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Canon Cinema EOS Camera Systems
For all Canon Cinema EOS models: C700 / C300 Mk. II / C200 / C100 Mk II and EF / PL lenses.


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Old February 6th, 2012, 10:34 PM   #1
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First Impression

I got to play with a newly arrived C300 today. First impression is excellent, ergonomics, controls (most...) are well thought out, image quality is in par with what has been reported and the design and functionality are truly unique, a great achievement of Canon merger of DSLRs and camcorder technologies. So, overall a fantastic tool but here is my hot list of grievances:

No on-board mic: This is really an oversight. The modular design of the camera is fantastic and allows for stripping down the camera to almost nothing. But in the bare bone configuration, you still need to add a DSLR style powered mic (and not forget to turn it on…) to record audio. I wish a very basic mic would have been integrated in the C300 body.

No auto-iris (or full auto). This would be very handy to have for documentary work for run and gun.

Handgrip scroll wheel really hard to reach with index finger: I am really surprised by this but if the grip strap is firmly tightened (which it should), it is nearly impossible to reach the scroll which is used all the time to adjust iris.

Grip angle not easy to change: The locking ring that holds the grip in place and not very easy to access needs to be completely loosen in order to change the grip’s angle. This takes a bit of time and some dexterity; I much prefer the adjustable grip on Sony’s EX1 which can be unlocked and reposition at a push of a button.

XLR audio module should have really been built into the C300 body, not the detachable LCD monitor. Hopefully, a compact audio module that utilizes the EXT 1 & 2 ports on the back of the camera will offered as an alternative. Also, by sitting on top of the camera and away from the user eyes, the XLR audio controls are hard to see and reach.

No easy manual audio control when using the secondary MIC input on the C300 body. Level can be set to AUTO or be adjusted manually only the audio menu, not really practical. Mapping one of scroll wheel to control audio level would be great.

I’d like to see a firmware update that give the option to assign separate functions for the SELECT/SET and handgrip scroll wheel.

Canon XF Utility only available from CD. Canon should make a free XF utility available to download. That is a basic tool that is much needed to review, annotates and backup XF media. It should be really easy for producers, clients, journalists to download and install.

No easy way to duplicate a CP (Custom Picture Setting) other than copying it to SD card and copying it back to camera

No easy way to quickly set a SLOW or FAST MOTION record mode other then go through the menu in and change two separate items. I will be shooting 1080 most of the time and would like to have a quick way to switch to 720 over-cranked at 60Fps for slomos.

CHARACTER RECORD menu should be protected. Even though there is small warning on the LCD when this function is active, this is a very dangerous menu option to offer. I wish it could be disabled or hidden altogether.

Pre Rec not adjustable: Canon says it’s about 3sec…

Best,
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Old February 7th, 2012, 04:05 PM   #2
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First Impression(s)

Maybe this can be a place for us all to share our initial insights.

I've had mine for a few days and right off the bat I'm impressed with how "hand-holdable" the c300 is. In it's base configuration, eye to the viewfinder, shaky-old-me is pretty capable of decently still footage. I think the past 3 years with the 5dmarkII and it's rolling shutter, have shaken my confidence.

I headed out the first day without reading the manual, turned on the zebras, and not knowing they were default set to 70 ire, promptly underexposed most of what I shot. Surprisingly though, the Canon Log held up fine to some pretty aggressive grading in FCP. I had my doubts about how much an 8bit flat curve could take in post, but not any more.

The low-light capability of this camera is "as advertised". Phenomenal. I have footage that clearly shows things I couldn't see with my eyes. I have footage that is illuminated only by the not quite full moon-light.

Skintones: Given that I haven't really attempted to light anything yet, I've been pleasantly surprised that I can get skintones where I want them even in some pretty dicey mixed sources (florescent, daylight, mercury vapor). It's best to get your color balance (and exposure) as close to what you want before shooting, but thankfully, if you flub up (which I've done) you can bring the footage around in ways the dslr's just won't do.

Ergonomics/button functions and placement. This is probably my one area of gripe. At its defaults the camera has at least 4 shutter buttons, 4-5 thumbwheels, a couple of joysticks and yet no way to set iso without pushing Func / toggling through display options / joystick to adjust and set iso. I'm sure I can configure buttons to make this easier, but as advertised, one of the main points of this camera is the "no penalty" gain setting, thus iso becomes an much more called upon exposure setting. There should be a dedicated iso wheel. Also, Canon has included an EOS style thumbwheel/set button on the SIDE of the camera, where it's much less useful than if it was placed where it is on all their dslrs (the back of the camera) and it doesn't function at all unless you first push a separate Menu button. I could go on...but I'm sure I'll get used to the new ergonomics. I just think it could have been designed a little better than it is.

Finally. Image quality and control is just superb. I think I'm going to like using the Cinema gammas when I have control of lighting, but c-Log gives you a ton of wiggle room when you can't control things. My first night I shot some footage of several gallery openings. Bright spotlights on white walls, people milling around in the middle with no light on them at all. Yet I could easily see detail in the deepest shadows in the c-log and was able to grade for a perfect rendering of the scene. Oh and having to use the ND filters indoors at night was quite a kick.

That's it for now.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 05:09 PM   #3
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Re: First Impression

Interesting that ISO is a bit hidden. At CES, I asked about how to set WB based on temp, and two reps and I couldn't figure it out. It seems that some aspects of the ergonomics are nicely done while other aspects are a bit less comfortable.

On a positive note, after screwing ND filters on photo lenses for a few years, applying ND filters so easily with the C300 seemed semi-criminal. :)
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Old February 7th, 2012, 07:11 PM   #4
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Re: First Impression

There is a specific remap for direct input on iso, but I think it just keeps you from having to scroll through display options...it still requires you to hit the button and then switch to a joystick. WB I'm not so sure. I've been able to manually WB, but I haven't figured out (on my own) how to adjust kelvin. Like I said, every camera takes getting used to, but it really seems like an ISO button would have been just, ya know...standard. A bigger sin is the eos style thumbwheel/set button, which makes no sense on the side of the camera to me (and needs a seperate button push to activate). But then I'm a still photographer, and I'm used to my buttons where they are on the dslrs.

still, I'm loving this camera.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 08:47 PM   #5
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Re: First Impression

Barry,

I also wish there would be a dedicated scroll wheel for ISO but here is an easy fix. Just map button #1 (the MAG function which you already have on the grip) to ISO. Then, when in need to change ISO, you just hit #1 and dial your ISO value with the SELECT/SET wheel. Same with shutter, I mapped SHUTTER to button #4 (WFM, which is duplicated in the LCD controls). But you are absolutely right about a dedicated scroll wheel for ISO. As a matter of fact, noise is so in-existent on the C300 that besides NDs, you just need to play with iris and ISO, vs the old school iris and shutter speed. I am actually trying to make ISO my primary scroll wheel feature and map iris to button #1 to see how this works. I tend to shoot everything at or close to full aperture anyway.

Take care,
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Old February 8th, 2012, 12:20 PM   #6
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Re: First Impression

Barry,

You mentioned that you have footage that is illuminated only by the not quite full moonlight. How clean is the footage? As a wildlife filmmaker I'm very interested in the low-light capability of this camera. Do you think it could be possible to capture clean video of say a wolf trotting along a frozen river in the full moonlight at 50 yards? Happy shooting!

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Old February 8th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #7
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Re: First Impression

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leon Lorenz View Post
Barry,

You mentioned that you have footage that is illuminated only by the not quite full moonlight. How clean is the footage? As a wildlife filmmaker I'm very interested in the low-light capability of this camera. Do you think it could be possible to capture clean video of say a wolf trotting along a frozen river in the full moonlight at 50 yards? Happy shooting!

Leon Lorenz
Canadian Wildlife Productions: Grizzly Bears, Bighorm Sheep in Alberta & BC Rockies DVD Videos
Well, of course it's noisy. But the color is surprisingly decent. Last night the clouds cleared enough for me to shoot a little during the full moon on the 35mm 1.4 L 1/30 sec at iso 10,000. I'm going to try to shoot some stuff tonite with a fashion model, maybe at the beach (my version of a wolf trotting along a frozen river) and I'll post some of that. Shooting a wolf on a path maybe difficult as you'd probably, at best, have f/2.8 to work with on most of your lenses. Maybe the 85mm 1.2 if you were using remote triggering.

I'm experimenting with the shooting modes. C-log does everything to save the highlights, so it makes ultra low-light like this footage quite dark. I shot last night using one of the "normal" settings and the footage was definitely brighter, but the noise level at 10,000 seemed on par with 20,000 in c-log. (at 20,000 though the noise takes on a fixed pattern quality, whereas the 10,000 in normal looked more organic...like really pushed film (that's been sharpened). I think the normal setting is sharpening things up a bit, which could account for the additional noise. I'm going to setup a profile using the normal gamma with lower sharpening for tonights test.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 08:38 PM   #8
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Re: First Impression

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Originally Posted by Thierry Humeau View Post
Barry,

...I am actually trying to make ISO my primary scroll wheel feature and map iris to button #1 to see how this works. I tend to shoot everything at or close to full aperture anyway.

Take care,
Sadly, I don't think to find a way to map the scroll wheels to the ISO setting.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 08:58 PM   #9
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Re: First Impression

The ideal place for this would be the eos thumb wheel/set button. As it does nothing without a menu prompt at this point. The action could be set - scroll - set and provide a nice iso adjustment path that is also somewhat locked against accidental movement.

Maybe there is a Canon engineer somewhere... listening. (firmware upgrade).
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Old February 8th, 2012, 09:02 PM   #10
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Re: First Impression

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Originally Posted by Thierry Humeau View Post
Sadly, I don't think to find a way to map the scroll wheels to the ISO setting.
Actually, let me take this back.... You can assign ISO setting to both scroll wheels but cannot have IRIS assigned to one of the custom buttons.
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Old February 9th, 2012, 09:16 PM   #11
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Re: First Impression

personally, i would love to have thescroll on the handgrip be for iris,a dn the one on the left side of the camera be for ISO. that would be AMAZING
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