There have been a ton of exciting new camera releases this year including the RED Komodo, Sony A7S III, Panasonic BGH1, URSA Mini Pro 12K, and Fuji XS10. I plan to share more thoughts on these cameras in the future, but today I want to focus on the most enticing new camera of this year (to me) – the Canon C70.
If you've been following my site for a long time, you may know that I have a certain love-hate relationship with Canon.
While I absolutely loved my Canon C100 when I had it, this was truly the only Canon video camera that catered to my needs for both functionality and cost. Many of their other offerings were just too expensive for what they could deliver (at least on paper), or just not technically sufficient.
However, if I've learned anything from using the C100, the specs alone never give you the full picture when it comes to Canon.
Say what you're going to say about how Canon is detrimentally affecting the performance of its own cameras to keep the rest of their lineup but also see where they shine. Image quality, color science, dynamic range, and ease of use / reliability.
Those are the variables that usually appeal to me the most, certainly more than just technical skills like high-resolution footage. Maybe that's why I wasn't so excited about Canon's other relatively new version, the EOS R5 …
Although Canon had finally broken new ground with the R5 by offering full-frame 8K recording, the camera didn't make me any more attractive. I am completely satisfied with HD or 2K for my personal projects and 4K for client work. 8K is almost always just plain unnecessary, and if anything can slow things down unnecessarily in the mail.
This is not a blow to the R5, I haven't shot it yet and I'm sure it can deliver great pictures. But like many other Canon cameras, it kind of missed the mark for my creative needs, and I don't need another DSLR-style camera.
That said, when Canon recently announced the C70, I had a very opposite reaction.
Order the Canon C70 from B&H.
The C70 is, of course, the latest in Canon's C line, and is similar to a smaller brother to the C200, though it's more expensive at $ 5,499.
Below are the specifications –
- Super 35 DGO sensor (Dual Gain Output)
- Great 16mm crop mode
- 4K 120p, 2K Crop 180p HDR recording
- Canon Log 2, 3, PQ & HLG recording
- RF Lens Mount / EF Mount with adapter
- 16+ stops of full dynamic range
- Built-in ND filter / Auto ISO & Gain
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF and EOS iTR AF X.
- 1 BNC timecode / 2 mini XLR audio inputs
- Two SD card slots, LUT / Long GOP support
This may not be the most eye-catching datasheet out there, but it's definitely a box for me – and that's the most important variable in a sense.
Like many of you reading this blog, I thrive as an all-rounder. And that means working with tools that can be incredibly versatile. The C70 seems to be such a tool.
The body of the camera appears to be in between a more traditional Canon Cinema camera and one of their DSLRs. This is amazing for those of us who switch between small storytelling productions and larger corporate shoots.
It might not be as small as other mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7S III, but that can be a good thing.
Aside from a few specific scenarios where I really need the smallest footprint possible, I mostly prefer something a little more moderate. I like to work with a camera that is just big enough to give me some stability when taking photos with the handheld, but not so big that it's uncomfortable on a long day of filming. The C70 fits exactly into this area.
The sensor in this camera also goes a long way in terms of versatility. Time will tell if it really delivers more than 16 DR stops, but even at 14 that would be enough for virtually any type of production, from guerrilla shoots with natural light to commercials on a bigger budget.
Super 35mm is also the format for those of us who juggle a wide variety of project types. Full screen is overkill for most projects, and despite its popularity with the filmmaking community, S35 is still my personal preference most of the time.
Sometimes I like to work with Super 16mm, not only for filming, but also for digital recordings – mostly with my original Blackmagic Pocket Camera or Micro-Cinema Camera.
Then of course I was thrilled to discover that the Canon C70 had a super 16mm crop mode. That way I could use my super 16mm lenses for the camera and use my S35mm lenses to simulate a super 16mm look. I know this isn't the top selling feature for most filmmakers, but oddly enough for myself!
Another big consideration for me is built-in ND filters. After being pampered with cameras like the C100 and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, it's frustrating to go without them now. The fact that the C70 includes built-in NDs makes it all the more enticing. I wish more cameras had built-in NDs, and I'm surprised more manufacturers aren't making this a priority.
The integration of the new R-mount is also a good choice as you can use all new Canon R-series mirrorless lenses as well as all EF lenses with an adapter. Canon even offers a 0.71x speed booster adapter that you can use to convert your full-frame EF lenses to Super 35mm R lenses.
The C70 records up to 260Mbps internally at 10 bits on H264 and H265, which is fantastic. Even the C200 doesn't, although the C200 can record RAW internally while the C70 cannot.
While I would have loved to see a compressed RAW capture option, it really isn't a deal breaker for me. If I really needed RAW I would only use an external recorder and 99% of the time I would be happy with the 10-bit internal recording options.
I also like the camera's ability to simultaneously record full resolution files and proxy files to SD cards. For some jobs, this would be a lifesaver and would dramatically improve the post-production workflow.
Given the time I spend creating and using color correction LUTs, the C70's ability to display custom LUTs is particularly important.
Does this camera have all of the features in the book? Of course not.
It hits a maximum of 4K, does not record RAW, does not record full screen, and lacks a handful of other features that some filmmakers have been asking for.
When buying a camera, however, you need to decide which features are actually important to you. With the C70, most of the features it lacks are just not important to me and may not be important to you either.
However, the functions offered are not only unique in their functionality, but also in their application.
For the jack of all trades looking for the most versatile camera, I imagine the C70 will be hard to beat. Not many other cameras offer this level of performance and versatility out of the box without accessories.
Cameras like the RED Komodo are exciting for a number of reasons – because they specialize. The Komodo will no doubt be an amazing tool for low budget filmmakers who need a raw, high definition shot on a budget, just as an example.
But for those who need a single tool that can do it all, the C70 might do just the right thing.
Not sure if I will end up buying this camera as I have a few others that are doing pretty well with my needs right now. But if I don't own anything and am looking for a camera to cover my bases, the C70 would be a major competitor. If the price was below $ 3,000 it would fly off the shelves, but maybe we'll get to that price in the future with the rumored C50.
I will try to publish an update on the C70 as soon as I have the opportunity to actually take pictures with the camera on site.
What do you think? Is the Canon C70 a camera that would fit your needs?