Photojournalist and videographer Dan Chung has just got back from Canon's 4K demonstration and product launch, where he saw some footage from pre-production EOS-1D Cs. He also asked some more questions about the EOS-1D C and C500. He spoke to Canon's Tim Smith, who further clarified how the company's Cinema EOS range fits together and says the inability to shoot in PAL-compatible 25p footage 'might need to be looked at.'


Dan Chung reports:

At its NAB product presentation, Canon tonight gave technical information about the EOS-1D C (and C500 Cinema EOS) cameras and showed footage from the preproduction cameras to a select crowd on a big screen at a Las Vegas cinema. The most impressive thing to me was a short film shot on the EOS-1D C by Hollywood Director of Photography Shane Hurlbut that showed that in the right hands this new DSLR really is capable of amazing 4K imagery.

Hurlbut, who recently filmed Hollywood blockbuster 'Act of Valor' on Canon DSLRs, likened the 4K image from the EOS-1D C to that produced by traditional Kodak 35mm cine film. He also noted that the camera’s form factor allowed for the same remarkably versatile shooting style which professionals found so attractive about Canon's original video-enabled DSLR, the EOS 5D MkII. Having seen the images for myself I have to say I agree with him.

Canon's Tim Smith talked Dan Chung through the company's 4K cameras

I asked Canon’s Tim Smith who the 1D-C is aimed at. He told me that although the EOS-1D C can be used for many different applications it is primarily aimed at the 'cinema' market. This is a conscious decision on Canon’s part to segment the high end stills camera market from the needs of video professionals. According to Smith, because of its relatively small size and the option to shoot 4K video to a card it could be a perfect 'B' camera to something like the larger C500 - a camera that you'd be able to place in hard to access places. But the image quality is so good it could also be used as a main camera for productions that need 4K on a lower budget.

Smith also claimed that the EOS-1D C is the 'best still camera in the world' giving the same still image quality as the 1D X and offering all the same features (with the exception of a flash PC sync socket which makes way for a headphone jack) and adding 4K video. Autofocus in stills mode is the same as the 1D X. Stills shooters who also need 4K video are well served by this camera - Smith suggested that the some military, press and sports shooters may fall into this category.

The EOS-1D C shoots 4K at an APS-H crop or Full HD at two other crops.

Unlike the C300 and C500, the 1D C does not offer focus peaking or magnification of the image during shooting, which Smith said is because the camera is built on the 1D X chassis. Apart from the addition of the higher-resolution video, the camera's function set is otherwise unchanged. Phase detection AF is unavailable in video mode, too, for the same reason.

Canon demonstrates how its 4K models fit into its Cinema EOS lineup

One thing that professional videographers might have spotted is that the 1D C only shoots 4K images at cinema standard 24P frame rate, not 25P as is commonly used in European and Asian TV broadcast. When I asked about this Smith said that this was an issue that 'might have to be looked at'.

Canon demonstrated how the 1D C's output fits into a series of post-production workflows

Asked as to why the the 1D C features are not simply part of standard 1D X spec Smith claimed it had different engineering and is therefore more costly. Most pro stills shooters will be happy with the 1D X HD video capability, but the 1D C provides a solution for those who think they need 4K.

Smith could also see news and sports shooter using the 4K video mode to pull 8 megapixel stills out of the footage. The possible scenarios would be finish line shots at sporting events or other hard to catch action. This will be helped by the Mjpeg compression system which encodes each video frame separately and not as group of frames like Mpeg.

In short - unless you have an interest in or need for 4K video then there is no need to look at the 1D C over the less costly 1D X.