Canon has always been a brand well known in the filmmaking community. Well before the DSLR revolution, launched by Canon itself with the 5D Mark II (a camera that brought many newcomers in the video production field), we had a lot of camcorders and cameras made by Canon.
The oddly alien-shaped XL series is a cherished memory to those who had to hustle between weddings and live events, ENG and such while rocking a mini-DV tape. Long gone are those days and long gone is Canon the camcorder manufacturer. All hail Canon, the dispenser of cinema cameras.
At the moment we have a lineup made of four great cinema cameras (the entry-level C100 II is sitting alone in its own area and we can count it out as a true Cinema Camera) and the new iteration of the EOS C500 is going to sit in the middle between the big boys C300 and C700 both normal and FF, a little above the all-rounder and solo-oriented C200. The guys at ProAV TV, as always, have had already a chance to get a first look and will guide us around for a round of first impressions on this brand new beast.
Aesthetically the camera is reminiscent somehow of the C200, but it seems bulkier and heavier, although that’s not really the case. The more square-ish look gives a feeling of sturdiness and strength to the whole body that looks actually like a C700FF being sawed in half.
Lifting the camera, you might be surprised by the actual levity of the body: using one hand to hold the camera is going to be easy unless a remarkably heavy lens is used.
Speaking of lenses, the choice available is going to be one of the wider possible on a cinema camera, at least on a Canon one. In fact, the C500 ships with a default EF mount but the mount is user-changeable.
All it needs is a screwdriver and a few minutes to remove the four screws holding the mount in place, and you can switch from the EF mount to a PL one. There’s even a locking EF option for heavier cine glass. This is an absolute first on a Canon camera, and we bet it’s a welcome novelty for all users.
Going back to the body, we have to give our praise to Canon for the approach they took designing this camera. Aiming to get the body as compact as possible for gimbal-use or similar scenarios, they chose to make it modular. The newcomer has, in fact, different attachments such as the viewfinder, the V-mount plate and various input/output breakout plates.
While all these additions are optional you have to pay for, the main body is still perfectly functional and all you’ll need to get to shoot right out of the box are a lens and a memory card. And that will lead us to the next section.
Change and innovation do not end with the lens mount, but they go on in the media department as well. The camera has an SD slot but, just as on the C300, it’s meant for 1080p proxy creation and nothing more. The actual 5.9K recording goes on a CFExpress card.
That’s another first time for Canon! These cards are a new iteration of the XQD cards. They share the same form-factor, but with completely redesigned internals allowing the faster-than-light speeds required to write down the immense 5.9K files.
Looking on the side, we can see most of the buttons and commands we’re used from the other cameras like the C200. A couple of differences are noticeable right off the bat, like the LUT button.
One-touch will allow switching between displaying the LUT or having a clean output – indeed a very useful tool to have on set for all the DP’s. Not only that, you’ll be able to load different custom LUTs in-camera and navigate easily through them, so you can show to the director or the client a rough preview of the look you’re going for.
In conclusion, this first hands-on of the Canon EOS C500 II seems to promise a lot. The look of the design choices and the brand behind it are good omens, but such a quick walk through may fool even the more experienced of us. In a few weeks, there will be more in-depth reviews coming in and we’ll have a broader knowledge of the pros and cons of this cinematic beast. We’re sure you too can’t wait for it.