Canon C100 MK II: What’s not to like?

Canon C100 MK II: What’s not to like?

CANON C100 MK II – SOME QUICK THOUGHTS AFTER MY FIRST SHOOT

If you’ve been a reader of my blog you no doubt know that I’m a big fan of the C100 and use it extensively. You probably also know that I’ve been endlessly frustrated by its few but crazy making shortcomings that derailed what could have been the perfect camera for me within arms reach of the station.

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Well, enter the C100 MK II. Clearly Canon has been listening to C100 users and we now have what we wanted. The MK II is probably the camera the original C100 should have been all along but better late than never.

I’ve had a chance to use the camera on a real shoot in Zambia and I wanted to share some quick first impressions before I head home. This isn’t a complete in-depth look and each and every feature but a general overview on why I think this is a great camera to consider.

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First, let me say where I’m coming from regarding why I’m excited by this camera. I’m a single person operator 100% of the time. More often than not, I’m travelling overseas with minimal gear and need to keep things compact and easy to use in “run-and-gun” shooting situations. I need a light and compact form factor with most of the functions of a true video camera rather than a DSLR and all the work-arounds that come with it. For the work I do, I’m not yet at the point where I need to be shooting 4K. Realistically, I’m likely about 2 years away before this even becomes something to consider. I could shoot in 4K right now if I chose to, but from a business perspective, my clients don’t require it and there won’t be any additional revenue generated. So, for now, I’m perfectly happy in the HD world.

So, why did I buy this camera? Essentially because it solved all the problems I was having with the original C100 and now this truly is the perfect solution for me. For the less the $6,000 I can work this baby like crazy for the next couple of years and it will easily pay for itself several times over.

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For me, the biggest attraction of the C100 MK II is the addition of a proper viewfinder – the exact same one found on the C300 and C500. Thank the camera gods! This alone solved most of my frustrations. The viewfinder is excellent and works perfectly. The only slight annoyance is that when the handle is on the camera the viewfinder doesn’t quite tilt up all the way because it physically bumps into the back of the handle – oops! Not a deal breaker however.

The improved 3.5″ OLED display with increased resolution, now flips all the way out an rotates as it should – all the way up, all the way down, and flips over completely to rest on the side of the camera which is handy in all kinds of situations.

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On top of this you also get much improved low-light sensitivity. I really noticed how much cleaner the image is when you push the ISO. For the first time, you’ll now have additional frame rates when recording in AVCHD and slow & fast motion options when recording in MP4. The Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology comes built in. The Mark II supports GPS, and features built-in wireless functionality. There’s a small built in microphone in the body of the camera for slating etc if you really want to strip things down to the bare minimum.

There’s even more improvements but I won’t go into every detail here and suggest you check it out yourself for all the specs and info you desire.

To make a long story short, if you’re a single operator and need a camera that’s easy, intuitive and a pleasure to use while packing a powerful punch of features and amazing image quality, I would suggest seriously looking at the C100 MK II. However, if you’re looking for 4K recording capabilities, this is where it falls short. It’s really all about your workflow.

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27 Comments

  1. Franco
    February 7, 2015, 7:23 pm   /  Reply

    Dear Sir: the features have been done to death. What is valuable is your hands on experiences in the field. Would you share more on that?

  2. John
    February 8, 2015, 11:32 am   /  Reply

    Hi Scot…couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve had my C100 MKII for about a week now and loving it. For me it was well worth the upgrade. Do you still use AVCHD? What’s your take on using AVCHD vs. MP4? Also, do you use an external recorder like the Ninja Blade? Thank you!

  3. jim
    February 24, 2015, 4:29 pm   /  Reply

    Hi Scott
    Great to see the camera used in the real world.
    You seem pleased .
    just to reiterate the question … Do you still use AVCHD? What’s your take on using AVCHD vs. MP4?
    I’am photography background and don’t know much about codec.
    What I find confusing is, 25p and shutter at 50th was where I came from Canon 5d Mark 3 .
    Now in AVCHD the only progressive rate I find is 50p at I assume shutter 100th ?
    Mpeg 4 has the 25p however I don’t know the difference in quality etc.
    AVCHD or Mpeg .
    On another matter how is your shure mike doing ?
    Many thanks
    Jim

    • Scot McDonald
      March 1, 2015, 6:41 am   /  Reply

      Hi Jim,
      I’m with you there, all the various codecs, frame rates, and bit rates can be so confusing at times. I’m certainly not a guru when it comes to all this stuff but here’s how I see it.

      I’m still using AVCHD for my production workflow it works just fine. I do optimize the media when ingesting into FCP X however so it wraps it in a more FCP friendly ProRes file.

      I pretty much always shoot in AVCHD, 24Mbps LPCM at 23.98P. My shutter speed for this would be 1/48. Essentially, you should always try to have your shutter speed be double that of your frame rate. Many DSLR’s don’t offer 1/48 so 1/50 is close enough. If I was shooting in 30P then my shutter speed would be 1/60.

      25P would be for shooting for PAL. Many cameras offer 25P so you can easily switch to PAL recording if needed but it appears Canon has decided to make cameras specific to the North American or European market. So, on my C100 MKII, there’s no 25P option.

      With the C100 MKII, it now also offers MP4 recording. From what I understand, this is a more universal format but with more compression than AVCHD – albeit quite technically impressive. With the MKII, slow motion recording at 59.94P at 1920×1080 is only offered while recording in MP4. I believe this is because MP4’s sophisticated compression can handle the higher frame rate better.

      Regarding the Shure LensHopper VP83 DSLR style mic, I had it on my camera for one of our shooting days so I could be in a more stripped down mode without the handle and XLR shotgun mic. We were just doing some location and story scouting and I wanted to keep things light. I ended up having to do an interview on the fly so I just got close enough to be within it’s optimum range and hoped for the best. I have to say that little mic sounded pretty darn good! I would highly recommend it.

      Cheers!
      Scot

  4. jim
    March 4, 2015, 12:56 pm   /  Reply

    Thanks Scot
    Just wondering your AVCHD method of import to fcpx ?
    Do you attach the camera and then import media from the camera? or copy the card to a folder place on external hard drive then import optimised media .
    I have in the passed I have copy card etc .
    I import the whole folder by highlighting it then import as oppose to open then highlight the clips
    However, fcpx keeps crashing when I do this ?
    Also all the clips are named clip 1, 2 etc is the a way of giving them unique names on import ?
    By the way the camera is great ….especially the auto focus .
    Just the AVCHD editing side of things is a pain.
    Many thanks
    Jim

    • Scot McDonald
      March 6, 2015, 7:59 am   /  Reply

      Hi Jim,
      Here’s what I do – it seems to work fine for me.

      First, while I’m on a shoot, I copy the C100 “private” folder for each SD card onto a small portable drive. Usually in folders for each day; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3… that kind of thing. If a shot two SD cards in one day I’ll create folders within “Day 1” titled “Card 1” and “Card 2”. Make sense? This is just what makes sense to me. You can certainly organize it anyway you like. The key is to just isolate each “Private” folder the the C100 creates in some logical way.

      When I get back to the edit suite, I’ll connect the small portable drive with all my original footage. I’ll also connect a larger drive that I’ll be using for my actual editing. I don’t copy the original footage (Private folders) onto my edit drive. Through FCPX I’ll create a new Library for the project and then create Events within the Library for importing the footage. I’ll import media from the portable drive but have FCPX copy the media to the Library and Optimize it (creating ProRes versions). This copies and creates new versions of all the media and also increases the file sizes as it Optimizes (converts) to ProRes. Keep in mind your overall storage required for all your media will greatly increase. So, what might have been 250GB worth of footage on your portable drive might end up being about 600GB after conversion. I usually edit on 8TB Thunderbolt drives.

      I tend to organize my Events essentially the same way I backed up the cards; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3… etc. I can tag and organize everything after.

      Because your FCPX Library now contains all the copied media, there’s no need to copy the original media onto your editing drive. After import and conversion in complete (this can take a while depending on the amount of media), I’ll disconnect my portable drive with the original AVCHD footage and store that as my backup.

      Regarding all the clips being named Clip 1, Clip 2 etc, I know what you mean. I haven’t found a solution to that yet either. You can rename the clips in FCPX but that seems like a pain. I’ve just worked around that for now. It’s on my list of things to do!

      Hope this helps to some degree!
      Scot

  5. Michel
    March 9, 2015, 1:17 am   /  Reply

    Dear Scot,

    Thanks for this interesting review. I would like to go inside real world problems with MKII if possible. I reas all you posts.

    I would like to know your point of view about the ability of C100 MKII inside wilderness. You worked in Zambia. I know that one people shot in dusty Aghanistan.

    I am doing one man’s doc in siberian taiga. It’s very hard and very long to go in far taiga. I have one Sony HVR-Z5 and one Canon XA20. It’s very hard to do movies with plenty of mosquitoes in wetlands during summer or in hard cold during winter with Eveny nomads in Yakutia. Because of cold, I have to take one XA 20, one tiny XLR camcorder which allow me to be more in the real world. The Sony HVR-Z5 is about 3 kg with mic and softie. It’s heavy all the day long.

    1. Do you have to cut off the MKII when you switch lens as in the original C100 ?

    2. Do have have any problem with dusts on the sensor ? I am afraid of that. Do you check every day the dust in wilderness ?

    3. What stuff do you use to clean the sensor ?

    4. Is the sound of the fan is a true problem with live sound ?

    5. Can dust go inside fan when shooting ? Did you put one grid to protect the fan ?

    6. What do you think of one Zacuto striker on the field ?,
    http://hdvideoshop.com/shoulder-rigs/1386-zacuto-striker-for-canon-c100-c300-c500.html

    7. What is the max usable high ISOs for you ? It’s the true problem with Z5 which cannot record in very deep light. I enjoy so much to shot intimate records insite the palatka – Eveny tent- during the meal at evening or outside when the night is falling.

    8. For you, is MKII well designed for rough conditions in wilderness ? Any problems or remarks ?

    Thanks a lot for your answers when possible.

    Dear regards,
    Michel, from France

  6. jim brodie
    March 20, 2015, 8:16 am   /  Reply

    Good Morning Scot,

    Has the 35mbps data rate been an issue for you with broadcasters when most are requesting 50 mbps?

    I’m sure the lens quality and codec superiority makes up for any limitations in the lower data rate.

    Thank you for sharing your review. I greatly admire your work, particularily Nzilani. I hope this summer to have project we can work on together.

    All the Best,

    Jim

    • Scot McDonald
      April 4, 2015, 3:23 pm   /  Reply

      Hi Jim,
      Almost all of the work I do doesn’t have to meet the 4:2:2, 50 mbps broadcast requirement because this isn’t a requirement for commercials or PSA’s. Also. for long-form programming such as 30 or 60 minute TV shows, most non-profits purchase the airtime and aren’t required to meet these requirements. However, if you are shooting for general broadcast programming, you do need to consider an external recorder to comply. Many broadcasters do allow a certain percentage of a program to be less than 4:2:2 50 mbps, but I believe it’s only a maximum of 20% or something like that. This allows for additional b-camera or archival footage etc to be included. But, the primary camera will definitely need to meet the standard.

  7. jim
    March 31, 2015, 2:44 pm   /  Reply

    Hi Scot
    Yes, naming the clips is a bit illogical….you end up with loads of clips with the file name clip1 ?????
    I tried my sure mic on the C100 directly plugged into the camera via the small cable that comes with the mic, and the sound was pretty bad, I though the pre amp would have been better on the C100 .
    Do you have any special settings in camera ?
    I then tried recording to the sd card in the mic which was better however we are then back to syncing in post.
    What I’ve used the mic for in the passed has been as a back up , clamped to a rostrum when someone is speaking on a lav.
    Never really used it in the field.
    As for the C100 and the AVCHD…..in PAL the 25 frames comes in to fcpx as interlace – in know this can be changed in the field drop-down to progressive , just one more thing to forget .
    So, I am shooting in Mpeg 4 and this seems okay.
    One has to remember where the footage will end up….the web !
    However there is a part of me that always wants the best quality possible but the frame 25pf doesn’t make sense .
    The camera feels good to use – I don’t like hanging things all over the camera as in a rig for a DSLR so this is great.
    Would be good to hear your experiences with the camera so far.
    Thanks so much for your time
    Jim

  8. April 12, 2015, 11:23 pm   /  Reply

    Hi Scott, have ordered C100 mk2 for weddings/events. Which XLR shotgun mic would you recommend.

    • Dean Miles
      April 20, 2015, 11:46 am   /  Reply

      Hi Lester, Dean here. We use a Sennheiser ME64 on all our shoots. Another option is the new Sennheiser MKE600 – personally I find it’s pickup pattern a little too tight for a camera mic and it reaches a little too far.

      Lester, at our last seminar at NAB, Scot and I spent close to two hours teaching and fielding questions about how to properly use and choose a camera-mounted mic. We were surprised at the confusion from the participants but elated as the lights went on and everyone started to understand that the proper camera-mounted mic used correctly would yield fantastic recordings.

      Check out our free videos on our website for more info, or if you really want to up your sound recording as a one-person-camera crew take the Camera Audio Simplified online course: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/cameraaudiosimplified

      Cheers,
      Dean

  9. May 2, 2015, 2:17 am   /  Reply

    Hi Scot,
    Now that Canon have announced the xc10, which is even smaller than the c100’s and more potent (on paper at least ), will you be seriously looking at it?
    I have a c100, which I love, and I too work like you with minimal equipment. I’m getting a bit excited about the xc10 ( I don’t know if I should)as it’s small, discreet has a robust codec and solves the viewfinder issue among other things. Ok it has a 1inch sensor but that is fine for doccumentary shoots where nailing shots in the thick of battle, becomes imperitive. Have you had a chance to look at the xc10 at NAB? Be grateful for your thoughts.
    Thanks.. Ajit

    • Scot McDonald
      May 5, 2015, 1:48 pm   /  Reply

      Hi there Ajit,
      I had a chance to hold a quickly check out a XC10 at NAB. It’s definitely an interesting little camera that kind of came out of nowhere from Canon. To be honest, I’m not quite sure who the target user is. I have a feeling they just made it and out it out there to see what might happen and who might start using it.

      There are many pros and cons like any camera. For me, I don’t see it replacing my C100 MKII. Yes, the XC10 has 4K recording and 50 Mbps 4:2:2 HD recording, but there are trade offs such as no XLR audio inputs, no selectable HD filters, a non constant aperture fixed lens etc, etc. Holding the camera, it did feel a little on the cheap side. More like a consumer level camera. It does have a one-inch sensor which is decent as far as small sensor cameras go, but the image did look more “point and shoot” than artistic.

      I think it might be a good choice for news gathering or event type work. For documentary style story telling, it doesn’t appear to be up to the task.

      However, I haven’t actually worked with it or seen the resulting footage yet. My local camera shop is going to let take one out for a demo as soon as it gets in. I’ll post my findings and a more definitive opinion then.

      Cheers!
      Scot

  10. jim
    May 8, 2015, 6:00 am   /  Reply

    Hi Scot
    Just had a look at you full frame gallery – have to say outstanding work both video and photography .
    With a editorial background in photography myself , I just love the light for the doorways and the painterly look of the light – not to get away from the message your are try to get over .
    On the contrary the imagery is captivating and brings the message home all to well …….outstanding effort to all concerned .
    Thanks
    Jim

  11. May 14, 2015, 12:00 pm   /  Reply

    Hi Scot,
    Thanks for your thoughts. Just got a C100 MKII so am interested in your experience with it. The camera I got (from B&H) can shoot AVCHD at 59.94P/28Mbps. I use Editready to make it Prores 422 for editing–and then to make it s slow motion– Editready can change the metadata to make the shots slow motion for a 23.98 editing timeline.

    For some reason when I go from from the higher frame rate back to the slower frame rate on the C100 MKII, it always defaults to 30FPS, which I never use, so I need to make more clicks in the menu to navigate back from 30fps-24fps(23.98). On the Canon 5D MKIII and 7D MKII changing from slow motion back to normal speed requires less fiddling in the menu. Strange. Hoping a frimware update can fix this!

    • Scot McDonald
      June 2, 2015, 8:53 am   /  Reply

      Thanks Robert. That is strange. I haven’t noticed that. I agree though, it is a bit of a pain to switch to a higher frame rate and back again. I miss the super handy button to activate slow-motion on my old Sony EX-1!

      Cheers!
      Scot

  12. Ajit
    May 28, 2015, 12:23 am   /  Reply

    Hi Scott,
    Just wondered if you have used the STM 18-135 lens and how it compares to the 17-55 you use.
    Thanks–Ajit

    • Scot McDonald
      June 2, 2015, 8:48 am   /  Reply

      Hi there Ajit,
      Yes I have. It’s actually not a bad lens. The range of the zoom is very versatile and gives you almost everything you need in one lens. It’s also quite sharp under good conditions. It’s an STM it works really well with the new Canon dual pixel focus technology and it’s pretty much completely silent in Auto Focus mode. The down side is that it’s not a constant aperture lens so you will need to adjust expose as you zoom in and out. Also, I find it very difficult to focus manually. The focus ring is very small and not that accurate for critical focus. The auto focus actually did a better job than I could most of the time, but for me, it’s too dangerous to completely rely on that. Overall it has a kind of plastic and low-end feel. However, this also means it’s very light and easy to carry in a backpack or something.

      I made a point of really trying to use it on a recent shoot to see how I liked it. I ended up putting it away and not using it that much. I would say if you’re looking for a reasonably cheap zoom lens with a decent range and you plan to use it quite a bit in Auto Focus mode, it’s not a bad choice.

      Cheers!
      Scot

      • August 11, 2016, 11:04 am   /  Reply

        The 18-135 STM has continuous auto-iris, so you do not need to adjust exposure as you zoom. I seem to remember you have to turn it on in the menu. For me, because of the type of stuff I do, that feature is worth the price of admission. I also have the 24-105, which is an L-lens, but the auto-iris feature is the reason I keep coming back to the 18-135 STM. There is also a new version (which I have), called the 18-135 Nano (which also has STM). The new nano version will be usable with a new power zoom, (for that lens only) which was to come out about 2 months ago, but I haven’t seen one yet.

        The continuous auto-iris feature is only available (at this time) in one other Canon lens, the 18-55 STM.

  13. jim
    June 7, 2015, 5:28 am   /  Reply

    Hi Scot
    Hope you are well.
    Just wondering what you colour grading you use ?
    I was looking at magic bullet suite myself however looks pretty expensive .
    Just wondering have you go about your corrections / grading as the footage looks great.
    Thanks
    Jim

  14. Mads
    October 29, 2016, 11:11 pm   /  Reply

    Hey Scott. i am new to this camera a very beginner. never had a camera before. when i was shooting with this camera i wanted to get a clear picture of the canon cap but the “Canon” was not visible. it was getting very blury. Also how can i take pictures on this camera? like still images not video.

    • Dean Miles
      October 30, 2016, 10:22 am   /  Reply

      Hi Mads, I suggest you take a beginner video course to learn the basics. Also, reading the manual is helpful.

  15. Terence
    November 8, 2016, 10:37 pm   /  Reply

    I can’t seem to find an answer to this. What type of mic connector is on the C100 MkII camera body itself? I notice you have a short shotgun on the cold shoe going straight into it – which is what I plan to do (making a purchase soon). So what connector cable do you use for this? Thanks!

    • Dean Miles
      November 15, 2016, 7:13 am   /  Reply

      Hi Terence, with the handle off the camera you will use the 1/8-inch mini on the body of the camera.

      Cheers,
      Dean

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