VMI evaluation of whether the Canon C500 Mk II is any good?

Canon C500 MK II

The Canon C500 Mk II may look like a C300 II but it has been completely redesigned and we think that in this configuration it becomes a fully-featured 4K camcorder with Cinema RAW Light capture and is versatile enough to be used as a Documentary, Gimbal or full Drama camera.

This article illustrates the advantages which VMI believes offer the cinemtographer over similar cameras.

C500 Mk II Rotating (Clean) Gif
C500 Mk II Gif
  • So the Canon C300 II offers 4K acquisition and PL and EF mounts but no full frame, no anamorphic and no on-board RAW.
  • The ARRI Alexa Mini is phenomenal and versatile but also doesn’t cover Full Frame but doesn’t properly capture Netflix approved 4K.
  • The Sony FX9 DOES capture 4K Full Frame, S-35 and Open Gate but doesn’t capture on-board RAW or with the high data rate of the Canon C500 II.  Also the auto focus will be slow working with EF lenses. 
  • The Alexa LF Mini DOES tick the 4K box AND will record S-35 AND Open Gate anamorphic but won’t offer Netflix Approved 4K in S-35 or Open Gate anamorphic formats.
  • The Canon C700 FF DOES everything required here but has an Amira-sized form factor and does not offer a cut-down compact form factor if you want it.
  • Only the Sony Venice can offer everything but assumes that you have a suitable budget to afford it.
  • So in our view, only the Canon C500 Mk II offers everything at a really competitive price and our package which includes the amazing OLED viewfinder, LCD with touch panel and Extension 2 box with 4 x proper audio inputs offers a very versatile camera indeed.

Here is a breakdown of its best capabilities

  • Choice of EF or PL mounts (compatible with all canon EF lenses).
  • PL full frame lenses and Native PL or EF mount.  PL mount reads Cooke/i data.
  • Equipped with full anamorphic capability.
  • 4K S35mm windowed option 5.9K Cinema RAW Light or 4K 4:2:2 XF-AVC capture to dual CF Express cards.
  • Compact Form Factor but also fully configures into a shoulder-mount camcorder with full ARRI Kit and professional EVF (standard with VMI kits).
  • Advanced Dual Pixel Auto Focus Mode (in EF mount only with suitable lenses).
  • Records up to 5.9K images to internal CF Express cards.
  • All acquisition formats possible including anamorphic and Full Frame.
  • Up to 60p in 5.9K/60p in Cinema RAW Light S-35 or up to 120p in a S-16 crop.
  • 10 stops of built-in ND.
  • Built-in Image Stabilisation, even with PL lenses.
  • Up to 4 audio channels using extension 2 back (standard with VMI kits).
  • 12G 4K output.
  • ACES and LUT Support.
  • 9 Customisable Buttons.

Watch the VMI Review below or the details below

Compact Form Factor

The Canon C500 Mk II uses the same sensor as the Canon C700 FF, built into a versatile, modular compact form factor camcorder which is shorter than the C300 Mk II and body weighting just 1.75kg (without battery).  It can be used in a cut-down format to make it suitable for gimbal and drone use or instead can be built up into a fully-featured shoulder-mounted camera complete with full ARRI kit and professional viewfinder*.

Choice of Native Lens Mount

It can be supplied with a choice of native PL or EF mount and will record 4K+ images either in 16:9 or anamorphic formats. 

The PL mount can read Cooke/i data.

Advanced Dual Pixel Auto Focus Mode (in EF mount only with suitable lenses)

Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF Technology function really has to be seen to be appreciated.  There are many AF modes which can allow the user to totally avoid the feared ‘focus hunt’. 

High-speed Continuous AF auto focus, smooth, intuitive touch focus operation as well as an improved focus control that recreates a more natural focus pull. To further fine tune AF performance, the EOS C500 Mark II offers the ability to set the AF tracking speed and response.

Clearly, this requires suitable Canon AF lenses and the most recent EF lenses offer the best auto focus functionality.

(as an aside, whilst the Sony FX-9 can offer great auto-focus as well, the fast speed required will require that you work on a native E mount lens (such as Sony G-Master).  If you use a Metabones or similar, then you may find this a frustrating experience.

Records on-board Cinema RAW Light

It records up to 5.9K images to internal CF Express (same form factor as XQD cards).

15 stops of dynamic range is available when shooting with either the Canon Log2 gamma curve or in Cinema Raw Light, making it ideally suited to capturing HDR video content and the camera is able to record oversampled 4K video internally, which should provide superior results to using a native 4K only sensor.

Users can also capture footage internally using Canon’s own XF-AVC codec. Unlike its big brother the Canon C700, the Canon C500 II can only capture Cinema Raw Light to internal cards and not the full RAW format, though the quality is excellent  This efficient codec also benefits the user to be able to benefit from long record times (up to 50 mins of 25p in 5.9K Cinema Raw Light on single 512GB CFExpress card).   THe C500 Mk II is also compatible with original Canon log, Canon Log 2 or Canon Log 3 if preferred.

All acquisition formats possible including anamorphic and Full Frame

The new Canon-developed full frame sensor used in the C500 II and C700 FF has a native resolution of 5952 x 3140 pixels, providing a 17:9 cinema-friendly aspect ratio, and has an imaging area of 38.1×20.1mm in size, making this both a bit wider and a bit shorter than a standard full frame sensor.  However, this is smart, since it achieves the same image circle size as a full frame DSLR, meaning the C500 II FF is compatible with Canon’s entire line of EF-mount lenses at their standard focal lengths.

The full frame (FF) or windowed open gate or Super-35 modes mean that you have a complete choice of all of the capture formats including S-35 Open Gate 4:3 to create 2:1 ot 2:38:1, 16:9 windowed S-35 or Full Frame 16:9.  

LCD and outstanding Viewfinder

The VMI C500 II Kit includes a touch-screen 4.3-inch LCD monitor as standard but VMI are offering the superb OLED Electronic Viewfinder EVF-V704 as standard issue and which totally converts this camera into a totally functional professional shoulder-mount camera.

Fast and Slow Capability

The C500 II will offer up to 60p in 5.9K/60p in Cinema RAW Light S-35 or up to 120p in a S-16 crop.

Built-in ND

In common with the Canon C700 FF, the C500 II offers 10 stops of built-in ND.

Built-in Image Stabilisation

Hard to believe but not only will the Canon C500 II stabilise images with suitable EF lenses but it has a function to perform a small digital zoom and offer digital image stabilisation of non-stabilising lenses including PL mount lenses.

We are also including the ARRI Pro Set to allow standard film accessories to be fitted. The ergonomic grip design for easy handling and operability, making it ideal for single shooter operation.

Up to 4 audio channels

The C500 II incorporates 2 x XLR audio inputs but when used with the Extension 2 module, this increases to 4 x separate XLR audio inputs.  The Extension 2 module also provides genlock, time code, multiple HD-SDI outputs and power outputs too0.  VMI is providing the Extension 2 back as standard with the Canon C500 Mk II.

12G 4K output

Surprisingly few cameras incorporate a 4K output but the C500 II outputs 4K both via the HDMI output and also via a configurable 12G HD-SDI output, so 4K will not need 4 x separate cables.

ACES and LUT Support

Not usually seen in a camera at this level, the Canon C500 II users can customize their own LUTs and load them onto the camera for precise-look monitoring, also, users can apply different LUTs for each output terminal.

A new dedicated LUT button gives additional operational flexibility.

The EOS C500 Mark II supports ACES 1.0 of the Academy Colour Encoding System. Using Canon supplied IDTs, images captured on the EOS C500 Mark II can be imported directly into the ACES compatible systems.

Additionally, video output from the camera can be monitored by selecting the ACES Proxy.


VMI kits are supplied with 3 x 512GB CF Express cards.  This card format can provide a sustained data rate of up to 1700 Mb/s without the need of an external recorder.

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