August 24, 2014

How to Get the Most Dynamic Range Out of the Canon C100 & C300

c300 canon color science4Even though Canon DSLRs might not be getting a whole lot of love from filmmakers these days, the Cinema-EOS line of cameras from Canon, the C100 and C300 in particular, have been widely adopted in the professional video production world, especially for documentary-style work. Since these cameras are fairly ubiquitous at this point, it makes sense for us to know how to get the most out of them. A recent video from AbelCine helps us do just that by teaching us how to maximize dynamic range on the C100 and C300 by tweaking the internal gamma settings.

There are actually two different ways to maximize the dynamic range of these cameras, although which one you use depends entirely on your post-production workflow and how quickly you need to deliver your video. If tight delivery deadlines aren't an issue and you want to squeeze every last bit of dynamic range out of the sensor, you'll want to shoot with a Canon log (C-log) gamma profile as it preserves the most color and luminance data from the sensor. The caveat is that, like other log profiles, pulling an aesthetically pleasing image from C-log takes quite a bit of color correction.

For folks who need to deliver quickly, however, the Wide DR gamma setting on the C100 and C300 can provide fantastic results without the need for intensive post processing. Like the standard gamma profiles included on the cameras, what you see is what you get. But the Wide DR gamma adds roughly another stop of latitude in the highlights compared to those standard profiles, which depending on your shooting situation, might be the difference between highlights that are completely blown and highlights that are only beginning to clip.

Link: Using Wide DR Gamma with the Canon C100 and C300 -- AbelCine

Your Comment

37 Comments

How to get the most out of a C100 or C300?? Thats easy. Sell one and you can either 3 or 6 x Sony a7s (depending on if its a C100 or C300 your selling ;)

Boom! Instant dynamic range boost :) Plus 4K when the Shogun arrives.

August 24, 2014 at 7:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Obviously you don't own a C100 or C300...

August 24, 2014 at 8:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark

lol...

August 24, 2014 at 9:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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killahbee

Bless your heart, Simon.

August 24, 2014 at 10:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jordan

I have both Sony is a great tool but C100 I shoot with all day long.

August 24, 2014 at 11:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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milk

Ergonomics motherfucker, do you speak it?!

August 24, 2014 at 2:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Bertzie

You can hold an a7s up to your eye all day. Can you do that with a C300? The DSLR form factor is the ultimate in ergonomics. Its only when idiots add unnecessary cages and matte boxes to look "cool" that they don't need that they become less ergonomic.

August 24, 2014 at 9:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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"The DSLR form factor is the ultimate in ergonomics."

http://oi46.tinypic.com/24e162t.jpg

August 24, 2014 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dembek

Its true. Can you think of another camera form that is more comfortable to hold up to your eye?

And when on a tripod its a level playing field anyhoo. Add and expand to your hearts content. But that ability to pick up a DSLR style camera, hold it to your eye and go is unbeatable. People need to ween themselves off rigs and cages and matte boxes when they don't need them. Too much show. Same picture.

August 24, 2014 at 11:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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As it says at the top, the C100 and C300 are "widely adopted in the professional video production world". If you think matte boxes and cages are just about looking cool, you obviously don't work in that world. There's a lot more that goes into camera choices than whether or not they have DSLR ergonomics, which can sometimes be something you don't want.

August 25, 2014 at 12:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marc

My point was its a myth that DSLRs have poor ergonomics. They start out with great ergonomics and then progressively end up as awkward and others as cages etc are added. A DSLR with a minimalist cage and top handle is every bit and ergonomic as a C300 and with an a7s you have pro video software inside with different coloured peaking, colourbars, zebra etc etc.

The a7s is actually more customisable in terms of assigning buttons to functions than the F5!

August 25, 2014 at 4:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Very very much disagree. Switching to the C100 has made shooting so much easier.

September 2, 2014 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kian

D-SLR's have horrible ergonomics...for video shooters. First of all, you don't hold a D-SLR up to your eye...b/c you wouldn't see anything...the mirror is locked up in video mode. You lose a point of contact, and a heap of stability along with it by *not* being able to hold it up to your eye... Plus, of course, you need more stability b/c you're not just filming one instance for fraction of a second...that's why you need all the rigging.

Or you could just film the ugliest shakiest handheld short of smartphone shooting.

September 3, 2014 at 2:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

Sounds like you just started shooting in the last four or 5 years. DSLRs are not what I would call ergonomic. They also don't have the buttons that a professionals will need to access quickly. DSLRs were never meant to be used for video. DSLRs are ergonomic for taking stills.

May 6, 2015 at 7:34PM

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Clint Montgomery
Director of Photography
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Only an idiot would call someone an idiot for adding a matte box. A matte box is a functional addition in a certain situation or environment. You come off sounding like a total jerk.

August 29, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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James

With all due respect Simon, I dare you to call Shane Hurlbut an idiot for adding "unnecessary cages and matte boxes" to his DSLR, lol. He's championed the use of the DSLR for use in cinematic shooting for quite a few years now, and he'd be the first one to tell you that you're barking up the wrong tree...and that you don't know what you're talking about.

February 19, 2016 at 11:46PM

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That's cute.

August 24, 2014 at 4:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dembek

Why bother? Why read the heading 'How to Get the Most Dynamic Range Out of the Canon C100 & C300' then come to this tutorial if that is your opinion? You're just a troll looking for a reaction?

This article has nothing to do with ergonomics. It's about dynamic range! You come off sounding like a jerk. You certainly have offered nothing positive in this thread other than to show us all how smart and ahead of the game you are compared to us stupid, clueless C100/C300 users.

August 29, 2014 at 8:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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James

Jerk.

August 29, 2014 at 8:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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James

Simon, I'll be nice because your probally new to cinematography. no the a7 is one of the worst looking cameras ever, the c100/300 are not the best, but they are certainly better in virtually every way possible. a camera isnt just about 4k, it's about the color science inside, how it deals with shadows and hilights, what options it etc... and the A7 is quite frankly shit. its a kids toy camera. again i'm being nice because your obviously new to camras, but please take some time to learn before you go making such idiotic comments.

April 3, 2015 at 4:10PM

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matt
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I really want to know how many stops do C100 have? is it 11.9 EVs or better? Close to GH4's one ?

August 24, 2014 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Moc

The C series from Canon is rated at 12 stops of dynamic range, and a number of tests have shown that they hold detail better in dynamic scenes better than the GH4.

August 24, 2014 at 4:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dembek

How to Get the Most Dynamic Range Out of the Canon C100 & C300

Cinema Locked Mode: On

August 24, 2014 at 11:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Most people forget that a higher DR is only required if light conditions switches frequently while filming. In most cases the correct lighting on set solves issues with lower cameras having lover DR. And even if a window gets blown out during an interiour shot.... who cares? No one can compare it with another camera at the time of watching.

This HDR blablabla gets annoying. HDR DOES NOT MAKE YOUR FILM BETTER.

August 24, 2014 at 11:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom DP

I find that images with dark darks, bright brights, and visible detail across both ends are often very appealing to look at. Not that every film needs to look like that, but it's much closer to the way our eyes see in most circumstances (sunlight, bright lightbulbs, things blocking them, etc.) and it's always easy to purposefully lose the detail if one wants in post.

As long as a minimum level of sharpness and resolution are met, I'd spend the money on DR more than any other camera feature, without blinking. Different strokes for different folks. I do hear you though- lighting carefully can definitely go a long way to approximate that sort of look in-camera (i.e. putting ND gel on windows, intentionally-wattaged practicals, etc.) and a sensitive camera won't be able to rescue everything

August 25, 2014 at 4:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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People often talk about camera specs being good because they're a closer match for what our eyes see. But is that true?

August 25, 2014 at 5:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Paper_bag

My opinion on these things is like Douglas Trumbull- the more detail the better- as long as it can gracefully be brought down when needed for stylistic reasons (for example- see his approach to shooting 120FPS but delivering at 24FPS for scenes that need it- without it feeling any different than if it were natively shot in 24fps)

The reason I think like this is that our eye/nervous system is analog, not digital, and is also fairly adaptive. More to the point- while eventually the digital capabilities will be visually indistinguishable from what we can perceive, it's not there yet- not by a long shot. Our eyes+brains are much more capable at seeing on both ends of the spectrum than cameras are (i.e. ("20+ stops", etc.).

When the digital capabilities increase to the point that it's indistinguishable from what we actually see, I will say that other factors like recording time, battery life, portability, etc. will be much more important to me (i.e. Vinyl vs. Flac)

August 25, 2014 at 6:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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What The hell??????
Do you have any idea what DR is? have you ever used a camera???
I can use 13 stops on a face let alone the background. DR has nothing specifically to do with "conditions switching".

April 8, 2015 at 12:43PM

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edward
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Both C Log and Wide DR float the blacks. C log is often at 20 IRE, but typically about 10. adjusting the ped to expand the bottom is important, especially in a 8bit codec wether internal or output (8bit) to external recorder. funny thing is you may not have 12 stops of DR in your shot and find whites don't hit the top.

also the other gamma settings are pretty adjustable and you may find EOS std isn't bad once you max out the highlight handling. this is especially true when you can't expect much if any CC after the fact.

C Log corrects manually rather easily, it does NOT require "extensive CC" at all if you shoot with decent exposures and WB. in fact simply NOT applying a LUT is probably your first best step because the LUTs that are out there are all handled rather badly - resolve, SG, ect. they all will clip values, do weird things and just give you nasty looking footage. you'll find ignoring the LUT application and grading by eye is rather quick with even RGB curves or 3 way CC.

S

August 24, 2014 at 2:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Same here. I have always found it very easy to correct C Log on the C300.

I always have a problem with DR comparison charts that include the C300. I used it for more than 40 days in very harsh ligth (outdoors in South Africa, Congo, Europe...) and find it very hard to clip highlights if you know how to expose it correctly. In fact I find it easier to get nice highlights compared to my FS700. Well that was before I bough the Odyssey 7Q.

August 24, 2014 at 2:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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My understanding is that you don't want to use C-Log unless it's really called for, in the highest of contrast situations. Otherwise, WDR is the one to work with in most cases. I am a relatively new C300 owner and I use WDR in most cases. I'm mostly a stills shooter though, and if I'm allowed to loosely compare the MXF files to jpegs, my experience would support that approach. The more you have to push the .jpeg CC, the more likely you'll get banding. I'd much rather have an image that is closer to what I want in the final product than to have to redistribute all that data from an unnecessarily flat image. Am I somehow wrong for believing that?

August 25, 2014 at 4:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dave

Just a question of taste, isn't it? Assume that grading C-Log leads to banding (don't know if that's true). Well, wouldn't there still be plenty of people willing to cop that in return for higher DR? Just depends what's important to you.

August 25, 2014 at 5:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Paper_bag

Well, maybe not just a question of taste. If I'm shooting WDR and in no danger of clipping anything, and getting a nice waveform or parade or whatever you use to measure, then in that situation I don't see how C-Log is an advantage. But I do see how it could be detrimental to image quality when the light is more suited to WDR (i.e. lower contrast). Expanding all that data back out closer to the edges like stretching bubblegum? Can't see how that could help with image quality, particularly in tonal gradations when you're in 8-bit. Seems like you'd just be throwing away a lot of empty bandwidth (no useful data) that would otherwise be filled with more useful data in WDR. Perhaps banding isn't as much an issue as noise might be. I don't know. But it seems to me that it'd be asking your CC software to do a lot more guesswork with less information.

August 25, 2014 at 7:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dave

Well, it's well established that the lighter the codec the more you should be carefull with flat styles. It is the same as when using a flat profile on a DSLR that delivers AVCHD or other 420 8bit flavors when it is not necessary (overcast days for example).

Nothing surprising here. The better the format, the more you can grade footage. It works to bring back highligts and darks but also when adding contrast. You do not want to shoot flat whit a shitty codec if it means adding lots of contrast in post. However when shooting 4.2.2 10bits or even better, 444 or RAW, there is not much reason not to use a log curve.

August 25, 2014 at 9:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Thanks Haroun,

Just what I suspected. Clinches it for me.

August 25, 2014 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave

This was awesome. Thanks

August 25, 2014 at 2:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jordan

Would you say this also holds true for the 500?

Thanks for the information.

January 16, 2015 at 11:37PM

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I am a beginner and I'm very confused about one thing. If I am using the wave form monitor to check for proper exposure and use either Wide DR or Cinema Custom Picture, then I notice the wave form tightens up and reads as underexposed. Do I just accept that and plan to adjust when color correcting or should I increase the aperture and ISO to bring up the wave form readings? I apologize if this seems like a super basic question. I just don't understand how those Custom Picture styles increase the amount of data, but look like they are doing less on the wave form monitor.

February 11, 2016 at 12:55AM

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Can someone please correct me if what I'm saying is wrong.
I visually compared all the Pre-Set Custom Picture settings, and here's what I thought.
1) C Log is the flattest and requires grading, but grading has to be done carefully so as not to introduce artifacting. If you want to avoid this issue completely, then you have to record externally with a higher quality codec but still have to grade.
2) Wide DR is the second flattest but can be used as is if that's the look you are going for. It is possible to do some light grading with this setting.
3) EOS has been described as a disaster, but is the most saturated and contrasted look. It will generally blow out highlights. It could be used as is, but may be considered too extreme.
4) CP 5 and 6, the CINE looks, appear to fall somewhere between Wide DR and EOS, and light grading is also possible with them. These could be a nice compromise between what might be perceived as extremes.
5) The Normal Modes 1-4 can theoretically be used as is, but again, have a bit of a washed out feel. These are suitable for broadcast and don't really pop or convey any sense of being overly colorized.
6) In short, picking the setting you want depends on what you are shooting for. If it is a featurette or professional short film, then you would probably want to go with an external recorder and giving yourself the maximum flexibility for grading. If you are doing a run-and-gun, real-life news type story that is destined for broadcast, then one of the Normal Modes or Cine Modes or even Wide DR might work. It really just depends.

Does this sound right or way off base?

February 14, 2016 at 1:10AM

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