Canon C100 MKII vs. Canon C300

If you’re in the market for a Cinema EOS camera, you might have noticed that the C300 has dropped in price to almost match the cost of a C100 Mark II. And so you ask yourself if it might be worth skipping this generation’s entry-level model and making the jump to last generation’s mid-range model, the C300. You’re not the first to wonder, and the debate certainly hasn’t been settled, but here’s some interesting facts that should help you decide.

THE C100 MARK II IS NOTABLY LIGHTER

A fully equipped C100 Mark II with the grip, batteries, and top handle weighs in at 3 lbs 2 oz. That’s nothing to sneeze at if you’re coming from a DSLR, but it pales in comparison to the C300, which comes in at 6 lbs fully rigged. 

You may shrug that difference off right now, but spare a thought for your future self who has to carry the thing around all day. On a handheld/shoulder rig, the difference is pretty minimal in comparison to the rods and arms and grips and counterweights. But if you do a lot of handheld work, this might be a deal breaker. The C300 is not the easiest camera to walk around all day with.

THE C300 HAS  A STRONGER CODEC

If you’re the kind of person who likes to push their footage a lot, the 35mbps 4:2:0 coming out of the C100 Mark 2 could be a liability. Both cameras shoot C-Log, but the C300 houses that in a 4:2:2 50mbps MPEG-2 file. That means it is recording more color in a less-compressed image that will hold up much better under heavy color-grading. The two images look fairly similar out-of-camera, but the C300 will agree much more with heavy post-production.


THE C100 MARK II HAS MICROPHONES BUILT-IN

Onboard microphones and audio controls are conveniently build into the handle
Onboard microphones and audio controls are conveniently build into the handle

One shocking feature lacking in the C300 is a scratch microphone. Not only does the C100 have a weak onboard microphone in the body, it has a respectable stereo microphone mounted in its top handle. The C300 requires that you buy and mount some sort of shotgun mic to be able to hear what’s going on. That adds to the cost of the package, as well as the cable-wrangling duties required to shoot. 

THE C300 SUPPORTS HD-SDI

For stationary studio shooting, HDMI is a perfectly valid way to carry a video feed from point A to point B. But when you are moving, especially in a documentary or run-and-gun situation, you might find yourself wishing that HDMI cables locked in and couldn’t just be yanked or bumped loose. Well, the C300 has SDI output, which features - you guessed it - a locking BNC connection that is much harder to accidentally disconnect. This is a professional solution to an age-old problem, and the C100 just plain doesn’t have it.

THE C100 SHOOTS TO CHEAPER MEDIA

Browsing through Amazon, you can see very quickly that SD cards, which the C100 shoots to, are much more affordable than CF cards, which the C300 takes. In fact, comparing 64gb Sandisk Extreme Pros for each format, we find that SD cards are about $.54/gb, while CF cards come in at almost /triple/ that: $1.51/gb. For the shooter on a budget, shooting to expensive media is a burden and one more thing to worry about if you lose a card. Especially when paired with the higher bit rate, and thus file size, of the Canon C300. If you fill up a lot of cards in a single shoot, be aware of what that will cost you for each camera.

The C300’S LCD SCREEN ISN'T ATTACHED

One of the major advantages of the C300 LCD screen is that it simply mounts via a cold shoe - which means it can mount practically anywhere. If you intend to really kit out your new camera with a shoulder rig and a pile of Zacuto or Redrock parts, then the modularity of the C300 will serve you very well.

The C100 MARK 2 HAS BETTER SLOW MOTION

Surprisingly, the C300 is only capable of shooting 60fps at 720p. In a lot of ways that is a symptom of the time in which it was created, but the context is irrelevant to your shooting needs right now, today. Luckily, the C100 Mark 2 shoots 1080/60p just fine in both MP4 and AVCHD. No loss of resolution, no sensor cropping, no problem. You can check out our other article to learn more about your slow-mo options. 

IN CONCLUSION

Hopefully you didn’t expect there to be a clear winner. These are two fairly different cameras, aimed at different types of users, that have come to inhabit the same price point. The C100 Mark 2 is surprisingly robust for its’ price point, but the C300 sports more professional features for the discerning buyer. Of course, we would encourage you to rent before you buy and take both cameras out for a weekend. 

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