If you want to get a truly high quality cinematic image that can hold up on the big screen from Canon (without a ton of post work), there currently aren't any options under $6,500. While I think the Canon C100 is actually a better deal than one might think at first glance, it's still well above the price range for many people, especially those who are moving up from cameras like the T2i or T3i -- jumping up to almost $7,000 just might not be realistic. There is still a missing camera in Canon's Cinema EOS line, between $2,000 and $6,500, and there is word it may be coming in a DSLR-type camera.
Keep in mind this is a fairly unreliable rumor at the moment, but I think it's worth a conversation about what people might want in this budget range and this body size. This is from Canon Rumors:
There have been a few mentions of a new Cinema EOS DSLR body being announced in 2013. It would take on a smaller form factor than the EOS-1D C and would not shoot 4K video.
It wasn’t mentioned which DSLR it would be built around, but I think an APS-C Cinema EOS based around the upcoming EOS 7D replacement would be a good place to start.
With the release of the Canon 1D C just around the corner, I think this is an interesting rumor, especially since many believe that camera and the C100 are both overpriced for their capabilities. Canon has a huge hole in their product line to compete with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera from a budget standpoint, so it would not surprise me if Canon was working on something else to slot right in there with better image quality than the 5D Mark III. That camera is still a photography camera first, and what Canon is missing is a camera like the BMCC that compromises on certain aspects but doesn't compromise on image quality.
I think approaching 2013, it makes sense that we will start seeing better image quality from the DSLR form factor than we've seen previously. The 5D Mark II was recently retired from the Canon lineup, and we haven't seen a tremendous improvement in image quality from the DSLRs since that camera came out in 2008. One could argue that it's a case of using the right tool for the job, but as technology gets better, I would think most of us might expect things to trickle down to the lowest end sooner or later.
Canon would be wise to offer a direct competitor to the BMCC, if not in codec quality, at least in similar image quality. If they put it in a Canon 7D sized body -- or even a Mark II/III sized body -- I would hope they don't just port over the still image sensor and the rest of the hardware, because we've seen that Canon can't even come close to matching the image quality of the bigger sized cameras, like the C100/C300/C500, unless they are recording the full resolution of the sensor like the 4K mode on the Canon 1D C. Since it's not likely for a budget camera to have 4K like was mentioned above in the rumor, I would hope this means a possible porting over of the Super 35mm sensor of the larger cameras.
So here's what I would like to see from Canon, which I think would compete very well: remove all the still image capability from a camera the size of the 7D, put the sensor from the bigger Cinema EOS cameras inside, and give it the same codec as the C100. This camera wouldn't have ND filters or an uncompressed HDMI, but if it was priced between $2,000 and $3,000, you'll actually get a lot more people to move up from DSLRs, because spending a few hundred more is an easier pill to swallow than a few thousand. I think that is realistic and it would actually fit into their product category without cannibalizing their higher end too much. It'd be nice to have more, but just like Sony, they have R&D and other considerations to protect. This "Canon C50" could certainly save money on the rest of the internal hardware by only including the bare essentials to make a cinema quality image.
What do you guys think? Is this a camera you'd buy for $2K-$3K? What would you like to see from Canon -- keeping in mind that we're not going to get BMCC codec quality or RAW at that price level in the near future (especially from a company like Canon or Sony)?