Sunday, September 13, 2015

Is the 4K Sony FS5 a 1080p Canon C100 Mark II killer?

After yesterday's chart comparing the specs of the new Sony FS5 and the Blackmagic URSA Mini, I received feedback from a reader who thought a better comparison might be with cameras such as the $3495 JVC LS300, $4195 Panasonic DVX200 and $5499 Canon C100 Mark II.

I thought this was a good idea, and wanted to take a look at how the new Sony stacked up against the other non-RAW cinema camcorders in its price class, so here is part deux of the "affordable cinema camcorder side-by-side comparison" between the FS5 and its sub-$6000 competition.  The most interesting part of this comparison (for me, at least) is on the right side of the chart - between the similarly priced 4K Sony and 1080p Canon:

JVC LS300 Panasonic DVX200 Canon C100 Mark II Sony PXW-FS5
Street Price (Body-only) $3495 $4195 (w lens) $5499 $5599
OEM Viewfinder Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sensor Size Super 35 w var. crop MFT Super 35 Super 35
Lens Mount MFT Fixed EF Sony E
Max Recorded Resolution 3840x2160 (free 4096x2160 upgrade) 4096x2160 1920x1080 3840x2160 ($ 4096x2160 upgrade)
Max HD Frame Rate 60fps 60fps 60fps 240fps
Codec MPEG4 8bit 4:2:0 (4:2:2 HD) MPEG4 8bit 4:2:0 (ext. 10bit 4:2:2) MPEG4 8bit 4:2:0 XAVC 8bit 4:2:0 (4:2:2 HD, $ ext. RAW upgrade)
Shutter Rolling Rolling Rolling Rolling
Mic Input(s) 2xXLR w phantom 2xXLR w phantom 2xXLR w phantom 2xXLR w phantom
Headphone Output(s) Yes Yes Yes Yes
SDI Out(s) Yes Yes No Yes
Storage 2xSD 2xSD 2xSD 2xSD
In Body Stabilization No Yes No No
ND Filter Yes Yes Yes Electronic
Native Power Zoom <$300 (3x) Fixed (13x) $31K $548 (6x)
Still Photos No No No No
Weight 3.6 lbs. 5.95 lbs. (w lens) 2.5 lbs. 1.8 lbs.

Of course, specs alone don't tell the whole story. Manufacturer support, personal preference, ergonomics, legacy lenses and other factors all weigh heavily on the final decision whether to buy one camera rather than another. All of that said, based solely on specs and price, the C100 Mark II seems to be the clear loser here.

Sadly, despite its lack of competitiveness in resolution and frame rates, Canon continues to sell $5000+ 1080p, 4:2:0 Super 35 camcorders into what is increasingly a 2160p 4:2:2 marketplace.  With the introduction of the $2998 Sony A7s Mark II, the situation is arguably worse for them in the full frame DSLR arena.

Canon has successfully ridden their breakthrough 2008 video success with the 5D Mark II for 7 years. It will be interesting to see how long that ride continues.

As usual, if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please order through the links above. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these blog posts coming. Thanks so much for your support.