July 4, 2016 at 6:39AM

7

Should a beginner get C300 Mark ii ?

I come from a graphic design background. I've been playing around with PremierePro and SpeedGrade CC. I have a 1 year old MacBook Pro. I've filmed on the iPhone 5 and a bit on a DSLR. I am a beginner, but I dive in and learn fast. I would like to learn to create professional quality documentaries. I have the opportunity and want to start with the RIGHT tools. My question is: Should a beginner get C300 Mark ii or go for something like Canon XC10 but get more lenses and accessories? I plan to apply to film school in the next year or two, but first I want to self-study, film a lot, experiment and learn online. I want the money well spent, and the camera future proof. But of course I also don't want to overdo it if a beginner is better off to start small and not aim as high. All advice and opinions are very welcome and much appreciated! - Ingrid

32 Comments

The C100-500 series are great cameras and I thought they were easy to pick up IF YOU KNOW DSLRs. Given that I'd say go for it, watch tons of videos, learn the ins and outs of the camera until you can navigate the menus blindfolded and then you're good to go :)

July 4, 2016 at 7:17AM

0
Reply
avatar
Clark McCauley
Spaceman
1767

Thank you very much, Clark!

Ingrid Vindmar

July 4, 2016 at 7:24AM

As a beginner you might want to take a look at the Canon C100 Mk2 camera, which has recently dropped down in price to $4,000 US. It offers many of the features of the C300 Mk2, but at 1/3 of the price.

July 4, 2016 at 8:08AM

1
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32864

Thanks, Guy. That's a thought. I would really like to work with slow motion, I will look into the C100 MK2 to see how well that does. I know the C300 is not as good as the Sony FS7 as far as slow motion, and the FS7 is cheaper than C300. FS7 is not as ergonomic as the C series, from what I hear though, and I'm a petite person - this is mainly what got me looking at the Canon.

Ingrid Vindmar

July 5, 2016 at 1:23AM

even better the C100 Mk1 is still a great camera and its half the price of the MK2. the Canon XC10 is a fixed lens so there is no getting more lenses with that!

July 4, 2016 at 8:16PM, Edited July 4, 8:18PM

0
Reply
avatar
Michael Militscher
Director / Commercial Producer
2724

Thank you Michael, that's good advice.

Ingrid Vindmar

July 5, 2016 at 1:16AM

To learn the craft you won't need a C300 mk2.
C100mk1 might be even sufficient for now.

This way you don't spend a lot of money you won't recouperate later.
If you go to filmschool in 2 years, the C300 mk2 might even feel 'old' by then.
Then money you save now, will get you 'more camera' by the time you are in filmschool and need a new(er)/better camera.

July 5, 2016 at 9:38AM

6
Reply
avatar
WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9794

That is really great feedback, thanks Walter. I was worried that c300 might become 'old' before I even figure out how to use it! I was also worried that c100mk1 might be "old" already, but it seems that quite a few comments here are advising it - I will definitly give it serious thought now.

Ingrid Vindmar

July 5, 2016 at 11:59PM

>>> I would really like to work with slow motion

Then you should be looking at almost any of the Sony cameras, as most of them can shoot slow motion up to 240 fps.

Myself, I prefer the color and look from the Canon C100 / C300 over the Sony cameras, but if slow motion is a big deal to you then Sony is pretty much the only route until you can afford to look at RED cameras which are in the $10,000+ price range.

July 5, 2016 at 9:50AM

0
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32864

Thank you Guy, I really appreciate your comments. I also prefer the idea of the canon color. One of my inspirations for cinematography is the Chefs Table Netflix series. I love the gorgeous image and how they use slow motion to achieve a modern/cenematic look. And as you say, they ARE using RED EPIC DRAGON. It's what I aspire to.... but to start, FS7 might just be the way to go to practice the craft!! Thanks a million for the suggestions.

Ingrid Vindmar

July 6, 2016 at 12:11AM

I'd look at the Sony FS7 as well (you'd be surprised, the C300 Mark II is actually quite heavy, FS7 isn't much heavier if at all).
FS7 will get you best bang for buck but something like a gh4 will save you tons, still produce quality images, and allow you to focus on the craft a bit more as well. Then money left over could go into lenses (which retain their value MUCH better than cameras, sometimes even go up in value), maybe a couple lights, or even some online courses, stuff that will help you much much more than a c300 mii. Just my two cents :).

July 5, 2016 at 11:29AM

3
Reply
avatar
Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1440

Thanks, Ben. I was seriously debating between the canon C series and FS7 - I will go and download the FS7 manual and give it serious consideration. Also thanks for the advice about the lenses, and that they retain their value better than the camera body. It's super helpful to know in making the decision about my first camera.

Ingrid Vindmar

July 6, 2016 at 12:04AM

>>That is really great feedback, thanks Walter. I was worried that c300 might become 'old' before I even figure out how to use it! I was also worried that c100mk1 might be "old" already, but it seems that quite a few comments here are advising it - I will definitly give it serious thought now.<<

You're welcome!
The only things the C100mk1 lack are 4K, slowmo in 1080p and codec that can handle heavier color correction/grading.
To learn the craft 4K is not essential.
Slowmo can be very cool, but I don't use it that often.
As for heavy color grading: I think it is more important to learn to shoot and edit properly to tell great stories than starting with crappy stories with a perfect color grade.

Btw, I sometimes still use a C100 mk1 (make sure it has the DAF upgrade!) for corporate clients. Sometimes with an Atomos Ninja to record a better codec. It really depends on the project.

Before buying any camera I would advice to try them. Hold them in your hands, shoot video with it and see and feel what fits you best at this time.
I don't know where you are from, but there must be a way to borrow, hire those cameras to make your decision less based on NFS opinions only :-)

July 6, 2016 at 8:28AM

3
Reply
avatar
WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9794

DEFINTIELY AGREE HERE!!!!!!!!! Rent rent rent rent rent. You will not regret it. Rent the fs7, the c300 mark ii, c100 mii, etc.
Sometimes "the camera chooses you" really is true. I've rented tons of different systems and that is what helped me decide on my choice ultimately, because one just stood out, for not even any super specific reasons.

Ben Meredith

July 6, 2016 at 10:58AM

All my camera purchases or even rental for paying projects are based on experience with those cameras by renting them for fun projects to test them.

WalterBrokx

July 6, 2016 at 3:03PM, Edited July 6, 3:03PM

Chiming in as someone who fiddled around with DSLR's a little bit but then really learned to shoot on a C300 mark I (almost 5 years ago now... time flies) - if you can afford a decent camera like that, go for it.

You learn faster with good tools, partly because then they are not limiting you, but partly because you don't THINK they are limiting you: You won't have the nagging feeling/excuse that if only you had a better camera your stuff would look good - you will know that you suck, and that's why it looks like crap. Being a beginner is all about analyzing an endless stream of mistakes - and good tools simplify the analysis.

Also – and this is a bit taboo, but true – with a good camera you will find it easier to involve yourself with other filmmakers and projects. Even if you are honest about your lack of experience – and the best way to learn is on real projects (even if that might harm said project).

Now about the C300 in particular (I only have experience with the Mark I, but there are many similarities) it is a very intuitive, ergonomic camera, tailored to the solo-operator. Operating it on a monopod with a good zoom (17-55mm, 24-105mm) makes you a very nimble documenting eye in most situations. Great all-rounder.

Punching into 4K material for a 1080p finish has become standard practice in documentary (particularly in interviews), so I wouldn't limit your learning experience to the 1080p C100 mark II if money is not a hinderance. If you are serious about this, there is no reason to go with prosumer gear.

And while a camera is always going to be a horrible investment, monetary value-wise, Canon is on a slower product cycle than most companies, and tends to lose value slower than most of the competition simply because they don't undercut their own product lines.

However, DON'T waste all of your budget on the camera. If 12.000$ is all you have, go with a cheaper option (FS7, C100m2, Ursa mini). Lenses + sound equipment + lights + tripod should cost you as much as the camera body, more or less. So the real cost of a C300 m2 is closer to 20-25.000$ (even more, because of the expensive CFast cards).

And my most heartfelt, clichéd advice: get the sound right before anything else!

July 6, 2016 at 4:23PM

0
Reply

Buy the C300 mark ii if money is cero problem. Otherwise buy a c100 mark ii. (Buy a blackmagic if you want to explore color grading).

What ever camera you choose to buy, also buy a Rabbit Key: https://vimeo.com/173649978
I love mine. :)

July 6, 2016 at 4:56PM, Edited July 6, 4:57PM

0
Reply
avatar
Kei Kosonoy
Director I Actor I Editor
223

Nice rabbit key plug there, haha. Just ordered one earlier. Totally stripped the screw on my steadicam solo with a damn screw driver last week.

Don Way

July 8, 2016 at 1:42PM

I've been out of filmschool for about 6 months and I recently bought a c100 mkii and love it. It is perfect for commercial shoots and short films and I can't recommend it enough.

July 6, 2016 at 5:49PM

0
Reply

Ingrid,

Being a beginner and student, I would start with what you have now. You’ve filmed with your iPhone, start with that. Learn filmmaking and develop a high production value skillset. Learn to write and tell stories, even documentaries need a structure to work with, it’s not just randomly shooting an interesting subject and then trying to piece something together in editing. A good story is paramount to creating a successful film.

Here’s a short documentary you can view that was shot with an iPhone:

The Painter of Jalouzi

YouTube Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyr9NwyszNY

Article, Film Tangerine, shown at the Sundance film festival, shot with an iPhone 5:

http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/28/7925023/sundance-film-festival-2015-ta...

You can use google to see what others have created with an iPhone.

Hone your editing skills, learning to create film with the edit in mind will expand your creativity during the shoot to think up alternative angles, story tangents, and other ideas to cover that can greatly help when editing a piece together.

Explore, these days for editing and color grading I find myself gravitating toward DaVinci Resolve more and the price is great too, free.

Once your skillset has been refined a bit more using an iPhone then you might consider a few of the options others have mentioned here. Many have created really good work with the Lumix GH4, a Canon C100, even the newer Sony FS5 could be considered (listed from lower to higher costs). I would recommend not spending a lot to begin with.

Money well spent can be the money you save over the next several years as technology continues to advance and become less costly. Then once you developed your filmmaking skills shop for the best equipment you can afford or rent.

At some point, with your graphic design background you might want to take that knowledge and learn something like After Effects or Fusion. Exploring motion graphics can be fun and something you might want to use someday.

Often, less can be more. For example, if you think the tools you are using are in some way inferior or sub-par, stick with them. Let them stretch you and force you to be creative. Often it’s the struggle that makes one grow and reach a higher level of understanding and develop skills you might otherwise miss out on if things are too easy.

To see what a group (10) of different cinematographers did using everything from an iPhone to a high end Sony F65, check this out:

http://nofilmschool.com/2012/06/zacutos-revenge-great-camera-shootout

Develop good people skills, learning to interrelate and collaborate with others is one of the best tools to develop.

I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

July 6, 2016 at 6:02PM

0
Reply
Ron Marvin
Director of Photography
373

I disagree, strongly. Having good tools can be a motivation in itself, or, conversely it can reveal that you are not motivated despite having the best at your disposal – which is very useful to find out.

There is no inherent virtue in "starting small" – it's just what most people have to do. Many have to start so small as to get discouraged by the experience. Of course, working within one's means is necessary, and getting into debt on a camera is a terrible idea, but we don't know Ingrid's financial situation.

Shooting on an iPhone can yield amazing results and we are living in a tech wonderland, but it is also severely limiting compared even to a 400$ DSLR. Limitations can spur the imagination, sure, but a C300 hardly gets rid of all limitations - such as finding a subject/script that's worthwhile, good crew, locations, weather etc. A filmmaker is always dealing with the ongoing disappointment of reality.

I definitely agree with the overall sentiment that it's craft, not gear, that will make or break your production - but good gear sure doesn't hurt.

Einar Bjarni Davidsson

July 7, 2016 at 9:52AM, Edited July 7, 9:52AM

I'd say no. As a rule of thumb, you should use as much money on lenses as on the camera itself, and using that much money on equipment with as little experience as you have doesn't sound like a good move. I'd rather focus more on other elements of filmmaking at the beginning, and if you want a new camera, rather look at something like blackmagic pocket cinema camera or blackmagic cinema camera. It's not as big of an investment, and you'll still be able to tell great stories.

July 7, 2016 at 2:41AM

2
Reply
Vetle Håkon Hove Andersen
Director/Writer
88

If you can afford it go for it!

July 7, 2016 at 1:04PM

2
Reply
avatar
Cary Knoop
Member
1908

I think that you should only buy a camera if you know for sure you can make back the money. If you're very new to shooting video in general, I'd probably mess around with a lower cost camera so that you can learn the basics and not get too overwhelmed with the settings. With the rate that camera technology is progressing, the camera will probably be "outdated" by the time you are able to use it to its full potential. In a few years, the C300 MII price will likely be significantly lower. There's also other things to consider other than the camera, and if you go the route of lower cost system, it leaves you with more money for other accessories.

July 7, 2016 at 3:28PM

0
Reply
Gareth Ng
Cinematographer
694

I would buy a C500 or C300 Mark I instead if I was you.

C100 Mark II is a great camera but the codecs are much better with the C500 and C300.

July 8, 2016 at 10:10AM

0
Reply
avatar
Viktor Ragnemar
Director/Cinematographer
1177

If you really really want 4k I'd perhaps look at at A7s Mk II. If that's not an issue, the c100 mk II is almost a no brainer at the price (for doco work). Those internal ND's go a long way. And if you want to record to pro res you can get a deal on bh including a ninja recorder. Crazy deal. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1110676-REG/canon_0202c013_eos_c10...
Honestly, although the camera is the heart (or brain?) of creating motion pictures, there's so many other important ingredients. I think you're on the right track thinking of investing in some quality lenses (the will still be great in 10 years), also some sound equipment like a lapel, a good shotgun mic and a decent mixer like a sound devices mix pre d. We use that with a zoom H4n (just for recording). Don't forget sound! Also lighting. Good luck!

July 10, 2016 at 9:51AM

0
Reply
avatar
Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
819

When I started out I got excited mostly by cameras... now it's things that make my job easier, or make it possible for me to do my job better. Good bags, cases, filters, lighting with high CRI... Decent batteries... I'm getting old

July 10, 2016 at 9:53AM

1
Reply
avatar
Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
819

The thing is that it's a bit like buying a Ferrari to learn how to drive, it's probably not the easiest camera to start with but it's one of the best out there. If money is not an issue and you want to film a documentary before getting to film school I would say go for, it it's a great camera but if you just want to practice and learn how to shoot then there are cheaper solution like a good mirrorless that will allow you to save and buy a better one in a two or three year time when you know exactly what you want.

July 11, 2016 at 2:43PM

0
Reply
AvdS
1351

I would say it's like "Should a driving beginner get a Lamborgini?".
If you can afford it. Take it.
But can you handle it's 600 (or more) PS?
Rather not because you have no experience with driving that car.

It's the same with camera. Start with something simple. A DSLR for example. It's basic tools and features are the same as the C300's. But they aren't build that complex into the camera. And later, when you have used your small cam and learned how everything works you will appreciate the C300 much more.

July 13, 2016 at 2:16PM

0
Reply
avatar
Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller
1582

I say start much cheaper. My advise would be to build up required equipment besides the camera first, like lenses, tripods, sliders, lights, audio and whatnot before spending all your money on a camera.

If you want to go the EF way, buy a dslr or a blackmagic or something with EF mount (or adapter). That way you can start shooting and build up lenses at least.

An expensive camera alone will get you precisely nowhere...

July 14, 2016 at 12:47AM

1
Reply
avatar
Jeroen Rommelaars
Animator - Videographer - Motion Tracking
852

You're asking: "Should a beginner with next to no experience get a $12,000 camera?"

Absolutely not. Save your money.

July 15, 2016 at 7:46PM

0
Reply
Jacob Floyd
Writer / Videographer
1191

If you have to borrow the money, then I would say no.
If you have the money and the expense of buying the camera is no big deal, then why not?
What is $12k today will be $500 tomorrow, time marches on and this stuff depreciates pretty quickly. Better to "invest" in lenses where you will get a partial return.
The fact is to learn using a cheap camera like the Canon eos-m I bought used for $150 and the other one I bought new for $250. They can get smashed, they can get stolen and yet for the way real people see video in the real world are every bit as good as the camcorder you are interested in. For business no one cares about your camera, they intensely care about how well you use your camera to accomplish the clients goal. Kind of like spouses in a way, many of us had to go thru a couple of them to find the one to stick with. Cameras are like that. Many people are seeking a camera to substitute for skill. My suggestion buy a camera that has a tutorial on it like the ones Dave Dugdale makes on learningvideo.com. That way you will not cheat yourself in how to use a camera. Then learn to use it filmically since you know how to set it up properly and have it on manual.
Good luck to you

July 16, 2016 at 9:51AM

7
Reply

Your Comment