Canon Expands Cinema EOS Lineup With The New C100

Back in November last year I interviewed one of Canon’s product developers Eric Allen who worked on the C300 Cinema camera.  At the time I asked him if this was the bridge camera between the DSLR world and a professional camera system or whether that mantle was being assumed by the 4k DSLR that is also being released shortly.  Eric replied definitively that the 4K DSLR was a different thing entirely, leading us to assume that there would soon be a camera that more closely bridged that gap that now exists between the DSLRs and the C300.  That time is now, and the camera is the new C100.

Canon C100

Critical Specs

  • 8.3MP Super 35mm CMOS sensor; Full HD
  • High sensitivity, low noise
  • 24Mbps AVCHD to dual SD cards
  • Automatic shooting functions
  • Interchangeable EF lenses
  • Canon Log Gamma
  • Compact, modular, lightweight
  • Professional audio
  • Included microphones


B&H will eventually be taking orders HERE


C100 modular design

In less than a year Canon has come out swinging with their Cinema EOS system and delivered a range of cameras to suit a wide variety of shooting needs.  The C300 met some criticisms initially from those that were hoping it would be cheaper or those that were hoping for 4k support.  Of course you have to start somewhere though and now Canon have answered those other issues with the C500 and C100.

Where the new C500 sets its sights firmly on the commercial, TV and cinema world, the C100 targets the one-man-band photojournalist and documentary maker who needs something small, lightweight but packed with professional features.  It’s essentially what we all imagined we wanted to see in a 5D Mk3 , until it was realized that Canon was going to keep two very distinct product lines with their video and stills cameras.  It looses a few features from the C300 but also sheds some size and weight as well as gaining some interesting new features not seen in the C300 or C500, notably auto exposure and auto focus options.  The new top handle assembly features a built in stereo microphone and sheds the LCD screen seen on the higher end models.  Instead the LCD screen is moved to the back of the camera beneath the viewfinder, a more preferable option in my opinion.

New rear LCD screen


Closed LCD screen


The C100 maintains the hugely popular built-in ND filters but the system becomes a mechanical one instead of an electrical one and it is actuated by a wheel on the left side of the camera body.  The inclusion of ND filters has become a standard feature since the C300 last year and it is one of the stand-out features that differentiates the usage of cameras like this with cameras like the Canon 5d Mk3.

C100 ND filters switch

Audio options are obviously hugely important for a camera positioned as a documentary and news shooter.  Again this is an area that really stands out when compared to using a DSLR.  The C100 maintains the 3.5mm input jack for people wanting to keep it super lightweight with something like a RODE videomic Pro and also maintains the XLR inputs on the removable handle.  In the audio department, the biggest news is that the C100s removable handle has a built in stereo microphone which will be great for ambient recording.  No news yet as to whether this handle is backwards compatible to the C300 for those that want to ditch the clumsy C300 LCD / XLR combo handle.

C100 built in microphone

In terms of image quality we should see an identical image to the C300.  In other words, super sharp with incredible low light performance as they are using the very same sensor.  What you won’t get out of it is any sort of slow motion shooting.  Yep, you read that right ; no slow motion whatsoever. Zip. Nadda. Why?  Who knows.  This really is a bit of a head scratcher when their main competitor in the current market is going to be the Sony FS700, a camera that is being marketed almost entirely based on its abilities to do extremely slow motion at full HD!  When even the sub $1000 DSLRs can do slow motion you know that this isn’t a case of difficulty or even cost.  A camera priced at $8000 should be able to do full HD at 60fps.  Competitors cameras have been doing that for years and I think this could hurt their sales of this camera, a camera that is otherwise a very good proposition for a lot of people.  I can feel a rant coming on…… must stop now…….grrrrr CANON WHY ?!?!

Recording will be done to dual SD cards rather than CF cards like the bigger siblings and the C100 ditches the HD-SDI output as well.  Uncompressed 4:2:0 can be recorded through the HDMI though with embedded timecode and using Canon’s log gamma mode this will be a great way to get a super detailed image on a real budget.

C100 Vs DSLR

Now what you might be thinking is whew this C100 is $8000 , how can they be positioning this as a lower end product in their blurb ?  What you have to remember is that the C100 is out of the box, ready to go.  It includes an EVF, a multi-angle LCD, XLR inputs, high grade stereo microphone, ND filters and a form factor that is already proven to be extremely useable in a native format.

Canon C100 – $8000 (list price only, shop price will be less..)

Canon 5D Mk3 – $3500

Stereo Microphone – $500

EVF – $700

LCD – $600

XLR Mixer like the Sound Devices Mix Pre-D –  $750

Cables necessary to connect all these things to your DSLR – $300

Cage or support system to attach everything to the camera – $600

Fader ND filter – $400

TOTAL – $7350

Now do you see what I mean ?  In order to pimp out your DSLR to shoot anything half decent you’re going to have to spend around a total of $7000 anyway!  And all you will end up with is an unergonomic, heavy mess of cables and trinkets that doesn’t shoot an image that’s nearly as sharp as the C100 does.  At this point, why would you choose to shoot with a DSLR ?  The two reasons I can think of are that you either want the full frame look, or you also shoot stills and need a tool to do both jobs.  Both valid reasons for some but for most I would think a non issue.

Quite some time ago, well over a year ago in fact I wrote an article entitled Convergence – Just a phase ?  In that article I outlined why I thought that the stills camera and video camera worlds would not collide as come people predicted after the launch of the Canon 5D Mk2.  Essentially it centered around the different needs of the different industries and the ergonomic problems associated with trying to please too many people.  Nearly a year after I wrote the post, Canon launched the C300 and confirmed my suspicions.  DSLRs and video cameras would soon part ways again and users of both would be appreciative of this.  The C100 compounds this development and now for the majority of people I can’t see a good reason to shoot anything professional on a DSLR rig.  My opinions weren’t so strong when the Sony FS700 was launched ( the C100s main competition) but that was due almost entirely to the form factor.  The FS700 is a big , heavy and clumsy beast that needs rigging up in some fashion to get it useable , not to mention needing an adapter to access the EF lens range.  One of the main draws to the DSLR for film making was initially the possibilities with a small form factor, something which Sony ignored with the FS700 in order to pack it with features.  What Canon has done with the C100 is build something that is just as small as a DSLR setup but with everything you need built right in.  Apart from the infuriating omission of any 60fps modes, this looks like a real winner to me.



Press Release

Canon U.S.A. Adds Two New Cameras To The Cinema EOS System: The EOS C500 4K Digital Cinema Camera And The EOS C100 Digital Video Camera

Two New Camera Models Fill Out a Well-Rounded Cinema EOS Line-up with High-End 4K and Entry-Level HD Camera Solutions
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., August 29, 2012 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, continues its commitment to the advancement of tools for visual expression and expand its contribution to cinematic culture with the introduction of the new EOS C500 4K Digital Cinema Camera* and the EOS C100 Digital Video Camera*. The C500 will take its place as the flagship camera model in Canon’s Cinema EOS System while the C100 provides another option for beginning filmmakers working on a budget. The C500 is Canon’s high-end professional 4K (4096 x 2160-pixel) cinema camera capable of originating uncompressed RAW output for external recording to meet the demands of premium cinematic productions and other top-quality production markets. The C100 digital video camera is a compact, affordable entry-level model delivering full 1920×1080 HD video and integrating the popular AVCHD codec for universal compatibility with laptop and desktop editing systems. The C500 will be available in both EF- and PL-mount versions; while the C100 will be offered in EF mount only and will be compatible with the more than 70 zoom and prime lenses in Canon’s EF, EF-S and EF Cinema lens lineups. All products in the Canon Cinema EOS line are engineered to provide exceptional image creation capabilities for professionals in the motion picture, television, and other diverse high-resolution digital production industries.

“We developed the Cinema EOS C500 digital cinema camera to deliver the benefits of full 4K motion capture to Hollywood’s premier filmmakers, while the C100 is designed for economical productions that need sophisticated HD capabilities and optical lens diversity. As we said in November of 2011, the C300 was just the beginning to our Cinema EOS system and we now offer a more complete system of imaging solutions with a range of cameras for every level of production,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc.

The EOS C500 4K digital cinema camera and EOS C100 digital video camera join Canon’s Cinema EOS System which includes two other camera models, the EOS C300 digital cinema camera for mainstream HD production and the EOS-1D C 4K Digital SLR cinema camera for 4K and HD filmmakers favoring the SLR form factor. The Cinema EOS System also offers filmmakers optical diversity with seven EF Cinema lens models: the compact and lightweight CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L wide-angle cinema zoom and the CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L telephoto cinema zoom (available in EF and PL versions); the CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L wide-angle zoom and CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7 L telephoto zoom (also available in EF and PL versions); and the CN-E24mm T1.5 L, CN-E50mm T1.3 L, and CN-E85mm T1.3 L prime lenses for EF-mount cameras, in addition to the more than 60 lenses in Canon’s EF and EF-S lens lines (which include macro, fisheye, telephoto, and tilt-shift models).

4K, 2K, and Full HD Image Quality

The Canon EOS C500 and C500 PL digital cinema cameras are designed to provide a versatile high-quality 4K imaging solution to high-end productions. High-quality 4K resolution imaging has become the new standard for advanced effects and is particularly important for big-budget motion pictures that include scenes compositing live-action cinematography with high-resolution computer-generated imagery. The C500 and C500 PL cameras output 4K resolution to external recorders as a 10-bit uncompressed RAW data stream, as well as offering the additional versatility of being able to output quad full-HD (3840 x 2160), 2K (2048 x 1080), full HD (1920 x 1080), and other imaging options. All of these digital image source formats fully conform to established SMPTE production standards. All 4K formats can be selected to operate from one to 60 frames per second. When shooting in 2K, the C500 and C500 PL cameras employ a 12-bit RGB 4:4:4 signal format from one to 60 frames-per-second (fps) as well. For high-speed shooting and slow motion capture the cameras can be set to a 10-bit YCrCb 4:2:2 mode, and can output 4K or 2K video up to 120 fps.

While outputting 4K or 2K video to an external recorder, the Canon EOS C500 and C500 PL digital cinema cameras simultaneously record a 50 Mbps Full HD video file in-camera to the user’s choice of one or two CF cards. The 8-bit 4:2:2 in-camera recordings can be used as a proxy for offline editing of 4K projects, and they are also suitable for various projects that do not require 4K resolution. Equipped with Canon’s exceptional Super 35mm 8.85-megapixel CMOS sensor, both C500 camera models are compatible with a wide range of interchangeable Canon lenses – the C500 is compatible with EF, EF-S and EF Cinema lenses for Canon SLR cameras, while the C500 PL is compatible with PL-mount EF Cinema lenses and other PL-mount lenses. Highly mobile and compact, the C500 digital cinema camera provides the same ergonomic features as the C300 model, with the exception of a fixed hand grip that incorporates a pair of 3G-SDI ports for 4K video output and another pair of video ports for monitoring purposes. Canon is working with several independent manufacturers of external video recorders to support smooth workflow options, and these recorders are expected to be available by the time the EOS C500 and C500 PL 4K digital cinema cameras ship to authorized dealers later this year.

One-Person Full HD With Automatic Functions

A cost-effective camera solution for a wide range of everyday users, the EOS C100 digital video camera is ideal for many full HD applications such as:

  • Low-budget television production and independent moviemaking
  • Museums, galleries, and film schools that utilize Full HD video
  • Wedding, corporate and event videography

The EOS C100 digital video camera is approximately 85% of the size of the EOS C300 model, for maximum mobility. Designed for professional operability, the C100 includes a push auto iris function, one-shot auto focus (or full manual focus and exposure control), a multi-angle 3.5-inch LCD control panel, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF), built-in ND filters, dual XLR inputs, and a locking HDMI output. These features combine with such advanced technologies as reduced rolling shutter artifacts in 60i mode, enhanced gamma modes (including Wide Dynamic Range (DR) Gamma and Canon Log Gamma), cinematic depth of field characteristics, and excellent low-light performance. The C100 records to dual SD cards contributing to the camera’s reduced size and convenience.

Like its C300 sibling, the EOS C100 employs Canon’s uniquely designed Super 35mm 16:9 CMOS sensor that captures individual R, G, and B channels for each full HD 1920 x 1080 frame. This high-sensitivity CMOS sensor provides creative depth of field capabilities for an excellent “bokeh” effect, and provides an ISO range of from 320 to 20,000, enabling the capture of images in low light with minimal picture noise. The Canon DIGIC DV III image processor in the C100 helps ensure high color fidelity and smooth color gradations. The camera’s AVCHD codec utilizes MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression similar to the codec used in Canon’s XA10 professional HD camcorder. AVCHD features a maximum recording bit rate of 24Mbps in full HD 1920 x 1080 and 4:2:0 color space for sharp, vivid images. Multiple recording modes, resolutions, and frame rates (including 24p) make the C100 creatively flexible for many production environments. The C100 also offers enhanced gamma modes (including Wide DR Gamma and Canon Log Gamma) for a peak dynamic range of 800% and the wide exposure latitude needed for creative post-production image processing, color correction, and contrast manipulation.

Designed for extensive operational versatility, the Canon EOS C100 digital video camera features a mobile core configuration that allows users to flexibly add accessory parts to the main camera body according to their production needs. A removable side-mounted rotating grip with start/stop button and miniature “joystick” menu control provides traditional SLR camera-style operation. A detachable handle unit connects to the top of the C100 and includes dual XLR connectors, a built-in stereo microphone, a bracket for an external microphone, audio-input level adjustments, and a tally light. The C100 records linear PCM two-channel audio or Dolby digital two-channel audio.

In addition to its ability to record to both SD cards simultaneously, or relay-record from one card to the other, the Canon C100 Cinema EOS camera can also output uncompressed digital HD to an external recording device via its locking HDMI connector. This HDMI output includes superimposed time code and 2:3 pull-down marker information. Additional outputs include a USB connector and stereo headphone jack.

Pricing and Availability

The Canon EOS C500 and C500 PL 4K Digital Cinema Cameras are scheduled to be available in October for an estimated list price of $30,000. The Canon EOS C100 Digital Video Camera is scheduled to be available in November 2012 for an estimated list price of $7,999.

Photo of author

Dan Carr

Founder of Shutter Muse, full time photographer and creative educator. Dan lives in the Canadian Yukon, but his wanderlust often sends him in search of images all around the world to meet the needs of clients and readers alike.

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