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.

Conclusion

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)