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Old March 29th, 2012, 12:16 PM   #1
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Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Hello everyone,

I'm writing this for two reasons: (1) To stress my logic and see if there are other options I haven't considered, and (2) to demonstrate, anecdotally, what so many of us are always saying to others; "there is no perfect camera, and what you choose for yourself should meet your needs." With that said, here's a rather longish approach to why I'm heavily leaning towards the C300.

Much of what I shoot with a "big boy" camera is corporate training/marketing films. Generally, this involves a crew, clients, actors, and a great deal of equipment, including jib, dolly, and the like. I rarely shoot a day that doesn't cost at least $5,000 (minus my fees/costs), and can certainly reach $12,000 or so.

Naturally, I'm scared to death that one of my capture cards will malfunction and spoil at least part of a day of shooting. The hard dollar cost to me if that happens, not to mention what I'd lose in client good will and future dollars, is simply appalling. Every time I get a media restore message on my EX3 (which I love, BTW), I lose a year or two off my life.

I've been flying without a net in the form of a NanoFlash or other external capture device, increasing my other equipment, instead. But I'm finally at the point where buying a NanoFlash, plus the batteries and infrastructure attached to my camera to support it, is finally feasible. Here's where the C300 comes in.

Oddly, because of my needs, my initial attraction to the C300 comes from its dual capture capability. I can buy the C300 and save the $4,000 or so it will cost me (once all costs are in) to buy and operate a NanoFlash. Of course, "save" is relative when you're considering buying a $16,000 camera, instead. But there's more to it. If I shoot with the C300, and it breaks on set, I will still have a 60D/H4n combination that can take over in a pinch, using the same lenses and, potentially, the same look from the preset on the C300. Plus, the C300 uses my existing set of fine, EOS glass, and can control all the functions of this glass without a clunky and less-than-perfect adapter.

There's more to it, though. It has occurred to me that we are in a period of rapid technological advancement with cameras, and that the value of our existing cameras will tend to fall off precipitously as new tech is adopted. Try selling a good, SD camera these days, for instance. If we hold onto our existing cameras for too long, we might as well keep them as paperweights. So, while my 3 has many more years left in it, I wouldn't expect it to hold its value much longer against new, full-sensor competition. It might be best to sell it now while it's still worth a fair percentage of what I paid for it. The C300 appears to offer me the same deep depth of field my 3 offers, even in low light with a high ISO and small aperture, while also providing shallow DOF I can't get on the 3 without backing off and shooting telephoto, which is rarely possible on the sets where I shoot.

And, then, the 50mbs native codec means that I can shoot my rare docs for US PBS stations without fear that they'll be rejected due to insufficient quality.

So, it seems to me to make sense to buy the C300 now, partially financing it by selling my 3 and all the accessories.

Why not the F3 or Scarlet? Well, the F3 doesn't take EOS lenses natively (or, it would seem, very gracefully yet), so I'd need to buy the prime PL set, running the initial cost to around $20,000. It shoots only 35mbs natively, and doesn't do dual media recording, so I'd still need a backup. There'd be no sense buying a NanoFlash, because it won't take 10-bit 4:4:4, so I'd end up buying a Gemini or something, so figure $7,000 there when it's all done. So, $27,000 dollars, plus all the muss and fuss over extra batteries and support for the Gemini. The Scarlet has a workflow I just couldn't handle. By my calculations, each of my shoots (which run and average of five days) would yield around 2.5 TB of data to deal with in post. Long-term storage would be a nightmare, and I've read that the Scarlet may not be all that reliable, yet. Oh, and it still doesn't have the initial reason I'm considering upgrading: dual media recording. The FS 100 doesn't have ND filters or an SDI output. No go. The AF-100 has a funky sensor size.

So, what say you folks? Is my reasoning sound? Or am I just trying to talk myself into an expensive new camera ;-).
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Old March 29th, 2012, 01:52 PM   #2
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Get the C300, you will love it. C'mon man, I shoot frikkin weddings and it's the right camera for me. I'm sure others will chime in with more thoughtful advice.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #3
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Wow, Graham. I mean, if a capture card goes *bzzzzt* on me, it's just money. If it happens to you, there's an angry bride involved.

No WAY I could take the risks you do ;-).
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Old March 29th, 2012, 02:52 PM   #4
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

As an F3 owner, your cost of ownership is a little off. If you purchase an F3 now, you can get it for $13,100 (rebate ends soon) which includes the S-Log upgrade. Go get a MTF adapter and buy some Nikon glass (35, 50,85) and you would still be at only $2,000. You are now at $15,000 with glass. Buy a card for $600 and you have two hours of shooting. Buy a Samurai for $1600 (includes batteries and chargers) a harddrive for $200 and you are good to go. So for about $17,000 you can get a Super 35mm sensor, 422 10bit to Prores HQ ( 220mb vs 50mb 8 bit with C300), with redundancy (internal and external)

Not trying to dissuade you from getting the C300 but you can get what you want without spending insane amounts on other things for the F3 (PL glass, Gemini)
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Old March 29th, 2012, 03:42 PM   #5
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

The thing holding me back (besides the price) is the lack of sensor crop to expand the range of a lens. I know Hollywood types don't care about this feature. But for run and gun or documentary work, it is immensely useful as you don't have to take yourself out of action by changing lenses. If I buy a C300 and a year from now a camera comes out with a sensor crop mode I'll be kicking myself for not waiting.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 04:39 PM   #6
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

If that happens, I'll buy your C300! I'll be in the market for one next year!
Go get it, shoot and make money for the next big thing!

Knowing that once you get past the sensor the C300 is very similar to my XF300, I'd trust it to work all day long. Dual CF card captures make me sleep better. If you need more lens length get a 1.4x or 2x extender to slap on a 70-200 f2.8. That's how I do it on my 5DmkIII! Get's me out there quite nicely!
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Old March 29th, 2012, 05:53 PM   #7
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Ryan: Thanks. That's exactly the kind of input I was looking for: something to stress my choices.

A few questions.

(1) Does the Samurai record in two-input S-Log and 4:4:4? I wasn't under the impression that it did, but I admit that I haven't looked very closely at it. It's correct that adding a 4:2:2 external recorder that will take a higher bit rate matches or exceeds the C300's internal dual card recording at 50 mbs. No question. But with the F3, I'd have to ask myself the simple question of why I'm buying an external recording solution that doesn't maximize the F3's output. To me, the major advantage that the F3 has over the C300 is the 10 bit 4:4:4 output. Luckily, I own an EX3, so I have the SxS media I need, so the F3 makes sense that way. But I'd be damned tempted to get a dual S-log recorder instead of buying an interim 4:2:2 recorder.

(2) Can you really buy three high-quality Nikon primes for only $2,000? Wow. Didn't know that. I'd probably prefer zooms just for the flexibility and convenience, but that's still pretty cheap, and sure beats the PL mount primes from Sony. Is the mount a dumb mount that wouldn't allow me to control focus and/or aperture? I forgot to say that I have a lot of my stuff shot handheld to add energy to some fairly dry and talky corporate scripts. I would intend to mount a lanc controller to at least one of the handles on a shoulder rig to accomplish that, and the C300 appears to allow all that with EF lenses. It's not a deal killer, but it is a consideration.

Still, you raise an intriguing possibility, and I'm grateful for it. Thanks!
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Old March 29th, 2012, 06:01 PM   #8
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Brett: I hear you. By giving up my EX3, I give up all kinds of features I'm going to truly miss, like the A/B setting that allow you to change most of the important setting between two shots, the motorized zoom that allows for good (if infrequent) dolly/zoom shots, and even things like shockless white balance changes that can be very useful in documentary situations. I've done some sports and theater events shooting in the past, and without a motorized zoom, that will be very difficult to do (though perhaps I can rig up a follow focus to a motor or something and attach it to the zoom control). I also like the fact that the 1/2" sensors mean that the Fuji lens give me something like the equivalent angle of 32mm to 430mm. That will be gone, and it's so very convenient.

I'm also unsure if the C300 will do all the time lapse things the EX3 will do, such as longer exposure times for low-light situations.

I've always wanted to have it all. Seems unlikely I'll ever get it though.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #9
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

The C300 does have A/B white balance mode (although I do have complaints about white balancing).

The C300 is not a replacement for the EX1/3. I have an EX1 and I have no intention of selling it. It'll just spend most of it's time in it's case. When I need deep dof, I have it.

The C300 does shoot time lapses down to 1fps. What I don't know, and am too lazy to go turn on the camera to find out, is shutter angle faithful at those low frame rates? So is it a half second shutter at 1fps? If not, I still have my SLR and intervalometer.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 08:11 PM   #10
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Yeah, I know it's not a replacement, Graham, but I won't be able to afford to keep both cameras. Wish I could, though.

I actually meant the A/B settings on the 3 under the handle, which allows you to change zoom, focus, white balance, and a bunch of other things between two preset shots. I'll miss that. It was useful at times.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 10:03 PM   #11
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

If you can wait til NAB, there's strong rumors of a "Super FS100." ND filters, SDI, possibly even 4K.

Rumors, of course,
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Old March 30th, 2012, 09:00 AM   #12
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Thanks Glen. I hadn't heard that. I'd still need to buy an external capture device and EVF for it, and if it doesn't come with an SDI port that works at the same time the HDMI port works (for the EVF), I'd probably have to pass on it, but it's an intriguing idea, and I may just have to hop out to NAB to see it (and any other camera on the horizon). I'd been resisting that because it's a busy time of year for me, and I hate to take the time, but I also don't want to buy a $16,000 camera that loses half its value the minute a better positioned and priced competitor hits the market.

Thanks for the heads up. Much appreciated.
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Old March 30th, 2012, 09:17 AM   #13
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

You know, this FS-700 rumor ... well, I HOPE it's true, but I rather doubt it. I can't see how it makes business sense for Sony to destroy its F3 sales by coming out with what would be a superior camera, in many ways, at a lower cost. Also, 4k at this price level would be well below what a functional Scarlet would cost, and some of the reported specs -- like frame rates up to 960 -- just seem like fairy tale stuff at this price point. I could see coming out with a 4k version of the F3, or an F3 version that records at a higher bit rate internally, but I'm going to guess that the FS-700 rumor is substantially wrong. At a $9,000 price point, I could see Sony upgrading the FS-100 to compete better with the features on the AF-100 (like adding ND filters, for instance), an SDI port, etc. But the specs on this rumor?

Well, like I said, I hope they're true.
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Old March 30th, 2012, 11:01 AM   #14
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

The specs are...fantastic, for sure. Perhaps it's an upgrade to an existing FS100. I hope so, I would be seriously interested in that.
Still, if you can wait until after NAB on a camera purchase, who knows what's in store? And the supposed FS700 is supposed to be announced on April 2 or 3.
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Old March 30th, 2012, 11:15 AM   #15
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Re: Should I pull the trigger on a C300? Is this the right choice for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
If you can wait til NAB, there's strong rumors of a "Super FS100." ND filters, SDI, possibly even 4K.
Rumors, of course,
I agree with Glen about waiting for NAB unless your project is going to pay for the camera now. If the rental you would get would justify the purchase then go right ahead. This is just my way of timing things so I don't get blindsided too much by an announcement that might change my course.
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