August 23, 2014, 04:03:16 AM

Author Topic: Canon C100 praise & annoyances  (Read 15231 times)

peederj

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 260
    • View Profile
Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« on: December 02, 2012, 07:43:32 PM »
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.

Axilrod

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 12:05:56 PM »
I felt pretty much the same way about it, although I only got to play with one briefly at my local shop and only got to record to CF cards (although I thought the footage looked pretty damn good even then).  Is there really that big of a difference in the footage from the Ninja?  Is the HDMI out 4:2:2?

But I agree, the ergonomics are great and it feels much better to shoot with than a DSLR.  Still not totally sold on the price though, especially when you can get a 4K ready/super high framerate FS700 for not much more.  Either way I quickly came to the conclusion that this camera exceeded my expectations, so many people were saying that Canon wouldn't sell any of these purely based on specs, but the IQ speaks for itself.
5DIII/5DII/Bunch of L's and ZE's, currently rearranging.

syder

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 106
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 01:24:04 PM »
Either way I quickly came to the conclusion that this camera exceeded my expectations, so many people were saying that Canon wouldn't sell any of these purely based on specs, but the IQ speaks for itself.

Funny that... Gear heads all over the internet were frothing at the mouth when the C300 spec was announced, they said no one in their right mind would buy one... And yet it's been the go to camera for a huge range of broadcast work because it performs so well out of the box with a very straightforwards workflow for tv.

Axilrod

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 04:15:36 PM »
Funny that... Gear heads all over the internet were frothing at the mouth when the C300 spec was announced, they said no one in their right mind would buy one... And yet it's been the go to camera for a huge range of broadcast work because it performs so well out of the box with a very straightforwards workflow for tv.

I think when the C300 was announced people were still eager for a 5D2 replacement for video and got upset because it was "overpriced," when in reality it just wasn't made for prosumers.  It's like if I was looking to buy a new refrigerator and I saw that Kenmore made a $50,000 industrial fridge for restaurants and then complained that it was stupid and overpriced and that no one would ever buy one. 
5DIII/5DII/Bunch of L's and ZE's, currently rearranging.

HurtinMinorKey

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 413
    • View Profile
    • carolineculler.com
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 11:36:06 PM »
Funny that... Gear heads all over the internet were frothing at the mouth when the C300 spec was announced, they said no one in their right mind would buy one... And yet it's been the go to camera for a huge range of broadcast work because it performs so well out of the box with a very straightforwards workflow for tv.

I think when the C300 was announced people were still eager for a 5D2 replacement for video and got upset because it was "overpriced," when in reality it just wasn't made for prosumers.  It's like if I was looking to buy a new refrigerator and I saw that Kenmore made a $50,000 industrial fridge for restaurants and then complained that it was stupid and overpriced and that no one would ever buy one.


Yah, but to create your new "consumer" refrigerator they don't take a $50,000 model and cripple it. I think the fact that the 5D3 video was such obvious  nerf-ware is what really stuck in people's craw. 

I understand the desire for product differentiation, but I think Canon misjudged the market reaction. Not to mention they increased the price of the 5D3 and only made modest improvements over a 4 year old camera. Think about how far computers have come during that time:  My $2000 laptop will smoke a power PC from 4 years ago.

I'm not bitter, I swear.  8)

Axilrod

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 04:33:23 PM »
Yah, but to create your new "consumer" refrigerator they don't take a $50,000 model and cripple it. I think the fact that the 5D3 video was such obvious  nerf-ware is what really stuck in people's craw. 

I understand the desire for product differentiation, but I think Canon misjudged the market reaction. Not to mention they increased the price of the 5D3 and only made modest improvements over a 4 year old camera. Think about how far computers have come during that time:  My $2000 laptop will smoke a power PC from 4 years ago.

I'm not bitter, I swear.  8)

I don't know that it was crippled, it may not have been as good as people wanted, but whether or not that was deliberate or not is debatable.  It is a stills camera after all that happens to shoot pretty good video.  The stills side had huge improvements and the video had improvements too (although not as many).  Why add a ton of video improvements when the majority of users are buying it for it's still capabilities?  The 5D2 was an accident, it only seems logical to try to create separate products for each user base (still/video).

Even if the 5D3 had whatever you felt was lacking I doubt it would have stopped anyone from buying a C300.  If it were $5000 I could understand, but there is a pretty massive price difference between the two. It just seems that if Canon did cripple the 5D3 it wasn't because they were worried about the C300.

And with people getting it for $2500-$3000 regularly I don't think the 5D3 is considered "overpriced" anymore.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 04:46:56 PM by Axilrod »
5DIII/5DII/Bunch of L's and ZE's, currently rearranging.

syder

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 106
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 07:00:50 PM »
Some of the complaints about the 5Dm3 being crippled were just rubbish... The only thing that irked me was the choice of codec - 90mb/s all-I seemed deliberately just under the 100 mb/s datarate that is what places like the BBC demand for broadcast work (or 50mb/s for log GoP - and Canon have a good 50 mb/s long GoP codec they could have used).

It did feel a lot like Canon situated the camera so that it was good but not quite good enough to be a budget option for broadcast work.

With the addition of HDMI out in April that should change though - and I think largely that's come about as a result of the criticisms that have been levelled at Canon (and the fact that the Nikons clean HDMI out allows for that).

...And the video improvements over the 5Dm2 are actually a hell of a lot bigger than people like to give credit. By the far the biggest being no more moire - which was thing that would occasionally make DSLR footage a real headache, even if you spotted the issue, having to do things like ask an interview subject to change their jacket/shirt because it didn't agree with the camera is hardly the way to put someone at ease and get a good performance from them. The high ISO performance is also a big step up. The audio capabilities (whilst still somewhat crap) are distinctly better. The codec is a definite improvement (although not quite what people wanted). And we have clean HDMI out to look forwards to next year for 220 mb/s 4:2:2 DNxHD goodness.

The idea that on top of those major improvements on the video side there should be 4k/raw video/240fps added to a hybrid stills/video camera that doesn't really cost that much is just silly. The only thing that comes close is the BMC camera, which has a really resource demanding workflow, 2x crop, built in battery, and a few other issues which mean that while its an amazing studio camera it isn't that versatile. Oh, and its a dedicated video camera, rather than a stills camera that does good video. By the sounds of things the C100 w atmos setup would work better for a lot of production companies/indie shooters who need to be versatile so that they can adapt to the demands of a wide range of gigs (documentary/events/weddings/fiction) - for which things like 4k video and uncompressed raw video are as much if not more of a ballache than a blessing.

tjc320

  • Guest
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 09:43:43 PM »
Great C100 Review. The internet was virtually silent on the camera before to it's ship date. Canon never really released much info or [quality] video of the camera's capabilities.

I agree with you, after paying $8000 for everything you'll need with the camera it will shine over it's competition. It's video quality with the Atomos Ninja should actually surpass the C300 without it. VERY impressive and it is also surprising that Canon didn't limit the HDMI capabilities given their limiting other things and products. The annoyances that you listed are really things that I could live with since the video quality would be so slick.

I think since it's a DSLR crossover camera (DSLR users transitioning to professional video camera) people will be more than willing to deal with work-arounds like the Ninja to get a better picture quality.

peederj

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 260
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 10:15:27 PM »
Thanks tjc. Nearly all pro cameras use external recorders anyway, so learning to enjoy the Ninja is part of the transition. The IQ with C100/Ninja/CanonLog is absolutely better than that from the C300 internal. In fact people have reported that Canon tweaked the color science on the C100 so that its color rendition has fewer problems than the C300's even external. It may end up very, very close to a $25,000 C500's external image debayered to 1080p. I haven't either of those to confirm. But be assured I am independent of all these companies or dealerships, and I do not praise something easily.

If you can live with the above complaint list, and are willing to add the Ninja, I am confident you will adore this camera. Really, for 1080p24 I consider the problem solved.

HurtinMinorKey

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 413
    • View Profile
    • carolineculler.com
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 01:23:30 PM »
Some of the complaints about the 5Dm3 being crippled were just rubbish... The only thing that irked me was the choice of codec - 90mb/s all-I seemed deliberately just under the 100 mb/s datarate that is what places like the BBC demand for broadcast work (or 50mb/s for log GoP - and Canon have a good 50 mb/s long GoP codec they could have used).

The codec was everything. The on board processor is so much more powerful then what was on the 5D2, and they can't put out a decent codec? Nonsense.  It also doesn't put out true 1920x1080 res, which often looks softer than the 5D2(the price of reduced moire). 

The point is that these mostly software limitations, just like the 1DX vs 1DC.  That's annoying.

The 5D3 is a great stills camera, but was it really worth the price increase, and after 4 years? IMO, only if you really needed those extra fps.

tjc320

  • Guest
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2012, 10:56:42 AM »
peeder,

Any chance you have any RAW footage recorded from the ninja for us to check out/download? I have only been able to find in-camera recordings.

syder

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 106
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2012, 11:51:13 AM »


The 5D3 is a great stills camera, but was it really worth the price increase, and after 4 years? IMO, only if you really needed those extra fps.


The extra fps... Or the professional autofocus system. Or Moire free video. Or anti-aliasing free video. Or the upcoming HDMI out (remember how crippled the 5dm2's software was at launch before complaining about the 5dm3 at launch). Or the better lcd screen. Or bigger viewfinder. Or the improved high ISO shooting. Or the improved video codec. Or the AGC disable. Or the headphone out.

Do any of those quite major improvements sound like they might make a small cost increase worthwhile? For an awful lot of people the answer is obviously yes.

HurtinMinorKey

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 413
    • View Profile
    • carolineculler.com
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 11:56:03 AM »
peeder,

Any chance you have any RAW footage recorded from the ninja for us to check out/download? I have only been able to find in-camera recordings.

I second this request. I'd really like to see how it does in contrasty scenes. It's still just 8-bit right? 

One of the biggest draws of RAW is that you can actually extract detail out of the entire DR of the camera, instead of settling for what the codec bakes into the cake.  I'd be interested to know if the extra MBps help at all in this regard. If i had to guess, i'd say no.

peederj

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 260
    • View Profile
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 12:14:07 PM »
peeder,

Any chance you have any RAW footage recorded from the ninja for us to check out/download? I have only been able to find in-camera recordings.

The Ninja records ProRes, not RAW. For Canon RAW capture, you will need the $25000 C500 and an external recorder such as the $4000 Aja Ki Pro Quad. The amount of data such uncompressed RAW generates is staggering, but the Aja will debayer to ProRes as well if you wish.

The C100's output is 8 bit 4:2:2 and appears to use the entire 1080p resolution (all pixels seem to me to be well-resolved, as opposed to the 5D3 where you're getting maybe 80-90% of them). Canon log maps the full 12 stops of DR to the 8-bit output, which isn't much loss of fidelity given 8 bits sRGB gamma normally handles about 11 stops. When recording internally the codec is the main limiting factor on what you can do in post...the artifacting, especially chroma subsampling, is quite ugly when you push things. But when captured on the Ninja I have full latitude at all ISO settings, just bringing up a fine and very even noise floor which is no problem whacking with NR if needed.

It's a crying shame that people will judge the C100 based on the internal recording, because the most capable people are too busy making money with their cameras to post proper test results and analysis. Sadly I'm afraid I'm in that category, I would like to share results but it's too much of a hassle for me at the moment. But I have done these tests and I'm confident you will repeat my findings.

HurtinMinorKey

  • 7D
  • *****
  • Posts: 413
    • View Profile
    • carolineculler.com
Re: Canon C100 praise & annoyances
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2012, 12:19:55 PM »
Or Moire free video. Or anti-aliasing free video.

Yah right, moire free. Do i really have to go to Vimeo to show you some moire. Reduced, yes, but at the expense of a softer picture. No thanks.

Or the upcoming HDMI out (remember how crippled the 5dm2's software was at launch before complaining about the 5dm3 at launch).

Great, so the world will finally get to see that the 5D3 only records 1600X900 lines of res.  But you'll get it in all of it's 8 bit interframe glory. Unless i'm mistaken, and I hope I am, I'll pass.

Or the better lcd screen.

Hmm... how far have cell phone lcds come in that time? And they've fallen in price.

Or bigger viewfinder.
I like this, but I've never heard anyone rave about it.


Or the improved high ISO shooting.

A substantial improvement. Actually worth paying for.

Or the improved video codec.

How has it improved? Still 4-2-0. The Interframe implementation is sort of a gimmick.

Or the headphone out.

For a 99 cent piece of hardware it's incredibly useful. But it's still a 99 cent piece of hardware.

So we have: (more fps)+ (a 99 cent headphone jack)+ (modest ISO improvement)-(4years of depreciation)=+$500  :o

And given the price drops of the 5D3 I'd say Canon is in the process of learning their lesson.