Canon ME20F-SH Review

When Canon unveiled and exhibited a demo video from their ME20F-SH camera, it stunned spectators with footage captured in conditions almost completely dark. This camera

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When Canon unveiled and exhibited a demo video from their ME20F-SH camera, it stunned spectators with footage captured in conditions almost completely dark. This camera 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 other cameras 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 can record events such as the Aurora Borealis in actual 10-bit color, regardless of whether the camera is set to a higher or lower ISO. Or, select the ISO of 400,000 and shoot the Milky Way and the stars.

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

However, when taxes are considered, 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. A camera with the same form factor as the original but 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 great weight, and the construction is pretty sturdy overall. Every button has a satisfyingly weighty feel, 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 standard EF-style bayonet mount.

On either side of the body are two substantial 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.

Significant screw-in points have been included in the body’s top and bottom to attach tripod plates and firmly mount accessories such as handles, cages, and external recorders. This is not a camera meant for taking pictures in ordinary situations but is intended for more specialized work.

Putting the power on

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

Because the demo unit was only provided with an AC/DC power adapter system through the 4-pin XLR input, I cannot comment on how well it performs with real-world batteries. I can only say that it requires a relatively small amount of power compared to most regular cameras.

However, it would be best if you considered extra attachments like video recorders and other devices requiring their power supply.

This is a 1080p and 720p camera system, but it gets these resolutions from a sensor with a resolution of 3840 by 2160, which results in a cleart image. 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 to generate one of the cleanest 1080p signals it could.

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

This is sufficient for monitoring and management of the overall situation. However, due to the possibility that the recorder may capture the on-screen display, it is possible that you will not want to use this method while connecting to the writer. 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 the settings and configuration options. It is not appealing to the eye but is uncomplicated and accomplishes the desired result. A comprehensive dynamic range option and a Canon C-log setting are available in addition to the standard rec.709 gammas that may be used.

In addition, storage banks are 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 close match with other cameras if necessary. The C-log option will integrate seamlessly with the workflow of the other EOS models. Canon claims to achieve the dynamic range in log and wide DR settings 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 other possibilities were slightly 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 camera use 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, allowing it 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 well taken care of, even down to the automatic selection of the most appropriate ND filter. The autofocus feature is 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 can still 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. Compared to the roughly 4 million people living in the ME20, this number is laughable. Despite this, it can still perform highly decent low-light performance, and it ought to be enough for most scenarios.

Even though the noise is pronounced 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 image is evident and devoid of noise when the gain is adjusted to its lowest possible level.

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 mini stereo 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. It 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

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 standard usage, but the fact is that it is built for more specialized uses, such as mounting on a drone, on a gimbal, or a jib, among other things.

It is possible to set it up flexibly so that it may be operated either by remote control or manually. Its special operation in low light may also find utility in the military or other security-related contexts.

It appears to be a decent deal at a price of about four thousand pounds. EveHowever, in though 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, such as broadcasting live television using a gimbal.

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

However, even though you would receive a considerably smaller camera, you would be making a significant sacrifice regarding noise and its performance in low light. However, the Micro Studio Camera would allow you to record in 4K resolution. As is always the case, the production requirements will determine the type of camera you require.

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