Let’s talk about the elephant in the room first. Yes, the new Canon patent looks awfully like the RED Komodo

But patents can be deceiving. 

Before we unpack that box of awkwardness, we have to see what Canon might be bringing to the playing field. 

Canon Komodo-Style Patent Fig1Credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Reading a patent application feels like trying to understand a Ph.D. thesis when you’re a screenwriter. Which is exactly what I am and exactly what I tried to do. Thankfully, Y.M.Cinema did the heavy lifting, and we’re playing the part of the Red Team. 

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Canon. 

Canon’s Box Camera Patent

Initially spotted by The New Camera at the beginning of February, Canon seems to be working on a successor to its Canon ME200S-SH camera. (At least according to The New Camera.)

The patent shows an almost identical design to the RED Komodo, with a digital display on the top, dual battery slots, and built-in ND filters. 

Wi-Fi also seems to be included and shows the ability for operators to control the camera via a smartphone. 

Everything is cooled by an aluminum heat sink, which in turn is cooled by what looks to be a pair of fans. 

When we start looking at the sensor, this is where things get interesting.

Full Frame to Medium Format?

Canon’s patent has an interesting section regarding the flange focal distance and inner diameter of the lens mount.

“It is desirable that the flange focal distance should be set to 20 mm or less, and the inner diameter of the lens mount 1001 should be set to 45 mm or more. For example, the flange focal distance is set to 20 mm, and the inner diameter of the mount 1001 is set to 54 mm. The lens contact portion 1002 for communicating with the lens device 3000 includes, for example, a 12-pin electronic contact.”

Canon Komodo-Style Patent Fig3Sensor BlockCredit: United States Patent and Trademark Office

While this description in the patent opens the door for Canon to evolve the sensor design, it is safe to say that this new camera will be a full-frame camera with an RF mount. We can come to this conclusion because RF lenses are made for a 54mm internal diameter, have a 20mm flange distance, and have a 12-pin electronic contact. 

But then we read the following:

“The image sensor 1006 can be in the range from approximately 0.5 inches (8 mm), 2/3 inches, the S35 format for movies, 35 mm full-frame still, to the 645 format, and can be at least approximately 1.0 inch or 6x17 cm or more. The image sensor 1006 can also have a size of at least approximately 10.1x5.35 mm, 24.4x13.7 mm, 30x15 mm, 36x24 mm, 56x42 mm, or 186x56 mm.”

The gear head inside me would eat my own shoe for a cropped medium format, or full-frame medium format sensor in a Canon camera. Fuji’s GFX line of cameras is currently the only one that offers robust video options for filmmakers at a reasonable price.

Fuji GFX 100Fuji GFX 100Credit: Fuji

While Hasselblad’s cameras also offer a video feature, it doesn’t meet the high standard for narrative use. There's also the Alexa65, but good luck getting your hands on one. 

So, is Canon going to release a medium format cinema camera soon?

Likely not. Much like the flange distance paragraph, Canon seems to be hiding its final specifications until they can announce the camera. But the patent does give them room to adapt and evolve to meet the demands of filmmakers. 

Resolution and Frame Rates

With Canon’s recent release of the EOS R5 C, 8K resolution has been cemented as the next milestone. The patent document alleges recording options available in 2K, 3K, and 4K, with 16:9 and 2:1 aspect ratios. There’s also mention of a 4.5K resolution. 

But wait, there’s more:

“The imaging apparatus 1000 can also output image data based on QHD (e.g., 3840x2160 pixels) or with a "5K" horizontal resolution (e.g., 5120x2700), a "6K" resolution (e.g., 6144x3160), or an “8K" resolution (e.g., 7680x4320).” 

We continue with: 

“Further, the resolution is at least one value between the above values (or any value between the above values), and can take approximately 6.5K, 7K, 8K, 9K, or 10K, or any value between these values.”

According to Canon’s patent, its new camera will be able to handle resolutions up to 10K. Whether that’s realized is another matter altogether, but if true, it looks like Blackmagic Design might finally have a contender for the URSA Mini Pro 12K.

Now Back to the Elephant

Yes, Canon’s patent looks almost identical to the RED Komodo. But with patents, not everything is set in stone. 

Canon Komodo-Style Patent Fig11Credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office

A while ago, patents for the alleged Canon EOS C50 and EOS C5 surfaced. Canon Rumors mentioned that due to the pandemic, along with market demands, its sources revealed that some products don’t make it out of development, either to get redesigned or evolve into something different. Perhaps into something better.

Everything we see in such documents must be taken with a truckload of salt until Canon releases any official statements. So why even bother looking if the camera design from this Komodo look-alike patent might never see the light of day?

It gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of Canon’s development and what the future might hold for the tools we use. 

And the road ahead looks great for cinema cameras. 

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Source: Y.M.Cinema Magazine