Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro İncelemesi

I was originally not planning to test the new Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro as it shares the same sensor as the URSA Mini 4.6K. However, after working with it, I felt that the images coming out of it are simply better and sharper than its predecessor. Here are my first impressions after spending few days with this new camera.

Earlier this month in a well-coordinated streaming event, Blackmagic Design introduced their new URSA Mini Pro camera aimed for the professional filming crowd. I won’t go into all the improvements that make this model more suitable for occasional professional work (see instead my colleague and friend Nino Leitner’s Hands-On Video Review HERE), but I would like to highlight this as a significant moment. In my opinion, from this point onward, Blackmagic Design should be considered as a camera manufacturer that has taken a big step forward, and must be taken very seriously.

When the original URSA Mini was introduced, we said goodbye to the awkward “hyperdeck shuttle with an attached sensor camera box” form-factor from Blackmagic’s earlier designs. Now, with the introduction of the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro, the signs of maturity have become even more evident. These can be measured in several aspects, from announcing a new camera and being able to (finally) ship it almost simultaneously, to designing a product that looks and behaves like a mainstream usable working tool (hello, ND filter…).

Using the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

In the short video above, I tried to simulate a few working scenarios, such as shoulder operation, lowlight shooting, using a video picture profile, shooting a planned interview and more. Please allow me to start by saying that no matter how I used the new camera, the end picture result was lovely. There is something very organic and beautiful when seeing the picture on my screen. Actually, after returning the camera to Blackmagic and going back to work with the URSA Mini 4.6K, I had no doubt that the new model is superior to the old one in picture quality, with NO magenta cast evident from the camera I tested.

Another aspect I was eager to test was the sound recording quality, as this was a major flaw with the previous model. I was truly relieved to see that Blackmagic gave this issue the attention it deserved. In addition, the LCD screen is now usable, too. It got smaller, lost its green cast, remained very responsive and was overall very pleasant to use, not to mention how easy the relatively new camera OS makes operating the camera. Another great feature – and one that I didn’t have a chance to explore this time – is the possibility to choose the recording media type. Fast SD cards are now an option along side the usual CFast cards. As a side note, I’m currently using Angelbird’s CFast cards and absolutely love them. Click HERE for a complete list of recommended SD and CFast cards.

What I was less than happy to see can be divided into two sections.

On the camera side: While dealing with bright sunshine and normal lighting conditions is now a very straight forward task thanks to the new internal ND filters, one might miss the flexibility and usability that some other modern cameras offer for low-light shooting. I mention it because, as a documentary shooter, you never know what to expect. ISO 1600 on this camera is just OK, and the results in less than optimal lighting conditions can suffer from a very grainy image. One way to help the camera combat its somewhat limited low-light capabilities is to use fast lenses, and while there are plenty of those when it comes to primes, the selection is rather non-existent when looking for non-photo, affordable fast EF-mount zoom lenses.

Note the position of the iris wheel on the side of the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro.

This of course brings us back to the option of working with fast photo zoom lenses, for which I must say that the electronic iris controller wheel is located in a place that leaves a lot to be desired. I strongly recommend the use of manual aperture lenses whenever possible. Another point to consider is related to those who use autofocus during parts of their production. The autofocus function is extremely slow to work with, to the point that it is better to skip using it altogether. When it comes to sound, Blackmagic Design has kept the endless audio knobs found on the older model. Truly not useful.

Accessories: While the optional shoulder mount kit, OLED EVF and handgrip haven’t been replaced, there is something in their functionality that must be noted. Let’s put aside the shoulder mount kit: it is well-built, well-priced and very useful. Regarding the OLED EVF, a lot has been said and written about its optical quality, but that aside, I wish the top 3 user buttons would have made from soft rubber instead of hard plastic. They are very loud to use, meaning that pressing any of them while shooting comes at a risk of picking up that clicking sound in your audio, especially during interviews in quiet locations. Then, there’s the handgrip. This item should better be redesigned. It plays a crucial part when having the camera on your shoulder, but is very hard to adjust precisely, and it should be possible to adjust its rotation one-handedly.

Function buttons – Blackmagic design OLED EVF

 

Three Cameras in One

By allowing the user to change the camera’s lens mount, Blackmagic Design has made a brave decision in trying to make the camera appealing to a wide range of users in the cinema, broadcast and studio fields. By brave, I mean the attempt of satisfying the working needs of, say, an ENG cameraman and a cinematographer. Both might use the same working tool BUT in a completely different manner.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro – three cameras in one (Photo credit: Blackmagic design)

As good as it sounds and despite the very competitive pricing, I find it hard to see how broadcasters will be rushing to change their ENG cameras to a Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro for practical reasons. Consider the following:

  • Most, if not all ENG cameras share a similar camera button layout. The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro is a bit different in this regard, with the power button being a good example. This might seem like a minor point, but for a news shooter who has done this action millions of times, I’m willing to bet that having this particular switch on the “wrong” place might be an issue.
  • The absence of an automatic sound control option, a much-needed feature for the independent shooter.
  • Camera start-up time. Although much-improved from its predecessor, it is still much too slow when compared to a regular ENG camera.

These points are likely to be insignificant to a cinematographer, yet important to the ENG user. What I can recommend is to lower expectations in thinking that TV stations will change their ENG cameras in bulk. Instead, they should focus on advising them to have one URSA Mini Pro in every ENG department. This particular camera can serve very well for high-end productions and documentaries where a certain look is required, and also to train staff in how to work with a large-sensor device.

Blackmagic design URSA mini pro – A bit heavy but sits comfortably on the shoulder

Conclusion

Since working with the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro and seeing what it is capable of, I have found it hard to go back to the URSA Mini 4.6K. The new model is literally better in every aspect. In fact, in my opinion, it is the most robust and mature camera that Blackmagic Design has ever made. I can only hope that they pay the same kind of attention to their much-anticipated filming tools in the future (Pocket Cinema Pro, anybody?).

Edit:  As requested by many, here is the ungraded version to my short video. Feel free to download and grade it by yourself. Please note that part of my review was shot in “video mode”. You will easily spot those shots as they are already coloured.

 

Camera settings for the video above: ProRes 422 HQ, 4K DCI, 25p, edited in the latest version of Adobe Premiere Pro. Colour corrected with FilmConvert URSA Mini 4.6K preset, “film stock” FJ8553 ET.



Canon C200 İncelemesi

In terms of specs, the C200 is certainly Canon’s most interesting camera since their entry into the cinema market. A week after the announcement of this affordable 4K RAW camera, we had a chance to put it to the test, shoot a lot of RAW and MP4 footage and create this Canon C200Review for you. If you’re interested in cinema cameras, or have questions about the performance of the C200, what we found will probably be for you.

Canon C200 Review

Please note: I did not notice any firmware related flaws, but the camera tested was still on a beta firmware.

Canon C200 Review – A Day With Canon’s New Baby

Canon kindly invited me to attend a press event surrounding their new Canon C200 cinema camera. Fortunately for you, I was also given the chance to record a lot of footage with it and draw my own conclusions for this C200 review. At this point I must admit that after having spent time with the camera and seeing the footage, there are a lot of good arguments that speak in favour of it! Nevertheless, I’ll run you through all the pros and cons I found.

Disclaimer: At cinema5D we have tested almost every cinema camera on the market. This gives us a pretty good idea about a camera’s strengths and weaknesses in order to recommend the best tool for the job. Still, keep in mind that this C200 review reflects my subjective opinion, derived from my own experience and shooting style. I hope it will help you make an informed decision for your own work.

Canon C200 Review - camera body teaser

The Features at a Glance

Here’s what the Canon C200 promises on paper:

RAW

  • Internal 12-bit 4K RAW
  • Smaller file size with “Cinema RAW Light”
  • Records RAW to CFast 2.0
  • Up to 59.94 fps in 4K 10-bit

MP4

  • Internal UHD MP4 recording – 150 Mbps
  • Records MP4 to SD card (>U3)
  • Up to 59.94 fps in UHD 8-bit (4:2:0)
  • Up to 120fps in HD with full sensor readout

Additional Features of Interest

  • Super35 CMOS sensor & active EF mount
  • Advanced Dual Pixel CMOS Auto Focus with touch screen and face detect
  • 5 Internal ND filters (up to ND 10!)
  • Good low-light performance and low noise
  • HDMI and SDI outputs
  • XLR inputs on the body
  • Proxy Recording onto SD card

“So what does this mean?” some might ask. Well, 4K RAW in a camera that costs $6,000 sounds great, and the fact that it can shoot up 60p RAW and up to 120fps in HD is very useful. A package offering the features, ergonomics, service and quality that Canon is known for are all very convincing arguments that make this camera a no-brainer for many filmmakers.

Canon EOS C200 body top

On the other hand, not everyone needs to shoot RAW – in fact I talked to a lot of people who actually really prefer not to. It offers the highest quality and can give you the most organic, cinematic and expensive-looking footage, but it also involves a process of transcoding and requires a lot of storage space. As such, if RAW is not used to its full potential, it may not be beneficial to many users like documentary and event shooters, for whom RAW alone may not be a good selling point.

The Canon C200 also offers MP4 with a compression of 150 Mbps, a standard h.264 compression that most entry level prosumer cameras get these days. But for many professionals, this doesn’t provide high-enough quality and, as a result, this camera seems to offer something that suits high-end shoots as well as the low end, but there remains a gap in the middle. At the moment, one would have to use the higher-priced C300 mark II to fill this gap.

BUT before we draw our final conclusions just based on spec sheets (suggestion: don’t do that), let’s put the camera through its paces and see how RAW and MP4 actually work in the field.

Canon C200 RAW Footage

The first thing most people will be interested to see is the RAW footage out of the Canon C200. For this C200 review I spent a couple of hours putting the new camera through the elements, ranging from harsh sunlight, to strong wind and eventually pouring rain. I love to be in the weather when it comes to shooting cinematic images, so the shoot was very enjoyable too. Check out my footage below:

I strongly urge you to either download the source file from Vimeo and watch this on a good 4K screen. It’s worth it.

Workflow

To see how the RAW footage performs, I created a very strong grading look that would heavily play with colors and contrast. First, I converted the Canon C200 CRM files (which are single files by the way, not photo sequences) into Apple ProRes 4444, so I had a format I could easily work with. The reason is that CRM is currently only compatible with a limited number of software applications, so I converted inside DaVinci Resolve 14 Beta and then went on to edit my footage in Adobe Premiere Pro. Canon recommends to use their own conversion tool, which allows you to select one of their log gamma profiles. I was told that Adobe apps will support CRM natively in the near future too.

The conversion in both DaVinci Resolve 14 Beta and the Canon Cinema RAW Development tool took a little under 30 minutes for 16 minutes of footage on an 8-core Mac Pro.

RAW?

At first I did not expect full-fledged RAW quality. The camera just seemed too easy to use and recording RAW is usually less convenient. Either the camera is bulky, too expensive or too difficult to use, or lacks built-in ND filters, etc… But I was surprised. The Canon C200 delivers excellent 12-bit RAW files that hold up impressively. The quality is organic, the rolloff is soft and most importantly, there is a lot of shadow information.

Canon C200 Review - Dynamic Range Observation

Canon C200 Review – Dynamic Range Observation

For the shot above I was standing underneath a large tree. As you can see, it had lots of thick leaves, while in the open, the midday sun was burning down. If you know this kind situation, then you know that the leaves under the tree should be very dark and the spots where the sun hit the wet leaves should be very overexposed. I had no trouble pulling the overexposed parts back and pushing the shadowy leaves into light. Actually, with any shot I took I had no trouble getting everything exposed correctly. I took some shots with and without ND just to see heavy overexposure and underexposure, and in the grade I was able to match both shots without noticing any noise whatsoever.

This is what impressed me the most. I could literally shoot any way I wanted, I didn’t even have to expose correctly. The footage (all shot at native ISO 800) is so clean, that I can push the material without risking a noisy image. The grading experience was very pleasing and of course I could easily control colours, while getting an overall organic look. As we know, the sensor is mostly similar to the previous Canon C camera sensors so not much has changed there, and people who are familiar with C cameras will appreciate the low-noise organic look. While the dynamic range may not be quite up there with the Arri ALEXA, the overall RAW from the Canon C200 screams quality and is certainly a professional high-end cinema tool that you should try before dismissing it.

Canon C200 with 50mm Cine Prime Lens

Canon C200 with 50mm Cine Prime Lens

How Much Data Does the C200 RAW Produce?

This is an important question. While the new Cinema RAW Light format has been called 3 times and 5 times smaller than traditional RAW formats, the camera still produces a lot of data. The benefit of the Canon C200 though, is that the media (CFast 2.0) is not proprietary and is becoming cheaper and cheaper, so it is easy to get several CFast cards.

Canon C200 writing RAW data

Canon C200 writing RAW data

I shot with a Transcend 128GB CFast 2.0 card in 4K 24p – This gave me 16 minutes of recording time.

Those 16 minutes turned into another 134GB of data after transcoding to Apple ProRes 4444, but when CRM becomes compatible with Adobe Premiere I won’t have to transcode anymore. If you use one of the supported apps for editing you can also save that extra disk space.

In comparison, the Sony a7S II records UHD at 100 Mbps, so it requires 12GB of storage for the same 16 minutes of recording time.

In comparison, the new Panasonic EVA1 records 4K at up to 400 Mbps, so it requires up to 48GB of storage for the same 16 minutes of recording time.

So to put things in perspective, in order to get RAW quality from the Canon C200 you need about 10 times as much storage space as when recording 8 bit on a Sony a7S II and about 2-3 times as much space as when recording 10 bit on the Panasonic EVA1. For many this will not be viable, because they simply need to record too much footage or they don’t have the extra processing power and time required to work with RAW. For me personally, I’m a convinced RAW shooter – I love to get the best out of my footage and I love to edit, and the extra space and additional rendering is worth it for me.

Canon C200 CFast 2.0 Slot

Canon C200 CFast 2.0 Slot

What About 150 Mbit MP4 – Worthless?

Oh, about that one. I must admit, like many others, at first I was disappointed by the low-spec 8-bit codec alternative the C200 had to offer on paper. 150 Mbps sounds underwhelming and we can get the same from most mirrorless cameras nowadays, can’t we? In theory yes, but the mp4 from the C200 is really not bad, and I would argue that it can hold up pretty well against most other 8-bit cameras.

Here are two jpeg screen grabs. Note that this is not a scientific test.

Canon C200 Review – 8 bit UHD MP4 – graded

Canon C200 Review – 12 bit 4K RAW – graded

Canon uses two green channels as on all other C cameras in order to get more accurate color information out of the 8-bit space. I was surprised by how well mp4 worked. It is certainly a usable alternative that makes sense in broadcast and documentary, but don’t expect to get 12-bit RAW quality from an 8-bit mp4. The video is certainly softer and a bit more mushy.

ungraded, 100% crop

Slow motion in 120fps works very well too. Even though the resolution is only HD, those HD images are quite good. They are down-sampled from a full sensor readout and they look very nice at first glance. Unfortunately, I noticed a bit of aliasing and moire in the slow motion footage, where it often became visible in contrasty areas with fine lines.

HD slow motion recording at 120fps | visible moiré pattern in the water.

For those who still need more than the MP4 the C200 currently has to offer, Canon announced that their XF-AVC video format will be available via a free Canon C200 firmware upgrade coming in Q1 2018.

Please note: The camera tested was still on a beta firmware. I think it is unlikely that the aliasing is firmware related, but it should be mentioned none the less.

Canon C200 Review – The Shooting Experience

Canon C200 review - first impressions, body side

RAW was what most people were interested in regarding the Canon C200. But for many shooters, ergonomics and reliability is another key aspect when it comes to evaluating a camera. Canon has certainly put a lot of their camera-making experience into the Canon C200. The result is a well-rounded and powerful cinema camera package that mostly works in tandem with the operator.

Auto Focus!

The auto focus on the Canon C200 convinced me. Canon’s Dual Pixel Auto Focus is simply better than what other cinema cameras have to offer. It works. I had it enabled for most of the shots with the Canon 100mm F/2.8 L Macro Lens that I used for this C200 review. With a tap of the touchscreen you can direct your focus to the right part of the picture.

Focus Assist!

This is a great feature that Canon introduced with the Canon C300 mark II. The focus assistant tells you when your subject is in focus. If it is not, three arrows indicate if your focus is in front of or behind the subject. This is very convenient, and allowed me to rarely need the magnify button for focusing, because I could just rely on the focus assist.

Overall Build Quality

The Canon C200 is a solid and ergonomic tool that feels rugged yet compact and light. The new Canon EOS C200 weighs 1.4kg, while in comparison, the C300 mark II weighs about 1.8kg and the C100 mark II weighs 1.1kg. Considering that this camera shoots RAW, I think a weight of 1.4kg is really good. The new top handle has improved over previous C cameras and feels very solid with several added mounting options.

Fast, Easy Menu

Canon has always had a good menu structure. It is also true for the C200. It was easy and intuitive to use.

10-stop ND

The Canon C200 has 2 separate rotating filter stages. This gives you a lot of flexibility and a range of up to 10 stops of ND filtration. This is extremely handy and lets you work with shallow depth of field even in very bright sunlight without the need for an external filter. Also, with the perfectly balanced internal NDs there is no color shift.

Built-in Connections

Unlike previous C cameras, the Canon C200 has the XLRs built into the body, which is a great improvement. The connectors and buttons sit in the right places for me. There is HDMI and SDI out and, contrary to some rumours out there, I can confirm that both of them output your Canon Log signal. You can also apply LUTs to individual outputs. There is no Canon Log 2 on the C200.

Proxy Recording

For some people who want an efficient workflow with RAW, the 35 Mbps proxy recordings in 2K will be a welcome feature. Proxys are recorded to SD cards. The camera has 2 SD slots, by the way.

Battery Life

One battery lasted for more than 2 hours. I never switched off the camera.

Canon C200 back

 

Canon C200 Review – What I Didn’t Like

Overall, I had a great experience shooting with the Canon C200. For me it opens up a lot of possibilities, mostly because of its low price and excellent all-round performance that delivers 12-bit RAW. But there are still some things that caught my attention in a negative way.

The Touchscreen

Yes, the whole screen attachment was definitely improved over previous C cameras. When you’ve worked with one of the older models, then you know it can be a bit flimsy, bulky and limiting. The C200’s new screen attachment, on the other hand, is stiff and it is easy to reposition the screen to where you need it and even detaching, which was not possible before. However, after a while the screen started to tilt sideways, because the screw at the front got loose. This has been the same on previous C cameras, something I guess users will have to continue to live with.

Canon C200 LCD

Another thing was that during my shoot the screen was not very bright. In direct sunlight I couldn’t see and I was forced to use the small EVF at the back. Later, a Canon representative showed me that the brightness can be dialled up in the menu. I am not sure how much this increases the screen backlight, so this is a point that would require another round of testing. However, I am pretty sure the C200 screen will not be able to hold up against the latest high-bright screens that are so convenient to work with, like the new smallHD FOCUS. If you use a third-party screen though, you will lose the touchscreen functionality on the C200, which is especially useful when using auto focus. The Canon EVF-V70 would probably be a great solution, but is a bit pricey.

No ProRes?

Now I’m being demanding, but just imagine this camera with Apple ProRes codec integration. This is exactly what the C700 offers, but it is a camera in a different price class. With Apple ProRes HQ 10-bit, the Canon C200 would be a perfect fit for everyone and for most of my projects. Unfortunately, the large divide between 12-bit RAW and 8-bit MP4 is just what the Canon C200 is, and for the price, I must say I’ll accept it gladly.

Aliasing in Slow Motion

As I mentioned earlier, there is some aliasing and moiré in 120p slow motion recordings. While the resolution and look is nice, the aliasing aspect makes it a little less exciting for me. Most people probably won’t notice.

Canon C200 Hero Image

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, it is really hard for me not to like the Canon C200. For $6,000 this camera does almost everything a cinema camera shooter could wish for. The 12-bit 4K RAW quality lives up to the expectations of the word “RAW”. At the same time, the C200 makes the RAW process easy and relatively affordable as you just need a third of the storage space of uncompressed RAW and you can record to CFast 2.0 cards. In a few months Premiere will support the new Cinema RAW Light format natively, as will other major apps, so if your machine is powerful enough, you won’t even need to transcode.

Add to that the fact that this camera offers the best auto focus any cinema camera currently has to offer, face detection, the convenient focus assist feature, great low-light qualities and a rugged, reliable, ergonomic body with up to 10 stops of built-in ND. Honestly, I find the price of this camera surprisingly low. The Sony a7S II costs almost $3,000 and is simply a small (yet impressive) mirrorless camera with 8-bit at 100 Mbps, and certainly in a different league than the C200. Even the URSA Mini Pro is currently $6,000, and people will have to think long and hard if the ProRes formats it offers are worth it in comparison to the new Canon C200.

So far, it has seemed like Canon have mostly done “their own thing”, always pricing their cameras at twice the cost of the rest of the pack. But the Canon C200 is a game changer in that regard, and a clear sign that will challenge the competition. How will Sony, Panasonic and Blackmagic respond?

The Canon C200 is available for pre-order now and will start shipping at the beginning of August 2017. I hope you liked my Canon C200 Review – if it was helpful to you we’d appreciate if you used the buy links below to one of our unbiased sponsors. If you have any questions or thoughts, please let me know in the comments.



Canon EOS C700 İncelemesi

I recently had the chance to shoot a project on Canon’s flagship cinema camera: the EOS C700. My own C300 mark II was used as the B camera, and what a perfect match these two are! Read on for a full rundown of my thoughts about this camera.

EOS C700
I think a short summary of Canon’s EOS cinema lineup is necessary to classify the EOS C700 camera:

The world of Canon is a little different than that of other manufacturers. The first true video camera of the cinema EOS line was the C300 back in late 2011. A few months later, in early 2012, the C500 came to market. After this upgrade, a new entry-level variant followed: the C100. Two years later, in 2014, the C100 Mark II was introduced and another 12 months later, in 2015, the C300 Mark II took the place of the original cinema EOS C300 camera.

The upgrade path chosen by Canon is not always obvious – it’s a little up and down and up again. Most other manufacturers tend to start with their flagship model and introduce a lower model after the dust has settled. Canon, however, keeps surprising with its philosophy.

EOS C700

Current lineup of EOS cinema cameras.

Surprisingly, again, Canon skipped a possible C500 Mark II and instead unveiled the subject of this review, the EOS C700, in 2016. To complete the picture of confusion here, a new member to the cinema EOS family was introduced in 2017: the C200.

However, after all these upgrades, downgrades and crossgrades, one fact remains: The EOS C700 is Canon’s current flagship cinema camera. That’s why I wanted to take a closer look at what’s possible with cinema EOS cameras as matters stand.

Canon Germany was very kind to send me a free loaner package including the EOS C700 itself, a Canon CN-E18-80mm T4.4 L cine zoom, the EVF-V70 OLED viewfinder and Canon’s own shoulder mounting set. There was no payment involved whatsoever. Unfortunately, I can’t really share any actual footage of the project I shot (a studio production for Comedy Central) since it hasn’t been broadcasted yet.

The Canon EOS C700

The EOS C700 itself is a cuboid of 16.7 x 15.4 x 32.7 cm and weighs 3.4kg. That’s not bad at all! When fully rigged it gets heavier, obviously, but the form factor allows it to sit on your shoulder without having to modify it completely. My own C300 Mark II tells a different story here. Without excessive use of accessories, you can’t really use it as a shoulder mounted camera.

Still, the C700 is quite a big camera and I’d love it to be a little shorter and lighter than it actually is. The closest competitor to the C700 might be the ARRI Amira, which is actually super heavy in comparison. The camera alone weighs 4.1 kg, but fully rigged it is a torture to work with on the shoulder over a long period of time. But maybe that’s just me.

EOS C700

ARRI Amira – Shooting handheld wasn’t always fun with this beast.

The camera body’s top and bottom consits of a full-sized cheese plate with tons of 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads. This makes the camera super flexible when it comes to rigging it up for a specific shoot.

There is a choice of EF or PL mount when purchasing this camera. The model I got from Canon came with a positive lock active EF mount which is really good indeed. There’s no play whatsoever and the mount holds the lens very tight. Plus, you don’t have to rotate the lens when attaching it to the C700 since the mount itself rotates.

If you’re in the market for a reliable broadcast camera with advanced color-science and dynamic range, the optional B4 lens adapter might be an option. This lets you attach standard 2/3″ ENG lenses to the EOS C700, although I haven’t tried this myself.

Audio and Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the EOS C700 offers everything you’ll ever need. Four SDI outputs, two additional monitor outs (again: SDI), a dedicated proprietary connector for the Canon EVF-V70OLED viewfinder. Each and every output can be configured to your specific needs. Viewfinder overlays, LUTs, magnifying, focus assists, it’s all there (or not, whatever suits your workflow best).

A fully-fledged audio section with everything you need in one place. The XLR inputs, the headphone out, TC in and the mic-line switches are located next to each other, whereas with a lot of other cameras you have to bend audio cables across the whole body of the camera because the connectors are all over the place. Scratch audio can be recorded to track 3/4 via an internal mic. That’s not for broadcast quality, of course, but having a reference track for syncing up external audio to your footage is super helpful.

EOS C700
In general, Canon really has put a lot of emphasis on detail. The air intakes and exhausts are both located on the other side of the camera. The air intake of my C300 Mark II is located right next to my ear when I am shooting with the camera sitting on my shoulder. No big deal, but still annoying to have a humming fan next to your ear.

Recording

Standard CFast 2.0 cards are the recording media of choice for the EOS C700. No need for proprietary SxS or XQD cards here. A 128GB card is good for about 110 minutes worth of 1080p25 Rec.709 footage at 160Mbit/s or about 50min worth of 4K footage at 340Mbit/s. If you have a SD card handy, you can simultaneously record proxy files to it at 50Mbit/s LongGOP. One thing to remember: slow/fast motion clips won’t be recorded as proxy files onto a SD card.

For my shoot I exclusively used CFast 2.0 cards for recording 10bit 4:2:2 in XF-AVC. Although the EOS C700 is capable of recording 4K RAW externally using a dedicated CODEX recorder, the fast turnaround of my project didn’t allow for this workflow.

EOS C700
Apart from Canon’s C-log 1 and 2 you can also choose the best-of-both-worlds logarithmic gamma, the C-log 3 curve. For me, the Canon color-science is still to be beaten by Sony and others. The image coming from this C700 is very pleasing out of the box, especially the skin tones look superb.

Auto Focus and Focus Assist Features

The dual pixel CMOS AF (with compatible EF lenses) is quite outstanding and easily the most innovative feature in Canon cameras these days. This feature alone saved my day more than once on my shoot. A daily routine was to perform a tracking shot from wide angle to close-up of the talent. Since the budget did not allow for a dedicated focus puller, I had to rely on the dual pixel auto focus of the EOS C700 in conjunction with the Canon CN-E18-80mm T4.4 L cine zoom. And I could rely on it, indeed!

One day the director wanted to do a dollyzoom (ie. Vertigo). No sweat – we nailed it after just a couple of takes and I didn’t even have to worry about focusing. Not once. To be fair, the setup really was predestined for the dual pixel AF to work flawlessly. We just had a single actor in frame and only controlled camera movements. But still, I didn’t believe it to work that good until it did.

EOS C70
For the few takes we did handheld, I switched the camera over to focus guide. In that mode you’ll need to manually focus on your subject, but the system will tell you if you’re off and – more importantly – if your focus is set too far away or too close. That way, you’ll know instantly in which direction you have to go. Very neat!

The Menu System

The EOS C700 features a familiar-looking interface screen on the operator’s side of the camera. The screen, surrounded by 6 buttons, is for accessing the menu structure only, so no video output to be found here. Dedicated menus for recording, TC, AF, network (browser remote, IP streaming) and audio settings make it really simple to navigate through the control center of the C700. A custom page with six user assignable functions (via screen) can be configured to your liking.

The camera also sports a key lock button which is super helpful once you’re happy with your settings. You can define whether all buttons are locked or all but the record button. All the buttons on the camera are backlit so you can navigate through them easily in dark (studio) environments.

EOS C700
Another benefit of this menu structure is that the dedicated menu screen prevents the VF (or external monitor) from being obstructed by the menu overlay. Again, super helpful if you’re working with an assistant or sound engineer. He/she can tweak the settings while the operator can focus on framing.

ND Filters and Hardware Accessories

Just like the C300 Mark II the C700 has mechanical ND filters built-in. They come in two layers which enables two modes of operation. In normal mode you can flick through 4 filters: clear, 2 stops of light reduction, 4 stops and 6 stops. In expanded mode these filters get stacked, resulting in two additional steps: 8 stops and even 10 stops of light reduction. Every time the number of ND filters in front of the sensor changes from one to two the camera will warn you to check focus due to the added piece of glass.

As an optional accessory, you can purchase a detachable remote panel. It can be mounted on the assistant’s side of the camera and mirrors all of the camera controls. Or, using a cable, it can be used ‘remotely’.

Using accessories with the EOS C700 is a breeze. Multiple 12V and 24V power outlets can be used to power all your external monitors, FIZ controllers, wireless video transmitters etc. through the camera.

EOS C700
The Canon EVF-V70 OLED viewfinder, which I had the chance to check out, is a pretty nice and feature-packed EVF. However, one thing bugged me a little bit: you have to press it firmly against your eye and look straight at it, otherwise the image will look distorted immediately. That’s a thing with a lot of EVFs, actually. For my own C300 Mark II, my EVF of choice is the Zacuto Gratical Eye. That one is a little more forgiving in terms of viewing angle. Plus, I like the 4:3 aspect ratio which allows all the overlays to be placed underneath the clean 16:9 image of the camera.

The EVF-V70 offers a dedicated dial for fast access to the menu system and a bunch of assignable buttons, which is nice. For my job, I ended up using my 7″ Blackmagic Design Video Assist monitor since the camera was moving back and forth on the dolly all the time.

A Few Downsides

There’s no such thing as the perfect camera, I guess. So here are some quirks I encountered, in no particular order.

When using the auto focus system, you can’t use the magnify function. I think this is due to the way the dual pixel autofocus works, but I would like to use the magnify function every now and then, just to be sure.

While I was working with the camera I noticed a pretty high power draw from it. Maybe the batteries from my rental house were a little worn out already, but a 98Wh IDX battery only lasted for approx. 45min. I think a camera like the C700 requires at least 150wh batteries, but again, the batteries I had were on duty for quite some time already.

EOS C700
The included accessories by Canon can’t keep up with solutions by other manufacturers. The only decent piece of that kit is the handle which is really sturdy and sports lots of mounting holes. But the EVF mount? It looks a little bit like something from Home Depot. And you’ll need an Allen key if you want to remove the 15mm rods from the baseplate. I really think it’s worth getting a decent kit from ARRI, Wooden Camera or any other manufacturer.

As I said before, the camera could be a little smaller and a little bit less heavy to be perfect (for me, at least). And then there’s the price, of course. In comparison to the C300 Mark II, I think it is too expensive. It is a great camera, but with a price tag of almost $30.000 for only the body, the C700 can’t be regarded as a mainstream camera.

Conclusion

The Canon EOS C700 is a very decent piece of equipment. The build quality is superb, as is the image quality. The ability to connect almost everything to it is a real advantage over many other cameras. Its triple Digic DV 5 image processor lets you choose exactly what’s going on with each of the SDI outputs. And, after all, I had zero issues with this camera while shooting for 10 straight days. It just works.

EOS C700
Would I buy one? No. I’m happy with my C300 Mark II, and spending roughly $40.000 on a ready-to-shoot C700 is way above my budget. I think it’s a rental item and it’s a lovely addition to my own camera. Both cameras match perfectly and the image coming out of these is just beautiful.

While Sony keeps pushing to add great features to their cameras, it’s not all about specs – at least not to me. Picture quality is my main priority and, to me, Canon still wins over Sony. The C700 might lack that one killer feature such as 200fps super slo-mo or something else, but in the end it is a rock solid movie-making machine that produces lovely imagery and is built like a tank.



Sony A7r3 İncelemesi

During my recent trip to Japan, Sony was kind enough to supply me with their newest creation for a couple of days: I had the chance to test the new Sony a7 III together with the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS lens. Needless to say that I seized the opportunity and ran out to film with it in order to gather enough material and first hand impressions to share with our dedicated audience. 

It’s the beginning of March and I can already tick off covering CP+ (One of the world’s most important photo exhibition taking place in Yokohama, Japan) and just before moving to my next assignment (yet to be revealed), I found myself heading to Sony’s HQ in Shinagawa in order to pick up their new creation, the a7 III. I have to come up front and write how grateful I feel about the opportunity I had – to talk directly to the people who design and make those wonderful cameras – mostly for one reason: the chance to raise our user voices and opinions, be it praises or concerns about a specific product. Equipped with the camera body, two batteries and an f/4 lens, I ran out of the building and into a massive rain storm….Well, I thought I’ll give it an hour or so to pass but boy, was I wrong. It actually did not stop raining for the complete two days that I had the camera, so I diverted my plans and forced myself to film and test it mostly indoors with one quick, wet jump to the famous Shibuya crossing point.

Sony a7 III – key features for video production:

I’ve already covered the highlights of the new Sony a7 III camera when it was just announced, in my article here, but I find it important to repeat myself and write that for the money and definition (by Sony it is their basic model), it is the best full frame mirrorless camera one can get for video production, for the following reasons:

  • The picture quality in full frame is nice, solid and artifact-free.
  • The autofocus will work well in most cases. It is worth mentioning that it will struggle in lowlight situations when contrast is not that great, but this is understandable. What is not so clear to me is why at times – in well lit situations – it will act as if it has its “own brain” and move elsewhere unexpectedly. To conclude; while testing it, the autofocus performed well 90% of the time with the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 lens. Speaking of autofocus, the reason I tend to emphasize this feature in my latest reviews is simply because I think that for us as independent filmmakers, we should embrace any feature or technology that can help with executing our job. Especially when it comes to modestly priced productions or one man band projects. (And yes, “learn how to focus manually” comments are welcome and absolutely true! One should practice and learn how to do it manually, yet, let the technology come to an aid when needed). Speaking of which, changing between focus points is fairly easy and accurate with this camera, so if you are using a photo lens, this element might become handy.
  • To my eye, it looks as if the rolling shutter effect in this camera is a bit better than with Sony’s own equivalent models (Yet needs to be improved).
  • The high frame rate option (up to 120fps in full HD mode) is fine as long as you don’t upscale it as I did, for the sake of keeping this video in 4K resolution.
  • The 5-axis optical in-body stabilisation system is working well. Don’t expect an “Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II” level of performance, but it is definitely doing a good job.
  • The lowlight capably of this camera is simply outstanding, especially considering the fact that we are dealing with a 24.2 megapixel sensor. In other words, with such pixel density and pixel size, one could expect an average lowlight performance, yet with the a7 III, the case is the opposite. This camera can give the a7SII a good fight on any given day (or night)… The basic ISO when shooting in S-Log 2 is 800, but feel free to go higher (actually much higher) according to your filming needs.

Sony a7 III– main cons:

I’m deliberately avoiding mentioning the word “10bit and 422” in this article. (OK, just did it)… As the description and positioning of this model is very clear from Sony’s side, it is obvious for me not to expect such goodies inside that particular body. Actually, when thinking about it, the a7 III is paving the way for a higher rich-in-features full frame mirrorless Sony camera, as the improvements made now with this device will have to dictate what’s being implemented next in the upcoming “S” model – in order to justify interest and demand. In reality, If I could highlight two main subjects that deserve an extra touch and attention from Sony’s side it would definitely be the menu structure and the so needed fully articulated LCD screen. The more I use and test other cameras, the harder it is for me to go back to Sony’s menu. As a person who is mostly using the video features of this camera, I would love to see only the video-related items highlighted, when in video mode. (Or at least see a completely greyed-out structure of the photo-related elements, if those cannot be detached).

Sony a7 III – Image taken from the timeline. Tantra lounge, Tokyo

Lowlight performance:

I think that in many ways this camera would have scored well but would’t be so exciting if its lowlight capability was average. As mentioned above, I really wonder what Sony is doing in order to achieve that level of performance. To my knowledge, it is the Back-Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor that is responsible for such results. Look at the images I took at the Tantra lounge in Roppongi, Tokyo. They are all captured in ISO 800 to 6400. In reality, this means that one can shoot in lowlight situations with full confidence.

Conclusion:

The key element for me in this camera is the right balance between its price and specifications. Sony did a really good job in packing a lot of technology into a well-priced full frame mirrorless camera body. In my opinion, this is a great all-round shooting device with a good level of video performance and nice stills functionality (at least this is what I heard from colleagues who have tried the camera and are shooting photos professionally). Our desires for 4K higher frame rates like 50/60p, higher bit rate,  color depth and maybe even a built-in ND filter will have to wait for the next round of announcements.

About the above video:

Shot in 4K (UHD) in 24p. (The slow-motion sequences were shot in full HD 120fps), S-Log 2. Graded with FilmConvert,Different ISO values were used throughout the video. Edited in Adobe Premiere latest edition.

Many thanks to: Tantra lounge in Roppongi, Tokyo. Saki Matsumoto and Eva Hiesmair

Music by Art list: Sky City – Instrumental by Davis Absolute – Eden and Sky City – Instrumental by Davis Absolute – Eden