Video: Canon C100 Dual Pixel CMOS AF upgrade now available – we test it out

By site editor Dan Chung:

C100 Dual Pixel CMOS AF upgrade production sample test from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Today I visited Canon’s Pro Solutions Hub in Hong Kong and had the opportunity to test out the final released version of the new Dual Pixel CMOS AF upgrade for the C100. If you have been following this story on Newsshooter you will know that I have great hopes for the accuracy and usefulness of this system. We had an early chance to test out a pre-release version of the upgrade in Japan last year but I was very keen to see how well the final product works.

For the test we used the setup in the Pro Solutions Hub studio and used a 24-70 f2.8L II lens on a newly upgraded C100 belonging to Canon. The image was recorded in Prores to an Atomos Ninja 2 external recorder provided by the local distributor Shriro. My good friend and fellow Steadicam op Scott Hui stood in as the model.

This is by no means a comprehensive test as the lighting was good and the object static. In future I hope to try the AF system on fast moving subjects and for interviews. I also want to test it on a Steadicam and brushless gimbal systems.

The test setup with Atomos Ninja 2 and Canon 24-70 f2.8L II
The test setup with Atomos Ninja 2 and Canon 24-70 f2.8L II

So far I can say that I am really impressed at how well the system works. The accuracy seemed very good most of the time and the set we used gave it no real problems. The AF is quick – sometimes a little too quick for a natural feel, but for news and documentary shooting I don’t see it as being a problem. For this test we set the AF in continuous but there is also the option for ‘one-shot’ operation. You can assign the rear button on the handgrip (or one of the other buttons) to activate and de-activate the AF system. This way you can still manually focus at any time if the system fails to lock-on, or if you want to try a slower focus pull. For things like interviews and press conferences I would be confident that the AF system would track people at least as well as I can manually. The only time I found it struggled a little was when the subject was backlit.

The C100’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF only works for a small box in the centre of the image – it can’t be moved around via touchscreen like it can on the EOS 70D. I’m sure that on future Canon Cinema EOS cameras you will be able to do this too. I bet Canon will also offer some kind of AF tracking speed adjustment so that very slow focus pulls can be made.

It is worth noting that the C100 Dual Pixel CMOS system should hunt less than the EOD 70D as it also uses contrast AF information to help get even more accurate focus. There is a good explanation over on the CPN website. Also do remember that many older EOS lenses don’t support Dual Pixel CMOS AF – there is a list also in the CPN article.

For now I think this is a must have upgrade for C100 news and documentary shooters using Canon glass. Even if you only use it once or twice on a shoot, it is worth having as an option to fall back on. For real world shooters, who don’t control what happens in front of their lenses, this system is pretty close to magic!

Inter BEE 2013: Newsshooter talks C100 Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Canon’s Mr Onda from Teradek on Vimeo.

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