Jigsaw24 review: Canon C100 MkII

Canon were kind enough to bring a C100 MkII into our office last week, and as well as getting all the key specs, our camera specialist James Graham got to put his sticky fingerprints all over it. Here’s what he learned…

Is it a C100 disguised as a C300?

Kind of. The body is slightly larger now, giving the MkII a distinctly C300-ish silhouette, but the overall form factor, ergonomics and handling still feel very much like the C100 we all know and faun over.

And the reason behind that extra width? Canon have changed the MkI’s fixed rear display into a folding, rotating, side-mounted OLED screen, so you can see it far more easily when you’re shooting, and made the view finder far more mobile and comfortable. Essentially, your dominant eye gets to enjoy the luxurious comfort of a C300, while the rest of you operates a C100 in exactly the same way you would the C100 MkI.

It’s still not 4K

As we’ve said before, this is a camera that prioritises image quality over image size. While equipping yourself with a 4K-ready camera does help future-proof your workflow, at the C100’s price point that usually means compromising on image quality. If you’re not working with 4K regularly – and most of the people we talk to aren’t – then seriously consider whether you wouldn’t be better off going with the C100 MkII and getting the best possible image you can while you’re still working in lower resolutions.

And just to be clear – the C100 MkII is going to offer you a visibly better image than its predecessor. While Canon have kept the same sensor, they’ve kitted the C100 MkII out with a brand new DIGIC DV4 processor, which is much cleverer than the C100’s. Pluses we’ve been promised include reduced noise, reduced moire, improved low light performance (the MkII has a max ISO of 102400) and the same debater system as you get with the C500, all of which we are strongly in favour of.

What are the new features?

Dual pixel autofocus. A bit of a lifesaver in run and gun situations, DAF is included as standard on the C100 MkII. It’s faster than your normal focus as it’s not contrast based, but limited to targets within the central 25% of your frame.

Face detection autofocus (selected STM lenses only) Not quite as quick as DAF, but this will identify faces anywhere in your frame and make sure they’re in focus. You can even choose whether it tracks a given face to keep it in focus, or stays focused on a fixed point if the face you’re filming moves or leaves the frame.

AVCHD and MP4 simultaneous recording. Stick two memory cards into your C100 MkII and you can record 28Mbps AVCHD to one and 35Mbps MP4 to the other. Yes please.

Remote control via WiFi (and built-in FTP). Can’t loiter by your camera? You can now control it remotely from any device with a web browser, thanks to Canon’s new remote control interface (there’s also a physical remote, the RC-V100, that will do the same job). One neat feature here is that you can create different user profiles within the control interface, so one operator can have control over every aspect of the C100, while another can be limited to dealing with certain features. There is a slight lag, but it’s well under a second. And once you’ve remotely recorded everything, you can send it back to base using the built-in FTP support.

Clean HDMI out with support for Canon LUT. Whoop.

What comes in the box?

One of three things: a body-only C100 MkII, a C100 MkII with a 18-135mm lens kit that supports DAF and face recognition, or a C100 MkII with a 24 – 105mm lens that supports DAF but wouldn’t know a face if it was pointed right at one. If you want to choose your own glass, the MkII will happily work with EF, EF-S and Cine Prime lenses, but only STM ones can currently support its face recognition system.

What’s the verdict?

Hell yes. Says James, “If you didn’t like the C100, this won’t change your mind – the changes are mostly ergonomic and practical – for example the viewfinder is now something you’d actually want to use, you have more assignable keys and the controls on the side of the camera are raised so they’re easier to find when you’re using the viewfinder. However, if you are looking at buying or updating a C100, definitely choose this model and get that new processor and DAF.

“As well as the flashy stuff there have been some really thoughtful tweaks – I like that you can now change the display to black and white when adjusting focus magnification, so it’s both easier to focus and any idiot can tell you’re not shooting. Everything we loved about the C100 is still there, it’s just better now.”

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