Hands On With the The Canon EOS C400, The Camera We’ve Been Waiting For

This post is by Alec C. Cohen from ProVideo Coalition

Thanks to our friends at Canon, we got hands-on with their brand-new EOS C400 camera. We asked our followers on the Filmtools Instagram what they were interested in learning about the camera. The three most requested items to review were: triple base ISO, autofocus & slow motion.

This is an in-depth breakdown, if you want to learn the basics of the Canon EOS C400, check out this article.

For our visual learners, here’s our Deep Dive video, but be sure to read the full article for more key info:

Now let’s get into it.

  1. Triple Base ISO 

The biggest innovation of this camera is an industry-first Triple Base ISO at 800, 3200, and 12,800 ISO. We tested these ISO’s to monitor noise, as well as some other functionalities like ND and Autofocus.

I found the noise levels were extremely similar at each base ISO, and couldn’t tell a real difference between the three when reviewing the footage. I also tested the internal NDs (2, 4 & 6 stops) for any light pollution or color shift, but I didn’t see any problems shooting inside or outside.

I think they chose great base ISO options, and I hope other companies take notice. I’ve found on other cameras with dual-base ISO that the two bases are so far apart that I’m having to make a lot of other adjustments to accommodate the switch. This range feels perfect and compliments the NDs well.

While I’m super impressed by the low-light functionalities, the autofocus was struggling when in suboptimal lighting conditions, as with nearly all other cameras. Most of our tests with the subject 3+ stops under-exposed saw the camera struggling to recognize faces, eyes, and moving subjects.

    2. Autofocus

Despite this small aforementioned downside, the autofocus blew me away in almost every other category. This is hands-down the best autofocus I’ve seen out of any Canon camera. The eye lock is sharp and the camera does a great job hitting focus points smoothly for a really pleasant and usable final result. 

The system is super intelligent and intuitive, surprising me with results I wasn’t even expecting. It can catch the back of the head, faces through mirrors & windows, and it is intuitive if the face is temporarily obstructed. While playing with another model at Cinegear, I noticed it eye-locked on a woman through her semi-opaque sunglasses, which was supremely impressive.

Once we receive a final model we’ll do further testing on animals. We did notice the system struggled with birds specifically, even when set to “Animal” AF mode. We weren’t able to get it to lock on to any birds in our parking lot.

I was most impressed by the AF object detection, it did a great job following objects in motion and hitting different focus areas that I wanted without me having to rack focus or tell it what to select. We did some tests hitting golf balls, the the system intuitively understood what to focus on, and stopped its rack when the ball hit its target.

Canon stepped it up and I’m hoping this autofocus system can get implemented across the board on all their cameras.

     3. Slow Motion

In 6K RAW we’ll get up to 60fps with the new Autofocus system. Once you go past 60fps in any codec, you lose the upgraded autofocus, which is a bummer but understandable. We did some tests at other frame rates with lower resolution and were reassured by some really solid options. We got 120 fps in 4k and 180 fps in 2k. All of the lower-res footage turned out nice, and it’s great to have it as an option in a pinch. If I needed something slower than 120 in 4k, I’d probably reach for a specialty slow-motion camera.

As a long-time Canon user, the C400 feels like a culmination of years of hard work and staying on the bleeding edge of camera technology. Canon is driving the market forward by listening to their customer needs and creating an ergonomic, accessible camera packed full of new tech. At $7,999 this camera is priced competitively and should make a major splash in the marketplace, having great bang for its buck, especially when compared to the rest of the EOS Cinema line.

But what do you think? Drop a comment below on your initial reaction and what you’d like to see us test out when we receive a production model.

You can Pre-Order the Canon EOS C400 through Filmtools here. The camera is scheduled to be available in September 2024.

Make sure to follow Pro Video Coalition on Instagram and YouTube for more great content. While you’re at it, Filmtools is also putting out great stuff on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.