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DP Rodney Charters Calls the Canon C300 the 'Camera of the Decade'

01.3.12 @ 11:50AM Tags : , , , ,

Rodney Charters needs no introduction (he’s best known as the DP of 24), and along with Drew Gardner and Lan Bui he recently got his hands on the Canon C300. The camera is absolutely the post-DSLR camera of the moment in the sense that it uses the DSLR form factor in a way that the Sony F3 does not, and also in the sense that it is convenient like a DSLR in a way that the RED SCARLET is not. But “camera of the decade?” Sure, if the decade was 2000-2010. 2010-2020… I’m not so sure. Here are their very informal behind-the-scenes videos:

As I said, these are very informal BTS videos; the second video, below, is just a ustream live broadcast. But when Charters is involved, it’s a nice opportunity to see and hear the thoughts of a Hollywood DP.

Similar to the RED SCARLET/EPIC, the C300 does not have XLR audio inputs on the body itself (these cameras are getting so small that there’s no room), but unlike the SCARLET the C300 does ship with its own XLR adapter (Wooden Camera’s A-Box is currently the best XLR audio option for RED DSMCs).

Here’s the stream archive:

You’ll note they throw around the possibility of the camera getting down to the “magical” number of $10k, possibly by not including the monitor and XLR audio adapter — a move that is reminiscent of RED. As Charters says, “sound is a separate event.”

[via NinoFilm]


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Description image 48 COMMENTS

  • Rev. Benjamin on 01.3.12 @ 12:07PM

    Dude… wow. Hype at its best. Anyone see the shootout recently where the GH2 faired just as well with hack as a c300? At around 1/24th of the cost or so? Yeah.

    • I think people are still under the WOW effect when it comes to these two cameras.

    • No, but I’d be interested in seeing such s test.

    • The GH2 resolves about as much detail as a C300…at least it appears to do so. That is to say nothing of dynamic range. Or clean low light.

      Things tend to cost what they do for a reason.

    • Rev. Benjamin on 01.3.12 @ 4:49PM

      Here’s what I’m referring to gents:

      I love this quote:
      “The C300 is sold in limited quantities to industry professionals who love to use what it offers above a DSLR and it has a high level of refinement and a highly targeted feature set. The GH2 is sold in large quantities to mass market consumers in a fiercely competitive arms race of technology against other industry players, with a simplified feature-set that appeals to casual shooters.

      And due to the wonderful world of semiconductors their images are similar in most situations.”

      I just can’t see the arguement for cost here. Why would anyone ever arbitrarily pay more for the SAME QUALITY? And, thus, I certainly can’t see the argument for “the camera of the decade” nonsense.

      Bonus tests:

      • Rev., you know as well as I do that the clients end up paying for the c300 later with the wonderfully increased overhead ;)

      • again, I’d wait for part 2 before declaring “same quality”
        right now all I’m confortable with is “nearly same resolution”

      • When you shoot with budgets like Rodney Charters does, a few thousand more Dollars for a camera doesn’t matter, what matters is: is it a reliable tool for professional production? The ease-of-use on set is probably higher in the C300 than in the GH2 (which is still mainly a prosumer dslr camera) and that is what counts for Charter’s projects.
        If you shoot something like “24″, you really don’t want to fiddle with a dslr with hacked firmware, you need a 110% reliable production tool.
        This is the reason why Charters likes the C300 so much. It is his opinion based on his needs for his kind of productions. If your production has a budget of 5K in total, you probably rather shoot with a GH2 and spend the money elsewhere, and I think Rodney Charters wouldn’t disagree.

  • Well, in eight years’ time I’ll wave at him from the skies as I fly past on my jetpack, shooting 50k footage with sensors in my eyeballs.

    Camera of the decade indeed!

    • ummmm dude it’s 2012… Camera of the decade indeed because it’s the end :P

      • My bad- 2011/2012 is the end of a decade… Just like 1991/1992 marked the long overdue end of the 80s.

        On the camera side of things- if you’re talking about the past ten years, my PD150 was a hell of a workhorse back in the day.

    • I think he’ll be flying right above you with 80K sensors in his toes and fingers by then! ;)
      He’s a great DP with great lighting skills, don’t underestimate him! I just like the guy, always so calm and with a super positive attitude.

  • He obviously has shiny object syndrome right now. It also hasn’t been proven in field against other cameras. Only “tests”. Typically awards are given for achievement….crazy statement IMO.

  • “Camera of the decade.” You guys are as bad as politicians trying to extrapolate some kind of meaning from that. Rodney charters is a freakin’ advocate for DSLRs…he is not a film crazy DP that proclaims dogmatic curses upon the digital world. He will embrace other cameras as they come along. All I see is a ringing endorsement for this camera as a culmination of what a small form factor camera ought to be.

    • That’s what I think as well. I mean Charters is a big fan of 35mm, he shot 24 entirely on 35mm film because he liked the look of the film grain.
      But he’s also a dp who likes to light and work in a very pragmatic way – he says when 99,9% of my audience watches my work in 1080, then I can just as well shoot 1080 and benefit from the lower data rates. When he likes the look of the footage, he doesn’t care if it’s 8bit or 10bit. He said in another interview that the only reason you would need 10bit was green screens, and he thinks the C300 handles that very well because of the seperate green channel, so there’s no explicite need for 10bit.
      I am pretty sure he wouldn’t use the C300 for every kind of project, but he sees all the positive aspects of the C300 as what they are.

  • I’m pretty sure he just never got his hands on an Alexa since that has replaced film for most TV and commercial functions. How much did Canon give for that statement I wonder?

    • I guess you were kidding when you said that, seeing as how Rodney Charters has been shooting Alexa since it dropped…

      Sometimes the ignorance of newbie no-name no-budget filmmakers is appalling.

    • You do realize he mentions in the ustream vid that he shoots with both the Alexa and Red cameras, right?

  • Noel Evans on 01.3.12 @ 3:09PM

    Agreed Kholi and in addition the level at which people will cast aspersions upon known DOP’s and cinematographers for having an opinion has become appalling. Personally I havent held a C300 to form an opinion myself on what its like, but Im very interested in doing so.

  • I don’t see why people are up in arms about an of the cuff remark like this, it’s hardly a prepared statement, and the camera well may be worthy of the claim for it’s category whatever that is. Doesn’t mean things will stay that way either.. but for me a working DP’s statement holds a lot of weight.

    • Especially one that paints pictures with talent such as Charters.

      I can’t wait to get my hands on a C300.

  • Darrell Ayer on 01.3.12 @ 9:24PM

    Kholi, Noel and whom ever else, I stand by my statement. I don’t see how anyone who’s shot an Alexa or a Red can call a C300 “Camera of the decade.” It’s far from, it’s the next step for HDSLR in much the same way the FS100 is. I simply don’t agree with his statement. I feel it’s justified to be a fair bit flippant about such a bold statement, since this is the internet. He didn’t call it the $20k camera of the decade. Deriding me doesn’t make his statement any less erroneous. The DVX100 for inspiring the last decade of filmmakers to get into the game was the camera of the decade. The 5D Mark II for bringing cinema standards to zero budget filmmaking is the camera of the decade. The Arri Alexa for bringing film like latitude and look to digital cinema is the camera of the decade. The C300 is not, hell it’s not really even out yet. In six months it’ll be another “damn camera.” I have no problem with Charters, but I don’t agree with his statement.
    I’m sorry if I ruined your day by not falling in line. Please name call some more.

    • I agree with you.
      Also why should I pay above 10k if I am going to use an external device to sync the audio in post. what all these great canon Engineers and designers were thinking about. the FS100 is smaller than the c300 found a place for audio XLR input on the body. it is just stupid . Please be honest and acknowledge it..

    • Rev. Benjamin on 01.4.12 @ 9:09AM

      Darrell, you know what – I’m with you on the dvx100 (though I liked the “b” better than the “a”… whichever one did 16×9 squeeze), 5d2, and alexa. I agree completely. Camera haters gon’ hate… hahaha what a nerd thing to hate about, right?! We’re all in nerd town right now!

    • You seemed to have missed the PRIME reason why I responded to you the way that I did: five seconds of research on the internet would’ve prevented you from coming off as uninformed and inexperienced. Charters HAS shot PLENTY of Alexa, and recent said that it has surpassed the quality of film.

      Like whatever camera you like. Has nothing to do with falling in line, has everything to do with you not studying up before you speak.

      • Perhaps it was said to make a point, because the Alexa is much more the “camera of the decade” than the C300. And a lack of experience with or lapse of memory could be the only reason that I feel Charters would make the claim. Unless he aims to be the next Shane Hurlbut for the C300 in a misguided attemept at attention i cannot see how this conclusion was drawn. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. If a camera would get Deakins to stop shooting film, I can’t understand Charters dismissing it. But hey, twitter is current in the moment type statements.
        Kholi, please calm down, it’s not like I slapped your mother.

        • You’ve ended two of your “responses” with something very stupid and childish; go for three.

          “Memory Lapse”… well, okay then. If that’s your excuse.

        • I guess you can’t put the Alexa and the C300 in the same ball park, there is a significant price difference between the two. Maybe Charters meant the C300 was the camera of the decade in the lower-priced segment (for his kind of productions, the C300 is still a lower priced camera).
          I heard him say in another video that the dynamic range of the Alexa is clearly superior, so no, he is not delusional or anything. He just has a very positive attitude towards everything, I guess.

      • In fact, he owns two of them.

  • c.d.embrey on 01.4.12 @ 1:26PM

    The AF100, FS100. F3 and C300 all have ergonomic nightmares. The Zacuto rig they had addresses the problem. But why can’t Panasonic, Sony and Canon deliver a camera that doesn’t require a KludgeKage and an accessory EVF???

    Rodney Charters mentioned the Eclair ACL a very ergonomic 16mm film camera. With a 200′ magazine and an Angenieux 9.5 – 57 lens it wasn’t much bigger than a Super8 camera. Why can’t Canon/Panasonic/RED/Sony give us an easy to use ACL like design?

    • Well they could use the standard shoulder-mount form factor, like all the broadcast cameras, but that wouldn’t be perfect for rigging the camera onto a steadicam or crane.
      With digital film cameras I think they want to give the user the most possible options for modular rigging. And probably that is exactly what most film productions need, not so much a perfect shoulder-mount that is rather bulky and can’t for example be put into a small 3D rig.

  • Camera of the Decade? Everyone gets a little too excited sometimes. Back to reality…

    I downloaded the 1080P version of Phillip’s test referenced in this thread.

    The Gh2 clearly is not matching up to the C300 in 1080P. I suspect the streaming version is only 720P because Vimeo uses scaling to fill my 1080 screen.

    I did screen captures of the 4 best cameras and the C300 looked like a clear winner to me. The Gh2 had a tighter frame than the other three cameras giving it an illusion of showing more resolution than it actually does. Check out the left and right edges of the frame and the size of the items within the frame.

    When you dive in and look for detail in the trees etc. I’d rate it C300, FS3, FS100 and GH2. I overlayed them in Photoshop and I saw the C300 had the widest frame of all the cameras and STILL looked like it was holding more detail.

    The C300 almost looks like it’s got sharpening in camera but it’s not creating weird aliasing so it could be real resolution. Regardless – it “appears” sharpest to my eye and the difference is immediately obvious in a 1080P frame grab.

    The GH2 also was shot under a cloud and the other cameras had sunlight so the dynamic range may appear better than it is on the GH2. The GH2 has trouble with highlights under a cloud that the C300 is holding in direct sun. That’s the kind of thing pros are really interested in.

    Theoretically the C300 is suppose to kill in low light too. Time will tell, but everyone with a preproduction model has said the as much. Phillip’s next test will be interesting.

    It’s also important to consider there are many things a pro would pay extra for that are not directly related to picture quality.

    Sensor size. Ergonomics, weight & usability. Battery cost and life. Inputs and outputs. HD-SDI. timecode. codec, sound options, post workflow and color grade capability. Focusing options. Scopes. Frame rates and other camera settings. Image stabilization. Image Skew. Built in ND. Performance in high heat or cold weather. Wireless and remote capabilities. etc. etc.

    There’s just a ton of stuff different pros consider important depending on how they work. Any of it could be worth a fair amount of money to different people. For me, I need really good on camera focusing. I like edge highlight and zoom. I think the C300 allows zoom for focus during record, for instance.

    One thing I noticed in other C300 footage is it’s very good with image skewing and stabilization.

    Also – what are clients asking for? A lot of clients started asking for 7D’s and 5D’s a couple years ago. So people bought ‘em and shot ‘em.

    I suspect the next round of Canon DSLRs will be amazing and rival the C300 due line skipping going away.

    Is the GH2 amazing?! Yes. I’ve seen some great footage out of it.

    @E-kay – the C300 seems a fair bit smaller than a FS-100. Scarlet couldn’t manage to get an XLR on it either. Bummer, I agree. Here’s a pic with C300 next to FS-100:

    I shot a FS-100 for two weeks. Very cool camera. May be the best thing under $10K.

    disclaimer – Most people irrationally defend what they own. It’s a known phenomenon in marketing circles. I own 2 REDs and a 7D and have owned a camera made by every major company. I’ve shot many more than I’ve owned. I attempt to be camera agnostic when analyzing this stuff but everyone has a bias.

    • Rev. Benjamin on 01.4.12 @ 4:12PM

      This was an incredibly well thought out reply and dramatically adds to this conversation, Joel. Thank you for posting. Consider posting your screen caps from your own test somewhere? I’d be really interested to see what you came up with. (Or I can get un-lazy and do it myself when I’m on a faster connection : D.)

      And you’re 100% right on the “my camera” bias. I shoot all dslrs weekly, and Alexa/RED about five or six times a year. Concerning my bias – I always defend GH2 because I always feel like I’m in crazytown with how things are priced… I just can’t understand it!

    • Jackson Childs on 01.10.12 @ 11:56AM

      Good comment Joel. I’d like to read your blog!

    • Great reponse Joel. And you’re right about the defense of what one owns. I’ve done that too in the past (it’s easy to get excited about a shiny new object,) though to be fair in the case of the FS100 I bashed a lot about it from the beginning. :) After shooting with it for some time, I sill complain (build, highlight handling, LCD, etc.) but for 5K there’s no doubt it hits a good price/performance ratio. (Except for the plastic they used for the body.)

      When I get the C300 if it has issues, I’ll speak of them too. No camera is perfect; they are all just tools. I suppose the goal is to have a reasonably priced tool that allows you to think creatively and get the shots you want/need that have a sense of hollywood/broadcast-level production value without fiddling with the camera. We’re getting closer.

      All of this personal attacking and ranting regarding camera gear, creative projects, blogs, and so on that I see so often online is the definition of people who have yet to grow up and become adults. It’s no at all conducive to a reason discussion about the craft of making visuals.

      • As a sidenote, and just for the fun of prognostication, do you guys think Canon will come out with a $5k Super35 camera ala the FS100? Or will they leave that to 1DX/DSLR territory? I don’t see what they could “disable” to make the C300 cheaper — give it a 24Mbs AVCHD codec? EF mount-only?

  • Clearly Canon fan boy propaganda….

  • Umm…. camera of the Decade is the DVX100. The next 10 years, 2010-2020…. F65. Until you’ve seen F65 Footage…. you cant understand.

    • Really? I’ve seen F65 footage, on a 4K projector… and I wasn’t blown away. I mean, once you get to EPIC/ALEXA/F65 range, everything is different shades of amazing… they’re all great… but I didn’t see anything from the F65 that made my jaw drop. Then again, the first couple of things I saw from the ALEXA didn’t blow me away either, and now most everything I see from it, I fall in love with. Sony is also known to love the “video” look, so I’d love to see some more filmic stuff from the F65 instead of Sony’s own demos.

  • Camera of the decade for whom?

    I had the same thought about the dvx-100. For MTV , “reality” shows, and a good percentage of working videographers, this is probably so. For Steven Soderbergh and a good number of other’s higher up the proverbial food chain it was probably RED ONE.

    Charters shoots predominately for TV, and I think (admitted speculation) that this is in fact the main intended market for the C300. If there is a C300b that has 10-bit and a screaming codec . . . maybe for some it might be camera of the decade. I doubt there will be only one camera of the next decade. The competition is pretty fierce lately.

    I think to scream “fanboy” or “hype” in the direction of Rodney Chambers (have a look at the fruit on that guys tree!!!) or to polarize C300 vs Scarlet vs ______ reveals a shallow relationship to film artistry/ industry. Man, technical talk and brand bashing can be such a black hole to fall into.
    Think a bit deeper, a bit longer before posting and you might just add something really good to the conversation.

  • Sorry…but the hacked GH2 is the “camera of the decade”.

  • I’d like to respond to the comment above that the only “fix” for the Canon’s audio input jacks being 3.5mm is the A-Box from Wooden Camera. Energy Transformation Systems ( manufactures a passive DSLR audio camera balun (Part No. PA911 mono and PA912 two-channel) that is not merely an adapter but a miniature transformer-based design that enables the use of high-end microphones using XLR connectors. The devices are available from the manufacturer or from the B&H catalog, and can be used with the RED, Canon, and Nikon cameras.

  • Well, I suppose now the dust has cleared, we know the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is the “camera of the decade.”

  • I have been editing a lot of footage shot with the C300 and find it to be very green and awful for skin tones