The Night of The Long Camera Announcements

Canon EOS C300

Yesterday night was something of a Hollywood epic. Canon announced the EOS C300 digital cinema camera, Red announced Scarlet…and Lomography announced the Lomo Kino Super 35…

Canon EOS C300

The Canon EOS C300 is a super 35mm HD camera built from the ground up for filmmakers. It features a newly developed super 35mm sized sensor that oversamples at 4K to deliver a non line skipping full HD feed for each colour channel (1080 for the red & blue channels, double that for the green) in order to ensure a high level of colour accuracy and, according to Canon, 1000 TV lines of resolution.

As expected, the Canon EOS C300 uses exactly the same 4:2:2 50Mbps codec found in the Canon XF305 and XF 300, meaning it meets the minimum HD origination spec for broadcasters such as The BBC and has out of the box compatibility with all major NLEs.

Rather than utilise the brand new DIGIC 5+ processors used in the recently announced EOS 1D X, Canon has opted for the slightly older DIGIC DV III processor found in the XF305. Nevertheless, they promise reduced rolling shutter, minimal moire and aliasing.

Frame rates for the Canon EOS C300 are 1-60 in 1FPS increments and include not just 23.98 and 25, but true 24 for seamless integration into film workflows. However, whilst frame rates of 1-30 FPS are full HD, frame rates of over 30 FPS drop to 720p.

In addition to having a genlock and timecode, the Canon C300 has built in ND filters that, according to Vincent Laforet, do not degrade image quality.

High ISO performance is said to be outstanding at speeds up to ISO 16,000. An example of this is Vincent Laforet’s short film ‘Mobius’, which was shot on the Canon EOS C300 using entirely natural light!

Other shorts shot on the EOS C300 can be viewed on the Canon Cinema EOS site.

The Canon EOS C300 ships in January 2012 in two versions, one with a EF mount (EOS C300), the other with a PL mount (EOS C300 PL). In all other respects, both cameras are identical. A full range of accessories are available from Red Rock Micro and Zacuto.

New Canon Lenses

Canon digital cinema lenses

In addition to the EOS C300, Canon announced 5 lenses. The CN-E 14.5-60mm T2.6 L & CN-E 30-300mm T2.95-3.7 L are 4K Super 35mm lenses available in EOS and PL mount. The CN-E24mm T1.5 L F, CN-E50mm T1.3 L F, & CN-E85mm T1.3 L F are 4K full frame lenses that can be used on the EOS 300 and all Canon EOS DSLR bodies. The lenses will be available in January 2012.

New Canon HDSLR

Surprisingly, Canon also announced they are developing a new full frame EOS HDSLR capable of recording 4K video at 24p as part of their Cinema EOS System. Early indications are that this EOS HDSLR is NOT an EOS 5D Mark III…though I hear (from non Canon sources) that an EOS 5D Mark III is expected in due course…

RED Scarlet

Red Scarlet

No sooner had Canon finished their announcement, than RED were beginning theirs. Scarlet has been transformed from a 2/3” chip camera into an Epic with a more limited range of resolutions and frame rate, for significantly less money. It is available to order now and will start shipping this December. Price for a brain (which can record RED Raw 4K at up to 25 FPS) is just under $10K. Price for a full kit with a Canon mount is just over $14K and with a PL mount, just under $15.5K.

Lomography Lomo Kino Super 35

Meanwhile, for those who prefer film to digital, Lomography announced the Lomo Kino Super 35 Movie Maker, a hand cranked super 35mm camera that takes vertically loaded rolls of 35mm stills film.

Each roll of 36 exposure film captures 144 frames at 3-5 frames per second, delivering movies with a length of approximately 20-40 seconds. Once processed, films are cut, placed in Lomo’s film holder, scanned on a flatbed scanner and edited together to create a movie. The price? £65.00. Here are some examples of the Lomo Kino Super 35 in action.

Avid Media Composer 6

Finally, Avid announced Media Composer 6.

My Take?

The Canon EOS C300/EOS C300 PL and RED Scarlet look very interesting. Clearly the Canon EOS C300/EOS C300PL is targeting the Sony F3 in exactly the same way that the Canon XF305/XF300 very successfully targeted the Sony EX3/EX1…and clearly the Red Scarlet is targeting both.

Whilst the fanboys will inevitably go to war over which is the better camera, I prefer to focus on what this means for those of us that are actually producing something (other than rants). Canon are obviously taking digital cinema very seriously, are listening to the right voices and are pushing into the market place with all guns blazing. Essentially, they have given us the camera we asked for…albeit at a price.

Sony will have to push back. RED will continue to fight the good fight. This competition can only result in more innovation, better technology, greater affordability and accessibility, which is good news for all filmmakers.

I look forward to getting my hands dirty with The Canon EOS C300 and the RED Scarlet in due course and will report my findings as and when I do. In the meantime, I think I I’ll get a Lomo Kino Super 35. What I’ll do with it, I have no idea, but if nothing else, it can keep company my Holgas, Diana, Super Sampler, Fisheye II and all the other Lomo products I purchased with the best of intentions…

© 2011 – 2015, Paul D. All rights reserved.

Author: Paul D

Paul D is a multi award winning director & producer who makes music videos, documentaries & feature films. His recent 'Toadlickers' promo for multi Grammy nominated artist, Thomas Dolby, won Gold in the W3 Awards, Gold in The Davey Awards, was nominated for 2 Webby Awards, reached #18 in YouTube's 'Most Watched' Chart and was broadcast on The BBC.