Description image

The Latest (8) Bits on the Canon EOS C300

11.28.11 @ 3:43PM Tags : , , ,

Tongue-in-cheek headline aside, the more time passes, the better the Canon EOS C300 looks. Vashi Nedomansky, Vincent Laforet’s editor on Mobius, stopped by to share how far the 8-bit codec of the C300 could be pushed. I don’t regret my decision to order a SCARLET-X — one major reason being the upgrade path that the camera has — but if you’re looking to shoot guerrilla projects with available lighting, the Sony FS100, F3, or Canon C300 would probably be a better choice given you can walk into a room with natural light and more easily shoot at high ISOs than you can with a RED. For my purposes (shooting a narrative feature film), we’ll be using lights, and that’s a different situation. Here’s the latest on the somewhat controversial Canon C300:

First of all, rumors have been flying about Canon lowering the price of the C300, probably as a result of the widely held opinion that the C300 is a tad expensive given the specs — and also since RED had the enviable position of going second with their SCARLET-X announcement. In his hands on with the C300, Philip Bloom tosses out the figure of $13k. That’d be quite the departure from the $20k list price that I’ve mentioned is basically the same as the SCARLET. Some more thoughts from Bloom:

After spending time with [the C300] today, it is clear that this really is a camera for a whole different market than the Scarlet which really is aimed more at narrative. This, as I said earlier, looks like a great broadcast 35mm workhorse camera. Not saying you can’t shoot movies on it, it’s the broadcast spec that is key with this camera and it’s for that use that I can see this being snapped up if the image is as good as I have heard.

On his blog, Vincent Laforet posted about the C300′s organic grain, noting that the 3.75k sensor and color sampling pattern yields a grain structure more akin to film than the blocky video noise to which we’re accustomed. In his words:

The only time that I have seen this type of granular structure in noise is with the Arri Alexa. I think that this just might be the future of digital sensors: taking digital noise and giving it a more filmic or “organic” structure. While digital sensors are slowly closing the gap with film in terms of dynamic range – most don’t have the same granular structural beauty that film offers. It seems that too is changing… while the 1080p image coming off the C300 may not be 2K let alone 5K – it will blow up much more easily than many other 1080p cameras thanks to this “organic” noise pattern that naturally comes off of the sensor in my opinion. We certainly witnessed that during our grade of this film.

On his post he provides plenty of samples that demonstrate this organic grain:

Here’s Studio Daily’s first look at the C300:

More problematic for some folks may be the Canon 8-bit recording and HD-SDI output. To be fair, Canon extracts a remarkable 12-bits worth of data for each pixel, a very high level of performance that the company describes as “the best 1080p 4:2:2 implementation in the business.” Still, for most of us operating in the higher end of the industry, a ten-bit recording system like Sony’s HDCAM SR, Apple’s ProRes and Panasonic’s AVC-Intra are pretty much the norm now; the additional bit depth will significantly improve not only color sampling accuracy, but color correction and grading later in post production. Since virtually every show originating digitally these days will require some color correction, the inherent benefit of 10-bit capture and workflow cannot be overemphasized.

Meanwhile in a post titled Did Canon Just Steal the Future of Filmmaking?, Forbes gets a lot of things wrong:

[Star Wars] Episode III is the only movie I have ever seen whose picture quality is on par with traditional film. Theoretically, other Hollywood filmmakers should have been eager to order their own custom cameras from Sony. But they didn’t. They looked for cheaper alternatives, hence the success of the RED One. Unfortunately for moviegoers, this means that digital-only movies tend to look much worse than those that were shot on film. Sony had a stellar opportunity here to step in with a lower-cost model and take control of the market, but it completely missed the boat. The company has been taking losses in nearly every division. If RED holds onto its market position, and if Canon takes another chunk of the market, where will that leave Sony? Right now, the cheapest professional, high-def camera that Sony makes retails for nearly $17,000.

What? You’re saying that the Sony F3 is overpriced, yet you laud the C300 which costs the same? Also, Sony has the FS100 for $5k, which has the same sensor as the F3, whereas Canon has… a $7k DSLR on its way? I don’t get why he’s so bullish.

Via Cinema5D, here’s HD Magazine’s audio interview with Canon’s Senior Director of Professional Engineering Solutions, Larry Thorpe:

Canon’s Larry thorpe by MM Pubs

Thorpe says (paraphrasing), “this was the codec we had to use, but future cameras will not be 8-bit.” Regardless of the C300′s merits, I’ve never heard of a manufacturer being so upfront about the planned obsolescence of a product. Along with the announcement of their future 4K DSLR just hours after the C300′s unveiling, the folks at Canon are practically telling people to wait for the next version. This attitude won’t stop commercial houses and TV studios from investing in C300s, but it could certainly give indie filmmakers and smaller outfits pause.

Finally, Stu Maschwitz has a terrific breakdown of the current camcorder market. About the C300, he has this to say:

The C300 is crippled in ways that one would not expect from a $20,000 camera, but it is also empowered in ways usually reserved for much more expensive rigs. It uses a 4K sensor to make its HD images, meaning that all its internal processing is 4:4:4. It kills in low light and when it gets noisy, the noise looks like film grain. But perhaps the most shocking capability of the C300 is its latitude. It’s here that the comparison with the Alexa is most surprisingly appropriate. The C300 simply has a jaw-dropping ability to hold shadow and highlight detail in the same frame.

If you’re in the market for a camera, definitely check out the full post.

UPDATE: from commenter Kholi, here are a few C300 videos shot by Nigel Akam. If I didn’t know any better and I were doing a Pepsi Challenge, from the dynamic range and smooth skin tones I would’ve guessed ARRI ALEXA — good company to keep.

Ultimately, if Canon does drop the price of the C300 by several thousand dollars before its January debut, does that change your opinion of the camera?


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 73 COMMENTS

  • My choices are now Sony F3k (2nd hand), Canon C300, or more low-budget FS-100. As much as I covet a RED Scarlet, for my bread-n-butter work it’s overkill and, as I’ve stated here before, I fear timely service on what will be my future A-cam. Although I had my eyes set on a FS-100, a price-drop to €12-13k brings the C300 back into frame. The reason being that for any Sony camera I will have invest in a) an EF-mount (forthcoming from either Birger or MTF-services) as I do not intend to buy / lug around a different set of lenses, and b) new memory and batteries. The F3k set com es with 3 primes, but is a much bigger beast to carry around. Mobility is in favour of both the FS-100 and the C300, which is a big thing for me.

    I don’t like the fact that you know you’re buying “old” technology (8-bit) with the C300, although it will speed up my workflow (audio in-sync, fast codec). Effectively, Canon is indeed telling me to hang on in there, until their next 10-bit/RAW generation cam becomes available. Had they chosen the option of dual-SDI out with a clean 422 or 444 signal, I could protect my investment with an external recorder (which, strangely enough, Canon does not offer as an optional module). But the 720p 50fps is where they really dropped the ball, IMHO.

    • Agreed 100%

      I love Canon but they really did drop the ball witholding clean hdmi out and limited 60fps. Looks like a great camera but generation 2 will most likely be the defining camera with all the features of the C300 plus the horsepower it should/can have.

      I’m not going to buy a crippled camera. Color grading is everything these days and 10-bit makes all the difference.

      Scarlet all the way.

      • Without sounding argumentative (really trying not to be):

        Why is the Canon Crippled at 720/60 with no S35 crop (which will probably be plenty resolved to move to 1080/60), but the Scarlet isn’t crippled at 3K@48? or worse… 2k@60?

        Not only do you lose sensor real-estate from the crop, but you’re digging into the glass (causing all sorts of anomalies) and seeing a drop in overall IQ. Assuming that you’ve shot a lot of RED MX, it’s easy to go back to your footage and see the severity of the issue.

        That’s the big deal about Epic (aside from shooting the full 5K sensor): you’re getting the high frame-rates without the drop in quality.

        I feel like I’m missing something. Is it only the numbers that get to people? 720/60 does sound smaller than 3K@48 I guess.

        • Kholi,

          Maybe ‘crippled’ is a bit harsh. 1080p/720p is wonderful for the internet but if I’m spending more than 10k I want a weapon for the big screen and standard theaters project at 2k.

          The cropped size is JUST for slow motion. The scarlet allows 4k 24fps recording which gives you the full area of the glass.

          I’m sure you’ve seen this before but if not, the below link is a great visual guide on how different 1080p is from 4k

          For some strange reason the C300 is a 4k camera but only allows 1080p. It’s the same thing they do with golfcarts. Most golfcarts can go way faster because they need the horsepower to go up hills but there’s a built in cap on the motor that prevents it from going over like 15mph. But if you flip the switch you can drive at speeds like 20-25mph.

          Maybe we can hack the C300 to allow 4k but clearly the manufactures are withholding 4k output until they’ve sold enough units and release generation 2 which would undoubtedly have higher resolution output modes.

          C300- $13k
          AF-100- $4k

          Even the AF-100 allows clean hdmi out!

          Is the C300 an amazing camera/tool? Yes, but can you buy other cameras with higher specs for cheaper? Sadly the answer is still yes.

          Specs is all we have right now but like Mr. Bloom said, it will ultimately come down to actual footage/experience to dictate the winner/better camera.

          • For sure. I mean, for reference, I’ve been shooting 4K (and DSLR) for the last four years. Most of what I do is on RED MX, and again… now Epic. I do understand the advantages and disadvantages of shooting RED through and through.

            Which is why I’m saying that if anything, the Scarlet is the loser when it comes to filmmaking and ecking out every little bit of performance for your dollar.

            You will never be able to make a Scarlet-X do 60 frames a second with the full sensor sans Twixtor.

            AT least, with the C300, you can always upres (what I bet would be very cleanly) to 1080/2K for todays masters.

            Don’t think I’m a RED hater, either. Again, I shoot the format ritually, and hail it.

    • I’m with you. The Sony F3 seems to be the best value for dollars. The Canon looks great and if the price dropped to match Scarlet it would be a no brainer. The thing about RED is they haven’t really been around that long and it’s an unreliable system. I can’t say any of the RED projects I’ve worked on were that pleasant – they get better all the time, but we’ve experienced issues in both audio and picture. Sony on the other hand I can’t say I’ve had even one issues that was the camera fault – XDCAM 350, F3, and F900 all awesome solid systems. Even the HDCAM vtr for all the deliverables was smooth and reliable to operate. Not bashing RED – we’ve had great results when it worked, but I for one want to wait until the kinks in the Scarlet are sorted out before I jump in.

  • I will be considering this camera more and more each month I have to wait for my Scarlet to ship.

  • Here’s a bit to add to it:

    Posted on DVXuser yesterday, more to come. My thoughts still remain the same: it’s a better image out of the box than the F3, and perhaps still more robust than the F3 with an external device. And, thanks to Scarlet’s hobbled abilities, the C300 stands to be my personal cam of choice when I’m not shooting Epic.

    F3 costs too much and gets too bulky.
    DSLRs don’t offer enough IQ to hang my hat on (Although I still use them from time to time)
    AF100 and FS100 are lacking in IQ department.
    Scarlet-X needs more care and lacks the kind of overcrank that would be sufficient (defined as full-sensor real-estate read out) to really matter in that department. I’d just use Epic and call it a day.

    Of course, jury is still out, hopefully not for long.

  • I think it will be on many peoples radar at a $13k price. I was really thinking the F3 had it all over canon especially at the 1080 60p over-crank – until I found out that YOU CANT HAVE S-LOG in anything faster than 30p!!!! To my eyes the F3 is nothing special without slog so although canon limits 60p to 720 – its still (as far as I know) 720 with all the magic latitude that the c300 brings to the table.

    • True (hopefully). But one question remains – I do intend to keep shooting with my 5d/7d. How will the images cut together? Will the noise pattern be so remarkabl different from any DSLR?

    • Not true. S-log works in even the sxs cards. What you can’t currently do which will be fixed early next year is record off speed externally. I have heard the f3 will be able to do 444 1080 60p with an update.

      • I wasnt aware you could record 1080 60p onto SxS? I thought it was only 59.94i at 1440 x 1080 35mbps which is a whole lot of ugly in its own right.

  • The point is it is already obsolete and the current bitrate limitations are just “corporate” choices rather than technical. They are presenting you with a held back product, in a way disrespecting you as a customer. I think you should stick it to them that you wont take shit! Just get an FS100 and be done with 1080p 60p!

  • The way I see it, you try the camera out before you buy it, instead of looking at specs and buying based on faith in specs.

    • trying the three options available through rentals will run you over a thousand dollars to get each camera for a day. Specs and sample videos are significant.

  • Numbers. Very deceptive. I withhold judgment until I shoot with it and grade it!

    • Vashi Nedomansky on 11.28.11 @ 7:34PM

      I think you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised…beautiful sensor/texture and a truly painless native edit workflow to boot. Look forward to seeing your take on it…

      • Vashi, the world wants to know…

        Can we get a painless teal and orange image out of this camera!? Of course without muddying up the footage…

        (hope that was a very obvious and painless joke)

        • Vashi Nedomansky on 11.28.11 @ 9:01PM

          Kholi…If you hold down the peaking and zebra button for 2.4 seconds…it will unleash the Mojo/Transformers camera profile preset of which you speak. Please don’t tell anyone. I wish I had that option in the HPX-170 you sold me in the dark days of 1/3″ sensors!

        • David Fulde on 11.28.11 @ 9:08PM

          I, quite literally, laughed out loud at this.

    • My point exactly.

  • Wow, That kinda changes the whole game doesn’t it.

  • The problem is : C300 ( body only ) should not cost more than $7.000,00. $7k is a fair price for this camera, and it would sale like crazy ;) …later Canon should bring a C500 to compete with Epic. Done ;-)! … and Koo I was almost right … way back saying here that Scarlet X would be basically a Red One … almost … ;) It’s a shame that Canon did not listen to potential customers … Canon executives…mamamia …do you think they ever heard of this amazing thing called internet ? ;)

  • Looking forward to getting my hands on it.

  • No, my opinion stands. The camera isn’t what the market wanted. I think its a huge marketing failure. I think our industry telegraphed what we wanted and now we have this. All posts including your blog post is explaining and in a way trying to make excuses for Canon ( not you, but the content in in).

    My opinion is coming as a marketer, I’m in top 5% of that field and I have a second business in video/film. IMO, Its not enough value for the price. Even if its $13k.

    I help other video/film people make more money with their business by showing them the end user doesn’t care about image quality after a certain threshold. Whether5d, fs100 or c300 to the viewer as long as it looks “professional” the brain bypasses the rest and moves to the story and figuring out what they are watching.

    That leaves the cameraman, the new cameras sell video and film people. So I think their marketing department focused on image quality for that reason. It would excite shooters with money. So I see a mistake fueled by greed on Canon’s part.

    Its simple, we all had out wallets out for a 5d mark III that solved all the problems we had. The fs100 solved the problems but we already have Canon glass and everyone was was waiting to see what Canon was going to do.

    So…why do we have c300?

    This camera doesn’t solve anybody’s problem lol. This is marketing 101 here. DSLR’s unstable, solutions, rig/stabalizer companies. The c300 is just…here….nobody asked for it, nobody really wanted it, so now it has to try and convince people which is a sucky place to be.

    So again, my opinion is from a advertiser first, film-maker second.

    So as a business guy, I woudn’t buy it. IMO this puts the fs100 in perspective and make it look more attractive since thats what we are left with in the price range most wanted. Broadcast, run and gun, and commercials are the last place Alexa quality is needed right now lol. Alteast for what I do.

    So in conclusion, is this a better mousetrap…or maybe its not a better mousetrap….it seems like an ok mousetrap….expensive..the other moustrap works pretty good…IDK….

    • Vashi Nedomansky on 11.28.11 @ 9:29PM

      Gary, I read your points coming from the business and advertising side and appreciate your point of view . I’m a filmmaker and for me the images produced by this camera are…stunning. After editing and living with 18 hours of the C300 footage on MOBIUS for more than a month….i find this camera exceeds the “certain threshold” of quality that you stated the end user needs for the project to look “professional”. Had we shot on the 5D or FS100, we could not have captured anywhere near the same latitude or quality or speed of set-ups on this project. If I’ve seen amazing films shot on miniDV, HDV and other non-pro platforms and I’ve seen 35mm films that look like ass. Speaking as a filmmaker…I feel the C300 brings an organic, beautiful and texturally film-like image that is easy to edit, easy to color and projects amazingly on a 60 foot screen. If the price point is too high (wherever it lands) then renting is always an option. The one thing we have as filmmakers, in this quickly evolving technical time is options….the rest is up to us.

      • The moving images look tight. Low light performance is huge. I’d much rather use fewer lights, get more setups, better performances than have 4K. The tight grain is what allows for more severe grading. I’d rather have tight natural grain in 8 bit than grainy 10 bit footage. People that focus on specs are less interested what matters, that is storytelling. You need slomo at 1080? Bring in an epic body on that day. Thats how it goes. All through time, no silent (sync sound) film cameras ever shot high speed, until Red. It’s not necessary. On most films, we can work with a 24P camera for most days then we bring in high speed bodies on a per day basis. I’m very excited for this camera. Or dont shoot some cheesy slomo shot. Shoot it in real time.

    • I’m glad you’re the top 5% of the marketing field, whatever that means. Since I doubt Canon’s marketing team is made of fewer than 20 randomly selected people in that field, though, it is likely that at least one of them also knows what they’re doing. (Also, your post is sort of reminiscent of that “making money first, film-making second” guy who also likes to rant about the C300 but whose name escapes me at the moment)

      In fact, though, I think the C300 may solve quite a few people’s “problems.” And I think what they did had good business sense, too.

      It should have been fairly obvious that Canon wasn’t going to compete successfully with RED by creating a comparable camera; RED already had most of the research and development — recall how similar the Scarlet is to the Epic. In addition, RED as a company has significantly less overhead. RED scheduled their announcement right after Canon’s, and they started selling the Scarlet with the stated intent of increasing it soon (Canon did basically the opposite). For these reasons I don’t think it should come as any surprise that the initial reaction was that the Canon C300 had no hope of competing directly with the Scarlet.

      So, instead, Canon wanted to capitalize on a slightly different niche. I think the real reason for the C300 is that Canon needed an excuse to develop the technology to BECOME competitive in the same markets as RED, etc. and it light of that fact the C300 is remarkably impressive. It seems to be carefully calculated to capitalize on the type of people who are interested in just going out and shooting movies with as little overhead as possible. The low light performance (with the idea being that a photographer hardly needs to think about lighting much less actually purchase expensive lighting setups), odd choice in storage format (a well-off hobbyist can edit the footage on his or her laptop), high dynamic range and small form factor all speak to this.

      They also seem to have been targeting still photographers (i.e. most of Canon’s other built-in fans) who are interested in trying out cinematography as well. I know a lot of hobbyist photographers who spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment; I am sure Canon was hoping for at least some of that demographic as well. Keep in mind that Vincent Laforet was a still photographer first.

      Almost everyone acknowledges that the C300 will find a niche. I think this wouldn’t be as likely if they’d released a camera significantly more like the RED Scarlet. And now that Canon is catching up to its competitors on the research and development aspect, they’ll probably be able to get a very good foothold in the near future.

      The C300 doesn’t solve your particular problems, maybe, and I’d wait to see how it really holds up once it gets on the market to know definitively whose problems, if anyone’s, it does solve. But I think dismissing it as an objective business failure, particularly before it actually goes on sale, is extremely foolish. I think Canon has probably done something quite clever.

    • Can’t remember where I read it (probably LA Times or Hollywood Reporter), a survey said that more people were more interested in WideScreen TV than HD TV. This survey was taken before HD TV was commercially available.

      No-one watching the Black Swan knew, OR CARED, that it was shot in Super16. Another Super16 feature shot by Matthew Libatique was “Never Die Alone.” Shot in Super16, 2k DI and blown up to 2.35 anamorphic 35mm release prints, way back in 2004.

      Did you see “Tadpol”, shoot in 2000 and released in 2002? They used an early Panasonic DVCAM and blew up to 1.85 35mm release prints. If the story is good, you get good actors and a theatrical release — if the story sucks …

  • Well, here’s another to add to the list of “reheated” and “outdated” images:

    I guess there’s been no advancements in Rolling Shutter fixes… either… according to this video (which clearly shows what no sub Alexa camera is doing RIGHT NOW.)

    • Scarlet can also skew.

      • I was being facetious: I’ll eat a chocolate shoe if scarlet gets anywhere near this Rolling shutter awesomeness or the lack there of. Epic isn’t even this good. There isn’t a digital camera put there with a CMOS sensor that reads like Alexa, and now the c300 can claim that.

  • Can someone explain what it is they are NOT liking about Mobius and the other films previewed on Nov 3 that were shot on the C300. I keep hearing about 8-bit this and 10-bit that. Yeah, I get it, 10-bit is ultimately BETTER for color grading etc. But, can you honestly tell me that the 8-bit codec was really a hindrance on those shoots? I would bet you one billion dollars not one lay person who watches anything shot with a C300 (whether online, on broadcast TV or projected on screen) will look at it and think “Hmmmm. Something’s not quite right. That color looks off by a bit or two.”

    Now, maybe when you get to really high end digital vfx and or keying it’ll make a difference. It’s not going to be the main camera for a $100 million blockbuster. But, that “Blade Runner’ spin-off had some vfx that looked pretty decent.

    A lot of the debating just seems like mental masturbation among filmmaking elite. And I know it can be fun to shop talk. But at the end of the day, what matters is what’s delivered and how the intended audience receives it. I would love to see a graded 8-bit video side by side with a graded 10-bit video (all other things being equal) and have someone point out specifically and quantitatively the difference in the two that is discernible to the human eye.

    What I saw from the camera is a kick ass image with a freaking amazing latitude. Add to that a great storyteller who can use those tools to their maximum capabilities, and you’re set.

    Phil said it best: use the camera that’s best suited for the jobs you’re primarily working on.

    • I’ll tell you what I don’t like about the featured shorts shot with the C300, well I shouldn’t say dislike, because it’s not that. Let’s take Möbius for example, beautifully shot, but honestly, if I didn’t know this was shot with a 20k camera with a 7k prime lens I might have guessed at a 7D or perhaps a 5DM2 with grain added in post. To my eye, it just doesn’t look any better than either one of those cameras. Now, perhaps that’s different when viewed on a 60ft screen, but I can only judge what I’ve seen via Canon’s website. I don’t know, should I expect something leaps and bounds better to me eye from a camera costing 9 times the price of the 5DM2? I would think many would say absolutely, but I’m not so sure about that. 8 years ago no video camera even came close to film until Canon came out from behind the bushes and totally sideswiped the entire video industry with the 5DM2. It basically put a big nail in the film supremacy and forever changed the way we view this profession. Personally, I think technology has reached a peak, for now, were you won’t see a night and day difference from any of these new large sensored cameras. I’m certainly not seeing 18k worth of difference between the cameras I’ve mentioned.

      • I partly disagree. I think if Möbius had been shot simultaneously with any of the Canon DSLRs, even by someone intimately familiar with them, the result, when compared with the actual movie, would have been so devastatingly awful that you’d be amazed, simply because Möbius takes specific advantage of the C300s strengths. If they’d completely re-lit the movie for a DSLR camera (using additional lights in almost all of the scenes where there is only natural light in the actual movie) they probably could have made it close, but it still wouldn’t have come that close, I don’t think.

        I don’t know if you’ve seen that Zacuto camera shootout that just got reposted here a few days ago but I think it’s worth watching (mainly the extreme lighting, color and skin tone scenes) to see where the Canon DSLRs really show weakness. There are certain situations where you can inter-cut DSLR with footage from whatever absurdly expensive camera you want and the difference will only be noticeable to someone looking for specific artifacts, but the scenes in Möbius are not those situations. That’s by design.

        I can completely understand what you mean in saying it’s not obvious by watching it that it’s not shot with a DSLR, it’s just that it only becomes obvious if you try to shoot something like it on a DSLR.

        • @cows, good points, but I’d bet money with correct lighting or let’s call that by it’s name, Cinematography, I’d bet money the 5DM2 could be Intercut with the C300 and you’d be guessing at what image is which. Let’s put it this way, if the series House never ever mentioned it’s finale was shot with the 5DM2 do you think we’d know, without question, that wasn’t shot on film? In my opinion, the answer to that question is absolutely, positively, no way.

          • I think anyone with a monitor that displays 1920*1080 or higher can tell the difference between a DSLR and a C300 even under ideal conditions as long as they know what to look for. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a huge quality gap, but the idea that you’d have to guess which is which seems fairly absurd, although I’d be open to an example in which you think it’s difficult to tell them apart.

            And I don’t think this is what you’re saying, but just because a lighting setup is unsuited to a 5D certainly doesn’t preclude it from being good cinematography.

          • <~~~ 5D and C300 Compared

            If you can't tell the difference, well, I guess you can't tell the difference. I wish I couldn't, then I would be satisfied with a Canon DSLR.

          • That’s the best example of this camera I’ve seen, purely from an image standpoint, that looks really good to my eye. However, is it an 18k better image than a 5DM2? In my opinion, not a chance. You’re right, I’m not saying that, I’m saying skilled Cinematography evens the playing field between a 5DM2 and this C300. Hypothetically, hand these two cameras to say a Ridley Scott, and tell him this scene needs to seamless between the two cameras. I don’t care what type of monitor you have, you’d be guessing at what image is which. Yes, the example is absurd, but you get the point.

          • Well, note that that test is down-scaled to 720p (click the scaling button on vimeo and you’ll see that it gets smaller). Were it actually displayed at 1080p the difference would be much more obvious. If you inter-cut the two I think there’s a fairly good chance the change in detail wouldn’t just be easy to see; I think it would be jarring even to people who weren’t looking for it.

      • I hear what you’re saying Robert, but I can tell you this. I’ve seen online footage shot on the RED, completed footage, graded and everything, that just doesn’t look that great. I KNOW it’s because of how it was lit, etc. And that kinda proves part of my point. The talent of the professional using the camera will have a huge impact on the final outcome. The talent of the colorist grading will have another huge impact. There are so many factors that go into what you end up with. And as you alluded to, you’re judging this based on a web video compressed with who knows what settings. How is your monitor calibrated? Are you using Mac or Windows? How does the browser you’re using render color and graphics? I could go on and on about all the other incidentals that affect what you see on the web. You really need to see them in a setting that eliminates as much of these incidentals as possible to get a real answer.

        And it’s funny you mention that you don’t see a difference between this camera and the DSLRs. Someone else made a similar comment on Vincent’s blog (or maybe it was on Vimeo) and Vincent’s response was perfect: the ASC cinematographers who were seeing the footage first hand begged to differ. That says a lot.

        • @Ron D. You bring up a good observation, so if this 20k camera you might be using has an end distribution to the web, from what you’ve described about the world wide web viewing variables, I would think this camera would not only be overkil,l but a totally waste of money, would it not? And for the record, there is one ASC that has stated on his blog, the C300 quote: “isn’t there yet” so not every ASC is completely sold on this camera.

          • My point was that there are many saying that this camera isn’t worth the money (which many say will be closer to $16k not $20) strictly because it’s 8bit. I’m saying, considering everything else, if you’re willing to shell out $16k for an F3, the C300 is not a lesser deal b/c it’s only 8bit.

            But you’re right though. If the web is your primary distribution platform, any camera over $10K may not be worth BUYING.

    • I agree, content is king, always. period. But you need to consider that the only person who is actually in the market for a $20k camera is exactly the type of person who cares between 8-bit and 10-bit colour, 14 stops vs 18 stops, 50Mbps vs RAW, 4k vs 1080 etc etc.
      People who are worried about content are producers, and they’d take that $20k, turn it into a $60k budget and have a docu shot on a $500 a week rental broadcast camera and be done by february ready for air next season.

      Different strokes for different folks.

      • I totally agree MRH, but I would hazard to guess that those people in market for a $20K camera are people who are shooting productions that TRULY NEED 10-bit vs. 8-bit. I guess what I’m saying is, I haven’t seen an argument yet for 10-bit over 8-bit given all the other benefits of the C300 (e.g. latitude, light sensitivity, etc.)

        When people make an argument for 4k or 5K vs 2K, I can see the benefits. It’s empirical. I can see the benefits of an 18 stop latitude vs. a 13 stop one. I can see the benefits of great low-light sensitivity. I can SEE all of these benefits ONLINE. Even with all the compression issues, monitor issues, etc., that I mentioned in my response to Robert T. What I haven’t been able to see (so far) is a comparison of 8bit vs. 10bit that makes me say “Wow! I gotta spend $10K more to ge those extra 2 bits.” If you can point to something online that truly demonstrates that, I’d love to see it. (I’m not being facetious either. I’m sincere. I’d really like to see it.)

        • Good point, Ron. Ask yourself this, do you think your client can see this difference? You have a very trained eye, so, if your client isn’t a DP do you really think they’ll see what you see? Never. And just for the record, it isn’t only myself that can’t see the big difference between the C300 Image and the 5DM2 Image,via the web. At least not an 18k difference.

          • Another good point Robert. No, I don’t think clients can see the difference for the most part. But I do think there’s a subtle difference in some imagery that a client may not register consciously, but it will affect them subconsciously.

            But the other thing to consider is that workflow for the filmmaker. If you have to do a lot of extra work in post or on set to account for issues (e.g moire, jello, blown highlights, etc.) having a superior camera will just make your post pro life easier. If the final product takes me 20 hours to edit vs. 12 b/c of post pro issues, even if the final product is not distinguishable from the client’s perspective, saving that extra post pro time job after job make is worth it.

            But, as I mentioned in the other reply, if your main distribution platform is the web, any camera over $10K may not be worth it.

  • First off, great post, and thanks for the interesting discussion. I think the options to rent or own a piece of kit that can make a great looking film, video or advertisement are manifold at this point. To jump off of Robert T’s post of cost vs. quality…

    Under the 10k mark we’re looking at DSLR’s, the Sony FS100 and the Panasonic AF100 (if you like the image) and can make these cameras work for you.

    Under 20k is where it gets interesting, and becomes much more of an investment for an owner, operator, independent. Here is where, I think the 5Dmk2 is showing its age. That full frame sensor has many benefits, especially in the cost vs. quality arena, but as far as dynamic range and flexibility in post, that’s where the handicap is.

    Between the F3, C300, and Scarlet.
    it remains to be seen until a comparison comes up. My guess is that the C300 narrowly beats the F3 in image quality and iso sensitivity, Canon has always surprised us with its ability to see into the night. However RED flashes that unique flexibility in post-production and the ability to be in some ways, future proof. 4k is barely a glint in the eye of the big manufacturers, yes I know the f65 exists but it’s nowhere in the same league, price wise. At this price range, the Scarlet is the only one that is ready for the 4k wave that should hit in a few years. (which is rather staggering).

    BUT, in regards to the Canon, I was curious if anyone else saw a sort of video-like quality in the higher iso’s? The short film XXIT (the Blade Runner-esque one) seemed to have a sort of video quality in the night shoots in San Francisco.
    Can anyone comment on that (shutter speed? iso?) or am I just seeing things? Go to Canon’s media gallery and check out the film past the 5 minute mark, because it does seem to have some of the problems I’ve seen in other CMOS sensors during low light. Unless, that was an aesthetic choice and they shot at a different frame rate….

    • Yeah, I totally saw what you were talking about on xxit. I’ m guessing it was something the dp did to differentiate the two worlds, as the opening of the film didn’t have those problems, and neither does this test reel…

      My opinion since nov 3rd has slowly done a complete 180. I am way more excited about this camera and the possibilities it opens up. It seems to me like it will have all the ease of use (both in production and post) of a DSLR, with an image that will be Alexa good.

    • Rish,

      I think it comes down to which picture profile you use. Vincent Laforet said somewhere that the camera looks terrible at default settings — just like a DSLR. Switch it over to Canon LOG and then it’s more filmic; out of the box it probably is very video-y (which is strange, given they’re trying to sell it as a Hollywood movie camera, with only manual focus etc. — you’d think they would default the cam to “filmic” mode).

  • So, slightly off topic since everyone is discussing the camera itself, but in regards to the Forbes article…

    THE PHANTOM MENACE?! SERIOUSLY? I mean, come on. The merits of the actual film itself aside, that’s the BEST example he’s seen? I mean, there are some movies that are blatantly “video-y” looking (Collateral and Public Enemies come to mind), but really? I mean, look at movies like Zodiac, The Social Network, or Winter’s Bone. There are more that don’t come immediately to mind, but those are movies where (Winter’s Bone) I had no idea it was shot digitally until after viewing, or I completely forgot about while watching (Zodiac, TSN).

    I mean Star Wars didn’t look awful, but if that’s the best example he’s seen, he obviously doesn’t get out much.

  • I’m with Vashi. The C300 is an awesome beast. What Vashi has posted is true. People are too indoctrinated with “specs” and are being too narrow visioned. People are not realizing what this camera is all about. Picture quality superb. Editing capability awesome. Quick work flow. Cheap recording storage. And so on.

    PS. I think the footage from the C300 can be on par to film (with proper grading), proper shooting, etc.

    • I didn’t realize on nov 3rd how special this camera was… I am totally with you Ron. I am way excited to get to using this camera,

  • that one is quite interesting:
    i guess for documentary shooting, it truly might be a great camera

  • Koo..admit had RED envy and so you rushed it….big time.
    You barely have the budget to pull off all the SSD and lights you will need
    to shoot your feature on the Scarlet.

    You should have leveraged this website to get Canon to donate a camera.
    They would have loved the publicity from a daily/weekly production blog.
    And you could have done what Richard Crudo ASC did on Max is
    a feature with no light bigger than a 2K.

    Richard Crudo is a past president of the ASC and he knows quality imagery.
    You seem like a smart guy. Why did you buy Scarlet so soon.??.. What
    was the rush..??..Why did you not even give Canon a chance..let alone a test??
    Your film will hurt for this…it’s barely budget to pull off a school age set
    feature and have it look convincing.

    Admit it you jumped the gun…you had case of Scarlet Fever…and your film may suffer for it.
    I hope it doesn’t..and wish you luck..but to my eyes this is not a good starting decision for it.

    • As I said before, purchasing a SCARLET had to make sense even if I don’t use it on Man Child. I listed a dozen considerations, but once you get into the subtleties of how a large equipment purchase fits into your entire career, there are a few more dozen reasons that didn’t make the post:

      That said, renting an EPIC as A cam, and bringing on owner/operators of SCARLET-X(s) as B cam(s), will give us a hell of a lot of flexibility. The RED isn’t amazing in low light — but it’s not terrible either. 800 ISO native sensitivity and you can push the RAW pretty far in post.

      No camera is the “best” camera period. You have to use what’s best for your project. If I were shooting on a C300, how would I get the slow motion shots that are fairly prominent in the script? Drop it to 720p/60? Rent a Phantom and try to match it to the C300? EPIC/SCARLET is a great A/B pairing. If there’s a better option by the time we’re shooting, I’ll use that.

      • for a second forgot this is a No Film School…and not cinema 5D.
        So yeah it’s fine to go Red…if you needed slow-mo rent Epic..
        if you needed really slow-mo rent Phantom.

        Really the issue is why you did not even test Canon
        can’t go by specs any can only go by the picture.
        And you seem to have gone for Red only by the specs.
        No testing is my issue…you could have tested Scarlet vs.
        Canon to see what was best for the BasketBall movie..
        ..that WOULD have made for a great article.

        • “As I said before, purchasing a SCARLET had to make sense even if I don’t use it on Man Child.”

          I can’t test the Canon C300, it isn’t out yet.

          • .sorry I forgot..not till 2012..but with this website I can’t
            believe Canon wouldn’t give you one to test or
            even shoot feature with it. Max is Back is already done.

  • Arriflex 435 is a nice camera. I wonder which camera has footage that can be morphed very similar to the Arriflex? I figured out the answer…

  • I am surprised that RED is pitching scarlet for big screen because the future for first run features is home theatre. Who are the main audience to the big screen theaters now but teens on a date?

    50″ + LED home theatre with 7.1 sound is where the market is going for first run features.

    I remember when Virgin Megastores opened.. and soon went BK just as iTunes was ramping up. The BlockBuster stores are closing and film is on its death bed.

    It’s all about Google TV and… yes, YouTube that completed a $100 million upgrade for distribution of feature content.

    Forget about distribution for the silver screen my friends and look to the very near future.

    The times they are a chang’in.

  • So can anyone confirm if the HD-SDI output is 8 or 10 bits?