April 22, 2015 at 9:05AM

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Ugh. C100. So sexy. But worth it down the road?

So a guy is willing to sell me his c100 for $2,000.

Another guy is willing to sell me an a7s with some extras for $2,000.

I shoot a lot of documentary type projects, interviews, run and gun type stuff. The occasional controlled-light studio shoot. So my first instinct is to go with the c100. I've used it before, amazing ergonomics, button placement, gorgeous image, I'd say it's near-perfect. I mean its a c100! You know! The workhorse, the power house, the glazed donut! The c100!

Another side of me wants something small. If I want the monster c100 why not just rent it when the time comes? The a7s I could travel with, kill it on the low light and...well...60p... It's a lot more discreet for street shooting as well. It could be mistaken for an old film slr in some places, could prove to be useful.

I'm worried that the c100 will not hold up down the road. That I'll be unsatisfied with my purchase, that it's size and lack of features will, relatively soon, become a hindrance.

Thoughts?

30 Comments

You can always sell the C100 in a year and get most of your money back.

April 22, 2015 at 1:45PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30414

So accurate.

April 23, 2015 at 6:39PM

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You know what the c100 feels like, but not the a7s. You can always ask to borrow it for a few days and test it out.

April 22, 2015 at 2:53PM

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Daniel Cho
DP, Gaffer, Grip
135

Really depends exactly what you're shooting. If you want to use slowmo at all, a7s. If you need EXTREMELY good low light, a7s (c100 is still amazing in low light). If you might want or need 4k in some capacity, a7s. But just remember you may want to cage out the a7s and you'll need an audio solution.
C100 comes pretty much good to go out of the box and has a very outstanding image. I favor the colors a little more on the c100, but the a7s still produces such a powerful image and really works for almost anything. Philip Bloom used it tons on his new show "The Wonder List" and it looked amazing.
Personally...I think the a7s is a tad more future proof and easier to travel with, but they are both wonderful cameras that will get the job done for you.

April 23, 2015 at 1:25PM

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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1089

Look at it this way: you'll be fine either way. This is not a make or break decision. Both are really solid cameras and both have their pros and cons. From reading your post, it's pretty clear you're in love with the C100 so go for it. You described it as "near perfect." Since when is "near perfect" not good enough? Do you think there's a camera out there in this budget range that you could describe as "completely perfect?" I promise you there isn't.

No matter what camera you get, there will always be another camera out there that has stuff you wish yours had. So just pick one and start shooting. Like I said, both are really good cameras. You can't go wrong.

April 23, 2015 at 1:25PM

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True true true true true. The idea is key, not the tool. Always.

However! I think there is argument to be made that the tool can occasionally serve as motivation. The tool can excite me to go out and make stuff. My microphones get me pumped to go out and do field recordings. This is why I struggle with a decision like this. I wont know the extent of how I feel about these cameras until well down the road of owning one. That is my hang-up on jumping towards an investment.

Still, very true, either choice will put me in a good position, I just want top be in a great position :)

I suppose I'll just have to buy one and find out.

Thanks for the reply.

April 23, 2015 at 6:38PM

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Also per Daniel's note, yes, definitely rent or borrow! Every camera I have purchased (or decided not to) I've pretty much rented before hand or have personally seen in action and tried out. It's the best, and almost really only way to see if you will enjoy the camera or not.

April 23, 2015 at 1:26PM

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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1089

As others said, you the biggest question you should decide is which is more important for you: 4K or true run-and-gun (handle, audio, rigging). The slow-mo..ya, true 60p is nice, but do you really need it? And when you do, can you get by with the 60p cheat on the C100? I've done the cheat myself numerous times and the quality difference hasn't been nearly enough to be a deal breaker, the fact is it still looks pretty great. If you're shooting really fine details in slow-mo then ya, it's probably gonna be a bigger issue but otherwise it really is a solid workaround.

Honestly, I lament buying my C100 damn near every day because I paid full price last January. If I knew the price would plummet or that Canon would slap us in the face with the mk II and no 4K upgrade option, I would've waited for the Fs7. But if I could go back and do it again for $2,000, I wouldn't even hesitate. It is absolutely worth the investment at that price. I love the camera to death, I just paid way too much for it for how it compares now to the market.

April 23, 2015 at 4:36PM

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Jeremy Abbott
Video Producer/Independent Filmmaker
372

oOoOoOoOoOo what is the 60p cheat? 60i?

As a c100 owner though, what's your take on just going out and shooting with it? There's a piece of me that feels like the "cinema-ness" of it might discourage me from shooting stuff unless its big, planned out material. That, I feel, is the beauty of a small dslr: In a sense, you don't owe it high production value, it's not so intimidating. Do you struggle with that ever? I'd love to feel like I could just pack it up and shoot what ever if I got the urge.

April 23, 2015 at 6:33PM

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I guess I can see that. Take off the handle though and suddenly the C100 is hardly any bigger than a DSLR. In fact, it's about twice as deep as the 5D but the same width and height even with the side grip. And having proper video features makes it as easy as it gets to just pick up and shoot. No fussing around in menus to change anything, there are dedicated (and programmable) buttons all over the side and on the thumb grip for easy access to everything you need.

The 60p cheat basically consists of shooting in 60i at 120 shutter speed (or 180 degrees if you set the shutter to angles instead of fractions), then bringing the footage into a 30p timeline and slowing it down 50%. Or drop it into a 24p timeline and slow it down to 40%. This is using Premiere, I'm not sure how the technique varies for other editors but you can find lots about it online.

April 23, 2015 at 7:14PM

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Jeremy Abbott
Video Producer/Independent Filmmaker
372

If you want to pick up and just go out and shoot my guess would be that the C100 is better for that?

Of course it is a little bit bigger but if you don't want really shaky footage from the a7s you have to rig it up any way...

April 24, 2015 at 3:54AM

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Viktor Ragnemar
Director/Cinematographer
1145

Man, I've spent a lot of time not buying a C100 and wishing I did. It's a great camera. I have a GH3 and bmpcc and whilst small cameras are great sometimes, they're also sometimes a pain in the arse. Crappy audio, added filters on the front and too light to be stable.

I'm now buying a c100 I think, despite the fact it's dated. The out of the box image is just too good. Look at the a7s skin tones, they're awful. Everyone looks like a corpse.

April 24, 2015 at 11:47AM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
927

At the price it goes for now, if you don't need the features it lacks it is absolutely worth it. Best camera I've ever had by a long-shot.

April 25, 2015 at 5:27AM

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Jeremy Abbott
Video Producer/Independent Filmmaker
372

Skin tones look like a corpse? Maybe for someone who can't color correct slog footage, a7s is a good option, enabled 4k down the road if you need it. Canon isn't there with video cameras at all, even the new stuff from NAB is what they should have came out with a year ago. They are leaps and bounds behind sony, panasonic and just about anything else.

April 25, 2015 at 5:24PM

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Graham Uhelski
Director of Photography/Video Editor
470

crappy audio is all I need on a camera for reference for double system sound. Crappy audio is the norm for DSLR and camcorders

April 26, 2015 at 2:40PM

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Hi Jeremy! As an owner of an A7s who has also used the C100, I'll go ahead and chime in.

I love my A7s for a lot of reasons, but ease of use is NOT one of them. I went with the A7s because of the S-Log dynamic range and because I wanted the 60p capability. I use it for corporate/editorial type stuff but I also plan to use it for some fashion videos as well, which means 60p is a necessity.
But in order to use S-Log, you have to shoot at 3200 ISO, which means I am constantly fiddling with Vari-ND's. And in order to get good audio, I've had to purchase the K1M XLR adapter, which is awesome, but it's another piece. Pretty soon, my A7s is as "bulky" as the C100 (which really isn't), but there are just a lot more pieces, and it's a bigger pain in the butt to operate.
Yes, I'm still happy I got it--stills, great dynamic range, and slow motion are all worth the small annoyances--but if I didn't need slow motion, and if I didn't really need the extra stop or two of DR, I would TOTALLY go with the C100.
I haven't used 4K on the A7s because I don't really need it, and up until this year, all of the recorders have been huge and expensive--not worth it to me. And for doc work, it will probably still not be worth it to you, honestly.

The C100 is a killer camera. I've never used a camera that was easier to shoot with, that I could just "pick up and go." I actually feel like I need more preparation to use the A7s. If I were in your shoes and I didn't need slow motion, I would absolutely go with the C100. $2000 is a ridiculously good deal.

As far as low light goes, I would never go above 12,800 ISO with the A7s. It doesn't look that great. On the C100, I've gone that high before, and it's not quite as good, but it's still usable.

Also, the C100 requires far less color tweaking than the A7s, if that matters to you.

April 25, 2015 at 5:14PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1276

In fact, I may still get a C100 later this year because it's so cheap now and so much easier for corporate stuff.

April 25, 2015 at 5:16PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1276

c100 all the way.

April 25, 2015 at 5:32PM

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Enrique Quiroga
Filmmaker/Post-Producer
74

I've never used any of them. But I think that if you go with A7s you will have to spend so much aditional money on audio acersory, cages, handles etc.
C100 should work out of the box. And the money you would have spend on the extra stuff you can use to buy a small point and shoot like the Canon G7X, Sony rx100 (etc.), which both do 60 fps and they have some different pros and cons but they are really pocketable.

April 25, 2015 at 5:41PM

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I bought a second hand C100 recently for an amazing price so now own 2 C100 cameras that I shoot with. I love it.

Open the bag, pull it out and start shooting. Audio... no problem, handle - boom - transmitters.

I use it on a kessler pocket jib traveler and it is still ok.

I would like to learn to use the A7s so that i can have a better time with slider shots etc but i would have to spend twice the price of the C100 just to get the A7s working for me.

Get a C100 and you will be able to get the shot straight out of the box.

April 25, 2015 at 7:10PM, Edited April 25, 7:10PM

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Claire McHardy
Cinematographer
409

C100 if you want a worry free, no gimmick shooting experience. Built in nd's and amazing built in audio are hard to beat. I own the a7s and love to travel with it, but it's light and sort of gimmicky. The c100 is just hassle free and reliable. Rent a c100 mk2 if you need slowly motion, or an A7s.

But I don't know. I love both cameras.

April 25, 2015 at 9:46PM, Edited April 25, 9:46PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
1092

Can you talk a little more about your experience with the sony? What feels gimmicky?

May 14, 2015 at 12:01PM

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I was in a similar boat, but I still do mostly still works with about 20% video...b-roll, interview, short docs. So I opted for the A7s. However I have rented the c100 a few times and I lust after one of my own (I own 12 Canon mount lenses from 14mm to 300mm) luckily there will be plenty of c100 for sale as many folks buy the c100 mk2.
C100 is easier, more ready to go, A7s is still a still camera that does great video, not a video camera.
Flip a coin?

April 25, 2015 at 11:11PM

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MikeD
96

The built in NDs and super clean xlrs that you get from the c100 will far outweigh the low noise and 60p that the a7s has for documentary filmmaking. I have both and love what the a7s can do but I've shot 3 feature docs now and all were shot primarily on the c100.

April 25, 2015 at 11:18PM

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lars lindstrom
Director of Photography
74

I haven't owned or used either but after using videocameras and my dSLR Canons I'd say go for a real videocamera if you want to do filmmaking. It's less frustrating using a camera made for filming.

The choice also depends upon the glass you have available to attach to the body if you have EF glass then go with the Canon. The Sony does have some benefits so you'd have to take that into consideration. As for 4K the Sony could probably deliver 4K video via time-lapse photography.

April 26, 2015 at 1:14AM

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Why don't you buy a Canon Xc10 for almost the same price?

April 26, 2015 at 11:19AM, Edited April 26, 11:20AM

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The XC10 is an unproven quantity in terms of the image it produces, and not being able to change lenses would be a significant drawback for me.

April 26, 2015 at 7:18PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30414

Double post

April 26, 2015 at 12:51PM, Edited April 26, 12:58PM

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Ryan Diaz
Director / DP / Producer
88

C100
pros:
image quality is imho more beautiful than the a7s. Robust and durable.
Doesn't overheat.
Very nice color profiles + you can tweak it.
Good low light performance
XLR inputs
Built in ND filters
Excellent battery life!!!!

Cons:
No slow mo (only 60i)
AVCHD (it's not so bad. I just don't like it, personally. You can pair it with an external recorder though)
Needs a rig/cage if you're using an external recorder.
Eye piece sucks dog balls.

A7S

Pros:
Light, small, discrete
Full frame sensor + aps-c mode. (I found this helps if you have limited lens choices)
Mind blowing low light capability
60fps
Custom color profiles
Great viewfinder (I find it better than the LCD screen)
If you have a ronin/movi, won't drain the gimbal's battery that fast since it's light.
4k with external recorder
Wifi feature

Cons:
Colors are not so good on the get go. Needs tweaking.
Heats up a lot.
Battery life isn't so good.
Not very balanced when mounted to a tripod. (Can be fixed by using a rig/kit/meta bones lens adaptor)
Image quality is a little duller compared to the c100 but nevertheless looks great if you know what you're doing.

April 26, 2015 at 12:57PM, Edited April 26, 12:57PM

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Ryan Diaz
Director / DP / Producer
88

Personally, i think it's pretty easy to justify buying one considering how great it looks and the fact that internet video will likely still be predominantly 1080p for, dun dun dun, the next 10 years or more. You heard me. Because, imo, even when we all have 4k and 5k monitors, most people are going to watch 1080 video in one quadrant of their awesome giant screens while they multitask. I personally believe even getting people to maximize their screens will be a luxury in the future since one of the main reasons we maximize now is because we have 1080 screens and its hard to see the details otherwise. Right now a huge and ever increasing percentage of video is consumed on phones, which because of their screen size, really never need to be more than 1080p. Tablets are the same thing. 4k will be consumed on the Internet and on Internet TVs, but we're kidding ourselves if we think our audience will stop everything they are doing to watch your 4k sunrise in full screen. Internet video will continue to be even more of a throwaway commodity, which is fine because the internet is where most people will watch even your independent feature. The only time a 4k master really is a must is probably a movie like Avengers with huge action sequences. Who needs a 4k image of some unknown actor's nose hairs as they puke out hacky lines on my latest short film? Not even my mom wants to see that, and she loves my short films.

April 30, 2015 at 2:55PM, Edited April 30, 2:55PM

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Derek Olson
Directomatographeditor
628

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