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Technical

The EOS-1D C 4K
DSLR explained

April 2012

The 2011 launch of Canon’s Cinema EOS System for professional filmmakers and cinematographers saw the merging of several existing Canon technologies and product categories to produce a groundbreaking film-making system spanning EOS Digital Cinema Cameras, EF and PL mount lenses, and DSLR cameras. The first ever DSLR to join the system is the 18.1 Megapixel EOS-1D C, which offers 4K digital cinema resolution (at 24fps). CPN takes a closer look at the EOS-1D C to explain its key technologies, features and benefits for both high quality video and stills shooting. Please click on the section headings below to find out more.

KEY SPECIFICATIONS & SYSTEM

The EOS-1D C is both the first ever DSLR camera for the Cinema EOS System and the first ever Canon camera to shoot at 4K digital cinema resolution. It is is a high-quality DSLR for both the film-making and multimedia industries.


EOS-1D C – key features

  • 18.1 Megapixel full-frame size CMOS sensor.
  • 4K movie shooting – 24fps 8-bit 4:2:2 MJPEG.
  • Clean HDMI output, 1080p 8-bit 4:2:2 colour sampling.
  • 1080p at 50/60fps.
  • Canon Log.
  • Super 35mm crop mode.
  • View assist dual display.
  • 12fps continuous stills shooting with 14fps super high-speed mode available.
  • 61-point wide area AF with 41 cross-type sensors.
  • 100,000 pixel RGB metering sensor with own DIGIC 4 processor.
  • 25,600 high ISO for movies, 51,200 high ISO for stills.
  • 8.11cm (3.2”) Clear View II LCD with Live View mode.
  • High-speed Dual “DIGIC 5+” performance with superb image quality.
  • Dual CF card slots.
  • Compatible with all Canon EF lenses and Speedlite EX flashes.

Advanced video functions

The EOS-1D C retains the functionality of Canon’s 18.1 Megapixel EOS-1D X DSLR but also incorporates a range of advanced video functions. The advanced video functions of the EOS-1D C will be explained in more depth throughout this article but they include 4K recording to CF cards, Full HD 1080p high-speed shooting at 60p (NTSC) or 50p (PAL), 1080p capture at 24fps, 25fps and 30 fps and 720p capture at 50 fps and 60fps.

Other notable video functions include a clean HDMI output, a choice of the ALL-I (Intra-frame) or IPB (Inter-frame) compression options, Canon Log, Dual display and view assist and a headphone socket for audio monitoring.

4K digital cinema resolution

To match the standards of digital cinema the EOS-1D C can record 4K (4096x2160), digital cinema resolution (at 24fps). The EOS-1D C uses the Motion-JPEG, 24p (23.976fps) format and YCbCr 4:2:2 8-bit colour sampling.

The 4K movie recording area is smaller than the Full HD area and is more similar to the area used by Canon’s EOS-1D Mark IV DSLR for movie recording. Movies shot in the 4K format can be played back using the software supplied in the box with the EOS-1D C. However, it’s worth noting that during playback HDMI will output only at Full HD quality, so 4K movies cannot be played back in 4K format via the HDMI connection.

The 4K movie capabilities of the EOS-1D C now mean it is possible perform frame grabs and produce still images at an 8-megapixel resolution (this provides enough image quality for newspaper use and some magazine work).

The AF sensor of the EOS-1D C DSLR.

Autofocus system

The EOS-1D C has a 61-point AF sensor that offers consistent focusing performance with all subjects, in light levels down to EV -2. With up to 41 cross-type AF points and a dual-zigzag line arrangement for all 61 points, focus accuracy and speed is improved. In combination with the evolved AI Servo III AF algorithm, the new system is also more stable in use. To ensure setting up the system to suit the subject is as easy as possible, an AF Configuration Tool is provided within the camera’s menu to give details of each setting and example usage.

100,000-pixel RGB AE metering sensor

The EOS-1D C's metering system features a 100,000-pixel RGB sensor that's able to measure not only light levels but can also detect the colour of a scene for even greater metering accuracy, whatever the colour of the subject is. This colour and face detection data is also used by the camera's autofocus system to improve focus tracking accuracy as the camera can identify a subject by its colour and contrast, rather than relying on contrast alone.

The AE sensor unit of the EOS-1D C.

EF lens mount compatibility

From the very start the Cinema EOS System has had widespread compatibility with both Canon’s wide range of EF lenses and the PL lens mount; the standard lens mount in the film-making industry. This has been backed up by a growing range of 4K ready Canon Cinema Lenses all of which are available in EF lens mount versions to fit onto the EF mount EOS-1D C.

At launch (in November 2011) this Cinema Lens series included four zoom lenses: the CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6L S (EF mount), the CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6L SP (PL mount), the CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7L S (EF mount), the CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7L SP (PL mount), plus three EF mount single focal length lenses – the CN-E24mm T1.5L F, CN-E50mm T1.3L F and CN-E85mm T1.3L F. This was added to in April 2012 with the announcement of the CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8L S (EF mount), the CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8L SP (PL mount), the CN-E30-105mm T2.8L S (EF mount), and the CN-E30-105mm T2.8L SP (PL mount) lenses.

The Canon Cinema Lens series was launched with seven lenses including five EF mount lenses: the CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6L S, CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7L S, CN-E24mm T1.5L F, CN-E50mm T1.3L F and CN-E85mm T1.3L F.

All of the lenses deliver 4K (4096x2160 pixels), optical performance and offer compatibility with Super 35mm-equivalent sensors. The three single focal length lenses can be used with cameras equipped with 35mm full-frame sensors, plus APS-C and APS-H format cameras.

Canon’s EF lens mount was launched at the same time as the 1987 introduction of the EOS SLR System and the EF lens mount compatibility opens up many creative possibilities. The Canon EF lens range has over 60 different lenses for a total focal length range that stretches from 8mm up to 800mm, and also includes the EF1.4x III and EF2x III converters.

The introduction of the EOS-1D C DSLR camera gives filmmakers who are already shooting Full HD video with Canon EOS DSLRs and EF lenses the opportunity to upgrade their systems and take advantage of the range of benefits in the Cinema EOS System to incorporate it into their workflow.

View of the EOS-1D C DSLR showing the EF lens mount of the camera.

Third party accessories

The combination of functionality, filming formats and image quality mean that the EOS-1D C is more than capable of being used as a stand-alone capture device. To further enhance the capabilities of the EOS-1D C third party accessories are catered for with the inclusion of a positional plug (2.5mm wide and 6.5mm deep) on the base plate of the camera to allow for the precise attachment of such accessories.


IMAGE PROCESSING

With a full-frame Canon CMOS sensor and processor technologies, and 4K shooting to CF cards the EOS-1D C produces footage to satisfy all the needs of demanding filmmakers and multimedia productions.


18.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor

The EOS-1D C incorporates a large, 18.1 Megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor for outstanding 4K digital cinema resolution (at 24fps) and high quality stills shooting. This sensor has a pixel size that is larger than that seen in conventional professional camcorders, thus enabling greater light-gathering capabilities.

This much greater light-gathering capability of the EOS-1D C dramatically reduces noise in low light situations, delivering clean, high-resolution images in natural light setups where filmmakers would need extra lighting when shooting with a conventional camcorder. The enhanced sensitivity of the EOS-1D C means that low noise video images can be captured at up to ISO 25,600, with high ISO up to 51,200 for still images.

The full-frame 18.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor in the EOS-1D C has a pixel size larger than that for conventional pro camcorders, thus enabling greater light-gathering capabilities for high sensitivity and low noise.

Thanks to a new photodiode structure the larger CMOS sensor has a faster readout and increased capacity to provide a wider dynamic range. Unlike CCDs, which read all pixels at once, CMOS sensors scan one line at a time. For this reason, when fast-moving subjects are shot, the portion most noticeably in motion may be diagonally distorted – an inherent shortcoming of CMOS sensors called ‘rolling shutter skews’. The High-speed data readout developed by Canon reduces the skew effects caused by rolling shutter, thus resulting in the realistic reproduction of moving subjects.

For stills photography the full-frame sensor delivers the same class-leading performance as the EOS-1D X DSLR.

DUAL “DIGIC 5+” processors

The high-end Dual "DIGIC 5+" processors found in the EOS-1D C are three times faster than the already powerful DIGIC 5 processors. In fact, there is still a DIGIC 4 processor (the main processor found in the EOS 5D Mark II) within the EOS-1D C that’s dedicated solely to the camera's exposure metering system.

The Dual ‘DIGIC 5+” processors in the EOS-1D C offer a number of benefits, including in-camera RAW processing and editing and 14-bit A/D conversion.

The benefits of the Dual "DIGIC 5+" processors are great. With more processing power, they are able to perform more complex image processing for better image quality, as well as adding features such as multiple exposure shooting, lens chromatic aberration correction, compression options for movie shooting and UDMA memory card compatibility.

For still images in-camera RAW processing and editing is possible whilst 14-bit A/D conversion ensures smother tonal gradation in image.

Canon Log

Canon Log Gamma was introduced in the EOS C300 and C300 PL Digital Cinema Cameras and is also incorporated in the EOS-1D C to enable mixed editing of footage from different cameras and easier colour grading.

The EOS-1D C allows users to adjust image quality to match that of professional camcorders and EOS DSLR cameras, and offers Canon Log Gamma, enabling neutral image quality with subdued contrast and sharpness for a wider dynamic range of approx. up to 800% and maximum freedom in post-production editing and processing.

The EOS-1D C Canon Log menu screen showing the setting options.

Canon Log produces a dark, flat image – in contrast to typical video images – and the following characteristics are also evident with regard to colour reproduction:

  1. Noise reduction during colour grading is possible (especially notable in darker areas), while saturation is optimised.
  2. Colour grading is more flexible, offering the ability to reproduce colours more faithfully, with minimum hue slant.
  3. Colour (especially skin tone) accuracy and continuous tracking, so that natural gradations can be achieved.

CREATIVE CONTROL

The EOS-1D C allows filmmakers full control over all aspects of image capture – from frame rates to frame crop options, and from wide exposure latitude to customised shooting options – for quality, creative film-making.


Recording modes and variable frame rate recording

As well as its 4K digital cinema resolution (at 24fps) capabilities the EOS-1D C DSLR can record in 1080p and 720p modes supporting both PAL and NTSC standard frame rates. These frame rates include 1080p at 24fps, 25fps and 50fps for PAL and 1080p at 24fps, 30fps and 60fps for NTSC. 720p recording is also available at 50 fps (PAL) and 60fps (NTSC). The 1080p at 50fps or 60fps options are ideal for capturing fast action or providing slow motion capture.

Diagram showing the EOS-1D C’s ‘shooting zones’ – JPEG large, 4K, Super 35mm cropping, Full HD and HD – in relation to the size of the camera’s full-frame sensor.

Shallow depth-of-field

Like its illustrious EOS 5D Mark II and EOS-1D X DSLR predecessors, that have Full HD movie capabilities, the EOS-1D C has a full-frame sensor that provides the creative opportunity to work with incredibly shallow depth-of-field when shooting films.

Super 35mm cropping function

Although the EOS-1D C has a full-frame sensor, for cameramen who are more familiar shooting with the Super 35mm sensor cameras (such as the EOS C300) it also offers a Super 35mm cropping function in Full HD at the 24p, 25p and 30p frame rates. The image field angle is approximately 1.6x times the focal length described on the lens.


System accessories

The creative possibilities of the EOS-1D C are greatly enhanced by its compatibility to Canon’s wide range of EF mount SLR lenses, the growing range of Canon EF mount Cinema Lenses, the Speedlite EX range of flash units and other EOS System accessories, such as the WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter.

Cinema Lenses

Canon’s Cinema Lenses use an 11-blade aperture diaphragm that can deliver creative effects such as soft blur.

The Canon Cinema Lens range also opens up a number of handling advantages and creative possibilities when shooting with the EOS-1D C. Key features of the lenses include the use of an 11-blade aperture diaphragm that delivers soft, attractive blur. The zoom lenses feature engraved zoom, focus and iris markings on angled surfaces for improved readability from behind the camera.

The lenses employ anomalous dispersion glass that’s effective in reducing chromatic aberration, plus large-diameter aspherical lenses. By utilising all of these lens technologies the lenses are able to achieve high-resolution imaging from the centre of the frame to the outer edges.

The lenses can be used with standard manual and electronic movie industry accessories, as well as matte boxes. Featuring a unified front lens diameter and uniform gear positions, the lenses do away with the need to adjust or reposition accessory gear when switching between other lenses in the Cinema Lens series.

CAMERA OPERATION

The EOS-1D C has a compact DSLR design, superb handling, customisable controls, and a durable build to ensure you get the shot in every situation, whether shooting 4K movies or high quality still images.


Compact DSLR body design

The EOS-1D C has a compact DSLR body that offers superb handling and, like its EOS DSLR predecessors, offers maximum manoeuvrability in tight shooting situations without any compromise on quality. The camera measures just 158x163.3x82.7mm (WxHxD), thus allowing for low-angle shooting, shooting alongside walls and straight-on shooting in very confined spaces.


The EOS-1D C has a compact body that’s measures just 158x163.3x82.7mm (WxHxD), enabling easy shooting at tight angles and in small spaces.

The camera has a durable, magnesium alloy body to withstand the rigours of daily use. Environmental protective sealing prevents dust and water ingression, allowing filmmakers and photographers to work in a wide range of weather conditions. The weather sealings include the camera’s hotshoe and compatible accessories.

The camera’s shutter has been tested for 400,000 actuations for long life usage when shooting stills.

Customised operation

The operation of EOS-1D C can be customised to suit the needs of different users. Eight customisable buttons on the camera can be used to give easy access to the functions you use most. You can also store your favourite settings to CF card to transfer to other Canon EOS-1D C cameras.

Using the ‘My Menu’ system of the EOS-1D C you can select and store up to 14 of your most frequently used menu items that, via one push of a button, allows you quick access to these settings whilst shooting. As with button configuration storage you can save the My Menu settings to a CF card and load them to other cameras.

Camera operation can be fine-tuned using some of the EOS-1D C’s 31 Custom Functions.

The 8.11cm (3.2”), ultra sharp, high quality 1.04 million-dot Clear View LCD II panel on the back of the EOS-1D C allows for easy monitoring of scene composition.

High quality Clear View LCD II

The EOS-1D C features a large 8.11cm (3.2”) Clear View LCD II rear screen with a resolution of 1.04 million dots. The construction is the same as the LCD unit in the EOS-1D X DSLR, with no gap between the protective glass cover and the LCD unit. With no gap, there is no air-glass interface, so refraction and reflection is reduced. The surface of the glass cover also features the same anti-reflective coating.


PRODUCTION WORKFLOW

With 4K digital cinema resolution (at 24fps), multiple recording options, file-based recording to CF cards… and more, the EOS-1D C delivers stunning 4K footage and movie workflow compatibility and flexibility.


4K digital cinema resolution

In autumn 2008 Canon introduced Full HD shooting to its DSLR range in the EOS 5D Mark II and in early 2010 announced a Full HD MPEG-2, 4:2:2, 50Mbps codec for its digital camcorders that records in the industry-standard Material eXchange Format (MXF) file format. The next step in Canon digital movie making technology is the introduction of 4K digital cinema resolution shooting in the EOS-1D C.

The 4K digital cinema resolution at 24 frames per second (fps) is the frame rate of movie film cameras, thus giving high compatibility with common film production workflows.

ALL-I and IPB compression methods

The EOS-1D C’s compression method choices are the same as on Canon’s EOS-1D X DSLR with ALL-I (Intra-frame) or IPB (Inter-frame) compression available. When shooting movies, the frames that are captured are usually split into key frames or Intra-Frames and predicted frames. These Intra-frames are used as reference frames to help with compression.

The B in IPB stands for Bi-directional compression. With IPB differential compression is carried out by predicting the content of future frames, with reference to both previously captured frames and subsequent frames. Like the IPP compression method used in previous EOS DSLRs, some data is stored in a Group Of Pictures (GOP), meaning that frame-by-frame editing will result in lower image quality. When using IPB editing video in-camera to trim clips can only be done in one-second increments.

ALL-I is designed for users working in high-end editing systems or those looking for the very highest quality. ALL-I stands for ‘Intra-coded Frame' and it differs from IPB and IPP because all frames captured are treated as Intra-frames or key frames. Although each frame is still compressed, there is no further compression as each frame is seen as an individual image.

When filming with ALL-I, file sizes will be around three times larger than with IPB, and it is easier to edit to an individual frame without degrading the image quality. Despite the extra file size, ALL-I compressed footage actually requires less computer processing power than IPB or IPP and consequently will playback more smoothly on lower specification computers. This is because there is no rendering needed to extrapolate data from the GOPs used in IPP and IPB.

EOS-1D C menu screen showing movie recording sizes and compression methods.

Timecode

The EOS-1D C features a timecode ability following the standard of Hour:Minute:Second:Frame as defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). The frame count runs from 00 to 29 frames, so if, for example, you are filming at 30fps frames are counted to 29 and 1 second is added to the 30th frame to return the counter to 00.

The timecode can be set in one of four ways. The default setting is Count Up. Within Count Up, there is the option of either Rec. Run or Free Run. With Rec. Run, the timecode will only advance while a movie is being recorded. It is useful when filming with a single camera as it helps to organise the clips into chronological order. In Rec. Run, the timecode will continue even if the memory card is replaced with a new one. Since the total shooting time is recorded, the count will not be reset even if a movie file is deleted or the memory card is formatted.

In Free Run, the timecode will continue to count even when no movie file is being recorded. This is useful when filming with several cameras. By using the time synchronisation feature of the EOS-1D C, several cameras can be set to the same time so that all the files captured have the same starting point in the timecode. When editing footage together, the clips can then be arranged chronologically.

Option 2 within the timecode settings is ‘Start time setting'. Here you have the option of defining the starting timecode in HH:MM:SS:FF using the manual input setting option. You can also reset the timecode to 00:00:00:00 using reset, or you can set the timecode to the current camera time using the HH:MM:SS fields.

The third option is Movie Rec. Count with the options of Rec. Time and Time Code. In Rec. Time, the elapsed time after the start of movie shooting will be displayed on the rear LCD panel as the movie is being recorded. With Time Code, the timecode will be displayed while the movie is recorded.

The final option is ‘Movie play count'. The two options within this setting are Play Time and Time Code and they determine what is displayed while the movie is played back on the camera. In Play Time, the elapsed time after the start of shooting will be shown on the rear LCD panel during playback. With the Time Code setting, the associated timecode will be shown during playback.

Diagram illustrating the workflow of the EOS-1D C based on HDMI throughput to an external recorder.

Clean HDMI output

The EOS-1D C enables uncompressed YCbCr 4:2:2, 8-bit HDMI through output, allowing movies to be recorded directly to an external recorder. Output frame rates can be selected from ‘Auto/24p/50i/60i’, depending on the external recorder. Note that recording of 4K movies is not possible via the HDMI through to an external recorder. 4K recording is to internal CF cards only and these are converted to Full HD format during playback via HDMI.

Simultaneous viewing on monitor and via HDMI output

Unlike the EOS-1D X, the EOS-1D C DSLR offers simultaneous viewing of footage on both the camera’s rear LCD screen and an external device connected to the camera’s HDMI socket.

Seamless workflow integration

The EOS-1D C integrates seamlessly with existing industry-standard workflows and is compatible with most of the widely used professional NLE software packages.

Recording to Solid State memory can transform the way you work, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. Archiving video or ingesting for editing is simply a matter of connecting a suitable CF card reader to a computer via USB.

Footage can easily be browsed and reviewed in-camera via thumbnail images of each scene, saving time on the shoot.

Side view of the EOS-1D C showing input and output terminals including HDMI, HDMI, A/V Out, Digital, Remote Control, and audio in and headphone terminals.

Input terminals

On the left hand side of the EOS-1D C the camera features HDMI, A/V Out (PAL/NTSC), Digital and Remote Control output terminals. The HDMI terminal allows for simultaneous output, for example to an external recorder and an external monitor.

Audio terminals

Sound quality and design are critical to the final production, and are equally dependent on the recording hardware to ensure clean usable files for editing. The EOS-1D C provides a 3.5mm headphone jack output terminal and a mini jack input terminal for an external microphone.


POST-PRODUCTION WORKFLOW

Canon’s EOS-1D C enables incredibly high quality 4K images to be recorded to CF cards, offers seamless integration into existing NLE workflows, and delivers robust digital files that can easily handle major post-production work.


Workflow integration

Post-production is where the vision of filmmakers becomes reality. With the EOS-1D C camera your image files can accommodate everything that post-production can throw at it.

The EOS-1D C accepts dual CF cards via the slot on the right hand side of the camera.

File-based recording to CF cards

Rather than using proprietary and expensive memory systems, the EOS-1D C uses two card slots to record to cost-effective and readily available Compact Flash (CF) Cards. CF cards facilitate workflow-reducing transfer times when moving files to NLE systems.

Robust, high quality, industry-standard files

Canon’s EOS-1D C offers a potent variety of file options – 4K Motion JPEG and Full HD 60p H.264 to CF cards so footage can be downloaded directly to servers for online editing. HDMI output of 4:2:2 uncompressed footage can be recorded to external recorders for online editing or offline editing with industry-standard NLE packages.

Whether making rough cuts from clips recorded on one camera or integrating time-coded shots from a number of synched cameras, professional filmmakers are completely dependent on the image quality coming from the camera to achieve the final look they envisioned.

Diagram illustrating the principle workflow of the EOS-1D C for cinematic productions, from camera to final package.

With NLE, digital special effects and post-production processes, image files need to be robust to hold up to multiple changes and multiple saves, multiple times. Canon’s EOS-1D C camera delivers incredibly high quality images with its 4K digital cinema capabilities, creating digital files that are robust enough for major post-production.

Supplied software for 4K playback

The EOS-1D C also comes with software that allows for on-screen playback of movies shot in the 4K format.