XC10-Canon’s Last Hope?

8/4/15:

Well would you look at that! Canon have announced a C300 MKII and the XC10 now exists! This page is a little out of date now. Expect full articles on both coming soon.


9/5/15:

Well, here it is.


 

Let me start this article off by making one thing very, very, very clear. This is a rumour. Now what I’ve learnt over the near 6 months of writing camera articles for this site is that rumours can come true, but also can not, so please, take this with a pinch of salt or better an entire bag, because what’s coming up next is very confusing, and in my honest opinion doesn’t make much sense.

A C100 Mk II, what the new XC10 will allegedly have a form factor based on.

A C100 Mk II, what the new XC10 will allegedly have a form factor based on.

So what’s the rumour? Well, it’s that Canon is going to make a fixed lens 4K camcorder with the form factor of Canon’s hot selling C100. My response was quite frankly, “wat”. Now the C100 isn’t your standard camcorder style. It’s a weird mishmash of several different ergonomics that most people agree works, but for a fixed lens camcorder? Maybe not so much. I would have thought that Canon would have adopted a more AX100 (or conventional) design for the consumer camera, and choosing a C100 form factor puts it dangerously close to being a permit camera, I.E. one where someone comes up to you and asks. “Do you have the right to film here?” even if it’s in a public place. You can’t always be moved on, so know your rights. Having said that, my AX100 with a shotgun mic on the top looks a lot like a permit camera. Simply I don’t think a fixed lens C100 will work as an XC10, because of that fact.

My AX100, and what I think a camcorder should look like.

My AX100, and what I think a camcorder should look like.

“Honestly Officer, it’s just for a home video!”

Now I wish to point out that we know very little about this camera. Virtually nothing is known, except I’ve heard that it will have a MFT or similar sensor, fixed lens and C100 body style. No sensor, codec or other information is currently known to me. I must point out that the famous Hairdryer camera with Canon seemed ready to launch a few years ago failed to appear, and this may simply be an updated and modernised version of that rumour, but really very little is known, so I decided to dive a little into Canon’s business strategy.

For the last year or so I’ve been really annoyed at Canon, and for good reason. Anyone who knows me knows I have a lot of Canon glass, and one of the reasons I’m reluctant to switch is though Metabones’s Speedboosters are great, they’re also not perfect. This is only highlighted by people who have tried to use their brand new FS7’s with Canon L series glass only to discover the Speedboster jams the iris shut and then refuses to open it again. So this is what I’ve been thinking over the last few months.

Why you no make more 4K cameras?

I think this is true of everyone to be honest.

So why don’t they? Well, perhaps it’s because Canon can’t really be bothered. The C500 is an amazing camera, but the 1D-C is now increasingly outclassed by products less than half the price. The GH4 and the A7S+Shogun cost less, but give much more in almost every respect. You can even get 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 from the HDMI port on the GH4, 4K 8 bit 4:2:2 on the A7s and 4K 10 bit 4:4:4 should come out of the FS7 due to its HDMI 2.0 interface, though I would love for someone in the community to double check this for me please.  I’d like to see Canon do that on the 1-DC. (N.B. It’s not possible)

So, In my opinion, Canon’s strategy has been very meh. It’s got so bad that now even I will admit that Nikon (Yes Nikon!) makes better cameras with video capabilities, and Panasonic’s GH4 is just incredible, and BlackMagic is like some mystical beast that despite getting so many things wrong, in my opinion far outclasses anything Canon has done over the past few years. If BlackMagic was to make a (considerably) smaller URSA with better lowlight, count me in, because the rest of that camera is nearly perfect.

So why do I think Canon is being slow? Because for Canon, the market just works. And in all honesty, Canon’s more professional 4K offering, the C500 is spectacular. I’m not going to compare it to an Epic an Alexa, an Variacam S35, something from BMD or something from Sony because they’re all slightly different, but when empowered by an external recorder like the Odyssey 7Q the C500 comes alive. And that’s the problem. The external recorder. Whilst external recorders have got a lot smaller in recent years, a lot of people don’t want to have to use external recorders to record footage, considering numerous companies (Red, Arri, BMD, Kine (I really could go on)) have proved that internal 4K undebayered RAW is possible. So yet again, why is Canon being slow to adopt new tech?

I haven’t really found or come up with a fully satisfactory answer for this, but I have several ideas.

  1. It really can’t be arsed. Canon’s profits are up around 400 million yen since 2009, and the company is still growing. Canon management feel no need to move with the times. Why? Because point 2. Check.
  2. You have a load of Canon glass, you hate the flaws that even the most perfect adapters have and you don’t want to sell it, so you’re stuck with EF mount cameras. That’s Canon, Blackmagic, AJA or Red. Check.
  3. Canon wants to sell you as many cameras as possible. Why make a 4K capable DSLR when you can have 4 different cameras with differing features that could easily be done by one. How is this allowed to happen? See point 2. Check.
  4. Canon makes stupendous amounts of money on lenses. The DSLR market isn’t there really anymore, and the Point and Shoot end has almost lost out to smartphones. Canon knows it can make bigger margins on lenses than cameras. Check.

So what about at NAB? NAB is Canon’s chance to finally fix 4K, before it becomes even more of a laughing stock as tiny startups like Axiom and smaller companies like Kine deliver incredible results from tiny budgets. Remember RED Digital Cinema was an upstart/start up (depending on what side of the community you perceived it!) and look where that is now, making some of the best, if not the best Digital Cinema cameras out there. Canon could flex its immense financial muscle, and produce something epic (pun intended), but I don’t think it will. Why? Because you can go f**k yourself and Canon just doesn’t really care, and that upsets me. I have a large collection of Canon glass, I like Canon, and I really don’t want to go, and I don’t want it to go. I’ve had a wonderful time with Canon, and changing would be deeply, deeply unsettling for me, and I think anyone.

Now for comfort, have the pretty cool C300. We should see a C300 MKII with 4K at NAB, but I’m not placing any bets.

A C300. Atrib “CanonC300 Jan2013” by Waltonbeneric – I took the photo for a class project.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CanonC300_Jan2013.jpg#mediaviewer/File:CanonC300_Jan2013.jpg

Canon, just give us hope. Please, and hopefully the XC10 will be the start of your redemption.


Update: Wow! As soon as I published this what do I hear? That according to the site Canon Rumours, Canon is working on a DSLR like thing that will challenge the GH4. But with a 1″ sensor.

My feelings, precisely.

My feelings, precisely.

Update post CES: No such camera emerged I’m afraid. Maybe NAB? Red Epic image also re-cropped and blurred due to privacy concerns.


 

TL;DR Stop being so lazy. Reread it. 

Jacob

Write a variety of articles, when I get the time. Usually do more longform and analysis than I probably should. Also an editor.

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