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Canon ME20F-SH Review

When Canon unveiled and exhibited a demo video from their ME20F-SH camera, it stunned spectators with footage that was captured in conditions that were almost completely dark. This was a camera that had an ISO equivalent of more than 4,000,000 and could take pictures in that setting.

This kind of film is noisy, but it enabled the ME20 to capture images of animals, for example, under circumstances that other cameras simply couldn’t handle without using IR light to take the picture. Now, Canon has introduced a camera with a lower price point, the ME200S-SH.

Even at lower ISO settings such as 102,000, the ME20 is able to record events such as the Aurora Borealis in true 10-bit color. This is regardless of whether the camera is set to a higher or lower ISO. Or, set the ISO to 400,000 and shoot the Milky Way and the stars.

Something that in the past demanded slow shutter speeds and timelapse photography. Despite the fact that the Sony A7SII is likewise capable of remarkable performance in low light, the camera was developed for an altogether different purpose.

However, when taxes are taken into account, the price of the ME20F-SH is close to 20,000 pounds. Canon developed the ME200S-SH so that consumers with more limited spending capacities would have another option to choose from. A camera that has the same form factor as the original, but has a shooting performance that is somewhat worse in low light.

Canon ME20F-SH Construction

It should come as no surprise that the ME200 was developed to withstand use and maybe even abuse. It has a wonderful weight to it, and the construction is pretty sturdy overall. Every button has a satisfyingly weighty feel to it and judging by its layout, it shouldn’t be too difficult to operate even while wearing light to medium gloves in chilly situations.

The business end of the adapter has a rock-solid EF mount with a collar locking mechanism, which makes it more suited to carrying heavier lenses without the possibility of play than the regular EF-style bayonet mount.

On either side of the body are two huge air vents, and on the rear are buttons and a little joystick that may be used to select and operate essential menus and functions. In addition, there are two SDI-out connectors, a genlock socket, a full-size HDMI output socket, two remote sockets, a 4-pin XLR DC power input socket, and a smaller terminal block 2-pin jack DC input socket.

Large screw-in points have been included into the top and bottom of the body for the purpose of attaching tripod plates and firmly mounting various accessories such as handles, cages, and external recorders. This is not a camera meant for taking pictures in ordinary situations; rather, it is intended for more specialized work.

Putting the power on

The time it takes for the power to be fully activated is around three seconds. The camera has a low power consumption of about 11W, which could result in extremely good run durations if it is powered by a battery system.

Because the demo unit was only provided with an AC/DC power adapter system through the 4-pin XLR input, I am unable to comment on how well it performs with real-world batteries. All I can say is that it requires a relatively little amount of power in comparison to the majority of regular cameras.

However, you will need to remember to take into account extra attachments like video recorders and other devices that will require their own power supply.

This is a 1080p and 720p camera system, but it gets these resolutions from a sensor that has a resolution of 3840 by 2160, which results in an image that is very clear. It would appear that aliasing is almost nonexistent to nonexistent. This is an obvious example of “quality” pixels as opposed to “number” pixels since a high-resolution S35-sized chip was used in order to generate one of the cleanest 1080p signals that it could.

Obviously, the equipment that you use to shoot video is going to be the single most important factor in determining the overall picture quality that you get. In this regard, the ME200 has three different possibilities. Both the SDI terminal 1 and the HDMI output include an on/off switch for the display that is currently being seen on the screen.

This is sufficient for monitoring and management of the overall situation. Due to the possibility that the on-screen display may be captured by the recorder, it is possible that you will not want to use this method while connecting to the recorder. On the other hand, SDI terminal 2 is only used for producing a clean output.

HDMI produces an 8-bit signal that can be either YCbCr422, RGB444, or YCbCr444, whereas SDI produces a 10-bit signal in YCbCr422 but with only 8 bits that are considered to be “effective.”

The menu interface of the camera is extremely user-friendly and provides access to all of the settings and configuration options. It is not appealing to the eye, but it is uncomplicated and it accomplishes the desired result. A wide dynamic range option and a Canon C-log setting are both available in addition to the standard rec.709 gammas that may be used.

In addition, there are storage banks at your disposal for individualized picture configurations, complete with individualized knee settings, black level adjustments, and other such options. The variety of available options should make it possible to get a reasonably near match with other cameras if that is necessary, and the C-log option will integrate seamlessly with the workflow of the other EOS models. The dynamic range that Canon claims to achieve in log and wide DR settings is around 12 stops.

Built-in motorized ND filters may be selected with the press of a button. Since the only two choices are 1/8 and 1/64, it would be wonderful if there were other possibilities that were a little bit more subtle. However, there is also an IR cut filter that can be slid out of the way to make room for the lens, which enables infrared photography to be taken even when there is very little light.

The addition of the Canon RC-V100 remote control, which enables direct access to control over the iris focus, ND, and practically all other features, can significantly simplify the use of the camera by reducing the number of buttons that need to be pressed.

Lens correction using suitable lenses is available. It’s also noteworthy that you can inform the camera whether you’re using an EF-S lens, which allows the camera to adjust its settings to account for the crop factor in the image.

The auto capability of the ME200 deserves special recognition for its contributions. The auto-exposure mode is really well taken care of, even down to the automated selection of the most appropriate ND filter. The autofocus feature is really silky to use and incredibly accurate. In situations when you might not be able to manage the camera directly, such as in some apps, it is reassuring to know that it is still able to take correct photographs in a highly reliable manner using this method.

Canon ME20F-SH Dim Light Performance

The ME200S-SH can achieve an equivalent of 204,000 ISO at its highest setting. In comparison to the roughly 4 million people that live in the ME20, this number is laughable. In spite of this, it is still capable of extremely decent performance in low light, and it ought to be enough for the great majority of scenarios.

Even though the noise is extremely obvious at these higher settings, the picture is surprisingly useable even in this state. The trade-off for having such a low noise and high sensitivity is that the picture is exceptionally clear and devoid of noise when the gain is adjusted to its lowest possible level.

Canon ME20F-SH Conclusion

The Canon ME200S-SH is a camera that caters to a particular specific market. Some people may look at it with the idea of wiring it up for normal usage, but the fact of the matter is that it is built for more specialized uses, such as mounting on a drone, on a gimbal, or on a jib, among other things.

It is possible to set it up in a flexible manner so that it may be operated either by remote control or manually. Because of its exceptional operation in low light, it may also find utility in the military or in other security-related contexts.

At a price of about four thousand pounds, it appears to be a decent deal. In spite of the fact that most modern cameras are capable of recording in 4K, the ME200 can only record in 1080p, which means that anybody who wants to use it will need to have a specific use in mind for it, such as broadcasting live television using a gimbal.

Cameras such as the BMD Micro Cinema Camera and the Micro Studio Camera are some of the other options available to consumers today. Taking into consideration the price range, you could get four of them cameras for the same amount as this one.

However, despite the fact that you would be receiving a camera that is considerably smaller, you would be making a significant sacrifice in terms of noise and how well it performs in low light. However, the Micro Studio Camera would allow you to record in 4K resolution. As is always the case, the requirements of the production will determine the type of camera that you require.

Canon ME20F-SH Specs

Image Sensor 
Sensor35mm Full Frame CMOS (16:9 extract)
Total PixelsApprox. 2.59M (2160 x 1200)
Effective PixelsApprox. 2.26M (2000 x 1128)
Resolution1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720
Pixel Size19um x 19um
Min. Sub. Illum.0.0005lux or less (at 75dB, F1.2, 29.97P, 50IRE)
Color Filter ArrayRGB Bayer
Lens System 
Canon EF MountCinema Lock type
Cinema Lock typeEF, EF-S & Cinema (EF) (compatible lenses to be confirmed)
Input Terminals 
GEN LOCKBlack burst or Tri-level reference
Microphoneφ3.5mm stereo mini jack (plug-in power mic supported)
Remote ControlRemote A: φ2.5mm stereo mini jack (Canon protocol)
Remote B: Circular 8-pin for RS-422 (Canon protocol)
Output Terminals 
3G / HD-SDITerminal 1 (On screen display optional)
Terminal 2 (Clean out only)
Bit Depth: YCbCr422 10bits (effective bits: 8)
Frame Rates:
1920 x 1080: 59.94P / 59.94i / 50P / 50i / 29.97P / 25P / 23.98P
1280 x 720: 59.94P / 50P / 29.97P / 25P / 23.98P

*Cannot set framerate and output size separately by SDI and HDMI.
HDMITerminal 1 (On screen display optional)
Bit Depth: RGB444, YCbCr422, YCbCr444 (effective bits: 8 for each format)
Frame Rates:
1920 x 1080: 59.94P / 59.94i / 50P / 50i / 29.97P / 25P / 23.98P
1280 x 720: 59.94P / 50P / 29.97P / 25P / 23.98P

*Cannot set framerate and output size separately by SDI and HDMI.
**640 x 480: 59.94P & 768 x 576: 50P will be output when connected with a monitor that support 480P and 576P inputs. Cannot be set from the menu and the on screen display will not show.
Exposure Modes 
Auto Exposure (AE)Iris, Gain, Shutter and ND filter operating together (Cannot set auto / manual separately)
AE shift / AE response selectable
AGC limit can be set from 36dB to Off / 75dB (3dB intervals)
ManualIris:1/2 stops (push auto iris can be set to an assign button)
Gain:0dB to 75dB @ 3dB intervals (approx. ISO 4,560,000 equivalent at 75dB)
Shutter: 1/3 to 1/2000 (1/4 stops)
Image Control 
Focus ControlManual Focus (when used with RC-V100)
One-Shot AF (can be set to an assign button)
W/BAWB (2,000K-15,000K), Daylight, Tungsten, Custom Set A, Custom Set B
Optical FiltersND filters:1/8 & 1/64 Built-in (auto or motorized manual)
IR cut filter:On / Off (motorized manual)
Digital Teleconverter2x, 4x
Custom Picture SettingEOS Standard, Wide DR, Canon Log, Custom 1 – 6
Other FunctionsAuto black balance, color bar, test tone (interlocking with color bar), assign buttons, peripheral illumination correction, focus limit, crop for EF-S Lens, scan reverse, flicker reduction, noise reduction, time display, hour meter
Power Input 
TerminalsXLR 4-pin or terminal block 2-pin jack
InputDC +11V ~ +17V
ConsumptionPower Consumption Approx. 12W (body only)
Other 
Operating TemperatureApprox. 0 – 40°C (32 – 104°F)
Dimensions4.0 x 4.6 x 4.4in. (102 x 116 x 113mm)
WeightApprox. 2.4lbs. (1,100g)
Included in the BoxME20F-SH, 2-pin DC Power Contact
Related AccessoriesCanon RC-V100 Remote Controller, Canon EF Lenses

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