Canon introduces C500 digital cinema camera

Last year, Canon launched the C300, a digital cinema camera that furthered the amazing video capabilities of Canon's SLR range, but in a body designed to be more useful for film-makers.

Now the company has announced a new camera, the C500, which takes the CMOS-based system even further. Most significantly, this camera can now record 4K footage at 4096 x 2160, putting it in direct competition with RED's cameras and making it far more attractive to film-makers who want to produce footage of roughly the same quality as 35mm film.

There are also new frame rates, user-selectable from 1 to 60 frames per second. Drop the quality from 12-bit down to 10-bit YCrCb 4:2:2 and you can record video at 120fps. This has huge implications for cinematography, as it allows for significant slow-motion recording at high quality, which has so far been missing in this sort of camera. Canon also points out that the losless 10-bit output is ideal for films that require a lot of post-production work, such as effects-heavy action movies.

As before, there is a choice of two mounts, either EF, if you're a Canon still-camera user, or PL, if you're a 35mm motion-picture camera operator, with PL lenses. The two mounts aren't interchangeable though, so you'll need to pick the one that best suits you.

Video is recorded in-camera to CF card at a rate of 50Mbps. For those counting, that means it's a broadcast-ready data rate which will be of high enough quality for companies such as the BBC and Sky to accept for transmission. The other advantage, of course, is that this footage is easily accessible via computer and all modern editing packages. This makes it especially attractive to independent film-makers who don't have access to expensive professional editing suites.

Canon doesn't make clear in its initial press material about this camera what the maximum resolution is for recording to CF card, but it's reasonable to guess that 4K will be available only via the camera's 3G-SDI outputs. These outputs send RAW, uncompressed video to be captured on an external recording device.

Pricing and details have yet to be announced, but more information should leak out after NAB in Las Vegas over the next week or so. We don't imagine it will be all that cheap though.