Perfect pairings: the best B-cams for filmmakers

The right camera team-up can create new opportunities for filmmaking – discover the best B-cam options for your production from across Canon's full range.
A man filming on a Canon XF605 camera with a microphone attached. A Canon PTZ camera is visible in the foreground.

Pairing the Canon XF605 with two PTZ cameras and controlling them remotely showed Charles an entirely new way of working.

How do you choose the best B-camera to complement your A-camera setup? It's not an easy question to answer, as the best B-cam for the job will be determined by the shooting requirements of your production and the look you want to achieve.

You could simply duplicate your A-cam, of course, but your budget may not stretch that far. Besides, running a B-cam with a different feature set can enable you to cover more angles, more creatively. There might be other practical considerations too. You might need a camera that can shoot underwater or at a very high frame rate, for example, or you might simply want a more compact camera that will fit into a tight space and can be handheld more easily.

Working with multiple cameras can bring additional complications. With mismatched A- and B-cams, you may need to spend a significant period in post-production to ensure your footage has a cohesive look. Different sensors, recording formats, data rates and colour sampling can all lead to extended working times.

"Anything you can do to make the images look similar to start with is only going to benefit you when it comes to post," advises Paul Atkinson, Pro Video Product Specialist at Canon Europe. "It'll mean you spend less time transcoding and applying different grades to footage from different cameras."

Selecting A-cams and B-cams from within the Canon ecosystem is an easy way to avoid the problem and create a seamless shooting and editing experience.

"You might have to do some slight tweaks because of the shooting environment, but not to the extent that you would if you were using a B-cam from a completely different manufacturer, with a completely different colour science," Paul explains. "There's potentially an awful lot of work involved in that.

"If you've got two Canon cameras that can both shoot Canon Log 3, for instance, not only will you be able to get the maximum dynamic range, you're going to get a similar base image to start with. So, when it comes to post, you'll find that any grade that you do will just need the minimum of tweaks afterwards."

A technician wearing white gloves cleans the sensor of a Canon camera.

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A man examining the vari-angle screen of a Canon EOS C70, the camera pointing at his subject, a woman reading a book while standing.

The RF mount Canon EOS C70 is a versatile, compact Cinema EOS B-cam, capable of recording 4K at 120fps and offering low-noise HDR capture via its DGO sensor.

Best Cinema EOS B-cam: Canon EOS C70

The first RF mount Cinema EOS camera, the Canon EOS C70, makes an effective A- or B-camera.

As a primary camera, it pairs well with the Canon EOS R5. They have a common lens mount and, despite the EOS R5 having a full-frame sensor, and a slightly different codec, it is still easy to match footage from the two cameras. They pair especially well when the EOS C70 is fitted with the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R 0.71x, which enables you to use full-frame EF lenses for a similar full-frame look, and with the bonus of an extra stop of light.

The Canon EOS C70 camera.

Canon EOS C70

A new generation RF mount Cinema EOS System camera featuring Canon's 4K Super 35mm DGO sensor.

As a lightweight B-camera, with up to 410Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording to dual SD card slots, the Canon EOS C70 can bring portable versatility to a larger Cinema EOS setup.

"The beauty of the Cinema EOS system is that all the cameras are able to complement each other," says Paul. "It's possible to achieve a very similar final image shooting on multiple Canon cameras, be that through the Custom Picture files or the underlying colour science.

"The EOS C70 is also an ideal B-cam option alongside the Canon EOS C300 Mark III. Both cameras use the same 4K Super 35mm Dual Gain Output (DGO) sensor, which captures exceptional image quality with wider dynamic range and low noise, making it ideal for HDR output. Even though the EOS C70 has a native RF mount, you can attach EF lenses using our various EF to EOS R mount adapters, so you are able to attach the same EF lenses onto each camera."

A Canon EOS R5 set up as a video camera, recording a seated woman in a red dress.

The Canon EOS R5 allows filmmakers to be creative in ways they simply couldn't before. "With the Canon EOS R5, you've got a camera that gives you high-quality 4K or 8K, but in a very small package," says Paul. "You have the ability to use RF lenses natively and, with the addition of the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, EF lenses as well."

Best mirrorless EOS B-cam: Canon EOS R5

Despite being able to record full-frame 8K 12-bit RAW video internally, the Canon EOS R5 is a discreet B-cam that gives you more creative options when weight and space are important considerations – such as when you're shooting inside a car or working with a drone.

"There are many A-cams for which the EOS R5 would make the perfect partner because of its ability to match other footage easily," says Paul. "Even if you're looking to output in 4K, capturing in 8K gives you the ability to crop in if you need to, without losing any quality. So that gives you a high level of adaptability."

The Canon EOS R5 camera

Canon EOS R5

A professional full-frame mirrorless camera offering photographers and filmmakers high-resolution stills and 8K video.

With its RF mount, the Canon EOS R5 is a natural choice of B-cam for the Canon EOS C70, but its full-frame sensor and RAW capture also makes it easy to fit into a more extensive Cinema EOS setup.

Director Regan Hall took advantage of this adaptability when he used a Canon EOS R5 on a BASE jumping film shot primarily with the Canon EOS C500 Mark II and EOS C300 Mark III. "It was a really great camera to have gimbal-mounted or to use as a backup video camera – or to shoot some really nice stills," he says. "The hardware and cameras are all really complementary."

A man shooting indoors with a Canon XF605 on a tripod.

With its intuitive interface, Eye Detection AF and intelligent Head Tracking, the Canon XF605 is a great B-cam option when you need to get your shot quickly.

Best camcorder B-cam: Canon XF605

Compact, lightweight and with intuitive controls, the Canon XF605 is a 4K professional camcorder that's a useful option for a 'grab-and-go' B-camera, whether you're shooting in studio or in the field. As with the other Canon B-cam suggestions listed here, the XF605 is an effective standalone 4K camera in its own right. But its all-in-one design and professional recording options make it an excellent choice for a single operator supporting role too.

"The Canon XF605's ability to record 4:2:2 10-bit at a reasonably high data rate means that if you're you're using a Canon EOS C300 Mark III or even an EOS C500 Mark II as your primary camera, using the XF605 as a B-camera might be the easiest and most convenient way to work, in the right circumstances," suggests Paul.

The Canon XF605 camcorder.

Canon XF605

A versatile broadcast quality 4K camcorder, offering advanced AF, connectivity and streaming for demanding productions.

"It can shoot in Canon Log 3, and you have the option to use PQ or HLG for HDR delivery. So you are able to match its footage to the output from those Cinema EOS cameras in an efficient way. The Canon XF605 could even be used with the Canon CR-N500, as it shares quite a lot of base technology with the PTZ camera, including a 1.0-Type 4K CMOS sensor and 15x optical zoom. So, again, the image will look very similar."

A Canon CR-N500 camera on a tripod.

The Canon CR-N500 is a highly specialist B-cam option, which offers a professional 4K image that is easily blended with footage captured on other Canon cameras.

Best PTZ B-cam: Canon CR-N500

A PTZ camera that's controllable remotely, the Canon CR-N500 is a practical B-cam option for reality show shoots and live events. "It integrates easily into a mix of fixed and mobile cameras," says Paul. "The Canon XF605, XF705 and XA55 are all a good match for it in that kind of setup.

The Canon CR-N500 records 4:2:2 10-bit at a high data rate and it also offers Canon Log 3, "which makes it easy to use alongside a Cinema EOS A-cam shooting in Canon Log 3," adds Paul. It could be a useful remote filming option for drama, for example, especially if you need to capture 'fly on the wall' footage.

A Canon CR-N500 PTZ camera.

Canon CR-N500

With a 15x optical zoom and 4K UHD shooting capabilities, the CR-N500 offers precise control and seamless IP streaming, even in low-light conditions.

For many live productions, the Canon CR-N500 could potentially act as the A-cam or the B-cam. The CR-N300 would make a sensible B-cam choice when the CR-N500 is performing primary camera duties, for example. If Canon Log 3 is required, then the Canon XF605 could be used alongside the CR-N500, as both cameras can be controlled simultaneously via a Canon RC-IP100 remote camera controller.

Marcus Hawkins

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