One of the big ironies in the video business is that Canon started the trend of convergence – adding video features to still cameras and then all but abandoned the market they started. The introduction of the Canon 5D MKII hit the video world like a tsunami. Starstruck DSLR shooters drove sales of the 5D MKII through the roof, 5D MKII footage appeared in movies and on TV, intercut with film and other high-end video cameras. The DSLR video faithful patiently made their update requests known to Canon, confident that the convergence trend was here to stay but Canon had other plans. Instead of adding the features video shooters wanted to the 5D, Canon decided that video shooters wanted a big chip video camera that cost $16,000.
The Canon true believer DSLR shooters ended up looking like a pathetic character from Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of porridge when the 5D MKIII rolled out with minimal video upgrades. It became apparent that Canon never had any intention of continuing the convergence trend they had started. The disappointment felt by nearly rapturous DSLR video shooters at the anemic video specs of the 5D MKIII was palatable. Sure, Canon kept the basic video recording capabilities in the 5D MKIII, but they didn’t do much to enhance the camera’s video performance, either.
It probably didn’t help that Canon opened their cinema office in Hollywood; a virtual guarantee that low budget shooters would be left out in the cold. People in Hollywood don’t think twice about dropping $16K on a video camera. Heck, video people in California probably have that much space change in their couch cushions.
While Canon may have turned a cold shoulder to convergence, other players have stepped in to pick up the slack. Panasonic, which left themselves on the video sidelines with P2 cards, turned out the new video-friendly GH4 which also has an optional external device to sync with an external recorder.
But the manufacturer that benefitted the most from Canon’s stumble is Sony. Unlike Canon, Sony listened to their DSLR video customers and turned out the Sony A7 and A7R, which took an immediate bite out of Canon’s convergence DSLR market. But Sony wasn’t done with the corporate butt-kicking, following up the A7R with the new A7S.
Had Canon put half the features of A7S into the 5D MKIII, Canon users would have been ecstatic. The A7S has 4K output via the HDMI cable and a new pixel design that cuts down on moire, a longstanding issue in DSLR video. The low light performance is nothing short of astounding and the image quality rivals anything on the market.
So, if you’re an independent filmmaker picking a camera vendor are you going to pick the one that listens to their customers or the one that opens an office in Hollywood?