Canon has been outpaced by competitors like Panasonic, Blackmagic, Fuji and to the greatest extent – Sony – for years now, particularly in the filmmaking space. But with their announcement this week of the C300 MK III and EOS R5, they may be on a very different trajectory.
Presumably, these new cameras would have been announced at NAB this year had it not been cancelled. That would have been a welcome surprise, as there hasn’t been much excitement at the Canon booth over the last few years…
This week’s announcements however, did generate a lot of excitement, much of which is centered around the EOS R5 – Canon’s latest full frame mirrorless camera, and the first of its kind capable of 8K raw internal recording.
Obviously I can’t speak to the camera’s quality, as it doesn’t exist yet and I haven’t shot with it. But like others, I’m eager to see what this thing is capable of… And while I don’t have any need for 8K (2K is plenty for my needs), it’s refreshing to see Canon push the boundaries like this – something we haven’t seen in ages.
As a quick aside – it’s never a good idea to buy a camera based on technical specs alone. People often get convinced that a larger sensor, more bit depth, higher bit rate, or some other singular variable is the key factor in achieving a great image. But no one spec – not even 8K – will ever be the defining factor, it’s how the system works together that matters.
Still, the camera’s 8K capabilities are surely going to win over a lot of filmmakers. Sony shooters may be particularly drawn to the EOS R5, since it’s the most obvious direct competition to the popular A7-line (other than perhaps the Lumix S1H), but offers more resolution and likely much stronger color science.
For Canon to really win customers over the long term though, it’s not just about one camera. It’s about their overall direction and path moving forward, and how that affects the entire lineup.
In that regard, there’s a lot to be excited about with the newly announced C300 MK III.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the C-series cameras, ever since I bought a C100 back in 2015. That was my first and only Canon video camera – I’ve often regretted selling it as it was perfect for so many shooting scenarios and delivered gorgeous images, despite its limited feature set.
Unlike my old C100 though, the C300 MK III is packed with features… Like it’s innovative 4K Dual Gain Output sensor that supposedly produces over 16 stops of dynamic range. This coupled with Canon’s warm, natural colors will likely make for some beautiful footage.
The camera has plenty of other great features too: 5 axis in-body stabilization, internal compressed RAW recording, up to 180 fps in 2K, and a swappable mount with both EF an PL compatibility.
Starting at $10,999, the market for the C300 MK III will obviously be smaller than the EOS R5, but these two cameras may be the one-two punch needed to help Canon gain their footing again.
It won’t hurt that there are a ton of Canon lenses still floating around, even on the shelves of filmmakers who long since switched to another brand. A huge factor in any filmmaker’s decision to switch camera systems is the implication on their lenses. Will they be compatible? If not, you have to sell them all and start from scratch.
But so many filmmakers are still shooting on Canon glass, or with third party EF lenses. They are used to buying a new camera body every year or two when a new one gets released, so to simply buy Canon instead of Sony this time around and use their existing lenses is relatively easy.
This is where I believe some brands will need to re-think what’s become an unsustainable release strategy. Customers are now used to buying the latest update of their camera every single year, and as a result their tool becomes somewhat disposable. Unlike buyers of RED or Arri camera that may hang on to them for years and upgrade them over time, DSLR/mirrorless buyers know they’ll feel pressure to upgrade in a year or two.
Canon on the other hand, has had the opposite issue – waiting too long to release cameras, and completely falling behind on what they could offer technologically.
But now that they are making some real strides with the EOS R5 and C300 MK III, perhaps things will improve all around. If Canon continues to listen to feedback and release new updates when they are genuinely needed, they may win back a lot of marketshare.
Both the EOS R5 and C300 MK III are a step in the right direction for Canon. Time will tell how they perform in the field and how quickly people adopt them, but based on the reaction so far, things are looking very positive.
The real question is whether these cameras will be anomalies, or the new normal for Canon…
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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GS FordApril 22, 2020 at 3:58 pm
I’m excited about both these cameras. I’m hoping Canon will soon release a C100iii with similar Dual Gain Output. I also love the C100; the button layout & form factor is just perfect; would prefer a side mount view finder though. I’ve used the C100 for quite a few projects, films & general video production. For me, I would love a lower resolution camera with larger, better photo sites. However, clients & producers often request 4k, 6k, 8k, and if you buy a popular camera, like the FS7, FX9, you will always get work. I never liked the images from those cameras and especially not from the 8bit a7 line, and absolutely not at 50,000 ISO.
Canon’s focus confirmation is really helpful when there is no focus puller; I still don’t rely on autofocus, until the camera can tell who’s talking and focus accordingly.
Using a Canon camera is easy; I hope to test both of these cameras to see what they can deliver.
Also, used Arri cameras are super cheap now, heavy, but affordable. The gold standard for me, is the ZCam F6, with 14stops of dynamic range, at $5000. If the C300iii can beat that, at double the cost, then I’m listening.
Noam KrollAugust 5, 2020 at 3:43 pm
I still need to try out the ZCam – looks awesome!