While the internet seems to be looking for a specific camera from Canon that they haven't quite delivered yet, their digital cinema cameras -- specifically the C300 -- fly off the shelves and are consistently the most rented (if you don't believe me, ask anyone who runs a rental house). That, of course, won't stop the company from releasing new models, and it seems we may see a brand new camera along with some new cinema lenses at the yearly NAB show in April. Click through for more details and analysis.
Here is what Canon Rumors is saying:
Canon will be announcing new cinema lenses and a new cinema camera for NAB 2013 we are told.
The camera will sit somewhere between the EOS C100 and EOS C300, but will not be a direct replacement for the EOS C100. It will have both a PL and EF mount option. At present, no specifications for the camera have been given. Canon may also show a prototype that would come above the C500, but apparently that has yet to be decided internally.
It's not clear how accurate this is, but it's not listed as a rumor. CR also mentioned that there will be a zoom and a prime cinema lens announced at the show, and they both may be lower quality or slower versions similar to Leica's new cine lenses. Finally, they mentioned that no DSLRs would be announced at the show, which is not terribly surprising (unless the new cinema camera is a DSLR form factor).
So could this be that perfect blend of specs and price that people have been looking for? Well, historically Canon has built one sensor and then made a number of camera bodies around that same sensor. They did this with the Canon 7D 18MP sensor and the C300 4K sensor, which also finds itself in the C100 and the C500. So what's coming, and why should we care? I think that's a great question because it's unlikely they would create a camera better than the C300 (currently at $16,000) when it would retail for less.
One easy way this could be differentiated from the other two would be for them to create a 1D C type DSLR camera without 4K. The Super 35mm 1080p mode on that camera is pretty good, and while it's not quite as good as the C300, it's still much sharper than any of the current Canon DSLRs at 1080p. I think that should actually be their budget cinema camera (under $5,000), but it wouldn't surprise me to see them release something like that in the $8,000 range.
So how else could a new camera fit in? They could do what Sony did, and create a similar model to the FS700, except it would retail for around $10-$12K. Sony already had the FS100 and F3 as their budget and low-end professional cine cameras, and the FS700 fit right in the middle with its onboard 8-bit AVC codec. The big addition was super slow motion options. The only real slow motion cameras Canon offers are the C500 and the 1D C, otherwise it's mostly a compromise -- 720p 60fps is all you get (though you can create slow motion from 1080i 60, but it's just not quite the same).
Sony also introduced its new 4K sensor with this model, and so that is very likely something Canon could be working on. They could introduce the next generation sensor with high-speed modes in a model between the C100 and C300, and keep the onboard recording to 24/28 mbps. Since Canon Rumors also mentioned that there could be a cinema camera above the C500, I don't see why that new camera would still use the same sensor, which must be 4 years old at least since they began designing it. To me a slow motion camera is the only thing that makes sense and fits into the price range without destroying sales for either the C100 or the C300 -- that is, unless they are planning on phasing out the C300 and this new camera would actually be the replacement.
I think what would make the least sense is if they made it a "better" C100 with CF cards and HD-SDI but the same recording format. Sure, they could add 720p 60fps, but are all of those things really worth a few more thousand? If that's the case, a C300 is probably the better deal, with its 50mbps 4:2:2 internal codec. A souped up C100 would not look like a better deal to me than a C100 with an external recorder. In any case, I would expect a new camera to still be 8-bit, unless they've developed a new sensor or a new codec.
The lens situation is also a little puzzling, and I honestly don't know what the point would be of introducing just two lenses if they are going to be a part of a new budget line of cinema glass. A budget zoom in a Canon mount could make sense (as they are currently $20K or more per lens), but their lineup of prime lenses is already filled up with most focal lengths anyone would need (14mm, 24mm,
35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 135mm -- Update: Einar mentioned below that they don't have a 35mm cine lens yet, that makes sense as a possible announcement). If they are developing budget primes, they would need to start off with at least three lenses, so you could have a matched set while shooting. I for one would love to see some budget Canon primes that would retail for at least half the price. Give the same quality optics with maybe a stop slower (T/2.0) for $2,000 a lens and they will sell like crazy. Lenses will outlive the camera, but the only true budget cinema lenses that exist right now are the Samyang/Rokinon cine lenses. I think Canon is in a perfect position to challenge that lineup.
What would you like to see in a camera priced between the C100 ($6,500) and the C300 ($16,000)? Would this camera even interest you? What if it was a DSLR with a clean Super 35mm mode? As far as lenses, would you pick up a set of three Canon T/2.0 primes for $2,000 a piece? Let us know what you think below.