Alberta Video Equipment Rental

Canon C500 – The best budget cinema camera out there

The Canon C500 has been a workhorse in our fleet for years. Originally the C500 was priced alongside competitors from ARRI, RED and Sony, but it never really took off amongst cinematographers.

It has all the bells and whistles needed for any scale of production, and has the classic Canon look with warm, realistic skin tones and accurate color rendition, even at high ISO. Here are some of the things we love about this camera.

  1. Hollywood-level image quality in an affordable package
    • As an A-cam on many Hollywood pictures, this camera is no slouch when it comes to imaging, and it packs all of the I/O features you will need on set. We have never found this camera to be lacking in colour rendition or resolution, with the ability to shoot in RAW at up to 4K DCI.
  2. Canon color science and dynamic range
    • It’s often quoted but never really quite understood, what exactly makes Canon color science so good. It renders skin tones with a pleasantly warm tone, and with C-log capture can capture 12 stops of dynamic range.
  3. RAW capture to Odyssey 7Q+
    • Paired with the Odyssey 7Q+, the C500 can capture 4K DCI RAW at up to 60 fps, or 120 fps Half-RAW (it looks almost as good as true 4K, trust us). This thing is no slouch when it comes to high resolution RAW recording, just be sure to have enough hard drive space!
  4. It’s a workhorse!
    • This camera has never let us down. I don’t think it has ever let anyone down! It has typical Canon build quality and just works, plain and simple. It has never crashed on us or done anything unpredictable. Throw a card in and hit record and you know this camera will be the most reliable piece of gear on set.

Ultimately this is a Hollywood-capable cinema camera that is let down by a few small setbacks that led to the camera not selling as well as expected. The ergonomics of this camera do leave a bit to be desired. It is not ideal for run and gun use on the shoulder unless rigged out with counter balancing, adding a lot of weight to the overall rig. It is most at home on sticks for sure. It also needs to be paired with an Odyssey recorder to get a full quality image, as without one it becomes a C300, capable of 1080p recording in 4:2:2 MXF format. The C300 is a fantastic camera, but a little lacking in resolution when stacked up against the 4K cameras of today.

Overall, there really isn’t much to complain about with this camera, it truly does put Hollywood-level digital film capture in the hands of just about anyone. If you are shooting on sticks or steadicam and not shoulder mounted and pairing it with our Odyssey 7Q+, it really is the perfect budget cine camera for just about anyone!

Super User