June 8, 2016 at 1:25AM, Edited June 8, 1:39AM

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Canon C100 vs. Sony a7sii

I'm in the market for a camera and after a couple of weeks of too much pixel peeping and review reading, am hoping for some more tailored advice on the Canon C-100 vs. the Sony a7sii for my particular needs.

The camera will be used for my own independent filmmaking practice and not in a commercial context. My style is experimental documentary- somewhere between staged and carefully arranged compositions and run and gun. I shoot mostly outdoors with a lot of skies in my shots, so dynamic range is important and banding is a concern. I will be shooting a combination of tripod and steadicam material. There will be some headlight lit and (high luma) flashlight lit scenes in an upcoming piece. My work will be projected in theaters, but independent ones where 4k projection is not in the immediate future.

I am considering a C-100 Mark I and dealing with the less than stellar EVF and LCD, as I'm not sure the Mark II is worth it for a non-4k, 8 bit camera at this point if I plan to shoot with the Ninja in any case? (Don't need 60p). I have limited hands-on experience with the Sony A7sii, but of course 4k and its low light abilities are attractive. The menu I found to be annoying, but with customization, not unusable. The lack of functional autofocus is a downside.

The C-100 obviously has the advantage of being a dedicated video camera. The sharpness is fantastic coming from a 5DII and the colors are superior to Sony to my tastes. However, I don't love the look of the AVC codec on the C-100s. I'm not sure if it was just the sharpness/noise settings in tests I've seen however? The artifacts don't look like "grain" to me. The AVC didn't pop out as terrible in either HD or 4K modes on the Sony A7sii, but I'm not sure if it's because the A7Sii is a bit sharper overall and so compensates for the codec or again if it had to do with improper noise/sharpness settings on the c100?

The A7sii will handle my night scenes with no problems, though the C -100 may be perfectly capable. I am concerned with overheating on the A7sii and am still unclear how many are still experiencing problems with this and how much has been resolved through firmware updates. I shoot longer takes (average of 3 mins).

So, I'm wondering:

Does the A7sii handle the codec better or is this just a sharpness/noise setting that needs to be adjusted on the C-100 (or improperly exposed material in tests I've seen)? Is the A7sii going to overheat? Is either better for steadicam use? For an individual lit by headlights, would the c100 get me a good image? Have folks had success in reducing banding by using cine profiles rather than log in either or encountered ongoing problems in either? If I am shooting in a Cine profile to avoid color banding from S-Log, will I run into problems trying to get back skin tones with the AVC codec? For shooting in daylight, how cumbersome is using a variable ND with the Sony? (Maybe less of a concern if I'm not shooting in S-Log 2/3).

My main concern is whether the A7sii is a capable A-cam for my purposes or something I should rent for specific night scenes. And, whether the Canon C100 is worth it at this point (if perhaps I get the Mark I rather than the II?) I'm waiting for a 4k 10bit low light capable camera under $5,000 to come out, but unfortunately, I need a camera NOW.

There's a chance I may come into some funding and be able to upgrade to something like the FS7 or a used Canon C300, so something that I might be able to easily sell in a few months is also at the back of my mind.

Thanks for any opinions! I'd love to have more hands on time with both, but unfortunately I need something ASAP.

7 Comments

I've used both cameras and own the Sony a7SII and honestly feel for independent film making the A7sII is a better fit because its a full frame camera so the depth of field is going to be easier to achieve without additional accessories, plus the 4k is an extra bonus (although 8 bit). I use it for weddings and just shot a summer wedding in full 4k on it (10 hours of shooting) and had no issues with overheating at all. It eats batteries for breakfast though, so the Canon has better battery life (if you turn off the wifi option in the camera that saves a lot of battery life, but still eats batteries). The codecs are a wash in my opinion both have advantages and disadvantages. The canon has better color science out of the box, but using lut's or color correction methods the Sony can be color corrected to look pretty nice too. The A7sII would hold its value better since its newer, and also you can use the same FE lenses if you update to the FS7. Hope that helps.

June 8, 2016 at 5:35PM

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Mark K.
216

So it seems to me you may not have held enough cameras in your hands. Actually let me restate that. You seem as if you have most likely touched every function on every camera at Best Buy... maybe glaziers... the thing is, to find the perfect personal soldier you must buy one, in this case flip a coin and use that one for a month... then trade up to another cam of interest... then again until you fin what accentuates your style. I have had every single some under the sun, but when I thought after relying on the cano xls models and then the mark 2, I was convinced no camera shallbibown that is not a canon. Then the a7slanded in my lap and the a6300... obviously I always get the different adapters and use mainly fixed even in video, but it was clear the a7s series has won me over for now. Nothing on earth under 5 k compare. I forgot tripods even exsisted while using this. No light =dope.

As for any real deal project just rent. Don't get caught up in owning a future hunk of shit in comparison to the market. And fresh turns fowl quickly in this industry... asking other what they like is not going to help. Figure out what you like shooting the most, buy one, experiment return it two weeks later for the other and then choose

Mike

February 20, 2017 at 3:16AM

Thanks so much for your thoughts!

June 9, 2016 at 12:35AM

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I just bought a C100 and have loved every second of using it. It feels good in the hand, has all the functions I was looking for (zebra, built in ND, onboard XLR etc.) It shoots 4K and is internally downsized to 1080p which gives it a beautiful picture and the low light is phenomenal!

June 9, 2016 at 5:40PM

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Michael Militscher
Director / Commercial Producer
2636

Yeah C100 100% (color, Internal ND's, XLR options for sound)

June 12, 2016 at 7:16AM

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I am personally an advocate for the c100. The LCD is not perfect, but I haven't had any real problems with it in the past, especially with the stellar vision assist. For me, the c100 is absolutely perfect, however, for steadicam use it can be a bit of a pain. I put it on my steadicam solo, which is one of the lighter steadicams, with a very small and light lens, I even took the top handle off, and boy was it brutal on the arms. If you want to use this for any amount of time with a steadicam I suggest you hit the gym. Yes the codec is not perfect, but if that bothers you, you can get a ninja blade, this being said I have had some trouble mounting my ninja blade and keeping the camera balanced in my hands. The advantage to the avchd is that the files are delightfully small, you practically never need to worry about battery or storage space, which I find to be incredibly creatively freeing. This being said, if you are willing to put the time in money to building an a7sii setup that truly works for you, then all the power to you, its a great camera, I just want to put it out there that from a usability perspective, c100 is king, and will never fail on you, whereas the a7sii may very well overheat, run out of battery or storage space. If you are shooting and directing, I would heavily suggest the c100. If you have a dedicated person or two to run camera most of the time, a kitted out a7sii may just be the option for you, because it delivers a better image (on paper). Personally I prefer the look of the c100, but thats a matter of preference.

June 13, 2016 at 10:27PM

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I bought the C100 mkii about a year ago and haven't regretted it. I do wish it was 4k for future proofing but lets be honest, in another year or two there'll be another camera that's the latest and greatest, it always happens.

I'd say it really depends on what you're doing, but for functionality as a working freelancer I'm so happy with the C100 and the consistent results and colour. It's just such an easy camera to work with, that said I do have the nicer EVF and LCD of the mkii which as you rightly say adds to the price. I take it out of the bag and shoot. I know what I'll get at the end of the day and I know it'll be a workable, pretty image exposed correctly. So that has ended up taking importance for me over spec. I use a Ninja Blade when I'm on a tripod for the extra quality codec. I can barely notice the difference though if I'm honest unless grading very heavily.

To be fair though you'll have a great camera with either choice. It's just about how you use it.

June 14, 2016 at 10:00AM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
647

After going back and forth with myself and debating whether or not I wanted and/or needed 4k, I bought a c100 mark ii. I absolutely love that camera, especially coming from the dslr world. Some of the key things that won me over with the c100 mark ii is its usable view finder, the size, professional audio inputs, waveform, zebras, file size and over all image quality. I know most of my work will be web-based, so didn't want to deal with the 4k storage and workload. And the camera is already "built up" so I don't need to go out and buy any special rigs. The camera gets out of the way and let you shoot! The 1080p is really clean, and even though it's 4.2.0, it behaves more like 4.2.2 with its flexibility. I used to think ppl were just hyping the camera up, until I bought one...now I understand why it gets its appraisal. Also, just one more thing to point out. Unfortunately, ppl today will see a little camera like the a7 on set and possibly take it for a joke (off of looks alone); but they'll see the c100 and take it more serious.

June 14, 2016 at 2:24PM, Edited June 14, 2:32PM

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Reggie Brown
Cinematographer
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