Canon C300 vs 5D Mark III vs 4K DSLR vs the Sony NEX FS700… WHAT DO I DO!?

Old Oaxacan at Manifesto in Kansas City

The photo above is one of the FIRST shots after buying my Canon 5D Mark II in September of 2009… A LOT has changed since then.

So for those of you who may or may not be following the world of Digital Video… there’s a LOT going on right now.

Canon alone has introduced two new cameras that are both being snapped up, and back-ordered in the Canon C300 and Canon 5D Mark III, but there are also rumors swirling about a new 4K DSLR they might be introducing at the 2012 NAB Show… AND Sony is rumored to be announcing their NEX FS 700 which will be able to shoot 4K and is priced at $8k… A substantial jump down in price from the C300, AND shooting at 4K…

So… With all of these factors, you might be asking yourself… which do I go with?

Well, considering that 2 of the cameras have yet to actually be tested / vetted / officially announced, it’s a bit tough… BUT let’s breakdown a few facts…

The Canon C300 – Priced at ~$16,000:
Okay… so the pricetag alone is a major deterrent for me personally. Don’t get me wrong, having seen some of the footage from this camera, it produces some GORGEOUS imagery, but I’d have to be taking out a loan, or massively increasing my intake of business to be able to afford this particular body.

That being said, the C300 is really built for pro video / cinema. Super 35 CMOS Sensor at approximately 8.29 megapixels, ISO range of 320 – 20000, 1080p and able to shoot at 24, 25, 30, 50, & 60 FPS (23.98 / 29.97 / 59.94 fps for the nitpickers out there…) In the audio world it does have a dedicated microphone input, and has ports for HDMI, 3.5mm stereo audio, XLR, BNC, & Timecode in/out. Definite needs for a pro camera.

Storage is comprised of 2 CF Card slots & 1 SD / SDHC / SDXC slot.

Next up… the Canon 5D Mark III – Priced at ~$3500:
Ok, now this is definitely more in my price range… And it serves the dual functionality of also being an effective DSLR. Now obviously you might sense my bias here… A) I like the pricing better and B) It lets me shoot both Stills & Motion. That being said, this camera does not have near the functionality / flexibility as the C300. AND, not having held them side by side, I’d anticipate the build quality is also better on the C300 (but that’s totally speculation).

I definitely think this camera would be great for serious photogs / cinematogs out there, as it’s a very elegant improvement from its predecessor the 5D Mark II (which I still love). This camera has a 35mm “full frame” CMOS Sensor at ~22.3 megapixels. I’d love to see some sensor comparisons between the C300 vs 5D Mark III, as I’d assume there’s a fair amount of difference, but I personally am not sure. Obviously this sensor was constructed to have a higher megapixel count due to the need for stills… It’s ISO range is also much more expanded from 50 to 102,400 (and from some recent reviews, seems to definitely be improved from the previous model) It also has 61 focus points, and a max continuous shooting speed of 6FPS… a significant improvement from the 5D Mark II’s 3.9 FPS.

It also has a max resolution of 1080p, and framerates of 24, 25, 30, 50, and 60 fps.

One thing that it does NOT have like the C300 is a continuous AF system. Meaning this puppy is still full manual on the lens. AND it also can only take Canon EF Mounted lenses (unlike the C300 which can also take the cinema grade PL mount). It also has dual CF Card slots, and a SD/SDHC/SDXC slot.

Unlike it’s predecessor, the 5D Mark III DOES have a dedicated headphone jack, which thankfully will allow live monitoring of audio capture, AND now also allows for live adjusting of audio levels. It does NOT have the XLR / BNC / Timecode in/out like the C300… which for some, would definitely make this format still difficult (however for the DSLR shooters out there… I think we’ve all adjusted, for the most part)

So… that leaves our two speculated releases… the Canon 4K DSLR, and the Sony NEX FS700:
Obviously some major advantages of the 4K DSLR would be not only the higher resolution of 4K, but also enabling the shooter to be a still gunner as well. This is a major advantage (at least in my opinion) for journalists / run and gun documentarians. Further, because of the price disparity between the C300 & the 5D Mark III, AND the announced price point of Sony’s 4K Cam at $8,000, you can also speculate that it will come out in the sub $10k range… making it a bit more of an approachable option than the C300. (Obviously I’d love for it to be sub $5k… but I think that’s a pipe dream… :) )

The Sony NEX FS700 on the other hand is really the pro video counterpart to the C300… and I have to say, at $8k, it’s DEFINITELY an attractive option. ESPECIALLY shooting 4K… Now editing 4K… well that’s a whole other story. The machines necessary to handle that resolution of footage easily make up the price difference… So at least an approachable price makes it easier to break into that area. The FS700 is also rumored to be able to shoot at 120, 240, 480, and 960FPS (at reduced resolution of course)… but still.

So that’s just a SUPER short primer on each of these cameras… there’s lots more out there, but I at least wanted to get some of my own thoughts down. Needless to say, it’s tough to form any solid conclusions with two of the cameras yet to be officially announced, but either way, this year’s NAB show will definitely be interesting!

BTW… Check out these reviews of the C300 & 5D Mark III by the always fantastic Mr. Philip Bloom:

One Response to “Canon C300 vs 5D Mark III vs 4K DSLR vs the Sony NEX FS700… WHAT DO I DO!?”

  1. Giorgio Malfitano says:

    As colorist, editor, and shooter – I am going to go with the Sony fs700 because it will do 4k in the future and the slow mo
    now is excellent. I am hoping for the best!!!

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