We recently had the chance to test the almost two year old Canon EOS C100. The camera is a cheaper and simpler version of the popular C300. For around 4.500$ (and 5.500$ with the new Dual Pixel CMOS auto focus upgrade) the C100 is not exactly cheap. The camera has two XLR inputs, an integrated ND filter, two SD card slots with the option to record on both at the same time with no time limit. Besides focus peaking, zebra and waveform the C100 has been updated with a new auto focus system.
You can watch the full video review which covers the pros and cons and features a lot of ungraded and graded footage:
Most people who never used this camera are reacting almost aggressive to it. And to be honest I wasn’t blown away when I first heard of it two years ago. Just looking at the technical specifications is never the way to judge a camera but yes, the specs are not very impressive. In the end I was surprised myself because the C100 is a great camcorder with almost no features missing. As I said often in the video, the ergonomics (form factor) are just great. It truly is fun to film hand-held which is something that I can’t say about many cameras.
The C100 only record in AVCHD with a max. bitrate of 24 Mbps. This actually sounds worse than it is. It’s not like the footage is unusable because of the low bitrate. It just means that you are limited when it comes to color correction and grading because banding, artifacts and image noise will get visible especially when filming above ISO 4000. If I would buy this camera I would definitely use an external recorder to be able to really get the best out of this big boy. Hopefully Canon will release a firmware update in the near future with a better codec and higher bitrate like ProRes.
The picture profiles are differently designed than the ones from Canon DSLRs. On the first day of shooting I accidently used the EOS Standard profile with emulates the look of old HDV camcorders: Digital sharpening, oversaturated and a tendency to overexpose. To get the best out of the image is Canon Log in combination with the Cinema picture profile. The image is flat but not extremely washed out which means you don’t need to do heavy grading.
The low light performance is pretty impressive. The camcorder has the ability to shoot up to ISO 80.000 but the image is just too noisy to really use it. ISO 12.800 still looks fine but everything above that doesn’t look too good. The interesting part about the good high ISO performance is that the camera was released in fall 2012 and other manufacturers didn’t really care about that. Sony has its new DSLM coming out soon which seems to be a low light monster. But beside that camera there are not many others available that perform that well in low light.
I think this camera is ideal for concert shoots because of the XLR inputs, full manual audio control, monitoring and of course the low light performance as well as the ergonomics.
After putting the Dual Pixel CMOS sensor in the EOS 70D Canon realized that it actually is a great auto focus system so they decided to put in the C100 and C300 as well. Since I knew the continuous AF worked fine in the video mode of the 70D I was sure it would work the exact same way on the C100. It’s the same system but with a downside. Since the C100 doesn’t have a touchscreen you can’t control the AF. The 70D allows the user to tap on the screen and the part of the image will get in focus.
While doing different tests I figured out that the AF works best when being not too far away from an object or person. It’s good for filming close ups or any kind of interview even when filming at F/2.8. I only tried the AF system using the Canon 24-105mm F/4 and the newer 24-70mm F/2.8. Of course it will work best with L lenses that have auto focus or STM lenses.
The Super 35mm sensor delivers a nice shallow depth of field and fits in between APS-C (1.6x crop) and full frame. When putting a 24mm lens on a full frame Camera such as the 5D the field of view is really wide. On the C100 it’s not that wide which can be a problem when doing a run-and-gun shoot with the 24-105mm or 24-70mm lens.
What about aliasing (moiré)? There is no aliasing visible – or let’s say you have to search for it. The image is sharp and detailed. In certain shots I noticed a little bit of digital over sharpening but nothing I honestly would worry about.
A few things that could be improved:
Overall it’s a good combination between a traditional camcorder and a HDSLR. One of the things that I wasn’t used to anymore is the battery life. One battery lasts for around 270 minutes! I often shoot with XDCAMs from Sony. These camcorders are more traditional with a small sensor and servo zoom but they are good for long interviews, press conferences etc.. The battery for those cameras also last long but I just wasn’t expecting it…
2014 really is a crazy year when it comes to new cameras. So much is changing. More and more uncompressed 1080p cameras but of course a lot of 4K cameras are being released. We will try test the cameras that we think are special and unique…
Written by Moritz Janisch