This article is a comparison of the specifications of the following medium budget 4K or UHD cameras for cinema work with currently available information:
- Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 4.6K (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FS7 Mark II (B&H, Amazon)
- Canon C200 (B and EF) (B&H, Amazon)
- Canon C300 Mark II (B&H, Amazon)
- Panasonic EVA1 (B&H, Amazon)
- Red Raven
Important: Some of the information is unverified. Some are just rumors. Therefore, don’t take this comparison seriously. Don’t take the prices or the specifications seriously either. For accurate information please consult manufacturers’ websites and data. Don’t take any decisions based on this comparison.
Here’s the comparison video:
I apologize because I made a mistake when I said the C200 has only 10-bit RAW, it has 12-bit RAW up to 30p and 10-bit up to 60p. I also made a mistake when I said the C200 was limited to 13-stops of dynamic range. I picked that spec from B&H and I should have verified it. The C200 can shoot RAW up to 15 stops.
Here are some additional differences and thoughts between the C200 and EVA1 (all taken from the official specs published):
- Canon says the C200 shoots “up to 15 stops”, but doesn’t say how and at what ISO. Panasonic clearly says the EVA1 “delivers 14-stops”, similar to the Varicam. Going by Canon’s record of overstating DR, and Panasonic’s strict adherence to it, I’d say they’ll both be similar at about 14 stops, give or take.
- The C200 only shoots 4K in RAW mode, you can’t shoot 4K in MP4. Moreover, you can’t record 4K externally while recording RAW 4K internally. Internally, in MP4, you’re stuck to 8-bit 4:2:0. The EVA1 can shoot in all resolutions internally in 10-bit 4:2:2. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize the EVA1 is a more versatile camera as far as internal recording goes.
- C200: The SDI is limited to 2K 10-bit 4:2:2, so forget about getting 4K via SDI. EVA1: SDI is 10-bit 4:2:2 up to 30p (4K). 5.7K RAW is limited to 30p. It is a pity the C200 is limited here.
- C200: The HDMI can do 4K but only at 8-bit 4:2:2, otherwise it is also limited to HD. EVA1: HDMI is 10-bit 4:2:2 up to 60p (4K). 5.7K RAW is not available via HDMI. It is a pity the C200 is limited here.
- RAW is 12-bit up to 30p and 10-bit up to 60p. The EVA1 is 10-bit across the board. I don’t expect to see any differences here.
- Canon has dual pixel AF, both touch and continuous+face detection. The EVA1 has 1-push AF. Canon clearly has the home-field advantage here.
Of course, it doesn’t change the final result of the analysis in any way. If all you want to do is shoot RAW, the C200 is not bad. For anything else, Canon’s choices are inexplicable.
What makes cinematic quality?
- 4K (UHD or 4K, it doesn’t matter)
- Must be RAW video so you can color grade it
- Cinematic dynamic range (an audience shouldn’t be able to tell it was shot on video)
What makes a cinema camera?
I’ve chosen the following traits that people have come to expect from a cinema camera:
- Large sensor that can deliver a shallow DOF*
- XLR inputs for audio**
- SDI inputs for greater reliability
- Have a rugged construction to withstand some abuse
- Simplify filmmaking to its bare essentials – plug and play – does not need accessories to perform any of these functions
- Have an easy straight-to-edit workflow
- Good battery life
- Long-enough duration shooting^^
*You don’t really need shallow DOF, but a cinema camera is expected to have this ability when the need arises.
**If you don’t agree with this stop reading!
^^All of these cameras can do 30 minutes or above.
Because this is a fun comparison, only one camera will stand when the dust settles. Let’s get to it!
Let’s start with the camera bodies:
|Camera||Price of Camera body||Included Accessories /Software*||Warranty||Lens Mount|
|URSA Mini Pro||$5995||Turret Dust Cap, 12V AC Adapter, Side Handle, LANC Cable, Resolve Dongle||12 months||EF, PL, B4|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||$8,999||Body Cap, Viewfinder, Eyepiece, Grip Remote Control, Wireless LAN USB Module (IFU-WLM3), Wireless Remote Commander, WA Adaptor Bracket, MPA-AC1 AC Adapter, SOBCU1, BP-U30 Lithium-Ion Battery, 2 x Power Cord, USB Cable||12 months||Sony E Locking|
|Canon C200||$7,499 ($5,999 B model)||4″ Monitor, Handle, Grip, Shoulder Strap, Power adapter BP-A30 battery, mic holder, eyecup, tape measure hook, thumb rest, body cap||12 months||EF|
|Canon C300 Mark II||$9,999||Same as above, tripod base plate||12 months||EF, PL|
|Panasonic EVA1||$7,345||Battery, AC Adapter, Charger, Shoulder Strap, Mic holder, LCD, Top Handle, Grip, Belt, EF Cap||12 months||EF|
|Red Raven||$5,950||AC Adapter, Media Bay||12 months||EF mount|
*The list of accessories is not complete.
The C300 Mark II is ‘supposedly’ the most expensive, though we need to finish our comparisons before we know which system costs the most. Sony tends to throw a lot of accessories with their cameras. Things to note:
- The URSA Mini Pro comes with Resolve. If you’re not using Resolve, or if you’re upgrading from another Blackmagic camera that had it earlier, it might as well be $0.
- The Red Raven brain is not enough to shoot, you need some accessories.
Comparison of sensors
Here’s how the camera sensors compare:
|Camera||Sensor Size (mm)||Horizontal Crop Factor||Maximum Resolution||ISO Range||Native ISO***|
|URSA Mini Pro||25.34 x 14.25||1.4||4608×2592||200-1600||800|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||25.5 × 15.6||1.4||4096×2160||800-16000**||2000|
|Canon C200||24.4 x 13.5||1.5||4096×2160||160-25,600||800|
|Canon C300 Mark II||24.6 x 13.8||1.5||4096×2160||160-25,600||800|
|Panasonic EVA1||24.6 x 12.97||1.5||5720 x 3016||200-25,600^||800+2500|
|Red Raven||20.48 x 10.8mm||1.75||4608 × 2160||200-12800||800|
- ^The ISO is divided into two parts depending on the native ISO selected
- **Based on -3 to +18dB Gain setting at a base ISO of 2000. The actual ISO range changes depending on the gamma/preset selected
- ***This is a guess for some cameras.
The Raven is the weakest in terms of sensor size. The horizontal crop factor makes it close to Micro Four Thirds cameras. The aspect ratio of this sensor is about 2.1, so to get 16:9 or 1.85:1 you’ll have to crop the sides, further reducing the crop factor. E.g., if you need 1.85:1, the horizontal sensor width goes down to 1.8x. For 16:9, it’s 1.9, or very close to Micro Four Thirds.
The maximum resolution is only available in RAW mode on the URSA Mini Pro. All said and done, to some having the ability to crop is an advantage. To others, you are master of your frame, and don’t need to crop. With this in mind, the clear winner is the Panasonic EVA1 (B&H, Amazon). And more so if you consider its dual ISO functionality. As far as low light performance is concerned, it is in a class of its own.
Comparison of video features
What kind of 4K do you get anyway? First, let’s look at the frame rates, dynamic range, built-in ND filter capability and type of shutter used:
|Camera||Maximum frame rate at 4K||Maximum frame rate at resolution||Claimed Dynamic Range||Built-in ND?||IR-cut?||Shutter|
|URSA Mini Pro||60p||120p @ 2K||15 stops||2, 4, 6||Yes||Rolling|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||59.94p||180p @ HD||14 stops||2, 4, 6 (7 in Var ND mode)||No||Rolling|
|Canon C200||59.94p||120p @ HD||15 stops||2, 4, 6, 8, 10||No||Rolling|
|Canon C300 Mark II||30p||120p @ HD||14 stops||2, 4, 6, 8, 10||No||Rolling|
|Panasonic EVA1||59.94p (5.7K up to 30p)||240p @ HD (Cropped)||14 stops||2, 4, 6||Yes||Rolling|
|Red Raven||120p||240p @ 2K||16.5 stops||No||No||Rolling|
This is where C300 Mark II falls behind. For some strange reason it lacks 60 fps in 4K.
The standout is obviously Red Raven and the EVA1, both of which offer 240 fps in up to HD/2K. The EVA1 achieves this in MFT crop mode.
All of these cameras are cinema-quality cameras, and whatever dynamic range difference should really not concern anyone.
Again, based on overall performance, the Panasonic EVA1 stands out as offering the most balanced set of video specs, or at least the most drool-worthy.
Now let’s look at what’s being recorded: codec, data rates and color (all information for 4K only. Other resolutions are ignored):
|Camera||Best Internal Recording Formats (4K)||Max. Internal Data Rate (non-RAW)||Max. RAW Data Rate**||Is RAW Internal or External?||Color information^|
|URSA Mini Pro||Uncompressed and Compressed CDNG, Apple ProRes 444 XQ||2000 Mbps||513 MB/s||Internal||12-bit RAW, 10-bit 4:4:4 in Prores|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||XAVC-I (Raw only with an extension unit + Recorder)||600 Mbps||n/a||External||12-bit RAW, 10-bit 4:2:2 in XAVC|
|Canon C200||RAW Light, MP4||150 Mbps||128 MB/s||Internal||12/10-bit RAW^^, 8-bit 4:2:0 Internal|
|Canon C300 Mark II||XF AVC||410 Mbps||n/a||No RAW||10-bit 4:2:2|
|Panasonic EVA1||H.264 Long GOP (Intra**)||150 Mbsp (400**)||n/a||External||10-bit 4:2:2. 10-bit RAW|
|Red Raven||Red RAW (3:1 @24, 8:1 @60, 15:1 @120 fps)||Prores/DNxHD only up to 2K||122 MB/s||Internal||12-bit RAW|
- ^Internal and External
- **Supposedly coming in a future firmware update.
- *Just an estimate
- ^^12-bit up to 30p. 10-bit up to 60p
The URSA Mini has the best codecs for editing. To edit XAVC-I, XF AVC, and whatever Panasonic throws at us you need computers with fast CPUs to decode all that data. Red codecs are slowly passed on to GPUs so that’s a factor as well.
Except for the RAW from the FS7, all the other cameras deliver compressed RAW options as well, so you save a ton of drive space. We still don’t know what Canon’s RAW light or Panasonic’s RAW is going to look like.
I’m going to give this one to the URSA Mini Pro. You really can’t ask for more.
What about the media used? Here’s a comparison:
|Camera||Dual Card Slots?||Media for 4K||Market price per GB (128 GB/120 GB)||Price per hour of 4K* @24p||Notes||Data Rate in MB/s|
|URSA Mini Pro||Yes||CFast 2.0 (SD)||$2.7/GB||$1,708.59||3:1 Compressed RAW||180|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||Yes||XQD||$1.2/GB||$316.41||XAVC-I||75|
|Canon C200||No||CFast 2.0 + SDXC||$2.7/GB||$1,215.00||RAW Light (compressed)||128|
|Canon C300 Mark II||Yes||CFast 2.0||$2.7/GB||$486.47||XF AVC||51.25|
|Panasonic EVA1||Yes||SDXC V60||$0.5/GB||$87.89||Intra^||50|
|Red Raven||No||Red Mini-Mag (SSD)||$7/GB**||$3,002.34||RAW||122|
**$1/GB for Sandisk Extreme Pro 240 GB SSDs
*The lowest data rate possible. Values rounded off.
^Coming via firmware later
Both CFast 2.0 and Red Mini-mag SSDs are expensive. Features tend to have higher shooting ratios, so you’ll need at least 3 or 4. The actual figures might be somewhat higher!
Now if you’re telling me you’re perfectly happy to shoot an important project with just one or two cards, I know you’re a asking for trouble.
There’s no doubt SD cards are the cheapest option here. Sandisk Extreme Pro SDXC cards are reliable and rugged enough for many (at least 100,000 writes) cycles of use.
Thankfully the costs of CFast 2.0 and XQD cards have fallen. So have SSD prices. So, why haven’t the prices of Red Mini-mags fallen?
So far we don’t have a clear winner. There’s still audio, ergonomics, ports, battery and cost of ownership left to compare – in a fun way of course!
Comparison of audio features
Here’s a look at the audio features:
|Camera||3.5mm TRS headphone jack||Microphone inputs||Channels||Audio levels|
|URSA Mini Pro||1||2 x XLR (mic and line level). Phantom power support||2||Yes|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||1||2 x XLR (mic and line level). Phantom power support||4||Yes|
|Canon C200||1||2 x XLR (mic and line level). Phantom power support||4 in RAW, 2 otherwise||Yes|
|Canon C300 Mark II||1||2 x XLR (mic and line level). Phantom power support||2||Yes|
|Panasonic EVA1||1||2 x XLR (mic and line level). Phantom power support||2||Probably|
There’s no clear winner here, though 4 channels on the FS7 Mark II give it an edge. However, the Red Raven definitely comes last, because you need an external recorder or Base Expander for audio, even it if it’s just for monitoring.
If you really want world-class audio, you’ll need to hire a production sound mixer (sound recordist) who will also carry separate audio mixers/recorders and microphones.
The little things
The little things make all the difference. In addition to the little things, there are the ‘littler’ things – the stuff you only learn about after having used a camera for a while. At this stage the littler things will have to wait, and we’ll focus on the little things, which are:
- Ergonomics, toughness and usability
- Video ports
- Size and Weight
- Timecode and Genlock
- Quality and size of the Monitor
Here’s how these cameras compare on ergonomics:
|Camera||Shoulder-mounted||Camcorder mode||Volume cubic inches||Weight (body only)|
|URSA Mini Pro||No, need additional purchase||Yes||378||2.31 kg|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||Yes||Yes||588||2 kg|
|Canon C200||No||Yes||240||1.5 kg|
|Canon C300 Mark II||No||Yes||306||1.2 kg|
|Panasonic EVA1||No||Yes||185||1.2 kg|
|Red Raven||No||Yes||115||1.6 kg|
Fully rigged up, all of these cameras should weigh above 5 kg.
On the usability front, the FS7 Mark II comes out on top. For feature-length shoots, having a shoulder-mount/camcorder configuration is not always an advantage. You need a system that is modular and can fit into any rig you design for it. No clear winner here. Guess everyone’s accepted the modularity-era as given.
Let’s move on to more little things:
|Camera||SDI||HDMI||Viewfinder||Monitor||Exposure and focus aids*|
|URSA Mini Pro||2||0||No, extra purchase||4″ touchscreen||H, FP, Z|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||2||1 (2.0)||Yes||3.5″||H, S, FP, Z|
|Canon C200||1||1 (1.4)||Yes||4″ touchscreen||H, S, FP, Z|
|Canon C300 Mark II||2||1 (1.4)||Yes||4″ touchscreen||H, S, FP, Z|
|Panasonic EVA1||1||1 (2.0)||No||3.5″ touchscreen||H, S, FP, Z, FS|
|Red Raven||None^||None||No||Additional purchase^||H|
- *Key: H – histogram, FP – focus peaking, Z – Zebras, S – Waveform and Vectorscopes, FS – Focus Squares
- ^You should be able to connect a Red LCD directly via the LCD cable. You need an additional Base Expander I/O module to get monitoring ports.
Scopes are extremely important when exposing video for Rec. 709, so it’s inexcusable that some cameras don’t have them. You could connect an external monitor via HDMI, but that solution never beats a built-in scope. Zebra is important too.
You might want the Base Expander module to go with the Raven, and you need an external monitor just to get it to be on par with the rest (or to see what you’re doing!). The costs of a basic and cheap system are:
- LCD Cable ($220) or DSMC2 Base Expander ($1,750), or maybe the Jet Expander can be used for HDMI ($950)
- Red Touch 4.7″ LCD – $1,450
- You could get a cheaper LCD via HDMI for about $250
- Mounting plate – $100
This last set of little things are not mandatory:
|Camera||Timecode||Genlock||Remote Control*||Wireless Video^|
|URSA Mini Pro||Yes||No||2x 2.5mm LANC||No|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||No, only with Extension Unit||No, only with Extension Unit||2.5mm||No|
|Canon C300 Mark II||Yes||Yes||2.5mm||WFT Terminal|
|Panasonic EVA1||Yes||No||2.5mm||Wireless module|
|Red Raven||No||No||Yes, Proprietary||No|
- *LANC or 2.5mm jack or USB, whatever the protocol used
- ^All of these cameras can have wireless connectivity via something like a Teradek, etc., but wireless video streaming is a different matter
Timecode features are great, but the implementation is key (it’s one of the littler things). Genlock is useful when working with multiple cameras and/or audio recorders. For those who need it, the FS7 offers both as an additional purchase, with the XDCA-FS7 Extension Unit. However, as far as broadcast and live streaming is concerned, I think I’d be most comfortable with the Canon C300 Mark II.
Regarding the Raven, the PRO I/O Module (which gives Genlock) is not listed as supported with the Raven.
Battery life and Power
All the features in the world are useless if you have to hire a donkey to carry your batteries:
|Camera||Battery life^||Cost of one battery||Cost per hour battery life||Connectors|
|URSA Mini Pro||4 hours||$268||$67/hr||XLR|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||3 hours||$399||$133/hr||DC|
|Canon C200||3.5 hours*||$495||$140/hr||DC|
|Canon C300 Mark II||3.5 hours||$495||$140/hr||DC|
|Panasonic EVA1||3 hours||$350||$117/hr||DC|
|Red Raven||1 hour||$265||$265/hr||Quickplate ($1,050)#|
- *Similar to C300, so this is just a guess
- ^All are estimates, and could be totally wrong
- #This is the backpack quickplate that allows you to mount a brick directly to the brain.
Canon cameras have had great battery life for years now. The Raven though, is power hungry. Not only are the batteries expensive, they also need a module to get them to mount on the brain. You would need the following to mount a brick (pick your poison):
- Quickplate ($1,050) + 153Wh brick ($450) + Charger ($550), or
- Redvolt Module ($1,150) + Redvolt XL 89Wh ($350) + Quad Charger ($595)
I chose the “cheaper” and more versatile solution for the Raven.
Which is cheaper to own?
Let’s just add up the basics: Initial price, media cost per hour of footage and battery cost per 8 hours:
|Camera||Price||Media per hour***||Battery for 8 hours||SmallHD LCD 5″ + Battery||Smallrig top handle||RAW Module||RAW Recorder + 1 SSD||Total (Rounded)|
|URSA Mini Pro||$5,995.00||$1,708.59||$536.00||$-||$199.00||$-||$-||$8,438.59|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||$8,999.00||$316.41||$1,064.00||$-||$-||$1,999.00||$1,504.00||$13,882.41|
|Canon C300 Mark II||$9,999.00||$486.47||$1,120.00||$-||$-||$-||$1,695.00||$13,300.47|
- *Or $14,999 with Sigma lens from the Apple store. There might be other accessories I haven’t added or removed, so go by the ballpark.
- ***You need a Red Station to offload the drives, CFast and XQD Readers for the rest. SD cards are supported on laptops (which you’ll most likely have on set) and Macs. Even so, readers can be had for peanuts.
- ^You need a quickplate to attach the battery to the brain.
- #LCD Cable, Mounting plate, sliding top handle (assuming it’s compatible) and Monitor Note: You might not need the Base Expander but if you want audio you might want to include it. Though I’ve only put in the price of the monitor instead.
The costs do add up quickly!
The real question is, do the higher prices of the cameras give you something important the others don’t?
Let’s start with Red. Obviously you might be spending close to $15,000 to get a Red Raven ready for hard production, even if it’s in your own back woods. At that price point you can start thinking about comparing it with Scarlet-W or even renting an Epic-W.
So who’s the winner? Time to declare the results.
First, here’s a recap:
|Sensor and ISO||Panasonic EVA1|
|Video features||Panasonic EVA1|
|Codecs and Color||URSA Mini Pro|
|Lenses||URSA Mini Pro, Sony FS7 Mark II|
|Ergonomics||FS7 Mark II|
|Ports and Monitoring||FS7 Mark II|
|Broadcast Features||C300 Mark II|
|Power||C300 Mark II, C200|
|Most value for money||URSA Mini Pro, Panasonic EVA1|
Before we take our final decision, we’ll let the cameras tell us what they offer that the others don’t:
|URSA Mini Pro||$8,968.59||Metadata, Resolve, Simple Menu, Integration with BMD hardware||Broadcast Features, Live Streaming, Built-in LUTs||Global shutter promise, aliasing|
|PXW-FS7 Mark II||$13,673.41||E-mount lock||Waveform, genlock, Prores||If you buy the extension unit you can’t use Sony batteries, You need a module plus a recorder for RAW|
|Canon C200B||$9,063.00||Dual Pixel AF||Internal RAW||Poor internal recording codec (8bit 420) and limited output via SDI/HDMI|
|Canon C300 Mark II||$12,900.00||Dual Pixel AF||Genlock and Timecode||No RAW|
|Panasonic EVA1||$9,663.89||5.7K, Electronic Image Stabilization, Dual ISO||App Control, SD Cards, 240 fps||RAW and Intra in a firmware upgrade, no v60 cards?|
|Red Raven||$12,596.34||120 fps in 4.5K, dual threads bottom||Buy in Apple store, Wireless Apps||MFT sensor size, need LCD for exposure, Poor audio, fans|
Here’s the thing: Should you pay a premium just for 120p? Let’s say there are a few days when you need that, why not rent? Add to that the Raven does not have audio, does not have a firm delivery time, is hard to buy in some countries, etc., and you come to the conclusion it might not be worth the asking price for cash-starved filmmakers. The low budget indie filmmaker can save money that is critically required elsewhere. And by the way, you don’t need HDRx when you already have 16.5 stops of DR.
Even though the FS7 is a stellar camera, it now looks way overpriced when compared to the Canon, Panasonic and Blackmagic Design cameras. I hate the fact you need an extra $1,999 module to even get RAW output, Genlock, etc.
Unfortunately the Panasonic EVA1 needs an external recorder for RAW. The C300 Mark II specifically needs a Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+. You also need to factor in the costs of SSDs and batteries for these.
- 5.7K resolution in Super35mm
- 14 stops of DR
- Dual native ISO at 800 and 2500
- RAW recording
- Electronic Image Stabilization
- Smartphone apps – The Panasonic GH5 app is stellar!