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Making sense of the Canon Cinema 1D 4K DSLR from a film industry perspective

Andrew Reid

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Above: the Cinema 1D, a 4K video camera and a stills camera second

Today Canon made official their plans to enter the high end cinema and TV production market with two very competitively priced products relative to the current industry standards – the Arri Alexa, Sony F35/F65 and Red EPIC.

How do they fit in?

[url="http://www.eoshd.com/content/7900/making-sense-of-the-canon-cinema-1d-4k-dslr-from-a-film-industry-perspective/"]Read full article[/url]

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It is good to see more discussion of the camera in this context as opposed to exclusively in relation to the DSLR prices. I agree with many of your points. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it is also fascinating looking at what sort of package you could spec out for 1080P production based around a GH2. Such as getting 1 GH2 with 65 batteries and 65 SanDisk 64GB 95MB/s SDXC cards. That is for people that prioritize shooting time over shooting resolution. :)

All a matter of priorities and it is good to see more options out there. The high ISO performance could be key.

Did you get my e-mail about the testing my team will be doing with your GH2 settings this weekend? At last count we'll be shooting somewhere around 7 GH2s concurrently to see how they fare with different settings.
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It's almost like we are at the dawn of the age of computing.  But, after the early success of the Apple I and II, the Macintosh is released in 1984 with a price of $10,000 (not $2,000 as actually happened) targeted at enterprise users.  Apple also released a 'prosumer' version, with identical hardware but called the Apple II mark III which had a deliberately blurry display and a large red dot permanently displayed in the corner of the screen.  Also, although the processor was capable of operating at 8Mhz, the Apple II mark III included a special system BIOS which ensured that 3 out of every 4 processor cycles went unused.

"This kind of computing power has always cost at least $10k" explained Steve Jobs on release of the Macintosh.  "We don't want to revolutionize the world of personal computing, we want to defend that price point.  Our margin on the Apple II was 40%.  With the Macintosh selling at $10k it is 800%.  As technology continues to improve we will defend our pricing structure and see our margins increase further."
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@TC When Steve Jobs revitalized Apple during his second tenure with the company, one of the first things he did was to take it out of the "multiple manufacturers making Apple branded computers" approach that had been intended to drive down prices to PC levels. He used external design as a marketing tool to justify the premium over PC computers that led to greater sales and made people care about things they hadn't really voiced before (like what color their computer was).

Looking at the components alone, they could have offered the systems at a cheaper price, and their competitors often did. But Apple charged more for their products and their customers often complained less than those buying PCs at lower prices. Years later, the iPod routinely outsold cheaper clones as well.

Apple is a great example of many things, but they generally are not the best case for aggressive hardware pricing strategies. At any given point in time they have offered their hardware line-up (or at least segments of it) at a noticeable premium compared to their competitors, at least viewed based on parts alone. If the 5DMkII was their Apple II, then this approach is more akin to the Mac Pros: catering to a particular market full of people willing to pay for branding, style and familiarity rather than deciding based on component performance alone.

I am not criticizing Apple, I just think some of the recent posts have painted a picture somewhat at odds with a longer-term view of them. I have had their business practices analyzed for me over and over again for decades now, and in the last decade done a fair amount of analysis on my own. Low prices are not a hallmark of their brilliance on the hardware side.

Now if you want to talk about software, we can easily talk about aggressive pricing/bundling. :)
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@miseducation Shane Hurlbut has demonstrated an excellent ability for getting the most out of the Canon hardware released to date. I have little doubt that he will be leveraging this next generation of hardware to great effect to accomplish things with it that he felt he could not with the last.

Of course that neither means that it is better or worse than other tools for the rest of us, but it is great to share in the enthusiasm of those whose passion about their tools helps fuel their prodigious creative output. :)
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@Per Lichtman.  Interesting posts as always, thank you.  And, yes, Apple have been able to command a higher margin with good design.  But that is not what Canon is doing.  Canon is trying to demand a higher margin by artificially limiting the hardware they are selling you.  And that is what annoys people.  Compare the 1D X/C and the new iPad.  If Apple followed Canon's approach, they would release the new iPad for $500 to match the iPad 2.  But it would have the retina display limited to 1024x768 in software.  They would then release the new iPad PRO 3 months later for $1500 with the Retina display fully unlocked.  This is what Canon is doing.  This is why I and others are so angry. 
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Hello everyone.

Yet another chapter in what is perhaps the video camera industry's most dramatic year this century (thus far). 
Cheers to Mr. Reid for heralding it in.

The 8-Bit Color

8-Bit is really really troubling, especially for that price point. 
It gives the Scarlet a foot in the door of our hearts whereas Canon could have completely swept us off our feet.
To jump up to 4K and stay in 8-bit is a foolish move for Canon and an act of fradulence towards the consumer.

For many of us, we saw the C1D as a competitor to the Scarlet.
After all the Scarlet was delayed and redesigned to integrate the aesthetic of the Canon DSLR.
The Canon DSLR in turn stole the RED's thunder (which stole the thunder of Sony and other cinema camera makers)

But now we see that Canon C1D
- cedes image quality (8-Bit and MJPEG...lowlight notwithstanding) to the Scarlet and FS700
+ ergonomics
+ a full blown still mode as it doubles as a 1Dx (on paper)

RED's Scarlet maintains its lead in image quality (perhaps not dynamic range)
but has the disadvantage of weight and a much lesser still mode.

[b]"To Buy or Not to Buy"[/b]
The videophile in us all shrieks at the 8-bit color, but the camera operator in us loves the miniaturization of a professional cinema digital camera...

Canon could seal the deal with a higher color coding.
Nothing so extreme as the 16-bit color of the F65 which chokes the bottleneck of our current workflow.
12 would have been great.  10 acceptable.  8...unacceptable

BUT, it is a 1Dx as well.  This is an engineering feat (on paper) and can justify purchasing a 4K...8-Bit video camera.

[b]WHY 8-Bit?
[/b]I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Some of mine were -
- Lack of readiness in the Canon RAW (hence its implementation in the prototype C500).
- The 8-bit is uniform to the C300 (which Andrew said Canon intends as a B-Camera)

[b]B-Camera to the C300 or C500?[/b]
Andrew, you said this is meant to be a B-Camera to the C300. 
Certainly the C300 is an ergonomic titan and an A-Camera in comparison.
But the image fidelity of the C1D is superior to the C300.
Do you mean the C1D is meant to be a B-Camera to the C500?

Someone who shot with it said it was difficult and was not a liberty to say much more.
Whether that was the ergonomics or the post-process remains to be seen in the upcoming weeks and months.

It's an exciting time we're living in ladies and gents.  One day we'll look back at it and say...
...well we'll know when we say it.
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[quote author=TC link=topic=574.msg3878#msg3878 date=1334289800]
@Per Lichtman.  Interesting posts as always, thank you.  And, yes, Apple have been able to command a higher margin with good design.  But that is not what Canon is doing.  Canon is trying to demand a higher margin by artificially limiting the hardware they are selling you.  And that is what annoys people.  Compare the 1D X/C and the new iPad.  If Apple followed Canon's approach, they would release the new iPad for $500 to match the iPad 2.  But it would have the retina display limited to 1024x768 in software.  They would then release the new iPad PRO 3 months later for $1500 with the Retina display fully unlocked.  This is what Canon is doing.  This is why I and others are so angry.

Thanks, that is very gracious of you. And I do see what you mean, to be sure. I think many people would have preferred an approach more similar to what Sony did with the pricing of S-Log on the F3 - charging extra for the functionality but not requiring the customer to by hardware all over again.

At the same time, back when I bought my Playstation 3, the Cell processor used shipped with only 7 SPEs activated with another on the die but locked. I never really had any qualms about that because althought Mercury and IBM did make use of 8 SPEs on product elsewhere, no competing gaming system ever used all 8 and Sony never tried to get me to buy a more expensive Playstation 3 that had all 8 SPEs unlocked.

So I can see how many people are frustrated by what appears to be software side-limiting of the 5DMkIII or 1D X, and frankly the launch timing has exacerbated the problem, because the 1D X has not even released yet. If the 1D X released 6 months before the Cinema 1D, Canon could make the argument that they built upon their work with the 1D X and expanded the functionality with the Cinema 1D. That would make it seem like the 1D X had not been limited, it was just that they took things further after they finished it. But that is not the timeline.

So yes, I do understand why people would be upset. The Cinema 1D vs 1D X relationship does seem a bit more like the way things were before the DSLR revolution. But at the same time, the 1D X is launching at the same price point as its predecessor while adding much better high ISO performance (clearly evident in even the earliest comparison pictures) and it does some unrealistic to ask them to add 4K performance without increasing the price.

And even if they did go the "paid update" path, it might be a little hard to market a $7,200 upgrade for a $6,800 product.

All in all, marketing the C500 should be a lot simpler. :) But I am still waiting intently for word on the 1D X and Cinema 1D regarding high ISO video performance. I just hope Canon unlocks they higher ISOs for both of them.
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I'm sorry but I feel the 1D-C is a total and utter joke. The C500 looks really interesting however.

So here is my beef with the 1D-C(inema):

1. No viewfinder, on a $15k camera... really? Ok so we'll use the screen, which is fixed... and 3:2 - Ok so a 15k camera that we can't actually see what we are shooting with it, good start.
2. Ergonomics - Well they're crap. On a proper video camera (or cinema camera) there should be direct controls for just about everything, on this... not so much. Yes I like the smaller size-ish of DSLRs, but the 1DX is a pretty hefty blob - this isn't a lightweight GH2 or even 5D. There is no place to add handles or accessories really, I mean you have the fairly fragile hotshoe and the tripod screw point and that is it. You will need to buy some serious rigging and monitoring and audio gear and still have very little controls that don't require you to dive into a menu.
3. Connectivity - Same as a stills DSLR such as 5D MkIII. On a 15k camera. Battery options are the same as well. A crap little 3.5mm headphone jack and mic jack, wow!!!

So here is the problem, when the 5D MkII rose in popularity for filmmaking it was because it produced very pretty video and was really really really cheap for the quality of the output. Enthusiasts would overlook it's many many shortcomings with workarounds to get the most out of it, fundamentally it was a bad camera that takes very good video and is very inexpensive. You could spend a fortune on good rigging for it to make it handle somewhat ok, still flawed but very usable.

So now they have come out with a new, very very flawed camera, one that requires a lot of extra gear to make it usable, but with very very very good image quality. Same flaws as before, but better image quality. BUT it is now very very expensive. Enthusiasts won't be buying in the ways they bought the 5D - accepting it's flaws for it's price. Professionals won't be buying it because it is simply too flawed to be considered a professional tool. Why would they buy it over the C500? Unless the C500 is up in the stratosphere, you simply wouldn't.

This is a stills camera, turned video camera, gone completely wrong! Canon have basically hoped for a halo effect to move up the brand, problem is they don't seem to have understood why people were flocking to them in the first place. On TOP of this, in thinking they have the market sewn up, they have INTENTIONALLY impacted the quality of their cameras that people would have flocked to (5D MkIII) in an attempt to sell this model to those users.

To ANYONE considering one of these - Buy yourself a C300. If you need 4K buy the C500 or Scarlet. If you are on a tighter budget, get an FS100 or FS700 (or new Panasonic AF100 successor when it is announced). If you are still in the enthusiast crowd that wants a DSLR to do more than it was designed to do, there are still lot's of decent options.
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Why can't they just make it usable for a loan wolf professional? I mean what is even the point of having the AF and exposure system and high quality stills function in a camera that is SOLELY to be used on set.

Say I want a 1dx but I want it to have incredibly good 1080P with the option for uncompressed HDMI 4:2:2 output. Then say I want the headphone jack. and finally say I want 4k because silent 24 frames a second at 8.8Mega pixels is super useful for getting the best possible moment in a series.

It just doesn't make sense how they wouldn't at least include all the features that magic lantern has, like the picture in picture zoom function is incredibly valuable. Having on screen zebra stripes.  Why not make it a camera that can also be used by a professional photographer? Plenty of professional photographers are already spending MORE on medium format cameras.

I still think this camera could be an incredible sports and independent producer camera, it's all the will to put effort into software. Why are they absolutely so reluctant to develop advanced software suites to build into these cameras?
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I wonder if Canon HQ is aware of the overwhelmingly negative reaction to their recent product announcements, crippling-by-design, pricing and release timing?  OK, some people are happy with the 5D3.  But not just on this forum, but everywhere you look on the net people who are serious about video are talking about ditching Canon and buying cameras from Sony, Red or Panasonic.  And these are often people who were brought into video by the 5D mark II.  ie. Canon customers.  In the stills world many product, food, architectural and landscape photographers (who don't care about shooting at ISO 102,000) are switching to the D800.

I have already sold two Canon cameras and one lens since the 5D3 was announced.  And I have another boxed up on the floor waiting to go out the door.  Will the message get through to the suits in head office?
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"Will the message get through to the suits in head office?"

It's my impression the suits are somewhat out of touch with reality (given the recent price tags - also on updated lenses like the 24-70 II). The only language these people understand is a drop of sales. If possible we should not reward Canon for the unethical crippling of products by throwing our money at them. We as film makers don't cripple our films intentionally. WE always give our best (even when the payment might be low)! And that is what companies should do. They should have pride in their work and not behave like sneaky conmen tricking us the squeeze the last buck out of us.
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I think Andrew is right - the CD1 is a B camera to the C300 and C500 or Red etc.
It's role is pretty much the same as the 5DMK2 was on BIG hollywood productions. James Bond stunt cam but now with resolution to match the A cameras.

To see every offering as something that should be priced for the GH2 budget shooter is silly.
These are serious tools for big productions and are not necessarily designed as a one camera solution for low budget indie films.
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This is a good article and much needed. There was a backlash yesterday, which is fairly understandable (I think the low budget users should just stear clear of any EOS-Cinema announcements!).

But when you let the dust settle, this is a really ground breaking camera. If this camera was in a body more like a C300 (even without HD-SDI etc)... People would be hailing it as the second coming. But people see a DSLR and have a price ceiling for what the top end DSLR should be ($7k-$8k) .... They then compare that figure with the $15k (street, $12k?) and think "RIP OFF".

Step away from the DSLR packaging... Look what is actually on offer. APS-H sized 4K, 4:2:2 internal codec, 12+ stops DR, amazing low light, C-Log and more.... (plus a top range still camera).

We are talking about the world's smallest and lightest 4K camera, with a cinematic image, that uses cheap batteries and media.... for a street price of around $12k.

Let the dust settle, think outside the DSLR casing. This is a truly ground breaking move from Canon.
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I can't afford a canon c300 or a sony f3 or even a sony fs700 but I can afford a GH2 SO I guess that the cat is out of the bag. We can make great films on £700 with a GH2 but its frustrating not being able to be a part of the digital revolution and have a nice affordable large sensor camera with ND filters and 10 bit 4,2,2 out. Its a shame manufacturers feel they have to protect their business by keeping us (Consumers) out while ignoring the fact we can do it with workarounds already.

Panasonic bought out the AF101 which also shows THEY can make a consumer priced camera. So why don't they give us a basic 25mb codec with 10bit SDI out, ND filters and SLOG between £3000 to £7000? A really elephant in the room sized gap.

I think its clear to most why consumers are left out in the cold. Some will say that's business. Maybe it is. I say business should serve the people and be beneficial to all. Not the people forced to serve business as we seem to have today.
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