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Canon C100 or C100 Mark II ?


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Hi all,

I've narrowed down my choice in purchasing a new cinema camera to either the C100 or C100 Mark II.  I'm having trouble deciding between the two mainly because the C100 is at such a killer deal for $2999 with Dual Pixel Autofocus while the C100 Mark II is now at $3999.  My question is, are the improvements in the C100 Mark II worth the $1000 difference?

Would love to get some opinions!  I'd mainly be using this camera for Music Videos and Short Films, with occasional commercial work.

Thanks in advance!

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Depends on how much the improvements are important/valuable to you. You might have zero interest/use in the improvements and another might find the improvements an absolute necessity.

So make you choice:

C100II over C100:

-1080p 60p. (vs no 60 at all)

1 -Slightly improved resolution and colour rendition/accuracy 

2 -Much better EVF. The C100 EVF is only usable for vague framing in daylight, C100II is big and bright and can be used for critical focus and exposure.

3 -When using Canon STM lenses it can track faces all over the frame, not just the centre point AF.

4 -It boots up quite faster. almost instantaneously vs a goof few seconds. 

5 -Much better articulating LCD for critical angles. 

6 -A stop better high ISO performance/noise

So it's really slo-mo and LCD/EVF. If you never do slo-mo, don't need fully articulating LCD (Find the mk I good enough), then the 1000$ saving better be put towards something else. They both give almost identical 24p HD image with incredible resolution/colour/DR and lowlight performance.

Some actually find the MK one image to be more filmic and the improvement in the MKII resolution and more accurate (less warm) colour rendition gave it a ''video'' look over the filmic look of the Mark One. I actually agree. It's a slight but noticeable difference side by side. If you look up all C100II videos vs C100 you'll see that slight videoish vibe. It can be absolutely negated with grading but one has to calibrate it to C100 WB and colour.  

I my self would buy the C100II just for the fully articulating LCD on which I've become really dependent on for some reason.  
 

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48 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

They're both an HD camera, I'd go with C100 mk1 secondhand at the cheapest price you can find, as once you get up to the level of C100 mk2 band new pricing it becomes hard to argue against spending even more to get a Sony FS5 instead. 

Except that the FS5 has a bad, buggy image with weird video colors in a codec that's too thin to fix them.

But other than that. Yeah. Maybe with some firmware updates and external recorders it'll be great (the FS7 is pretty great), but it isn't now. Honest question, can you load Sony's F5 film and Alexa emulation LUTs on the FS5? These are awesome and everyone shooting Sony should be using them. Big improvement, completely changes what's possible because the chroma clipping makes those cameras near unusable under some lighting with out of the box settings and with these at least you get a starting point that's really cinematic and workable and with a strong codec you can get a very good image with some work in post.

The deal killer on the C100 is the horrible EVF and no 60fps. If you use an EVF enough that a loupe on the LCD won't cut it or shoot 60fps and slow motion... really at all (there's a surprisingly okay 60i to 60p to 24fps slow motion Compressor workflow... Compressor's motion estimation deinterlacing is better than any other... but it's unusably slow and like... come on... no one is doing this unless they're truly desperate) it's not much of a choice. I'd spend the extra but I don't know your financial situation or your clients' needs. 

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3 hours ago, IronFilm said:

They're both an HD camera, I'd go with C100 mk1 secondhand at the cheapest price you can find, as once you get up to the level of C100 mk2 band new pricing it becomes hard to argue against spending even more to get a Sony FS5 instead. 

This. I copped a C100 mk1 with DPAF upgrade secondhand last month for under $2K. I was actually saving up for an FS5 but couldn't pass on the deal. New I'd probably still go for the mk1 cuz indeed at $4K, we're approaching FS5 territory..

2 hours ago, Policar said:

Except that the FS5 has a bad, buggy image with weird video colors in a codec that's too thin to fix them.

But other than that. Yeah. Maybe with some firmware updates and external recorders it'll be great (the FS7 is pretty great), but it isn't now. Honest question, can you load Sony's F5 film and Alexa emulation LUTs on the FS5? These are awesome and everyone shooting Sony should be using them. Big improvement, completely changes what's possible because the chroma clipping makes those cameras near unusable under some lighting with out of the box settings and with these at least you get a starting point that's really cinematic and workable and with a strong codec you can get a very good image with some work in post.

The deal killer on the C100 is the horrible EVF and no 60fps. If you use an EVF enough that a loupe on the LCD won't cut it or shoot 60fps and slow motion... really at all (there's a surprisingly okay 60i to 60p to 24fps slow motion Compressor workflow... Compressor's motion estimation deinterlacing is better than any other... but it's unusably slow and like... come on... no one is doing this unless they're truly desperate) it's not much of a choice. I'd spend the extra but I don't know your financial situation or your clients' needs. 

The mk1 EVF is terrible indeed but with a $40 C-cup it's usable. Not sure what you mean by FS5's "bad, buggy image", the firmware that came out 6 months ago fixed most of the noise problems (as documented by Andrew on this blog). The FS5 packs a lot of heat with 4K, 10-bit 422 1080p, usable S-Log3, 240fps & variable ND in a tight lightweight package. The IQ is great, but it's a Sony as far as colors (IQ is very similar to A7S2). It has a very "fresh" in-vogue looking image. C100 mk1 does have this filmic / classic docu look. I'm a fan of both looks, preference is kind of like picking between different film stocks..

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24 minutes ago, Django said:

The IQ is great, but it's a Sony as far as colors (IQ is very similar to A7S2). It has a very "fresh" in-vogue looking image.

Do you have an example of any FS5 material that you think stands out?

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53 minutes ago, User said:

Do you have an example of any FS5 material that you think stands out?

Just have a look around vimeo.. i have a hard time finding footage that doesn't stand out! and with the 4K 12-bit raw option now available, the camera has just turned into an IQ beast:

 

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22 minutes ago, Django said:

Just have a look around vimeo.. i have a hard time finding footage that doesn't stand out! and with the 4K 12-bit raw option now available, the camera has just turned into an IQ beast:

 

Yes, all you need to get this look is an FS5 and a EUR 21,500 anamorphic zoom. 

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16 hours ago, Ebrahim Saadawi said:


Some actually find the MK one image to be more filmic and the improvement in the MKII resolution and more accurate (less warm) colour rendition gave it a ''video'' look over the filmic look of the Mark One. I actually agree. It's a slight but noticeable difference side by side. If you look up all C100II videos vs C100 you'll see that slight videoish vibe. It can be absolutely negated with grading but one has to calibrate it to C100 WB and colour.  
 

This is interesting!  I was noticing this a little bit in example footage I was looking at but wasn't sure if it was just me being picky or not.  

Ive worked with the C100 mk1 on a shoot and found the image quality to be filmic and appealing but want to avoid an image that looks more video like.   I work in Post Production and work with a lot of Alexa footage so I lean more towards the most filmic look I can achieve and most of the work I would be doing with this camera would be narrative short film and music video and not documentary style or interviews, except for maybe occasionally.  

I do however occasionally shoot my shorts and music videos in a run and gun fashion if I have limited resources and so that's why I thought maybe the c100 or mark II was the best choice since it comes with everything you need and the built in ND's sound amazing.

ive looked at Blackmagic cameras and feel I like the image quality the best with there stuff as it comes so close to Alexa log footage however it looks like it requires so much extra gack that it ends up costing more then an FS5 I feel.  Which I'm not in the position to purchase at the moment.

Based on the creative criteria I mention do you still feel like the c100 or c100 mark II is the right fit for the type of productions I'd be doing with it or should I be looking at a different camera all together...?

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That video doesn't look bad (it doesn't look great either, it could be from anything), but those are literally the least challenging conditions imaginable. Let's try mixed lighting. Looking at her hair you can see there might be chroma clipping until challenging light but it's hard to know. I wouldn't go for that camera, at least not without Sony's Alexa emulation LUT (can that be installed on the FS5? it is literally the saving grace of the F5 and F55 because chroma clipping cannot be graded out and it solves it completely in camera). And the codec is still a bit weak from what I've seen. Someone sitting and not moving in a well lit environment won't stress it, but I was surprised even the F5 did not have a strong enough codec to completely transform the image in post. Bottom two stops are very gnarly, needs to be rated at 800-1000 ISO base to function then DR is no better than C300.

Also the C100 Mk 1's viewfinder is hot garbage. Useable is a very very generous term. The viewfinder with a loupe is 10X better but isn't that what we were trying to get away from when we spend $6000k instead of $600?

Regarding the above, the 2.5k black magic (haven't used the 4.6k yet) has a nice clean image that cuts well with the Alexa but the rest of the line is not great in terms of IQ. But if you kit that camera out to be production ready it's more expensive than a Canon. Their 4k sensor is rather bad. Like... yikes level.

This is only advice for the original poster. If you like a video look and/or have a lot of time in post or are on the aggressive LUT covering up natural color train and need 240fps then the FS5 will blow your mind, but for someone who's looking to get a neutral Alexa-like look and doing just regular narrative/doc primarily, the Canons and Black Magic 2.5k are the next best thing.

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Get the MK I and a loupe for the rear screen. Or an external monitor and a rig. The images are nearly the same. I don't know if the MK I looks more filmic, I own one and compared to the MK II, it's more or less equal, but the image is nice regardless. Probably the best 1080p 8-bit image you can get that looks really nice right out of the camera.

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6 hours ago, Policar said:

That video doesn't look bad (it doesn't look great either, it could be from anything), but those are literally the least challenging conditions imaginable. Let's try mixed lighting, where chroma clipping appears. I wouldn't go for that camera, at least not without Sony's Alexa emulation LUT (can that be installed on the FS5? it is literally the saving grace of the F5 and F55 because chroma clipping cannot be graded out and it solves it completely in camera). And the codec is still a bit weak from what I've seen. Someone sitting and not moving in a well lit environment won't stress it, but I was surprised even the F5 did not have a strong enough codec to completely transform the image in post. Bottom two stops are very gnarly, needs to be rated at 800-1000 ISO base to function then DR is no better than C300.

Also the C100 Mk 1's viewfinder is hot garbage. Useable is a very very generous term. The viewfinder with a loupe is 10X better but isn't that what we were trying to get away from when we spend $6000k instead of $600?

Regarding the above, the 2.5k black magic (haven't used the 4.6k yet) has a nice clean image that cuts well with the Alexa but the rest of the line is not great in terms of IQ. But if you kit that camera out to be production ready it's more expensive than a Canon. Their 4k sensor is rather bad. Like... yikes level.

This is only advice for the original poster. If you like a video look and/or have a lot of time in post or are on the aggressive LUT covering up natural color train and need 240fps then the FS5 will blow your mind, but for someone who's looking to get a neutral Alexa-like look and doing just regular narrative/doc primarily, the Canons and Black Magic 2.5k are the next best thing.

Edit: noticed that was from the Q7 via raw. That could make a big difference running through the Q7 if you set everything just right. More money there but it could be a great option for those who are okay with the cost and ergonomics. 

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9 minutes ago, Flynn said:

For those who use dual pixel autofocus in video, are there any companies that have something almost as good or is it just head and shoulders above what everyone else is doing?

It's definitely effective in the right hands. I did extensive testing with a 50mm L-series at f1.2, and it followed focus quite organically, maybe not as fast as a human focus puller, but it manages to work without that harsh stepping effect that autofocus motors are known for. As far as alternatives, there are a few systems that seem to provide auto focus from manufacturers like Red Rock Micro, CMotion and Andra, but as far as I know, they're mostly prototypes, probably very expensive, and requires lots of rigging and bolting motors and sonar transmitters to your camera.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

I don't like the image quality produced by these Sony cameras. Look at that video for an example. They're truly cinematic and mindblowing, but not filmic. It just doesn't sync with my visual system as analogue film, it's very high quality cinematic images. That's all I can say. It's almost impossible to put in words but it's like describing the beauty of a woman! Many poets (masters of description in the written word) tried and yet everyone failed :) 

I've shot 35mm film for decades and we used to compare stocks just as we compare sensors today, right down to the res/lowlight/grain/film-size/colour-science, etc,  There are signal outputs from certain cameras that look like it's been shot on good 2006-2010 35mm Kodak/Fuji film. Almost identically. Like an Alexa. A 100% film emulated image. 

Second to that or even as good is surprisngly, on the absolute other track of cost, the Blackmagic camera 2.5K Version in RAW in Film Mode! That's up there with the Alexa/35mm film. And it's a m43s size sensor that can be bought for a thousand USD made by a company who never made a single camera before it!! It's probably due to their experience in image quality/colour science/rendition from their Da Vinci Resolve engineers.  

But the camera has practically no audio, only 30p, m43s sensor size (can be speedboosted to S35 though), an LCD that works as your models' make-up mirror, horrible battery life, no AF, no active lens communication, and it really is nothing but a sensor in a box with an SSD and a terrible screen to shoot. (the rest of the camera is simply not included, like a place to grip your hand, a top handle, an audio recorder/XLRs, an EVF, a good moving LCD, buttons to change settings!, microphone holder, ND filter) it's really a sensor in a box, while a C100 gives you the rest of the ''camera'' :)   

Onto the C100, the first version is more filmic than the second. I can see it side by side on two exactly set up monitors and pointed at one model. It's just, more filmic!

It's not Alexa/BM but is pretty damn filmic,

if these are 90% filmic & 10% video (They're still just a tiny bit shy of the classic duel of a Panavision Camera loaded with Kodak motion Stock in analouge look),

then the C100 is like 80% filmic and 20% video, in C-LOG it's a beast, a filmic image with very high resolution, terrific warm colours, can ride exposure through an ISO wheel in a scene from 320 to 5000 and none will notice any image degradation. A monster lowlight camera, and all of this, is in 24mbps files to cheap SD cards!

It goes to say Filmic vs Video look doesn't just come from RAW or a certain codec, actually most of the BM and Alexa footage I/we see are online and are compressed 24-50mbps HD versions at best, and still look just as filmic.


I swear even on Egypt's 480p 10mbps SD broadcast the Alexa looks just as good and filmic on the end TV and it's what I shoot high-end commercials with that all end up on SD broadcast (plus the Epic but I don't like the image much, it's super cinematic like Sonys but not filmic. Plus the camera body it self is so much more complicated and expensive 12 year-old toy look-alike device, vs the Alexa -few buttons and record ProRes, go home- and they both cost the same in daily rental here so never shot it unless forced to on a Tumor Hospital Commercial, A small city/living compound commercial (wanted 4K!) and a high-end music video -where the firmware bugged out three times, completely shutting off, and embarrassed the hell out of the team in front of a national superstar -all Red Epic MX btw not Weapon Dragon or such-  So just three times vs about 6 on the C300/100, and about 2 dozens on the Alexa, all these years just for SD broadcast. and it never changed or let me down on set nor in final image, I guess that's why it's king. Reliable, Easy and Delivers best image, what could be better? -maybe a mini one, no a real mini one, like a DSLR-like camera unit with the Alexa sensor with 1080p ProRes only-)

the C100 is also an absolute joy to use and filled with all the ENG/Doc features/aids. I use the EVF is B&W for framing. It has a use, not ''unusable'', it's just the newer one has much more uses other than basic framing n daylight. Terrible omission is the slowmotion abillty because you NEED that for your work nowadays. Clients LOVE it. And you're going to do some music work? Really essential. Maybe a C100 MKI and a small RX100VI for slo mo (120p/240p!)?

-With the MKII the made enormous ergonomic leaps and features including slowmotion, but the image to me, went down, not up. Yes up in sharpness, yes up in colour ACCURACY, but down in filmic/pleasing quality. It's too real, too Sony. to my eyes is an identical look to the FS5 in HD, with negligible minute stuff here and there. But it's a cinematic, video-vibe look with sharp micro-contrast and accurate/real-to-life colour rendition. Sony.    

The MKI renders detail of actors astoundingly, projected in a theatre, it's as sharp and defined as I ever want, I don't want higher. Just that. Same as 2.8K/2.5K alexa/BM, higher than that in the delivery format makes the image quality go down for me.

The MKI colours have a special quirk in the midtones that you can see in your RGB Parade/scopes (even in the washed out almost B&W C-LOG) has a warm (not yellow, but warm) rendition to the midtones (where skin lurks) while the C100II lost or fixed that image "defect" of having an abnormally warmer mids, while that quirk made the C100 give a warm look that almost replicates the Kodak 250D Vision3 series colour vibe. Now it's all neutral, cold and sharp. i.e., heaven to landscape/doc shooters but bad to narrative/music shooters.  

I was worried the C300II would have the same image aesthetic/colour science as the C100II but it turned out with a whole new non-canon look and almost copying Blackmagic's aesthetic. 

The issue is there with the MKII and I scientifically proved it's origin before my eyes, but what makes me wonder is: Do audience notice the difference? Would they have a different effect on their visual system to watch the film on the MkII vs the MKI? Or will it look identical and we end up wasted the chance to play with the nice EVF and that glorious swivly LCD and 60p? 

I know they'll never point it out, but maybe it does affect them internally? I don't now. If these differences don't make a difference AT ALL then I have wasted A LOT of time and money shooting on the 1DC and could've just shot the a7s MK one since the day it came out (the perfect camera for me, but dreadful colours, again probably only to my eyes, not my audience).

 

I am talking here about the camera systems with small differences, like C100/II/Fs5/A7sII/NX1/Fs7/C300 HD/4k, all small differences once output graded and output to a common projector/LCD. (not talking about say a GH4 with a 14-140mm Kit lens vs a BM 2.5K with a Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 lens. My brother -who actually religiously hates and opposes films as a whole, never watched more than a couple- told me this (GH4) looks like television and this (5DIII) looks like movies. Simple. By himself, without asking, he just saw me switching back and forth between the clips. So these big differences are definitely noticed and perceived)

But I then think again it may or may not affect their experience. And even if it doesn't, who gives a damn F&^%? filming is a hobby that I enjoy besides my work as a hospital ER physician/Senior PhD Radiologist, so the enjoyment I PERSONALLY get from grading and shooting and viewing these images that I personally have a passion for, is worth it alone. It makes me happy and satisfied. Isn't that all that matters when you're at this point in life? 

If it was my only job and treat filming only as an income source to put meals on my children tables, I'd never care about that. I'd definitely just but a Sony + SB from day one and wow them with some FF 120p/240p Slo-mo sequences shot on a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 wide open!

Don't care about aliasing/macroblocking/colour science changes/video vibe/menus/ none. I wouldn't even need Raw, internal would suffice. I would just want to impress my clients with a

1- Good, Large, looking camera.
2- Shoots 4K so I can say I shoot 4K, four times 1080p Ma'm,
3- shoots Very slow Slo-mo
4- Has Full Frame DOF and fast fast lenses.

So the choice of between these camera (C100s and Fs5) really depends on three things,

1- What kind of person you are (business oriented vs film passionist)  
2- Your job (sole source of income and struggling vs. a second job for another comfortable career) 
3- Your Clients (Educated film goers vs YT/TV spectators) 

 

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Interesting post Ebrahim. Thanks.

I can imagine that a light color grade will be enough to blur the difference between the C100 Mk I/ MkII.

8 months ago when I was trying to decide between the A7(s/r) and C100 I put of material up on a big projector screen, the Canon stuff really won hands down.

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Being familiar with all the cameras discussed above I do agree with  Ebrahim's assessment about them. That being said I still think which one you prefer or is right for you is totally subjective so not sure I agree with the conclusion. It is clear Ebrahim is passionate about filmic camera properties (not just from reading the above but the 1DX2 vs 1DC thread etc) and that's fine. But outside of these specialised forum niches, people might reach different conclusions. I'm sure to many (including Canon) the C100 mk2 has better video quality then mk1. And same goes for recent Sony cams. The filmic vs cinematic / 4k video debate kinda reminds me of other digital vs analog or X vs Z debates I've seen in other specialised forums. In the end nobody is really right or wrong, just like you often hear there is no perfect camera generally speaking.. and with log profiles & grading become so accessible, the difference becomes kinda marginal aside from purists points of view.

Sure Black Magic's & ARRI's etc are cinema oriented cams and hence more filmic..  and the Sony's are better suited to dazzle with super-slo mo action or 4K cinematic commercials & music videos but that doesn't mean they're oriented towards non film educated or non passionate business persons. That's a bit too black & white a statement in 2016 imo. A lot of people have multiple needs these days. They might have commercial work and do narrative/docu on the side, or the opposite. All kinds of combinations but not necessarily budget for multiple specialised cameras. This is where the FS5 imo is a good all rounder with 10-bit S-log3, 12-bit 4K RAW option, 14 stops of DR and LUTs, EVF, modular, compact, S35 E-mount...etc.

Getting back to the C100 though.. imo it's biggest advantage today is price, ergonomics, c-log & DPAF. it's biggest con imo is 8-bit output and poor AVCHD codec. Grading limits aside, this could be a problem in areas that require higher output (like BBC 10-bit 422 standard).

 

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I'm in the same boat here.  Should I save money and pickup a C100 mk1 and then a 5D4 later in the year or go for the C100MK2 and pickup a 5D4 in the Spring next year.  The C100 would mainly be regulated to tripod/monopod event work in lower light situations.  Anything in daylight outdoors/run and gun would be tasked to the XC10.  

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