Another factor to consider is the choice of lens. For our tests we requested and used the Canon EF 24-105 f4 L series, a constant aperture, f4 pro lens. This is a good, solid lens that marries well with the C100 and covers a useful 4.5x range.
The 24-105 though is not Canon’s latest lens, nor the fastest. It is possible that the 24-70 f2.8 would yield even better AF results due to its wider aperture. A few quick tests with a 50mm f1.8 suggested that a brighter lens does give faster AF.
It may also be that some of Canon’s lower-end lenses could perform better than its pro lenses, when it comes to AF. Canon offers the C100 as a bundle with EF-S rather than full-frame, EF lenses, such as the EF-S 18-135mm.
This gives a longer zoom range than Canon’s full-frame lenses, but the manufacturer also claims four stops of optical stabilisation, as well as Dynamic IS, for video. The lens is also optimised for AF during video, whilst the STM motors on this, and other “consumer” Canon lenses, are designed for quiet use during video recording.
We were not able to test the 18-135mm lens alongside pro L-series lenses, but given the relatively low additional cost of the camera and lens bundle it could be a worthwhile investment, especially for handheld work where a shallow depth of field is not essential.
In our tests, though, we were very happy with the overall results of the 24-105mm f4, especially with single-shot AF. It is also possible that Canon will develop more pro-spec lenses optimised for video AF, now that the DAF upgrade is also available for the C300 too.
Two other points on lenses that potential buyers of the C100 should consider, , are the limitations of the EF lens mount, and the shortage of (affordable) power zoom lenses for the EF series.
Canon has a very wide range of excellent EF lenses, and there is widespread support for the EF mount from third-party lens makers such as Tokina and Sigma. But it does not have the flexibility of the Sony E-mount or Micro Four Thirds mount (as used on the Panasonic GH4) to take a wide range of lenses via adapters. The C100 is also EF only, whereas the costlier C300 comes in a PL-mount version.
For run-and-gun and news work, another consideration is the lack of an affordable power zoom lens, equivalent to Sony’s SELP18200, which gives the FS100 and FS700 an 11x zoom option. Canon’s CN7x17 KAS S E1/P1 is a very high specification, ENG-style power zoom lens, but its price tag means it is unlikely to appeal to a budget-conscious film maker who is buying a C100.
Unless one of the kit lens bundles suits your needs, or you already have an EOS camera system, it is important to weigh up lens choices when considering the C100 as a system. A couple of pro f2.8 L-series zooms will double the cost of the kit, although Canon’s f4 lenses are much more affordable. Another point to consider is that the C100 does not come with an XLR microphone included.
Next: Buying into DAF