Canon C70 Cine-Camera Review

The Canon EOS C70 has all the potential to be a game-changer. Boasting a completely new form factor and the manufacturer’s latest lens mount, Canon has evolved its Cinema EOS system with a camera that’s uniquely compact and thoroughly capable.

While it replaces the C100 line, it’s effectively a Canon EOS C300 Mark III in a body the size of a pro DSLR, boasting the RF mount used by the manufacturer’s cutting-edge mirrorless cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and the autofocus wizardry of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III.

Although it doesn’t record RAW, its headline specs include uncropped 4K 4:2:2 10-bit capture, with up to 120fps recording in 4K and 180fps in 2K, along with 16 stops of dynamic range thanks to the Dual Gain Output sensor (the same one seen in the C300 Mark III).

With more competition than ever before in the pro and prosumer video sphere, does the C70 have what it takes to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best cinema cameras out there right now? Let’s find out…

Specifications

  • 4K/120fps. Super 35mm CMOS sensor with low noise.
  • Dual Gain Output. 16+ stops of dynamic range.
  • RF Mount. Enhanced imaging system platform.
  • 4K (4:2:2 10-bit) Up to 410Mbps internal recording, supporting ALL-I and Long GOP formats.
  • MP4 (4:2:2 10-bit) …
  • Dual SD Card Slots.
  • Size: 160 x 130 x 116 mm
  • Weight: 1,190g (with grip belt and measure hook)

Canon C70: Key Features

At the heart of the Canon EOS C70 is the same 8.85MP Super 35mm Dual Gain Output sensor found in the C300 Mark III. Using the same principles as the Dual Get technology featured in the Alev III sensors of Arri Alexas, this records two separate 14-bit readouts for every pixel – a high amplification signal prioritizing saturation in the highlights, and a low amp transmission that prioritizes noise in the shadows.

These two paths are then combined into a single, 16-bit HDR file that (according to Canon) possesses up to 16 stops of dynamic range and very low noise levels. The C70’s base sensitivity is ISO800, as with Arri’s sensor, and you’ll need to shooting here in CLog2 to get the full benefit of the technology.

The Canon EOS C70 can record unlimited 4K in XF-AVC or MP4; 4K All-I around 30p,
4K long GOP up to 60p, S&F (long GOP) around 120fps, and 4K HEVC 10-bit 4:2:0 or 10-bit 4:2:2 options. All-I is only available up to 25p in XF-AVC, with lengthy GOP required for 50p and slow-motion. All XF-AVC options are 10-little bit, while for MP4 you can opt for H.265 (in 4:2:2 or 4:2:0) or H.264.

The camera is built around the RF mount, used by the EOS R family of mirrorless cameras, enabling it to make use of the best Canon RF lenses – many of which are among the finest optics that Canon has ever made.

Canon C70: Build and Handling

If you come from the world of cinema cameras, the Canon EOS C70 feels very weird. If you come from the planet of DSLRs and mirrorless, it feels very familiar. And this tells you a lot about the target market for the camera.

On the one hand, it’s designed as an entrée for hybrid shooters looking to start shooting with a full-fledged cine camera. As such it eschews the conventional, modular style of other Cinema EOS systems in favor of a DSLR-like chassis and layout – it really does feel a lot like a 1D X, in a lot of respects.

At the same time, however, this new small and sleek form factor makes it an intriguing proposition for veteran cinema shooters, as the ultra-compact footprint helps it be ideal for use in cramped environments as well as run-and-gun situations, where you simply don’t have the elbow room for anything but a body and lens. Similarly, the small frame makes it ideal for mounting on a gimbal.

The camera is festooned with 18 buttons, 13 of which are customizable, along with a rear control wheel and a tiny joystick input – which might be the lone weak point of the C70’s inputs, as it feels very thin compared to the larger, textured joysticks on Canon’s DSLRs and mirrorless bodies.

The menu system is typically simple and straightforward, as you’d expect from Canon, and has the same ‘grammar’ as traditional EOS cameras – making it easy to assimilate if you’re transitioning from a stills system.

Canon C70: Performance

Aside from one major difference – the fact that it doesn’t record RAW – the Canon EOS C70 really is a C300 Mark III in a smaller, sleeker body. It has the exact same sensor, so you can expect the exact same performance – and that means pristine video 4K quality whatever your frame- and bitrate.

It’s worth noting that, as was the case with the C300, in order to squeeze the full 16-stop potential out of the Dual Gain Output tech you’ll need to shoot at ISO800 in CLog2 (the dynamic range drops to 14 stops if you shoot inside CLog3).

Furthermore, DGO doesn’t work in the event that you shoot above 60fps in uncropped 4K (Super 35) – though it does work, as you might imagine, at up to 112fps within cropped 2K (Super 16). That’s no doubt due to the processing and power required to deal with dual readouts during high speed (slow-motion) recording.

Speaking of slow-motion, it’s a real strength of the C70, with both 4K 120fps (in Super 35) and 2K 180fps (in Super 16) with full audio (recorded as a separate file) and full Dual Pixel AF. While it would have been nice to see Canon roll out DPAF II, that would require a new sensor – and the truth that it possesses the iTR AFX with Deep Learning is enough to make a big difference if you’re filming human subjects, with overall AF performance feeling a touch more accurate than the C300 Mark III.

The built-in ND filters are a revelation to anyone coming from DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, and the 2-, 4- and 6-stop physical NDs (expandable to 10-stop digitally) perform brilliantly while only introducing a very minor effect on colour. On that subject, the C70 maintains colour well even when underexposed, as that is where Dual Gain Output feels most efficient.

Canon C70: Verdict

The Canon EOS C70 is a superb cinema camera, ideal as both an entry point for those new to this kind of shooting and as a fantastic tool for veteran videographers looking for a compact body to shoot in confined or fast-paced environments – and is particularly well suited for solo shooters. If you’re a content creator or events videographer who has been filming on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the form factor and accessible menus are far more welcoming than most cine cameras, and you will quickly find your way around and soon start shooting great video. With its hybrid design and awesome functionality, the Canon EOS C70 both democratizes the world of cinema digital cameras and gives established videographers a compact, capable new tool for solo and run-and-gun filmmaking. Combining the performance of the C300 Mark III, the potential of the RF mount, and the touch input and ergonomics of a mirrorless digital camera, this is a powerful proposition for anyone who shoots video professionally.

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