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Canon launches EOS C300 digital film camera

UPDATED: Canon has entered the digital cinematography market with a $20,000 HD camera. The EOS C300 is part of the new Canon Cinema EOS system, which includes lenses, and an upcoming digital SLR camera.

By David Fox and Adrian Pennington, with updates by Carolyn Giardina in Hollywood.

Canon has entered the digital cinematography market with a $20,000 HD camera. The EOS C300 is part of the new Canon Cinema EOS system, which includes lenses, and an upcoming digital SLR camera.

The C300 expands Canon’s XF range, as it records the 50Mbps, 4:2:2 MPEG-2 MXF format to its dual Compact Flash card slots. It also has an HD-SDI port for uncompressed recording.

The camera should be available in January for the EF mount model (the electronic mount Canon uses on its EOS DSLRs) or in March for a PL-mount model. Canon also launched 14.5-60mm and 30-300mm cine zooms in EF and PL-mount versions and 24mm, 50mm and 85mm primes for EF-mount only.

“We are using (a 4K chip) to deliver a 1920 x 1080 image,” explained Canon’s Professional Products Group Manager, Tim Smith. “We take the additional information that you get from a 4K chip, specifically in the green spectrum of light,” with two green pixels to one red and one blue. “Because we have some much data based on the size of that chip, we can then use it to process a lot of the noise that you see in the low end. It is one of the ways we get our 12 stops of latitude and one of the ways we get such clean blacks.

“Traditionally, a chip with a bayer pattern has a debayering pattern. We don’t debayer because we can use this additional information,” Smith continued. “We are using 4K to create a better image at 1920 x 1080.”

There will also be a new DSLR camera that will record 4K video at 24p (Motion JPEG) using a full frame sensor (cropped to APS-H size for video – about 80%), but that is still in development.

Canon’s event was held on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, and attracted an estimated 600—including guests from Europe, Asia and Australia. Guest check in was held near the historic iron Paramount Gate that appeared in Sunset Blvd., and then attendees entered the Paramount Theatre for the presentation.

Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai said: “Canon’s debut in the film and TV production industry provides a tremendous opportunity to enter into a thriving market. Reflecting on the achievements that Canon EOS Digital SLRs have had in the industry thus far, we are confident the new Cinema EOS series products will bring that success to a whole new level.”

The EOS C300 and C300 PL feature a Super 35 mm-sized (APS-C) CMOS sensor, and can shoot up to 60 frames per second at 720p resolution and 30fps at 1080p.

Director Martin Scorsese endorsed the product at the launch, saying: “I really believe these new tools that Canon has created allow for a much closer, more intimate relationship between the filmmakers and the world they are filming than ever before.”

The camera is compact – tall and narrow with little overhang, and Zacuto has designed a new rig for it, the Recoil, that allows it to sit very close to a user’s head, making it as unobtrusive as possible while being very well supported.

During the presentation, Canon screened several trailers and shorts that were lensed with the new camera technology. The filmmakers were on hand, and gave the gear high marks.

“It has put tremendous quality and consistency in a very reachable range. Now you have something that a short time ago was unattainable,” said Richard Crudo, ASC, a past president of the American Society of Cinematographers.Crudo used the new camera last summer to shoot an independent feature, titled “Max is Back,” in just 15 days, averaging 50-60 setups a day. Representatives from the other productions also said they were able to work quickly with the camera, and that 50-60 setups per day was typical.

Following the presentation, guests were invited to check out the cameras and support equipment, which were exhibited on Paramount soundstages.