As you may have heard, Canon has now made its much-hyped 'historic announcement'. At a special event in Hollywood, Canon unveiled a professional Full HD movie camera with interchangeable lenses—the EOS C300—and treated the world to a teaser for an upcoming SLR that films in 4K resolution (roughly 8 Megapixels, or around four times the resolution of Full HD).
Canon EOS C300
And so, as many people had predicted, it was a new movie camera that Canon presented in Hollywood last night. The EOS C300 is a video camera for professional film-makers. However, it clearly has no intention of rivalling the industry's high-end heavyweights, as with a price announced at $16,000 (approx. £10,000), it's still a far cry from the likes of the Red Epic and the Arri Alexa, which sell for $40,000 to $50,000. The C300 is therefore something of an entry-level model when it comes to 35 mm video cameras, as cheaper models use sensors that are much smaller than the full-frame sensor used here.
All in all, the EOS C300 has a relatively modest set of tech specs. First of all, although a prototype for a 4K camera was presented at the last Canon Expo, the EOS C300 still only films in Full HD resolution. Plus, there's no slow-motion filming function at full resolution. In other words, you'll have to switch down to 720p to shoot 60 full frames per second, as the 1080p mode is restricted to 24, 25 or 30 fps (or 60 fps with interlacing).
Another rather bold choice on Canon's part is that the EOS C300 films in the same format as consumer camcorders, that's Mpeg-2. The Sony CineAlta F3 does the same and is no doubt this model's main rival, but some competitor systems also offer RAW formats, which provide more possibilities for post-editing, notably due to the superior depth of colours.
The EOS C300 is a compact and lightweight video camera that's available in two separate versions with different lens mounts: the EOS C300 can be used with Canon EF lenses while the EOS C300 PL can be used with Arri PL lenses, which are widely used in the 35 mm cinema industry. A whole load of accessories will be available for the C300 too, so you'll be able to adapt the camera to suit your specific needs or to work in specific situations. This modular design is really quite practical, as you can change the shooting conditions quickly and easily.
However, we reckon that the Canon EOS C300 has two major problems. On the one hand, its 'in-betweener' market position could end up alienating it, as big-budget productions will almost certainly turn to genuine, high-end 35 mm movie cameras, while budget movie-makers have, for the last three years at least, learned to get what they need out of an EOS 5D Mk II or an EOS 7D (image quality is excellent, both models film 1080p, and a good range of external accessories makes them modular and versatile).
On the other hand, it's not like there's no competition in the entry-level 35 mm full-frame camera market, and some of the existing models have been around for a while already (the Sony F3, for example). Plus, the new Red Scarlet-X camera was announced this morning—another compact, modular option but which films in 4K resolution, in Full HD at 60 fps and in RAW. Worse news for Canon is that the Scarlet-X is cheaper than the EOS C300, even if you do have to pick up all the accessories separately (Canon supplies a basic kit).
In the end, it could perhaps be the sheer weight of the Canon brand that helps the EOS C300 overshadow the Red Scarlet-X, rather than its sepc sheet.
Nevertheless, in spite of all the glitz, glam and hype, as far as we're concerned, the most exciting news to come from this lavish event was that Canon is in the process of developing an SLR that films in 4K resolution.