Canon Showcases C500 at Loyal Studios
CreativeCOW presents Canon Showcases C500 at Loyal Studios -- Cinematography Editorial All rights reserved.

At Loyal Studios in Burbank, Canon unveiled a hands-on display of the new EOS C500 for an enthusiastic group of cinematographers, directors and other industry players. Introduced by Larry Thorpe, Canon Senior Director of Professional Engineering and Solutions, the C500 was also shown in action in Loyal Studio's greenscreen insert stage. A mini-docudrama about big cat biologist Alan Rabinowitz, shot with a preproduction model of the C500 by master DP Jeff Cronenweth, though marred by playback issues, was displayed to general approval on a 4K monitor in another part of the facility.

The Canon C500 expands the company's Cinema EOS System into 4K acquisition without expanding the compact form factor, which is the same as the EOS C300 and EOS-1D C. Thorpe stressed the fact that, with the C500, Canon has created a family of products. "We unveiled Cinema EOS 10 months ago," he said. "Now we've rolled out four cameras."

With the EOS C500, said Thorpe, Canon is now going head-to-head with a range of high-end digital cameras including the ARRI Alexa and the RED Epic 5K as well as Sony 4K cameras.
According to Thorpe, the C500 has been in the hands of five or six beta customers who have been testing the camera but not made any demonstration videos. "In the last two weeks, we got the production version of the camera, which will now be submitted to all the tests we've planned," said Thorpe, who noted that Canon Japan will have delivered a total of 18 production models by end of next week, some of which will be distributed to high-end dealers, some to recorder manufacturers for final testing and the rest for planned test projects.

Recorder manufacturers are on track to provide a variety of solutions for the Canon EOS C500. At the demonstration, the camera was outfitted with a Codex S recorder. Band Pro's VP of Technical Services Jeff Cree noted that, without the 300mm lens on display, the camera and recorder weigh in at around 8 pounds. In addition to Codex, recorder manufacturers that work with the C500 include S.two, Convergent Design, AJA, Astro Design and Gaisoku Deisen.

The output of the Canon C500 is 4K, and Thorpe is at pains to point out that the 4K raw outputs to 4K RGB. "We carry every pixel," he says. Band Pro's Cree noted that the C500 camera accounts for the fact that you need a 30 percent higher pixel count for de-Bayering to end up with an actual 4K output.

The diversity of recording options is significant since recording manufacturers offer different paths for creating a post production path. The EOS C500 does indeed offer a true 4K output, noted Thorpe, who described Canon's unique method of outputting the signal, which does not de-Bayer in the signal but rather breaks the 4K into two separate 2K portions that are multiplexed into RGB alpha. "Each recorder handles the raw signal differently, which enables different workflows for the 4K signal. It can be de-Bayered in software or hardware."

Thorpe also notes that the multiplexed output of the camera can go into any box that accepts SMPTE 3G; in Japan, the C500 output was sent to an encoder and then out to satellite.

Randy Wedick of BandPro with the Canon C500
Technical Consultant for Band Pro Film & Digital, Randy Wedick with the Canon C500. Thorpe relates that the Canon EOS C500 also operates at HFR up to 120 fps and offers genlock, which allows the user to slave cameras together for 3D and multicamera shoots.

With the EOS C500, said Thorpe, Canon is now going head-to-head with a range of high-end digital cameras including the ARRI Alexa and the RED Epic 5K as well as Sony 4K cameras.

The first step is getting the camera out into the marketplace. Behind the scenes, several cinematographers, directors and producers (including Doug Trumbull) will soon be shooting material with the C500. "We want to deliver as many C500s as possible in November and December," said Thorpe. "We'll have some interesting screenings at CES in January."

Bob Bekian of Loyal Studios
Producer and owner of Loyal Studios, Bob Bekian.

I was at the Canon C500 event with my friend director/producer Barry Clark, who was checking out the C500 for possible use for a production headed for an immersive dome display. "Regarding the C500, the specs look great to me, and I suspect that, in the right hands (and with the necessary control of dynamic range, which is mandatory for any digital camera, including the F65), the results can be highly film-like," he said. "It seems to me that this camera is, basically, a real tribute to the power of competition in the marketplace."

Agreed. Many people notice the proliferation of cameras on the very low end, but it's also true that with entries such as the Canon C500, options for the high end are also multiplying. With its reasonable purchase price (in the region of $30,000 but already offered online for $26,000), the Canon C500, with Canon glass, is a compelling choice.