When the original version of the Canon C100 was announced in 2012 it was received by a luke-warm reception at best. The specs were underwhelming to most, AVCHD at a maximum 30 fps in "NTSC" mode. At the same time, Black Magic Design were releasing their new cinema camera with onboard raw recording for far less money to an extreme amount of hype.
In 2013 , my search for a new workhorse for Benzen Video Productions kept me up for many nights 'till 2 or 3 am, pricing up kit from Videocraft, Videoguys, Lemac and even US suppliers B&H. I'd also travel back and forth between blogs from the experts like Philip Bloom whose years of ENG experience make him a great bellwether for someone with a similar background like myself. Production is always a compromise and I was really trying to find the best all rounder. I needed something with amazing pictures, above average audio controls, efficient codec and laptop friendly post workflow. A camera that I could shoot a corporate one day, a commercial the next and even the odd wedding if they were paying me enough! Time and again it seemed there was only one real choice, the Canon C100.
Every other camera seemed to need a rig of some sort, an external viewfinder, separate audio recorders and simply weren't designed for running and gunning which is what I am doing 80% of the time. There was also the promise of a future autofocus upgrade which I upgraded to also. True, it is quite limited in that it gives you the option to focus only in the centre portion of the screen (the mkii has face detection and movable Autofocus). On a recent shoot for Sage Australia we needed a close up of an iPad with their new accounting app being used on the go utilising the data in the cloud. In the middle of a busy Melbourne city street, avoiding the bustle of pedestrians and all the cars trying to park, the storm clouds were brewing fast. The AF upgrade really saved the day, it gave me the confidence to know that if I got the magic green square then I knew that I had the shot and we could move on. It was just in time too, as you can see a single raindrop on the iPad in the screenshot if you look closely. With the mkii announced just hours ago, there has been a lot of backlash, most of all because it doesn't shoot 4k. There have actually been some really amusing comments on twitter, my favourite so far being this:
But despite all this backlash I think that the C100mkii will be a great success and I'll tell you why...
1: No-one is actually broadcasting in 4K and therefore clients don't request it.
Apart from Youtube's 4k for what seems 4k sake, at this stage there is no broadcast spec for 4k both in Australia or internationally. In fact, in Australia all the networks are still broadcasting their main channels in SD apart from ABC24 (720P) and SBS One HD (1080i).
2: 60FPS is enough.
Slow motion is cool, no two ways about it! However, there's only so many jobs where I am required to capture a bullet exiting a chamber or a balloon turning into water vapour. For most slow motion shots, 50 or 60 fps is a great compromise. It gives you that great dreamy look, but it doesn't burn up too much screen time on pretty pictures for pretty pictures sake. As a side note the Canon XF100 (our event camera) has great slowmo, if you did need a shot for a slowmo C100 mk1 shoot you could probably cheat it on the XF100 with a DOF matte in post to match it to the larger sensor C100 footage.
3: Worst kept secret, it's basically a C300!
In Australia, the Atomos Ninja is bundled free with the C100 from Videocraft and some other distributors, making it an instant C300. Albeit, without the C300's viewfinder which makes for a far better user experience according to San Diego DP and "Gear Head" Eric Naso (Note: I have only ever used the C300 for 10 minutes at its first BVE in 2011).
4: It's still the best option for the price.
The GH4 or A7S might be fine for B cam or interview cams, but they're just too damn small and fiddly for most things if you ask me. One contender, the Sony FS7 is several thousand dollars more and the URSA is afraid of the dark whereas the C100 lives in it!
5: AutoFocus means the networks will likely purchase them over C300 at a reduced cost.
Put on an Atomos Ninja Star and you have an AutoFocus C300, great for sending out Producers or assistants for GV's and two camera interviews.
6: It just works
Its a complete system that just works. For those of us who aren't shooting the next Avatar, (which was shot in HD anyway) and already have existing stills glass, a mark one or need a run and gun, low light warrior, autofocus, rigless workhorse then this will likely be the camera of choice.
So, will I be upgrading my C100 mark one ?
Not at the moment. For all the reasons mentioned above, it's good enough that I don't need to yet and I'd like to think its got a couple more years left in it. Once the dust settles on twitter and all the forums move on to the Sony's next camera for the year I think we are going to be seeing quite a lot of C100 mark II's out there in 2015.