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Old May 10th, 2012, 05:06 AM   #1
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C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

I already posted a mention of this over on another thread but it appears that low light performance of the C300 isn't quite as super as we were led to believe.

We shot our first wedding with the C300 last weekend & while most of the video is stunning the low light stuff shot at ISO6400 is really noisy & nothing like footage shot at the same time with a Canon 5D3 at ISO12800. I can't post any footage yet as we haven't produced the highlights trailer for the client & I can't find any shots that aren't identifiable but I should be able to post some samples by next week.

We have been using the 5D3 for a few weeks now so have probably become somewhat blase about the astonishingly noise free high ISO performance so perhaps it was unrealistic to expect similar performance from the C300 but after reading so much about how great the low light performance it actually turns out to be a bit disappointing. Don't get me wrong the low light performance is great & certainly much better than any other camcorder that I have used but it looks to me that just like the 5D2 that it's OK to use high ISOs but the scene must be well exposed otherwise it looks a mess. The low light footage at the wedding is a bit underexposed so it could be that if I had upped the ISO to 12800 it would have been less noisy. It has certainly got me to pack my light meter for the next gig rather than just relying on the camera & eyeballing it.

I would welcome any other experiences of shooting with the C300 in low light especially if you have any custom picture profiles particularly suited to low light use.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 08:06 AM   #2
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

Were you using C log by any chance?
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Old May 10th, 2012, 08:43 AM   #3
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

Nigel,

Thanks for posting that info. That's sad to hear. I had considered the low-light performance to be one of the redeeming qualities of this camera which doesn't have any autofocus. As such, it would seem to be a good choice for a locked down camera to get the vows. If low-light is anything short of fantastic, then that will be a deal breaker for wedding use I'd imagine. BTW - What lens did you have on the C300?
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Old May 10th, 2012, 09:04 AM   #4
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
Were you using C log by any chance?
No just the standard default settings with no custom profile. Next time I will set up with Alan Robertss' 'BBC' recommendations as a starting point. We will probably not be using C-log because 1) It means that we will have to grade every clip 7 2) It looks so ghastly & washed out on the LCD that it is very off-putting.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 09:13 AM   #5
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

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Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
Were you using C log by any chance?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Watson View Post
Nigel,

Thanks for posting that info. That's sad to hear. I had considered the low-light performance to be one of the redeeming qualities of this camera which doesn't have any autofocus. As such, it would seem to be a good choice for a locked down camera to get the vows. If low-light is anything short of fantastic, then that will be a deal breaker for wedding use I'd imagine. BTW - What lens did you have on the C300?
Don't be too sad:-) Low light performance is great but it's a matter of perspective. It's way better than the XF105/305 & easily better than that of any other camcorder that I have ever used but it doesn't look to be as good as the stellar low light performance of the 5D3. It's just a question of learning the limits. The 5D2 can be used up to ISO3200 provided that it is well exposed. If the C300 is as good or better then I will be happy.

I was using the Canon EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 USM IS which is the best all round lens for the crop sensor.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 10:21 AM   #6
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

Nigel,

thanks for the interesting post regarding the C300 low light performance, or lack of.

I've recently done some night filming on the M25 using the XF305 and whilst it looked great in the LCD at the time it was very noisy once on the computer.

I sorted the problem out to a large extent using the Irudis Tonalizer plugin which is really great at sorting out problem footage. It has a filter called Adapation which seems to gently boost the black levels. When used gently in combination with the brightness, highlights and details controls, and possibly even using the the noise reduction filter, the appearance of files can be dramatically improved.

I've only done a tiny bit of evening / low light filming with the C300 so far and whilst the results were quite noisy there was an immense amount of detail.


I would imagine the optimum results will be obtained using a fast lens wide open and then juggling with the ISO or Gain.

I've just bought a Sigma 50mm F1.4. Even in dull light the lens need either stopping down or ND.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 11:58 AM   #7
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
We have been using the 5D3 for a few weeks now so have probably become somewhat blase about the astonishingly noise free high ISO performance so perhaps it was unrealistic to expect similar performance from the C300 ........
I'm utterly astonished to hear you say you found the C300 inferior to the 5D3 in low light performance, it's not the experience of others.

I'm inclined to think there may be a bit more to it, either a fault, or...... you didn't leave an ND in by accident, did you........? (Yes, I know, but you'd be amazed how many times it has happened, especially with cameras the operators aren't 100% familiar with.......and the NDs in the C300 are motor operated, not the normal turning knob arrangement.)
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Old May 10th, 2012, 01:16 PM   #8
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

Also, what was your iris setting?.....if you have the iris closed down, it gives the appearance that the grain is increased....keep the iris more open and, if needed, use the ND......

Jim Martin
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Old May 10th, 2012, 09:12 PM   #9
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

We just did a two day event shoot on a C300 24-105 combo. In the shots with low light and a light source for high DR at 6400 we saw much more grain than scenes with less DR been though we exposed more for dark areas do that all shots matched well. Nigel did your shots have a similar wide DR?

Last edited by Philip Lipetz; May 11th, 2012 at 12:07 AM.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 09:20 PM   #10
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
I'm utterly astonished to hear you say you found the C300 inferior to the 5D3 in low light performance, it's not the experience of others.
Agreed, that certainly hasn't been my experience Nigel. The C300 is *amazing* in low light. I owned a 5DIII until recently, and while impressive in its own right, I'd take the C300 over it for low light any day.

Curious how our experience is so different. I'm just constantly blown away by the C300's low light performance. It sees much better in the dark than I do.

One thing I have learned is that with the C300 it pays not to underexpose and boost levels in post. Rather, raise the ISO so you're capturing plenty of light. The sensor is incredibly sensitive and outperforms the codec imo. So, shooting at ISO12800 and crushing the blacks just a tad in post produces a *much* cleaner image than shooting at say 3200 and lifting levels in post.

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Old May 10th, 2012, 10:26 PM   #11
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
No just the standard default settings with no custom profile. Next time I will set up with Alan Robertss' 'BBC' recommendations as a starting point. We will probably not be using C-log because 1) It means that we will have to grade every clip 7 2) It looks so ghastly & washed out on the LCD that it is very off-putting.
There is a View Assist menu selection that will portray your image with more contrast when shooting in C-Log. It isn't perfect but it's better than viewing live C-Log when recording. Canon DLC: Cinema EOS Frequently Asked Questions
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Old May 10th, 2012, 10:45 PM   #12
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

This one is @ ISO20000, F1.4 with a Zeiss 35mmZE. How does this compare with your shot?

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Old May 11th, 2012, 03:23 AM   #13
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

Thought this video posted by David Fisher would be of interest in this thread.

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Old May 11th, 2012, 05:53 AM   #14
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

I did some quick low light testing yesterday evening comparing the 5D3 & C300. I measured exposure with a light meter, with the meter on the 5D3 & by my C300 rule of thumb to have zebra at 90% & aperture just backed a tad to stop the zebras appearing. All methods agreed at around F2.8-3.5 at ISO6400.

The 5D3 clips look remarkably noise free. It appears that the camera applies some pretty heavy duty noise reduction at high ISOs as the image is definitely much softer. There is more grain & noise in the C300 clips especially in the lighter areas with that typical shimmering red & green pixels. There is also far more detail in the C300 image than there is from the 5D3.

This evening I will try & do some rather more controlled & scientific tests & then upload some clips.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 07:39 AM   #15
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Re: C300 low light performance not quite as super as expected

Just a thought or three. If you're using the normal settings, the c300 is applying a fair amount of sharpening to he image, which is boosting the appearance of the noise in the image. As you said, the 5d mark 3 is adding some NR to the scene. (but is also offering significantly less detail as Part of the deal). Create a custom preset based on normal1, but with sharpening turned off and add in as much NR as you can stomach. The result will be softer, but probably still more detailed than the 5d3 at a given ISO. Frankly, I prefer a light touch on the NR, and then cleaning up with neat image. But if you're trying to avoid that step in post, increasing NR to 5d3 levels in camera, and removing sharpening is your ticket.

One other note. As the grain on the c300 is much finer than any dslr I've tested, I've found the only place I see it is on my computer screen. Burned blurays shot at 10k ISO and above look like 400 Iso film stock on my 50" plasma.
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