It’s here! The new Canon C500 MK II, the long anticipated sequel to the C500 and (current) successor to the ever popular C300 MK II. This time, it’s Full Frame! Canon fans have been waiting a long time for this update to the Cine series, so how does it stack up?
Right off the bat, the C500 II is leading the charge into the Full-Frame Cinema Camera landscape. This camera offers Full-Frame 5.9K RAW recording internally to the new CF Express media. Additionally, it will record 4K S35 RAW, alongside 4K S35 and 4K Full Frame XF-AVC. Did I mention it shoots 4K? It shoots a lot of 4K.
For high-speed and XF-AVC modes, there is a crop employed, depending on your settings. Below, I’ve outlined the main differences, crop-wise, between RAW and XF-AVC formats. My findings have it at about a 10% crop between modes.
Color-wise, the C500 II brings the same tried-and-true Canon color science, with options for Canon LOG2 and LOG3, as well as the same methods for adjusting between color profiles and matrices. I’m still partial to “Production Camera.” The color is very Canon-like, with dependable skin tones and great highlight retention. Canon’s biggest advantage was always its built-in color science and this is no different.
For high-speed options, you’ve got 60fps at 5.9K RAW and 4K formats — and up to 120fps for the 2K cropped modes — similar to the C300 II. Canon cameras have traditionally struggled with high-speed options, and it would have been nice to see some better, non-cropped options in the C500 II, but it’s also no huge shock that there aren’t any.
The new camera also includes a few new expansion units — the most useful of which adds an additional 2 XLR ports, V-mount power options, and lens control. It builds out nicely, and it doesn’t add too much bulk to the body — but it adds the increased real estate to throw it on a shoulder more comfortably — aided by the counter weight of a larger battery. Large batteries may be the way to go with this one, as the camera sure does use a lot of power. Nothing unexpected, though, as we’re seeing all the new full-frame cameras slurp down batteries without a care in the world. Price of admission, it would seem.
The new LCD screen and menu layout are a welcome change from the C300 II, and it feels right at home with C200 users. A single cable connects the screen to the front of the camera, ditching the audio bundled to LCD that has been an issue with the previous cameras. Overall, the build quality is rugged, and if past cinema cameras are any indication, people will be putting that to the test.
For outputs, we’ve got a 4K HDMI, a Monitor SDI out, and a 12G 4K SDI out, in addition to the video terminal for the LCD/EVF. One small issue is that when recording in 4K formats, the SDI out is stuck to outputting 4K. Most wireless transmitters and on-board monitors don’t accept a 12G 4K image, limiting users to using the Monitor Out for on-camera routing. Not a huge issue, but not having the ability to spit out a clean and overlay/LUT signal at the same time to two places will get on the nerves of the DIT. I expect this will be addressed in a future firmware update.
Using the camera is easy, as one would expect from Canon. While the menu system is a lot longer than with previous Canon cameras, it’s still as easy as ever to find what you’re looking for.
Overall, we expect this camera will meet the needs of the full-frame minded shooter, with plenty of S35 modes as well. While the XF-AVC looks great, it’s the Canon Raw that really sings. And while it’s compressed, it’s still a pretty hefty workflow at around 32 minutes per 512GB card. It’s helpful that this camera can occupy both higher budget shoots with RAW workflows, and more traditional C300 II style shooting with XF-AVC — looking great in either scenario. Reach out to Rentals by email or phone at 800-rule-com (800-785-3266) to take it for a spin. Canon’s Ryan Snyder and Paul Hawxhurst will be here on March 18th from 10am-12n for a hands-on overview. Click here to RSVP. It’s FREE!
-Alex Enman, Engineer