Today was a watershed moment for filmmakers, courtesy of Canon’s announcement that its new, relatively affordable, relatively compact C200 camera will be able to capture 12 bit DCI 4K raw video internally. According to Canon, this will be ‘compressed raw’. Whether ‘compressed’ means lossless, visually lossless, or lossy, is currently anyone’s guess. Whatever the case though, it significantly ups the stakes.
Like many others, we have, for a long time, been arguing for internal raw recording. On the one hand we appreciate that this involves technical challenges including heat, transfer speeds, and storage. On the other hand, we note that Blackmagic managed it some time ago, as did Magic Lantern…so it was only a matter of time before a major camera manufacturer saw the light…and now that one has, we expect a sea change in the industry.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that the Canon 6D Mark II or iPhone 8 will offer 16-bit DCI 8K raw internal recording (frankly we’d be amazed if the iPhone 8 even offers raw stills…) but we do think that the announcement of the Canon C200 signals the start of an affordable raw future, which is great news for low budget filmmakers.
Whilst there are some excellent external raw recorders available, attaching them to a camera adds weight and bulk and introduces an extra link in the chain that can potentially fail. Internal raw recording avoids these and other pitfalls.
We are not saying that raw is a universal panacea. It does not necessarily suit every filmmaker or every situation. Even compressed raw requires significantly more and faster storage than CODEC based recordings and this can add significant expense to a production. However, all things being equal, raw offers better quality, greater flexibility in pre, principal, and post production, and potentially more cinematic results.
As more manufacturers come on board with internal raw recording (we’re looking at you Sony) you can expect to find raw internal recording in more and cheaper cameras, which, as they will not need to be coupled with external raw recorders, will mean an even lower total cost of ownership. So whilst you shouldn’t expect to see raw internal recording in a Canon 6D Mark II or iPhone 8, it is not entirely without the realms of possibility that at some point raw internal video recording will appear in stills cameras and smart phones… In fact, we’d say go so far as to say that it may be inevitable. So celebrate, the Canon C200 is the start of the next filmmaking revolution.
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