Canon C100 vs Canon 7D RAW Comparison Test

by steven schwartz9 Comments

If you believe that a stills camera like the Canon EOS 7D SLR Digital Camera would have better dynamic range than a video camera like the Canon EOS C100 Cinema EOS Camera, you're in for a surprise!

Patrick Zadrobilek from NTown Productions begs to differ – read all the details in his article, NTown Productions blog “Canon C100 vs Canon 7D RAW”.

No Magic Lantern involved – this is straight out of the stock sensor with standard firmware for both cameras. Patrick's explanation of why the Canon EOS 7D SLR Digital Camera has difficulty rendering highlights that are better handled by the Canon EOS C100 Cinema EOS Camera is due to the relative ages of the two cameras.

The Comparison

Below is a snapshot from the Canon C100 video (from the original unmodified clip)

Snapshot from the Canon C100 video

Snapshot from the Canon C100 video

This is the C100 with a slight grading on it just to regain the highlights from the SuperWhites range above 100%

C100 with a slight grading on it

C100 with a slight grading on it

And this is the Lightroom converted RAW photo from the Canon 7D which should show more latitude that the C100, right? WRONG!

Lightroom converted RAW photo from the Canon 7D

Lightroom converted RAW photo from the Canon 7D

Look at the window, the 7D can not hold all the overexposed parts very well, but the C100 with my modified Cine16 Custom Picture Style does show the opposite house wall really great!

The Cine16 CP is very similar to the original Canon-Log CP, except for a correct black-level.

This is the original unmodified raw image without the Lightroom corrections to regain the whites

Original unmodified raw image without the Lightroom corrections

Original unmodified raw image without the Lightroom corrections

These are the settings for the raw image in Lightroom

Settings for the raw image in Lightroom

Settings for the raw image in Lightroom

These are the grading settings for the C100 clip in Adobe Speedgrade

Grading settings for the C100 clip in Adobe Speedgrade

Grading settings for the C100 clip in Adobe Speedgrade

Camera Settings

Settings on both Cameras were the same (except 7D ISO was set to 800 and C100 to 850).

Shutter 1/50
F-Stop: 2.8
ISO: 850 (7D ISO 800)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS set to 17mm

Picture Profile on 7D – does not use a picture profile when shooting RAW, only when shooting jpeg or movies.


The Canon 7D has a APC-C 18MP CMOS sensor and the Dual DIGIC IV processor in it which is a pretty good image processor, but was released back in 2009 and fairaly old now. The 7D has a dynamic range of close to 10 stops.

The Canon C100 has a newer Super35 4K CMOS sensor and the Digic DV III image processor in it which has a dynamic range of more than 12 stops (according to Canon engineers).

With the choice of the right Custom Picture Profile for the C100 the camera outputs an outstanding dynamic range which. Actually this is the full dynamic range the CMOS sensor of the camera can produce, just not as RAW uncompressed data, but as 8-bit quantized image-data which can be either recorded internally and compressed with the AVCHD 4:2:0 codec at 24mbit (with the C100) or internally as MPEG2 4:2:2 50mbit (with the C300) or with an external recorder like Atomos Ninja2 with ProRes or DNxHD 4:2:2 with up to 220mbit.

That is not bad at all for a $5000 camera like the C100 – and yes, C300 is not bad too but more then double the price ;-) and as far as quality goes for the 7D – it’s a great camera with great photo quality in RAW – no questions asked!

Read the complete settings and picture profile info at NTown Productions blog “Canon C100 vs Canon 7D RAW”

What do you think? Leave a comment below to let others know your thoughts:

(cover photo credit: snap from NTown Productions blog)


  1. Frank

    Looks like the 7D has at least one extra stop of exposure. Examine the shadows between the two images. I don’t think this was a fair test.

  2. Gerardo Campos

    the test is absolutely wrong in ISO area, you must use the base or minimun ISO for each camera; if one camera start with ISO 100 and the other in ISO 320 you must consider that as a diferent sensor sensivity, so if I try to use an ultra hi sensivity camera then I must to start in ISO 2000 like Sony f5, and if I put the 7D at ISO 2000 everything will be white; so star to put your base ISO in both camera, 7D is 100 and C100 is 320, then if you put C100 in 850, 7D must be around 500 not 800; then go again in lightroom and see what happend.

    1. a1sf13se

      i agree with campos. you can’t compare the 7d set at iso 800 to the c100 at iso 850. the c100 is designed to yield optimum dynamic range at iso 850 and (i’m guessing but willing to bet) the 7d is designed to yield best range at iso 100 (though is certainly can’t be iso 800).

      this, plus the fact the pixels are probably smaller on the 7d as it’s a crop sensor, and the c100 is ff makes the test silly (at best)

      1. feafe

        Erm, the c100 is not full frame at all. It is a super 35 sensor. Same crop as aps-c dslrs.

  3. Simon Shepherd

    Shock horror! 2014 Lexus outperforms a restored 1955 Volkswagen Beetle!

  4. Patrick

    Hi guys,

    I’m the writer of the original article and can give you a bit more indepth about my test.

    I choose ISO 800 for the 7D because to show the difference between an ISO 800 from a cam a few years old and a modern sensor from today – they are improoving every year. But also when you set ISO 100 on the 7D, the difference is not so big, but there is of course a little difference in the color reproduction and flexibility with the raw image ;-)

    The thing I wanted to show with this test is how good a finetuned Custom Picture Profile from a modern camera with an 8-bit compressed codec can be – compared to a RAW image of a DSLR. Because of the general assumption that RAW is always better in dynamic range, which is not entirely true. It also depends of the image processing before recording the image and that is pretty good on the 8-bit Canon C100.

    BTW, the 7D has a APS-C Sensor which is comparable in size to the Super35 sensor of the C100, native ISOs are 100 for the 7D and 850 for the C100.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

  5. Frank

    Canon is doing amazing things with 8 bits on the C100 and C300. Better so on the C300. However, 7D raw delivers 14 bits of DR. Putting 14 bits into 8 requires compromrise, which Canon does very well. Low light handling on the C300 amazes. But, ML on the 7D is also amazing. Check the DR in the last shot in this sequence:; resolution suffers because lens was stopped all the way down.

  6. vovkinson

    For me it does not matter 8 bit or raw 14 bit. All that matters is a “final product” and  I see the better image quality coming from C100 and really don’t care much about internal processing. Canon did some trick down-sampling from 4K sensor to 1080 AVCHD inside of C100. The codec itself is pretty $hitty in most cases, but in C100 the implementation of AVCHD really shines. I don’t know how Canon did that but I compared C100 with my 5DIII All-I and 5D did not even come close to C100. The magic lantern takes  super-fast CF cards and huge disk space, and computer resources  , plus the current version is not reliable enough for pro work.
    From  my experience  playing with rented C100 I can  say it’s amazing camera regardless crappy EVF and other shortcomings.

Leave a Comment