Canon C300 Review


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Canon's highly anticipated C300 camera is their first offering to the 'digital cinema' market. The camera was released amid a meticulously planned marketing campaign, which created a hype not seen since the Red One camera's introduction in 2006.
Canon have since taken the camera on a global roadshow showcasing to all potential suitors, of which there are many. Sitting itself between the DSLR video market and high end digital cinema cameras, it is a camera of interest to a huge range of potential users and productions.
The camera's sensor is a newly developed, Super35 size, single CMOS sensor (24.6x13.8mm) which delivers the now familiar shallow depth of field associated with the ever desirable filmic look. There will be two versions of the C300 available. The hugely popular EF mount will no doubt suit the vast majority of users as it opens itself up to the enormous range of existing and affordable EF glass. The EF version will enable control of the lens though the camera body. Canon will also produce a PL mount version of the C300 which allows the use of high end cinematography lenses for optimum optical performance. This version however, will not allow lens control through the camera. There is no intention from Canon themselves to offer lens mount adaptors between EF and PL as they believe there is too much risk of movement within the adaptors, however, there will be third party manufacturers offering the usual selection of mount adaptors. There are three built in ND filters with the camera for exposure control.
Whilst the Sony PMW-F3 fell foul of the broadcasters specifications with a maximum recording rate of 35mb/s, the Canon C300 is capable of recording a constant 50mb/s at 4:2:2 colour sampling in resolutions of either 1920x1080 or 1280x720. The implementation of the 50mb/s is vital for the cameras acceptance by the majority of broadcasters, so it's inclusion makes it a very feasible choice for a wide range of applications. The files are recorded in an industry standard .mxf file format, compatible with all major editing platforms, to widely available Compact Flash cards. A 64GB card will yield a record time of 160 minutes and can
From a creative perspective, the camera is rated at a standard ISO of 850 which when used with Canon's C-Log gamma curve can achieve 12 stops of usable dynamic range. The camera has 4 preset video gamma curves that deliver pleasing pictures and an additional 2 Cine curves for a more filmic performance. The C-Log curve maximises the dynamic range, but post work is essential when using this option. The noise performance of the camera is impressive and what noise there is looks unpredictable and granular in it's structure giving a pleasing, 'organic' feel to the images. Canon claim 'low noise' pictures at 20,000 ISO which is dependent on your interpretation of low, nevertheless, the pictures are impressive even at such high ISO's. Rolling shutter is unnoticeable and moir patterning is eliminated altogether, so two of the key problems of the 5D MKII are addressed and resolved. Under and overcranking are possible in the usual frame rates of 1-30 (1080) and 1-60fps (720).
The C300 will also support a relatively inexpensive WiFi dongle that will enable the user wireless remote control and monitoring of the camera on devices employing the Apple or Android operating systems using a simple browser based user interface. Whilst not quite a real time solution yet and reliant on a suitable environment, this could be of huge interest to wildlife and documentary crews looking to control cameras where otherwise may be impossible.
Ergonomically, the camera is well thought out and comfortable in the hand in most of it's standard configurations. The switches and buttons are well positioned and the camera at about 2 kgs naked is very lightweight for a large sensor camera.
Generally the camera is set to cause a stir across the board and time will show whether Canon have read the market correctly and go on to prove a major force in the world of digital cinema.
Pre-release versions of the C300 were used to shoot the short film 'Mobius' that was displayed at the cameras launch and can be seen here - http://vimeo.com/30215350


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