The Canon C100 Cinema EOS Camera is a considered a Digital Cinema Camera that was announced in late 2012. There are several distinct differences a videographer may notice while working with the C100 (as opposed to shooting video on a DSLR).
For our team, the C100 has suited all our needs and we have had absolutely no reason to upgrade- especially given the price difference between the C100 and the next level up Canon offers in the Cinema line of the C300 . Users who are interested in the C300 but don’t have the budget for it may want to consider the Canon EOS C100 Mark II which is a step up from the base level C100.
Note* If you are a film production professional, work on 4K or UHD productions, or require high level color grading options etc, this may not be the camera class for you. If you have an unlimited budget or need some of the aforementioned features; this may not be the way to go for you. However, for those of us who are shooting mainly corporate videos like our team; Canon’s Cinema line more than meets the needs for image quality/codec etc. We haven’t had any clients come back to us and say they are unhappy with the image quality. In fact, we have heard exactly the opposite and that they are pleased and surprised with the output.
The C100 offers a great balance between the image of a traditional DSLR type camera and a run and gun video camera. At a price point of $2499 ($3999 for the Mark II) the C100 would be considered a steal for many professional videographers. By comparison the C300 retails at $6999. However, aside from codec, 60p recording, and a few other bells and whistles- the C100 has many of the same features.
One of the most obvious is the addition of XLR inputs directly into the C100 . Prior to this my team and I were using a BeachTek DXA-SLR Passive Audio device to capture audio while shooting with Canon DSLR’s and then syncing audio later. Obviously this wasn’t ideal and the direct XLR inputs make it very easy to capture good audio with a lav mic or boom.
Dedicated buttons and joystick placement
The C100 really does shine when it comes to interacting with the camera effectively while shooting. There are a host of dedicated buttons on the left body of the camera including; White Balance, ISO/Gain, Peaking etc. Want to use a white balance disk like this to perform a custom white balance? To perform this on a Canon DSLR you have to take a custom picture of the white balance disk, use the scroll wheel to set the picture as the custom. Needless to say this can be a pain in the middle of shoot.
With the C100 you just place you balance disc in front of the lens and press the custom white balance button. That’s it. I usually use a variety of custom and manual white balance to achieve the correct color temperature. Sometimes the custom function nails it exactly where it needs to be and others I dial it up or down manually until the skin tones look natural to me.
In addition to these dedicated buttons, the placement of the joystick is perfectly aligned with the users thumb when using the Grip Handle. This makes it easy to use if you need to make adjustments to the ISO, white balance and a slew of other menu functions. The aperture of the lens can also be quickly adjusted with a scroll wheel which is also conveniently placed on just above the Grip Handle.
TheC100 comes with a handle grip on the right hand side of the camera that makes it much easier to hold and maneuver than a traditional DSLR like the Canon 7D.
Battery and File size limitation
Anyone who has undertaken long video shoots with traditional DSLR cameras knows the frustration of the short battery life and 4GB file size limitation. A DSLR battery normally lasts somewhere in the vicinity of an hour or so. The Canon C100 fully charged large battery will last several hours easily on a charge.
In addition, a traditional DSLR has a file size limitation of 4GB- no matter how big your SD card is. This means you will have to stop down during your shoot and press record again one you have reached this limitation. This is ideal and can be distracting and obnoxious if you are in the middle of an interview. C100 does not have this limitation.
In addition, there is the option to record in relay mode. Since the C100 has two SD card slots; when one card fills up, the camera will start recording on the second card. We have yet to have the camera switch to relay mode yet on any of our shoots. The other mode is dual footage mode which records the both footage to both cards at the same time. We have never used this and I can’t imagine a situation where we would deem it necessary.
ND (Neutral Density Filters)
ND filters can be crucial while shooting in outside environments with lots of bright light. Often the videographer has to sacrifice depth of field on their subject to achieve the proper exposure – compromising desirable shutter and aperture settings. While it is possible to use an after market ND filter on most Canon lenses- having them built in the actual camera is an amazing feature. The C100 boasts 3 built in ND filters making for four configurations- (Off, 2 stops, 4 stops, and 6 stops). Each higher stop reduces the amount of light; instead of blocking the amount of light coming in the lens, it reduces the amount of light coming into the sensor.
While there are some great features that Canon has included with their Cinema line; these are still not perfect cameras. The LCD viewfinder is extremely small and impossible to view in higher light outdoor conditions. There are several third party manufacturer’s who design eye pieces to be used in conjunction with the C100 to combat this issue.
If you are looking for a upgrade from the C100 , consider the C300 . Users of the C300 claim that the C100 is not capable of the kinds of images that the C300 produces. I have never used a C300 so I will refrain from commenting on this and defer to the information available online about the technical differences.
- C300 records internally 4:2:2 MPEG-2, while the C100 records 4:2:0 AVCHD
- 60p recording (at 720p) is available on the C300 but not the C100
- C300 has HD-SDI & Genlock, C100 just has HDMI
- C100 is smaller