We have been using the original Canon EOS C100 for well over a year now and it has become a solid workhorse camera. This camera is highly regarded amongst users as being functional, ergonomic and producing a fantastic looking full HD picture. The C100 mkII came along about 6 months ago and whilst it didn’t offer any huge upgrade over the original camera (as is the way with a lot of canon mark upgrades) there were a lot of small upgrades which in total are greater than the sum of their individual parts.
One of the first things I wanted to test on the mkII was the much talked about Dual Pixel AF (autofocus), you can read about the technology here but basically it is a autofocus system that achieves very rapid and accurate focus and is designed especially for video use. I had heard a lot of good things from respected video pros about it, but I wanted to see if it could really live up to the hype and see if it was able to track moving subjects with a very shallow depth of field. The video below was shot using the DUAL pixel AF and a 50mm F/1.4 Canon prime at F1.4 for all the shots. It lived up to the hype and managed to work successfully in most scenarios. It seemed to struggle the most when a subject is much darker than the surroundings (even if there is high contrast in the scene) and when the subject is particularly fast moving or erratic. It is particularity effective if you are shooting slow motion (50/60 fps) as you literally have a little more time to play with and so if it takes a fraction longer to get critical focus it is less noticeable than at regular speed.
In the testing that I did I only missed a handful shots and I can definitely see this being a very useful tool as it allows a single operator to concentrate more on composition and framing, and lets the camera pull focus for you. Its worth adding that its just a tool and won’t work in all scenarios and is obviously not as flexible as pulling focus yourself or having a dedicated focus puller. You can not control the speed the AF works at or have it use an area other than the centre of the screen.
One very useful tip for those using the AF on this camera is the ability to toggle the focus on and off (AF lock). If you get focus and then wanted to recompose your shot but not change focus you can press the AF Lock button and it will lock in the focus. By default this button is on the side of the camera but what is particularity useful is that you can easily assign it to the button on the hand grip, the one next to the multi function toggle switch. This is the perfect position for the button as its naturally under your thumb at all times and makes toggling the AF on and off a piece of cake. You obviously lose the magnification function from this button (the default setting for the button on the hand-grip) but the magnification button is duplicated on the body of the camera as well so you still have the magnification functionality when needed.
One final thing mentioning about the upgrades to this camera is the new EVF (electronic view finder). The one on the original C100 was of little use as it was so tiny and pretty much useless for checking focus. The new EVF is so much better, producing a bigger and clearer image much more akin to the EVF on the original C300. The EVF can now be used for critical focusing and is a great upgrade.
I can’t wait to use the C100mkII for more filming work and take advantage of the new tools it offers , especially the Dual Pixel AF.