The Imminent Canon C200 Codec Update Will Only Be 4:2:0 8-bit

In the early summer of this year, Canon introduced another enticing addition to their Cinema EOS camera lineup – the Canon EOS C200. When the product was first announced, videographers and filmmakers around the world were very excited that Canon has finally released a sub-$10K camera that has DCI-compliant 4K Raw shooting capabilities. While the initial hype was very prevalent in the filmmaking community, the minor disappointments and outcries progressively poured in when those who got their hands on the camera discovered one major flaw –  the available codec support.

Upon release, Canon gave the C200 users three codec options: 8-bit MP4 and MP4 Proxy recorded to the dual SD-card slots at up to 3840 x 2160, as well as 10-bit/12-bit Cinema RAW Light recording onto C-Fast cards at the full resolution of 4096 x 2160. While the camera does allow for recording to Cinema RAW Light (at a rate of about 1 Gbps), the issue is that the file sizes are extremely large, which means that you will need plenty of cards for an entire day worth of shooting.

In the meantime, while the MP4 codec offered significantly lower file sizes and the video quality somehow seems to hold up surprisingly well in post, it still lacks the flexibility and efficiency of the more robust 10-bit 4:2:2 broadcast friendly codecs, especially when it comes to color grading. As an answer to the need for a codec with high-quality video and manageable file sizes, Canon has decided to release an MXF codec in early 2018, although now it seems that it won’t be exactly the update people have been demanding since the launch of the camera.

Despite the fact the MXF codec is supposed to act as the format in between MP4 and Cinema RAW Light, Canon has decided to make the codec only 8-bit 4:2:0, rather than 10-bit 4:2:2. According to News Shooter, the additional codec will be XF-AVC YCbCr 4:2:0 8bit and still will be recorded only to the SD cards. Obviously, there won’t be an option to record at a higher bit depth, besides the proprietary Cinema RAW Light.

Even though this purposeful limitation is entirely understandable from a business perspective considering that Canon are more or less protecting the sales of the C300 and C300 II siblings, it still disappoints in a way. The availability of a 10-bit codec on board would make the C200 much more flexible and versatile filmmaking tool but obviously, this is not the case, or at least for now.

[via: News Shooter]

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Canon EOS C200 EF Cinema Camera

Canon EOS C200B EF Cinema Camera (Body Only)

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  • Josh Rutter

    Funny showing the C200 with their EVF which costs the same as the entire camera and a lens that costs less than a grand=) Interesting rig they got going there.

  • Bob Ross

    Was excited for this camera but I think I’m gonna go for the EVA1. We still need to see some footage from that camera, but it won’t take much. I hate Sony menus and am tired of Canon’s weird, wishy-washy treatment of their video line. They should have just put in a middle codec and made the C200 their flagship. Their current line is fragmented in a weird way and therefore rather frustrating for people that own the C300 or the C200. One has a broadcast ready codec but can’t overcrank without a crop. The other can overcrank without a crop but doesn’t have a broadcast ready codec. The cheaper camera can record raw internally but the more expensive camera can’t. It’s like they threw all the available features in a professional and consumer camera, mixed them all up in a pot, and then pulled them out at random and built a camera.

    • HenryEckstein

      Don’t worry about this! I know ARM-chip coding like the back of my hand!
      The DIGIC processors Canon uses in it’s cameras are all ARM-based which
      means I can code a 4:2:2 OR 4:4:4 codec at 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 bits
      per colour channel using multiple user-set MP4/AVC/H.264/H.265-style

      container formats AND I will GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE !!!!

      AND since I know BIOS chip engineering MUCH BETTER than Canon does,
      I can piggy back the codec to be uploaded and hooked into the
      on-board bios of almost ANY Canon camera!

      I’ll see if I can have a version done by November of this year for the
      above open source C100//C200/C300/1Dxmk2/5dmk4/6dmk2 codec.

      • That is something that would make me (and I imagine a lot of other people) very happy.

        • HenryEckstein

          I’ve already got a motion JPEG-2000 (i.e. Wavelet-based) INTRA-FRAME codec running, which means that since AVC/MP4 are technically wavelet-like INTER-FRAME codecs, so i can put that into the container formats. I’ve got multiple
          C-series and 1D/5D Canon cameras so I can test the
          codec NOW by using BIOS hooks to see how it integrates

          with the Canon BIOS chips …sort of what Magic Lantern

          does….the CODEC is the EASY PART, it’s hooking into
          the Canon BIOS that’s the hard part!

          I now have some spare time to REALLY PUSH this product
          AND YES I will ABSOLUTELY GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE
          open sourcing the code using the GNU GPL licence !!!

          THAT SHOULD MAKE Y’ALL HAPPY !!!!!!

          • T Nails

            Please make it so. This 420 nonsense is the only thing that has me on the fence.

          • Andreas Rathammer

            this would be so awesome! please keep us updated! Would be great to have this for the C100mki, too!!! Exciting!

          • Martijn Prins

            anything for the C100 mark I perhaps?

          • HenryEckstein

            Absolutely! My codec will be a generic MP4 container file format containing 16-bit (for cameras that support 16-bit DSP’s) 14-bit, 12 bit, 10 bit and 8-bit colour channels at 4:4:4, 4:2:2, 4:2:0 chroma sampling and even that old DV standby 4:1:1 colour space in MP4 containers (which you can do!) Canon uses the ARM core for all it’s newer DIGIC series camera processors, so my codec will work on 5D mk2/mk3/mk4, on 1Dx2, 1Dc, 7dmk2, C100, C200, C300, C500 and even the C700. It MIGHT even work on an M5/M6 and SOME of the PowerShot series if I use the appropriate cpu-specific cross-compiler…technically, with the right cross compiler, and bios hooks it will work on Panasonic, Sony, Fuji, etc cameras too since I use only highly-cpu-profiled C code. In case anyone is wondering, I have DECADES of video programming experience…I work on mission-critical systems such as 10-camera 4k surround-view 100,000 lbs+ UAV drones and their CODECS and flight control systems that grab video at up to 10,000 fps…SOOOOO….I kinda think I kinda know what I am doing on the programming side.

          • Martijn Prins

            sounds sick,when do you have it
            ready you think?

          • HenryEckstein

            I’m HOPING to see if late December as a timeline
            will work out…BUT….this IS programming however! It may be mid-January – I am not sure yet. The 4:4:4/4:2:2 with 16/14/12/10 bits MP4 codec itself isn’t all that hard to do ….it’s the wretched BIOS hooks and uploading into a Canon Camera that gets dicey. And since we only have the high end cameras, the powers that be at work tend to get downright nasty if I happen to accidentally brick a $40,000 C700 camera system or a bunch of 1Dc’s/1Dx’s/5Ds with an improperly coded camera BIOS test upload, so i kinda have to be careful.

            I’m trying to make the code as DSP/CPU agnostic as possible so again, it SHOULD work on Canon, Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Pentax, etc.cameras too!!!

      • Bob Ross

        If you can truly achieve this with the C200, and implement it in a way that is stable and dependable, you will single handedly change the world of cinema. I imagine every person out there would purchase a C200 then.

      • Matt75

        ***UPDATE***

        I have seen some more of your answers below. I leave my old comment here, and I renew my offer to test it.

        ——————————–old comment——————————

        Are you a member of the MagicLantern collective? Can you do better than a bunch of highly professional engineers paid way more than you? Are you going to make it STABLE and DEPENDABLE as the industry and the pressing clients require on a daily basis?

        Yes, it is true, some of Canon choices may appear not easy to understand, and many geeks might not appreciate that. But, on the other hand, if you have a quarter of a million pounds production to set, would you rather rely on your genius or on a stable system?

        On a serious note: if you really find the way of making it stable, dependable, affordable, well, let me know. I might be able to find you a job. And I would be happy to test the software, too.

        • HenryEckstein

          OH YES!! One of the issues with the DIGIC-6 on the
          C200 is to make sure EVERY instruction in my 444/422
          MP4 codec is PROFILED to use the fewest instructions
          possible eac operation. DMA-style copies of image data
          back and forth between the CPU and Cache or RAM is
          to BE AVOIDED and as much CPU register-based
          processing done as possible. My technique to
          ALLOW such fast processing is something I’ve
          been doing as a teenager! DON’T USE single-precision
          or even half-precision math! EMULATE real number
          math using TWO integers separately as the integer
          and fractional portion and clip to the integer bounds.
          Since I do the compression on BLOCKS of 256 x 256
          pixels I can keep my integer-based emulation of
          real number pixel and sub-pixel movement math
          to 16 bit values from 0.0 to 255.99 and
          -127.99 to +127.99 The left-over extra
          bit-wise values are used as error code
          and skip-pixel semaphores!

          This will INCREASE SPEED IMMENSELY so my
          422/444 colour Wavelet-based compression code
          CAN FIT and RUN FAAAST on a DIGIC-6 ARM-based
          processor at up 4K 60 fps!