Why did I choose to buy a Canon C100?

Canon C100 review, main advantage with the competition

The perfect equation
Let’s be frank, I never been crazy of the huge sensor DSLR trend. Each time a client contacting me for a Canon 5D shooting, I was trying to avoid it; poor resolution, too large sensor making you struggling to get the main subject in focus, no proper sound, lack of ND filter and a very poor handling system. Yes, for a very fraction of the price, you can have the look of a cine camera, but as the team needed to be reduced in the same proportion, no way to get a film look with nobody around the camera without a lot of pressure on the operator.

2 years ago, the Canon C300 was introduced to add all the missing DSLR feature in a nice body, but clearly the price was far beyond my reach in a keep changing market. The C100 came out the year after with almost all included and even extra improvement excepted the recording format. That was still not the right camera as adding a recorder was adding a lot of weight.

But recently, I start using the new Atomos Ninja Blade; great resolution, acceptable battery life, lightweight and all footage available for review or editing right out of the recorder. As, in my opinion, I will always add a preview monitor to any camera system, having it on a C100 was a complete acceptable solution.

So, here I come buying a C100 after many shooting with a rented C300,.. and I do not regret it!
The main preview is done with the Atomos Blade Ninja and I discovered that the few difference with the C300 were more actually in favor of the C100 if you put the price in the balance.


The cons and the way out of it

– Recording format limited.
Need to add an external recorder in HDMI + preview monitor as the Atomos, but that give you actually a dual recording, one prores HQ even better than the C300 and a compressed one for quick upload for your overseas client.

-No SDI output, just HDMI.
The HDMI output have a screw linked to the body of the camera, you can create your own cable and lock it, it will be even a stronger connection that the one you could have in SDI! Please read the remark at the bottom of this page about the HDMI output.

-No Time lapse function.
Maybe one fun feature missing just to keep this to the C300. But if you shoot with the internal codec, you can still run hours with a 64SD card and keep your footage small in size. The quality difference will fade as soon as you will speed up the footage.

-No slow motion.
The C300 is not also a slow motion king. The EOS series cameras are not the one you should be using if slow mo is your thing, nothing new.

-The camera screen is not easy to adjust compare the C300 one.
That will be my main complain, there is an angle where you can’t have the screen right in front of you with the right tilted angle and that when the camera is high on the tripod to get a 2 buttons framing shoot, quite a common situation… But as the preview screen will be added, not to worry.

-No direct access to the headphone volume.
You can create a favorite menu, not the best feature, but make it still usable.

-Viewfinder is useless
You know it, just deal with it… Maybe a Zacuto system may be your answer if you like shooting this way. In my case, I prefer the view of a large preview screen.

The Pro vs the C300

-Small, lighter
the body alone without any grip is as light as a 5D when you strip down the camera, and it still usable as all the menu and screen are attached to the camera. You can remove the top handle and use the external mic input to even go lighter!

-New button disposition
With the joystick on the right handle, all is now under this hand; aperture, iso, white balance, no need to press with your right finger to grab a wheel with the left hand to change the aperture.

-Internal microphone
When you just need b-roll sound without the need for an extra cable and long mic.

-External screen means that you can display the full picture with histogram on the Atomos and let the sound level and all parameter on the smaller screen. (it’s not possible to get histogram + sound levels simultaneously on the C100 screen)
Even better, you can expand the screen to make sure you are in focus on your subject and keep the large screen for the surrounding element.
Last but not least, you can review your footage right away and let you client check without any change on the camera itself avoiding any mistakes during record and play operation. The Atomos have a loop feature making also easy to reframe something on the same way during interview for example.
2 x C100 + 2 x Atomos Ninja = 1 x C300 ! nothing can beat that

C300 & C100 versus 5D
I have started by complaining about using a 5D in a situation where the large sensor will create more problem than solving it. When you are shooting an big piece machinery, you would love to get as much as possible in focus! So here are the difference between a S35 sensor size and a Full frame one.
Lens are lighter and smaller (and cheaper).

Tokina 11-16 2.8 and Canon 16-55 IS 2.8 will be your best friend, they share the same filter size so it’s even faster to change on site, one caps for all! Both are 2.8, a equivalent of 5.6 on a full frame, quite nice to get most of what you need in focus without losing the deep of field. I’m always amused to see cameramen telling me they need my 100 mm 2.8 L lens, and found all out of focus when I check on the card later; yes you need to close your aperture anyway to get some room for movement.

Sensor size is the right balance; to me the m43 is too small and goes the same for the BMC (2.4x crop factor, seriously?) Yes Metabone speedbooster will change all this, but that’s another option at 700 USD.

Also, as the lens available are zoom, it’s quite easy to get a fast change of framing and save a lot of time.
C100/C300 are the perfect match for my main business; doing B-Roll in factory and interview. The XLR sound inputs and the ND filter are unique to most of the DSLR system.

Pricewise, C100+Atomos will be similar to a 5D but the lens are quite more expensive.
The footage quality out of the C EOS serie is just beautiful with a smart Cine-lo locked mode. I’m sorry to surprise 5D owners, but this camera is not a full HD one!. Your footage is internally compressed at 800 line before up converted to 1080 line making all very soft on screen. The Raw magic lantern may help, but the price of the card and the size of the footage reserve the use to rocket scientist skilled cameraman. even a GH2 was better resolution that your 5D Mark3!

Easy to conclude and select the C100 as a winner. It’s the best choice for jumping from the DSLR world for now. I was not convince by the way larger FS Sony. EOS C series are small and so make shooting easy to fit in complicated industrial place where I’m using them most of the time, fitting also a regular camera bag with all able to be stripped down.

Important remark.
The C100 only output HDMI and, as almost all the camera with this kind of output, the signal is only 60ior 50i. There is a internal pull down process even if you set the camera to 24p mode. Nothing new here, but you have to make sure your Atomos input displays the right recording format when you are turning on the camera. It seems that latest firmware are now solving this possible issue.