Brent Ramsey
Brent Ramsey

Brent Ramsey has spent over thirty years in the cinematography field where he has worked on television programs, films and commercials. He is currently a Canon Technical Advisor for our motion picture equipment.

Free Firmware for Cinema EOS: Supports Rec 2020 Color Space and Enhanced WB Operation

September 04, 2014

A free firmware release scheduled for release in November, 2014, will enable the Canon EOS C500 digital cinema camera to support the ITU-R Recommendation BT. 2020, commonly called Rec 2020 or BT.2020 – the color gamut standard for UHD displays. The ITU, or International Telecommunications Union, through its recommendations for standards, works to insure that content creators will see their images faithfully transmitted and displayed during broadcast or projection. When a project is shot in Rec 2020 and a UHD television is accurately calibrated to ITU color standards, then viewers at home can have a great degree of confidence that the image they are watching is the one intended and approved during color correction and post-production.

ITU-R Recommendation BT. 2020 (EOS C500 EF/PL)

By adding Rec 2020 to the Color Space choices available in the C500 Camera Setup menu, C500 users will now have an option of recording in a total of four unique color spaces: BT. 2020, BT. 709, DCI-P3+, and Canon Cinema Gamut. Rec 2020 has the same color balance as DCI-P3+ and Canon Cinema Gamut.

Image-makers generally want to work in the largest color palette available during original image capture. Rec 2020 allows for the accurate capture and recording of very saturated colors that would normally be clipped in Rec 709, a much smaller color gamut. The result of this is improved color detail, more colors, and increased color accuracy throughout the acquisition and distribution process. Even if new projects may be intended for the current Rec 709 delivery, users will be able to shoot with the maximum color spaces – within the maximum color spaces defined by the recommendation – and covert downstream if they desire. This offers an advantage for those who wish to record footage for use at some future point in time when Rec 2020 is more widely implemented.

One of the immediate benefits of working in Rec 2020 will be a much wider color bit depth – the number of possible shades of each color. Rec 709 is 8-bit, which represents 256 shades per color. Doing the math, it works out like this: 256 shades of red x 256 shades of green x 256 shades of blue for well over 16 million colors. The Rec 2020 recommendation mandates 10-bit or 12-bit color. This fits the C500’s 3G-SDI output perfectly and it’s where most everyone is sure to see the difference: 10-bit is four times the color depth of 8-bit, or 1,024 shades per color channel which multiplies out to well over a billion colors! 12-bit is composed of four times again the shades of colors in 10-bit, or 4,096 shades per color, or more than 68 billion colors! This improved bit depth will ultimately result in finer shades of color and smoother gradations from bright to dark.

The Rec 2020 color space can be output through the EOS C500’s 3G-SDI and MON. terminals for recording or monitoring, but recording Rec 2020 to the cameras CF cards will not be possible as internal recording is limited to 8-bit.

Improved operability when setting color temperature of white balance
(EOS C500 and EOS C300 camera models)

The operation procedure for the EOS C500’s White Balance adjustment will also be improved with this firmware update. The way white balance works now is you use the FUNC. button on the back of the camera to scroll through and select the white balance mode presets using the FUNC. button. However, in order to fine tune the color temperature value in increments of Kelvin, you press the white balance adjustment button to highlight the color temperature value, then adjust it using one of the camera joysticks or by turning the Control Dial.

With Canon’s latest firmware update users will be able to use the FUNC. button to also access the color temperature value, making it much quicker to cycle through, select and then adjust the color temperature settings. This white balance adjustment upgrade will also be available through new firmware for the EOS C300, as well.

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