How to Compare the C200, EVA1, and More for Your Next Film
You’re looking at cameras for your next project. Not just any camera, something new, cutting edge, and fun to play with. You want to get on a camera so new that just tagging it on your Vimeo/YouTube project will increase traffic! You were hoping for some tasty announcements at NAB, but all you got was lens announcements, so you kept that information handy and waited. Then CineGear happened and, holy moly.
(Watch our vlog from Cine Gear which features the C200 and EVA1.)
Both of these sub-$8,000 cinema cameras fit right within your budget and should arrive just in the nick of time for your late-Fall shooting schedule. But wait! Couldn’t you shoot with the already-great Sony FS5 or Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro? Did you even need new options? What a conundrum!
Never fear. Here’s a guide to choosing the right sub-$8,000 cinema camera for your next project.
The Penny-Pincher - Sony FS5
The FS5 and URSA Mini Pro are both barely sub-$6,000 and, while we don’t know the exact cost of the EVA1, chances are it’s going to price more closely to the C200 at $7,500. The $1,500 saved between these two pairs is significant and, if budget stands in the way of upgraded glass or necessary equipment, you are better off going with the FS5 or URSA. So which one, in actuality, saves you the most?
Three things make the FS5 the cheapest option here. First, Sony’s XAVC Long recording offers supremely low file sizes compared to the Prores of Raw files on the URSA Mini Pro, making storage much, much cheaper. Secondly, the FS5 is about one third of the weight of the URSA Mini Pro, making it an option for smaller, less expensive gimbals.
Third? If you buy a new one by July 31st, you get a $1,000 rebate plus extra goodies! If budget is on the line, you can’t do much better than the FS5.
Quick Turnaround - EVA1 (Theoretically)
One of the main selling points of the C200 is its new Cinema Raw Light, which creates beautiful, rich, RAW footage at a fraction of the file size. This is great, but it still requires time-consuming processing that isn’t great for quick turnarounds. RAW processing can add hours to you post-production time, from processing the footage to managing all of the huge file sizes. While the RAW on the C200 and Prores on the URSA Mini Pro can be used in quick turnaround situations, there are better options if it’s your first priority.
Note: The C200 has 8-bit MP4 and a future XF-AVC firmware update. It would be crazy to buy a C200 for 8-bit MP4, but the firmware update could make the C200 more of a contender in this category.
That leaves the FS5 and EVA1. While both of these cameras should offer plenty of positive qualities for quick turnaround video, and assuming the EVA1 deals with AVC files like its Varicam brethren, both should have manageable file sizes. It’s unfair to grade a camera off of specs alone, but I find the dual native ISO, 5.7K oversampled 4K image of the EVA1 tantalizing even though it’s theoretical at the moment. Quality plays a role in the quick-turnaround assessment, and that’s where I’m giving props to the EVA1.
Color Grading Latitude - URSA Mini Pro/C200
All of these cameras advertise great dynamic range, but only the URSA Mini Pro and C200 both record Raw or “RAW Lite” out of the box (and getting into external recorders is another article entirely). Additionally, both advertise an impressive 15-stops of dynamic range. Canon has set up a flexible Raw workflow for the C200 and the URSA Mini Pro comes with DaVinci Resolve (which isn’t that much of a benefit if you already own the full Resolve software). Both of these cameras offer a ton of latitude for color grading enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Resolution - EVA1*
The C200 and FS5 are 4K cameras, period. The URSA Mini Pro, on the other hand, is 4.6K. While the EVA1 has a 5.7K sensor that reads as oversampled 4K, a future firmware update will allow external recorders to read the entire 5.7K sensor as a Raw file. If you’re just looking at specs, the EVA1 technically wins but I put an asterisk next to it because I kind of broke my own rules in getting there.
But I don’t care! Moving on!
Slow Motion - EVA1
The URSA Mini Pro has held its own up until now, but its measly 60 fps max knocks it out of this conversation immediately. The Canon C200 shoots 120fps beautifully, but goes only half of the distance of the EVA1 and the FS5. However, you only get 8 seconds of full-HD 240fps recording on the FS5, whereas you can shoot 240fps in 2k right out of the camera on the EVA1. If it’s slow-mo you crave, there are no questions here.
Documentary/Run and Gun - C200/EVA1
All of these cameras have great ergonomics, built-in variable ND filters, and XLR inputs. The URSA mini gets knocked off for being the heaviest of the bunch while the FS5 lacks some groovy features that might have made Sony more competitive had I included the more expensive FS7 for this article. It’s not sub-$8,000. No apologies.
The C200 and EVA1 win out because of two very different but important features. The C200 has the world-class Dual Focus AF that will make field recording easier on numerous levels. Meanwhile, the EVA1 boasts a 5-axis internal sensor stabilization that will make unexpected movements and handheld work much easier. Both are excellent for documentaries and field work, you can’t go wrong.
The Studio Shoot - URSA Mini Pro
The EVA1 is the best option on paper, but doesn’t offer a PL Mount option so it’s automatically thrown out (ice in my veins). By making the EVA1 only in EF, it is pretty clear they’re focused on the indie-market. Whether that ends up as a good decision for them or not is yet to be seen. The FS5 is fine, but has a messy menu system and doesn’t give you the resolution or Raw latitude to make it a great studio camera.
Choosing between the C200 and URSA Mini Pro is tough here, but the fact that the URSA Mini Pro allows users to swap out mounts between EF, Nikon, PL, and B4 gives it the edge over the C200, which can only be changed from EF to PL upon request and for an added cost. The B4 mount in particular gives the URSA Mini Pro a studio versatility that other cameras in the range simply don’t have.
Low Light - Who’s to say?
The EVA1 isn’t out yet, and low light is something cameras get judged on well into their lifespans (like the ongoing debate between years-old Alexa and RED sensors). Canon has a great track record of low light performance, and the URSA Mini Pro is decent in that area, but this one’s going to have to wait.
Gimbal Use - C200
The C200 isn’t the lightest camera here, but it has that sweet, sweet Dual Pixel Autofocus. Focusing with a gimbal is notoriously difficult and can add time and/or expense to your project. The world-class Dual Pixel Autofocus from Canon makes tracking your subject a breeze. While we don’t know how good the EVA1’s autofocus will be, Canon has held the throne in this territory for years now and there’s no reason to expect they will lose it soon.
While the options might seem overwhelming, it’s nice to know that indie filmmakers have choices for every need, now more than ever. Hopefully you’ve made up your mind and are ready to shoot! Unless, of course, you’re willing to consider going mirrorless…
Happy deciding, filmmakers.