First off I want to note how overjoyed I am with the C100. Canon Log mode is awesome, and the integration and quality when paired with the Atomos Ninja 2 external recorder is breathtaking. The C100 seems completely designed around the Ninja 2 to the point that I am never going to use the internal SD cards as anything other than safeties. Media for both are cheap as chips and batteries for both are too, which is refreshing given the absolutely professional results recording this sensor (the same as in the C300 and C500) in Canon Log mode to ProRes 422 HQ at 220Mbps. The ergonomics and build is just a joy...this is what it should be like, no more mussing with DSLRs or fiddly cheap camcorders or overweight and overpriced and high maintenance pro cams. Lovely. Pleased as punch.
If you want great quality 1080p24 video with the lowest pain-in-the-arse factor ever, buy a C100 and Ninja 2 and use Canon Log with View Assist to ProRes HQ. Use custom white balance, use the NDs instead of dropping below the native ISO of 850, and expose for the highlights. Compose your shot and follow focus using the various focus assist features of the C100 and/or Ninja. You're all set, your video will be captured beautifully with full use of the 12 stops of dynamic range, there'll be no transcode time into your Mac-based NLE, and all options for pulling a custom look will be available in post without penalty. For all this, the total cost of ownership of the camera and recorder, plus enough battery power and storage for six hours of continuous shooting time without an offload, is just $8000.
Nothing else touches that at this quality, at this low-light capability, and with this build and workflow/ergonomic factors. For pro-level cameras from RED or Sony you are looking at $8000 just for a few hours' worth of the media.
Now the praise indicated, let's get right down to what sucks.
First of all, there's no slo-mo at all. You can shoot at PF30 (a'la 30p wrapped for HDMI) and get subtle slomo conforming to 24p, but the FS700's 240fps for 1080p, while limited to 10 second bursts, is real slomo. Other than that you can have the FS700 I don't want one.
There's only 1080p. It's a very well done, high res 1080p when recorded on the Ninja. But there is no opportunity for cropping in post to recompose a shot while maintaining full 1080p resolution as there is on a 2.5K or 4K camera. Cropping is a side effect of smoothcam-style stabilization in post among other things, which you might think such a relatively compact camera would be used for.
The rolling shutter jello is still a problem on this as most CMOS cams, it's not so bad but it's not so terrific either.
The built-in viewfinder is a joke. Usable only in a pinch. The Zacuto EVF is a nice plus, though awfully low-res. Zacuto has made a loupe for the onboard screen but it looks fiddly to me and not as solid a solution as theirs for the 5D3. I am getting a Hoodman cover for the Ninja to see if that helps in sunlight. Atomos is supposedly developing a sunshade or loupe for the Ninja as well.
There is no digital level as there is on the 5D3 and even RX100. Getting a shot level is quite important in film when you are operating with only 2MP of resolution. Back to spirit (bubble) levels then?
The side-grip is the same as for the C300. It feels nice but it's hollow and resonant and the buttons and aperture dial are quite noisy for film use. The handle should be filled with acoustic dampener (I may try) and the dial declicked.
You can remove the side-grip and put a thumb rest in its place, but if you do, there's no way at all to adjust the ISO/gain. For some inexplicable reason they did not include ISO+/ISO- in the list of things you can assign custom buttons for, and as it is you must use the joystick to set ISO. You can set the Iris+/Iris- to buttons instead of joystick, but that's also fiddly. You also can't assign the four joystick directions and press to other buttons, which would let you simulate the joystick on buttons 1-6. So they want to get you used to having the side grip always on there even though they picture the camera without it on their own product page, perhaps to make it look less like a DSLR.
The Mag (#7) focus assist button is right next to the joystick like we enjoyed on all DSLRs prior to the 5D3 (which inexplicably banned its use). It works very nicely, allowing peaking and even monochrome focus assist while recording (without showing up even on the external recording). However, inexplicably, the zoom location can't be moved around in the frame like you can on the DSLRs. How hard would that have been? Since this wasn't on the C300 firmware either, my speculation is they explicitly banned it from the C100 firmware until the new C300 firmware is published, so as to not infuriate C300 owners.
Several buttons that I would use only rarely (e.g. Status and Custom Picture etc.) are for some reason not assignable.
You need a button to reassign to take stills, and you have to assign Headphone +/- to buttons or else be stuck menu diving. So why not allow all the buttons to be reassigned?
The internal mics on the top handle are quite poor. A Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro is highly recommended by me as an add-on, and as a further benefit, it can be plugged right into the Ninja, which will happily record 4 channel audio direct into the ProRes .MOV, using the 2 channel XLR preamps (with 48V or line options) or the 3.5mm jack on the camera body for the other two sources. The Rode is also smaller and lighter than the top handle if you want audio while staying minimal. the XLR preamps on the top handle are fine enough.
You can't monitor video waveform and audio record level at once, it's either or. I would like to have a view that is all waveform/scope and also offers the audio, and rely on the Ninja or external EVF for the image.
There are no odd frame rate settings or internal timelapse like on the C300. I guess they had to cut something.
The custom white balance setting is essential and will be in constant use, but for some reason they decided they want the whole frame to be white/gray to set it, rather than just a spot in the center of the frame like e.g. Sony uses. It can be hard to fill a frame with a neutral card with the right light, that would require a camera move or zoom that may be difficult. Please give us spot white balance customizing.
White balance indicators "A" and "A" are...uhm...a bit identically named for such different things, no? Why not use "1" and "2" instead of A and B for the custom settings.
Continuous Autofocus right now is on the pitiful level of the T4i, not even. But they say they are working on that. It's not a priority for most filmmakers, but if you're going to do it for your new STM line, please do it right.
Physical points of weakness for the hardware include the plastic door on the top handle, the tiny pins on the camera side of the EXT jack, and the plastic casing around the battery compartment. Otherwise (neglecting the common sensitive points like the sensor and LCD screen) it's very well designed and built and should last a long time.
Which I intend to use it for, the remainder of the 1080p era. It's a veritable footage shovel, with the great low-light, built-in NDs, integrated handles and ergonomics, not to mention the great quality and workflow the Ninja provides...I'm all set for 1080p24 capture. I would appreciate Canon's attention to these concerns which largely can be resolved in firmware updates, and for a professional product should be. Thank you.