Lights! Budget Cinema Camera! Action! (Canon C100 MkII Review)
Canon in general has an extremely professional line-up of cameras for the indie filmmaker and photographer alike, all within a pretty reasonable budget. The Canon C100 MkII has not been an exception to this as I have come to learn over the last few months of owning it. Keep in mind, this is my first time using any cinema camera and only after upgrading to it from a Canon Rebel T5i, a solid DSLR camera (if you would like my review on the T5i, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8w9prU1w-c&t=0s).
Without further delay, let's jump right into the view. I will not be getting technical with this review, rather sharing my overall opinions on its features. Right off the bat, the $3000 price tag seems a bit intimidating, especially for a low-to-no budget filmmaker like myself but the more I looked into it the more reasonable the price felt. This camera is equipped with a side grip, top handle with XLR ports for microphones, audio level control, and a very nice built-in microphone on the top handle, with another mic on body for scratch audio to sync in post.
The body also possesses several different programmable buttons for quick control over numerous features while filming. The C100 MkII version also has a rotating OLED screen with excellent maneuverability allowing you to view from just about every angle. The sun getting too strong to see the screen? Use the viewfinder at the top of the camera to get around it. No reason to be worried about battery life, the C100 can last for up to 5 hours per battery. Get a spare and you'll have time to film all you need for a whole day. Need storage to match the battery life? No problem, this camera has two SD card slots that you can setup for either backup or relay recording.
I was able to take this camera on a couple road trips across the states with a couple lenses and that was all I needed. The image quality compared to a DSLR camera is stunning and easy to color grade in post while using the C-Log format. Canon's color scheme has been one of the leading factors in their purchases for years. With the options of 24, 30, and 60 frames per second, most cinematic needs are covered with the exception of super slow-motion (but let's be honest, that's overrated and overused).
Getting the correct exposure has hardly been an issue since I invested the funds into this device. It has 3 stops of built-in ND filters to help correct overexposure and the ability to maintain clean footage at high ISOs when shooting dark. The first thing I did when this camera came in the mail was to shoot a night scene which I have never been able to do before. The results were shockingly incredible. That one night of filming yielded one of my favorite films that I've shot to date: The Streetlight (link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3q87oH4n48&t=0s).
Not everyone prefers this part but I enjoyed it quite thoroughly after transitioning from another crop sensor camera. The C100 has an EF and EF-S lens mount which means it has a 1.6x crop sensor so I cannot get full frame out of it. This was convenient for me though since my T5i had the same lens mount and I did not need to worry about investing in new glass and costing me that much extra.
There are really only a few negatives that I could find with this camera and they are all relatively easy to get around. My biggest issue with it is the size and shape of the body with its accessories. Since it is a cinema camera and has a lot of interior pieces to make it run, it is pretty bulky making it difficult to fit in my ActivZone ProTactic 450 AW backpack. The top handle, side grip, and lens have to be removed just to be able to find a place for it inside of the custom dividers. This also increases the setup and tear down times substantially so be sure to include this into any schedules for filming. The size increases the weight of this camera as well and makes it a little difficult to just hold for long periods of time. Be prepared to use a tripod or set this camera down quite often.
There is also no in-body stabilization on this camera so you'll likely want to either have lenses with this feature or a steadicam to keep out the nasty shake from going handheld (unless that adds to the film). While using this thing handheld is surprisingly easy due to the side grip and top handle, I would still recommend one of these alternate tools for most shots.
Other than these few issues, I have very few problems with the Canon C100 Mkii and think it is an excellent investment for filmmakers who have some experience behind them and are looking to upgrade to a higher quality camera for their films. If possible, try to rent or borrow this camera to test it before making the investment just to be safe but otherwise, I have no regrets spending $3000 on this beautiful piece of equipment.