Canon Vs Red: The Battle For Amateur Filmmakers Is About to Commence

By Haje Jan Kamps on at

I don't want to say I told you so, but... I told you so. Specifically, I've been saying that shooting video on SLR cameras simply doesn't make sense -- in some cases. Don't get me wrong; if you're a stills shooter who occasionally shoots video, knock yourself out. It's just the current wave of filmmakers shooting on SLRs, that baffles me.

In that article (originally written some time last year), I'm arguing that it's only a matter of time before Canon launch a video-specific camera with an EF lens mount, so you get the best of both worlds: Access to affordable, high-quality glass, and all the features you expect from a video camera (but that tend to be lacking from an SLR camera; including things like decent video codecs, fine-adjustable frame rates, and audio recording that doesn't make you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a 3.5mm jack plug).

It's fantastic news, then, that the EOS C300 comes along. If you look at it, it looks like the bastard lovechild of an EOS camera and a Sony Camcorder -- but it's got a rather fantastic spec, which is what makes it all the more interesting.

The details of the C300 are already out, but I'd just like to talk for a minute about the implications of this...


What does it mean?

The new camera comes in two versions; the C300 comes with the EF lens mount, so you can use the incredible varied array of pre-existing EOS-series lenses with a device that's built from the bottom up to create high-quality video. In addition, there's a C300 PL version of the camera, which means you can marry up the new Canon body with any of the Arri Positive Lock lenses -- that's the high-end lenses used on many a 16mm and 35mm film cameras.

The price tag of this new wünderkind is around €12,000, according to Amateur Photographer, so that probably means around £10,000 or thereabouts.

It's worth pointing out the obvious here: That's not pocket change. The whole reason for the video-on-SLR revolution is that it affords amateur and semi-professional filmmakers high quality video at entry-level pricing. If you're going to lay down that kind of money, there are other alternatives out there that are more tempting. Red's entry-level video snapper Scarlet, for example, comes with a £6,000 price tag, a much better set of accessories for filmmaking, and Red's cameras have had the option to use Canon EF lenses for a while, if that's your thing. It's almost obscene how thoroughly Canon has been beaten to the punch on this launch.

Not everything is lost though. Even though I have to admit that I'm disappointed by the price point, I think there's definitely a space in the market for both the C300 and the Red Scarlet. If Canon marketed their new video-cannon more in the £1300 range, we'd have a true alternative to the 7D or 5D mk 2 for film makers. The tech included in the video camera isn't all that different from the net sum of bits and pieces that goes into one of Canon's high-end SLR cameras, so there's no particular reason for why they wouldn't be able to create the cameras at a loss for a while, until the economies of scale make the cameras profitable.


And the winner is...

Canon certainly has its work cut out; but this is one battle where there can only be one winner: amateur film-makers. It's taken bloody long enough, but things are finally getting interesting in this market, and I, for one, am thoroughly looking forward to this battle!

Haje Jan Kamps is a prolific photography blogger who has written a small stack of books about photography. He also developed the Triggertrap camera trigger and has been known to travel the world a bit. If you’re of the tweeting kind, try him on @Photocritic

This article was originally posted on Pixiq, one of our favourite photography sites -- whether you're after tips, tricks or just gorgeous photos.