June 29, 2013

Canon C100 Gets Continuous Autofocus in New Firmware Update

The Canon C100 has been one of the quieter successes in the Canon lineup -- even though it's not as flashy as the C300 and more expensive than most DSLRs. That hasn't stopped many professionals from singing its praises, and getting one as an affordable personal camera. Now it's acquiring some consumer-oriented features in a new firmware update that may just come in handy: continuous autofocus and continuous auto iris.

Thanks to planet5D for the heads-up, here's Canon on the new update:

  1. A function has been added which allows automatic continuous focusing and iris setting on a subject in the center of the screen when using the EF-S18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM lens.
  2. The polarity of the XLR terminal has been modified to improve compatibility with external audio devices. The pin configuration has been modified to be consistent with the Instruction Manual.

In a thread on planet5D, @mthomas reported on the update:

This is a very exciting update for those who use STM lenses such as the 18-135 and the 40mm pancake. Please post any observations or questions here.

And later:

OK I downloaded it and installed it on the C100 just before the camera left our building and did some very quick tests using the 18-135mm STM lens. The AF in Focus Lock mode was very fast and smooth. Much better than before.

AF in Continuous mode (which is accessible as a setting in the camera menu) is fully continuous which means it keeps focusing without any interaction.

The One Shot (focus lock) AF mode still requires you to push the Focus button on the front of the camera body.

In my initial test, I was very impressed with the speed and smoothness of the Continuous Focusing. It was very good in very low light, and would probably be even better in good light. It seemed to track a moving person diagonally very well, which is not easy for most contrast detection systems.

It's unlikely you'll need to call upon this in a professional environment (or if you'd even want to), but I can think of one situation where it could work really well as long as performance is good: steadicam. No, not with a professional operator, but if you don't have much of a budget and you've got a handheld model like a Glidecam or Merlin, (or even one of those new-fangled gyro-stabilizers), and this works as advertised, it could make your life much easier when trying to follow a subject and also keep said subject in focus. That's obviously not the recommended way to do things, but if it works, why not?

Another situation where it might be helpful is if you need behind the scenes material for something, and you don't have any experienced operators available, I imagine this function could probably get some decent footage.

Either way, if you've got a C100, download the update from here, and let us know what you think.

Links:

[via planet5D]

Your Comment

29 Comments

I've updated my C100 as well and tested with my 18-135 STM. What's interesting is that it starts to auto focus very slowly, or even not at all after f8.0. However, t's very fast and accurate at f3.5-5.6. The auto-iris feature is very impressive, with results mirroring a lens with a clickless aperture.

June 29, 2013

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Paul

Ah, finally catching up to Panasonic.

June 29, 2013

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Gene

A little doubt: Isn't that avaliable on Magic lantern in MKII/III? I remember something about autofocus there...

June 29, 2013

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Alex Mand

Not sure what exactly you're suggesting, but basically no.

June 30, 2013

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Luke

I think both features will definitely get used in a professional environment. Won't be critical, but will be handy.

Auto iris -- definitely useful for dealing with changing light situations, for instance following someone from outside a church to inside.

Auto focus -- useful, for instance, if you have a locked off camera on a speaker at a conference who sways or shifts body position. Or, for that matter, on a dancer moving around a floor. A good operator will have their eye to the camera, sure, and pull focus. But maybe auto makes it a little bit easier.

And as Joe mentioned -- what if you hand the camera to someone inexperienced, which does happen from time to time? There's plenty of situations where there isn't the budget for a second operator, but the coverage from a second camera is very useful. Autofocus means one option is to bring in half an operator, in the shape of a friend whose skills are limited to pushing the red button.

June 30, 2013

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Another thing worth mentioning -- guys who are solo event shooters often manage multiple cameras simultaneously. This means there's often times when you walk away from the camera to go check something else.

June 30, 2013

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Updated the C100.

I thought I would still get the option of using these features (at least continuous auto iris) with other L series lenses.

Option is greyed out in the menu.

Is there a technical reason why we can't get auto iris on non STM glass?

June 30, 2013

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Derek

So far they have the firmware set to only work with the zoom STM lens (40mm didn't work for me). My guess is because of the STM has quiet autofocus where as you would get annoying clicks on non STM. Will probably be added in the future.

Though with this update they should just include the 18-135mm in the C100 kit rather than the 24-105. Not as good of a lens but the autofocus would be more of a selling point.

July 1, 2013

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Gundammrw

Is the movable zoom window in the new firmware?

June 30, 2013

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Owen

I can confirm it does NOT have magnify zoom

June 30, 2013

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Derek

Sorry, it does not have moveable magnify zoom.

June 30, 2013

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Derek

too bad it doesn't work with the more serious lenses. a complete lens lineup overhaul seems required to get afc on canon bodies...

June 30, 2013

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Tried the 40mm Pancake STM and the autofocus setting is disabled so I'm assuming that the update only works with the 18-135mm.

June 30, 2013

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Could anyone confirm if it works with the 18-55 STM lens,please?

June 30, 2013

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arturo sanchez

July 1, 2013

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Gundammrw

That was with the 18-55. Video was hard to watch.

July 1, 2013

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The lens on the camera was 18-55mm STM. I shot the video using iPhone but goes to show the function works. If I ever have time I might film and upload footage from the c100 with the lenses but don't really see the point. The function works and the quality of those lenses are already documented by others.

July 2, 2013

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Gundammrw

gives us raw

June 30, 2013

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DIO

You know that's never gonna happen.

June 30, 2013

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Hubert

it would be better a 720@50/60p ....

June 30, 2013

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arnau

I also installed the firmware update and tried the 40mm pancake lens. The options for Iris Mode and AF Mode are both greyed out.

June 30, 2013

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JJ

Update is for the Canon 18-135mm IS STM only.

July 1, 2013

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I also find it interesting that only two lenses have this special IS. This could mean we will see more lenses with STM added to them. That sure would be great for C100 users shooting handheld a lot. 24-105 with STM. Yummy!

July 1, 2013

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I am very pleased that canon is taking auto focusing in their professional cameras very seriously. Because it's that important and make life easier. As mentioned here, guys who use steadicam will know how valuable autofocus is. Now, they should put that 70D Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Canon C200 :)

July 2, 2013

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Mohan

I'm a steadicam operator and autofocus is stupid and pointless for steadicam.

For an unmanned 2nd camera...maybe it's a good idea, but for most things, autofocus is terrible. Does it find a subject and lock onto it? Does it center weight the subject, meaning any off center framing will leave the subject out of focus? How does it find the subject? A touch screen? A button that you hold for a moment? If either of these things, how would you do that while simultaneously holding a steady frame? Do you do it with an assistant doing that. If so, have that assistant doing focus like normal! Autofocus (and steadicam) only really works with something with a tiny sensor and big depths of field like a gopro or iPhone.

July 4, 2013

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Daniel Mimura

When I updated firmware I got a "check battery" message even though the battery showed fully charged. I switched from a generic to a canon battery and all went smoothly.

July 9, 2013

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Marcial

Does anyone have any info on what exactly the XLR update does?

July 15, 2013

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Adam

I am considering C100 in a news environment and the continuous AF would huge.

August 22, 2013

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Joe

How about option for automatic off? In quick shoots where we need to run from one location to another, sometimes I tend to forget that the camera is on and end up draining my battery. If my cheap DLSRs have auto off why can't my C100 have it too?

October 14, 2013

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Ryan