EOS C70 and EOS C300 Mark III: Canon's 4K DGO cameras compared

Two of the latest Cinema EOS cameras both include Canon's groundbreaking 4K Super 35mm DGO sensor and other exciting new technologies. Discover the similarities and differences between the EOS C70 and the EOS C300 Mark III.
The Canon EOS C300 Mark III and Canon EOS C70 cinema cameras.

The EOS C300 Mark III is the latest generation of Canon's proven and popular Cinema EOS family, with a compact, robust body and modular design making it suitable for a diverse range of shooting requirements. The EOS C70 is an innovative design, the first Cinema EOS camera to use Canon's groundbreaking RF lens mount, but has all the essential features you need in a cinema camera, including on-board audio, Canon Log (and Log 2) support and built-in ND filters.

Despite their strikingly different designs, the Canon EOS C70 and Canon EOS C300 Mark III share many similar features and specifications. Both cameras use an identical Canon-developed 4K Super 35mm DGO sensor, and both are compact enough to be used by single-camera operators. But there are some distinct differences between them.

The EOS C70 is Canon's first RF mount Cinema EOS camera, with DSLR-like handling, advanced image stabilisation and dual SD cards, which unlock multiple recording options. The EOS C300 Mark III is heavier, and its more modular design allows it to be rigged to suit varied production requirements. Unlike the EOS C70, it uses the established EF or PL lens mount, and it has the capability to record in Cinema RAW Light for maximum post-shoot flexibility.

So which camera is right for you? Here, we explore the features of both cameras, with expert insight from Paul Atkinson, Pro Video Product Specialist at Canon Europe.

The Canon EOS C70 cinema camera on a wooden table top.

Both the Canon EOS C70 and the Canon EOS C300 Mark III offer high frame rate recording at up to 120fps in 4K with no crop, and up to 180fps in a 2K crop. The EOS C70 can also record audio at the normal recording rate as a separate file – a first for the Cinema EOS range.

1. 4K Super 35mm Dual Gain Output sensor

At the heart of both cameras is a 4K Super 35mm DGO sensor, developed by Canon. The innovative Dual Gain Output (DGO) technology reads out the image with two different amplification levels – one optimised for shadow detail, the other optimised for detail in bright areas – to deliver a higher dynamic range of more than 16 stops.

Sharing identical imaging technology means that these cameras complement each other beautifully. "There may be some barely measurable differences in image quality, just because the RF lenses used by the Canon EOS C70 are a bit more modern in their design," says Paul. "It's only when you come to Cinema RAW Light that you'll notice a difference, as obviously the EOS C70 doesn't record RAW. But even then, you can still successfully use the EOS C70 as a B-camera in a production with the EOS C300 Mark III as an A-camera, because when everything gets graded down it's likely to be going to the same output."

2. Codecs and supported file formats

When it comes to file formats, both cameras offer 4K 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording using Canon's XF-AVC codec, although the EOS C300 Mark III supports up to 810Mbps compared with the EOS C70's maximum bit rate of 410Mbps. The EOS C70 doesn't shoot RAW, but it does give you the option of recording in MP4.

"The fact that you can record in MP4 on the EOS C70 means that you can have the HEVC H.265 codec for the higher data rate, and that gives you 4:2:2 10-bit or 4:2:0 10-bit," says Paul. "Alternatively, if you want H.264 compression, you come down to 4:2:0 8-bit, which is something the EOS C300 Mark III doesn't do.

"Obviously MP4's perfect for online use, and it's an easy codec to import into most platforms. As far as the other codecs offered by both cameras are concerned, they are very well established and have a lot of native NLE support."

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Cinematographer Jolade Olusanya filming with the Canon EOS C70 in a field with lush greenery in the background.

"The controls that you need easy access to are positioned on the EOS C70's grip," says Paul. "But when you're handholding the camera in the traditional way, it means your thumb is able to access a lot of settings on the screen, and you're able to switch between settings and check audio really easily." © Fergus Kennedy

Cinematographer Steve Holleran filming with the Canon EOS C300 Mark III on the wing of an aircraft with other planes in the background.

The EOS C300 Mark III has a more configurable design than the EOS C70: "If you add the Canon EU-V2 Expansion Unit 2, you add to the number of connections, you're able to use a V-Lock battery and you've got DC power out options as well, so you can power accessories," says Paul. This makes the camera well suited to slightly higher level projects, such as TV documentaries, episodic drama and full-scale cinema productions.

3. Build quality and controls

Both of these Super 35mm Cinema EOS cameras are comparatively compact, but the EOS C70 takes portability to another level. "The whole concept is to bridge that gap between the capabilities of a Cinema EOS camera and the mobility and ease of handling of our mirrorless and DSLR cameras," says Paul. "That has resulted in the smallest and lightest cinema camera in the range to date. The EOS C300 Mark III is about half a kilo heavier.

"The EOS C70 is very much designed for somebody to operate on their own, and I can see it being used on a lot of documentary shoots. On 'run-and-gun' shoots in certain environments, you might want to use something that doesn't actually look that much like a video camera. A larger, more obvious video camera can start to attract the attention of people – and they may not necessarily be people whose attention you want to attract."

The EOS C300 Mark III's modular design, however, provides the flexibility to tailor it to a whole range of shooting scenarios. "It's designed to be used in its basic form, without any expansion units, by single operators or small crews," says Paul. "But when you come to more demanding projects, the ability to use expansion units means you can rig it up to suit your needs."

4. Audio connections

When it comes to audio connections, both cameras feature professional XLR inputs for four-channel audio recording. The EOS C70 has two Mini XLR connectors, while the EOS C300 Mark III has two full-size XLRs. Adding the Canon EU-V2 Expansion Unit 2 to the EOS C300 Mark III provides an additional pair of XLR inputs.

The Canon EOS C70 also inherits a couple of audio features from its mirrorless and DSLR camera stablemates – a 3.5mm stereo mini jack and in-built microphones. "These are stereo microphones as opposed to monaural mics," says Paul. "They're located either side of the lens mount and are perfect for cueing and for aligning audio. They could be used for ambient as part of the four-channel audio recording. There is a risk that you'll pick up some sort of mechanical noise, but in the RF lens range, that noise is significantly lower than it would be in the EF range."

A man stands in a wheat field holding a Canon EOS C70 camera by his side.

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Jolade Olusanya using the touchscreen on a Canon EOS C70 as he films poet Sophia Thakur.

To ensure that the compact size of the Canon EOS C70 doesn't compromise operability, the controls and handling have been refined. "In the past, touchscreen capability on the Cinema EOS range has been limited to focus point selection," says Paul. "But on the EOS C70 it's a fully functional screen that allows you to start and stop recording and provides quick access to many of the shooting settings." © Fergus Kennedy

5. Dual Pixel CMOS AF

Both cameras use Canon's fast and accurate Dual Pixel CMOS AF. "Each camera has the capability to emulate the way a manual focus puller works," explains Paul. "So it starts off quickly and slows down just before focus is achieved, to give you a more natural-looking focus pull."

The main difference here is the addition of the EOS iTR AFX system on the EOS C70. This intelligent tracking technology can keep people in focus, even when they've turned away from the camera. "It's incredibly useful for the single operator or self-shooter," says Paul. "Normally, when a camera loses the face that it's following, it will either just look for something else to focus on or not do anything until it picks up a face again. With its deep learning technology, iTR AFX will realise it's not just a face but a head, so when the person turns and walks away it will continue to track them."

Jolade Olusanya using the Canon EOS C70 in a gimbal to film a parkour action sequence.

Both the cameras offer 5-axis image stabilisation, although the EOS C70's RF mount brings an additional level of control: "The way that the camera and an RF lens communicate means that they will automatically work out which is the best combination of electronic IS and optical IS to use," explains Paul. © Fergus Kennedy

Steve Holleran standing on the wing of an aircraft with the EOS C300 Mark III on a gimbal.

The EOS C300 Mark III is designed for use in a greater variety of roles and has more in the way of external connections. For example, it has a 12G-SDI Out for streaming to an external recorder or external monitor. Both cameras have a BNC for Timecode In/Out.

6. Media recording

There are diffferences in how these cameras are set up for internal recording. The Canon EOS C70 has two slots for easily available SD cards, while the EOS C300 Mark III has two CFExpress cards to support RAW recording, plus an SD card slot for XF-AVC Proxy recording, firmware updates and transferring camera settings to another body.

The EOS C70 offers extensive recording combinations, explains Paul. "You can do the traditional relay recording, where card B starts recording automatically once card A is filled up, and you can do dual recording for an in-camera backup. But you can also have different codecs and different data rates recorded simultaneously.

"You're also able to do that on the EOS C300 Mark III, where you can record Cinema RAW Light to the CFExpress cards, and then proxy files to the SD card. What's new on the EOS C70 is the extensive range of additional recording options." These include the ability to record UHD on card A and Full HD onto card B, XF-AVC on card A and MP4 on card B, or even HEVC 4:2:2 10-bit on card A and 4:2:0 10-bit on card B.

A Canon EOS C300 Mark III attached to a drone rig.

The EOS C300 Mark III in stripped-back form is light and versatile, with the same robust chassis and durable magnesium alloy shell as the Canon EOS C500 Mark II. The exceptional dynamic range of the DGO sensor means it performs well in low light or in glaring sunshine.

7. The perfect A and B camera combination?

While the two cameras have been designed to meet the needs of different users, as Paul indicates, they both offer image quality that matches the other beautifully. "Using the Canon EOS C70 as a B camera or a second unit camera to the EOS C300 Mark III, the footage should weld together very easily and effectively," he says.

The EOS C70 is the first Cinema EOS camera to use Canon's pioneering RF lens mount, but it's also compatible with EF lenses via Canon's EF to RF mount adapters. In this way the EOS C70 can work effortlessly with lenses in your current kitbag. "You can use any of the EF to EOS R Mount Adapters," says Paul. "But the new Mount Adapter EF-EOS R 0.71x will maintain the field of view of a full-frame EF lens on the Super 35mm sensor, as well as giving you an effective one stop increase in light transmission."

The Canon EOS C70 also provides a seamless upgrade from a Canon EOS R System camera to the Cinema EOS range. "If people happen to have a Canon EOS R5 or an EOS R6, it means they have a full-frame mirrorless camera and a Cinema EOS camera that can be set up very similarly to complement each other. This way, you could use the Canon EOS C70 as your main camera and the Canon EOS R5 or EOS R6 as your backup."

Marcus Hawkins

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