April 13, 2016 at 5:57AM

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Panasonic VariCam LT vs C300mii vs Sony F5

I know it ain't NAB just yet but wondering what you guys reckon would be the go to choice between these cameras.

Having recently been given the demo VariCam before its released here in Australia, I think I've fallen in love with it. It was a pain in the ass working with the 4K codec as FCPX and Premiere didn't read it (it could read the 2K codec though). Looking forward to June when they release the RAW output firmware update! (so I can couple it with my Shogun or Odyssey). I've gone into all the pros and cons in the short amount of time I've played with it: http://www.bendevelin.com/blog/varicamreview

The C300mii in my opinion probably doesn't provide as much value for the cinematographer. The thing going for it is probably the image quality but I'd argue that the VariCam beats it still.

The F5 is starting to get a little dated now and with the FS7 really taking a lot of that market share, I can definitely see Sony replacing the F5 at NAB. I'd argue you may as well just get the F55 if you have bit of extra cash.

11 Comments

I don't have experience with any of these cameras, but from what I've read, the real focus of the C300ii is focus. Thus, the real question is: would you rather have industry-leading imagery of the Varicam (going up to ISO 5000) with industry-average focus, or industry-leading focus combined with at best industry-average imaging?

(n.b. RED and ARRI also have industry-leading imagery, in a different category than Varicam.)

April 13, 2016 at 8:43AM, Edited April 13, 8:43AM

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What exactly are you referring to by 'focus'?

April 13, 2016 at 3:56PM

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Adam Wright
Freelance Cinematographer
191

What I really meant was the amazing autofocus of the C300ii.

April 13, 2016 at 10:19PM

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The autofocus is amazing and a useful tool for certain scenarios. But the sensor architecture in the C300mkii is not to be underestimated, I have done side by side tests in grading suite with C300mkii and Alexa Mini footage and the results were not as one might have predicted - with c300mkii clearly performing better in high dynamic range landscape sunrise shots and the pleasing Canon colour science - this makes your statement of "industry average imagery" description of the C300mk2 image not ring true to me.

April 24, 2017 at 10:39AM, Edited April 24, 10:39AM

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Now I only have experience with the f5 in this case but based on the images i've seen from the varicam the sensor looks very digital to me, even more so than other newer digital cinema cameras. The f5 to isn't the best purchase at this point purely because of the existence of the newer fs7 whose sensor is actually based on the f5's sensor and is also cheaper. Ultimately I think the c300 mk ii seems to be the best option when you combine all the factors. The c300 mk ii and canon in general have great color science and the images coming out of their cameras are very high quality and sought after in this industry.

April 13, 2016 at 7:18PM

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Kevin Stratton
Director of Photography
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Now I only have experience with the f5 in this case but based on the images i've seen from the varicam the sensor looks very digital to me, even more so than other newer digital cinema cameras. The f5 isn't the best purchase at this point purely because of the existence of the newer fs7 whose sensor is actually based on the f5's sensor and is also cheaper. Ultimately I think the c300 mk ii seems to be the best option when you combine all the factors. The c300 mk ii and canon in general have great color science and the images coming out of their cameras are very high quality and sought after in this industry.

April 13, 2016 at 7:19PM

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Kevin Stratton
Director of Photography
69

Some new Varicam footage...

Shot at ISO 5000
https://vimeo.com/162800200

Shooting IR with the Varicam
https://vimeo.com/162794057

“RAJASTHAN - India’s Wild West”
https://vimeo.com/162334715

April 15, 2016 at 7:52AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32544

I just wrapped shooting a six-spot ad campaign with the C300 Mark II. Clog-2 with the production matrix places its image near the top of the list for me, especially in terms of color reproduction. Really really beautiful. "Industry Average Imaging" is a pretty rough and inaccurate description of what it's capable of, I think - would encourage users to play with it more. Combining an amazing image with a fairly lightweight and robust camera that works right out of the box, and I think the C300 holds its value really really well. Being user friendly is a major selling point - it's lightweight, doesn't use propriety media, battery lasts for forever, and has super robust recording options. And the autofocus is pretty great, yes, but shouldn't perks like that be an afterthought when judging what camera to buy next?

The Panasonic is more expensive to get it up and running but looks like it has the edge in the highlights, and obviously brings its own pleasing image along with it. I'm definitely going to get my hands on it as soon as possible for testing. Time will tell if Canon's new Clog-3 will help with highlights.

April 15, 2016 at 2:45PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
671

The C300 Mk2 appears to be a very capable camera especially when you've mastered it's auto-focus features. I think the only minor drawback is that it doesn't support higher frame-rates. ( the Panasonic Varicam LT is in the same boat with frame-rates )

What's interesting with the Panasonic Varicam is the ability to shoot at ISO 5000 with results coming very close to matching ISO 800, so DOPs are able to cut the cost of their lighting package in half by shooting at ISO 5000.

April 15, 2016 at 3:43PM, Edited April 15, 3:46PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32544

Agreed - relatively clean log footage at ISO 5000 is pretty awesome.

April 15, 2016 at 3:50PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
671

A definite USP for the LT is the dual ISO - but you have to look at how clean the C300mkii is at higher ISOs too - [unlike many other cameras ARRI / SONY / RED that don't handle high ISOs any where near as well] both the LT and C300mkii are great cameras, but for various reasons I think the C300mkii is a better choice.

April 24, 2017 at 10:53AM

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