years” silliness?

    There was a $1,500 50 inch 4k set that debuted at the NAB. The price for Sony’s 84 inch monster set was about $25,000, just at the start of the year, but Sony has more practical sized models exactly at the same price range of their previously top of the line LCOS large sets (about $7,500) coming out now.

    So, in theory, in less than two years, anyone should be able to buy a 50 inch 4k set for under a $1,000, or less.

    4k will actually make Sony’s Blu-Ray format at least somewhat relevant for the near future as the only real way to take advantage of a 4k set (in the near future) will be with Blu-Ray. Although 4k streaming video does exist, not many people have an internet connection that can handle it.

    • Mr. Show, you are stuck in the idea of buying a tv only, when the big thing is in post production of a 4k content, especially in visual effects, nothing is really ready for 4K, computer monitors, network speeds, storage, etc.

      When you see the first big blockbuster delivering the movie in 4K then you know the transition will start, and since most blockbusters hinge on visual effects work and vfx studios are nearly broke trying to render in 2k, you might get the picture.

  • Great points in this article Ryan, you offer very level headed insight into a area that for some reason can spark a lot of heated debate. Pixel peepers will talk all they want about the c100 but I love the camera because it’s the right tool for the job most of the time (for most of what I do) and is in the price point that allows me to own it and still make a good living around it (it paid for itself in a couple months).

    From a cost to quality standpoint it’s a no brainer. To be honest my clients wouldn’t know the difference between my 5D3 and the c100 and I could have saved the $6500 and been just fine. But I decided the c100 was worth it for 2 main reasons. I’ve edit most of what I shoot for clients and I have to stare at the soft 1080p-ish 5D footage on a 27″ cinema display for weeks. I have to sync the audio. I have to grade an image that has little latitude. Don’t get me wrong, the image is still relatively good and makes my clients happy but when compared to the image coming off of the c100 sensor, what I see is something much sharper, cleaner and color accurate (esp in the skin tones). Just makes me happier in the edit when I’m scrubbing thru hours of footage. And it still cuts well with 5D which is VERY important since many clients ask for the 5D (Canon) look. Now image quality is one thing but…

    The other main reason expands on your “Reason3″ and the photo just above it. Ergonomics cannot be overstated! You could have written this whole article just on ergonomics alone. I’ve shot on just about everything out there. I considered a Scarlet, FS700, F5, BMCC before buying the c100. I’ve shot on all of them but nothing beats the ergonomics of the c100/300. First of all, it’s light, even with a Ninja 2 on board. All the controllability/features you’ve wanted on a DSLR and pay extra to get is already built in. ND filters! Waveforms. XLR inputs. Pre-Record. Wide DR/C Log. Clean 422 HDMI out. Peaking. Fine aperture adjustment (also on the handle). That little thing next to the HDMI port that let’s you screw in your HDMI cable. A small/light battery that lasts all day. I do agree the handle is weird and the screen on the back is kinda lame – c300 design is much better. If you make your living shooting mainly with DLSR, it just makes sense to upgrade to the c100. Saves me the trouble of building and breaking down a franken-rig with cables flying all over the place. It just makes production more pleasant overall…on top of acquiring a better image.

    I too had my reservations about this camera, mainly bc of the way Canon cripples the feature set. But getting over it’s shortcomings was pretty easy once I shot my first job with it.

  • I dont get why the only conversation here is about resolution, 4K v. 1080p. Ryan for some reason kept comparing his purchase to RED, I’m assuming because he once owned a RED. I get why for some a RED isnt the right tool for the job, but its image is miles ahead of a C100 in every way, minus low light( Although if you applied denoise and sharpen in post the RED would be cleaner, with more detail, but thats another step I understand many dont have the patience for). If you dont want to hand clients 4K RAW footage record to a hypershuttle prores 422 in RedLogFilm and that’ll be plenty information to get a nice grade, it will actually denoise and they wont be able to reframe and shit on your composition. I would put it in the extra coin for a scarlet over a C100 any day. Better DR, better color science, better image.

    What’s important is we have choices, and its pretty cool that a decision that makes no sense for me makes perfect sense for Ryan, and vice versa. Thats the beauty of the times we’re living in. Cheers Ryan, another great article from you nonetheless.

    • You can’t put a Master Prime on the Canon so the low light argument doesn’t make any sense.

  • Advertising vs. Features

    If shooting a feature film shoot on the highest standard available, 4k, 35mm, 70mm (if you’re lucky). It will look great and last ages.
    If you’re shooting for advertising/web/shorts etc., use what is needed. I have never remastered any old spots to HD or 4K to remain current. You shoot, it airs, it dies, you shoot again. That’s the business. Learn how to light and adjust for your non-4k camera and it will look beautiful. Your short is a short, put that money into a feature. Web is so compressed forget about it.

    Starting with a better image then downgrading to the format of choice, yes will look better and is the “right idea”. BUT the difference is negligible for most people. My Panasonic Plasma 1080p is the best TV I’ve ever owned and no I won’t switch to LED and NO I don’t need 4k.

    After all, why is the best digital camera on the market, ARRI ALEXA, only shooting 1080? :) Because it looks the best!

    • I agree and I’ve shot with them all.

    • Arri Alexa shoots up to 3.5K. Stop dropping false info into the mix.

    • Advertising? When you’re paying $200k/pop to run the spot, you better not be showing up with some bullshit on set.

      I wouldn’t shoot a :30 on anything less than a Scarlet with Ultra Primes; but the production should really have the budget of an Alexa and Masters or someone is doing something wrong.

  • Good article. No need for overkill (equipment wise) if the job doesn’t require it.

    Quick question about the C100/C300, how is the performance when combating moire’/aliasing?

  • I sent out a 3/4″ dub to a station in the midwest the other day.. Actually last week.. Yes you read that correctly. A 3/4 INCH DUB TO A STATION FOR AIR!!!!!!!!! This is why I just laugh when people talk about 4k broadcast like it is even remotely close to happening….. There are places that still struggle with HD!!!!!!!!!!!

    • First of all, your example is a comically rare exception, not the rule, and therefore not indicative of much. There are people still on dial-up Internet connections. Meanwhile, I streamed an episode of “Hannibal” to my phone the other day.

      I can’t speak to what other people mean but my belief is, where many people are getting hung up on the ubiquity of 4K, I’ve been talking about the forefront of the movement. People seem to think that early 4K TV adopters aren’t going to have any actual 4K content to watch on their fancy new sets because it’s going to be slow to catch on en masse. I’m arguing there are entities out there right now trying to make sure they do. It may be a while before the majority of the new fall season lineup airs in 4K but it will be the same as when HD was new. Dedicated cable channels and various Internet appliances will reward those early adopters with whatever 4K content they can get their hands on and the people will watch it simply because it’s 4K. It could be cooking shows, travel shows, short films, music videos, concerts or whatever.

      Once the market saturates and everything resets to zero, then you have to rise above the din like everybody else. Until then, and especially if widespread adoption is as far out as some people think, the 4K content creators whose material is out there first will benefit the most.

  • After reading this, it sounds like Ryan wrote it to convince himself that his purchase was justified. To me, none of his points make a lot of sense. He even contradicts himself (a bit) by saying he’ll consider buying an external recorder if he needs “4:2:2″. Well, for us forward thinkers, suckers for high quality, 4:2:2 is a must.

    So that overpriced toy from Canon, no matter how good it is at doing “well” what it’s supposed to do is irrelevant because of that stupidly high price.

  • The C100 at $5,499 is fine for now, but when Blackmagic’s 4K Production Camera hits in July for $3,995 ($1,504 less than C100) the C100 will be a hard sell. With the BM4K you will get outstanding detail, far better color, and a global shutter. You will also have the “flexibility” to shoot 1080 at up to 60fps with superior 10-bit 4:2:2 color IF you need to. Obviously shooting 4K on the BM4K won’t be mandatory, and I think most people like having options.

    Agent Smith: You hear that Canon?… That is the sound of inevitability… It is the sound of your death…

    • Great quote. I actually just finished watching that last night for the first time in about 10 years. Its so much better that I remembered. Directing was meticulous, I guess you get that when the directors are also the writers. I dont remember liking 2 and 3 as much tho.

      • Yeah, I love that one. :) By the way, very nice OverseaFilms demo reel Simon; a really clean style there.

        • Thanks very much. Means a lot to me coming from someone with similar interests :) P.s. One of my other favourite quotes was Mugato in Zoolander when he said “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” I feel like that when I read camera discussions :) Zoolander is full of good quotes.

    • Neither camera can take Master Primes (to my knowledge), so they might as well be paperweights for most professional purposes.

      • A master prime lens costs around 25k if I am not mistaken. Anyone who pays or rents a 25k lens would not bother with canon c100 or bmc. They would use Red or alexa or 35mm… This discussion is really about people who are trying to keep things within certain budget limits….

    • Razor, you have absolutely no idea what problems will come with that camera, in the marketing they did not mention anything about fixing aliasing, color fringing, or dropped frames. How can you possibly challenge price differential when you are months if not a year from knowing why the price is only 4k . BMC already exists today and the industry hasn’t collapsed, have you ever asked yourself why?

      • I am aware of the sensor that will be in the BM4K. That sensor has been in proven production for 12 months and it will kick the doors off the C100 in every aspect. Superior tech at a cheaper price; the natural progression of electronics.

        • Subjectivity is not needed here. If you haven’t filmed with it, you don’t know anything about its performance in the field and what problems will arise, you can read all the articles you want but Black Magic isn’t going to tell you the reasons not to buy, they didnt mention all the problems with the original BMC, so why would they do it the next go round. If theres a video by BMC that says version two is going to address more then just the one problem of rolling shutter please post it.

          • Blackmagic is not an evil company. Just relax… its a camera… everything will be ok.

    • The BlackMagic Production Cinema Camera does not shoot 60fps at 1080p nor 4K. It only features 24, 25 and 30fps at all resolutions whether recording in DNG or ProRes HQ.

  • dale Roberts on 05.3.13 @ 6:51PM

    I love this article. Thanks so much!

    For so long i have been looking at cameras wanting the “perfect” one to come along. Ofcourse thats an impossible dream. But I have looked at cameras and every now and then one looks like its “the one” and then on closer examination something that is completely annoying rendering the camera unusable/frustrating to use will rear its head… and this for me has included 5D’s and al of that kind of jazz.

    I feel like I have been marooned for so long and so have never bought in. I take this as far back as PD-150′s by the way!

    And now this little beauty has come along…

    It does everything I want with no nasty little surprises… No little, oh wait… it doesnt do this or it wont do that…

    This camera does everything I want and need it to do… nothing more nothing less. I dont care about slomo or anything elss… Just nice clean pictures able to be made with zero fuss… This camera has no fuss… and I am happy!!!

  • I don’t really get this post. You decide to sell your camera and rent, but then you just go out and buy another camera? It’s doing the exact same thing just with a different price point of equipment.

    There’s functionally no difference between buying an Epic or Alexa and buying a C100; and worse, a C100 rents for a lower fraction of its purchase price. You have to worry about the C100 working to pay for itself the same way you have to worry about an Epic working to pay for itself, but now you need to work multiple jobs to make the payment.

    Unless you’re just not talking about owning a camera professionally, and instead, talking about owning a personal camera for fun. Then sure, its different, because no one needs a 4k personal camera, but you might be able to justify a $4500-5500 personal camera. Then the article is just “Why you don’t need a 4k camera for personal use” which isn’t all that interesting.

    If you’re not shooting twice a month at a minimum, you have no business owning a camera at ANY price point. Why wouldn’t you just rent the cheaper one? I bought a camera because I shoot frequently, and I want the latitude to shoot projects where I don’t need to justify renting a package, and I’m not going to compromise my product just because its something I want to do for me, rather than it being something someone is paying me to do.

    And sure its the person not the tool; but what is the point of wasting a master’s time doing basic shit to get something to look right. And then the idea that with lots of grading, you can get an image there, is contradictory to statements made later in the piece about not relying on grading.

    Also, parts of it like hype vs. reality, just don’t make sense to me. 4k delivery or home viewing may be hype, but 4k acquisition isn’t. You shoot at 4k for vfx reasons, for stabilization or lookaround purposes, to extract crops, to get multiple shots at once, or to downsample after grading. He’s just wrong that he’s getting the same image from his camera that people get with a 26k higher end Canon; that’s ridiculous.

    Now, protecting vision is the classic line from a cinematographer. I’m a Director. I want the flexibility in post, and my DP’s all shoot knowing that I may pull some shit with their frame. Look, if the project has no post budget, sure make it look great out of camera.

    The main question is, what kind of work do you find yourself doing? Are you doing high end broadcast spots or film? You need Alexa/Red/F65. Are you doing web? Who cares what you shoot on. He makes a lot of finding the right tool for the job; well, that just means you’re working on jobs which don’t need Red/Alexa. If you pretty much only work on Red/Alexa jobs, I see no reason not to have one lying around.

    To me, this isn’t a story anything can learn anything from, so much as its a subjective statement on the type of work he’s getting.

  • >It Is The Craftsperson, Not The Tool, That Matters

    Keep telling yourself that

  • Simon Shepherd on 05.3.13 @ 7:22PM

    In response to Brian’s comments about audio -

    When the audio industry was moving from 16 bit to 24 bit about 10 years ago the computer systems of the time were running at the limits of their performance. Sure, computers eventually caught up most of the way but it wasn’t a painless process – audio needs to be real time (or as close as dammit, 7-12 ms latency is quoted by many) and the processors of the 90s and early 2000s were unable to cope with the plugins and track numbers most people wanted. There were a ton of workarounds, the no doubt familiar trick of track bouncing (like pre-rendering) and co-processor cards/boxes (read GPUs) and this only really stopped being necessary for most needs a few years ago.
    I’m no video expert by any stretch of the imagination but the push to 4k (and previously 3D) does have similarities to the race to record at 96 and 192k and the prediction that everyone would be working in 5.1 by ‘next year’. The world calmed down after the hype and improvements in the quality of converters at the lower rates negated much of the perceived need to bump up the specs – most places still record at 44.1 for music and 48k for audio to picture.
    So yes, acquistion at the higher bit depth of 24 (when the final is16 – or effectively less with lossy codecs) is definitely something that is worthwhile to give more headroom to play with. The value of recording at 96k is debatable for most audio and the majority of people agree that 192k is a waste of disc space and processor power. 5.1 has it’s place, particularly in the film world, but most people listen to music either on earbuds or on their computer in, you guessed it, old fashioned stereo.

    The tech spec wars in the audio world has cooled down and most people seem to think that we’ve come to our senses somewhat. For video, I’m not saying there’s no need for 4k at all, I don’t know enough to comment, but the similarity with what happened in the audio world is striking. Maybe a more accurate comparison point might be when manufacturers will no doubt start pushing 8k, then 16k in a few years? I don’t know.

    • Although I can run a fairly high track count natively these days, when it comes to virtual instruments and plug-ins, I do own a Powercore to help things out. You can never seem to have enough processing power. I think anything beyond 96KHz is just about the point of diminishing returns for anyone but those with the goldenest of ears.

      4K is like 24 bit, 48KHz audio to me. For most people, it’s just beyond what they could ever discern in the vast majority of situations. I think the only reason people have a problem with that is because they think it’s currently too expensive. Screens are only going to get larger. 4K is no more resolution than what S35mm film produces when scanned. So what if you can’t see the difference from 15 ft. away on a 65″ screen? It pretty much ensures the highest level of quality at any size or viewing distance. It’s the digital equivalent (resolution-wise) of what we’ve had for the last 100 years.

      The resemblance to the audio world, the transition from linear to non-linear editing, the transition from compressed digital video to uncompressed D1 quality and the transition from uncompressed D1 to uncompressed HD are all reasons why I’m pretty sure of the outcome of the 4K transition. It will get cheaper and easier to handle and almost everyone will be doing it without giving too much thought to the lower resolutions of times past. 8K will even have its usefulness, just not for the majority of people.

  • I’m so glad the 4k enthusiasts at NSF responded to this article respond with such passionate disapproval. One of the best ways to validate that you are on the right path is when you see everyone gang up against you. I personally am glad for everyone who’s gumming up their creative process by being too obsessive over trivial increases in resolution. Because while you are staring at pixels and arguing over things that don’t really matter, I’ll be making more films and focusing on the only important thing, which is story.

    • Yeah, its also one of the best ways to know you’re actually on the wrong path.

      Shoot on whatever you want to shoot on, but a title like 1080p is better than 4k is just linkbait.

  • Is it possible to have a post that doesn’t talk about how its the operator not the camera? I am so completely sick and tired of this rehashed digression into the camera not mattering. WE GET IT! Please, no more, Im begging you..

  • I was told by a Best Buy employee that 3 Best Buys in this area (San Francisco Bay Area, the Stevens Creek, Concord, and Pleasanton stores) will be getting the Sony 4k tvs in about 2 weeks. And they are not just being released in this area. It’s going to be all over America. This will be the first major exposure of 4k to the general population that has not even heard the term ’4k’ before. I am sure that once people see 4k 1080p will become yesterdays news in their minds.

    I like Brian’s viewpoint on 4k—start using it now so you can hit the ground running when the demand for 4k hits in earnest.

  • To throw one more audio analogy into the mix: Remember DVD-Audio 96k 7 Channels. That was hot with the audiophile crowd for a couple years while consumers overwhelmingly said, ‘No thanks. mp3s are good enough.’

    It’s very possible that 4k at home will be a videophile niche and never catch on with mainstream – interesting article here.

    I thrive on arts projects with mid-range budgets. A 4k workflow would price me out of many of those jobs. I have a three week old C100 and love it. Quicker setups make for more shots, more shots mean better options in editing — more options in editing help me tell better stories. Not to mention the seamless workflow in post with Premiere. Transfer, edit, color correct original files, output, backup. On to the next project.

    Also, about the Ninja 2… I thought that was going to be a nice pairing for the C100, but was aghast at how poorly the Apple Pro-res performed compared to the camera’s internal AVCHD. I figured that I must have made a mistake – perhaps there was a built in noise reduction on the AVCHD that wasn’t on the pro-res. Double checked and repeated the test with the same results. I then tried ProRes HQ which did slightly better, but in no way could I say it had less artifacts than the AVCHD. Ninja was sent back.

  • Sounds to me like you are just trying to justify your mistake of purchasing a c100.

    the sauce is weak. I assembled a blackmagic cinema package that has everything the c100 has for $5500. Same price!

    • what have you added to take care of the aliasing and rolling shutter I didn’t know anything was out for the BMC

      • The audience doesn’t care about the little bit of aliasing and rolling shutter on the BMCC. The 13 stops of DR and better color-science of the Blackmagic will go allot further in creating more pleasing work. Not to mention codecs… where the C100 is absolutely abysmal. I don’t care how little aliasing a camera has… if it’s recording to a codec that’s lower than my iphone’s data-rate, then it’s a no go. External recorders aren’t really that friendly for steady-cam work… AND it’s still 8-bit. Not worth it these days. Would have LOVED the C100 back in 2006… but Canon really needs a 2k RAW option for the price here.

        • its not a little bit of aliasing its a #@#$% load, worst I’ve ever seen. You can have the best color science in the world but whats the point when shots are ruined.

          • Well, I’ve worked with a bit of footage already and seen almost all the videos so far… and I’ve yet to see moire. And if it is there, it’s definitely not the “shot ruining” kind. I don’t think it’s any worse in the end than the C300′s aliasing that everybody claims to not exist, but does when you hit the right detail-frequency.

          • When did it get like this, I know what I’m talking about I watched a lot of web videos.

            It will ruin any static shots with wide depth of field that have straight lined fine detail.

    • marklondon on 05.4.13 @ 2:36AM

      Ryan nailed you there. Also, you seem to have missed the entire point of the article. I love the BMCDD. Where are the built in NDs?

  • Great post. My business partner and I until recently owned only a 5D Mark II and rented other cameras for specific jobs, often FS700 for slow motion. I’ve never touched an Alexa.

    We recently got a Red Scarlet for few reasons. We bought it second hand in our Country (low hours) considerably less than brand new. We control post on a lot of our projects and wanted the flexibility of raw. We wanted a sharper (not necessarily 4k) camera than our DSLR.

    We wanted to own a camera of higher quality that we could use at any time for our own personal projects, short films etc without having to rent it.

    The Scarlet was affordable for us. We could have broken the bank and gotten an EPIC but then cashflow would have been hurt too much.

  • marklondon on 05.4.13 @ 2:52AM

    For the umpteenth time: Europe is going to blow right by 4K for broadcast. Its already testing much higher resolutions aggressively. Asia will go there as well.
    In the US, it may go 4K within the next 5 years, but can anyone here honestly tell me that in 5 NABs time we’ll still be arguing about only 4k? If you look at where sensor tech is going, 4K is nothing. We have entered a Moore’s Law phase re sensor tech. Look at Blackmagic – within 1 product cycle they found a larger, better sensor manufacturer, that gave them more options. In a SINGLE product cycle! I’ve spent years in the physical product world – that’s an INCREDIBLE thing. RED in 4 cycles, 5 years, have gone from base 400asa and @10 stops to base 1250 and 20+!
    To give some perspective: at the 2007 NAB the 5D2 was still a year away, and the conversion to HD had only just begun. An EX3 was ‘entry level’.
    Ryan’s point, Jonah’s point, all of us who shoot C300s, Alexa and DSLR’s point: these are the tools that make us money today, and for the medium future. In glorious 1080. In most cases with no recourse to loans. The C100 is a terrific little camera, perfect for so many things. That it has to be defended to anyone is insane. If it sells, then that was the right price. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t. Canon proved the market wrong with the C300 (still one of the most popular cameras at any rental house) and seem to be doing it with the C100.
    I don’t shoot Canon. but for these guys, it really works.
    Lets not get tied up with 4K being some magic elixir. Its like arguing with people who buy Monster cable.

    • marklondon on 05.4.13 @ 2:56AM

      Forgot one thing: the Sony F3? Still a hell of a camera. :-)

    • I get the feeling you’re trying to defend Ryan’s article but most of your post seems to contradict a lot of what he said except for the C100 being a fine and very capable camera, which I agree with. As for the F3, I’m glad you mentioned it. People move on from totally capable tech all of the time because it’s not the latest and greatest. HD will be no different. 4K isn’t a magic elixir but it is going to replace HD on the acquisition front pretty soon as far as digital cinema goes.

      There are currently 10 (depending on how you look at it) digital cinema cameras for which 4K is available or imminent. BMD has 1, Canon has 2, RED has 3 and Sony has 4. Throw in S35mm film (for now) and that makes 11 choices and counting.

      Again, if you shoot other people’s stuff and that stuff consists of corporate videos, weddings, sales material or videos for a church revival or retreat then 1080p will serve you just fine. If you plan to shoot anything of your own that’s intended for public consumption, you might want to give it a little extra thought.

      We’re basically our own movie studios. We have to start thinking like studios to a certain extent. They have vaults and back catalogs. Any movie studio or record label will tell you there’s a lot of money to be made in your catalog. If you play your cards right now, you may be able to better leverage that in the future when resolutions increase. The worst case scenario for 1080p is your material gets scaled up to 4K and beyond. However, as you’ve pointed out, Europe and Asia are going to blow by 4K, so why start so low if you don’t have to?

      I’m fairly certain that within 3-5 years, Ryan will have a new main camera and will have either ditched the C100 or be using it as a B cam. I’m also confident that it will be at least 4K…unless he gets a good deal on a used Alexa. As you pointed out, the tech is moving too fast for the C100 to maintain the perception of being current for too much longer, kinda like the F3 is now.

      I think people should fully consider their options given their situations. If 4K capture isn’t right for them at the moment, they don’t have to do it.

  • Interesting article, but when you compare to the C500 you write, “So I am getting the same performance as their $26,000 camera at 1/5 the price”. But this is precisely what annoys people so much about Canon. There is no substantial difference between the two cameras, yet one costs five times more than the other. An SDI socket and a heat sink do not make $20,000 worth of parts. People want to see higher prices justified by genuine engineering excellence and innovation. As you rightly point out in the article, there is some good engineering in the sensor and design of the camera. It is all there in the C100, but Canon won’t give it to you. You have to pay them $20,000 to put an SDI socket and a bigger heat sink on it. It would be like going to a restaurant, steak and chips is $20 on the menu, but mustard to go with it is $100.

  • I think there’s a lot of truth in this post. The C100 makes a lot of sense when you’re earning a living and trying to turn a profit and you’re not living with you’re parents or using a day job to subsidise you’re camera purchases.

    4K is a great production tool but unless you’re doing a feature and you have oodles of time and power for post it is completely over kill for most things. I just finished a 1080p project and you know what, a lot of my mid to high earning friends, can only see it in HD on Vimeo because they don’t have a blue ray. Fine but most don’t have or have really got into internet TV, and no, I don’t really want them to see it on a shitty laptop. Being in the filmmaking circle really warps your perspective of what the average Joe is using to watch your stuff.

    You want most people to watch your new project on their widescreen HD TV with their nice speakers? Well I’ll wager most average families don’t own a blu-ray player and so that means it has to be an internet TV.. and I’ll wager most don’t have one or don’t know how to use it.. so you’re amazing HD project is gonna be on an SD DVD.. and your 4K project.. well fine if you’re making films for filmmakers.. other than that say hello to SD.

    Broadcast is totally different, but most of us aren’t being broadcast and most of us aren’t even on the streaming services non filmmaker types know about.. so how in the world does 4K affect our ability to get to our audience other than make it harder and more expensive and even more unlikely..

  • Never shot with the C100, but did a 8 episode TV series on C300, 5d mkIII and Red Epic last year that was just broadcast in HD here in Norway. c300 is an amazing low light performer, but it wasn’t difficult to spot the EPIC footage in that show. It just looked way better IMHO.

    But as you say, one tries to choose the right tool for the job and its not always an EPIC.
    I just would hate to know that some amazing footage I shot only existed as 1080 when it could be 5K.
    This doesn’t apply to everything one shoots of course

    • In the TimeScape videos you can spot the Red Epic from the DSLR too. It’s the best!! It’s gorgeous! :-)

  • Yes, I remember 2002/2003 when the guys were saying: “why shoot in HD if it is going end-up in PAL or NTSC anyway?” Now we cannot even use their best Digital Betacam footage on the same edit.

    Just accept that 4K is coming and if you shoot 1080 now to be consumed NOW, fine.
    If you want your footage to be relevant in 5, 10 years’ time, better join the 4K wagon NOW.

  • I can tell you this. Walked into Frys yesterday and looked at Sony 4k TV. I can promise you, 4k is here and it is insane. You cannot define what your watching except to say it is a manifestation of excellence and it takes the art form of cinematography to not the next level but 5 levels beyond 1080p. So keep on believing that 1080p makes you happy, but when you witness a TV that you can stick you nose too and not see pix elation and stand back 4 feet, 10feet, whatever and see no quality loss. It is absolutely the most beautiful thing I have ever seen period. When it comes to display technology that is.

    • Why would i want to stick my nose close to the TV? Just want to lay on my couch and watch it. Bases in your nerd excitement yor are the target costumer they are after in this first year.

    • Buddy,

      Which Frys?what city was it in?

    • john jeffries on 05.4.13 @ 2:29PM

      That’s what I’ve been trying to tell people. 4k is like seeing things naturally through your own eyes, all the detail of the real world is there

  • Satva Leung on 05.4.13 @ 1:34PM

    Nice article Ryan! Quite a heated debate, but back to the my point of the article I am curious what was your second choice after the C100 would have been?



    “Reality check: 4k is not here, nor will it be for at least 5-10 years. Camera manufacturers and sales people love to play on our insecurities and want us to buy into their 4k and beyond hype machine.”

    SOMEONE HAS TO SAY THIS….because it is true.

  • The article, while well written, is full of contradictions. Getting rid of all cameras so you can rent – only to then buy the C100. Saying that you are not interested in gear renting out only to mention few lines bellow that shortly after you bought the C100 is already renting out. Making a point that inexperienced post people will ruin “flexible” RAW footage?!? Etc…

    But all that is irrelevant to what I want to say in response…

    A. The C100 is great tool for short-shelf-life projects like TVC’s and other marketing material that is primarily destined for internet and that don’t have the time and resources for proper post. As the adds will be irrelevant in few months (if not weeks) – to future-proofing of such a content is irrelevant and super fast workflow with limited budget is the word of the day…

    B. 4K. We are talking here about cameras – the acquisition end of the workflow. Anyone thinking 4K is away for even a 1 year is kidding themselves. FYI – NHK here is Japan is trailing 4K broadcast as we speak and will officially initiate it next year. It does not matter that there are still people in rural Japan that don’t even have a TV or internet. You don’t evolve by matching your standards to the lowest available denominator. Aside of commercial content (that is time critical) pretty much everything else has future potential. Broadcasting is also changing as we know it (I for one watch more content online then on TV these days) and to add to the likes of NHK – you will see 4K content online. Speaking of RED – they have already demonstrated that 4K content can be streamed with data-rates lower then current HD – which seems to work just fine for the millions of users connected via broadband… All of these 4K content providers are already hungry and in search of 4K UHD content…

    And speaking of UHD – upscaling is not accepted. Check the SMPTE specs – UHD content has to be acquired at 4K min…

    So wake up. 4K is here now. Not in 5 years, not in 25 years. NOW.
    (again we are talking about acquiring content – not a ordinary folks in a remote areas actually watching it…)

    C. Owning a camera. Ryan is certainly right about skills and experience being ever more important (even thou he used the point in a wrong way). I, as a DoP and Colorist, improve myself with every single project I do. Back in the days of 35mm the thing I hated the most was that it was $$$-wise impossible for me to just go out and shoot stuff in order to practice and improve my skills. I use every little time I have between paid jobs to improve my skills and gain more experience (even thou I have been doing this for 15 years now). The only way I can do this is owning a camera. And more importantly – I need to own a camera that limits my creative expression the least. When I sold my 235 in order to buy the first (720P) Varicam back in 2003 – I did so for the very reasons I have just mentioned (the cost of practicing with 35mm). But I immediately hated the limitations imposed by the then-emerging digital formats. I have worked with pretty much every major digital camera available on the market since. And have settled on the RED. Simply because it get closest to least limiting of what I can do as a DoP / Colorist in all aspects of the image quality. Resolution, RAW format, DR, modularity – and by far not the least – future-proofing of my equipment. Yes. Until RED these two words could not have been used together. Not only all improvements implemented via SW (firmware) are completely free with RED, they also have an amazing upgrade and trade-in programs that keeps my investment up-to-date. This allows me to constantly improve my skill-sets and gather ever more experience between paid jobs…

    Now do I enforce the RED on my clients? Not in the least. In the last year alone I have done projects on Alexa, C300/C500, 5D/7D, several SONY models and all three RED flavors. Sure – when the client wants to use the RED – by all means mine is there for taking. But this is not why I own the RED…


    So I do understand why Ryan have chosen the C100 – as he mostly shoots commercial projects with extremely short shelf-life. Good for him. I just wish he made this key point clearer in the title and in the article itself…

    Choose the right tool for what you do…
    There certainly is not a camera that does all and kills all out there. But there are cameras now that come pretty close to do all kill all for what YOU PERSONALLY NEED. That means different cameras for different people. It is C100 for Ryan and it is the RED for me. And it is the F55 for Mr.X and BMD cams for Mr.Y…
    Choose wisely and rent for those (hopefully rare) instances when you need something else…


    • Marcus Filho on 05.4.13 @ 11:23PM

      Hi Peter,
      There’s one point that a lot of people don’t seem to mention, Visual Effects. Broadcast is one thing, sports coverage, news casting, etc, another is high budget films and TV shows, and we all know the rely a lot in visual effects, and I mean a lot. And visual effects are extremely expensive, and most of all visual effects studios are struggling to survive right now, their overhead are high and equipment expensive and they are only rendering for a 2k delivery, and… its hard!

      4K aquisition is now, or maybe 5k or now even 6k, but to deliver something with this resolution in a movie with 1000 vfx shots is another beast. Render times, render power, network speed, STORAGE, becomes a huge factor.

      When the first hollywood movie is delivered in 4K, I will say the transition will start, but even that might take years. I know people working on big movis to be released in 2 years from now and trust me they are all in 2k deliveries.

      There will be a lot of upscaled stuff/ scams hovering out there.

      • Ironically it is the VFX-heavy films that benefit the most from shooting in 4K+ resolutions on the RED’s. The big hollywood pictures you are talking about are precisely the wrong example if you want to argue against acquiring imagery in 4K+ and – more importantly – they represent a very small percentage of content being broadcasted (whether it is via traditional TV or internet). The wast majority of content does not utilize such a heavy graphics and the kind they do can easily be handled in 4K. I actually started in this industry in VFX/3D and I remember the times when we waited for hours to see even single preview frame. VFX is where the More’s law applies the most IMHO. The iPhone 4s I have now seems to process graphics better then my old SGI Indigo 2 (if I was actually able to fire it up)…

        In any case Ryan’s post was about “1080P being better then 4K” – which IMHO is misleading at the very least. It’s like omitting a key part of a sentence that changes the meaning 180˚. The title should have said:

        “Why 1080P is better for my work then 4K and why I have chosen the C100″

        Once again – we are talking about cameras and about acquiring imagery at the very beginning of your workflow. And for that 4K not 25 years away, nor 5 years. It is here today and it has been for some time now… Sure – not every projects needs it – Ryan’s commercial work is a good example. But the VFX-heavy hollywood films you are mentioning are definitely an example why to shoot on 4K+…


        • Marcus Filho on 05.5.13 @ 11:22AM

          Peter, you are right however blockbusters are the ones leading technology for movies, whatever they start doing, you know it will be followed by smaller productions/ movies in the following years, moreover they are the biggest source of income for any big studio. If they can create something to increase ticket prices and bring more people to be dazzled upon a new tech they would. I’ve worked on the first stereoscopic ( the current tech) live action movie, Journey to The Center of The World, the technology used was as a test bed for Avatar to come 3 years later, by that time, the movie release was delayed by one year just so more theaters could have the proper projector, sometimes you do have the tech but you don’t have enough places/theaters to justify the cost. It will be the same with 4K.
          They were trying to deliver Oblivion in 4K but gave up after receiving the vfx studio bid and time frame required, and that was last year with an over 100 million movie. And if you ask me, even if they would have paid for 4K, the vfx studio would have had a horrible time delivering.
          Broadcast is another thing, more compressed footage goes from camera almost directly to broadcast, for cheap productions you have an editing process that nowadays can easily handle 4K. If you are doing for the internet, I’d say we are few years away of having 4K streaming freely, 720p for me is still the most popular format in websites in general.
          The article was well written, with valid points, I think throwing the C100 there was the reason for so much passion amongst the readers.

  • The new H.265 format will bring in 4K.

  • I told myself I was done posting on this topic, and yet, here I am. Oh well…

    Many of you are superimposing historically analog TV timeframes on digital television. One of the reasons for the slow adoption of SD to HD was due to it coinciding with the larger, more expensive and troublesome switch from 60 years of analog to digital broadcasts and sets. Not to mention 60 years of a certain type of viewing that analog and SD forced on us. Now that the infrastructure and technology are digital, TVs are just another digital appliance. I can’t think of one other digital device that progresses at the snail’s pace some of you are predicting for TV, even on the consumer adoption side of things. A significant number of people update their phones every two years. Apple and Samsung have the profits to prove it. The Galaxy S4 has 1080p resolution that fits in your pocket for crying out loud.

    Sony is the one, true, soup-to-nuts, a-to-z, front-to-back, acquisition to delivery media company on the planet and they’re all in on 4K. Their Cinealta line consists of 8 cameras, 4 of which are 4K capable. The other 4 are cameras probably no one is ever going to buy new again, including the F900, F23, F35 and even the F3. Just like that, Sony is effectively a 4K camera company when it comes to digital cinema. This year saw their first UHD sets priced within striking distance of early adopter consumers. Sony is working to make sure those people have 4K content to watch and they’ll dig deep into their back catalog (see my other posts) to make sure that happens. Don’t be surprised if some of that content is from the 80s or 90s.

    Technology ALWAYS gets pushed on us. No one sent out a questionnaire asking what you thought of the specs for CDs, DVDs, HDMI, WiFi, hybrid cars, email, etc. before they entered the market (focus groups don’t count in this context). They developed them, standardized them (in some cases) and they just started showing up. Now, consumers have some control over what technologies succeed or fail, but they all get pushed on us. People will adopt 4K TVs like they do everything else because there’s nothing different they have to do in order for it to happen, if the price is right. Cost will be the determining factor, not whether or not you can see 4K’s worth of detail. The only people complaining about 4K are the ones who may have to work with it. It’s NOT average consumers. Stop projecting your concerns on people who won’t give a crap for the most part if they can afford it.

    Any person who’s ever bought a 50″ TV or bigger, going back to the 80s and regardless of resolution, will buy a 4K TV if the price is comparable to HD. There’s absolutely no reason to think they wouldn’t. Lack of an abundance of 4K content won’t be the deterrent many think it will.

    Ryan made a choice that I hope works out well for him. But, I think he misjudged some of the factors that led to his decision. I’m not saying it won’t be without its issues but 4K is a done deal, folks. Obviously, I think it will happen a lot faster than Ryan and some others. Then again, I’m just a guy on the Internet. I could be wrong (I’m not, though).

    • You can go to Frys, today, if there’s one near where you live, and see a 4k tv. And the 4k tv will be priced lower than some of the “High End HD” tvs in the store. I don’t think any 1080p tv manufacturer wants that 4k tv sitting next to theirs just like no average woman wants a super model sitting next to her.

  • With Gigabit internet on the way, and already in a few towns, like Kansas City and Omaha, 4k will be even easier to view, AND UPLOAD, on the internet. Gigabit internet has insane upload speed:

  • when in doubt rent it out

  • Just because theres a broadcast in 4K doesn’t mean its going to talk off. I don’t believe it’s ever going to happen unless the TV cost the same as HD TV’s because people cant notice a difference. The general public have never even heard of it and when they start to and go into stores to see the emperors new clothes only to find it looks the same as what they have at home, worse for fast moving motion, they will stick with what they have. Especially when they start discussing how mush it looks the same amongst themselves.

    From a VFX point of view its a nightmare. Rotoscoping will take so much longer. 3D tracking in particular has to be so much more precise as the 3D plate will have to be that much more pixel accurate to the live action plate. Then render times!! Texture detail/realism that much more complex, especially displacement mapping which already kills render time so thats going to be a double whammy. Wwhhaaammy! (I love Anchorman)

    4K acquisition would be nice. Just think, if broadcast stays HD because of the limit of human eyes, and then the resolution race can settle and camera manufacturers can give us what we want, higher frame rates and dynamic range… That would be Epic ;) but cheaper.

    • 50″ Seiki 4K UHD tv’s are now available for $ 1299,- USD at Tiger Direct…

      And one last time – this is not about whether end consumers will start adopting 4K (the above tv’s are selling like a hot cakes) – this is about whether we should be acquiring images at 4K+ resolutions to start with…

      Anyone thinking not yet is in for a rude awakening…


      • Its absolutely about whether users adopt 4K or not. If they don’t buy theres no need and if theres no need then for us to adopt a 4K workflow to produce a 4K output that will never be seen (if they don’t buy) would be crazy. Everything I’ve heard at the moment says the codecs cant cope with 4K compression of fast movement and looks terrible in 4K as a result.

        When theres a noticeable user base, when clients ask for it we will shoot it in 4K. If the electronics product marketers want to try pushing the public into buying something they cant see the least we can do is wait for clients to actually ask us for it before we go and shell out a lot of money for something thats got a good chance of going the way of 3D. All the same stuff was said about 3D. If those marketers want us to invest and shoot 4K before theres an audience, in the hope there is going to be an audience, then they could start by not charging so much for the cameras we need to produce it. They want the content to sell the TV’s but want to profit from the content creators at the same time. Make the cameras the same price as 1080p cameras and they will have their content overnight almost.

        • I have one TV in my house. It is a CRT Sharp that is 12 years old. Got a free digital converter box when the govt was giving out vouchers. I’m not upgrading to a 4k tv anytime soon. My kids aren’t old enough to hate it yet. lol

        • With a mindset like that we would still be tied to the ground (not flying in airplanes, never mind the space) thinking the Earth was flat. By the time you wake up to the reality you will have to fight your way through hoards of the 4K content provider to get to any potential client…

          Best of luck…

          • Its not a “Mindset” its a physical limitation of our eyes. This is not about forward thinking. Its rational thinking. None of our clients are asking for 4K. 99% probably don’t know it exists. I dont have an issue with 4K acquisition from time to time for post reasons but for delivery its batsh#t crazy. We just got to the point where we can stream and download 1080p movies comfortably and now they want to choke our bandwidth with this?…. And in a cinema unless your in the first 6 rows you cant see 4K, at home the limit was about 5 feet I read.

          • Simon, given that screen sizes are increasing and typical viewing distances will eventually decrease (I’ll get to that in a minute), 4k exceeds the physical limitations of human visual acuity in virtually every reasonable viewing situation, but not grossly so. It’s more than enough for where most people are right now, but it’s not overkill and scales nicely for the future. 1080P is right on the cusp. 4K takes us over the threshold with a little headroom to spare. Going a little beyond what humans can physically detect sounds like a good idea to me. It works just fine in the audio world.

            The days of technology taking 10 years to saturate and another 10-15 for it to settle in and give people a chance to get tired of it are over when it comes to digital. Let’s not forget also that technology progresses on many fronts simultaneously. H.264 is a decade old. To think there won’t be several new, more efficient and better looking codecs to handle 4K imagery is to be ignoring a major part of the equation.

            You gave the example of people viewing 1080p next to 4K in a store and not being able to tell the difference. But you’re not taking into account how people actually shop for TVs. If the two displays are set up side-by-side at eye level with no limitations on how close you can get to either of them, the difference will be more than apparent. When it’s physically possible, from what I’ve witnessed and recently experienced this past December, people stand about 5-7 feet from TVs when they shop. Based on the chart Ryan provided, at those distances, a 65″ 4K TV WILL look sharper without fully tapping its resolving potential where a 60″ 1080p set will have maxed out. 4K will only look better if one moves closer. Almost no one is ONLY going to stand 10-15 feet from a set when they’re in the store if they can help it, especially when comparing various models. The typical viewing distance in a store is not necessarily representative of what people will experience once they get it home. If the prices and other features are comparable, the 4K TV will win.

            Speaking of that chart, the same logic applies as much to 720p vs. 1080p as it does to 1080p vs. UHD. You’re not getting the FULL benefit of 1080p at 10 feet on a 50″ screen like you would with 720p but how many people are demanding all 50″ sets be 720p? I don’t think manufacturers even make 50″ sets in 720p anymore. People buy the 1080p 50″ because it’s available and affordably priced. There was no rebellion, no backlash, no outrage, and the same will be true with 4K.

            People who grew up under NTSC’s super long reign have been conditioned to watch TV a certain way. High definition viewing has an inverse relationship to standard def. In the bad old days of SD, the bigger the screen, the further away from it you had to be because you could see the individual pixels quite plainly. With higher resolutions, you should actually start to move closer to the screen to reap the benefits and to better simulate the cinema experience, which is one of the reasons a wide aspect ratio was chosen. Remember, we have to overcome 60 years of conditioning.

            I remember when HD was new and I’d hear people say they could understand HD for big budget FX movies but not for things like local news and reality shows. I was in total disagreement with that sentiment and could see how years of accepting poor quality pictures was causing people to compartmentalize quality they should’ve been getting for everything they watched, regardless of content. I’m a firm believer that high resolution is what ALL television was ALWAYS supposed to look like, it just took eons for it to happen. First it was HD, not it’s UHD. Even C-SPAN 2 should be shot and displayed in 4K. Yeah, I said it.

            This part will take about 15-20 years to happen but I believe those children born a few years ago and on that grow up in households with 50″ TVs and bigger will have a different perspective on screen sizes, viewing distances and resolution. All three will have a nostalgic component that will drive an opposite reaction to how many NTSC survivors view television watching today.

          • I meant “now” it’s UHD.

          • For the most part I agree with you but I still cant see if happening. It has so many hurdles with little reward if any at the end. SD to 1080p was a massive difference MASSIVE and even then it took forever for people to change, many still changing. If they fix the fast motion and fast cuts issues then people will pick the 4K over the 1080p if its the same price. But none of this makes any sense to me. The networks at least in Australia had to be dragged kicking and screaming (well required by law) to provide at least one HD channel each. They aren’t going to want to be re-outfit all their switchers, cameras, trucks. If networks were a lot quicker in the U.S. to adopt 1080p then it will probably be fine. Are there any networks in the U.S. that have announced plans for 4K? Or is it just one channel in Japan?

            As for resolution its not even going to be 4K. UltraHD is only 3.8K.

            Doesn’t sound like much of a difference but its a difference of more pixels than SD ever had in the first place and when we couldn’t see the difference at normal viewing distances of 4K (unless you have a massive TV) then 3.8K is going to be even worse.

            I couldn’t wait for 1080p. I was an early adopter. This difference is too fine at the moment. Maybe in the future there might be a demand but who apart from the manufacturers are asking for this? Just speaking for myself but I dont know anyone that’s not in broadcast that has even heard of 4K, I very much doubt the networks are asking for it from the manufacturers.

            When 3D came back to the movies in the past few years people could see the difference, they saw movies in the cinema and came out either saying they loved it or hated it but at least they could see it. Enough liked it to go out and buy 3D TVs and glasses for home that barely ever get used, but the whole time I didn’t see any networks planning to adopt it. And now look where its at… Not necessarily because the networks didn’t want it tho. Interesting times I guess and the next few years will tell a lot but this isn’t something I can see myself adopting early.

          • It’s odd this debate is going on this long. 4k looks better than 1080p. There is no question. I was in Frys today. The resolution on the 4k set was so good one guy said it looked strange because of the 3D appearance on a flat screen. He said it was messing with his mind. Another guy was gawking at how “crisp” it looked. If high end 1080p tvs cost more than these 4k sets, and they do, people are going to take the 4k set instead. It looks like the high end buyer will be the only customers buying right now. I’m sure Sony knew that. But 4k will come down in price. I bet some people that think 4k isn’t going anywhere, or is just a money making gimmick by Sony, Red, and BM, will buy a 4k set then, and some will even buy a second one to use as a computer monitor. I’m very happy with my 60″ 1080p tv as a monitor right now. I want a 4k tv for a monitor soon as I can though.

            A note: I like 1080p a lot, especially at 60 fps. I even love it in the GoPro videos. Really, I love it more in the GoPro because the GoPro costs only $399.00. I’m not saying what I said about 4k because I don’t like 1080p.

          • Erm… I just think 4K looks pretty :)

          • i have yet to see a great film shot on 4k. oblivion and elysium are great video games. not sure that’s where the future of film is.

          • resolution is now an aesthetics question for the DP and director. i would not shoot a film about the vietnam war in 4k. i would shoot a porno in 4k tho

          • Peter sounds exactly like every red-fanboy that ever posted on that useless forum they so love to hang out on. it’s a sad, sad and embarrassing place to see people (nerds) join together at. I can shoot all day long with my F3 and show it to you and call it 4K red crap and no one here would be able to tell. FACT. I have done it 3 times here in LA when the 4K TV’s were popping up. I recently played the same file i put on those TV’s at a post house for an editor and he didnt know if it was 4k or 1080. ITS ALL A GIMICK! I FRIGGIN USE SOFT FX FILTERS ALL THE TIME to soften my images because I DONT WANT everything to look like plastic red crap. GROW UP KIDS.

    • You do know that nearly every film ever made from 35mm has been scanned for a 4K acquisition? Film was traditionally the go to because it blended well with VFX.

  • I think his title is great. Perfectly inflammatory and made me read the post. Exactly what a good title should accomplish. Great foder for the future of 4K.

  • So damn true! I think the point about ‘The Craftsperson, Not The Tool’ is very important. If you are truly talented, you can do better with an entry level model than a less talented person can with the best camera available.

  • I told myself done posting on this topic, and here I am. Many of you are superimposing historically analog TELEVISION timeframes on digital television. One of the reasons for the slow adoption of SD to HD was due to it coinciding with the larger, more expensive and troublesome switch from 60 years of analog to digital broadcasts and sets. Not to mention 60 years of a certain type of viewing that analog and SD forced on us. Now that the infrastructure and technology are digital, TVs are just another digital appliance. I can’t think of one other digital device that progresses at the snail’s pace some of you are predicting fo

    • +1

      People will chose 4k over 1080p when they cost the same. And 4k sets are already in the public. Within 1 year they will cost virtually the same as 1080p sets. I can’t imagine any reason for loyalty to 1080p then. It would be stupid to take a 1080p set instead of a 4k at the point they cost the same. Even those arguing for 1080p now will take a 4k set then—or will they cling to their argument and cut off their nose to spite their face and pay the same for an inferior set?

    • Since there aren’t any quotes around this post I’m going to count it as the first time I’ve been publicly plagiarized (on the same page, no less), as far as I know. I’m actually a little flattered.

    • You are forgetting about the real cost—the people who make the content. It’s not a switch you flip to turn TV stations into 4k. It’s a total rehaul of all their equipment (not just cameras—literally everything), which they JUST did for HD and digital, and they are already losing money. They will fight this harder than anyone.

      • Glenn Tennis on 05.8.13 @ 10:43AM

        Except that more and more content will not be delivered by TV stations. They can fight it all they want and watch their subscribers move to online sources such as netflix, hulu, and whatever 4k streaming service is as of yet unlaunched but surely receiving millions in VC capital as I write this.

        • TV stations were about the last to switch to HD.

          • Here in Germany we still don’t have a lot of real 1080 HD tv channels. Some are broadcasting in 720 50p and quite frankly it is hard to see a big difference even on a good tv screen (mostly because the bit rates for 1080 aren’t that high on tv either, I guess)

            I just bought new FullHD equipment for my workplace where we produce mostly for the web and regional television. The small regional tv stations that we deliver to are still broadcasting in SD and I am not sure when they will ever be able to switch to HD. So for our purpose, shooting documentary pieces for web and regional tv, I think we will be set with 1080 for the next few years.

            Not saying 4K doesn’t make any sense, but it costs a lot more than HD, so I rather shoot 1080 with a nice camera and have everything else I need instead of spending the last dime on 4K when none of my viewers will ever get to see the product in 4K.

  • Thanks for the article. Is there somewhere I can compare the C100 footage at 24mbps with the C300 footage at 50mbps? I’m just a little worried that it might not be flexible enough in post, and I’d rather not use an external recorder.

  • Very well said Ryan! I don’t care what manufactures are hyping, or what the client “thinks” they want. What it comes down to is what/where this project is going, and what type of camera/tool will do the job efficiently. Based on the my workflow the Canon C100 fits those needs. Anything else can be rented.

    … I’d rather sit back, let the dust settle on this whole 4k bit, let them work out all the bugs, and then make a choice.

  • I disagree with this article… 4k allows you to down convert to 1080p which means the master source is higher resolution, thus better looking than native 1080. It could be the difference between broadcast quality and not. Film is able to get up to 4k, so what’s the problem? Also, your Facebook photo doesn’t exist. ;-)

    • Plus, 1080 is still grainy and not that sharp. Look at 24megapixel pictures, isn’t that beyond 4k? yep

  • Quite the conversation piece? WE can argue till the cows come home, but the bottom line of the article is a case for the camera and the diminishing returns for the investment to get to 4k. He is stating the enormous amount of work, resources, camaeras, skills, and other factors simply do not justify the returns he can get back. For now, 4k is NOT used in the marketplace – the argument that it will be a few years at the very least before it becomes economical. Why? Because no one is watching it – the infrastructure is not in place – not for a while. Sure Sony will push it, but the media content, the broadcasters have already taken a beating by upgrading to HD and it will take a long time to recover their investment – some are still switching over.

    Unless you are doing it for theaters, which is 4k, and have Megabucks behind you, what is the point? And ya, I love his reasoning – it is a reality check. If you want to invest $30k in gear to make a 4k that no one is going to appreciate or watch anyway – be my guest.

    On the other hand, full HD well crafted is spectacular. If the story is really good, anyone watching that movie or show will be so drawn in to the story, they will not even notice the less resolution of HD vs 4k. Look at the Hobbit – 4k, 48 fps and people had a hard time with it. Plus the story was nothing like Lord of the Rings. It lasted – what 2-3 months in the theaters and was for many – a bit of a yawn. So much for technology. Same with Skyfall.

    We go to get emotionally involved and have a ride on an emotional or intellectual level – not to gawk at resolution. Damn it, even that crappy film, Blair Witch project attracted tons of people and it was done on crappy SD. It is the story for crying out loud, not DS, k4, Uber hD or 1080 pi!

    Yup – I like his argument – get the story right and the seats will fill up – get the priorities right. Spend your resources where it counts most. Somehow I think that the 4K is a bit of mental crutch that states, “well if my story sucks, the audience will appreciate it for it technical wow”. errrrrrrrrrr NOT! But being of HD might even psychologically cause you to try even harder to make up for loss of detail because you have to try harder. Second place has a narcotic, powerful, driving desire to win.

    I’m in,
    Take 5

  • Creative people and rental houses have different struggles. Camera equipment rental houses like us, need to have variaties and affordable options for creative people across the board. Listening to different views are so important to strike a balance. Thank you for all the inputs and effort in writing.

  • Great thoughts, I too just purchased the c100 for many of the reasons above. And your views on other people destroying your work through bad grading is spot on- granted I’m nowhere near a pro colorist (though i would put myself in the much better then most section) it is a sore spot for me of how bad most people are with it. Many times I’ve been burned on either giving people neutral/flat footage even with test grades done on the side to stress the fact = THIS IS UNGRADED, and still ive had tv stations not take the time to grade and then show live onair or even worse= had people that DID grade my footage and completely destroy it.

    alas, i digress. great writeup.

  • Chris K Jones on 05.15.13 @ 7:44AM

    Yes the c100 is a great little camera and ok for the money but a modded 5d canon mark2 is better and cheaper still so why bother spending the cash. Have just been using the c300 to shoot for BBC Broadcast and i can honestly say I found it pretty rubbish, I ended up rigging all the bit from my 5dmk2 setup just to make it nearly as useable. Definitely a joke at £10k plus. If you are going to spend the cash then invest in something with a bit of future proofing e.g. sony f5. or don’t spend at all……anyone want to by a low mileage sony DSR450? it’s the best obsolete camera I have.

  • Looking at this camera as well and the FS700. Leaning toward the C100 currently for many reasons, although 240fps overcrank is very attractive. Thanks for the article well stated.

  • The only real issue I see with 4k is the extra computational power and storage needed. Having said that, it’s 2013. Anyone who can afford a 4k camera can afford the hardware to store and edit 4k footage. A 1.5TB HDD can be had for under $100.

    The main benefit that I see with 4k is the ability to downsize it to 1080p for a sharper picture. There’s a noticeable difference between footage shot at 1080p and footage downsized to 1080p from 4k.

    If storage and power is really an issue, just convert all the footage to 1080p beforehand. Either way, you’ll get a superior image in terms of detail.

    When you have to stabilize footage in post, it can really destroy the quality of the footage because it often scales it up for motion compensation.

    I disagree with the whole “inferior tools make your craft better” excuse as a valid argument. Superior tools shouldn’t cause harm to your craft. That’s a personal issue.

    If anything, you have to be careful with 4k because of its unforgiving detail.

    • I bought the c100. This article influenced me a lot and what a god buy! Such a difference with the 7D I had. Truly a huge step up and very good for my purposes; tv and internet. I had some difficulties with loading it into FCPX. Anyone got some tips on it. I also read with the atomos it showed some extra noise. Any experiences with it?

      • I found FCPX to be very cooperative… did you transfer the files to your HD first, and then import them? That has worked for me with all kinds of footage so far…

  • Very interesting. I am actually planning on getting a 1D-C which is how I came across this post – I wanted to read some more about the rest of the Canon Cinema “squad” and see where each one makes its point…

    Well, for television these days you might not need 4K. But I’m still gonna go for it for a number of reasons:

    • Digital “zoom” in the post production (yes, I needed that sometimes… shame on me!)
    • No 1080p resolution (tried 1D MkIV and 5D MkIII so far) has really convinced me yet – by the way: I don’t know about the C100, but those DSLRs squeeze NONE of their 16-22 MP sensors’ details into the full HD image. The 1D-C however does, according to the stills grabbed from 4K footage I have seen – I was DEEPLY IMPRESSED!
    • I am shooting music videos, later I will get into short and independent films, and I want those to be ready for the big screen. I see your point though: Commercials have to work on today’s TVs – they’re not going to be broadcast in five years – yet they would still look okay.

    Not everybody needs 4K. And I totally agree with your rental “policy” – it makes a lot of sense. I would not (unless the money just sits around otherwise) buy a RED camera to shoot SLO-MO footage. And yes, buying the one tool you always need makes even more sense, because owning the one you know you’re going to use all the time just pays off (and renting it out is clever indeed, if you can trust those guys… ^^)

    I also deeply agree with your statement about low light performance, and I am somewhat excited to hear the C100 does so well at 3200! That’s impressive.

    Even if I could afford it, I would always try to use as little artificial light as possible. Even in large film productions it bugs me how there’s tons of light coming “from the sky” at night. By now I always see those huge spotlights, even if they’re not in the shot, and the more impressed I am to watch productions that have that intimate, natural look of available light shots – TRON Legacy (the opening) was quite close to that, by the way.
    This also allows much more flexibility concerning the shooting angles…

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this post, and found it full of interesting ideas – especially someone finally talking about clipping highlights – basically the reason why cameras will never take pictures like our eyes do – unless you show them on screens that reproduce the brightness of the sun…

  • C100 is increasingly my entry choice based on price and the back end workflow. I love the idea of davinci and the 2.5k BM and the 4K but I have seen the BM being used and it would drive me insane to work in that clunky way. I appreciate quality as a stills photographer who shoots Phase One and the latitude that gives in post production of images. I can however handle these files on a Mac book pro retina display because that is how I personally like to work. To try and work with 4K raw files I would not only need hugely expensive storage cards but an entire new high end workstation plus drives and mases of time to create anything at all. I would also need a 4K monitor to see what I was producing. The outlay would be treble perhaps the entry price of the camera to get a functioning system working.
    The C100 for me would fit into a normal existing workflow and allows me a quality that is within budget and way beyond what I could have imagined at this price point 5 years ago. I can learn to shoot video and develop my craft. I certainly do not imagine perfection but I can afford the entry price to work in that way and the price / quality ratio I can live with. For professionals being paid, I guess there are a whole host of other variables. I think however professionals wouldn’t be mulling over too much given they know their market. skills and the equipment required to satisfy their customers.

  • if you need 5-7 stops overexposure latitude in a camera, are you sure you know what you are doing is the question.

  • it’s aesthetics and trends. when everyone shoots hi def, ultra hi def, then there are artists who want to do something more abstract. it’s a cycle. modern visual artists in other mediums such as painting are definitely not into realism and skin pore resolution

  • I have owned and operated a RED Scarlet since its release about a year and a half ago. It produces stunning images straight out of the camera and gives me a ton of flexibility in post. However I have also found out that it is not the right tool for every job and have more recently invested in the C100.

    As much of what I do at present is documentary and television series work in fast paced and often challenging environments, I have found the RED requires too much effort and attention. Firmware updates will often throw up new and unexplained issues, fans are noisy and struggle in hot conditions, boot up time is slow, there is no XLR for sound, a poor quality headphone jack, low light sensitivity isn’t the best (though with a fast prime lens and enough exposure great results can still be obtained) and loaded up with batteries and a shoulder rig it becomes quite the weighty unit. When travelling OS the weight of your luggage becomes higher again with a kit of v-lock batteries and red volts, media, media reader, chargers, shoulder rig, hard drives to accommodate the extra data etc. etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love my RED Scarlet and hope to shoot many more documentaries and TV series on it- unfortunately it just wont be in too many of these more challenging types of environments.

    At present, I have only had my C100 for a handful of days so haven’t done any more than some low light tests to find out the limitations of the AVCHD codec, some external recorder tests, some audio set up tests and some handheld tests. It’s a fantastic camera and I’m really looking forward to putting it through its paces in these coming weeks. As a documentary camera it ticks a lot of boxes- It’s light weight and can be used as a genuine hand held camera, it takes small and light batteries which last all day long, it records to two SD cards, it has incredible low light performance, it has XLR inputs and full audio controls, it boots up within a few seconds and most importantly it is reliable and trustworthy in all types of conditions (of course this is still to be proven but I am very confident that this is a camera I can depend on). With the ability to record a clean signal to an external recorder I also have the flexibility to produce an image that can stand up to the rigors of more serious colour correction work.

    It may sound as though I am favoring the C100 over my Scarlet but this is not at all the case. The Scarlet, despite not being the perfect camera for every job, does produce stunning cinematic quality images. If it weren’t for some of these more practical considerations I would happily shoot every project on the Scarlet. Compared to the C100 (and most other cameras for that matter) it produces an image that is sharper, has superior colour depth/information, has greater dynamic range, smoother roll-off, looks more cinematic and has loads of flexibility in post. And upon a recent discovery R3D RAW files also convert to full de-bayered 10bit DNXHD or ProRes files in near realtime through Adobe Media Encoder on a quad core laptop. In all, the Scarlet is still an incredible camera and I’m sure will continue to be so for some time to come. I guess for me though it really is going to come down to the requirements and challenges of each job as to whether I use the Scarlet or the C100. For now having two uniquely different cameras to choose from is a comforting thought in tackling existing projects and chasing new ones.

  • I can’t see how this camera is good other than “getting the job done” for basic 1080p. I understand wanting the restriction of a a cameras specs to improve skill but you can do that with a RED, Alexa, whatever by just shooting in basic settings and being intelligent. We are human beings, letting a machine become a crutch isn’t the machines fault, its yours…it’d be like saying its alcohols fault for making alcoholics, its not. The difference between 8bit and 10bit and 4:2:0 and 4:2:2 is astonishing when I color grade and need to make minor changes…8bit just planely sucks…I only have 8 bit but if I had the option to shoot 10bit all the time I would because no matter what I’m shooting it just works so much better with 10bit. This camera isn’t even a bridge between 1080p cameras and 4K cameras….Something like the BMC in the form of the C100 with a 35mm sensor would have been PERFECT yet Canon continues to price gouge. I’m not a RED fanboy either, I prefer Alexa and I think the Alexa is perfect, the 2.8K (or 3.3K~ sensor technically) is perfect IMO, looks like 35mm but offers all the benefits of digital, more significantly though is the frame rate options and 2.8K resolution are perfect and something tells me that 2.8K, 35mm sensor, 1080p60, etc. will trickle down to a nice priced camera. Last night I was thinking of the GoPro Hero3 Black edition, $400 camera that does 2.7K at 30p, now granted its not on par with an Alexa but FINALLY something that goes over 1080p that does cost an arm, leg and a testicle! If that thing can do 1080p60, 2.7K @ 30p, 4K 15p (meh), etc. in a package that small that tells me that on a normal sized camera image processing power is NOT the issue. Also I highly doubt in 5 years that a RED Epic is going to be obsolete or inadequate for 4K I feel like we are actually eating the crap price gouging companies are feeding us or trying to justify our buyers regret. Man if I had the money and the know how and the people I would start a project like the digital bolex to make a decent camera that doesnt overcharge for things we should already have.

  • When I walk into a TV store and see the ultra hi-rez, super sharp 4K footage, its a terrific experience– for a while BUT my eye and brain tires quickly. Its tooooo clean and sharp. And Im not the only one out there to feel like this. For me HD content is a good blend of resolution and low brain/eye fatigue.

  • I recently bought a C100 after buying a BMCC. Why? Because I often don’t have a crew.
    The C100 is an excellent one man camera.
    Great low light, long lasting battery, Professional sound inputs and monitering.

    The BMCC is better on paper, but when you actually get to using it, it’s only applicable to certain jobs.

  • Great post. I totally agree about your point that the type of camera won’t make or break your production. It is all about the content, storyline, cinematography, actors and the overall execution, the soundtrack: Everything. I watched James bond on a 7 inch Air Canada screen when traveling to London and I was completely entertained. Of course having a bigger screen and more resolution helps but it begins with good storytelling and good filmmaking.

    Funny how people always ask what camera you shoot with in a way that people ask what kind of car you drive. Red Cam? Wow Awesome… Ferarri 430. Oh, you use a 5D….I see…

  • I know this is an old post I read it a while back but just happened to go through the comments. Mostly this response is directed at Peter. I was in Hollywood for 17 years doing various jobs, Most notably I worked for Francis Lawrence, Nigel Dick, A Band Apart etc… I just wanted to point out that while you are in the “bubble” it’s probably not your fault that you come across so arrogant as if you are some artiste. Now that is not an attack on you, just an observation by some who no longer lives out there. Why you feel the need to go after someone about a C100 post is beyond me. Let me give you some perspective if I may. My buddy bought us a C-300 which was awesome, I couldn’t get clients to pay for it, so it went back to L.A. to a rental house to recoup the $16k. I have fed a family of 5 on a 5D Mark ll for the past 3 years. (I have made a feature film btw theatrically released) In SW Florida I know of 10 -15 production companies who make their living this way. Most of them hire me to shoot. I’m no great DP, in fact I know Roger Deakins so I probably would’nt call myself one, but to get a 15K budget I advertise as one. None of those houses have a RED, 1 has a F-700, the rest are Sony Pro-sumer. I guy has a Red but he doesn’t work here, he works in NY. And nobody wants to pay the camera fee here. I did a lot of research on cameras and this article helped me make my decision. Or course I wanted a RED, slow mo and all that crap, but then I’d get into another $5k for computer just to process. Also there is no market for it here. I constantly shoot on the beach here, the budgets don’t include a 1st AC, grip etc… If you can’t do it all well, i.e.. sound, camera, edit… you don’t eat! Rather than constantly changing ND filters on my glass when I’m alone, The built in ND filters on the C100 SAVE MY ASS every shoot. Recently I’m 12 miles out in Gulf of Mexico at Noon. Been out about 12 times now, the C100 is an awesome tool. Also great when I build it up on sticks. Post is simple as you will get no more than $400 a day to edit here ( we don’t have colorists btw) we do everything. The C100 is the best all around camera I’ve used for this Market. I can only assume all over fly over country similar markets are doing the same. 4K is awesome. It ain’t happening here. I have a Sharp Aquos 52 inch, 1080i Tv, that grabs the 720p signal from Dish Network. I download 1080p content on my apple TV and plays on my 1080 i. Most of the commercials here (local) are broadcast in SD. Quite a bitch delivering 1080p to SD stations. I’m sure 4k is coming, but it ain’t coming here any time soon. For that I will probably get a 1DC, because it you can’t do double duty as a still photographer here, you lose money. I was quite the artiste, when we made “Lunatics, Lovers & Poets” on super 16mm just 4 years ago. Now I’m a realist who feeds my kids. This article was very helpful to some of us. Best of luck to you.

  • I’m in agreement that it’s the Indian not the arrows. And I’m also not sold on the whole 4k platform yet so I’ll be shooting in regular old boring high def until I find a reason not too. The C100 is pretty sweet looking. I’m definitely going to look into getting one soon.

  • selling us new technology. If you were at NAB this year, 4k was everywhere, just like 3D was everywhere last year. (And 3D was nowhere to be seen at NAB this year… but I doubt 4k will disappear like that).

  • The C100 is pretty sweet looking. I’m definitely going to look into getting one soon.

  • Ryan Very interesting your comments, and this invites me to not hesitate to buy a Canon C100 … a question that color program you recommended to work with the formats canon? ……. Thanks for the recommendations on review.

  • This is the most level-headed article or review I have seen. I have been researching a ton the last few day for my next jump after I was sure to buy into Blackmagic. I can’t see anything as functional and all inclusive for a wide array of work as the C100. If you really need 60fps, pull out your DSLR, otherwise GOOD SLOWMOTION requires something higher anyways. Videography is changing. The opportunities and to make awesome films for a variety of industries has never been more present. I need an very practical tool, ready for anything.

    In the end the C100 has better than 5D image quality, XLR, built in ND, AUTOFOCUS*, and lets not forget…. YOU CAN RECORD FOR MORE THAN 12 MINUTES!

  • I’ve been really debating between the Black Magic Production Camera and the C100. Between this article and Joe Simon’s work with the C100, I think I’m convinced that the C100 is the camera for me. It has great picture quality and even though it can’t boast the spec’s of the BMPC, the image quality, in my opinion, is on par with it. I wish it had the 60FPS, but all camera’s have their flaws. Thanks for the blog post Ryan.

  • I am so greatful that i stumbled on this post. I litterally paid for my very own C100 minutes ago and so many people were asking me why I am not investing in something in the 4k ranges. My first answer is regularly sufficient in that it is a major upgrade from my previous camera.

    But then you get the tech junkies who can quote all the stats an “facts”… I do wedding videogaphy and small events, i need a fast, simple and elegant solution. I feel that the C100 fits that mold perfectly and it gives me what I need to perform that function.

    Having rented the C100 on a few occasions, I was very comfortable with it and I felt that even with the AVCHD codec I had good enough footage to work with. As I also said above it is a major step up from my previous cameras, Sony HXR-MC1500p’s. (Lowering my head in shame) But living in South Africa, sometimes you have to make do with what you can afford rather than what you want. I will still use some midrange DSLRS (70D and 60D at the moment) as my B-cameras, because they are good enough for that job.

    Thanks again for the insights, it is hard to find people willing to tell the hard truth.

    • I have been using my C100 for weddings for a year… you will be happy!!! ND’s, XLR, when you need to work fast, like you do at weddings, you will appreciate that everything is right at your finger tips… you wont regret it!!!

  • The C100 has to be used with a ninja all the time. You can’t possibly be saying that you were using this professionally while recording onto 25mbs avchd internally! Also, you mentioned that when you need 4:2:2 colour sampling you can use a ninja, however, while the ninja is capable of recording prores at 4:2:2 the C100 doesn’t output 4:2:2 via its hdmi out. Of course you have to use the ninja all the time with cam. The format capability is only one reason, the other is having 1TB cheap HDDs in it and recurring for days nonstop.
    IMO, as a heavy daily user of C100, I can say that the sensor, the low light capabilities, built in NDs and pro audio are its best aspects, although you could get those for a lot less with Sony and Pana. My issues with it are the crippled format, the crippled HDMI out, the crippled VF (actually consider this camera as one without a VF just for you piece of of mind), the unusable LCD screen, the horrible handle and its awkward shape. For good acceptable results, craftsman or not, you still have to rig this which is a pain because of its form factor.
    Not having 4K in or out, or 4:2:2 onboard or out makes this camera feel amateurish and overpriced. Its good for corporate events/small jobs, weddings or anything that doesn’t require even colour balance in post, however it won’t go far in the circles where professional quality is a must.

  • marvinsheldon on 05.27.14 @ 5:56PM

    This is an interesting article and I am not a professional DP but the cameras I have BMCC, BMPC and RED One non MX all have their strong and weak points. But the perfect example of why you want the higher res camera is to test the Blackmagic Cinema Camera in it’s Prores 1080 mode and shoot the same clip in the 2.5K mode. Then output the files to 1080P quicktime and you can clearly see the difference in the detail between the 2 files even in the outputted 1080 quicktime file. The Blackmagic Prores files are great but you can see the difference in the higher res files reduced to 1080 output. Nobody seems to mention this when they say ” Oh you can’t watch 4k files at full resolution anyway so why bother”. The reason you bother is to capture the most detail in the original and you will see the difference on the output. The only drawback to capturing in Raw or 4K prores is the memory cost and rendering time. There is no doubt that the outputted 1080p files from these higher resolution originals look a world apart from video shot in 1080p.

    • marvinsheldon on 05.27.14 @ 6:04PM

      Here is a link to a test I did comparing the H264 output for vimeo of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera from the 1080prores file side by side with the 2.5K raw file. Even compressed for the web you can clearly see the difference in the Hd output from the two files. 2.5K wind clearly as long as you have the memory and time to render.

  • Hi, thanks for the great article!

    I just think that 5-10 years is a bit too much… so we should all go to your sentence: “Reality check: 4k is not here, nor will it be for at least 5-10 years.” after 2 years and find out who is right :)

  • Brandon Freeman on 08.3.14 @ 3:37PM

    Good article. I read it not so much to learn about the C100, but to see your thoughts and process in choosing your tool of choice. It’s encouraging to see other professionals starting to buck the “RAW” trend. It is far too easy to completely butcher the original intent with RAW footage – and on the other hand, completely too easy to fire before aiming when on set.

    I did go the 4K route in my most recent camera choice, the GH4, but my reason is not to re-frame in the edit (though I have on occasion) but rather to generate an overall higher quality HD image. The GH4 combined with the FilmConvert plug-in have also taught me how meaningless, at the end of the day, a “flat” or “RAW” image is. For me, at least. I’m going to aim for the same look at the end of the day, but if I’m shooting in a CineLike mode or a Superflat/Log-esque mode, chances are exposure correction will become part of the grade, which to me is poor craftsmanship. So I’ve started shooting with the default “Natural” profile, which rolls highlights off naturally and doesn’t make it easy to over or underexpose.

    And you know what? When FilmConvert’s done with it, it all looks the same, whether it was RED footage or GH4 footage of FS100 footage. So I’m all about getting it right in front of the lens, now. I don’t even grade much, just use the FilmConvert plug-in to get the colorspace I want.

  • 4k is here now, wall mart has monitors going for as cheap as $400.00 usd, also 4k contect is needed to drive the film distribution and tv sales, blu ray duplication is accepted by all distribution companies swell as amazon.
    we offer short run blu-ray duplication at 30% of what disc makers offers. 1.866.205.9640

  • Wow- I’ve never experienced this before when reading something online, but EVERY SINGLE word you said I totally agree with 100%. Spot on! (It’s helpful because even though I’ve broken a record for being the youngest to fully produce and film a TV commercial in the United States, I can’t even afford a 4k camera!) Sad but true. Anyway, great post! I want to read more of your work. Thank you for the great advice.

  • Hi, thanks so much for this article!

    I have had my C100 for a year now and I LOVE it for what I do. XLR audio was a major selling point for me. Coming from an ENG background I wanted some familiarity, some safety in knowing I could go out straight away and feel confident and not have to fiddle around with extra gear.

    After NAB I felt like my camera was suddenly dated. I felt a bit down about it for a while. The 4K hype ate me up!

    I think your article is the beginning of the hype subsiding.

    I still want a GH4 for a second camera ( i have a GH3) and only because I would use it for a wide shot, shoot in 4K and then resize the shot later when I want more shots. I really see a value in that.

    I shot a festival yesterday with my C100 and I looked back at the shots and I just LOVE the quality…. Just watching the raw footage was utterly enjoyable.

    You’re right, its not perfect… the LCD is average, I find focus difficult at times with it. But its easy to use, the button layout is great!

    So I am completely happy again!

    And in some instances, I find 4K looks a bit too good…I have even heard the average Joe on the street say “it looks too good” so, 1080P is here to stay I think, at least for now!

    Thanks again for your article….

  • The Canon c100 is not only overpriced it is a complete disaster!
    We just run at the Pinewood Studios on a big screen few tests:
    Big surprise is the SONY A7s. In 4k scaled down to1080 it looks amazing.
    2.5k plus 2k for the Shogun 4K recorder and you are in heaven…

    you still have to pay attention to the rolling shutter problem but its beats the C100 in any situation for the SAME PRICE!

  • Dick Blick on 08.4.14 @ 1:02PM

    The BMCC is easily way better than the c100. Shoot the same thing with both cameras and tell me it’s not. The c100 is grainy in low light and over priced for what it does. The bmcc is not and is underpriced for what it does. I have now shot 3 features on the bmcc and I am still in love with it. The c100 is essentially a dslr in a different container. The bmcc is a cinema camera made for making movies for the cinema. If you’re a videographer, sure go with the c100 and plug your audio directly in, don’t worry about having to rig it up, and whatever other benefits it brings you. If you’re a cinematographer and don’t have the money for red or arri, bmcc is the camera for you. However I’ve seen some great looking c100/c300 footage, the film Blue Ruin looks terrific, but first hand experiences with those cameras show me that they are pretty useless as a bcam with the bmcc, especially now that the pocket cam can be picked up for $500.

  • A pile of bullshits….

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  • That was a really interesting text you wrote Ryan. I very much liked the spirit of it.
    Its perspective made me review a few things on what camera to own (not hire). Well done.