Tag Archives: c300

A Week With The Canon C300.

DSC03646-300x199 A Week With The Canon C300.
C300 with 24-70mm f2.8L lens and Genus Matte Box

So, I’ve had my Canon C300 for a week now and had a chance to play with it and evaluate it. Am I pleased with my purchase? Yes, absolutely, the C300 will be a camera that I will use a lot. It’s well built and feels very solid, the pictures are great, but there are a few things that have frustrated me, I few things that the more I use it, I don’t like. But there are also quite a few things that I really like.

Why C300?

First I’d like to explain why I purchased it when I already own a couple of F3’s. Since buying the F3’s my EX1R has sat on the shelf gathering dust. I really like the look you get with a large sensor camera along with the improved sensitivity and lower noise. But as I shoot a lot of stuff for broadcast I need to record at 50Mb/s as a minimum, so with the F3 (and EX1R) this means using an external recorder. When your in a studio, on a film set etc, this really isn’t a problem and I love shooting with the F3 using the RGB output and the Convergent Design Gemini. The end results are beautiful, the kind of images that I never really thought I would own the equipment to produce. But, if you follow my blog, you’ll know that I specialise (amongst other things) in shooting natural extremes. Things like Tornadoes, hurricanes, the Northern lights etc. For these shoots an external recorder is quite simply a pain in the rear end. Jumping in and out of a car, running to shoot a tornado with anything extra hanging off the camera is tricky and in the heat of the chase things get bumped, bashed or simply forgotten.

So for me, the idea of a one piece solution that gives me the benefits of a s35mm sensor, including excellent low light performance, shallow DoF for all the interviews and story telling footage, plus low power in a compact package is great. The C300 looked to be the camera just for me for these shoots.

After reading up all I could on it and taking a look at one during an open day at Visual Impact, I placed my order. The camera arrived last week.

After One Week.

So, after a week with the camera, do I think it will work for what I want? Yes, I am sure it will, but there are some things that would frustrate me on other types of shoot.

Picture Quality:

I’ve already written about this in earlier posts. It is very good. Using C-Log you get around 12 stops of dynamic range. Out of the box the camera is a little over sharpened, but that’s easy enough to tame through the custom picture profiles. The colour reproduction is good, if a little over saturated for my liking (again easily corrected). Skew is minimal and the sensitivity and noise levels are also very good, similar to my F3’s.

c300-moire-300x212 A Week With The Canon C300.
C300 Moire

There is a little bit of moire and aliasing, right at the limits of the cameras resolution, but this is no worse than any other camera in this class.

At higher gain/ISO the C300’s user settable noise reduction system is very good at cleaning up the image. At 3200 ISO with the noise reduction level set to 4 the noise is all but gone, at 6400 ISO, noise reduction level 7 cleans the image up. However each extra level of noise reduction does introduce a small amount of softening of the image and above 5 there are some artefacts on rapid exposure or contrast changes. Even so, the ability to shoot at 6400 ISO with relatively  low noise  images is quite remarkable and one of the C300’s trump cards. Of course you can go still higher with the sensitivity, all the way to 20,000 ISO but the pictures are pretty noisy and with the noise reduction engaged the image does get a bit soft and certainly doesn’t look anywhere near as nice as it does at lower gain settings. For me I will try to stay below 3200, but it’s nice know that 6400 or higher is there when you need it. For image quality I give the C300 a very high score, but in my opinion it’s not quite (by the very tiniest of amounts) up to what an F3 recording to a 10 bit external recorder can deliver. However for the types of shoot I want to use it on, that very small difference is not going to matter.

Annoyances.

DSC03637-300x199 A Week With The Canon C300.
The function LCD, almost hidden from view.

Now, going back to gain settings this is one of the things that annoys me. On the back of the camera there is a small supplementary LCD screen, much like the information display on a Canon DSLR. Normally to change the C300’s ISO (gain/sensitivity), shutter speed or white balance, you press the “FUNC” button, by the side of the screen until the function you want to change is displayed and then you use the rotary dial or small joystick (on the hand grip or camera rear) to change the setting.

DSC03642-300x199 A Week With The Canon C300.
The iris wheel on the hand grip. There is also a mini joystick and assignable button just under the grip.

There’s a couple of problems with this. The LCD is hard to see from the sides or below and if you have the EVF Viewfinder extended, you can’t see it from above at all. The options you are changing do also get highlighted in the EVF or on the LCD (if you have the camera info overlay enabled), but as you have to take your eye from the viewfinder to find the small FUNC switch, it would have been nice if this status LCD was better placed, maybe on the side of the camera body where it is easier to see. I suppose eventually I will get to know where the FUNC button is by feel, but as it’s right next to the record button, you do want to make sure your pressing the right button! You can also assign FUNC to any of the other assignable buttons, but with  no dedicated switches for gain/shutter/white balance you can quickly run out of these.

DSC03644-300x199 A Week With The Canon C300.
The multi function menu dial (top) and iris dial below.

On my F3’s if I want to change the ISO, white balance or switch the shutter on and off, all I need to do is flick a dedicated switch and I know from the switch position how it is set. All this fiddling around on the C300 is tedious and not quick to do. You can assign these functions to any of the multitude of assignable buttons, but you still need to press the correct assignable button and then move to the dial or joystick to change the setting. I guess I’ll get used to it, but it’s not something I like.

On the positive side the press button operated ND filter system is really nice, although again you need to check in the viewfinder to know which ND filter is selected other than a small window tucked away in the top corner of the hard to see status display.

EVF and LCD:

The built in EVF (electronic viewfinder) is really rather good, certainly a huge improvement over the one on the F3 and when used in conjunction with the cameras peaking and magnification options good enough to use for accurate focus. On the C300 you can have both an expanded image via the magnification function and peaking on at the same time. So it is quite possible to use the camera without any external devices attached. But you do need to be aware that when you don’t have the LCD Monitors  attached to the camera the only way to plug in a mic is via a 3.5mm stereo jack socket on the side of the camera body. There is no built in mic. I really wish there was at least 1 XLR socket on the camera body. In addition, the only way to control the audio record levels (when using the body only) is by going into the cameras menu and selecting audio level set. Then you can use the joystick or function dial to set the level, which is OK until you have to change something else like the ISO or shutter, where you loose the audio level control until you go back into the menu. I can see Beachtek adapters becoming popular with C300 owners! But this kind of defeats the object of a standalone camera with no external boxes. Doh!

DSC03640-300x199 A Week With The Canon C300.
The thick cables that connect the monitor module.

So, I hear you all shouting… “Why don’t you use the plug-in LCD monitor adapter thingumajig? Well I’ll tell you why, it’s cumbersome, makes the camera very top heavy and the cables that attach it to the camera body, which are thick enough to support a suspension bridge, just get in the way. The handle is colossal too, nice and chunky and feels very solid indeed, but colossal all the same. The LCD on the monitor unit is nice with good resolution. It can be positioned in a multitude of angles, up/down/left/right which is great, but it just makes the camera very top heavy and bulky, which for my particular application is not what I want. OK for studio use, on a film set or on a corporate shoot, but not good for news types shoots. Incidentally, I really like the built in waveform monitor and vectorscope. Much better than the histogram on the F3 in my view. But then I’m a die hard video guy. Someone from the DSLR world might prefer a histogram. Also the waveform monitor and vectorscope are only displayed on the LCD Monitor, they do not appear in the EVF, so your out of luck if you want to use them to check levels and you don’t have the monitor with you.

DSC03649-e1330706623920-199x300 A Week With The Canon C300.
The Monitor Adapter attached so you can get at the audio controls. Note skyward pointing mic holder!

When using the XLR inputs on the Monitor unit the control pots for the audio levels can’t be seen easily all the way up on the top of the unit if the camera is on a tripod at eye height, so often you end up putting the whole monitor assembly on the camera on it’s end with the mic holder pointing skywards so you can get at the audio controls. Like this the rig is getting really ungainly and very top heavy. In addition you must have the LCD panel open to get at the audio controls. Audio appears to be an afterthought on the C300, it’s not well executed.

Iris Control.

I’ve been using a Canon 24-70mm f2.8L lens on the C300. This is a great lens. But like all Canon EF lenses the iris is electronically controlled. On the C300 turning the iris dial on the back of the camera or the small wheel on the handgrip steps the iris open and closed in small steps. Even when set to “fine” you can see the image brightness changing in steps, it’s not smooth. If your working on a tripod this arrangement means taking a hand off either the lens or pan bar to change exposure. I much prefer a manual iris ring. Of course if you use Zeiss CP2’s or Nikon lenses you can still get a manual iris ring. A further observation is that my EF mount  Sigma 18-200mm f3.5 image stabilised lens clicks loudly when you change the aperture. Loud enough to be clearly audible on a camera mic or even a mic a few feet away in a quiet room. The other thing is that the camera has a fan that runs continuously, again this is not silent and gets picked up by the camera mic. It’s not loud, but it’s always there. One thing I didn’t try (budget would not stretch to it) is the WiFi adapter that allows you to remotely control the Iris and even the focus of the camera from an iPad. The camera streams a near live video feed to the iPad and you can use the iPad to control all the primary camera functions including iris and focus. However the slight lag in the video stream might make focussing tricky.

As well as the WiFi option the C300 has a lot of nice functions, things like the ability to dual record to both CF cards at the same time for safety. It can shoot at up to 60 frames per second at 720P and can shoot true 24P as opposed to the 23.98P found on most video cameras. This is particularly important when recording off board audio as many pro audio recorders only have 24P timecode and timing, so a camera running at 23.98 will slowly drift out of sync with the audio recorder. It can also do time-lapse (interval record), but strangely the C300 can’t shoot single frames in interval record mode when set to 25P, 50i, 50P or 60P, the lowest setting is 2 frames, so any time-lapse sequences need to be sped up by 200% in post to get smooth motion or done with the camera set to 23.98P, 24P or 30P when it can do 1 frame, very strange indeed. The C300 also has a Pre-record function (cache record) but the memory only gives you 3 seconds, which is barely enough time to react to seeing something and hit the record button, I’d really like at least twice this, my F3 goes up to 12 seconds.

So as you can tell there’s quite a few things that bug me about the C300. I hate to be so negative, because it is a great camera, it does produce great images and is beautifully well built. With all the hype surrounding it’s launch it’s hard to not be just a little disappointed in these little annoyances. But, the C300 will allow me to shoot with a s35mm sensor at 50Mb/s without the aggro of an external recorder. The pictures will be of great quality when used with a decent lens. I can also use stabilised lenses for long lens shots and handheld. So it will make a great compact (without the monitor unit) grab and go camera, once I figure out a smaller handle, mic mount and maybe get a Beachtek box.

So who is the C300 going to appeal to?

Well there’s no getting away from the fact that to meet the 50Mb/s rule you don’t need an external recorder and the pictures are very nice indeed. With just the camera body and a lens you have a highly portable camera (although you’ll need some kind of adapter to plug in an XLR mic as the body only has a 3.5mm jack).

However…. The F3 still IMHO produces a marginally better image and generally I prefer the F3’s ergonomics, especially on a tripod or shoulder rig. If you don’t need 50Mb/s then the F3 is excellent. If you need high end performance, squeezing every last bit out of the image, the F3 is better than the C300 IMHO, largely down to the 10 bit output and flatter log curve.

So it depends on what you want to do and your shooting style.

If you don’t need 50Mb/s then I would probably favour the F3. You have a choice of lens mounts, arguably better iris control, ergonomics more suited to video applications.

If you need 50Mb/s but don’t need more than that, the the C300 is the obvious choice. DSLR shooters will I’m sure be very happy with the control layout, video pro’s may find it frustrating.

If you need better than 50Mb/s then we come back to the F3 again. After all if your going to add an external recorder, at this level, it should really be a 10 bit one. Plus you have RGB options, LUT’s, no need for a funky LCD adapter with unwieldy cables just so you can plug in an XLR mic.

I think the C300 will find a very happy home in many a news, documentary or corporate production company. I have mine for the Storm Chasing and natural extremes that I shoot, where the convenience of no external recorder is wonderful. In this role I believe the C300 will excel. But I’m absolutely keeping my F3’s for commercials, shorts and those productions where an external recorder is not a big deal and image quality is everything. Plus I find the F3 much easier to work with on a tripod or shoulder rig.

If I could only choose one? Right now it would be the F3 as it is more adaptable. You can use different lens mounts, record internally or add a 10 bit 422 or 444 recorder. I can use the F3 to shoot what I am planning on using the C300 for, only with the inconvenience of an external recorder, while if I was asked to shoot a commercial I would really want the 10 bit RGB output of the F3, so the C300 would not be appropriate.

That’s just my opinion. Other’s will vary. Don’t get me wrong the C300 is a great, great camera, but it’s not necessarily better than the F3 and the F3 is not necessarily better than the C300. I’m not saying this to hedge my bets or sit on the wall, I say this because that’s the way I think it is. Tough choice. I’m just glad I can afford both and then choose the most appropriate camera for the particular shoot.

I guess what I’d really like is an F3 with the build quality of the C300, internal 50Mb/s recordings, the C300’s variable noise reduction, ultra highISO and EVF.

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Set of Canon C300 Custom Profiles for Download.

I’ve been playing and have come up with my first set of custom profiles for the Canon C300. You’ll find all the details here: http://www.xdcam-user.com/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=962 including a downloadable package that you can copy to an SD card and the load the files directly to your own C300.

You must be registered with the forum/blog to view the page, but registration is free and open to all. Any problems let me know.

The Profiles include:

AC-Neutral: a natural looking, true to life image.
AC-Vivid: A bright colourful and vivid image.
AC-3200a: Use this profile when shooting at ISO 3200 to maximise sensitivity and control noise.
AC-6400a: Use this profile when shooting at ISO 6400 to maximise sensitivity and control noise.
AC-Cine1: A neutral filmic looking image that can be used straight form the camera or graded.

C300 Moiré

c300-moire C300 Moiré
C300 Moire

The C300 is not Moiré free as can be seen from this blown up section of a frame grab. Once again it’s fine brickwork thats causing the problem. Now before everyone runs off in a panic, lets put this into perspective. The F3′ aliases, the Alexa aliases as do most single chip cameras. This is certainly no worse than an F3 and is right at the resolution limits of the camera, so your not going to see it very often. It takes a very fine, high contrast pattern, in sharp focus before you’ll see this kind of thing.

Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.

I’ve been testing and evaluating my new C300 today. Of course being the owner of a PMW-F3 I was more than a little curious to see how the two compared, so the obvious thing to do was some side by side shots. making use of one of my Hurricane Rig 3D rigs, I mounted the C300 and F3 side by side so I could grab the footage at almost exactly the same time, so the scene would be the same. In addition I used a Transvideo 3D monitor with both cameras fed into it so that I could use the 3D waveform monitor, which shows both inputs overlaid at the same time. I used this to match the exposure as accurately as possible. At the bottom of the post you’ll find a link to the raw clips, straight from the cameras.

Both cameras were fitted with matched Tokina 28-70mm AT-X Pro zooms. Doing 3D really helps for this kind of test as I have matched pairs of lenses etc. So exposure and focal lengths match. Notice how the C300 gives a slightly wider FoV compared to the F3. This means the C300’s sensor is bigger than the F3’s which makes it a fair bit bigger than the APS-C sensors used in the Canon 7D, 550D DSLR’s etc, so you are going to have to watch out for vignetting with cheaper EF-S fit lenses.

If you click on the images you will be able to see a full size, full resolution version, however these are jpegs so there may be additional compression artefacts.

c300-c-log-850iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 C-Log, 850ISO
f3-s-log-800iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 S-Log 800ISO

C-Log and S-Log have similar, but different gamma curves, they are clearly not the same, the F3 has a bit more compression above 50% than the C300. Not sure what this will mean in reality yet, it may be that the F3 has a tiny bit of extra headroom. I deliberately overexposed both cameras by the same amount for one shot and the F3 just appears to hang on to the highlights just the tiniest bit better. This is NOT a very scientific test as I am not exploring the full dynamic range of either camera and you can’t really ignore shadow and low key performance when evaluating dynamic range, but initial indications are that the F3 does have marginally better DR.

c300-c-log-overexposed-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 C-Log overexposed (mid grey at 50%)
f3-s-log-800iso-overexposed-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 S-Log Overexposed (Mid Grey at 50%)

Next I looked at the stock, out of the box images from both cameras. So no picture profiles or any other settings. This is how both cameras look straight from the factory:

c300-std-400iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 Standard settings, 400ISO
f3-std-400iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 Standard settings 400ISO

The colorimetry is interesting. I prefer the Canon look, it just looks nicer than the Sony look. BUT, I think the reality is that the Sony look is more accurate and true to life. So which is better? I don’t think one is better than the other, it really depends on your own personal preference. Both cameras have highly tweak-able matrices so you can create your own look (which is something I will be doing). In this simple test the C300 appears to hold on to highlights a little better than the F3. I guess that Canon have optimised the knee a little better. Both images are sharp and crisp, showing good resolution. I think the C300 is a little over sharpened, but that will be easy to reduce through a custom profile.

Now with all the talk of noise and sensitivity I did do a quick comparison at 3200 ISO, which is the highest you can go with a stock F3 (S-Log F3 can go to 6400).

c300-std-3200iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 Standard settings, 3200ISO
f3-std-3200iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 Standard Settings, 3200 ISO

Now, you really need to look at these frames full size to appreciate the added noise or better still download the clips. Compare the 3200ISO images with the 400 ISO images and look at the concrete road. You can clearly see the extra noise from both cameras. My visual assessment is that the noise levels are similar, but that the C300 noise has a much finer structure than the F3. The finer noise looks more filmic to me, so I think I prefer the C300, but it’s not a deal breaker either way. I did take a peak at the noise at 20,000 ISO last night and there is a heck of a lot of it. It would have to be something pretty special to make me want to use more than 3200 ISO.

So, I’m liking the C300 a lot. It’s compact, well built and nice to hold. I find it hard to really distinguish the in camera recordings from the C300 and from the F3, but the C300  has that magic 50Mb/s codec that the BBC and others insist on. So for Grab and go the C300 makes a huge amount of sense. Indications are that the F3 may still have an edge in terms of ultimate latitude and I would expect the 10 bit output from the F3 to allowed harder and more intensive grading of the footage. But, that then means an external recorder with wires, batteries and other stuff.  All that “stuff” is fine in a studio or drama shoot, but not so hot chasing tornadoes or similar. So far , this is exactly what I was expecting. The C300 will be a great grab and go camera, a very capable drama and documentary camera, but the F3 will still be my choice when I am doing high end drama or studio work. I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford both, I really like both, but for different reasons.

More tests will follow, in particular grading C-Log and S-log, 8 bit and 10 bit as well as low light performance. In addition I will be testing the C300 with a NanoFlash at higher bit rates to see how much of difference that can make. After that it will be time to create some picture profiles, in particular profiles to get the F3 and C300 closer together as I’m sure I will have projects that will use both.

Below is a link to download the original clips from the cameras. There are 4 clips from each, the total download size is about 400MB, so…….

Below is the link to download the original clips. IF YOU FIND THIS USEFUL IN ANY WAY please make a small donation to help cover my bandwidth and hosting costs. You are free to re-distribute the clips provided a link or acknowledgement of where they came from is included.

 



pixel Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.

 

There are no big surprises in the results. [downloads_box title=”C300 and F3 Clips”]
Canon C300 and Sony F3 Raw Clips.
[/downloads_box]

Alan Roberts C300 assessment available online.

Alan Roberts has carried out an assessment of the Canon C300. According to Alan (and I have no reason to disagree) the camera performs particularly well.  You can read the report here. Can’t wait to get hold of mine, but I am hearing rumours that shipping may be delayed a little.

UPDATE:

Reading through the report again and comparing it with his earlier F3 report there are some differences in the way some of the data is presented that I think are a little ambiguous and could lead to some incorrect assumptions. In particular the noise measurements where for the C300 Alan quotes -54db and the F3 -48.5 db, but then the C300 was measured at -6db while the F3 at 0db. Using Alan’s own plots the C300 at 0db is -45.5db. So as expected a tiny bit more noisy than the F3, not less noisy than the F3 as you might first assume from the way the report is written. I am also frustrated by the way in the C300 report the similar RGB zone plate alias results are is noted as a good thing while the similar RGB zone plate results for the F3 were noted as a bad thing.

Canon C-Log on the C300 compared to S-Log.

First let me say that as yet I have not used C-Log in anger, only seen it at a couple of hands on demo events and in downloaded clips.

From what I’ve seen C-Log and S-Log are two quite different things. S-Log on the F3 is a true Log curve where each stop of exposure is recorded using roughly the same amount of data and the available dynamic range is about 13.5 stops. It is inevitable that when you use a true log curve like this and play it back on an uncorrected Rec-709 (standard HD gamma) monitor that it will look very flat and very washed out. This is a result of the extreme gamma miss-match across the entire recording range. If you had a monitor that could display 13.5 stops (most only manage 7) and the monitor had a built in Log curve then the pictures would look normal.

What has too be considered is that S-Log is designed to be used with 10 bit recording where each stop gets roughly 70 data bits ( this roughly means 70 shades of grey for each stop).

Now lets consider the Canon C300. It has no 10 bit out, it’s only 8 bit. Assuming Canon’s sensor can handle 13.5 stops then using 8 bit would result in only 17 bits per stop and this really is not sufficient, especially for critical areas of the image like faces and skin tones. A standard gamma, without knee, like Rec-709 will typically have a 7 stop range, this is a deliberate design decision as this yields around 34 bits per stop. As we know already if you try to do a hard grade on 8 bit material you can run in to issues with banding, posterisation and stair stepping, so reducing the bits per stop still further (for example by cramming 13.5 stops into 8 bits) is not really desirable as while it can improve dynamic range, it will introduce a whole host of other issues.

Now for some years camera sensors have been able to exceed 7 stops of dynamic range. To get around the gamma limitation of 7 stops, most good quality cameras use something called the knee. The knee takes the top 15 to 20% of the recording range to record as much as 4 to 5 stops of highlights. So in the first 0 to 80% range you have 6 stops, plus another 4 to 5 stops in the last 20%, so the overall dynamic range of the camera will be 10 to 11 stops.

How can this work and still look natural? Well our own visual system is tuned to concentrate on the mid range, faces, foliage etc and to a large degree highlights are ignored. So recording in this way, compressing the highlights mimics they way we see the world, so doesn’t actually look terribly un-natural. OK, OK, I can hear you all screaming… yes it is un-natural, it looks like video! It looks like video because the knee is either on or off, the image is either compressed very heavily or not at all, there is no middle ground. It’s also hard to grade as mid tones and highlights have different amounts of squashing which can lead to some strange results.

So the knee is a step forward. It does work quite well for many applications as it preserves those 34 bits of data for the all important mid tones and as a result the pictures look normal, yet gives a reasonable amount of over exposure performance. Next came things like cine gammas and film style gammas.

These often share a very similar gamma curve to standard gammas for the first 60-70% of the recording range, so faces, skin, flora and fauna still have plenty of data allocated to them. Above 70% the image becomes compressed, but instead of the sudden onset of compression as with a knee, the compression starts very gently and gradually increases more and more until by the time you get close to 100% the compression is very strong indeed. This tends to look a lot more natural than gamma + knee, yet can still cope with a good over exposure range, but depending on the scene it can start to look a little flat as your overall captured range is biased towards highlights, so your captured image contains more bright range than low range so will possibly (but not always) look very slightly washed out. In my opinion, if shooting with cinegammas or similar you should really be grading your material for the best results.

Anyway, back to the Canon C300. From what I can tell, C-Log is an extension of the cinegamma type of gamma curve. It appears to have more in common with cinegammas than true S-log. It looks like the compression starts at around 60% and that there is a little more gain at the bottom of the curve to lift shadows a little. This earlier start to the compression will allow for a greater dynamic range but will mean fewer bits of data for skin tones etc. The raised lower end gain means you can afford to underexpose more if you need to. As the curve is not a full log curve it will look a lot more agreeable than S-Log on an uncorrected monitor, especially as the crucial mid tone area is largely unaffected by strong compression and thus a large gamma miss-match.

For the C300 this curve makes complete sense. It looks like a good match for the cameras 8 bit recording giving a decent dynamic range improvement, largely through highlight compression (spread over more recording range than a conventional knee or cinegamma), keeping mid tones reasonably intact and a little bit of shadow lift. Keeping the mid range fairly “normal” is a wise move that will still give good grading latitude without posterisation issues on mid range natural textures.

Canon C300 open house at Visual Impact. Price £9995!

IMG_0996-224x300 Canon C300 open house at Visual Impact. Price £9995!
Crowds gather around the Alexa, F3 and C300

I spent most of the morning at the Visual Impact C300 open house. They had 3 C300’s on show. One on a camera set alongside an F3 and an Alexa, the other was a very simple handheld configuration for people to play with and a 3rd on a stedicam rig.
What impressed me the most was how nice the camera was to hand hold and how good the rear viewfinder is. You certainly don’t need anything extra to shoot with it.
On the camera set I was a little less impressed. At the beginning of the day when I first quickly looked at the 3 monitors I could see no obvious difference between any of the cameras. The monitors were fairly small 20″ Panasonic monitors. However when I went back to take a closer look, for some reason the C300 looked a little soft or not quite in focus. No matter how I played with the focus, the edges of the image looked soft compared to the F3 next to it. Both the F3 and the C300 had Arri 32mm master primes so they should have been similar. I was told all the cameras were set up with standard gammas, but looking at the C300 it looked quite flat, so perhaps it was setup with the Canon Log gamma and the resulting lower contrast was making the image appear softer. There were so many people at the event that it was difficult to really get at the camera to figure out what was going on. I don’t think something was quite right, I’ve seen better from the C300. I asked if I could record some footage but was told that this was not possible on this occasion as these are pre-production cameras. Shame, I had a pocket full of CF cards and SxS cards. Anyway I have been promised a test shoot very soon.

I really hope that the softness was a peculiarity of that particular camera or the way it was set up as the C300 would for me be fantastic for my storm chasing and extreme weather assignments. I’d love to take one up to Norway in January to see if it sensitive enough to shoot the Northern Lights without having to resort to slow shutters or long exposures (Stop Press… I’ve placed an order and hope to have one in time for Norway). I’ve done the math, and according to my calculations it should just about be sensitive enough at 22,000iso with a f1.4 lens to shoot the Aurora in real time. It would be really cool to try and stream the Aurora live from Norway in January. On other assignments I could shoot using Canon L series glass or my B4 to Canon adapter and get broadcast ready material without needing an external recorder. I still think the Sony F3 with S-Log and an external 444 recorder is capable of a better image, but that’s a significantly more expensive package and more cumbersome, power hungry etc. It’s horses for courses. The C300 for me looks to be fantastic for simple, fast, easy shoots where shallow DoF is desirable, while I would continue to use the F3 where the extra bulk of an external recorder and the slightly more complex S-Log workflow will not be an issue as I think the ultimate image quality will be better. I might just have to place an order for one, especially as the price will be less than anticipated. The price I was offered from Visual Impact today was £9995, available from mid January…. Just in time to take to Norway????

New Canon C300 and C300PL cameras and 4k lenses.

canon-c300-1024x560 New Canon C300 and C300PL  cameras and 4k lenses.
Canon C300 cameras and PL mount lenses

So, I might be a little late on this announcement as I’m currently working in Taiwan, but yesterday Canon released information on two new video cameras and 4 new zooms plus 3 cinematography prime lenses. The press information from Canon is below. Reading between the lines and picking out some of the key points this is a very significant announcement. The cameras have a new 8.29 mega pixel sensor recording to compact flash cards at 1920 x 1080, 4:2:2 at 50Mb/s. The sensor uses a bayer type pattern, but due to the very large pixel count it has a Red and Blue pixel  for each sample in the 1920×1080 frame as well as two Green pixels. This should lead to very good colorimetry, but is a little odd considering that the camera only has a single HDSDi output, which I assume would just be 1.5G 4:2:2, so much of the 4:4:4 data derived from the sensor goes to waste unless it can output 4:4:4 10 bit over HDMI. The higher pixel count and thus smaller pixels than F3/Alexa could have an impact on dynamic range sensitivity and noise, but until I see some raw footage or get my grubby hands on one, who knows? The Laforet video “Mobius” http://vimeo.com/30215350 has quite a “video” look to it, but that might just be the online compression. The camera has a built in Log Curve that is said to offer improved dynamic range. Clearly Canon have some of the F3 market in their sights.

There are HDMI and HDSDi outputs so recording to an external device to improve image quality should not be an issue, 8 bit, 4:2:2 is a bit of a shame on a camera with a sensor spec like this, at least it’s an improvement over the Sony F3’s 8 bit 4:2:0 at 35MB/s. If your going to use the Log curve then you defiantly want to record to a higher quality, preferably 10 bit codec (I am assuming the HDSDi output is 10 bit). UPDATE: I am reading many reports of the HDSDI out only being 8 bit. I hope this is not the case!!!

It does tick many professional feature boxes with XLR audio in, Genlock and even a sync output. This would make it well suited to 3D applications. It looks kind of like a DSLR and has a removable handgrip, a rear mounted EVF as well as a removable smallish LCD panel. One mistake I think Canon have made is that you have to choose between the EOS lens mount and PL mount versions of the camera. Why could they have not made a camera body with a removable mount that would allow you to choose between PL or DSLR glass without having to change the entire camera body, or use an EOS to PL lens adapter with it’s extra optical elements?

Still I do like the thought of a stripped down EOS mount version (C300) with a nice L series zoom on it for shooting on the road or covert filming. However even the use of the EOS mount is a little strange as there is no provision for Auto Focus or Auto Iris, something that you would have thought would be easy to implement. This is a fully manual camera.  I’d really like auto iris you know, if only for tricky time-lapse sequences. Iris control is on the camera body. According to Andy Shipsides of Abel Cine the iris steps slightly as you adjust it when using EOS lenses, what a shame. Makes PL sound like a better option for serious productions.

Having a s35mm sized sensor and the 50Mb/s 4:2:2 codec does meant that it ticks all of the BBC’s approval boxes, so you should be able to use it on most broadcast projects. But it is a strange beast on paper. A DSLR-ish form factor, EOS lens mount without focus or iris control, a 4:4:4 ready sensor but only 4:2:2 recording. Hmmm, you know what, I have to wonder if that sensor isn’t going to appear in another camera with RGB or Dual Link recording. Camera price is approx $20k USD, available in January.

As an F3 owner the new Canon PL mount lenses look ver interesting indeed. The 30-300mm T2.9 – T3.7 would be a great lens for shooting music concerts and other similar events, while the 14.5-60mm T2.5 would be a fantastic all round zoom covering the most commonly used focal lengths that I use.

Canon Press Release:

Lights! Camera! Action! Canon Launches Cinema EOS System

 

All-New Cinema Lens Line-up & Digital Video Camcorders to Leave No Story Untold

Canon today announced its full-fledged entry into the motion picture production industry with the launch of the Cinema EOS System. Canon’s new professional digital cinematography system spans the lens, digital video camcorder and digital SLR camera product categories.

 

The Cinema EOS System targets a new area of imaging and builds on a 74-year history of innovation and expertise in the field of optical and imaging technology.

 

The new Cinema EOS System, offers compatibility with Canon’s wide array of high-performance EF lenses, provides cinematographers with a range of unprecedented creative possibilities to ensure that no story is left untold.

 

With the debut of the Cinema EOS System, Canon today introduced seven new 4K EF Cinema Lenses, four zoom lenses and three single-focal-length models, which complement the current diverse line-up of interchangeable EF lenses for EOS SLR cameras.

 

4K EF Cinema Lens Line up

The seven new 4K EF Cinema Lens models include  four zoom lenses covering a wide zoom range from 14.5 mm to 300 mm, two models each for EF and PL lens mounts, and three single-focal-length lenses for EF mounts.   All seven new lenses deliver exceptional 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) optical performance and offer compatibility with Super 35 mm-equivalent sensors.

 

EOS C300/C300 PL Interchangeable-Lens Digital Video Camcorder

The Canon EOS C300/C300 PL is an all new digital video camcorder available in two models: the EOS C300, equipped with an EF lens mount which is compatibility with the wide array of Canon EF interchangeable lenses; and the EOS C300 PL, offering a PL lens mount for use with industry-standard PL lenses. The camcorder features a Super 35 mm, 8.29-megapixel CMOS sensor ideally suited for digital cinematography. 

 

Cinema EOS System: Product Overview

7 New EF Cinema lenses:

CN-E14.5–60mm T2.6 L S – (EF Mount)

CN-E14.5–60mm T2.6 L SP – (PL Mount)

CN-E30–300mm T2.95–3.7 L S – (EF Mount)

CN-E30–300mm T2.95–3.7 L SP – (PL Mount)

CN-E24mm T1.5 L F – (EF Mount)  

CN-E50mm T1.3 L F – (EF Mount)

CN-E85mm T1.3 L F – (EF Mount)

 

2 New Digital Video Camcorders:

EOS C300 – (EF Mount)

EOSC300 PL – (PL Mount)