I make a point not to post about rumors often on this site, however in the past few weeks many credible sources have pre-emptively stated that Canon will be releasing their C300 Mark II before NAB in April of this year. Although there has been no official announcement or statement from Canon, where there’s smoke there is usually fire – and I think it’s safe to say that the C300 has been long overdue for an upgrade, meaning that the Mark II version is likely just around the corner.
The new C300 Mark II will allegedly feature a 4K recording option, which is certainly no surprise as any camera in the $10,000 range in 2015 has no excuse not to offer 4K/UHD resolution. The camera will be priced “aggressively” according to many reports, which is also no big shock as that falls in line with where Canon’s price points have been after the numerous price drops on the cinema line. Take the original C100 for instance, which now is priced at only $3999.00:
There haven’t been any other specs or details on the C300 Mark II leaked at this point, but if I were to speculate I would say that there’s a good chance higher frame rates are in the cards, as well as higher bitrate recording. Let’s start with the frame rates…
Right now, it seems that the biggest competitor to the rumored C300 Mark II is Sony’s FS7, which will offer similar functionality and will definitely appeal to the same type of shooter. That said, the edge that Sony has always had with their FS cameras has been the high frame rates. Canon has been widely criticized for not offering higher frame rate recording (for slow motion shots) on their C100 or C300, but that seems to be changing. The C100 Mark II upgrade included a much needed 1080/60p mode (while it’s predecessor topped out at 30p), and the original C300 was only able to shoot 60 frames per second in 720p mode. I think it’s quite obvious that the C300 Mark II will need to match or exceed the C100 Mark II’s frame rate capabilities, so it is certainly possible that 96fps or even 120fps may be in the cards for Canon’s new C300.
As far as higher bitrates go, that is kind of a given as well. The C100 Mark II upped their max bit rate to 35mbps (from 24mbps on the original), and the C100 still only shoots 1080p. If there C300 Mark II is going to record at 4K resolution, it will mean that higher bitrates will absolutely need to be implemented in order to maintain an acceptable level of detail and quality with the increased resolution. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see higher bitrates on the 1080 and 720 modes of the C300 Mark II too.
Can The C300 Mark II Save Canon?
Canon has lost a lot of users over the last year or two – mainly thanks to the Lumix GH4 and Sony A7S stealing a lot of their market share. It’s hard to justify spending several times the cost of either of those cameras to purchase a Canon DSLR or cinema camera, when the image quality isn’t necessarily any better and the specs in many cases are worse. That said though, there are still a few things that Canon does really well – namely their color science.
I love my GH4 and shoot with it constantly. I also enjoy shooting on the A7s, the Samsung NX1 and many other highly capable DSLRs… However, the one area where I still feel that Canon has everyone else beat is with their color science. The colors that are captured off of a Canon sensor in my opinion are often more natural looking and accurate when compared to it’s competitors. This is a huge consideration, especially when taking into account the fact that all of these cameras are recording to fairly highly compressed formats – which means nailing the look in camera is ideal so that heavy color grading isn’t required.
If Canon is able to deliver a C300 Mark II that is priced within reasonable range of the Sony FS7, and it offers 4K recording and higher frame rates (which I definitely think it will), Canon might just be able to get themselves back in the game. The form factor of their cameras is still fantastic, and the color science and overall ‘look’ of the images off of Canon’s cinema cameras is still top notch for many types of productions. They have certainly trailed behind, but these potential improvements might just be enough to keep filmmakers coming back for more.
Many of us have already jumped ship and have moved on to cameras from other brands… But for those that are hanging on to Canon, there may just be some hope in sight.
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!