A few nights ago, both Canon and RED announced cameras in the heart of filmmaking land, only 10 blocks apart from each other. Judging from the specs you could easily say that RED blows Canon right out of the water. 4k resolution at 1-25fps, 2k at 60fps and HDR-x technology at a pricepoint that’s comparable to Canon’s 1080p are the core differences. Still, I will probably go for the Canon C300… here’s why.

Canon C300 Versus RED Scarlet-X

In this post, I’m not going into the fine details of the announcement, as these have been covered at length in various blogs:

Please read these blogs first, if you have no idea what the announcement was all about.

“Viewing” the various live blogs and tweets on the event from 11PM onwards on my iPad, I was disappointed by the end when Canon announced the price: $16 msrp for the EF-version. This price will likely go down a few notches when it hits the streets in January, but it sure is a hurdle to take, given the specs. I mean, no 50/60fps in 1080p!? Even a cheap Sony NEX-5N can do that! So I went to bed just before the start of RED’s announcement (2AM). However, after a night with little or no sleep (tossing and turning), I was blown away by the news from RED.

Nonetheless, having thought about it some more, I think the Canon route is still the better option, regardless of the very (and I repeat VERY) attractive specs that RED offers. Here’s why:

  • Canon is worldwide / RED isn’t
    Service is a deciding factor for me. If you spend 10k+ on an A-Camera and you depend on it for your craft, you want to make sure you get excellent service when it breaks down (it happens). Since I’m based in the Netherlands, this means I would have to send in a RED camera to the UK or perhaps USA for service – probably without the option of replacement bodies. This is probably also why Canon chose to set up a service center in Hollywood.
  • Canon offers 1080p now, but 4K in the future
    I need a camera yesterday with XLR inputs, great low-light performance and virtually no rolling shutter/moire issues. Basically, all the stuff I don’t get on current breed of DSLRs, which, by the way, have served me well over the past few years. Most of my clients (I make productions for online mainly) are happy with 720p final resolution, and I expect this to remain so for at least the next year or so. Maybe they’ll want 1080p, but then the C300 delivers. Also, by that time the new 4K DSLR will be here, which could serve as a replacement B-Camera.
  • Sony FS100/F3 are not option (yet)
    I am heavily invested in Canon glass, all EF mount. Unless MTF/Birger come up with a mount w/o a breakout box, I can’t shoot with the FS100/F3 on anything other than a tripod. It sure is a source of unbalance on a Glidecam and cumbersome on a held-hand rig or a monopod (the latter which I shoot a lot with). MTF should include an aperture control ring on the mount itself. No, it won’t be as smooth as manual control (it will click at 1/3 increment stops as does the camera), but you have no separate device dangling below your lens.

That being said, I still have some thinking to do myself before I make a final decision.