The tension had been building for weeks whilst we eagerly awaited Canon’s “significant announcement” about a groundbreaking new camera set to take the market by storm.
Its clear that budding film-makers have taken to Canon DLSR’s in a big way, given their extremely cool filmic shooting capability and low light heroics.
But is this the camera that we’d been waiting for?
Article from Forbes.com, November 2011:
Last week, Canon unveiled the C300, a new camera designed specifically for high-end film-makers. Due for release in January at a price of $20K, the C300 comes with a “super 35MM-equivalent 16:9 large CMOS sensor” that shoots 4K images (or not, depending on who you talk to). Thus far, the initial test videos have been very impressive.
This announcement came just as RED announced the final plans and pricing for its long-awaited Scarlet camera, a smaller, less expensive alternative to its previous offerings. Scarlet will retail for just under $10,000 (camera body only), but you can get a ready-to-shoot model for roughly $15,000.
At first glance, Scarlet might sound like the better deal. But RED cameras typically require a bunch of expensive extras. That’s part of the company’s strategy; lure filmmakers with a low base price and hit their pockets later with a plethora of expensive add-ons. While Canon could be planning a similar strategy (ex: you’ll still have to buy the lenses and other equipment separately, but that’s true of most film cameras), the company has one significant advantage over its competitors: filmmakers are already fans of the format.
Over the past couple of years, indie filmmakers and commercial producers alike have been investing heavily in Canon’s top-tier line of DSLRs. Cameras like the 5D Mark II, 7D, 60D, and even lower-end models like the Rebel T2i were all built for shooting stills. But with the ability to shoot gorgeous 1080 video, these cameras have become the new favorite among filmmakers on a budget. Not only are they cheaper than traditional HD cameras, but they accept a plethora of Canon lenses without the need for a special adaptor. The same cannot be said for the average video-specific camera.
Sony had a stellar opportunity here to step in with a lower-cost model and take control of the market, but it completely missed the boat. The company has been taking losses in nearly every division. If RED holds onto its market position, and if Canon takes another chunk of the market, where will that leave Sony? Right now, the cheapest professional, high-def camera that Sony makes retails for nearly $17,000. Though its most expensive listed camera is $100K, Sony won’t even provide a price for models that go higher, simply saying, “Pricing available upon request.”
With little to no competition in the DSLR market, and very little competition outside of RED, Canon is in a very good position right now.
Traders – before diving into the action items, let’s go over the key points of Canon’s newest camera:
- In addition to beating the RED One at its own game, the C300 undercuts the release of Scarlet, RED’s long-awaited low-cost alternative (at twice the price, mind you).
- More importantly, the C300 gives tomorrow’s filmmakers a superior upgrade option when they move beyond their low-cost indie roots.
- The transition from the 5D Mark II to C300 should be fairly seamless.
- The compact size makes it insanely versatile.
- Unless Scarlet proves to be a vastly superior camera, the C300 is likely to take over this area of the market.
- Expect smaller and cost-cutting studios to be the earliest adopters of the C300. Look for a few heavy hitters in Hollywood to experiment with the format.
- This could easily become a prominent player in commercial development (an area where Canon’s existing cameras already excel).
- The C300 could become a leader in television production as well.
That said, there are a couple of other things to remember:
- To be clear, this is not the end of film.
- This isn’t the end for RED either.
It is, however, the beginning of a new era of filmmaking that will pave the way for additional cameras from Canon, which will push the boundaries even further.