November 8, 2011

What's Being Said About the Canon EOS C300 and RED SCARLET-X All Around the 'Net

Events transpired quickly during Canon and RED's dual announcements on Thursday night, so now that the dust has settled, what are people saying about the RED SCARLET-X (left) and Canon EOS C300 (right), other than the fact that they're basically the same price?

My own thoughts about the C300 is that it's a great camera -- and don't take my word for it, listen to Vincent Laforet's podcast below to hear his thoughts since he's actually shot a film on it -- but given the current market, it seems priced high for owner/operators, and it has a faint whiff of planned obsolescence. The "historic" part of Canon's announcement seemed to be that they are getting into cinema cameras with the Cinema EOS line, more so than the C300 itself (did anyone else notice in the liveblogs that they showed all the shorts and then jumped straight into a Q&A, instead of talking up this particular model?). Canon is going 4K eventually, and the C300 in fact has a 4K sensor, but outputs a maximum of 1080p. The sensor can output to 1080p/60p but processor can do a max of 30p. Almost as an afterthought, they mentioned that they'll be releasing a 4K DSLR within 12 months, which seems to upstage their own C300 announcement.

I expect over the coming months and years folks will react to videos shot on the C300 with "wow, that looks really good!" A spec sheet does not a camera make, after all, and I think the importance of 4K is often overstated. But the C300's launch was certainly less-than-perfect, and I think many people -- Vincent Laforet included, I suspect -- thought the C300, given the specs, would and should come in significantly lower than $20k. I'd love to shoot with it, but it seems a prelude to what they'll eventually release, and it seems handicapped in terms of output and codec (8 bit, 50Mbs) compared to a market that includes a Sony F3 and RED SCARLET-X (also, I think the Canon LOG mode may just a picture style and not an actual LOG output as is the F3's).

Those are just my thoughts, however, and none of us should be too quick to judge anything before we shoot with it. So let's take a look at what others are saying:

  • Vincent Laforet: These are interesting times for filmmakers – the tools keep getting better "Then came the announcement of the Canon cinema concept camera. All that’s really been said so far is that it will shoot 4K footage and be optimized with a better codec (Motion JPEG) – though likely not a RAW one (but that still remains to be seen or clarified by anyone.) So where does that leave us? (The filmmakers that is.) In short: in a very, very good place! Competition can only benefit us. We will directly benefit from having Jim Jannard and RED going toe to toe with Canon. And don’t forget Sony, Panasonic, Arri etc. No one can afford to rest on their laurels in this fight. Trust me... ((Given Laforet's position in the industry, I would take this "trust me" statement to mean that he's seen something from one or more of those manufacturers, and given the Panasonic AF100 is 18 11 months old, I would think that they might be next with a higher-end F3 / C300 competitor.)) The Canon C300 has one of the very best sensors in the world – and an image that I love. I can honestly say that I will debate between the Arri Alexa, the Canon C300, and the Red Epic/Scarlet on future productions. Each camera has clear advantages and shortcomings to anyone that has worked with them.
  • Stu Maschwitz: Scarlet, Canon C300, and “Super 35” "The Scarlet X has a larger sensor than the Canon C300, but you won’t be using it all to make movies. You can only achieve 24 fps at 4K and below -— where the window you’re shooting to is actually smaller than the C300’s near exact match to the Super 35 frame width... What you’ll probably be shooting on your Scarlet X is 4K HD, where your frame size is noticeably smaller than Super 35. So is it fair to call the Scarlet a “Super 35” camera?"
  • The Verge: Canon EOS C300: an interview with Canon's Chuck Westfall ""This is not going to be the single camera that kills all others," Westfall admitted, "but it's a new tool that addresses the 1080p concept in a much, much different way from everything that's on the market now." When Canon talks about "killing other cameras," it's not necessarily talking about competitors like RED, though. When the company announced a series of Cinema EOS lenses to accompany the C300, the word "4K" appeared four times in the press release, and there'll be a bona fide 4K camera to go with them soon. There was a 4K prototype DSLR under glass at the event, lurking in an EOS-1D X case. Westfall told us that Canon's hoping to bring it to market within the next twelve months."
  • FXguide: The RC #100 C300 with Dir. Laforet & RED ScarletX Great podcast with Vincent Laforet about his experiences shooting with the C300, wherein he talks about the C300 being the new low-light king -- better than the F3 and quite a bit better than the ALEXA. "You do not want to shoot with this camera's default setting, it looks terrible -- turn down sharpening, turn on Canon LOG, and then it looks like film... I would feel comfortable saying that this camera performs better than the EPIC in low-light. The Alexa has a special quality in dealing with highlights. The EPIC is the sharpest camera in the world... [the C300] is more camera than the F3."
  • Dan Carr: 10 Things You May Not Know About The Canon EOS C300 & Future Of Cinema EOS "With so many people wondering why Canon did not deliver 4k recording in the C300 I asked [Canon's] Erik Allin why Canon would seemingly debut 4k in a DSLR format and NOT in something purpose designed for video? The DSLR hybrid stills/video camera format has been around now for a little while and that market has been asking us for something that is higher resolution. The original purpose of us putting video in the 5d MarkII to begin with was to satisfy the news agencies like AP and Getty, for them to be able to do video and stills, and they have a need for something that is a little bit higher resolution as well. In terms of why it was put in that camera to begin with we’re getting into the second generation of video in a DSLR at this point in time with the new 1D X and this development announcement and in terms of the new Cinema EOS C300, we are 1st generation."
  • DPReview: Canon EOS C300 launch: Interview with Larry Thorpe "In five years time the C300 will have brothers and sisters. We'll probably move in a number of directions. We think this is a very very good start but there's no question that 4K is coming, so we have to keep our eye on that. As for a lower cost model [...] that would make a lot of sense in the marketplace. We have a master plan and [the C300] is step one - into HD. We've stepped in, and we're never going to stop. We're in for the long term. Wherever the marketplace dictates that we should go, and wherever our technology allows us to go, we'll be there."
  • Bruce A. Johnson: Canon Cinema EOS C300: A Dissenting View "Where’s the killer Canon camera for the tens - to hundreds-of-thousands of us that actually work in television? When I reviewed the Canon XF305 a year ago, I was very impressed with the package, with a few caveats - chief among them the 1/3” chipset. If Canon can jam a 35mm CMOS into the D5 mkII, why not the same hardware in a form-factor that a real TV production crew could easily use? And in a package that can sit on your shoulder?"

If I missed any notable articles about the November 3rd announcements, add them in the comments...

Your Comment

45 Comments

Seems like Larry Thorpe is saying that their model for high end HD video is the same as that for high end DSLR: a family of platforms with a family of features that are updated or transformed very 2-4 years. This is also their approach to consumer/prosumer video.

Red, on the other hand, is going for a much smaller and more durable product line: key platforms with updateable sensors and interchangeable peripherals that allow future proofing for both the core and the peripherals.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
jc

This is what I was looking for and is why I will wait on a Scarlet for now:
http://reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?66210-Scarlet-X-Data-Sheet

November 8, 2011

0
Reply

Thanks, that is incredibly useful! Blogging it now...

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Feature for feature it is simply not worth $20k, or even $15k for that matter. It is missing serious features, functions and capabilities to be going head to head with the F3 or RED cameras. Canon you missed the boat on this one......

November 8, 2011

-1
Reply

I think this is Panasonic's chance to make something happen. Build on the AF-100 model, because thats actually a really good camera to use. it doesn't look as good as the Sony camera but as far as usability and bang for your buck. Its a monster. Especially since 4/3 adapters are cheap. You both a Canon and Nikkon adapter for $50 and just canon for $20 something.

If they improve the sensor and specs on that thing and keep the price...wow... that would be a winner.

The sub $10k market I think is the sweet spot and since Canon over shot and disappointed, Panasonic has an opportunity to make whatever they do seem like a bargain right now.

And the sub $10k and sub $5k markets want a remedy to the DSLR problems RIGHT NOW!, not 3 years from now when products specs trickle down. So that market is hungry...

November 8, 2011

-1
Reply
pixel wiz

^THIS. If Panasonic came out with a version of the AF100 with even an APS-C sensor, let alone full frame, for the same price point as the current AF-100, I would buy it. Even if it was more expensive, as long as it was sub-$10k, that would be VERY tempting, especially if there was an easy way to mount Canon EF lenses on it (which I doubt, but even if there wasn't it'd still be tempting).

As a documentary shooter I care more about what's in front of the camera than what's inside it, but that also puts me in an annoying position of having to choose between DSLR (which has the low-light performance I need but coming at the price of crap audio, obnoxious record times, no ND filters, etc) or a more traditional "video camera" that's way more convenient to use but that just can't handle lots of the situations we're shooting because there's not enough light for it.

For this reason, the Scarlet-X would be tempting except (a) it costs too much and (b) the form factor looks horrible. I have never shot with a red, but I prefer to shoot with cameras that require no or minimal rigs, because whatever we need we have to carry out into the boonies all the time.

So, Panasonic, if you're listening, please: AF100 with an APS-C or bigger sensor, retaining most of the other features of that camera. Do this, and you will have my attention. Do this for the same price as the current AF 100, and you will have a big bucket of my money.

(Same goes for Canon, if they ever get around to making video cameras for mortals again someday).

November 8, 2011

0
Reply

Try the Sony FS-100 (with Atomos Ninja for broadcast), great low light, only needs a minimal rig to put it on your shoulder (some of our DP's didn't even use one though) and throw a Fader ND on the lens and you're golden. Just finishing a 13x30' docu-series on the package, our only problem was moiré.

November 9, 2011

1
Reply
MRH

And as a colorist let me say, I was really surprised at how well the footage held up.

November 10, 2011

0
Reply
Dane

Did Canon miss the boat? Manufacturor's reccommended price and selling price are different, the C300 will probably sell for 16k. To outfit Scarlet to use, with Canon mount, is 14+ k, with tax more, so they are about the same price wise.

Color, keying, sensor size and ISO performance go to Canon

Sharpness, resolution, stills, RAW and slow motion go to RED.

A large problem for me is that for slow motion, you sacrifice resolution AND crop in the sensor, where as Canon sacrifices resolution but does not crop the sensor.

Canon has a larger sensor overall.

November 8, 2011

1
Reply

Laforets C300 film (desert setting / green clothing) looked much better than the others to me and I'm wondering if that's something to do with Canons funky bayer pattern / non-bayer sensor? Anybody who attended the screening pick up the noticable clipping on reflections and banding in the dust / smoke or is that something vimeos compression has brought out?

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
nobody

Exactly. Which is why anyone who's work is primarily destined for the web, who is even thinking about buying this 20k boat anchor, needs their head examined.

November 11, 2011

0
Reply
Robert T.

^^ Well with REDRaw; color and keying are really a problem, The RED give more data so you have more to key from and more to color.

So that would only give Canon ISO and sensor size.

If you are penny pinching, rich or poor, its about what you get for $16k.

as for slow moe, 4k to 1080 can hide itself pretty well...you have resolution to spare.

November 8, 2011

1
Reply
pixel wiz

Thanks for the comment below, I did watch the BTS and must have missed the ext recorder. I think one of the Canon guys said all the films were shot on CF. Suppose a Canon kit just got more expensive then (at least for an image I find acceptable) much like the AF100.

I keep hearing the keying thing with the C300, the claim being made is that keying is easier not that it's better. I'm sure a 4bit codec would be even easier to key and that tests will show cleaner mattes on the RED in line with what we'd expect pitting 1080 8 bit 4:2:2 against 12 bit QHD downscaled to 1080 (comparable with 4:4:4). I'm not impressed with the Canon and the keying claims seem especially disingenious.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
nobody

My thing is the crop factor. The Scarlet is not s35 unless you take stills. For most people doing slow motion, you are looking at a 2/3" sensor.

Glass, DOF, FOV, that is important too. If I spend $3-5k for a wide angle prime and my Scarlet makes it into a tele photo, I'm not too happy.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply

Also, Laforet said himself that the C300 looks terrible when recorded to the onboard CF card (RC podcast), he used an external recorder.

November 8, 2011

1
Reply
pixel wiz

Where did you see Laforet say that he used an external recorder? I had heard elsewhere that everything done for the C300 films was direct to CF card.

November 8, 2011

-1
Reply
Steve

Hi guys. I was the editor on Mobius and just wanted to confirm that all the footage was recorded to CF cards. 18 hours of footage from Vincent's 3 day shoot.

November 8, 2011

1
Reply
Vashi Nedomansky

Thanks Vashi, that's what I'd heard as well. Canon certainly gets a lot out of that 8-bit codec.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Koo...the quality of the raw footage was amazing. I pushed it around in 32-bit float in Premiere, After Effects and in Davinci Resolve with great results. My friend Andrew Francis (who graded Tree of Life) did the final grade at eFilm and said he could intercut this 8-bit codec with Alexa footage as needed. Also...when you blow up the footage 300% or 400% and look at the grain structure...you will see it is actually round-ish and NOT square or pixel-shaped. I think the 8 or 10 bit debate just got a little stickier!

November 8, 2011

-1
Reply
Vashi Nedomansky

Great to hear. Very curious about the non-bayer-pattern sensor (seems like Sony's doing something similar with the F65), but of course regardless of whether it's 8-bit, 10-bit, or even higher, the results are what matter.

November 8, 2011

-1
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Thanks for all of the great info! Was the recording on Mobius done in Canon Log or non-log (not sure what they call it)?

November 11, 2011

0
Reply
Steve

For lower budget folks like me, I think I'll continue to anticipate the 5D mrk i i i , and mull the Sony FS100.

November 8, 2011

1
Reply
PsTak

AF100 was only on sale Stateside Xmas day 2010 and readily available mid jan this year, that's 10 months and change ago... they own that mid 5k market with some competition from Sony. Their 2/3 ENG broadcast cameras high end and very popular so they won't be joining the rush to compete in the still niche large sensor movie camera market.

November 8, 2011

-1
Reply
dan

Thanks Dan, I guess it was ANNOUNCED last April.

November 8, 2011

1
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Would be interesting to see Ninja and Samurai recorders going 4K so that we could use current model 1080 cameras (not just DSLRs either) and turn them into 4K video shooters. The November 3rd camera announcements are great if you have money to burn but for those who don't, a decision by Atomos to produce 4K alternatives may be cost effective so we don't have to buy completely new systems. Definitely not perfect by any means but a cheaper option into entry level 4K video land. What do other people think about this solution?

November 8, 2011

0
Reply

haha there's nothing 'entry level' about 4k. HDMI and HD-SDI can't support the throughput of 4k, let alone 2k. You'd need a camera and recording system with quad linked 3G-SDI or HDMI (or octo-linked dual HD-SDI?) inputs and outputs just to record that data.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
MRH

Im glad someone gets my humour MRH. I was thinking the same thing about HD-SDI/HDMI vs 4K image until recently when we found a way it can be done (in theory) but were testing it in December at RMIT University, that said it could be a complete failure but giving it a go. I'd be happy to post our findings to show everyone if you like? Doing some interesting things here with 3D and 4K at the moment that I never thought was possible.

November 9, 2011

-1
Reply

That would be interesting to see if it works. But I work in TV, 1080 HD or SD is my delivery. I'll worry about 4k when I sell a movie to AMC.

November 9, 2011

1
Reply
MRH

If you've done research, is there any sane reason we're still using SDI? What's the advantage of 3G-SDI (or thunderbolt) over one of the lower latency 10GigE variants? Surely BaseT with the RJ-45 connector retained in an XLR style housing (sure I've seen this plug) would be as robust as BNCs and with chipset volumes already in the millions, wouldn't it make more economic sense?

November 9, 2011

0
Reply
nobody

Yes they are all considerations and questions that we are currently looking at - HD SDI / HDMI etc, there sure are limitations in every court but the work-arounds are surprising so far. We're looking forward to the big test in December to see the results. Because we are looking at possibilities from all angles, a lot of our research is indicating the tremendous limitations that surround existing out-methods with regards to the larger formats of 4K/5K, 8K etc (HDMI etc) but almost by accident ( I guess thats good science at work) there have been some anomalies so far that indicate what can be achieved but thats for December to prove/disprove or at least start the conversation. If anyone has other comments we would be happy to hear your thoughts.

November 9, 2011

0
Reply

Mobius looked real good but is it just me, sword was not impressive.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
Ryan Emanuel

"Planned Obsolescence". I hate that word...and every single company who puts that in their product..which is pretty much every single market leader except Apple. And this is why I love RED, its because they choose to destroy this capitalistic greedy practice with its exact opposite - OBSOLECENCE, OBSOLETE". The fact that you can upgrade every single one of your component with new tech as they come out without having to change the entire camera is awesome..and for that I salute RED, and everysingle other manufacturer that copies them. If no one does, I hope some big ass chinese investor offers jannard a plant in china so he can chomp up as many REDs as they can and have its price to below US$5K levels for ready to shoot configs.

By the way, anyone else noticed that Sony Alpha A77 actually outperforms a scarlet in processing power? Scarlet X, %k RAW at 12fps - A77 6K RAW at 12 fps. Dynamic range of both is 13 stops. 1080p of both is 60fps. But the A77 is only US$1,399. Isnt that awesome. Are there any hackers out here who can unleash Sony A77's power?! Ill gladly contribute to a Kickstarter project for this.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
quobetah

"Planned Obsolescence". I hate that word...and every single company who puts that in their product..which is pretty much every single market leader except Apple. And this is why I love RED, its because they choose to destroy this capitalistic greedy practice with its exact opposite - OBSOLECENCE, OBSOLETE". The fact that you can upgrade every single one of your component with new tech as they come out without having to change the entire camera is awesome..and for that I salute RED, and everysingle other manufacturer that copies them. If no one does, I hope some big ass chinese investor offers jannard a plant in china so he can chomp up as many REDs as they can and have its price to below US$5K levels for ready to shoot configs.

By the way, anyone else noticed that Sony Alpha A77 actually outperforms a scarlet in processing power? Scarlet X, 5k RAW at 12fps - A77 6K RAW at 12 fps. Dynamic range of both is 13 stops. 1080p of both is 60fps. But the A77 is only US$1,399. Isnt that awesome. Are there any hackers out here who can unleash Sony A77's power?! Ill gladly contribute to a Kickstarter project for this.

November 8, 2011

0
Reply
quobetah

The footage of the c300 looks like it will be perfect for filming narrative television shows, but it doesn't denote the film look that red has captured.

November 9, 2011

0
Reply
Dakota Huntley

Hmmm, I was thinking "cheap overlit TV" for the blade runner thing. Obviously some of that's photography and grading but the S-Log profile (unlinke Technicolors CineStyle) did appear to be consistently doing something I didn't much care for. A picture profile really doesn't change the math of an 8 bit codec or the fact this 'cine' camera is basically the XF105 backend paired with a larger sensor for 3-4x market value.

November 9, 2011

0
Reply
nobody

Isn't the idea of an S-Log profile basically antithetical to the idea of something that "looks good" out of box? I thought the whole point was to capture a wide range of brightness on a logarithmic curve so that it can be effectively adjusted after the fact.

November 9, 2011

-1
Reply
cows

Well that's the idea, the shorts had all been graded yet all seemed to retain a similar / consistent lift in the blacks.

November 10, 2011

1
Reply
nobody

Fair enough, but I think it would be fairly difficult to argue that that's really the S-Log profile's "fault," unless of course it actually precludes a colorist from grading in a way that's more to your liking.

November 10, 2011

0
Reply
cows

I just looked it up and @Nobody is right: http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/news/camcorder_MPEG_2.do

And yes, mathematically 8 bits aren't enough for accurate mathematics in VFX post production. If you try to shoot transformers 4, Avatar 2 or Harry Potter reborn on this...D-Neg, Weta or ILM might not be happy.

November 9, 2011

0
Reply
pixel wiz

Huh... never a good idea to accept the word of some 'nobody' on the internet without double checking ;)

November 9, 2011

-1
Reply
nobody

8 bit 50mbps mpeg2...for k$20! F*** me, that's funny.

Canon's corporate contempt for their own customer base is breathtaking. Thank you V.K. and Driftwood for the GH2 @ 220 mbps.

As far as I'm concerned Canon can go back and rethink their strategy.

November 10, 2011

2
Reply
skeptikal

Canon eventually coming out with a 4k DSLR, and for what price? $30,000.00 (and without lens?) !!! God only knows, but that seems the route this all takes. As exciting as this all sounds, but man, these PRICES are killing me!!!!

November 10, 2011

1
Reply
joe A

To be completely precise on the hardware this is not a 4k sensor, it is a 8k, but used differently than usual, probably by a prism dividing colors : 2k for light green (yellow) 2k for strong green 2k for red and 2K for blue. But each 2k sensor is used at its native definition which means no pixel decimation, no rolling shutter due to large sensors and an image quality that is really impressive, very detailed, with an exceptional color gammut

Now for the software it is a MPEG 2 Intraframe codec with 50 Mbps (may be 100 will be selectable - needs to be confirmed). The hardware computes data in 422 on 10bits but encodes the file on 8 bits with a separate file that logs gamma information for later colour grading.

Look at Moebius and you will have a good idea of the end result that can be achieved with this camera, although in the making of it looks like some shots were obtained with a 5D Mark II (aerial shots for example).

November 12, 2011

0
Reply
Alexandre Lepretre

Canon 5D, still a great camera on a budget.

Here's a Canon 5D short film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTmusLropB0

November 20, 2011

1
Reply
Dirk Nienaber

Think im just gonna get an iphone 4s...

November 22, 2011

-1
Reply
Rob