Thursday, November 3, 2011

Canon Launches New Cinema Cameras (UPDATE)

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting Canon to go this big. They would have really blown my mind if they had gone full-bore RED competitor, which they didn't, but they have definitely gone bigger than Panasonic.

Still, I find this whole thing puzzling. The reason why the 5D was such a big deal was precisely because it was very different from traditional cinema cameras. Why release cameras that are more like traditional cinema cameras?

I guess that Canon sees a market ripe for competition. With the 5D, I now consider cheap cinema cameras to basically be DSLR's, and the $10-$20k price range is mid-range. In this price bracket, there's not much. There's Sony... and, who else? The cheapest RED camera is $25k, and that was groundbreaking when it came out. So I certainly see possibility here. They could easily undercut stagnant market leaders such as Panasonic and JVC. They can also out-spec the others. Lenses are obviously a closed system, but the batteries are standard Canon batteries. Storage is standard CompactFlash. In a world of proprietary/new EVERYTHING, this is fantastic news.

With a price of around $16,000, the new C300 is undoubtedly exciting for many film crews. If the technical specs hold up in the world of actual production, the cameras won't be quite as flexible as ARRI or RED, but with a price of one-fifth the cost of some of their cameras, who cares?

Here is a video demo of the camera's abilities. I have little experience with digital cinema, but he shoots straight into the sky on a number of occasions and the dynamic range holds up. That's pretty kick-ass. The video is 1080p. There is a link to a 720p version on the Vimeo site that loads faster and plays smoother on slower systems.

Mobius - 1080p HQ from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

UPDATE: I SPOKE TOO SOON! Canon has in fact announced a cinema-oriented camera that will sport a DSLR body. This makes much more sense to me, considering the revolution triggered by the 5D. If images are to be believed, it will be a large-bodied SLR with unknown mechanicals. Canon has released little info other than that they are making it.

If it is a large-body camera, I seriously doubt that this is the successor to the 5D. I imagine that this is more likely aimed at a rising demographic: semi-pro film makers. The popularity of the 5D and never-ending stream of hacks for the Panasonic GH2 reveal a market that is very interested in being the best damned cinema people in their neighborhoods.

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