Canonmystery-224x116Since Canon's original announcement of something "historic" coming on November 3rd, there hasn't been any hard and fast information about what kind of history they'll be making. But rumors have been flying about a Super 35 4K camcorder, and as someone with an upcoming feature to shoot I've certainly been curious about what Canon has planned. RED will release SCARLET on the same day, and it's very likely that many upcoming independent features over the next few years are going to be shot on one of these new cameras (in addition to existing RED cameras and the Sony F3). Again, no one knows for sure, but what seems likely?

Here's what's been said on Wide Open Camera and Canon Rumors, who have had an ear to the ground:

One will be EF mount, the other will be PL mount. They will be both be higher end cameras, and could reach the price point of $10000+. It has also been suggested that the EF mount camera could fall under the “EOS” banner.

  • A Super 35mm sized CMOS sensor.
  • PL and EF mounts.
  • 4:2:2 at either 8 bit or 10 bit. 50MBPS
  • Top Mount LCD monitor. Possibly detachable.
  • 10-12K price range. Possibly more.

The Canon Expo takes place once every five years, and as Jared Abrams (who is currently running a Kickstarter campaign of his own, check it out here!) points out on Wide Open Camera, this video from the last Canon Expo is relevant and almost guarantees a 4K future for Canon:

As Dan mentioned in response to my original post, "if [this new camera] is $15k I'm not interested." But if a camera is $15k and ready to shoot that's entirely different from a $15k "brain" that ends up costing $50k once you add [cheap] lenses and supporting gear. I think Sony had the right idea with their Sony PMW-F3K kit, which ships for under $20k with three prime lenses included -- however, once you add in the $3.5k S-Log firmware upgrade and a $6k uncompressed external recorder, suddenly you're looking at a $30k + package. Plus, while the optics on Sony's bundled prime lenses are a good deal for the price, their plastic housings have been criticized as unserviceable. I'm still enamored with the F3, but I wonder if Canon comes out with a S35 camcorder -- and if RED's SCARLET ends up shipping with a S35 sensor instead of the originally announced 2/3" chip -- if the $30k uncompressed price point of the F3 will seem too high when there are 4K competitors out there for less.

Also: while I don't think cameras need to be "priced to own" -- indeed, most serious features rent cameras -- there's a large gap between the $3-5k "ready to shoot" highly compressed DSLR and the $30k-$50k "ready to shoot" uncompressed F3 (which, it's worth noting, I would love to see included in Zacuto's next shootout -- with the S-Log firmware). Currently the Sony FS100 and Panasonic AF100 are the main cameras filling this gap at $5k.

Xd10101301_05_pmwf3l-_nl-224x126Filmmaking as we know it is not as feature-centric as it used to be. Very few filmmakers are making a living solely from features -- most are probably shooting commercials, web series, interviews, and other content as well, and in the independent arena owning a camera helps with these projects. Especially if it's a camera that has pro audio inputs and is ready to go without the need to attach all sorts of accessories and without worrying about aliasing and overheating. Which is why I like the idea of something like the F3 -- shoot an interview or short on the stock $13k camera and some adapted still lenses, then rent good glass, an uncompressed recorder, and upgrade to S-Log for a feature. The camera has "range."

This FS100-F3 market is what Canon and RED are presumably shooting for -- a "serious" filmmaking camera but priced to own, somewhere between $5k and $20k. Interestingly enough, unlike Sony and RED, Canon does not have a higher-end model to protect -- they could theoretically throw everything they have into a $10-15k camcorder without worrying about cannibalizing sales of their higher-end EPIC and F65 (which RED and Sony have to consider, respectively). They could also ship a cheaper version at the $5k price point to compete with Sony and Panasonic's existing offerings, though they wouldn't want to go any lower given that's territory well-served by their HDSLRs.

We'll see on November 3rd...