It’s been a busy week for Canon. Just a few days ago they announced their long awaited 5D MK IV which I’ve written about here, and now they’ve announced two more cameras: The XC15 and their new flagship cinema camera, the C700.
I’m not going to spend too much time on the XC15 here, as it’s not a camera that I am particularly drawn to, despite it offering some interesting features. Most of you are probably familiar with the XC10, which is essentially a tiny, budget conscious C300 MK II with a fixed lens attached. It’s never been the right camera for me personally, as I prefer to have my choice of glass when working with a more professional-style camera, but I could see the XC10 being great for certain types of shooters. For instance, event or ENG shooters would probably love this camera as it offers a lot of bang for your buck, tons of features, 4K recording, Canon color science, and lots more – all in a very small package. What it lacks are mainly functions and features that narrative or commercial filmmakers would be looking for.
It’s biggest drawback for it’s intended market was it’s lack of XLR inputs, but the latest version (XC15) includes a new XLR audio pack that can be attached to the camera using the same MA400 adapter from the C300 MK II. The camera also comes with a new lens, picture profiles that are designed to match the C300 II, and some other incremental improvements.
Here’s the spec list:
- 1″ CMOS Sensor and DIGIC DV 5 Processor
- UHD 4K at up to 29.97 fps
- Integrated f/2.8-5.6/8.9-89mm Zoom Lens
- XLR Audio Input & MA-400 Mic Adapter
- 24p Mode for 4K and 1080p Video
- New Looks and Menu Options
- Waveform Monitor Display
- Three New Shutter Speeds
- Highlight Priority HDR-Like Gamma
- Rules Assignable to Files & Metadata
The price of the XC15 isn’t yet available, but it will likely sell for about $3000 give or take.
For those XC10 shooters out there, I would say the XC15 looks like a worthwhile upgrade if a lack of XLR connections has been an issue for you. Otherwise, the XC10 is still a solid camera for shooting events, news, documentaries, and other run and gun content. At some point in the future I might write up a bit more on the XC15 if there is any interest from the readers. But in the mean time, let’s take a look at the bigger news from Canon today –
There have been rumors for months that Canon would be releasing a higher end cinema camera, designed to compete with cameras like the Arri Amira and Sony F55. Today, those rumors finally became a reality as the C700 was announced.
Here are some of the specs:
- Super 35mm CMOS Sensor
- EF or PL Mount
- Global Shutter Version Available
- Up to 15 Stops of Dynamic Range in Rolling Shutter / 14 Stops in Global Shutter
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- 4K up to 60 fps, 2K/HD up to 240 fps
- Proxy Recording to SD Cards
- Selectable Gamma and Log Curves
- XF-AVC and ProRes Recording to CFast 2.0
- Intuitive User Interface
- Raw Recording Option
- Starts at $28,000 for the body
Like just about every other Canon camera released in the last several years, the C700 seems to suffer from the same issue – a price point that is too high for the specs that it offers on paper. Sometimes Canon can get away with high pricing because their cameras seem to deliver better images than you would expect based on specs alone, but in this case they really have their work cut out for them. At $28,000 for the body (not including an EVF, RAW recorder, shoulder mount grip, etc.), this camera is priced exceptionally high. Depending on how you configure the camera, the accessories you choose, media, etc. this camera could easily cost over $40K when all is said and done.
The EVF alone costs $5999. Granted, this looks like a pretty fantastic full 1080p viewfinder, but nonetheless it’s still a hefty price to pay. You could always opt for a 3rd party EVF, but even still you’re looking at $2K-$3K on top of the camera body. And that’s just for the viewfinder.
With a $12,000 camera like the C300 MK II, you can somewhat justify the fact that the camera has fewer specs than a camera like the Sony FS7, which is priced at $8000. After all, the Canon still has far better color science than Sony (in my opinion at least), and it’s subjective image quality is more filmic and organic to many users. Sony tends to have a bit of a “video look” across all of their cameras, and Canon has somehow managed to avoid this. So even though the Sony FS7 offers a lot more features than the C300 MK II and has a lower price, there is still an argument that could be made for the C300 MK II.
But with the C700 priced at $28,000 for just camera body, I’m not sure what argument could really be made…
I don’t doubt for a second that the images off of this camera will look spectacular, and that Canon is at least attempting to appeal to a specific type of professional shooter. The fact that you can choose between a rolling or global shutter (it’s not switchable, but rather available in two separate bodies), is a step in the right direction. The physical design of the camera looks pretty solid too, and seems to have stolen a lot of the best design ideas from Arri, Sony, and Panasonic, and combined them into one nice looking package. Not to mention, the inclusion of ProRes recording is fantastic and will make the camera far more efficient when integrating it into an existing post-pipeline.
All this aside though, what is Canon doing that other companies aren’t? Nothing really… At least from where I stand. Sure it offers 4K recording, 60fps, and lots of dynamic range, but at $28,000 what other camera doesn’t offer these features and then some?
As funny as this may sound, this camera feels somehow outdated before it’s even hit the shelves. For instance, the fact that you need an Codex recorder module to record in RAW is pretty disappointing, considering how many other cameras can record RAW internally in 2016. The lack of slow motion above 60fps is also pretty shocking for a camera at this cost being released this year. Canon has always had trouble delivering slow motion on their cameras, and while 60fps is plenty for the majority of shooting scenarios, most shooters would expect a camera at this price point to offer higher frame rates.
Technically the C700 an shoot up to 240fps internally, but that is only when shooting in 2K or HD, and it uses a crop mode on the sensor. The Codex recorder module will allow you to record up to 120fps in RAW, but again you need the module which is sold separately at a price that isn’t yet available.
On a more positive note, the Codex recorder attaches right on to the C700 body and essentially becomes a part of the camera. This will certainly make it easier to use and will keep your rig free of extra cables when shooting.
Ultimately, I really don’t know who this camera is designed for. Canon’s market (although largely unintended) was once the low budget filmmaker that was attempting to capture cinema style images on a DSLR. Then they started attacking the mid-level broadcast market and had lots of success doing so with their C300 and C100. But when their previous flagship cinema camera (the C500) didn’t take off the way they had hoped, they decided to go even bigger instead of revisiting their core user base. Rather than catering to filmmakers that are best served by cameras in the $3K – $15K range, they decided to go big and compete with the likes of the Arri Amira, Sony F55, and Panasonic Varicam LT.
I’ve shot with all three of the cameras I just mentioned, and I really don’t know how the C700 is going to compete against any of them. The Arri Amira would hands down be my choice amongst any camera in the $30 – $50K range, as it simply offers the best image quality. Both the Sony F55 and Varicam LT are excellent cameras that each have their own strengths, and already appeal to a certain type of user, so it’s going to be very hard for the C700 to find it’s place in this already saturated market.
For Canon, I would say the C700 is simply too little too late. If they had either offered the C700 at a far lower price (well under $20K), or included substantial features that go above and beyond what we are seeing from the competition, then we would be talking. But trying to compete with the likes of the Arri Amira without offering a lower cost or any significant feature advantages just isn’t going to fly for most of us.
With all that said, I do believe with 100% certainty that the C700 is going to be a great camera in many ways. It will very likely capture gorgeous images, and will surely be capable of producing fantastic results in the right hands. But so will many, many other cameras. And I think Canon is going to have a very hard time selling these things, as their once loyal user base largely feels abandoned by their efforts, and the higher end market is mostly taken care of by the competitors…
On a related note, Canon just dropped the price of their C500 down to $6999. This camera was $30,000 just a few short years ago:
I expect that we’ll see a price drop on the C700 in the not too distant future too. All cameras go down in value. It’s just the nature of the game, and no camera manufacturer is immune to this. That said, Canon often need to drop their prices faster, and more aggressively than their competitors to make up for (what I believe to be) over pricing upon initial release.
That’s about it for now. Despite my issues with the C700, I am still very much looking forward to trying it out. It looks like a cool camera, and if it wasn’t so over priced, I’d probably even consider one myself. But with a starting price of $28K? I’d rather keep my money.
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!