Over the holidays it’s only natural to think ahead to the new year and wonder what will be some of the popular tools producers, directors, videographers and cinematographers will use. In terms of cameras, higher end acquisition looks to remain consistent with Alexa and Red dominating the scene. I don’t expect any shocking revelations other than the prediction that the Alexa mini will become super popular too, but I’ll save that for another time.
It’s the mid-tier market that has seen a super competitive battle between Sony and Canon one-upping each other and slugging it out for first place. Black Magic’s Ursa mini still to be widely released may struggle to find relevance when it finally enters the market. In 2015 Sony gained traction and market share with their 4K equipped FS7. I expect its popularity to continue to grow in 2016. Canon’s C300 Mark II just got out of the gate in late 2015 but I’m hoping it will catch it’s stride in 2016. The question is, will its price, that double of an FS7 hurt it in the market place? I think it could.
Pricing aside, however, I’ve used both of these cameras on various projects and I personally prefer the C300 Mark II. I’m not inferring it’s the better camera, but it is the more suitable one for my work. Why? I simply like the colour science a bit nicer, the ergonomics are key for me so it’s simpler and faster to operate when the pressure is on. The menu design is more intuitive and the perfectly working library of canon lenses make me choose this camera for many studio and run-and-gun applications.
On a side note, taking this post off on a tangent, I learned that both of these cameras make compromises when shooting high frame rates. On paper, it looks like the FS7 destroys the C300 because it shoots higher frame rates while using the full sensor. Compare this to the C300 which shoots less frames and does so by cropping the sensor and you’d believe it’s a no contest for the FS7. The truth is when you take a closer look, one can easily argue that Canon chose the better method for shooting high speed. Essentially the Sony employs ‘pixel binning’. Pixel Binning allows charges from adjacent pixels to be combined or grouped which can offer some benefits ( in this case full sensor read-out ) but it comes at the expense of reduced spatial resolution, which can make for softer, less resolved images that can also show aliasing. It’s a sneaky approach, to be sure and while everyone is busy being outraged by Canon’s decision to crop the sensor it never sacrifices one-bit of image quality while doing it.
Both cameras are going to be pretty huge in 2016, so if you are in the market to buy, you really can’t go wrong with either one as both are highly capable, and at this point in the game there’s not much left either one can’t do. As a final add on, don’t forget about Sony’s older F5. It’s an awesomely capable little camera that seems to have been eclipsed by the newer and cheaper FS7. I’m really hoping the F5 makes somewhat of a come-back in 2016 and I personally will be keeping it on my radar for certain projects.
Here is a nice recap video explaining the differences between these two cameras. Start at the 6:50 mark to see how these two cameras handle high speed.