The Canon C500 II, and the growing trend of full frame cinema cameras

Canon has released the C500 Mark II, a medium size cinema camera that uses the same full frame sensor as the top of the line C700 FF.

The C500 is a lot smaller than the C700

The C500 is a continuation of the recent trend in cinema cameras towards larger format sensors. For a while they have only existed at the very top of the camera food chain, with the primary examples being the Red Monstro 8k, Arri Alexa LF and the Sony Venice.

Recently there has been a small wave of announcements relating to video focused full frame cameras. Smaller Chinese manufacturers, such as Kinefinity and Zcam have announced, or brought to market, smaller body cameras with large sensors. Panasonic have also recently released the S1H, which is a different body style, based on a DSLR, but has video capabilities that are closer to full blown cine cams, rather than a traditional DSLR.

The C500 II is the first cine style camera from a major manufacturer released in a space that has recently been dominated by S35 cameras, such as the Sony FS7. The FF sensors have the advantage that they can operate in S35 and S16 modes, as well as using the full size of the sensor.

Canon has also, in a first for a cine camera, added in body stabilisation to the camera. Canon has based it on the technology in the EOS R, but customised it for cine camera usage. It is a full 5 axis system, and comes with cine lenses in mind: you can set multiple focal lengths into memory for the stabilisation system.

If you would like to see the full specs for the C500 Mark II, they are listed at the bottom of the page.

Sony, and the weight of expectation

Sony has long been a market leader in the spaces where this innovation is occuring. Their FS series cameras were market leaders, with the FS7 and FS5 sharing the same excellent S35 sensor. That sensor though is now 7 years old – it was first released with the F5/F55 back in 2012. Sony have also seen the position of the A7Sii – one of the first DSLR type cameras focused purely towards video – usurped by new contenders such as the S1H and others.

We all know that the A7Sii replacement is coming (the mythical A7Siii), but it would not surprise me to see FS5 and FS7 replacements soon as well. With Sony being a world leader in image sensor technology, I would be very surprised not to see a full frame sensor in one of these cameras.

And yet, I feel whatever Sony release will be a disappointment to many. The weight of expectation on the A7Siii release in particular is higher than any camera I can remember (perhaps with exception to the 5DIV, which was in itself a disappointment to many). No matter how good they make the camera (and I am sure it will be fantastic) it will not live up to what people have built it up to be in their minds.

With that all said, who knows what will happen. The only main takeaway is that there is a big change going on in the world of cine cameras.

C500 Mark II key stats

  • Full Frame 5.9K 60p
  • DIGIC DV 7 Image Processor
  • 15+ stops of DR
  • 5-axis sensor stabilisation
  • Cinema RAW Lite (Internal Recording)
  • XF-AVC (H.264)
  • 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-bit
  • 5.9K, 4K (60fps), 2K (sensor crop) 120fps
  • Modular design
  • User-changeable Lens Mounts (EF, Locking EF, PL)
  • EF, PL, anamorphic and Spherical Lens Support
  • 4.3″ LCD Monitor LM-V2 with Touch Focus
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Touch AF and Face Detection AF
  • Rear audio/power module
  • Internal ND filters (clear, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 stop – 8 & 10 with extension)
  • 4 channels of XLR with optional module
  • 12G-SDI, 3G-SDI
  • 2x CF Express slots
  • 1x SD card slot

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