Best All Around Cinema Camera "CANON C500 MKII"
I can still remember buying my first camera "Canon T2i" and then upgrading to a "Canon 7D" where I learned the sensor "APS-C" was the same in both cameras, so I quickly traded up for the Full frame "Canon 5D Mark II." I immediately loved the advantages of better low-light performance along with a more shallow depth of field.
My dream of a Full-frame cinema camera that could rival a "RED ONE" originated from that experience and in 2020 it had been realized and surpassed.
The Canon EOS C500 Mark II 5.9K Full-Frame Camera features a full-frame CMOS sensor with an effective 18.69MP resolution. This allows it to feature a 5.9K output in full frame, and crop (window) the sensor for Super 35 and Super 16 frame sizes while maintaining a high resolution. The C500 Mark II comes with a Canon EF mount and features an interchangeable lens mount system, allowing you to swap out the mount in the field for an optional Cinema Locking EF or PL mount, thus greatly expanding the amount of glass you can use with the camera. The sensor features over 15 stops of dynamic range and Dual Pixel autofocus support.
The Modularity, Autofocus, Stabilization and add on Accessories allows for this camera to scale up and down with the size of the project. It is affordable enough to bring into low budget productions, but capable enough for use on higher end shoots as well.
Coming from Canon C100 MKII and Canon C200 my learning curve was very small knowing that C-Log 2 gives me the most dynamic range C-Log 3 produces less noise in the shadows. If you want to use C-Log 2 and minimize the noise in shadows adjusting the "Spatial filter" to 1 does a great job replicating what the new DGO sensor are capable of doing in low light.
The C500 Mark II records a 12bit compressed RAW Light codec with 2.1Gbps straight onto CFast Cards which is such a beautiful image but what I'm mostly impressed with is the 4:2:2 10bit XF-AVC codec, when shooting Full-frame downsamples from the 5.9K sensor giving one of the sharpest 4K images on the market.
The different sensor crop modes can be a handy feature, especially when working with lenses that don’t cover the full frame sensor, or when you quickly need a digital zoom but please keep in mind that "5.9K Downsampling" is reserved for Full-frame modes. The image will be slightly softer and noisier in the S16 mode, as it is only 2K.
For everyday situations, ISO 800 seemed to be a good base for both RAW and XF-AVC. If you prefer cleaner blacks, try to rate the camera at ISO 400 and if you are running out of light – ISO 1600 and even ISO 3200 are very clean without compromise on dynamic range.
The RAW codec will be slightly sharper than the XF-AVC and offers a higher bit depth. So if you can afford the data and plan to reframe, apply vfx or complex grades it will be beneficial for you. The RAW footage will come out slightly noisier from the camera as less internal noise reduction is applied.
For most shooting scenarios, I recommend Canon log 2 and using the XF-AVC codec at the highest bitrate. Dynamic Range and colour reproduction seem to be identical between XAVC and RAW across the different sensor modes. The log images need to be colour graded and shooters can use the included LUTs BT.709, BT.2020, DCI, ACESproxy, HDR-PQ, HDR-HLG, HDR1600%, HDR400%, or upload and apply custom LUTs.
All in all the "C500 MKII" is one of the most versatile Cinema Cameras available with image quality and functionality that stacks up with the best for half to a quarter of the price.
Please note that this article is based on my experience and reference for consideration but I alway's recommend doing your own testing which might lead to different results.