Until the C200, getting 4K in a Canon cinema camera cost about 15,000 dollars for the C300 Mark II. Since then, the price has come down significantly. The C200 is an exciting camera, but not for the typical reasons. Because a 4K Canon has eluded most modest budgets, the C200 stands out as special. Canon must have had an ear to the ground, because the C200 has the features most need and want.
A story that has been developing for a while now is one of Canon shooters being forced to use a different brand camera because Canon didn't offer the features they need at a price they could afford. Although they do have 4K more affordably now via their DSLR line, video-first shooters need more. Things like built-in neutral density (ND) filters, body XLR inputs and 4K are invaluable to videographers. Although it has taken longer than the public would like, the C200 looks to set a standard for the price range.
At the end of May 2017, Canon announced the C200 and the C200B. There are very few differences between the two cameras. The C200B is less expensive at 6,000 dollars vs 7,500 dollars of the C200. The reason for the price difference is the exclusion of a monitor and EVF; otherwise they are the same camera. The C200B is a good choice for those that already have a monitor and EVF or for gimbal and drone applications.
The C200 has a super 35mm CMOS image sensor and offers dual pixel CMOS AF. It has dual DIGIC DV 6 processors and shoots up to DCI 4K. It is able to shoot up to 60 frames per second (fps) in 4K or 120fps in HD. It shoots in Cinema RAW Light, MP4 and MP4 proxy. It has a rotating 4-inch LCD Monitor, Camera Grip and integrated EVF, two XLR Inputs and it records to CFast 2.0 when shooting Cinema RAW Light and to dual SD Card Slots when shooting MP4. Lastly, it has all of the outputs you require from SDI to HDMI and Ethernet connections.
What is it about this camera?
All of the modifications Canon made in the C200 from the C100 Mark III and the C300 Mark II are really smart. Canon listened; they put the XLR inputs on the body, so regardless of whether you are using the handle or not, you have XLR inputs. The monitor is in a much better location compared to the C100 Mark III and has much more articulation than the C300 Mark II. The monitor is very usable. The menu and function control on the monitor itself makes menu operation easy. The monitor can be mounted for left or right eyed shooters. Simply flip the screen to the other side and with the flip of a mirroring button, it corrects for being upside down. We’re glad that Canon didn't put the screen on the back of the camera like the C100 Mark III, Instead they used that space for another assignable button, joystick control, dual SD card slots and audio control.
The built-in ND filter is great, and always a necessity. It’s in the same location and functions the same as the C300 Mark II. This is a much better design than connected to the gain wheel like on the C100 Mark III. If you don’t own an ND or don’t have one built into your camera, it’s an easy thing to overlook. However, ND filters offer a better way to adjust exposure than increasing the shutter.
So what's exciting?
This camera meets the needs of the user, but it’s not a flashy product launch. The big stand out feature is the offering of Cinema RAW Light. Contrary to its name, there isn't much light about it. At 125 megabytes per second, you’re going to fill your cards fast, but not as fast as other RAW formats. When you compare the bitrate of 265 megabytes per second when shooting DCI 4K in CinemaDNG RAW, Cinema RAW Light is less than half the size. The best part of Cinema RAW Light is that has 12-bit color.
The big stand out feature is the offering of Cinema RAW Light.
Some workflows won’t lend themselves to being created in Cinema RAW Light for a myriad of reasons. When shooting RAW Light, for instance, you can only record to CFast 2.0 cards — not great when your existing workflow uses SD cards. the C200 does have more options, however. Shoot in a UHD 4K MP4 and get 8-bit 4:2:0 color at 150 Mbps. Another cool option is shooting Cinema RAW Light and simultaneously shoot a 2K proxy MP4 with 4:2:0 colorspace at 35 Mbps.
Because of the features and price point of the C200, it fits in at the center of what we cover here at Videomaker. The camera is equally good for documentary film as for event and wedding videography. It could easily be used for an indie film or for news gathering. Because of this, we used a selection of affordable lenses. Although the C200 would be a good fit for using cinema lenses, Canon’s large catalogue of photo lenses offer a big bang for the buck. It’s likely you could get two to three lenses for the same price as cine glass.
We decided to shoot with Canon L series glass only. We started out shooting the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. The short physical length of this lens makes the C200 very compact. The C200 Super 35 sensor has a 1.5 times crop factor; when mounted with the 50mm you have an effective focal length of 75mm. Without image stabilization, shooting 75mm is difficult handheld. Although it’s nice having a maximum aperture of f/1.2, it’s typically not necessary to have a depth of field that shallow.
We then shot the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. It’s a great walking around focal length and has image stabilization. With an effective focal length of 36-157mm, you might not be able to get as wide as you need for shooting events or a documentary. On top of that, f/4 is a stop less than needed in naturally lit scenes. We would recommend this lens for studio work or outside, where you will have ample light.
The next lens is the perfect fit for event shooting: the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L. At f/2.8, it makes lighting not as much of an issue. With the crop, you have an effective focal length of 24-52mm. In many situations, this is a perfect fit. When it’s not the right fit, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is. With an effective focal length of 36-105mm, it does what the 16-35mm can not: space compression. If a wide angle lens is not flattering to your subject matter, getting a telephoto lens will help. In cases when you need an even longer focal length, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is a good fit. This is the standard lens for portraits and a great lens for interviews, sports videography and anything else you need to reach from far away. With the crop factor, it has an effective focal length of 105 – 300mm. The image stabilization is a necessity at this field of view. Overall, the best fit for the C200 was the combo of the 16-35mm and the 24-70mm. They are both f/2.8 so changing exposure isn't necessary when changing focal length.
We were lucky enough to get the C200 at the same time we got new lights in our studio. This gave us a great opportunity to set up some dramatic lighting. Using both the soft light from our Litepanels Astra 1×1 softs and shaped hard light from our Litepanels Sola 6+s, we had lots of control.
We were very curious about Cinema RAW Light and what shooting with it would be like. At the same time, we wanted to see how usable the MP4 proxies are because currently RAW Light can only be used with DaVinci Resolve. We shot RAW Light and MP4 proxies simultaneously. This gave us the ability to review the footage in our normal workflow using Adobe Premiere Pro CC17. At the same time, we shot in C-Log3 to get the most flexibility in post. Shooting proxies at the same time was super easy. The proxies went to the SD cards and the RAW Light footage went to the CFast 2.0 cards.
The C200 allows you to apply preview LUTs so you can see how the footage would look in REC.709 or REC.2020. This made exposure control much easier, since log shooting make it more difficult to asses for correct exposure. This is a handy feature. However, when reviewing the proxies, it would have been nice if the LUT applied for preview printed onto the proxies. The bitrate is so low on the proxies, when doing any grading, they looked like garbage. Although shooting the proxies at the same time is a time saver, if you are shooting in log, it’s a better choice to create proxies during the editing phase — they’ll look better.
Because we were disappointed with the proxies, we had to see how the originals looked. Using Resolve 14, we opened up the RAW Light files and were pleased to see that the proxies were not a good representation of what we shot.
As we worked more with the RAW Light files, we found the workflow to be cumbersome compared to Red R3d Raw files or CinemaDNG RAW when working outside of Resolve. You have to use Canon's Cinema Raw Development software before exporting a ProRes 444 or other high bitrate file if you want to change color temperature, exposure etc. Once you transcode to ProRes, most editors will be able to easily work with the files. ProRes is a good transcode option as 12-bit is possible.
With that said, we found ourself skipping a ProRes transcode because RAW Light works well with Resolve. When transcoding to ProRes 444, the files are much larger than Cinema RAW Light. Resolve takes the files natively, so the two formats are effectively the same. Releasing RAW Light before there is universal support in editors is a bit of a misstep on Canon. They put the timeline of supporting RAW light into the hands of Adobe, Apple, Avid and other software makers, thought Canon did confirm that there would be support in all major editing suites before too long.
Working with the files, the video looks clean. It doesn't take a lot of resources to work with RAW Light in Resolve. Our 2014 Apple iMac didn't have any issues at all. As we experienced previously using CLog-3 with the C300 Mark II, it’s great since it leaves lots of room for grading and converting to Rec709 or REC.2020 is easy. Because there is so much color information and in combination with shooting log, there is lots of flexibility in post. It was easy to bring out color and detail in shadows and highlights.
The C200 has rolling shutter. However it’s not significant enough to call it a problem. Most shooting situations will not confront the negative effect of the rolling shutter encountered on the C200.
To assess its low light performance, we tested to see at what ISO noise is introduced into the picture. We double the ISO and shutter speed to counteract each other to keep proper exposure to see where noise made the footage unusable. Shooting anything above ISO 3200 will need noise reduction in post-production. We’d expect that sharpness would also begin to be a problem above ISO 3200 with noise reduction applied. Even with internal noise reduction on, we saw no overall improvement; in fact it negatively affected the picture, making it less sharp. We would recommend not shooting with noise reduction on.
The C200 doesn't have great low light performance, but it’s not bad either. We didn't expect any issues being able to get whatever we were shooting in proper exposure. Keeping under ISO 3200 was enough to keep noise out of the picture. Combining its performance and using f/2.8 lenses offered enough exposure control to get most shots properly exposed. Shooting at night could be an issue, but that's an issue for almost every camera.
Let’s look at three different cameras that directly compete with the C200. In some cases, all of these cameras would be a good fit, but one might stand out as the best fit for your need.
Starting off with the most affordable option, let’s look at the Blackmagic Designs Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K. It costs 6,000 dollars and shoots up to 4.6K at 60fps on a Super 35 CMOS Sensor. It can record in either CinemaDNG or ProRes 444. It offers a full set of external controls and six stops of ND like the C200. It has a magnesium alloy body and two XLR inputs with phantom power. It offers 12G-SDI output, timecode and REF input, but it does lack an HDMI out.
Next is the Panasonic EVA1 at 7,350 dollars. It also shoots on a Super 35 sensor, has dual native ISO and offers an EF lens mount. It records up to 60fps in 4K and 240 fps in 2K. Recording 10-bit 4:2:2 to SD cards, it includes V-log and V-Gamut capture. Lastly, it has both SDI and HDMI outputs.
The third and last camera is the Sony FS7. Not to be confused with the FS7 Mark II, the FS7 costs 7,500 dollars. It also shoots on a Super 35 CMOS sensor and can shoot up to 60fps in 4K. It has a Sony E-Mount and shoots XAVC-I Up to 600 megabits per second. It has both SDI and HDMI outputs and shoots to dual XQD memory cards.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
Canon made a solid camera that is up to par with all other cameras in its category. Canon listened to its users and responded with a camera that is a good fit for most professional video shooters. We are looking forward to when Cinema RAW Light becomes compatible with editors outside of Resolve. Canon put great features into camera with a great looking picture. It has good ergonomics and built-in flexibility for any workflow through Cinema Raw Light and MP4 shooting. It’s a great value for the money.
- 12-bit RAW format
- Very good image quality
- Spectacular Monitor Articulation
- Limited support for Cinema RAW Light
- No ProRes
The Canon C200 is solid. It creates a beautiful picture and will work with most workflows. It’s a good price with all the features you need.
- Enthusiast and Indie filmmakers
- Documentarians and Event Videographers
- Commercial and Corporate filmmakers
- Journalists and Travel videographers
- Post-production specialists
Sensor Size: Super 35 CMOS 24.6 x 13.8mm effective size / 6.4 x 6.4µm pixel pitch
Total Pixels: Approx. 9.84 MP (4206 x 2340)
4096 x 2160/2048 x 1080: approx 8.85 MP (4096 x 2160)
3840 x 2160 / 1920 x 1080: approx. 8.29 MP (3840 x 2160)
Dynamic Range: C-Log 3: 1600% (ISO 800 or above) Log/Wide DR: 800% (ISO 400 or above)
Processor: 2 x DIGIC DV 6
Lens Mount: EF
Built-In ND Filters: Standard: 2, 4, 6 stops
Expanded: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 stops
Gain: Normal: -2 dB to 44 dB
Expanded: -6 to 54 dB
ISO Range: Standard- 160 to 25,600, Expanded- 100 to 102,400
Shutter Modes: Off, Speed, Angle, Slow Shutter, Clear Scan
Autofocus System: Focus Guide, Dual Pixel CMOS AF (DAF), Manual focus, One-shot AF, Continuous AF, AF-Boosted MF, Face Detection AF
Signal System: NTSC/PAL
System Frequency Selection: 59.94 Hz, 50 Hz, 24 Hz
Cinema Raw Light:
- Resolution: 4096 x 2160
- Bit Depth: 12-bit (29.97P/23.98P/25P/24P), 10 bit (59.94P/50P)
- Bit Rate: 1 Gbps
- Resolution / Color Sampling:
- 3840 x 2160 YCC420 8-bit, 1920 x 1080 YCC420 8-bit
- Frame Rates:
- 3840 x 2160: 60p, 30p, 24p
- 1920 x 1080: 120p, 60p, 30p, 24p
- Bit Rate: 150 Mbps (3840 x 2160), 35 Mbps (1920 x 1080)
- MP4 (Proxy)
Audio Recording: Raw – Linear PCM 16-bit 48 kHz 4-ch, MP4- MPEG-4 AAC-LC 16-bit 48 kHz 2-channel, Linear PCM 16-bit 48 kHz 4-ch
Audio Inputs: 2 x XLR, 1 x Mic jack
Viewfinder Type: Built-In: 0.46" (1.32 cm) diagonal, color, 1,770,000 dots,
LCD Display Type: Rotating color LCD
Size: 4.00" / 10.16 cm
Resolution: 1,230,000 dots
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Inputs/Outputs: SDI SDI: 1 x BNC (output)
HDMI Output: 1 x HDMI Type A (Supports UHD 4K Output)
Headphone Connector: 3.5mm stereo mini-jack
General Connectors: 1 x Remote, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x USB, 1 x Video
Power Supply: 14.4 VDC (battery pack), 16.7 VDC (DC input)
Chris Monlux’s first car was a 1966 Chevy El Camino. He is also Videomaker’s Multimedia Editor.