Canon Goes for Gold with New C700
Canon's new flagship cinema camera is everything you want—though the price will be too much for most to love.
First things first: this is a $28,000 camera. For almost everybody, this falls into the "occasional rental" category, not the "save up and buy" category that the 5D Mark II and the C100 and C300 occupied. For those of you disappointed in the specs of the 5D Mark IV, this camera provides everything everyone asked for, albeit in a package that costs 10 times as much.
It's going to shoot some really beautiful footage, and the ergonomics of the design seem particularly well thought out.
The good news is that it's extremely exciting from a technical point of view. It's a new, more modular design than the previous C-line, including a more flexible eyepiece mount that echoes the Alexa and the URSA. It has a removable touchscreen remote control—the OU-700—and a removable raw module from Codex for up to 120fps 4k raw recording, and manages a capable 60fps internal.
The top and bottom are covered with screw holes, like a cheese plate, for extremely flexible mounting options. Global shutter is available for the PL mount version, as well as Cooke /i support for capturing lens data information into metadata. It features internal proxy recording to SD cards for fast movement to the edit room, though the XAVC codec will be more comfortable in a broadcast environment than a narrative . Raw and ProRes records to CF cards internally, though you get more options (especially a higher frame rate raw) to the external recorder, which makes sense, since CF cards have a limit to how fast they can write. It also features internal anamorphic de-squeeze (though it's still not a 4x3 sensor, so you won't get the benefits of the full Anamorphic image circle like you do on some Alexa models).
Some are saying this is meant to smooth over the hurt feelings over the Mark IV specs, but that doesn't really add up; no one who was hoping these features would start showing up in their $3,000 cameras will be mollified with the idea of spending more on a camera than a car. This camera, or course, isn't meant to compete with the forthcoming GH5, the A7SII, or the Blackmagic URSA Mini; Canon has the C100 for that, and the C100 Mark II has proven somewhat popular, though its 1080 limit is looking very dated.
Canon is going to have a hard time moving in.
What this new camera actually replaces is the previous C500 (albeit with the same sensor as the C300 Mark II), which never really took off, since Sony's F5 and F55 took up a lot of the market that Canon was hoping to capture. This camera feels like it's aiming even a little higher than the 4-year-old F55—aiming up at the Red Epic platform, or even going against the Amira as being a C-camera on Alexa shoots. That market is a very tough nut to crack: while the C line has been around a while and produces beautiful imagery, the only movie that comes to mind when I hear "Canon C" is Blue Is The Warmest Color. If asked to name 50 movies shot on the Alexa or the Epic, I bet most of us could do so without thinking. The aforementioned have a big presence and history in that space, and Sony has a history in high-end broadcast, which is the other potential market. For better or for worse, those are markets that chance slowly and stay loyal to "what works"; Canon is going to have a hard time moving in.
I hope Canon is able to find some market share with this camera, because if the imagery of the C700 (and the promotional test footage) is anything to go by, it's going to shoot some really beautiful footage, and the ergonomics of the design seem particularly well thought out. But with the film and video market it doesn't have the low-end dominance it used to, and moving up in the world can be hard. If Canon really wants its users to take them back, then need to bring a lot of what we see here in some form into a C100 Mark III, and fast.
The camera is available now.
- 4K (4,096 x 2,160) video recording at up to 810Mbps
- Internal 10/12-bit XF-AVC or ProRes recording
- 4K recording at up 59.94P/50P internally or 100P/120P with optional Codex recorder CDX-36150
- Up to 15 stops dynamic range
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF (EOS C700 only)
- PL mount Global Shutter model options
- Proxy Recording to SD Cards
- Selectable Gamma and Log Curves
- XF-AVC and ProRes Recording to CFast 2.0
- Raw Recording Option
- OU-70 Remote Control Unit
- Adaptable to B4 mount
- Internal Anamorphic de-squeeze