Celebrating a decade of Canon Cinema EOS

As the Cinema EOS System turns 10, discover a decade of cinematic films shot on everything from the original Canon EOS C300 through to the latest addition to the range, the Canon EOS C70.
The Canon Cinema EOS range.

The Canon Cinema EOS System turns 10 in 2021 and the range continues to go from strength to strength.

Canon's Cinema EOS System made its debut a decade ago. Building on the popularity of the pioneering Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR within the movie industry, the groundbreaking cinema camera system was designed to deliver a sublime cinematic image and give filmmakers unprecedented creative freedom.

The first Cinema EOS camera did precisely that. The Canon EOS C300's compact, modular construction made it easy to integrate into a diverse range of productions. It was also full-featured with a host of Canon video technology, including an 8.3MP Super 35mm CMOS sensor designed specifically for video capture and Canon Log Gamma for a more flexible workflow.

The Canon EOS C300.

The Cinema EOS System has evolved considerably since it was announced back in November 2011. The Canon EOS C300 was the first camera in the series…

The Canon EOS C70.

…and the latest addition to the range is the Canon EOS C70, the first dedicated video camera to have a native RF mount, the same as Canon's full-frame mirrorless EOS R System cameras.

A range of dedicated CN-E cinema lenses were launched in support of the new system. Canon has been designing cinema lenses since 1969, but modern CN-E prime and zoom lens ranges are engineered to achieve the resolution and dynamic range required by today's cinematographers.

Since the launch of the Cinema EOS System, Canon has continued to bring new innovations to the film industry. The AF technology known as Dual Pixel CMOS AF was originally developed for Cinema EOS, for example, and first featured in the Canon EOS 70D in 2013. It was later announced that the original EOS C300 and EOS C100 would receive optional Dual Pixel CMOS AF upgrades. Dual Pixel CMOS AF with face tracking arrived with the launch of the EOS C300 Mark II.

Canon Cinema RAW Light, introduced in the Canon EOS C200, made shooting in RAW more efficient than ever, and the EOS C300 was the first camera to feature Canon Log, which maximised dynamic range without increasing file sizes. As sensors became more sensitive, Canon cameras were able to capture an even wider dynamic range, so the first Canon Log curve evolved to Log 2 and then Log 3. The cutting-edge DGO sensors first seen in the EOS C300 Mark III and also used in Canon's latest model, the EOS C70, make it possible to extend dynamic range to 16+ stops and deliver superb HDR footage.

Director Regan Hall began shooting corporate jobs with the original Canon EOS C300 in 2012. "Seeing Canon's technology progress over the past 10 years has been exciting," he says. "To be able to shoot on a compact camera, at 8K, using Canon's beautiful cinema-quality lenses, is testament to just how far the technology has come."

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To mark the 10-year anniversary of Cinema EOS, we're celebrating 10 examples of filmmakers who have put Canon's groundbreaking technology to use producing beautiful cross-genre content.

Filmmaker Alice Aedy on the coast of Kiribati holding a Canon EOS C300 Mark II.

Documentary filmmaker and campaigner Alice Aedy with 'Cecil', her Canon EOS C300 Mark II camera (now succeeded by the Canon EOS C300 Mark III). Alice's work focuses on social justice issues including the human cost of climate change and forced migration. © Alice Aedy

1. Recording images that can change the world

After seeing a photograph of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi's body, washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015, British documentary filmmaker and photojournalist Alice Aedy made a life-changing decision to "go and help somehow". Migration, women's rights and climate justice are now the core focus of Alice's work, which has shifted from stills to video.

After initially using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV), she moved to filming on a Canon EOS C300 Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS C300 Mark III). Alice has subsequently used the EOS C70 paired with Sumire Prime lenses for high quality cinematic footage in a compact form factor. She explains how her first Cinema EOS camera gave her a new sense of focus when covering vital humanitarian and environmental stories.

Read more about Alice's mission to make a difference

Two men stand on a docked wooden boat with a large body of water behind them. One is adjusting a Canon EOS C500 Mark II camera, the other is pointing into the distance.

Cinematographer Martin Christ, pictured on the left of this image with a Canon EOS C500 Mark II, has used Canon Cinema EOS cameras and cinema lenses throughout his career. © Martin Christ

2. Exploring the magic of Canon cinema lenses

Canon has been the brand of choice throughout award-winning cinematographer Martin Christ's 25-year career, and he's worked with Cinema EOS cameras on a diverse mix of productions.

Martin has also employed a wide range of Canon CN-E lenses in his work, from the CN-E18-80mm T4.4 L IS KAS S servo zoom for run-and-gun shooting to the CN-E14mm T3.1 L F and CN-E135mm T2.2 L F cinema primes. "For shooting features, it's mostly about brilliant skin tones. The CN-E primes deliver those tones, very soft and well balanced, kept across the aperture range," he says.

Read more about Martin's life with Canon cine lenses

A man filming on a mountain in the Swiss Alps with a Canon Cinema EOS camera.

Director Regan Hall used the Canon EOS C300 Mark III to shoot a documentary about the extreme sport of wingsuit BASE jumping, and the results were breathtaking. © Regan Hall

3. Filming BASE jumpers with the Canon EOS C300 Mark III

Cinematic quality and compact size were two characteristics that director Regan Hall and DoP Marek Klucar were looking for in a camera to shoot a documentary on wingsuit BASE jumping.

They initially selected the Canon EOS C500 Mark II for its full-frame sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF capabilities, and a Canon EOS C300 Mark III and a Canon EOS R5 were subsequently added to the team's kitbag, with the aim of creating "cinematic images in the documentary run-and-gun style setup". The EOS C300 Mark III ultimately became the team's primary body, frequently paired with the compact Canon CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L S/SP with powerful zoom to pick out the daredevils in the sky.

"My aim has always been to tell powerful stories using high-end, cinematic imagery," says Regan. "The challenge was always matching my production budgets and crew sizes with the kit and technology available. Now, with Canon's cameras and lenses at such a high standard, my creativity isn't constrained by budget or technology. I'm shooting cinematic footage with a fast and portable camera system – it's what I've been aiming for throughout my whole career."

Read more about filming the extreme sport Regan calls "crazy"

Filming the warmly lit interior of a restaurant through the window with a Canon EOS C700 FF camera and Sumire Prime cine lens.

British cinematographer Tania Freimuth used Canon's Sumire Prime PL-mount cine lenses on a full-frame Canon EOS C700 FF body to shoot the short film titled Change of Heart – a boy meets girl tale with a twist. © Ben Morse

4. Taking on a low-light challenge with Sumire Prime lenses

Since they launched in 2019, the PL-mount Sumire Prime lenses have been warmly received for their cinematic look. They share the same colour balance as their counterparts in the Canon CN-E lens range, meaning that it's easy to switch to a Sumire Prime lens when you want to take advantage of their unique character, which includes natural skin tones, subtle flares, rich bokeh and organic warmth.

British filmmaker Tania Freimuth put the Sumire Primes to the test while filming a night-time short in a London restaurant. "I wanted the film to look romantic, rich and polished," she says. In order to achieve the atmospheric end result, she turned to a Canon CN-E85mm T1.3 FP X lens on a Canon EOS C700 FF body.

Over the years Tania has witnessed a raft of technological advances. "Apart from the transition to from film to digital, the biggest change I have experienced in my career was the addition of motion picture capture to DSLRs," she says. "For the independent filmmaker, it was a game-changer."

Tania went on to film with a range of Cinema EOS cameras and cinema lenses, including the original Canon EOS C300. "I remember getting stick from the producer for choosing to shoot in Canon Log because it needed grading, but it looked great," she recalls. "This kind of gear gives me freedom of choice."

Read more about Tania's low-light shoot with Sumire Prime lenses

DoP Patrick Smith with a Canon EOS C500 Mark II cinema camera.

Director of photography Patrick Smith has shot a variety of Netflix documentaries using approved cameras within the Canon Cinema EOS System, including the acclaimed scientific documentary The Surgeon's Cut. © Patrick Smith

5. Netflix approved: Canon EOS Cinema cameras

Netflix has stringent quality control standards and set up the Netflix Post Technology Alliance so it could work with manufacturers, including Canon, during the development of new products to ensure compatibility with the broadcaster's technical and delivery specifications. A wide range of current Cinema EOS cameras already meet the capture requirements for Netflix Originals – including the Canon EOS C70, EOS C700, EOS C500 Mark II and EOS C300 Mark III.

Patrick Smith, a DoP who's shot a number of productions for Netflix with the EOS C500 Mark II, explains how the camera's modular format was particularly useful on a pioneering medical documentary for the prodigious streaming service, as it meant he could change his setup quickly and whenever needed – the perfect compact tool within a fast-moving and reactive hospital environment.

"I came to Canon's cinema cameras with the Canon EOS C300, and it fundamentally changed the way I captured my work," he recalls. "Canon pioneered the use of large-sensor, shallow-depth cameras in video with the EOS 5D Mark II, but with the Cinema EOS range we got the stunning visual landscape of large-sensor filming in a broadcast-approved camera.

The Canon EOS C300 Mark III and Canon EOS C70 cinema cameras.

EOS C70 and EOS C300 Mark III: DGO cameras compared

Both Cinema EOS cameras feature Canon's innovative 4K Super 35mm Dual Gain Output sensor, but what are the key differences and similarities between them?

"I was thrilled to work in this visual space and haven't looked back since. I now shoot with three EOS cinema cameras – the EOS C300 Mark III, EOS C500 Mark II and EOS C70. Each has its own strengths, while maintaining the consistency and functionality of the cinema family of products."

Read more from Patrick about filming Netflix Originals with Cinema EOS

Roberto Palozzi, lit by a spotlight, films in the twilight inside a huge wooden frame covered in air-drying fish.

Italian scientist and documentary filmmaker Roberto Palozzi braved late winter in northern Norway to track Arctic cod from sea to plate, using the Canon EOS C500 Mark II. "There is currently no better camera for documentary makers," he says. © Roberto Palozzi

6. Shooting in the Arctic with the Canon EOS C500 Mark II

When Roberto Palozzi wanted to record the journey of stockfish – unsalted, dried fish – from Norway's Lofoten Islands to the dining tables of Italy, he needed a camera that was tough enough to deal with freezing conditions. For this, he chose the Canon EOS C500 Mark II. "It's a camera for making cinematic films, but you can put it under pressure," he says. "This camera has been wet and frozen, yet it worked perfectly – and in the end, the results were stunning."

A Canon EOS C200 performed B-camera duties, which meant the production could be shot entirely in Cinema RAW Light – which Roberto says is now the only format he will shoot in.

Cinema EOS cameras have been by Roberto's side across the years. "The EOS C300 was the camera that changed the concept of professional filmmaking forever," he says. "When I picked it up for the first time, I immediately understood that my work would have a higher degree of authority.

"In a world of filmmaking largely dominated by Super 35mm or smaller sensors, the full-frame EOS C500 Mark II was as revolutionary and innovative as the first EOS C300. It has allowed documentary makers such as myself to dream we are cinematographers at work on a big movie set, even when we're filming spaghetti in a pot for a TV cookery show."

Read more about Roberto's Arctic cod fishing shoot

A car in the desert has a Canon EOS C700 FF attached to a crane arm out the back.

DoP Brett Danton travelled to the desert near Abu Dhabi, UAE, to shoot a supercar commercial. Faced with extreme heat and temperamental conditions, he knew only a very special camera would achieve the footage he was looking for, and chose the Canon EOS C700 FF. © Brett Danton

7. Getting up to speed with the EOS C700 FF in the desert

Cinema EOS cameras haven't just been tested in sub-zero temperatures – they've been pushed to the limit in searing-hot deserts too. Filmmaker Brett Danton paired the Canon EOS C700 FF with a Canon EOS C200 for a dramatic supercar advertising shoot in the UAE. He wanted to create striking images of the vehicle being driven at speed against a backdrop of golden dunes – and needed cameras that could be mounted easily on car cranes and drones. It was also vital for his equipment to never miss a beat when faced with torturous temperatures and fine sand.

"I've been using Cinema EOS cameras since the EOS-1 DC. Coming from a stills background, this was the perfect transition into motion," Brett says. "In the 10 years I've been using Cinema EOS cameras – in some of the world's harshest environments – I've never had a failure.

"The features and design of Canon's Cinema EOS lineup have gone from strength to strength," he adds. "I still shoot both motion and stills on many jobs, and working with Canon gives me a consistent look across both mediums – and the equipment is interchangeable between the formats. This means I can spend more time on creativity and less time worrying about compatibility."

Read more about Brett's supercar shoot in the desert

In a still from the documentary Hunting for Hedonia, a man lies having brain surgery in an operating theatre.

The documentary Hunting for Hedonia explores the promising science of Deep Brain Stimulation, and was shot by Danish director Pernille Rose Grønkjær on a Canon EOS C300 Mark II and Canon EOS C200. © Film still from Hunting for Hedonia, Director Rose Grønkjær, Cinematographer Ben Bernhard, Danish Documentary Production

8. Capturing the art of science on Canon Cinema cameras

Hunting for Hedonia, a feature-length documentary by Danish director Pernille Rose Grønkjær, reveals the potential life-changing surgical procedure of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

To remain discreet and mobile, and to achieve the Nordic Noir inspired cinematic aesthetic they were looking for, Pernille and cinematographer Ben Bernhard chose the Canon EOS C300 Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS C300 Mark III) and Canon EOS C200.

The Canon CN7x17 KAS S E1/P1 Cine Servo lens became the go-to lens for much of the production, giving vital flexibility and zoom range when filming in sensitive situations such as surgery, where moving around and changing lenses was not feasible. Pernille additionally used a diverse range of Canon lenses, including the CN-E14mm T3.1 L F and CN-E50mm T1.3 L F, both renowned for great low light performance and fine creative control over focusing and depth of field.

Read more about the making of Hunting for Hedonia

A man holding a Canon EOS C70 camera films a woman standing in a field of long grass. Another woman stands beside him.

The lightweight and compact Canon EOS C70 proved to be the ideal tool for filmmaker George Henton, who needed a discreet but feature-packed camera to shoot a BBC documentary about Yazidi women in northern Iraq. © Sangar Khaleel

9. Filming a battle for survival in Iraq with the Canon EOS C70

British filmmaker George Henton took Canon's smallest cinema camera, the Canon EOS C70, into the field in northern Iraq to film the women risking their lives to clear unexploded mines from their homeland. For the BBC's Our World documentary Yazidi Women: Clearing Sinjar's Mines, he followed Amsha on her journey to tackle the deadly legacy left by IS militants.

George spent a week filming for many hours in hot and dusty conditions – and the EOS C70 performed throughout. "I loved the long battery life, light weight and unobtrusive nature of it for such a shoot," he says.

The director/cinematographer started his career as a photojournalist during the Arab Spring. A long-time Canon user, George started shooting video on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, before moving to the Cinema EOS system with the EOS C100, EOS C200 and now EOS C70. "Having the smaller body, but with all the pro features, including built-in ND filters and XLR inputs, has been brilliant," he says. "The picture looks amazing."

10. Then and now – a decade of distinctive documentaries and more shot on Cinema EOS

Since the Canon EOS C300 was launched 10 years ago, Cinema EOS System cameras have been used to create unforgettable moments in cinema and television.

If you're looking for a good example, try The Salt of the Earth – a 2014 Oscar-nominated documentary about Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. It's a revealing portrait of Salgado's life and work that was directed by his son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, and German visionary Wim Wenders, and shot primarily with a Canon EOS C300.

Other productions filmed on Canon include the 2013 Palme d'Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour (EOS C300), the 2013 Tom Hanks blockbuster and multiple Oscar contender Captain Phillips (EOS C300), the hit Netflix sitcom and 13-time Emmy nominee Grace and Frankie (EOS C700) and Free Solo, winner of the 2019 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award (EOS C300 Mark II).

As Canon's cinema camera and lens technologies continue to evolve, one thing is certain: Canon's professional video solutions will continue to empower and liberate creators to bring their visions to life.

Marcus Hawkins & Lucy Fulford

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