The C100 has been unavailable for some time, but only a few weeks ago I thought it was a viable option for my work and decided to buy one. When it came to trying to decide on camera options earlier this year, it all came down to it C100 against BMCC and ultimately I decided to go with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera because shooting RAW was too tempting to do without it. I was also put off by the C100 due to the codec (AVCHD) and the relatively high price – that didn't make sense to me. But after months of shooting on the BMCC (which is still a favorite of mine), I realized that I needed a camera right away that didn't need to be upgraded for every shoot, so I decided on a different look for the C100. I really just wanted something that would work as a dedicated video camera and didn't need a lot of external accessories to work well in real shooting situations.
One of the first things I did with the camera after I took it has tested the new extended ISO range, which enables shooting at up to 80,000 ISO. It is really very impressive. Since then I have taken a lot of test shots in barrel and weapon situations as well as in controlled environments to see how well the camera holds and especially when compared to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
Below is my full video test of the C100, which includes sample footage and comparison material with the BMCC
Sum up – I was pleasantly surprised that the C100 was delivered in almost all areas. Earlier this year, I remember the specifications on paper and couldn't believe that a camera that cost so much was still recording AVCHD, while the BMCC was able to shoot Prores and RAW at less than half the price. I only understood it when I started the camera and found that the C100 was able to deliver results that went far beyond what I thought was possible using a highly compressed codec. It is able to maintain such excellent overall picture quality by allowing you to shoot in a beautiful logarithmic color space that leaves much more room for color corrections than most other cameras that record compressed formats. It will never have the flexibility to shoot RAW, but that's not what the camera is about for me. This camera is all about usability. There's really something to say when you have a tool that you can pull out and just start shooting. It has built-in ND filters, XLR inputs, timecode and manual control for almost everything and really works like a real video camera. It can also shoot in ridiculously poor lighting conditions and is able to deliver very strong results with little noise at up to 20,000 ISO and usable noise (when specified in the post) at 51,200. All of this is packaged in a form factor that is among the best of all cameras currently on the market. The moment I was sold on the camera was when I actually picked it up and held it. I almost forgot what it is like to take pictures with a camera that is ergonomically designed for handheld video work. It's been a few years since I took this picture because my last smaller pictures are based on DSLR / BMCC and larger pictures are often made on RED. So it's really a breath of fresh air to go back to that kind of form factor. I also think that this camera's sensor is currently one of the best on the market and has always been a big fan of the Super 35mm format.
Of course, the camera also has some disadvantages, especially the viewfinder, which is not ideal. The screen inside is quite small and difficult to see. There is no eyepiece that covers the entry of light when you look through the screen, and use is generally awkward. Regarding the codec, it would have been nice to have a higher bit rate codec like the one implemented in the C300, even though it delivers one of the best (probably best) AVCHD images I've ever seen. Still, this is not a big problem for me as the picture still looks good and I haven't had any problems due to the compression. However, if this bothers you, you can always buy an external recorder like that Atomos Ninja 2This enables you to record prores directly from the sensor, effectively adjusting and possibly exceeding the quality of the C300. The other big disadvantage of the camera is the lack of 1080 / 60p for slow motion. Granted, I wasn't expecting the camera to have slow motion when it was announced that even the C300 in 720 mode can only do 60p, but it's still a factor that needs to be considered if you have a lot of over-revealing footage record and this need skill in the camera. I did some experiments with shooting at 1080 / 59.94i and switched to progressive in the post to get slow motion from the camera. The function actually works relatively well, although it is not a substitute for real 60p.
Compared to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera …
It's like apples and oranges. These are two extremely different cameras for very different purposes. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera still delivers my favorite picture from any camera under $ 10,000, no doubt. It's not just the ability to shoot RAW, but also the overall aesthetics of the image that is truly cinematic and cinematic than the C100, at least straight from the camera. However, the C100 can still be stacked very well and is by no means far away. The image quality of the C100 is quite cinematic in its own way and provides a very nice image that is about as sharp when shooting at 2.5 K as the BMCC. When choosing between these two cameras, there are two important aspects to consider. The first is whether you need RAW or not. If you only want to start narrative work and want to have the greatest possible control over your image, it will be difficult to do without the BMCC. The second consideration is whether you need a camera that is ready to use without upgrading. If you're like most shooters and tackling a variety of projects (commercials, documents, television, film), the C100 is the more versatile option and easier to use. Built-in ND filters are a lifesaver, not to mention the design of the camera, which is extremely easy to photograph and very modular. And in terms of the cost of the cameras, they're much closer than they appear to be on paper. The BMCC is currently less than half the price of the C100, but when you add your rig, external batteries, SSDs, EVF, and other add-ons, the price balances out. You could use the BMCC to create a budget solution and purchase some cheaper peripheral devices. However, if you use them professionally, some costs cannot really be avoided. So if image quality is ultimately the most important factor for you, get the BMCC. You really can't beat it for the price. However, if you need a camera that is versatile and ready to use from day one, the C100 is the way to go.
As always, it is important to recognize that the camera is not taking the picture. There are all other components – the lens, the frame, the lighting and above all your understanding of the craft. But it is also very important to have a camera that you enjoy working with and that inspires you to take pictures. So choose wisely. If you are interested in buying the C100, It is currently listed here at B & H at $ 5499. The BMCC is now open $ 1999 and is also available through B&H.
Noam Kroll is an award-winning filmmaker from Los Angeles and founder of the boutique production house Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television and in various publications around the world. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!