Canon C500 Mark II First Look – 6K, Full Frame, Cinema RAW Light, Modular Concept

September 5th, 2019

Canon just introduced the Canon C500 Mark II, the long-awaited successor to the C500, which takes a much more modular approach than previous cameras in Canon’s Cinema line-up. Let’s take a look!

It’s been over 7 years since the introduction of the original Canon C500, which used to be Canon’s flagship cinema camera before the C700 was introduced in 2016. And it’s also already 4 years ago since the C300 Mark II was introduced. So with the competition heating up and new cameras being released left and right, it was definitely time for an update of Canon’s cinema line. And today is the day this is happening. 

Before we take a look at the modular design of the camera, let’s look at the tech specs.

The bare-bones body of the Canon C500 Mark II – Photo © cinema5D 2019

Canon C500 Mark II – 6K, Full Frame, 17:9 Sensor

It comes with a 5.9K Full Frame 17:9 Sensor which Canon claims offer more than 15 stops of dynamic range. It’s remarkable that we have a full-frame sensor here, and it’s the same sensor as in the high-end Canon C700 Full Frame which was only introduced one and a half years ago.

Different Approach: 6K in 17:9 Instead of 4:3 Sensor

Now, the competition with 6K resolution in Full Frame is Sony with their Venice, and most recently also Panasonic with their S1H – but with both you get the full resolution only when shooting anamorphic with the 4:3 sensor (Venice) and 3:2 sensor (Panasonic) . Canon takes a different approach in their cinema line and uses a 17:9 full-frame sensor to achieve their almost 6K resolution, which means that you effectively will have more resolution when shooting with normal spherical lenses than on the other cameras. You can shoot with anamorphic lenses using a 4:3 image area too, though, just in this case you will lose image resolution on the side with the Canon sensor. The C500 Mark II also offers anamorphic desqueeze options for correct preview of the footage.

Straightforward button layout, with the most important features accessible immediately. Photo © cinema5D 2019

DIGIC DV7 – Cinema RAW Light Internally, XF-AVC 4K 4:2:2 in 10-bit

Canon for the first time uses a new DIGIC DV7 processor which allows the camera to record Cinema RAW Light internally at up to 5.9K as well as XF-AVC in 4K 4:2:2 10-bit. So this camera finally does what everybody hoped the C200 and the C300 Mark II would eventually do, but even at a higher resolution with a larger sensor, quite impressive from the specs.

5.9K Over Sampling Processing for 4K Credit: Canon

Frame Rates in Cinema RAW Light and XF-AVC

Cinema RAW Light can be shot at 5.9K and 4K at up to 60 frames per second, and at 2K in up to 120 fps in a cropped mode, unfortunately.

Once you switch to the XF-AVC codec in 10-bit 4:2:2, you can shoot 4K DCI, UHD, 2K and HD only, there’s no 5.9K option in this codec. (4K is delivered by 5.9K Oversample processing so no image crop applied). With XF-AVC you can also shoot up to 60 frames in 4K, and 120 frames in 2K and HD – but only cropped.

Cinema RAW Light recording formats and frame rates

 

XF-AVC recording formats and frame rates

Dual Pixel AF – Now More Fine-tuned

Canon’s undeniably great Dual Pixel autofocus is also included and covers around 80% of the overall image area. This should work just as well as in other current Canon cameras – what’s new is that you can further finetune the autofocus performance by adjusting the autofocus tracking speed and response – which makes, of course, focus ramps easier.

Backside of the Canon C500 Mark II, with all the built-in ports on the right-hand side. The long connector at the back is to be used by the EVF, or alternatively, Extension Unit 1 or 2.  Photo © cinema5D 2019

New Modular Design – Small Body, Essentials Inside

The bare-bones body of the C500 Mark II itself only weighs 1750 grams or less than 3.9 pounds, and that’s remarkably small for a camera that already has many essential things included.

First of all, most essential connectors are already built in:

Monitor out, 12-G-SDI OUT as well as HDMI out, both of which support 4K 50p/60p with just one cable, timecode built in, minijack mic in and of course headphone out, and two XLR-ports built right into the body, with full manual controls and at the bottom a12.6V DC in. The camera uses the same batteries as the C200 and C300 Mark II. 

It’s great to have Timecode built right into this tiny body without having to use an extension box like for example with the Sony FS7. 

The camera has 2 CF Express Card slots, that’s the successor of CFast, and an SD card slot for simultaneous proxy file recording. It also has three fixed NDs at 2, 4 and 6 stops and can be combined to achieve 8 and 10 stops, but there’s no variable ND filter unfortunately. 

To switch to slow motion, there’s now a dedicated S&F button for “Slow and Fast” (just like the “S&Q” button on Sony cameras).

Manual audio controls on the side of the Canon C500 Mark II, for the two built-in XLR ports. Photo © cinema5D 2019

Included LCD, Removable EVF, Extension Units 1 and 2

The included LCD LM-V2 is a touchscreen which at 4.3” is slightly larger than the one found on the C200, and features a nice robust mechanical mounting system. 

Canon now made the EVF user-removable, which is great: that means that the camera can more easily fit onto gimbals and drones. The interface used to connect the EVF to the camera is the same they are using for other optional extension units. The EVF itself is a 0.46” OLED with 1.77Megapixels. 

There’s the small Extension Unit 1 which adds Genlock, Remote Connection and Ethernet to the camera. 

C500 Mark II – with the small Extension Unit 1 attached at the back. Photo © 2019 cinema5D

The much larger Extension Unit 2 adds first of all a V-Mount to the camera, and also a DC Out with 24 Volts, 2 Ampere, a D-Tap, Genlock, Remote, Ethernet, a B4 lens connector, 12-G SDI and additional 2 XLR plugs and the dedicated controls. 

Canon C500 Mark II fully rigged up with the Extension Unit 2 and a Canon Sumire Prime in my hands. Photo © 2019 cinema5D

All the included and optional components of the Canon C500 Mark II – Photo © 2019 cinema5D

C500 Mark II with the removable EVF attached. Photo © 2019 cinema5D

Of course it’s a shame that you can’t use the standard EVF anymore once you connect one of the Extension Units, but in general it’s great that Canon made the most modular camera we have yet seen from them (or many others, for that matter). You can even use the C700’s shoulder pad and rails with this camera, and the overall optical axis is lower than it was on the C300 series of cameras, which should make rigging accessories easier. 

Dual CF Express and an SD card slot under the hood on the Canon C500 Mark II. Photo © cinema5D 2019

User-Interchangeable Lens Mount – EF Mount, PL Mount, Cine EF Mount

What’s super exciting is that the lens mount delivered with the C500 Mark II is user-interchangeable. The standard EF mount can be swapped for an optional PL Mount or for an EF Cine Lock, by simply unscrewing 4 screws with an allen key. This is great because in the past, there were separate EF and PL versions of many Canon Cinema cameras, and the use cases therefore were much more limited.

User-interchangeble lens mount on the Canon C500 Mark II – Photo © 2019 cinema5D

Electronic Image Stabilizer

Canon has also added an image stabilizer for the first time in a cinema camera. They call it a 5-axis image stabilizer, so it’s technically not an IBIS because it’s fully electronic.

Conclusion from Personal First Impressions

Of course we haven’t been able to shoot with this camera yet, but from what we see, this is the most flexible and modular Cinema camera that Canon ever produced, and it promises to be very attractive to a wide range of shooting scenarios.

As someone who owned (and still owns) the original Canon C300 and shot a lot with it over many years, the C500 Mark II feels like a gust of fresh air from Canon in their ability to create really user-friendly and versatile cameras. Granted, the C200 was a big step in the right direction, yet the missing 10-bit 4:2:2 recording made it impossible for many to make the jump. The C500 Mark II, albeit at a different price, fulfils what many were expecting, and actually also a lot more that caught us totally by surprise. I can’t wait to shoot with it and try it out myself.

The Canon C500 Mark II will cost around €15,000 without the Extension Units and optional PL Mount, but while that might seem a lot, it’s actually the same price the C300 mark II cost when it first came out. However, the C500 Mark II offers a lot more bang for the buck – internal Cinema RAW Lite at up to 5.9K resolution plus the 10-bit 4:2:2, the interchangeable mount, great autofocus plus all the features you expect from a cinema camera. It’s the first time in a while where it seems like Canon really got it right – but we will only see for sure once we get our hands on this camera to actually produce some images with it. We will try to get one for a full review as soon as possible!

Full camera specifications can be found here.

What do you think about the newly announced Canon C500 Mark II? Did Canon get the concept right? Let us know in the comments below!

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Richie
Guest
July 2nd, 2020

According to the chart breakdown, it shows 12-bit as being an option all the way through 60fps at 5.9k, but anything over 24fps automatically changes to 10-bit on the camera for me. Is this an error in the graph?

Andi
Andi
Guest
September 25th, 2019

Hi,

could you please check for the magenta gate problem of the c300 mk2?

https://vimeo.com/279831746
at 7min11sec.
you can see the pink line going from one side to the other side. its mostly happens if you shoot against sun or bright windows.
Hopefully canon has fixed this problem, with the c500mkII sensor.
Our c300mkII still have the problems and canon can not fix it.

thx

Will
Will
Guest
September 24th, 2019

It mentions C-Log 2 and 3 but nothing about the original C-Log..any idea if it will have it?

 Dan Hyman
Dan Hyman
Member
September 10th, 2019

Amazing camera, wish it had ProRes instead of MXF. Just curious as to why they don’t put a rocker on the handgrip like Sony does. I’d love to see this camera with a rocker to control their cine zooms. One handgrips with servo controlled cine zooms would be amazing for run and gun. Create a additional Canon ring attachment for L’s while they’re at it, now we’re talkin’

 Dan Hyman
Dan Hyman
Member
September 11th, 2019
Reply to  Dan Hyman

The more I think about it, the more the omission of ProRes bothers me. Im sure it’s an unpopular opinion, but I don’t want RAW or H264, I want a codec that can hit the NLE running giving ease of use and dynamic range intact. This camera with just ProRes, no RAW or H264, would be the best selling camera of all time.

 Daniel Maldonado
Daniel Maldonado
Member
September 9th, 2019

Will definitely go for this over a Red Camera

Blake Barnett
Member
October 8th, 2019

What about the Sony FX9?

 Brian Lehrer
Brian Lehrer
Member
September 6th, 2019

Curious what the word on ISO performance / native and also what the Anamorphic modes actually shake out to be.
Also more curious to see what a real DR test reveals! As you know from your tests, everyone except ARRI inflates their DR ratings, but if this gets 13-14 stops it could be a real winner.
It’s price isn’t “aggressive” but it isn’t crazy either for what they are offering, unless the upcoming FX9 blows it away somehow. This is exactly the price range serious shooters want for a camera when they can’t rent an Alexa / Venice but want something better/more well-rounded than a mirrorless. (Not that I don’t love my Sony A7Rii…)
Also for all those complaining about price – I noticed that the $16K price COMES WITH the monitor, the top handle, 1x 512GB Cfexpress Card, 1x battery and single charger, and the regular EF mount. No other manufacturer includes all that in base price!

Member
September 5th, 2019

Oh, wow! It does 24p!

Joke aside, it seems to me that the DigicDV is able to handle multiple high resolutions and fps without a problem, while the Digic can’t go beyond 2.8k/30p (according to some — and needs multiple of these chips in parallel to do 4k, while the competition has outrun them). It seems to me that Canon removing video features from their dSLRs little by little (including going from 48mbps for 1080p in 2009 down to 32mbps in 2015 for the same encoder, and now slowly removing 24p), was internal politics then?!? They clearly have the technology, why not also show some engineering love to Digic too?

I don’t know. But after seeing the latest developments about Canon removing 24p from some of their cameras, this leaves a bitter taste to my mouth.

 Dominic DeSantis
Dominic DeSantis
Member
September 5th, 2019

Nino. Thanks for this video on the C500 MK2. It is clear, Concise with a splash of your point of view on the features and design of the camera. We are currently in a period of amazing tech and these videos are a godsend when trying to decide which camera to use on individual projects. Keep it up.

Member
September 5th, 2019

Meh. Were people clamoring for full frame OR 6K resolution? Why not just leave it at S35 with 4K resolution & 12 bit color & finally give us the high frame rates Sony seems to be able to put in the FS7 for half the cost???

 Keith Mullin
Member
September 5th, 2019

I am super confused about your segment on sensor resolution. Unless Canon isn’t using square pixels it doesn’t really matter what the aspect ratio is of the sensor, a sensor with a more square aspect ratio is going to have more actual resolution than one that is wider, whether or not that resolution is useful depends on what aspect ratio you want to shoot at. In fact what you say about the C500 mkII having higher resolution than VENICE at 17:9 is patently false. At full frame 17:9 the VENICE has a resolution of 6054×3192 vs 5952×3140 for the C500 mkII. You’ve also got the aspect of the native sensor wrong. VENICE is 3:2 not 4:3

 Werner Botha
Werner Botha
Member
September 5th, 2019

No mention of HLG or HDR?

James Manson
James Manson
Member
September 6th, 2019
Reply to  Werner Botha

No mention of HDR? It shoots Raw on a 15 stops of dynamic range sensor? That IS HDR! Canon Log 2, Canon Log 3 – also HDR!!

Carbon43
Guest
September 5th, 2019

Slight correction, CFExpress is the successor to XQD, not CFast. Confusing names for sure. Great video… https://t.co/Tb30e8NZS6

Ben J
Ben J
Member
September 5th, 2019

BMD are doing great stuff, but it’s odd to read comments comparing this to the Pocket range or even the G2. I feel we often read the resolution, maximum FPS and the price, and then announce which camera ‘wins’, perhaps even without any experience of actually operating cameras in different environments.

Elijah
Elijah
Member
September 5th, 2019

Great review! A little more affordable than a RED 5k. But it is insane to think the Blackmagic pocket is also 6k and is only $2495 just not full frame (but for film super 35 seems to be preferred).

prahlad strickland
prahlad strickland
Guest
October 9th, 2019
Reply to  Elijah

yes, but with this camera, u get canon 12 bit raw… with the blackmagic, u get braw… and sci fi colors… The canon color science is far superior and much closer to Arri’s color science than even the red camera. This is a great price for a great camera IMO.

 Alexander Martyn
Alexander Martyn
Member
September 5th, 2019

more than twice the price of the new G2 and limited to suuper expensive CFast cards hmm.. Canon moving in the right direction, but brand names aside I can’t see it beating out the new BM ..

 Rostislav Alexandrov
Rostislav Alexandrov
Member
September 5th, 2019

It’s like comparing a Red to an iPhone. Two different tools completely.

Elijah
Elijah
Member
September 5th, 2019

Really iPhone? That is untrue. The URSA has far greater dynamic range and low light capabilities when compared to any phone. The footage coming out of the URSA and new pocket 6k is similar to the ARRI look if not better. If anything is iPhone like, it would be the Canon C500.

anthony
Guest
September 28th, 2019
Reply to  Elijah

If the Canon Raw Light debayer gamma/curve on the c500ii is anything like the c200 raw light where you can just apply arri’s log c lut and its pretty much perfect, that to me speaks volumes on the quality of raw/dr/etc of this camera. I doubt you can do with equal effectiveness with BMD’s offerings.

prahlad strickland
prahlad strickland
Guest
October 9th, 2019
Reply to  anthony

Who makes the Arri Log C lut for c200 raw?, is that 3rd party, sounds interesting, I would love to get this, or hopefully they develop the same for the c500 mkii as well

prahlad strickland
prahlad strickland
Guest
October 9th, 2019
Reply to  Elijah

better than Arri?, no… I own Arri amira and BMPCC 4k… no.. not even close, not even the same country close.

 Ken Eakins
Ken Eakins
Member
September 5th, 2019

No mention of the IBIS? Seems like a strange thing to miss out, especially as it’s a cine camera first.

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
September 5th, 2019
Reply to  Ken Eakins

Hi Ken. Please note that the 5-axis sensor stabilisation system is electronic. There is no IBIS in this camera. Thank you!

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