A $15,000 DSLR? Now we've seen it all. No, wait -- we haven't seen it all, as Canon is just getting started with their Cinema EOS line. And they're also just getting started with 4K acquisition: their latest addition is to be the Canon C500 (pictured), which is essentially a 4K version of the C300.
No word yet on pricing, but given the C300 is $20k, rumors of a $30k price tag make sense (which would probably work out to be $25k street, in the U.S. at least). However, what's more important than the price tag are the features and image quality, since at this price point we're talking about renting rather than buying for most people. Also, given how fast the camcorder market is changing, it makes even more sense to rent these days -- I bought a RED SCARLET and have only used it myself to shoot a test short, and now new cameras are coming out already. ((Buying a camera is not just about using it yourself, however -- you can also rent it out to others, which I've done, and the RED SCARLET, Sony F3/F5, and Canon C300/C500 are all significant investments that can and should make a return -- either from your own use or renting to others. More on this later.))
Canon also announced two new cinema zoom lenses, a 15.5-47mm T/2.8 and a 30-105mm T/2.8, both of which will probably cost about as much as the C300. Again: rental items for most of us.
Okay, so onto the Canon C500 itself:
As you can see it's the same form factor as the C300, which is to say it's a very compact camera with a removable monitor and built-in viewfinder around the back. It even uses the same 8.3-megapixel Super35 sensor as the C300. The big news with the C500 is it is the camera most of us thought the C300 would be -- it has "uncrippled" outputs, as it can output the 4K, 10-bit raw sensor data over SDI. The 4K images can be recorded from 1 to 60 frames per second, and it can simultaneously record 50 Mbps proxy files to a CF card. There are some limitations -- you can get 12-bit RGB 4:4:4 only with 2K output, but if you switch that 2K to 10-bit 4:2:2 you can get up to 120 FPS slow-motion. It also has two monitor outputs (for on-board and on-set monitoring).
More to come about this camera at NAB... full press release below.
Oh, and if you think my Twins reference is a bit dated... get ready for a sequel, apparently titled Triplets. If the C300 is Danny DeVito and the C500 is the Schwartzenformergoverner, I guess that makes Eddie Murphy the EOS-1D C? I know better than to read into that one. But will the C500, as played by Schwarzenegger, terminate the RED SCARLET? Now I'm just getting my movies mixed up. So many cameras, so little time.
Thoughts on this one?
C500 Press Release
CANON ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF 4K DIGITAL CINEMA CAMERAS
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., April 12, 2012 – Canon Inc. is developing two digital cinematography cameras as part of its acclaimed new Cinema EOS System of professional cinematography products. Designated as the Cinema EOS C500* for use with EF-mount lenses, and the Cinema EOS C500 PL* for use with PL-mount lenses, the cameras will be capable of originating 4K (4096 x 2160-pixel) resolution digital motion imagery with uncompressed RAW output for external recording, in response to growing expectations for higher levels of imaging performance in premium Hollywood films and other production markets requiring the utmost in picture quality.
"With the unveiling of our Cinema EOS System last November to great acclaim, Canon marked our full-fledged entry into the motion-picture production market," stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A. "To further serve the needs of Hollywood's premier filmmakers, Canon is developing the Cinema EOS C500 and Cinema EOS C500 PL digital cinematography cameras, which deliver the added benefit of full 4K motion-image capture to the Cinema EOS System."
The 4K imaging format is emerging as the new standard for advanced effects and post-production in Hollywood, and it is particularly important for big-budget motion pictures that include scenes compositing live-action cinematography with high-resolution computer-generated imagery. The Cinema EOS C500/C500 PL digital cinematography cameras will not only support 4K-resolution video but also outputs this as a 10-bit uncompressed RAW data stream with no de-Bayering. The cameras offer the additional versatility of being able to output quad full-HD (3840 x 2160), 2K (2048 x 1080), full HD (1920 x 1080), and other imaging options. All of these digital image source formats fully conform to established SMPTE production standards. All 4K formats can be selected to operate from one to 60 frames per second. The cameras employ a 12-bit RGB 4:4:4 signal format during 2K output, which can be selected to operate from one to 60 frames-per-second (fps) as well. If switched to a 10-bit YCrCb 4:2:2 mode, the camera can operate up to 120 fps.
The Cinema EOS C500 simultaneously records in-camera a 50 Mbps HD proxy video to a CF card that is immediately available to support offline editing. Equipped with a newly developed Super 35mm-equivalent approximately 8.85-megapixel CMOS sensor, the cameras will be compatible with Canon's wide range of interchangeable EF Cinema and PL-mount lenses and EF lenses for Canon SLR cameras. Highly mobile and compact for filmmaking versatility, the Cinema EOS C500/C500 PL digital cinematography cameras – like Canon's Cinema EOS C300/C300 PL cinematography cameras – provide all of the same ergonomic features, except for the rotating hand grip.
Further details regarding the Cinema EOS C500/C500 PL digital cinematography cameras – including specifications and pricing – have yet to be decided. Plans call for these new products to be launched later this year. In addition to targeting a swift launch of these cameras, Canon will continue to enhance other components of its Cinema EOS System product lineup, which is designed to contribute to the continued advancement of tools for visual expression and the development of cinematic culture.
Canon will display a prototype of the Cinema EOS C500/C500 PL digital cinematography camera at the 2012 NAB Show in booth C4325 at the Las Vegas Convention Center from April 16 to 19.