Canon Goes Hollywood with Cinema EOS System

Hoping to build on the growing use of its EOS digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras in TV and cinema production, Canon is making a big push into the higher end motion picture and TV production sector with the launch of a new Cinema EOS System that includes both new cameras and lenses.

As part of that effort, Canon will begin shipping EOS C300 Digital Cinema Camera and a new line of 4K lenses for digital cinema production in the first quarter of 2012. It also reported that it was developing a new digital single lens reflex camera that is capable of capturing 4K images.

The importance of the company's new push into cinema and higher end TV production was illustrated by the fact that the new products were unveiled before hundreds of journalists in Hollywood at Paramount Studios, where director Martin Scorsese spoke.

The company had already been involved in film and TV production with its lenses and some of its digital single lens reflex cameras, notably the EOS 5D Mark II DSLR, which has been widely used in the production of Hollywood motion pictures and hit TV series since it was launched in November 2008.

Filmmakers and producers were drawn to these cameras because of their large sensors, which produced stunning HD quality images and offered extremely good low light capabilities. In the last three years, they have been used in such prime-time series as 24, House and NCIS: Los Angeles.

But the cameras, which were originally designed for professional still photographers, lack some key features videographers typically expect for digital video production and users have long wondered when Canon would develop a camera system more directly designed for higher end video production.

Canon answered that question with a new EOS Digital System that the company believes will combine the strength of its DSLRs with cameras and lenses specifically designed for high end production.

"As a leading company in digital imaging, Canon's debut in the film and TV production industry provides a tremendous opportunity to enter into a thriving market," noted Fujio Mitarai, chairman and CEO of Canon, in a statement. "Reflecting upon the achievements that Canon EOS Digital SLRs have had in the industry thus far, we are confident the new Cinema EOS series products will bring that success to a whole new level."

As part of the launch of the Cinema EOS System, Canon introduced seven new 4K EF Cinema Lenses -- four zoom lenses and three single-focal-length model.

The company also announced the launch of the EOS C300/C300 PL interchangeable-lens digital cinema camera, which will use a Super 35-mm-equivalent CMOS sensor.

That camera features a Super 35 mm-equivalent 8.29-megapixel CMOS sensor and will be available in two models.

One model, the EOS C300 will have an EF lens mount, which means it can be used with a wide array of lenses that make up Canon's current interchangeable EF lens lineup.

The second model, the EOS C300 PL, will have a PL lens mount for use with industry-standard PL lenses.

Canon is planning to begin shipping the Canon EOS C300 (EF mount) digital cinema camera in late January 2012 for an estimated list price of $20,000.

The Canon EOS C300 PL (PL mount) digital cinema camera will sell for the same price, $20,000, but is scheduled to be available in late March 2012.

The seven new 4K EF Cinema Lens models include four zoom lenses covering a wide zoom range from 14.5 mm to 300 mm, with two models each for EF and PL lens mounts. They will also offer three single-focal-length lenses for EF mounts.

All seven new lenses deliver very high 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) optical performance and are compatible with the large Super 35 mm-equivalent sensors.

The zoom lenses, which will be available in late March of 2012, are priced between $45,000 and $47,000.

Intriguingly, Canon also announced that it is developing a new DSLR camera with a 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor, which would allow the recording of 4K video at a frame rate of 24P, with Motion-JPEG compression.

While the company released few other specific details, the 4K image quality would be a significant advance over the HD cameras currently on the market and the large full frame 35 mm sensor would enable exceptional image quality.