canon_eos1dc_rightCanon has been notoriously slow on firmware updates, let alone anything that improves their current products in a major way. Thanks to Magic Lantern, their DSLRs have seen major improvements, but it's possible we may see the tide beginning to turn on support for their products. While it's not due for another few months, the firmware update for the 5D Mark III to enable clean HDMI is one of the first signs that they feel a bit of the pressure from the rest of the market, and they want to match specs with cameras like the Nikon D800. Now it looks like an update may be coming for the $12,000 1D C DSLR to enable 25fps at 4K, and there is word they may be working on addressing some other issues with the camera.

Here is Canon Rumors on the situation (this is unconfirmed to my knowledge):

1) A 25P firmware is coming next week.

2) Canon is aware that high iso, high motion doesn’t mix well with 4K aggressively compressed to MJPEG. So my little experience of doing 4K framegrab is mixed. Quality is amazing in natural daylight portrait, but is less interesting in action high iso scene. They are aware of that and the “limit is the card writting speed” at 100Mb/s.

Interestingly the buffer looks to be well over 380 Mb/s and almost 3Gb large. So basically, the camera could run small sequence with lower compression in 4K or even in 8K for 3 to 6 second on the buffer, and then move that to the card when done a little bit ala phantom.

They say they will “investigate in this direction”.

3) The twin Digic V in the 1Dc are slightly over clocked compared to the one in the 1Dx therefore this is why there is a need for better cooling.

Obviously some of these issues are the very same that RED came up against when they were first designing the RED ONE. Heat and card speed/buffer are big hurdles that must be overcome in order to get motion quality at 4K, and that's one of the reasons so many of these 4K cameras are using proprietary media and have fans. That's also the reason Canon didn't bother trying to come up with their own 4K RAW solution with the C500, because they would have had to either modify the camera body, or build their own recorder with their own media just to be able to handle the files -- not to mention there isn't an easy way to gracefully combine that camera with an external recorder.

Either way, I wonder if we may finally see this company turn a corner and really get competitive with their updates. Most of the Japanese companies are very conservative with products and updates, but Canon specifically has been releasing modest upgrades or cameras with specs that don't quite match up to the others in their price range. This isn't to say that these cameras aren't good at what they actually do, but one way the company could continue to push the boundaries without spending a ton of money is by improving the cameras they have right now. The 1D C would be far more versatile with 25p in 4K (if it's really coming), and it would probably find its way into a few more hands.

It's interesting to hear that the processors in the camera are possibly overclocked compared to the 1D X. That may make hacking the 1D X to do 4K even more difficult (assuming anyone dares to try). 4K takes a ton of processing power, even in MJPEG, but it's clear from all of the results that I've seen that 4K downsampled to 1080p is far superior to the regular 1080p output on any of the Canon DSLRs currently on the market. If they decide to put 4k into more of their DSLRs, it would mean better pictures overall, but you're going to have to stock up on fast cards and lots of hard drive space to handle the footage.

We'll just have to wait and see next week if Canon does, indeed, deliver a firmware update. Before the comments get out of hand once more, let's remember that just because it's a DSLR, doesn't necessarily mean it has to be priced to own. For specific projects that need this form factor, or want dual stills/video and don't want to deal with RED, there aren't many options out there, and a rental is certainly not out of the question for smaller projects. We can complain all we want about price, but it is what it is, and refusing to look at it as another possible tool just because of the high initial sticker price is a bit shortsighted.

Link: Canon EOS-1D C Information -- Canon Rumors