Canon recently released the Canon EOS-1D C as one of the first DSLR film-first cameras – a groundbreaking moment for filmmakers around the world. When digital SLR cameras began to appear on the market, they were solely used for still photos; video was later added as an add-on feature. Scott Hillier, CCO of Zs2 Media Group and founder of ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival, uses his own Canon 7D to capture his work with the Festival and ZS2 Media here in Paris and across the globe. He his hoping to be able to upgrade to the EOS-1D C soon.

Hillier using his 7D at Printemps for a Dior shoot.

Because the cameras are not primarily made for video use, filmmakers often run into issues with sound, focus, rolling shutter, and overheating. With all the add-ons necessary to make a EOS 7D still-camera run like a professional video-camera (a prime ring, an on-camera monitor, a splitter, a focus rig, etc.), suddenly the camera is not as easy and convenient as it once appeared to be.

Filmmakers wanted a camera that combined the best of both worlds, and Canon delivered. The Canon EOS-1D C captures video in 4K resolution, soaring above even the HD pixel quality (1080). While the Canon 7D has a 22.3×14.9mm CMOS sensor, the 1D C boasts a 36x24mm CMOS sensor. The amount of pixels in a video camera and the size of the sensor dictate the quality of the footage it captures. A full-frame sensor enhances the video quality in low-light environments, sharpens focus, and allows for a “high dynamic range” (Canon USA).

Hillier using 7D for footage during his trip to Middle-East. 

Canon reworked the internal organization of the camera to avoid overheating with the immense data rates required for 4K video recording. By making a video-first camera while maintaining the compact size of the DSLR camera, Canon allows filmmakers to bring the camera into cramped spaces or hostile environments, place it on extended jib arms, and embed it on set. The recording “Start/Stop” button can even be remotely controlled by EOS Utility Software if the filmmaker cannot fit in a space but the camera can.


The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and III, the middle-man between the 7D and the 1D, shares many of the 1D C’s improved characteristics, including increased ISO sensitivity, more image processing options, and the full-frame CMOS with an increased pixel count. While we wait with baited breath for professional filmmakers to release their first projects using the 1D C, many have already experimented with and released projects using the 5D Mark II/III.

Hillier using 7D to shoot during  ZS2 trip through Asia.

The 35th season of Saturday Night Live (NBC) was shot with the Canon 5D due to its size, which allowed them covert shooting on the streets of New York City. Filmmakers on the sets of the 2012 box office hits Act of Valor and The Avengers also made use of the Canon 5D, and Christian Dior used the 5D in their collaboration with Wonderland Magazine and Verso Films to showcase their Homme A/W 2010 collection. Camera-makers raised the bar for video image quality when they added the video feature to DSLR cameras (such as the Canon EOS 7D); however, the 1D C marks a new moment, one in which the needs of the film industry, for the first time, are now on an equal footing with those of the photographer in the making of the DSLR camera.




By Colleen Oberg

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