SOCIAL
Gear Tags

Entries in Canon (1)

Monday
Apr162012

Canon C300 - my new camera

Canon C300 - The S35mm camera has arrived!

In 1996 the broadcastworld changed for me. Our BetacamSP camera, which costed  20.000+ Euros settled dust in the corner, because SONY sold small, capable cameras that recorded onto affordable DV-tapes. The Sony VX1000 was the start of digital filmmaking.

Around 2004 Panasonic brought the first progressive-scan DV-camcorder. The DVX100. The camera again was a gamechanger, because gone were the days of interlaced images.

In 2007 I bought the next Panasonic, another gamechanger: the HVX200 took off were the DVX ended: HD recording, P2-solid state recording, variable framerates (overcranking and undercranking)...what a great and versatile camera. And it still makes great images 5 years later. But a new era had begun.

When Canon introduced the Canon 5DMark2 and implemented film-recording, probably to counter the Nikon D90, they woke up a bees´ nest. But I never felt home with the DSLRs. They are after all still-cameras and therefore are clumsy to film with. No decent monitoring, no audio-recording, no real over/undercranking, limited help via zebras/peaking etc. They are just a pain and the fact that they have problems with certain patterns and structures in the image (brickwalls, shirts, hair...the technical terms of these problems are moire/aliasing) didn´t help either. Everyone who has bigger projects waited for the next gamechanger.....

Sony and Panasonic came out again with great tools: the very affordable Panasonic AF-100 and the rather pricey SONY F3.  While the AF-100 is maybe the better camcorder the SONY F3 is right now the reference in its pricerange (actually only a handful cameras in the world are better).  I looked long at both, but after I had invested quite a lot in Canon-compatible lenses these two cameras didn´t support those. So I waited...

On November 3rd 2011 Canon announced the C300. True 1080p resolution, 422codec, up to 60 frames per second, undercranking in 1080p, 12-stops dynamic range (at least!), Canon-Log recording mode, small, weather-sealed, XLR-inputs, great viewfinder...the list of small features that make a cameraman happy is long... ISO 20.000 is something I didn´t even have on my wishlist.

After some waiting (Canon seems overwhelmed by the demand) the Canon C300 arrived in Innsbruck.

Here are my first impressions:

I can see this is a camera that was thought through all the way, made for professionals by a dedicated group at Canon. There are a few details that make me go "Ah. Nice!". For instance there is a small "guide" for the shoulder-belt; it is a minor and maybe superficial detail, but it shows they thought about it.



You wanna here more details any pro will soon be happy for: on the handle is a comfortable place for your thumb and UNDERNEATH where your fingers hold the handle is a cushioned rubber. I haven´t felt such a nice handgrip in a while!

How often are you frustrated with these minor bugs when you start with a camera. Not with the C300.

I guess most people read the rest of all the nice ergonomic features somewhere already; I can confirm them: great balance, nice position of buttons ("magnify function" and joystick on the right thumb….great). And the best button…the RECORD button next to the bottom of the lens.



Ok, one more feature that was very nice to find: I do shoot a lot of variable frame rates. Some cameras allow for fast switching from 1080p to 720p-variable. But not many. And the two I used most in recent years the HVX200 and the EX-1 (original, not the "R" version) need long turns in the menus and scene files.
The C300 also would force you to go through a few menus….BUT there is a custom menu! Yes, you can create your menu of favorite items. So my menu looks like this: 
- Resolution
- Special Recording modes (here you choose S&F mode)
- framerate
So it takes me about 6 seconds to switch from 1080/25 to 720/25-S&F -32fps mode. Sweet.

The next thing I changed was adjusting the cam to my habits of selecting gain/ISO and white-balance on the left bottom of any camera.
I re-assigned the headphone+ buttons to "select ISO" …after all the headphones are on full volume most of the time, because I have a headphone cable with volume-adjust ;-)
Old habits die hard.

Any way…off to the images: I went for the 30/1.4 first.Why? Sharp lens, nice FOV and not stabilized…so I could test the rolling shutter immediately ;-) Rolling shutter…doesn´t exist. I had problems with my 30/1.4 lens on the 7D handheld, because whenever I moved the image was wobbly and hardly usable. Not so on the C300. Handheld looks handheld and not jello-held.

One of the reasons to get the C300 for me was to have a good viewfinder again. The HVX200´s main weakness was the bad EVF and LCD. It was nearly impossible to judge focus on them. Same on the DSLRs. Sony started using good LCD (but also dreadful viewfinders even on their expensive 2/3-inch-cams!). The C300 has a beauty of a viewfinder. It is very sharp and has adjustable peaking and zebras. I used it for a week now and I hardly use the LCD when shooting handheld, because the EVF does such a great job and it keeps the camera smaller without LCD.

Canon C-Log: I am a bit torn here, because it is a nice flat LOG-image, but it is nowhere near SONY´s S-Log. CLOG is relatively saturated and especially the blues are pushed a bit. I am currently working on my own setting to reduce the blue channel in C-LOG and also lifting the Master Pedestal to get an even flatter look for grading.

What I don´t like: The whole audio-division is not as thought through as the video-part: The XLR inputs should be on the camera, not on the LCD-device. The microphone holder is also too thick for my Rode-mic and I need to build some adapter there.

After using this camera for a while now I have to say it still blows me away. The sensitivty, dynamic range, resolution and especially the way I can handle it without any compromises is just a joy. Check my gear blog and also my projects to see what I produce with the C300.