It was recently reported on the Canon Rumors website that Canon may be developing a box-style camera to compete with Red Digital Cinema’s successful Komodo system. And now, as YM points out, it looks like there may be some fire along with the smoke. According to sources in the film industry, a patent application in the United States has recently been filed.
Canon’s application number 20210232024, which was published on July 29th of last year, clearly demonstrates that the company has filed designs for a high-end compact cinema camera that is capable of shooting in high resolution, is equipped with a large sensor, and could have built-in internal ND filters. Rumors suggest that this could be the EOS C5 that has been rumored, but there is no evidence to support that claim other than the fact that this looks somewhat similar to Red’s extremely popular
To provide some context for this story, Red Digital Cinema first entered the film industry with their marvel, the Red One, which was released in 2007. It was the first digital cine camera to hit the market that could not only be used by Hollywood productions, thanks to its 4.5K sensor, 120 frames per second in 2K crop, and 60 frames per second at UHD 4K, but also made it available to independent filmmakers, thanks to its “low” cost at the time of: $17,500 / £12,948 / The numbers may seem staggering now, but this was the first consumer cine camera to reach the general public, igniting a movement that would eventually lead to the independent filmmaking revolution that we see today.
Since the Red One, Red has concentrated on improving cameras, which they refer to as “brains,” to be as small as possible in order to open up a plethora of options that were previously impossible owing to the vast size of rivals’ products. Forward to June 2020, and Red announced the release of their first “box” camera, which was equipped with a worldwide shutter. From its 19.9 MP super 35mm sensor, this camera was capable of creating a 6K picture, and it also boasted 16 stops of dynamic range as well as a diverse selection of recording formats to accommodate both Hollywood and independent filmmakers. Most notably, it supported 6K at 40p, 5K and 48p, 4K 60p, and 2K at 120p – all in RAW format with internal recording – as well as 4K 60p and 2K at 120p. Because of the lightweight and compact size of the Red Komodo, the power, modularity, and size of this device completely transformed workflows and the way short films, feature films, and independent projects were shot for the foreseeable future.
So, what is it about this new Canon patent that is so interesting?
First and foremost, there is the matter of size… When it comes to rigging a cine camera for lightweight run-and-gun documentary filming, size truly does matter; a smaller rig will allow you to shoot for longer periods of time if it is lighter. Having a camera that is small enough to be mounted within the cabin of a car, for example, provides greater recording capabilities when planning how to shoot a movie; additionally, if you want car chase scenes, having a lighter, smaller camera obviously means you can save money on hiring a larger crew, shot over, crane, and so on… the list goes on. Furthermore, having a smaller cine camera allows independent filmmakers to tailor their rig exactly as they want it to be lit, as well as provide all of the capabilities listed above and more.
The lens mount of the Red Komodo, which has an RF mount and an RF to EF mount adaptor for full electronic communication, means that you will have to use Canon lenses, even with older models of Red’s ecosystem of digital cinema cameras, which have all been produced with the option to use Canon EF mount lenses, with the Komodo being the first to offer native RF lenses. This is a fact that many people are unaware of.
In other words, the user base for cinematographers who use Canon lenses has been around for a long time, and if Canon releases an 8K, built-in screen, RF/EF mount box-style cine camera with excellent specs that is externally similar to the Red Komodo, it makes sense for many users to switch from Red to a complete Canon system.
The Canon EOS R5 C is a cinema camera designed for remote and difficult-to-reach shooting. It is well-equipped for this task, but it does not include industry-standard features such as lomo plugs, stop/start functions, internal ND filters, built-in wireless video feeds, or hot-swap batteries. The list is actually quite extensive and would make perfect sense from Canon’s perspective. If you think about it, Canon only has the newly announced Canon EOS R5 C to
For the time being, we have no idea when or if this box-style camera will be produced, let alone whether it will ever see the light of day in the first place. However, it is encouraging to note that other manufacturers are also developing cameras for this use.
The Red Komodo appears to be a carbon replica of this one, at least to the untrained eye – after all, don’t they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Only you can make that determination, but we believe that more manufacturers, including as Canon, are researching and developing more compact, yet powerful solutions for cinematographers, and that this is in the best interests of the industry.