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-   -   A letter to Canon (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-cinema-eos-camera-systems/503191-letter-canon.html)

Emmanuel Plakiotis December 1st, 2011 03:09 PM

A letter to Canon
Dear Canon,

I was one of the many waiting for your large sensor camcorder. I already have two 5DII and two 7D, which I utilize almost exclusive for video work and a considerable investment in EOS mount lenses. Just for your info, I was more than 20 years a Nikon die hard, one of those who have grew up with an F3 (IMO the finest SLR ever) and the only reason that made me jump ship, was the video enabled 5D.

I find the C300 a very good camera indeed. Small, lightweight, with a resolution and an internal coded perfect for almost all of my work and an excellent low light capability. The fact that it records on CF and has cheap batteries, doesn't hurt either.


Why on earth you decided to to introduce a 2012 camera with a 2009 circa DSP chip, is something that is beyond my comprehension. There are cameras out there that cost $600 and do 1080 60p and your $20K behemoth can't, not to mention that it can't output 10bit or 444 from the HDSDI, from a sensor that is optimized for accurate color more than anything else!!!
Its like your camera has a multiple personality disorder.
More over you decided with this camera to knock on Hollywood's door. But Hollywood deems essential exactly those features you left out (Even the first digital StarWars movie, 10 years ago, was shot 10bit 444 uncompressed, as it is recently admitted).

The only reasonable excuse is your company's still photography heritage. You didn't have the resources to develop a 4th generation DSP chip for video, although you have already a 5th for still photography. In that case you should have direct your entry into a different market segment.


How different? The moderator of the forum Chris Hurd, has mentioned -30%. I say he is a very kind person. I think 50% is justified for this camera, but could live with -40% MSRP. If you think I am some kind of a lone ranger, please make an effort and read thoroughly this forum. You may also try other forums as well.
If your price was $10K there would never have been topics on this forum like:

Reasons to go for C300 over RED Scarlet X?
Does Canon ever talk to their customers?
Goodbye Canon, Hello RED?

One reason why DSLRs became so popular, was the ability to have more than on bodies at your disposal during filming, each purposed for specific needs. One for steadicam, the other fully equipped on a tripod, a 3rd with a speciality lens attached. That besides giving you the option of multiple recordings, cut down the set up time considerably. This resulted in faster turnarounds (one of the Red's major shortcomings) and thus further savings during actual production.

Launching this camera, who as you stated, was based on the unexpected success of your video DSLR's, you should have taken this into consideration. Meaning you should have introduced simultaneously (or at least have up on your sleeve) a second cut down version of your camera.
Take out all the non essential features (HDSDI,genlock etc) and price the body around $3,5K *1 without the monitor/XLR attachment and $5,5K including it. The strip down version would have been very alluring as a second body to compliment the C300, not to ignore that most people, who have already invested in external monitors and sound recorders, would have been enamored with it. They would certainly jump ship from DSLR's and all other brands and generate the volume purchases to justify this low price. I don't know how economy fares in Japan, but in Europe and the USA, all banks are essentially bankrupt, which means that more countries will soon follow the Greek paradigm. You must be aware of such a possibility in your marketing decisions. Its a very different world since 4 years ago, when you first started developing the camera.

*1 the same price as the elusive 3k for 3k Scarlet that never materialized, but was highly anticipated.

An auto exposure button. Its an essential feature that all video cameras have. Very useful for documentaries and quick shots that may save the day.
An instant AF button. Could be very useful in run and gun situations. I used it very frequently to focus accurately in a haste.
I would also consider a stabilized body as well.

I believe huge lenses are suited for big cameras. The ability to encompass a full fledged camera into a small lightweight body, dictates a similar approach for lens design. Therefore I think that everything above 2Kg (like your new zooms) is not suitable for modern cameras. Even on tripods they are so front heavy that require to use the center of the lens as the balance point, forcing the cameraman to perfom a much bigger radius with his body, during a pan. An adaption of your current EF and EFS line to cinema needs would have been awesome.Also think out of the box. There are plenty of excellent PL lenses out there. You must differentiate. Since you have the expertise from still photography, make all your new cinema designs with motorized focus, that can be controlled through camera or in a wireless way. Also make them stabilized. No PL lens has such features and could be unique selling points.

One more thing.
Don't bring out a 4K DSLR shaped camera. The only people who shoot both video and stills professionally with the same camera, are the photo/video journalists. And they don't need 4K. Those who need 4K are cinematographers who may prefer lightweight and small bodies *2, but none is particular fond of the DSLR form factor. Bring a camera with all that are missing from C300, in a similar, if not the same body and price it around $25K. It doesn't have to be 4K. But if you think 4K is a must make it FF, with the ability to window to S35 with HD resolution. And make it RAW.

*2 IMO shoulder mount cameras as so 20th century. Even ARRI had to come out with an Alexa M. If you want shoulder mount you can always beef your camera for that purpose. The opposite is not possible.

A customer of yours

Emmanuel Plakiotis

Chris Hurd December 1st, 2011 03:44 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
It's important to understand -- and realize -- a few things about the C300.

1. It is just the first of what will be a series of cameras bearing the Cinema EOS logo.

2. The pricing will work itself out. Canon prices always start too high, and always come down eventually.

3. This particular camera is somewhat specialized in that it is intended only for a particular niche market,
which is fast-turnaround television production. The lack of 10-bit is *not* a deal-breaker for this vertical.

4. Canon tends to introduce flagships first, and smaller / reduced-feature / lower-priced models second.
Examples: XL1 followed later by GL1, XL H1 followed later by XH G1, XF305 followed later by XF105.

Finally, they have stated that they will indeed bring out a 4K camera in a D-SLR form factor. You
can certainly make the suggestion that they don't do that, but since it's already been announced,
you can pretty much count on it happening anyway.

Brian Drysdale December 1st, 2011 04:40 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
I wouldn't take everything at a face value. The Alexa M you see in pictures is only the the front part of this Alexa, it plugs into the back of the camera, so they operate together with a remote sensor head. This is something that Sony did with one their Betacams, when the sensor could be detached from the main camera body.

The standard Alexa is much praised for its shoulder ergonomics and many of these modular cameras are converted into that configuration because of the way it enables the camera operator to take sustained shots over a long working day. Especially so when the camera is rigged with lenses, follow focus, matte box and all the other bits that now get attached to a camera.

I suspect you're underestimating the physics involved in making large zoom range lenses with a fast stop for these for the large sensor cameras. Although, I expect there will be a division between the higher end lenses that can last for many years in the rental environment on long shoots and those that the owner operator working on their own will want to use.

To date any of the reports I've read from the high end DPs have been pretty positive about the images regardless of the 8 bits. There will be limitations to what you can do (like all cameras), but if this is the right tool they'll select it. Much of the work, even in Hollywood is for TV, so no doubt the C300 will be out there with the Alexa working as a B camera or as the A camera on the lower budget productions. No doubt some people will also shoot a theatrical feature with it.

I see Arri are pushing their 35mm accessories for use on the C300.

Kawika Ohumukini December 1st, 2011 04:45 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
Let us know if they respond. Subheads would have been nice. Cheers

David Heath December 1st, 2011 05:43 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
There are a lot of good points in that letter, but the one I'd really take issue with is form factor. Shoulder mount should be seen as a "good thing" if possible. Yes, beefing a camera with rails is a possibility, but a compromise IMO - it means the handheld camera is bigger, bulkier etc than what gets put on a mount - exactly the opposite to what the situation should be, surely?

It also means that putting the camera on/off a tripod is nowhere near as simple as with a traditional shoulder mount.


Originally Posted by Emmanuel Plakiotis
Why on earth you decided to to introduce a 2012 camera with a 2009 circa DSP chip, is something that is beyond my comprehension.

I think Canon have answered that one, at least to my satisfaction. The technology was there to be used and didn't need development, it meant the camera could be released sooner rather than later. And they've been refreshingly open with saying how things may go in the future - I can't better Chris's words: "1. It is just the first of what will be a series of cameras bearing the Cinema EOS logo".

I think enough people will be happy with the C300 as is to guarantee enough sales figures to keep Canon happy. For the rest of people - watch this space.

Brian Drysdale December 2nd, 2011 03:21 AM

Re: A letter to Canon
Regarding the 2009 sensor, it really depends how well this sensor performs. You could have a 2011 sensor that has no real gains or not as good as the 2009 sensor in its image quality. Two year lags before going into production seem to be pretty common given the Arri and RED time scales.

David Heath December 2nd, 2011 04:12 AM

Re: A letter to Canon
I think it's the signal processor that's a few years old (and limiting the HD-SDI output to 10 bit). AFAIK, the sensor itself is brand new, and that's maybe the most revolutionary part of the camera.

Brian Drysdale December 2nd, 2011 04:59 AM

Re: A letter to Canon
Indeed, the impression is that they used quickest method to get a camera out that meets at least part of a market need out there. Part of a process, rather than an end in itself.

Perhaps the lesson from RED over the last few years is that you can't meet everyone's expectations.

Maurizio Panella December 2nd, 2011 05:35 AM

Re: A letter to Canon
I totally agree Mr. Plakiotis

Emmanuel Plakiotis December 2nd, 2011 11:14 AM

Re: A letter to Canon
Chris Hurd:
1. It is just the first of what will be a series of cameras bearing the Cinema EOS logo.
2. The pricing will work itself out. Canon prices always start too high, and always come down eventually.
3. This particular camera is somewhat specialized in that it is intended only for a particular niche market,
which is fast-turnaround television production. The lack of 10-bit is *not* a deal-breaker for this vertical.

Chris in regard to your points:
1. Nowhere in my letter I assumed it will be the only one. Yet I find ironic that they choose to make a historic cinema announcement with a camera more suitable for TV.
2. They definitely must work it out, otherwise their really good camera (IMO) won't find the commercial success it deserves.
3. I wrote: "...an internal coded perfect for almost all of my work"
I have understood and acknowledged beforehand that this camera is adequate for TV production but it cannot justify the price. I wouldn't mind paying $25K, if the camera had a proper output and could substitute an Alexa where grading is an issue.

Bryan Drysdale: "I suspect you're underestimating the physics involved in making large zoom range lenses"
No I don't. For example: Canon's own EF-S 17-55 F2.8 is only 645grams. As a cine lens I doubt it would weight more than 1.5Kg. Angenieux's digital zooms 16-42 T2.8 and 30-80 T2.8 are both 1.92Kg. On the other hand Canon's 14,5-60 T2.6 is 4.5Kg. The difference is huge. When you make such a compact lightweight camera you should have at least one compact zoom as well. Its like the camera and lens departments are different companies.
I was talking about the Digic DV3 DSP chip which was introduced early 2009, and not the image sensor which, as David put it is a real gem.

David Heath: "I think Canon have answered that one, at least to my satisfaction."
I also acknowledged that as well, but its not an excuse for the price. I think I have put the emphasis at wrong places and have create some misunderstandings. English not being my mother tongue doesn't help either. I will write a revision soon.

On the other hand your point about shoulder mount is valid and I will include it in my revision.

Brian Drysdale December 2nd, 2011 12:00 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
The Canon 14,5-60 T2.6 is a wider angle lens, which often means larger front elements that need to be supported plus it has a larger zoom range approx 4 to 1 as against 2.6 to 1 for the Angenieux zooms It's also a faster lens than the other lenses, which means it has to have a larger diameter compared to the f2.8 lenses.

The weight of the Canon 14,5-60 is pretty similar to a number of the cine zooms, some of them are a lot heavier. This market is extremely fussy about the quality of the mechanics, a weakness that has been commented on regarding the cheaper RED zooms. I'd assume they're aiming these lenses at the crews using the Alexa, Epic and the 35mm film cameras.

It was my mistake re the sensor, Although, I can see a reasoning behind launching using 8 bit, if Canon will have a longer schedule implementing a higher spec 4k camera making full use of the sensor, with perhaps a new codec, that the NLE manufacturers need to integrate before its announced.

From what I've read from people involved in the dealer end, these announcement prices can be more to see how people react than the price they'll actually sell the camera at. Some UK dealers have advertised 12K plus VAT and they're not the cheapest places to buy cameras from.

Emmanuel Plakiotis December 2nd, 2011 12:30 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
I agree that a lens with a 4X zoom range and with such wide angle capability has to weight as much. I just think they should have choosen a more lightweight design to suit better their new camera.

Again I don't say the 8bit is a bad thing. I'm saying it doesn't worth $20K when for example Sony FS100 costs $5K. IMO the FS100 is the price/performance leader at the moment. I didn't expect C300 to be the new P/P champion, but it seems to have the worst P/P ratio even with a $16K street price. Its not that I did not like the camera, I just say, Canon is making a grave marketing mistake, because right now market share is more important than profits.

Brian Drysdale December 2nd, 2011 12:54 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
I would imagine that Canon are aiming the C300 at the possible F3 8 bit codec user than the FS 100 market. I expect comes down to how the C300 is processing its images before the 8 bit chain comes into use and how it compares to the basic F3 in this regard. I don't think it compares to the FS100 in performance terms, assuming Canon's claimed 1000 TV line resolution is accurate that puts it ahead of that camera.

Certainly the $20k figure was a crazily uncompetitive figure to throw out. The figure I heard from a HD guru from a major UK broadcaster before the launch was 10K and it's possible that will be the final figure after a few months.

RED have a 17 - 50 which is a similar weight to your suggested cine version of the Canon 17-55, so that is a possible option for Canon. Looking at the recent zooms 3 to 1 and a stop of f2.8 seems to be the sweet spot for these compact light zooms.

Dylan Couper December 2nd, 2011 03:12 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
Dear Canon

Thanks for making most of your cameras so identical in form that my girlfriend can't tell when I buy a new one. The 10D through 60D and S90-S100 were particularly easy. However I don't know if I can get away with going from a 5D2 to a C300, but if I hide it in a big enough cage rig, I might be able to pull it off. If I no longer post on this forum, please assume she figured it out and come looking for me.


Dylan (last name witheld)

Murray Christian December 2nd, 2011 03:53 PM

Re: A letter to Canon
Take a sudden interest in land based underwater photography, or develop a special paranoia about weather damage and get one of those big, tubular underwater housings. Problem solved.

"Is that the same camera in there?"
"...yes...yes it is"
"no...no it doesn't"

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