Released in the fall of 2020, Canon’s C70 starts a new lineage in the RF lineup, now with cinema ready capabilities. At first glance, it almost looks like a beefier 1DX. And, in many ways, it is. But, it simultaneously melds their XC series, with the EOS R, along with cues from the C200 and C300 Cine cameras.
And, as such, it’s quite an exciting mashup between a variety of cameras and surely one that breaks the mold. In some ways, it’s the spiritual successor to the C100 series. And Canon’s releasing this camera as an entry-point into the EOS Cinema line aimed at filmmakers wanting a smaller and lighter option.
On paper, it combines the best of both worlds. It’s small, compact with all the high-end video features of the C300. And it takes much of its quality, build, and design but adds needed portability and mobility.
But, considering Canon’s just released both the EOS R5 and R6 into the RF lineup, is this release too premature? The R5 already has incredible video capabilities, though hindered in some regards. So, does the C70 offer enough for users to pay more, in some ways, to get less? Let’s find out.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon EOS C70?
It obtains the latest 8.85MP Super35 CMOS sensor and DIG!C DV7 processor from the C300 Mark III. But, it also gets Canon’s next-generation Dual Gain Output (DGO) technology, which produces 16+ stops of dynamic range. Essentially, DGO achieves this range by combining two separate gain readings on a pixel level.
One reading emphasizes saturation in the bright areas, and the other reduces noise in the dark areas. And doing so, the camera generates a greater dynamic range while simultaneously reducing noise. And it enables superior low noise HDR video.
But, crucially, the C70 becomes the first EOS Cinema camera to debut the RF mount. And this gives filmmakers access to Canon’s latest RF collection, which offers superior optical performance to equivalent EF lenses. Thankfully, like the EOS R and the newer R5 or R6, you can also use older EF lenses via an adapter. And the camera supports all of the current EF-RF adapters.
It shoots DCI 4K 60p natively, or 120p via the S&F Mode and 2K 180p. And videos record to Canon’s XF-AVC standard, All-Intra or Long GOP via H.264 compression with data rates up to 410 Mbps and 10-bit 4:2:2 color.
Alternatively, the camera can shoot in the MP4 format with H.265 compression with a data rate of 225 Mbps and 10-bit 4:2:2 color. But, this newer compression method is rather taxing on your computer, so it’s not entirely realistic. Nevertheless, the footage this camera delivers is excellent. And it closely matches the higher-end C300 Mark III.
The camera also obtains the Slow and Fast (S&F) Motion Recording Mode, which records 120p videos in 4K or 180p for 2K. And shooting in this mode automatically slows the footage down in-camera, which is played back at 24-30p.
Interestingly, this mode also has the option to now record a separate audio track alongside the clip. And this is useful if you want to hear sound during playback.
The camera offers Proxy recording, which simultaneously records lower data rate videos up to 35 Mbps in 8-bit 4:2:0 color. And you can choose to record in either the XF-AVC or MP4 formats.
The camera offers two HDR video modes. In this case, 4K HDR (PQ) for HDR 10 or Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), the HDR broadcasting standard.
It also offers two flavors of Canon’s log profiles, including C-Log2 and C-Log3. These profiles expand the camera’s dynamic range, detail retention and provide better overall tonal reproduction. C-Log2 unleashes the camera’s full dynamic range at 16+ stops, but it’ll require more time in post-processing to grade. C-Log3, on the other hand, is more workflow friendly. But, it does reduce the dynamic range to 14-stops.
The camera now offers a Look File option, which supports importing 3D LUTs, which you can use during recording. And enabling a custom LUT gives you a more accurate representation of color before post-processing.
It offers the full suite of advanced video-centric features. These include Zebras, Vectorscopes, False Color, Waveforms, and RGB Parades. It also has built-in de-squeeze and anamorphic preview, saving you money by not using external monitors for some of these features.
The camera also offers unlimited video recording. Instead, you can record indefinitely provided you have enough storage capacity and connect the AC adapter. And given its large air intake and two outtake vents, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself suffering from overheating. But, you can customize the fan behavior via the menus, if needed.
The camera outputs a clean 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 signal via the HDMI.
Low Light Performance
It features an ISO range from 100 to 102,400. And since it inherits the same sensor and processor combination as the C300, it’s low light performance is identical. But it remains excellent for this class. Users can expect usable footage up to ISO 6,400 or 12,800, approximately 27 dB gain, with minor processing.
It obtains Canon’s acclaimed Dual Pixel CMOS AF (DPAF) with Face Detection, covering 80% of the frame. It also obtains AF Tuning, allowing you to adjust the shift sensitivity and responsiveness via the menus. But, overall, DPAF remains a continued strength for Canon. While this camera doesn’t obtain Version II of this technology, the autofocusing performance is excellent. Even when racking focus, the AF is natural, organic, and feels equally as intentional. And the Face Detection easily matches their EOS stills cameras. Overall, there’s little to complain about here.
It marks the first EOS Cinema camera to obtain Canon’s EOS iTR AF X, a system taken from the 1DX Mark III. This new metering system uses deep learning technology, which improves the distance measurement algorithms and improves overall tracking reliability. And it also enables the camera to support head-tracking now, which works well even when the subject turns profile or away from the camera.
The camera also obtains the high-end Dual Pixel Focus guide, a feature not typically found in this class. What this feature does is provide on-screen information on the front and back-focus points. And it lets you know where to set focus when pulling manually. It’s a welcomed feature that aids in performing smooth manual focus pulls.
The camera also offers focus peaking and magnification if you prefer pulling manually.
It uses either the smaller BP-A30 or larger BP-A60 battery, the same batteries used in most of the C-series. And Canon rates the camera for 3-6 hours of continuous recording, depending on the battery size used, which is excellent. They also include the CA-CP200L AC power adapter with purchase for constant power via the camera’s 12V jack.
Display & Viewfinder
It features a 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 2.76M dots, a reminiscent setup to the EOS R, and the C100 series. And the screen itself is clear, sharp, with accurate color rendering. As far as functionality, it supports touch focus, tracking, video start/stop, and controls the touch menu.
It obtains standard Canon menus, which are similar to the C200 series. But, those unfamiliar with their cinema lineup will find them largely similar to their EOS mirrorless cameras. And they follow a clean horizontal hierarchy with simple color-coding. Overall, the shooting interface is excellent and quite intuitive, despite the complexity of settings. Existing users and newcomers won’t find them incredibly difficult to master.
However, Canon designed a new touch interface for this camera. And it now has a touch Quick Menu, of sorts, which recalls critical settings and various assist functions. And you can quickly change the vast majority of shooting settings by touch using this menu. But, it also offers a Status screen that showcases main recording options and other camera information. Overall, the touch implementation here is excellent and quite welcomed. And it greatly simplifies making on the fly changes without digging into the main menus.
The camera also obtains the customizable My Menu so that you can create a custom menu of your favorite options.
It offers 13 programmable buttons on the body, providing ample freedom to customize the layout accordingly. And given the number of selectable options, you shouldn’t have any issues in doing so.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics
Physically, the camera uses a unique unibody design. But the camera does take many cues from the 1D, EOS R, XC, and the C200 series. And in size, it’s similar in dimensions to the 1DX. But, at 2.6 lbs (1.17 KGs) body alone, it’s quite a bit more compact and lightweight than other EOS Cine cameras. Nevertheless, Canon’s still managed to excel in ergonomics. And the camera provides a large, sturdy grip and comfortable handling. The control layout is also excellent and very much in line with other Cinema cameras. Overall, the design, layout, and build of this camera is fantastic.
It features an AF joystick for AF point selection or navigating menus.
Canon also includes a detachable handle unit with a microphone holder and a shoulder strap. And these combine to make the camera more versatile for a standard, overhead, or underslung grip.
It features a brand new 4-staged motorized ND filter, which applies up to 10 stops of ND through the extension mode. Given the camera’s size, it’s quite surprising to see Canon include this feature, but it’s incredibly helpful. And it’s a godsend that greatly increases the camera’s usability, particularly for ENG shooters working outdoors in changing lighting conditions. Applying the ND filter also doesn’t result in any color shifts or loss in resolution.
It obtains Electronic Image Stabilization (E.IS), now with coordinate control. Essentially, this updated digital stabilization system works with optically stabilized RF lenses, helping the two communicate. And doing so improves its performance and results in more stable footage when shooting handheld. Canon says that this new system far outpaces conventional EF lenses with E.IS. While challenging to test in ideally, the system works great and delivers reliable performance.
It debuts 9×16 Vertical Capture, allowing the camera to support vertical video for sharing on mobile devices. And it’s an excellent forward thinking addition on Canon’s end that’ll help creators share footage easily online. You can also rotate the user interface 90º via the menus to make it even easier to shoot in this format.
It’s the first EOS Cinema camera to offer both Auto ISO and Gain functionality. And using the DGO system, the camera now changes gain automatically to compensate for changes in lighting. It’s an excellent option when filming in tricky lighting conditions so you can concentrate on framing and composition rather than fiddle with exposure.
- It has a built-in tally lamp.
- It has a BNC timecode connector for easy matching and synchronizing multi-camera setups or larger productions.
- It has two Mini-XLR inputs, which support 4-channel audio and phantom power. The rear of the camera also has the full suite of standard controls, making it easy to interface with professional audio devices.
- It also has a standard 3.5mm microphone input.
It has dual card slots, both of which support UHS-II speeds. While it may not use the higher-end end CF Express cards, the reality is that this format is far more affordable and widely available. So, it’s a wise move on Canon’s end. You can also shoot redundantly to both cards for backup, configure overflow, or shoot to different formats.
- It has a full-sized HDMI Type-A port.
- It has a USB-C port, allowing you to control or link the camera to an external wireless setup for streaming. Alternatively, you can also transfer data or setup FTP via this port.
- It offers full remote shooting control via the optional RC-V100 unit, giving you access to all key shooting functionality like shutter, gain, focus, and more.
- It offers several in-camera lens correction functions, including Peripheral Illumination, Chromatic Aberration, Distortion, and Diffraction Correction.
It lacks Cinema RAW recording. For this format, you’ll have to look at Canon’s higher-end C300 Mark III and C200 Mark II.
Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t supply their higher-end All-I compression above DCI 4K 30p. If you want to film in higher frame rates, you’ll have to do so using Long GOP instead. And this becomes a key separator between this camera and the C300 Mark III.
The camera doesn’t offer an EVF, so you’ll have to rely on the rear screen or an external monitor when composing outdoors. And sadly, like most rear displays, the right angle of light causes a glare that washes out the screen. And it’s not particularly bright either, which doesn’t help.
The main menu doesn’t support navigating by touch. Instead, you’re stuck using the AF joystick. Only the Quick Menu and overview interfaces offer touch functionality. It’s strange to see Canon not enable full touch navigation, as it’s typically a standard across all new releases.
- It lacks built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, and Ethernet. For these features, you’ll have to connect various receivers and adapters via the USB-C port.
- It lacks full sensor-shift stabilization.
- The camera lacks a 3G-SDI video output connector, but an understandable trade considering this input’s added cost.
The camera lacks full-sized conventional XLR inputs. So, sound engineers who want to use their existing equipment will have to add an adapter. You may find this slightly inconvenient. But, it’s a fair trade-off given the camera’s size.
Is this a good beginner camera?
Even though the C70 is now the new entry-point into the EOS Cinema lineup, it’s a camera aimed at working professionals. If you’re a beginner, there’s no need to spend this much. Consider Canon’s EOS M50, M200, or EOS RP cameras instead.
Is this a good camera for you?
This camera is an outstanding b-cam and second angle for current EOS Cinema users. And it’ll easily fit into your existing workflow, especially if you use Canon’s C300 line.
Current C100, C200, or C300 Mark II owners should consider the upgrade if you want the updated video features, smaller form factor, and access to the RF lens lineup. At launch, this camera’s the same price as the C200. But, it offers several key advantages, namely the DGO sensor and 4K 120p with DPAF support.
The only real reason to get this particular camera (or below) is if you prefer the form factor and need Cinema RAW light. The same applies to the C300 Mark III, but that camera’s substantially more expensive. Really, if you don’t need the better I/O, more professional form factors, and RAW, this camera offers better value for money.
This camera is the perfect video-centric companion to EOS R, R5, or R6, particularly if you’re looking to use your existing cache of RF lenses.
In the end, Canon’s C70 is an excellent value proposition. It gives users a far more affordable way to get a similar experience from Canon’s higher-end C300 Mark III and C500 Mark II cameras, at almost 1/3 the price. And sure, it lacks a few minor features from these cameras, but it still manages to rival them closely.
And given its image quality, superior dynamic range, low light performance, auto gain, and ND filters, it’s clear Canon designed this camera for run and gun shooters. And it’s arguably the best option for ENG, journalism, and documentary work at the moment. This camera also hints to the future of content creation with its vertical video support.
The C70 punches far above its weight class and creates a new breed in the Cine world. But, one that’s now perfect for filmmakers who enjoy the smaller DSLR-styled form factor, wanting higher-end video capabilities and pro-level features. And it beautifully combines functionality and size with the tried and true workhorse build and reliability.
Frankly, if you want Cinema performance in a smaller mirrorless package, this is your camera.
The C70 is quite the release on Canon’s part. And it brilliantly combines the functionality, size, and portability of a DSLR camera with the workhorse capabilities of the EOS Cinema line. As a tool, it’s the ideal entry-point in their current high-end cinema lineup and one that punches far above its weight.