Canon to enable hidden on-chip phase detect for Cinema EOS C100 video camera


posted Friday, November 8, 2013 at 5:21 PM EDT


We're all used to receiving firmware updates for our digital cameras, but major changes to fundamental features of the camera are another matter entirely. For customers of Canon's Cinema EOS C100 digital video camera, however, the second update announced in just a handful of weeks will see a huge change offered for the way in which the camera performs autofocus.

A few weeks ago, we reported on Canon's upcoming firmware update for the EOS C100, which adds some handy features such as increased sensitivity and peripheral lens correction. That update is slated to arrive sometime this month, and now we hear that it will be followed by another update in the first quarter of 2014. Where this month's update is user-applied, though, the following update requires that the camera be returned to the factory, and a US$500 service charge be paid.


Why would you want to go to the trouble of returning your camera and handing over $500? For many videographers who rely solely on manually-pulled focus, you wouldn't. For those who do use autofocus, however, the update enables a feature hidden on the EOS C100's sensor since launch: much the same Dual Pixel CMOS AF functionality first seen in the EOS 70D. In a nutshell, you can add on-chip phase detection autofocus functionality -- or more accurately, enable that which until now has lain in wait, disabled on your EOS C100's sensor.

Once upgraded, says Canon, the EOS C100 will become the first ever camcorder to feature on-chip phase detection. The AF area will comprise 20% of the frame height, and 25% of the frame width -- or in other words, 5% of the total sensor area. Continuous autofocus will be possible with all Canon EF lenses except manual-focus only types (including EF Cinema lenses). An AF Lock function will allow you to prevent the camera changing autofocus, handy if panning between subjects at a similar distance to each other. One-shot AF will still be available, but it will benefit from the system too, with a doubling of autofocus performance in this mode.

Look for more news next Feburary on how to have the update applied. More details on Canon's website.