The best kit for filmmaking

Whether you're a content creator starting out shooting video or an established DoP, this range of options will help you to decide which Canon Cinema EOS camera is best suited for your production and budget.
A close up of filmmaker Elisa Iannacone looking at the vari-angle touchscreen of a Canon EOS C70 camera with an expanse of water and pink-hued skyline in front of her.

Mexico-born cinematographer Elisa Iannacone began her career as a frontline journalist covering major international news events. She has since shot a range of film work for organisations including National Geographic and the BBC, plus her own personal projects about survivors of abuse. She mainly shoots with the Canon EOS C300 Mark III and the Canon EOS C70 and recommends them for filmmakers on mid-range budgets. © Elisa Iannacone

Selecting the right filmmaking kit is a challenge, especially considering the huge variety of options available. You may have a dream camera in mind, but in reality, you'll need to choose your gear based on the size of your production and budget.

While monetary outlay is a key factor, there is a lot more to consider when deciding on cameras and lenses, including size, weight and versatility – and frequently how that kit can be customised and integrated into larger or smaller productions. Your professional video solutions must provide high production standards at all levels and be reliable and future-proof to protect your initial investment.

Here, we look at the range of filmmaking kit available for a number of budget levels, with comments from experienced cinematographers and Canon Ambassadors Elisa Iannacone and Martin Christ, plus technical insights from Canon Europe Product Specialist, Aron Randhawa.

A Canon EOS R5 C camera attached to a tripod in a small room. A second camera, similarly set up, can be seen blurred in the background.

The Canon EOS R5 C, the smallest camera in Canon's Cinema EOS range, is a great choice if you need to shoot high-quality video on a budget. This hybrid camera shoots 8K 30p footage (or 60p with an external power supply), as well as shooting 45MP stills.

A Canon EOS C70 camera on a wooden tabletop taken from above.

Also suited for smaller production outfits, the Canon EOS C70 packs a formidable range of features into its compact body, including a cutting-edge 4K Super 35mm DGO sensor, plus High Dynamic Range and Eye Detection AF.

Smaller budgets

If you're a solo shooter then budgets are often tight, and you'll want kit that both does the job well and allows you to be as flexible as possible.

The Canon EOS R5 C is a full-frame mirrorless camera that's a great entry-point option for content creators who capture both stills and video. Aron describes it as a powerful hybrid camera with the added benefits of being compact and lightweight. "What makes it unique is that it provides highly professional output for both photo and video," he says.

"You get most of the same features as the Canon EOS R5, such as the 45MP full-frame sensor, the 20fps burst and the RF mount," Aron continues. "Then, on the video side, it has a lot of the same features as our Cinema EOS range, such as recording in 12-bit Cinema RAW Light, 4:2:2 10-bit XF-AVC and having a timecode terminal."

Another great option for lower budgets is the larger Canon EOS C70, which features a Super 35mm DGO sensor and shoots 4K up to 120p. It will suit those who are more familiar with Canon's Cinema EOS range of cameras, making it a popular choice for smaller professional outfits who shoot corporate productions, more intimate events, short films or music videos.

"The EOS C70 is built for solo filmmaking specifically and offers cinematic performance in an ultra-compact design – and also shares the same sensor as the EOS C300 Mark III," explains Aron. "You're getting the very best imaging sensor that Canon can deliver for filmmaking, which provides over 16-stops of dynamic range. It has many of the fundamental qualities that you'd expect from a film camera, despite its small size, including built-in ND filters and XLR terminals."

A technician wearing white gloves cleans the sensor of a Canon camera.

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Journalist and cinematographer Elisa Iannacone lies on a ledge suspended from a rocky outcrop while filming with a Canon XA55 camcorder.

During one of her more extreme shoots, Elisa used a Canon EOS C70 and the Canon XA55 camcorder (pictured) to film from a tiny, portable ledge suspended from the edge of a cliff in Wales. She said of the cameras: "I wanted to see how easy it was to get them to respond when you're dangling from ropes, trying to balance." © Elisa Iannacone

Documentary filmmaker Elisa Iannacone, who has produced work for organisations including National Geographic and Newsweek, utilises the quality and flexibility of the Canon EOS C70 when shooting in remote locations where larger kit isn't suitable. "Working with smaller cameras enables you to be a bit more nimble," she says. "I might be taking the EOS C70 into a conflict area, a humanitarian crisis, or somewhere where I want to be inconspicuous and versatile. With a bigger camera like the EOS C300 Mark III, people can get intimidated."

The Canon EOS R5 C, EOS C70 and EOS C400 feature Canon's groundbreaking RF mount and are compatible with the full range of Canon's existing EF lenses when used with adapters such as the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R 0.71x.

If you're just starting out, a zoom lens is a great option for your system, offering plenty of flexibility. The Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM would be a perfect first choice for everything from filming wide establishing shots to talking-head-style interviews. As your budgets and requirements grow, the RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM offers greater creative freedom and options. These two lenses offer individual filmmakers high-quality optics with plenty of versatility, covering a huge focal range.

Filmmaker Elisa Iannacone crouches down in shallow water as she uses a Canon EOS C300 Mark II camera to film a young person sitting on top of a colourful pile of mattresses.

Elisa used the versatile Canon EOS C300 Mark II (now succeeded by the EOS C300 Mark III) to shoot her project A Place to Hide from Monsters, in Nirox Sculpture Park, Krugersdorp, South Africa. "This particular image shows a young girl who is scared of monsters that she believes live under the bed," Elisa says. "They started coming when her mum died, so she wanted distance from the bottom of the bed." © Elisa Iannacone

Mid-range budgets

If you've moved past solo shooting and into bigger budget productions – but aren't quite at a prestige studio budget yet – then you'll find you need to be using industry standard kit that can be adapted to suit a variety of shooting scenarios. The Canon EOS C300 Mark III is the next step up in production size, with the larger, modular body giving access to plenty of direct control and advanced connectivity. The camera features a Super 35mm 4K DGO sensor with greater flexibility than the Canon EOS C70.

The EOS C300 Mark III is also more attuned to professional production workflows and has various file formats, colour depths and codecs to choose from. This includes 12-bit Cinema RAW Light recording up to 1Gbps, which provides high fidelity capture and more flexibility in post-production, making it an ideal solution for short films.

In addition, the EOS C300 Mark III adds greater workflow customisation, necessary for working with larger crews. This includes support for electronic viewfinders, simultaneous SDI/HDMI outputs, custom User LUTs and industry-standard V-mount battery solutions. In addition, the camera features an interchangeable lens mount, allowing either EF or PL mount lenses to be used for even further flexibility.

"The EOS C300 Mark III is rugged and easy to carry around; you can build it up and strip it down," says Elisa. "You can do perfect cinema work if you pair it with compatible lenses and you can also do broadcast work. It's a camera that has become an industry standard in my mind."

At this stage in your career, you'll probably already have a selection of lenses you've invested in. When you do need to expand your kitbag, you'll be looking for lenses that offer good compatibility with industry standards. The EOS C300 Mark III is well-complemented by the Canon CN-E18-80mm T4.4 L IS KAS S and the CN-E70-200mm T4.4 L IS, Compact Cine Servo lenses designed for 4K Super 35mm cameras and with built-in servo control. Together, they offer a flexible range of focal length, and their size and weight mean they're ideal for fast-paced shooting environments such as news gathering and documentary.

Monitoring on the EOS C300 Mark III also takes a step up, with a 12G-SDI terminal enabling 4K 60p playback through a single cable. In addition, the support for Canon's optional EVF-V50 or EVF-V70 viewfinders allows operators to closely monitor the image in a range of challenging lighting conditions. The camera's modular design also means it can be built up or down according to the specific needs of a production.

A filmmaker stands behind a cinema camera with a Canon Flex Zoom lens attached.

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German cinematographer Martin Christ sits next to a Canon EOS C500 Mark II camera in a room filmed with technical equipment in this black and white image.

In his 25-year career, German cinematographer Martin Christ has shot everything from high-end commercials to award-winning docudramas. He regularly uses the Canon EOS C500 Mark II, which he likes for the shallow depth of field delivered by the full-frame sensor, and for the adaptability of the camera's modular system. © Martin Christ

A woman's face is illuminated against a dark cityscape background in a still image from Martin Christ's futuristic sci-fi film KI – Die Letzte Erfindung.

By pairing the EOS C500 Mark II with Canon Cine Primes, Martin was able to achieve a cinematic feel on his sci-fi film KI – Die Letzte Erfindung (AI – The Last Invention). This high-end professional camera can easily be used as part of a shoulder-mounted larger rig or adapted as the crew requires for each production. © Martin Christ

Higher budgets

If you’re a filmmaker wanting to achieve uncompromised cinematic performance, then the mighty Canon EOS C400 is the camera for you.

This cutting-edge cinema camera is designed to elevate the art of filmmaking. A small but mighty model, this camera boasts the qualities of similar high-end counterparts but in a smaller form. This makes it extremely versatile, being suitable for handheld use, gimbals, live production and more.

“The camera has incredible image quality and connectivity, but at the same time, its new lightweight and modular form makes it the most versatile Cinema EOS camera to date,” says Ram Sarup, the European Product Marketing Specialist for Cinema EOS & Pro Video at Canon Europe.

“That means it can be used in any type of way, regardless of whether you're solo shooting by yourself or you're in a large production crew.”

Equipped with a revolutionary full-frame BSI (Back-Side Illuminated) sensor, the Canon EOS C400 delivers stunning 6K resolution and 16 stops of dynamic range, capturing clarity, detail, and depth in every frame. This new sensor technology also significantly reduces rolling shutter, enhances autofocus capabilities, and improves low-light performance. The aspect ratio of this sensor is 17:9 and includes a ‘crop mode,’ so you can still use the camera with traditional Super 35mm and Super 16mm lenses. In addition, its RF mount allows compatibility with Canon's most cutting-edge cinema, hybrid and photo lenses, as well as being adaptable to industry-standard PL and EF mount lenses via Canon Mount Adapters.

A close-up shot of a handheld D224 camera rig on a film set, with a focus on the detailed controls and wiring of the professional camera. The rig is positioned on a colourful carpet, and the hands of the cinematographer are visible.

The Canon EOS C400 delivers uncompromising performance in cinema, live broadcast, and virtual production with a mighty 6K full frame BSI sensor and 16 stops of dynamic range, pictured here on the set of ‘Scary Good’, directed by Christine Ng.

Speaking of low-light performance, the Canon EOS C400 has taken things up a notch. Or three notches, for that matter – with Triple Base ISO providing three distinct Base ISO options (800 / 3200 / 12800) to deliver optimal signal-to-noise performance, regardless of the shooting environment.

The Canon EOS C400 also introduces the next generation of autofocus technology (AF) with Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus II, offering faster and more responsive AF performance for smoother, more accurate focusing – so that you can concentrate on your creative vision without technical distractions.

Another standout feature of the Canon EOS C400 is its ability to adapt to cutting-edge industry workflows such as Virtual Production and VR content capture. Thanks to high-speed lens metadata output to Canon's Live Link plug-in for Unreal Engine, real world footage and virtual elements can be effortlessly merged together in virtual production studios with large LED walls. In addition, Canon EOS C400's compatibility with Canon's 5.2mm Dual Fisheye lens means breathtaking 6K 180-degree stereoscopic content can be captured using a single camera setup for immersive VR experiences.

A figure is silhouetted against the entrance to a seaside cave in a still image from Martin Christ's award-winning docudrama The Mystery of the Trojan Horse.

Martin also used a Canon EOS C500 Mark II with Canon Cine Primes to shoot the recent docudrama The Mystery of the Trojan Horse, which won the Scientific Jury Award at the Varese ArcheoFilm 2022. The camera features a full-frame 17:9 DCI sensor that is 5.9K in resolution and designed specifically for filmmaking. © Martin Christ

Another option is the Canon EOS C500 Mark II, which features a full-frame 5.9K sensor, full customisation and professional recording standards that enable it to integrate seamlessly with large-scale productions, making it an ideal solution for professional, large-scale film.

Filmmaker Martin Christ, whose work has included high-end TV commercials and behind-the-scenes documentaries, is a regular user of the EOS C500 Mark II. He likes the flexibility of the modular system, which enables you to attach optional accessories according to the demands of the production. "I'm shooting a series for Amazon right now, where I need the big 'establisher' shots on dolly and crane, but I also sometimes need to shoot handheld with a small camera," he continues.

If you're working with a higher budget, prime lenses may be essential if you want to create a truly cinematic feel. Pairing the Canon EOS C500 Mark II or Canon EOS C400 with Sumire Prime lenses will give you a vintage, full-frame look with a touch of softness, delicate skin tones and silky bokeh.

Canon's Flex Zoom lenses also offer outstanding optical performance and full-frame support, while maintaining a constant T2.4 iris across the entire focal range.

Another key part of the workflow at the top-end level of film production is a high-quality 4K monitor. Canon offers a range of options, including the Canon DP-V3120, a 31-inch 4K professional display that provides industry-leading 2,000 nits of full-screen brightness and 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio with exceptional accuracy and consistency, ideal for post-production and colour grading. The more compact 18-inch DP-V1830 provides outstanding HDR performance for on-set monitoring.

All Canon Cinema EOS cameras provide various high quality recording formats including Cinema RAW Light and XF-AVC, alongside consistent colour science and log gamma enabling you to mix and match footage seamlessly. Canon's efficient Cinema RAW Light format offers all the benefits of RAW processing – maximum highlight and shadow detail – but generates much smaller files, which can be recorded to CFexpress cards on the Canon C500 Mark II and Canon C300 Mark III.

Whether you're a filmmaker at the start of your professional journey or an accomplished DoP working on high-end productions, there is a camera in the Canon range that can help you realise your creative vision.

Alastair Jennings

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