Responding to input from the motion picture and television production communities, Canon has announced a number of significant firmware upgrades for Cinema EOS and XF300/305 series cameras. The EOS C500 will receive some major enhancements while the EOS C100 and EOS C300 are both due to receive updates adding increased functionality and user improvements. Additionally, the XF305 and XF300 series cameras will receive GPS support and improved tele-converter capabilities. These updates are designed to extend image capture capabilities, increase operational convenience, enhance the versatility of recorded files and facilitate post-production workflow efficiency, particularly with regard to maintaining industry standard color values. Let’s take a look at these new firmware updates for the Cinema EOS C500 4K Digital Cinema Camera.
With this significant product enhancement, Canon becomes the first digital cinema camera to support the ACES workflow. A new industry standard pioneered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, ACES (Academy Color Encoding Specifications) offers a virtually unlimited color space and greatly expands color-grading options available to filmmakers by accepting the entire unique color gamut of the camera while accurately maintaining the high dynamic range.
With this firmware upgrade, ACESproxy can be output from the EOS C500’s 3G-SDI monitor terminal during RAW recording. While the ACESproxy will not be recorded to the footage, it will certainly be used extensively for on-set color grading purposes that can be passed neatly to the post-production workflow using the ASC CDL (American Society of Cinematography Color Decision List). ACESproxy is simply a version of ACES that can be put through a 10-bit or 12- bit SDI pipeline, apply ASC CDL values to using the current on-set color manipulation tools, then apply them to dailies.
The use of ACES will require that we learn a few new terms. The EOS C500 monitor terminal will offer an ACESproxy output, allowing users to view a graded version of the footage immediately on-set. The ACESproxy is the tool that works through ACES for on-set color monitoring and on-set color decision tools. Images from the 3G-SDI monitor output from the EOS C500 will be transformed to the display via an RRT (Reference Render Transform) and ODT (Output Display Transform). The RRT is essentially the look of ACES. It is designed to convert ACES encoded material into something that is visible – basically a virtual print. The look transformed by the RRT is designed to be minimal, making it possible to view ACES corrected footage without necessarily having to produce a color-coded image. The ODT, on the other hand, is the conversion from the look of the RRT to a specific display. The look of ACES is different from how ACES looks on a specific display device. When you use ACES, the RRT and ODT are not separated, but act as a single ACES LUT for the display.
In the workflow Canon Cinema RAW, footage developed with software such as Canon RAW Development, Colorfront, or a similar software solution will then be converted into the ACES color space through an Input Display Device Transform, or IDT (basically an input camera LUT), transforming the custom color space the camera captured into the ACES custom color space. When the ASC CDL created on-set is applied and viewed during post-production color grading, the image in post-production should appear exactly as it did at the on-set display.
Unlike other LUTs and custom looks, by using ACESproxy, the creative intent of the director and cinematographer is preserved throughout the shooting and post-production process.
The EOS C500 is now equipped with an expanded version of the DCI-P3 (Digital Cinema Initiative - Primary 3) Color Gamut, the native color space for digital cinema projection, called DCI-P3+. This proprietary color space shares the same white point as DCI-P3, but encompasses a much greater range of color. This significant product enhancement will enable the EOS C500 to capture wider levels of color saturation and can be more faithfully reproduced. The results will allow a more accurate reproduction of the original filmed images with deeper saturation possible, in greater detail, and, ultimately, a more realistic look.
The size of this color space is unique to the digital cinema camera market. Wider than both BT.709 and DCI-P3, Canon Gamut will cover most of the color spectrum visible to humans. This will offer more accuracy and variations to color saturation than was previously possible with Canon digital cinema cameras. When the final product is intended for the cinema market, Canon’s Cinema Gamut offers a unique option to Directors of Photography and cinematographers who want to bring every nuance of color to audiences.
With an ISO range of up to 80,000, the C500’s image sensor is now more sensitive to light than ever before. Filmmakers in need of that extra boost can now take shots in low-light conditions where ambient light is at a premium or practically non-existent. This low-light option may help you get a shot you could have previously missed and is squarely one of those camera resources that’s comforting to know you have – should you ever need it in any extreme low-light circumstance.
This update was made in response to user feedback and is a significant improvement for the EOS C500 operating in a sync sound environment like a sound stage. Cooling Fan Control gives the user control over how the camera’s internal cooling fan operates. When set to Automatic in the menu, the cooling fan will stop when the camera goes into record, then start up again when the camera stops recording. You must still be mindful that the fan will eventually start up again – even in Automatic mode – to prevent damage to the camera, but the temperature threshold has been raised, greatly extending the recording time before the fan turns on again.
Additionally, the LCD warning box display, which formerly alerted the user to possible overheating, has been removed from the LCD display to improve visibility and replaced with a small fan icon. The fan icon is displayed only when the fan is running. As the internal temperature begins to increase, a yellow temperature thermometer icon appears that will change to red as the camera temperature rises enough to automatically activate the fan to turn on again.
A firmware revision to the Cooling Fan Control for the C500 was made available August 7, 2013 in firmware version 18.104.22.168.00.
This update allows a viewing LUT to be applied to the 3G-SDI monitor output, which converts the Canon Log footage to one that approximates a color-graded image. This allows the LUT corrected footage to be viewed, rather than the Canon Log output, via an on-set monitor while it is being captured and as it might appear in a final color corrected product. This should serve as a terrific “confidence check” for making adjustments to lighting, exposure, art direction and other critical production parameters.
Adding the 4096 X 1080 full RAW-format resolution to the EOS 500 offers a new shooting mode. During RAW recording, the vertically cropped center portion of the Super 35 CMOS sensor can now record 4096 X 1080 images at frame rates up to 120fps. This new mode produces a panoramic format with no interpolation and needing just minor scaling to reformat the image to 16 X 9. This new 4096 X 1080 RAW-format resolution complements the selection of other 4K recording options: 4096 X 2160 RAW, 3840 X 2160 RAW, 4096 X 1080 HRAW, and 3840 X 1080 HRAW.
When the Canon Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E6A is hooked up to the EOS C500, it produces a powerful, wireless, remote control solution that can be accessed via laptop, tablet or smartphone. Canon’s new multi-person login permits two users to log into the Canon Wi-Fi remote browser application on a single EOS C500. This allows for one user to maintain operation and control of camera functions and for another to simultaneously input metadata – saving time and money while getting the most out of this important remote camera operation feature. Previously, only one user could access the Wi-Fi remote browser at a time.
This update will make it possible to assign ISO or Iris to the control dial. Previously, the EOS C500’s control dial was only programmed for Iris and changing ISO required accessing the FUNC. button on the back of the camera, then turning the SELECT/SET dial to make adjustments. Other than simply user choice, the biggest benefit will be that, now, a camera equipped with a cinema style lens with only manual controls will be able to switch the control dial to ISO and take advantage of this easily accessible adjustment dial on the operator’s side of the camera body – saving time on the set.
Users will now be able to manually shift the magnification location to one of 25 different locations using one of the joysticks on the camera. Previously, the EOS C500 allowed only magnification to the center of the frame. Now, the user will be able to select and magnify to precise areas of the frame where focus is most critical, even if it’s off-center.
The lock setting on the Key Lock will make it possible to lock all operations, including RECORD. This helps prevent accidental operation or changing of any functions assigned to external buttons and dials. Previously, the Key Lock position locked everything except record. Of course, all of the EOS C500’s operational modes, including record, can still be accessible and can be controlled remotely while using the optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E6A on a tablet, laptop or smartphone.
This new firmware upgrade will add Peripheral Lens Correction for an additional 14 new EF lenses, including the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x, the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM and EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM, and seven of the new Canon CN-E series cinema lenses including the CN-E 15.5-47mm T2.8 L and CN-E 30-105mm T2.8 LS compact cinema zooms, the CN-E 14mm T3.1 L F cinema prime, CN-E 50mm T1.3 L F and CN-E 85mm T1.3 L F cinema primes, the CN-E 24mm T1.5 L F cinema prime and the CN-E 135mm T2.2 L F cinema prime. This valuable lens correction feature maintains even illumination from corner to corner across the image and virtually eliminates vignetting or any unevenness of light.
This chart provides a complete list of Canon lenses that benefit from the new firmware.
The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.