Canon launches assault on the Sony FS7

This week marks Panasonic’s & Canon’s assault on the Sony FS7 – By Mike Thomas

The Canon C200, priced competitively against the FS7 shouts out that it can record RAW internally onto a C-Fast Card. Now that’s impressive. Let’s start looking at some numbers.

Standard RAW (16bit) is 1.2Gbps on a Sony recorder and Canon RAW Light is 1Gbps (doesn’t state frame rate but assuming 30P) and 12 Bit Colour Depth. If you go up to 50P it’s only 10 Bit Colour Depth. (I wouldn’t say 1Gbps RAW at 12 Bit is significantly light but the processing power required on board the camera is a significant change.) If you compare this to Sony XOCN (Sony’s compressed RAW format) its 688 Mbps and 16 Bit colour Depth and that is still 16Bit at 120fps. But Sony require the external recorder (AXS-R7) and additional cards. So the key selling point of the C200 is cheap onboard RAW.

Media. A 128Gb C-Fast Card is £304 before VAT, a Sony AXS-256Gb 24 Card is £600, so pro rata C-Fast and AXS 24 Media is the same price, you can just buy it in smaller chunks. But Sony AXS is professional media and Sony will retrieve data for you. (The 24 Card is good up to 60fps so is comparable with the C200. If you require 120fps RAW or XOCN on the Sony you need the 48 cards).

The coded 4K Recordings are all 4:2:0 Long GOP and 8 Bit against the FS7 using XAVC-I 4:2:2 at 10 Bit or XAVC-L 4:2:0 at 8 Bit (QFHD). Canon seem to be using highly compressed formats which will have impressive record times on cheap media, but the quality will need to be seen. 4:2:0 4K 8 Bit is in line with 4K from cameras such as the A7S Mk II so is in general use plus of course you have it in the FS7 if you require high recording times.

The HD story is pretty similar with a 35Mbps 8 Bit 4:2:0 codec, with the FS7 having XAVC 4:2:2 10Bit 100mbps to 200mbps and XAVC-L 4:2:2 10 Bit ranging from 25mbps to 50mbps.

The big question is, do people want RAW? It’s costly and time consuming to post and grade, then if you’ve budget to post RAW, is 12 Bit / 10 Bit good enough?

The C200 has a Sensor Signal to Noise ratio of 53dB against the FS7 at 57dB, so it will be interesting to see how the C200 handles the noise especially after some very hard compression.

It sounds like I’m knocking the C200 but RAW on board at this cost point is a major step forward. The C200 is less than the R7 Recorder you need to bolt onto a F5 or F55 to record RAW. There are major limitations that have to be made to keep this camera at this cost point, you can’t expect a Ferrari for the price of a Mini. I think want I’m saying is set your expectation. It’s a great camera at this price point if you want RAW, if you want good compressed 4K and HD and aren’t bothered with RAW, the FS7 is still your best bet.

Mike Thomas – Director, Top-Teks Ltd