Does This Missing Feature in the C500 Really Matter?

March 3, 2020
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The new C500 Mark II seems to have it all, with impressive 6k footage, RAW capabilities, internal stabilization system, and more. But what is a feature it is missing?

An internal variable ND system.

An internal variable ND system allows the user to make incremental changes in a camera’s ND system to give the perfect f-stop, exposure, and shutter speed. Other cameras, like the popular Sony FX9 - a direct competitor - has this internal variable ND system, but the C500 Mark II does not.

As ShareGrid member Prototype Collective puts it, having that internal Variable ND system was extremely helpful on set,

“Recently, I was lucky enough to shoot a Netflix show on Sony Venice, and even though I am not a huge believer of large format sensors, I loved the Internal ND on Sony Venice-- the ability to add every increment of ND was a game changer.

"As a cinematographer, it’s important to be able to control shooting stops on the lens, and Sony’s internal ND system really helps me to keep it consistent without slowing me down. For example, on the day we shot exterior, and where I needed to adjust my stops occasionally, being able to swap it in a matter of seconds was huge.

"The C500 Mark II feels like a superior camera to me than the Sony FX9, but being able to work fast and have the total control of the ND situation is definitely an attractive factor. It would’ve been amazing if Canon had this in the C500 Mark II. It’s really hard to go back once you experience the luxury.”

Why would a new camera like the C500 Mark II, with so many amazing features, miss something that so many DP’s love in their cameras?

No one actually knows for certain.

The Canon C500 Mark II has an internal ND system, yes, but it is fixed at 2, 4, and 6 stops and can be combined to achieve 8 and 10 stops.

There also has never been a variable ND system inside a Canon camera, so its absence shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to new C500 MK II owners, but it is something worth noting with its recent release, as it faces so many competitors on the market.

However, for many Canon C500 MK II owners and users, this system’s absence is of no concern to them. According to ShareGrid member Michael Ryan,

“The lack of a variable ND filter in the C500M2 is of no concern to me. While it is a convenient feature in the Sony, it would be impossible to imagine a scenario where I would be unable to get a shot with Canon just because I couldn’t 'dial-in' the ND. I also should note that Sony’s ND only reaches 7 stops, while I can get 8 and 10 from Canon.”

The same can be said for ShareGrid member Gas Street Pictures,

“My experience with the ND functionality in the C500 Mark II has been great. As with choosing any camera, it all depends on the needs of the project. I talked to several DP’s before purchasing this camera and the consensus was that the C500 is a strong choice, both for convenience and dynamic range. It has up to 10 stops via a built in ND filter system which makes it an excellent choice for documentary projects or for any situation where you need to shoot fast in varying light. A DP who rented the camera recently said he was 'blown away by its range'."

As you can tell, the absence of an internal variable ND system matters to some camera operators much more than others. For some, it’s a luxury they miss when it’s not there. For others, the Canon C500 Mark II is perfectly capable in this area, and all its other benefits outweigh anything it’s missing. You can read more about these features in our recent head-to-head comparison, “The Canon C500 MKII vs. the Sony FX9”.

Stay tuned to the blog for more analysis of the most popular gear on the market!

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Chelsea Hernandez

Rental Coordinator

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