Jonathan Yi
Jonathan Yi

Jonathan Yi is a freelance director and cinematographer, most often working in the the realms of commercial production and documentary. He teaches film and digital cinematography and serves as Adjunct Professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television.

EOS C300 for Cinematographers

November 03, 2011

Want to learn more about the Cinema EOS system? 
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions
 

INTRODUCTION

Starting with the EOS 5D Mark II in 2008 and continuing with additional models like the EOS 7D and EOS-1D Mark IV, Canon's EOS HD-SLRs have taken the film industry by storm. In a short period of time, they have been used not only for smaller productions on a budget, but also for television, documentary and specialty shots on Hollywood features. As a result, it is not unfair to say that many professional DPs working today have at one time or another either used a Canon EOS HD-SLR for motion picture capture or considered it as an option.

Since the introduction of EOS HD, the professional cinematographer has had a love/hate relationship with HD-SLRs for movie production. Because there were limitations and restrictions that prevented seasoned DPs from shooting in the ways they were used to, HD-SLRS were tools that occasionally frustrated high-end video users. Over time, however, it was undeniable that there were several strengths to the system including some that were not immediately apparent. EOS HD-SLRs have changed the way DPs and videographers shoot, and they have also changed what clients have come to expect from modern cameras in terms of image quality, speed of delivery and price.

Canon is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the strengths of EOS HD-SLRs while creating a true professional video camera system that can fulfill the needs of working cinematographers. After much research and thoughtful planning, Canon is proud to introduce the EOS C300 and EOS C300 PL digital cinema cameras as our first entry into the world of professional cinema cameras. (The EOS C300 is compatible with Canon EF and CN-E lenses, while the otherwise identical EOS C300 PL is compatible with PL mount lenses. For the rest of this document, we'll refer to both models as the 'EOS C300' except when describing the few features that are exclusive to one camera or the other.)

PRICE AND TARGET AUDIENCE

Both the EOS C300 and EOS C300 PL are expected to be available at dealers in early 2012, at an estimated selling price of less than $20,000 – an extremely competitive price range versus established high-end, professional HD video cameras. Actual start of sales and pricing is TBA.

As Canon's flagship 1080p HD cameras, the EOS C300 and EOS C300 PL are designed to fit a wide variety of production needs. They are at home as A Cameras for Independent Films, Commercials, Television and Dramas as well as B Cameras on Major Motion Pictures, offering in addition to the more common 23.98P frame rate, several selectable frame rates including a straight 24.00P setting for intercutting directly with film originated material. Full HD 1920x1080 (1080p) is currently the most used and needed deliverable frame size for these applications. The EOS C300 and EOS C300 PL provide easy adoption and simplified workflow that 4K cameras currently cannot deliver.

IMAGE SENSOR

The EOS C300's large Super 35-sized CMOS image sensor was specifically engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of the cinema industry. This entirely new imaging sensor conforms to cinema industry size expectations, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and overall size of 24.6 x 13.8mm (slightly different aspect ratio, but similar to the 22x15mm APS-C size sensor in digital SLRs such as the Canon EOS 7D). It's important for newcomers to pro video cameras to note, however, that this is not simply an EOS SLR sensor that's been surrounded by a pro video camera body. Likewise, this is not a "full-frame" sensor. The EOS C300/PL sensor is completely dedicated to HD video.

Recording options in the EOS C300 and EOS C300 PL, when set for NTSC recording:

50Mb/sec. 1920 x 1080 59.94i
29.97P,  23.98P,  24.00P
  1280 x 720 59.94P,  29.97P,  23.98P,  24.00P
35Mb/sec 1920 x 1080 59.94i
29.97P,  23.98P
  1280 x 720 59.94P,  29.97P, 23.98P
25Mb/sec 1440 x 1080 59.94i,  29.97P,  23.98P

The Super 35-size sensor is entirely designed and manufactured by Canon. Its actual effective pixel resolution is 3840x2160, which is an intentional design decision. This 8.3 million pixel sensor combines information from four actual pixels on the sensor (two green, one red, one blue) to produce final output for one Full HD pixel, enhancing output quality and color rendition. Thus, it is able to produce full RGB output, without the quality losses that might occur from "de-bayering" at the imaging sensor.

Since this CMOS sensor is designed entirely for HD video, it offers a fast scanning rate, minimizing any issues with "rolling shutter" effect. Cinematographers can now move the camera as aggressively as they need to, without worrying about problems with image skew appearing in video files.

Car mount shots became a popular choice for HD-SLRs due to the small size of those cameras. EOS C300 users will find its compact size lends itself to similar camera shots and positioning, and that its excellent resistance to "rolling shutter" likewise makes it a practical option for these types of situations. With the EOS C300, camera shake no longer directly translates to image skew or the "jello effect".

The 8.29 million pixel CMOS sensor also effectively reduces problems with moiré effects on subjects with fine, repeating patterns or detail – a situation DPs and camera operators often encounter with subjects such as executives wearing certain types of suit jackets. Again, the actual CMOS imaging sensor's resolution is 3840x2160 pixels – 4x the number of the C300's finished output. Information from four separate pixels (2 green, 1 red, and 1 blue) is combined to produce finished data for ONE pixel of the Full HD 1920x1080 output.

Traditional approaches to sensor design would dictate an imager with 1920x1080 total pixels, using a pattern of Red, Green and Blue filters over each pixel – and interpolating color and detail for each pixel from surrounding data. This can result in moiré issues with certain subjects; the EOS C300's innovative sensor design and image processing system are key reasons this is far less likely.

With the EOS C300, talent can now wear wardrobe that was difficult if not impossible to shoot with HD SLRs. In the past, it was not uncommon that even a simple fine pattern on a business shirt or jacket could cause seriously distracting moiré issues. For corporate interviews, this often caused a problem for productions in which the talent was an important executive who simply could not be asked to change wardrobe. Sometimes the only solution was to shoot the subject slightly out of focus and to further blur the shirt in post-production, degrading the image quality adding to the time and budget of the overall project.

Canon Inc. engineers have rated the sensor's S/N (signal to noise) rating at 54dB (typical), when recording at Full HD 1920x1080, at either 29.97fps or 25.00fps, and when Canon Log is active at its optimum ISO 850 setting.

ISO SENSITIVITY

The EOS C300 has higher ISO sensitivity than any Super 35-size sensor camera in its price category, as of fall, 2011 (even higher than our highly-regarded EOS 7D HD-SLR), improving upon low light performance in a game-changing way. It maintains an excellent signal-to-noise ratio throughout the entire range of options – even up to a staggering ISO 20,000. No other camera with a similar Super 35mm sensor size approaches this level of sensitivity, and none of our EOS HD SLRs approach similarly high ISOs with as little image noise as the EOS C300.

Now that HD-SLRs have made large sensors and high ISOs accessible to the masses, it has become popular to shoot in near darkness with high-speed lenses at very large apertures like f/1.2 or f/1.4, resulting in extremely shallow depth of field. However, in the professional world, deeper depth-of-field is often preferred in order to see the set and production design more clearly, and offer the focus puller a decent chance of keeping the actors in focus. It is common practice for professionals working with the Super 35 imaging sensor to shoot at more moderate f-stops, such as f/4.

The low noise and high sensitivity of the EOS C300 allows cinematographers to shoot in near darkness while also maintaining a reasonable and workable f-stop, without the need for supplemental lighting.

In the examples here, you can see how shooting at ISO 20,000 can allow us to shoot at f/8 with decent depth of field even in near darkness. Compare that with the image shot at f/1.2 with ISO 640 and you can see how usable higher ISOs can open up this aspect of creative cinematography in ways that have never been possible before. Keep in mind that in both shots, it was so dark that it was very hard to see the subject with the naked eye.

To illustrate the varying levels of image noise introduced at different ISO levels, we've shot the following examples using the same f-stop while shooting at progressively higher ISOs (with different ND levels):

As you can see, high ISOs previously considered unusable are now reasonable, highly workable options with the EOS C300.

The ISO settings available on the EOS C300 range from the following…

  • 320
  • 400
  • 500
  • 640
  • 800
  • 850 (native ISO setting, for broadest dynamic range)
  • 1000
  • 1250
  • 1600
  • 2000
  • 2500
  • 3200
  • 4000
  • 5000
  • 6400
  • 8000
  • 10,000
  • 12,800
  • 16,000
  • 20,000

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II brought 6400 ISO into the hands of many users at a time when that ISO level was unthinkable to movie shooters, but it displayed visible noise and occasionally considered unusable for some applications. ISO on the EOS 5D Mark II could be expanded to 12,800 (H1) and even 25,600 (H2) via a Custom Function, but for some users, expanded ISOs were not a practical option due to the potential noise levels at these settings.

Besides extending the usable sensitivity range to levels previously unimagined for high-end motion picture operation, the EOS C300 keeps noise so well under control that all available ISOs are viable options for most shooters and situations. In the C300's menu, you can choose whether to set the ISO speeds in 1/3 or 1 stop increments.

BASE ISO, AND GAIN SETTINGS

The optimum ISO speed setting for the Canon EOS C300 is 850. It is at ISO 850 that the broadest dynamic range is possible in EOS C300 files – a 12-stop range, according to Canon, Inc. test methods. Though ISO 850 is an unusual number, Canon wanted to provide the most accurate setting to use for the best possible image quality in terms of dynamic range.

For the DP coming from film, the sensor is unique in the way that it handles dynamic range. The EOS C300 achieves its highest level of overall image quality at ISO 850. As the ISO numbers increase, dynamic range remains similar – however, noise begins to appear in the image, as expected. What is different about the C300 sensor is that lowering the ISO below 850 actually begins to shift dynamic range slightly, reducing available detail in highlight areas. At ISO 400 and 320 (the lowest available setting), the range of detail in shadows actually increases, but highlight detail (above 18% gray) is reduced to approximately 4 stops.

The concept for the critical DP or camera operator that the optimum quality setting is at an ISO above the lowest available may take a bit of getting used to. This is counter to the traditional thinking that lower ISOs improve all aspects of image quality. Users shooting in bright lighting conditions may indeed need to use lower ISOs, and should feel free to do so. But the broadest range of highlight detail occurs at ISO 800 and above.

If all EOS C300 users were motivated to shoot at ISO 850 when working in sunlight outdoors, there would be little chance of using the wide apertures that camera operators and Directors of Photography so often favor. Luckily, the camera comes equipped with internal ND filters in the strengths of 0.6 (two stops), 1.2 (four stops) and 1.8 (six stops), all made of glass for long-term durability and to prevent damage from sunlight. Using two buttons on the camera body, you can easily engage the filters individually as necessary to reduce light transmission to the imaging sensor, shoot at the ideal ISO you want to optimize dynamic range and still use wide apertures and moderate shutter speeds in bright lighting conditions.

The EOS C300's built-in ND filters are labeled:

  • 2 stops (1/4th the amount of light; ND 0.6 – 2-stop reduction)
  • 4 stops (1/16th the amount of light; ND 1.2 – 4-stop reduction)
  • 6 stops (1/64th the amount of light; ND 1.8 – 6-stop reduction)

Of course, the ND filters can be completely removed from the light path, and video recording is possible with no reduction in overall exposure. Furthermore, there's an ingenious mechanical back-up system for the built-in ND filters. If users ever were to experience a problem with the motorized ND filter actuation, removing a small cover on the right side of the camera allows inserting a screwdriver into the camera, and manually rotating a gear which drives the filter array.

In the video industry, some users work with "Gain" to increase or decrease the sensitivity of the imaging sensor, instead of photographic ISO numbers. With the EOS C300, gain can be easily made the unit of choice with a simple menu setting. Comparing the C300's gain vs. its ISO ratings:

30dB   ISO 20,000
26dB   ISO 12,800
20dB   ISO 6400
14dB   ISO 3200
8dB   ISO 1600
2dB   ISO 800
     
0dB   ISO 640
     
-4dB   ISO 400
-6dB   ISO 320

Many experienced film and digital cine camera operators work with the term "shutter angle" instead of "shutter speed" that SLR users are familiar with, when it comes to pre-setting how long each frame will be exposed. The EOS C300 allows users to work with either setting, via a menu option. It is worth noting that most motion picture films are traditionally shot at a shutter angle of 180 degrees. Smaller shutter angles – equivalent to faster shutter speeds – are usually used only for special effects or other rare applications. It is also uncommon to shoot at a shutter angle larger than 180 degrees (equivalent to a "slow" shutter speed), because the exaggerated motion blur characteristics introduced with that technique can be disconcerting to the audience.

LENSES

The Canon EOS C300 comes in two different, distinct models – the EOS C300 for EF mount lenses and the EOS C300 PL for PL mount lenses. The lens mounts are permanently built-in to the camera bodies, and are not interchangeable with each other to insure maximum lens mount precision and durability. For cinema users, the PL mount option takes advantage of a world of legacy industry standard optics. Both Canon-brand cine lenses with PL mounts, as well as proven third-party brand PL-type lenses, can be attached and used, without restriction – as long as they optically cover the Super 35-size imaging sensor.

The EF mount version of the EOS C300 is an exciting Canon exclusive that opens up a cumulative production of more than 70 million lenses to a world of photographers who have not been able to use this line of beautiful and relatively affordable optics on a proper cine camera. Cinematographers, once introduced to HD-SLRs, have fallen in love with certain examples of Canon glass due to their extraordinary optical performance. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II USM telephoto zoom lens, for example, has no equivalent in the cinema world in terms of price, performance, range, size and quality. Macro, fisheye, ultra-wide and long-telephoto lenses, even tilt-shifts – rare and difficult to find in the professional PL-mount cine world – are readily available from Canon's wide selection of EF lenses for EOS SLRs. Since the EOS C300's imaging sensor is very close to APS-C size, Canon's EF-S lenses can also be used on the EF mount version of the camera.

Furthermore, Canon is launching a new line of CN-E lenses: optics designed specifically for high-end video and cine shooting, with super-smooth mechanical manual focus, "clickless" manual iris ring (configured in T-stops, rather than photographic F-stops), traditional cine-type barrel and control design, and Canon's EF lens mount. The design of focus rings will match ideally with common third-party, gear-driven devices commonly used by focus pullers. Initial offerings will include two powerful zoom lenses and three large aperture primes*:

  • CN-E 14.5-60mm T2.6L S
  • CN-E 30-300mm T2.95-3.7L S
  • CN-E 24mm T1.5L F
  • CN-E 50mm T1.3L F
  • CN-E 85mm T1.3L F

* Note: The CN-E zooms with "S" designation are designed for use with cameras having image sensors Super 35-size or smaller, and will not cover traditional "full-frame" 24x36mm sensors on HD-SLRs such as the EOS 5D Mark II. The fixed-focal length CN-E 24, 50 and 85mm "F" lenses will cover traditional full-frame sensors.

Before going any further, it's vital to understand one point: since the EOS C300 is a professional video camera, targeting the high-end of the cine, television and independent film market, there is NO autofocus capability built-in – regardless of camera version, or which lens is mounted to it. Furthermore, there is no built-in exposure metering, or automatic exposure. Exposure control is always performed manually, by the camera operator.

There are other reasons why cinematographers may want to choose between EF and PL models for different applications. With the EF model, while using conventional EF lenses, the iris can be controlled with the dials directly on the camera body and the camera's grip, with lens information being displayed on the LCD and viewfinder. This is especially useful in documentary shooting, where quick iris changes need to occur on the fly, with iris setting readouts on the screen being vital information. Additionally, with most Canon EF-mount lenses, the EF version of the EOS C300 has a feature called Peripheral Illumination Correction that automatically corrects for lens vignetting at all apertures. This in-camera function (which can be disabled if desired) can save vital time during the editing and color grading process. Peripheral Illumination Correction is not available in the EOS C300 PL.

PL-mount lenses, with their super-smooth manual focus operation and clickless aperture rings, are ideal for more controlled cinema situations where focusing can be finely controlled and the iris can be smoothly ramped (without hard stops) by a camera assistant during a shot when needed. In order to achieve the same effects with the EF version of the EOS C300, the cinematographer would need to use an EF mount CN-E lens.

PL mount lenses have been traditionally available through various third-party lens manufacturers, aimed at the high-end of the cinema and TV marketplace. Virtually any of these can be mounted on the EOS C300 PL camera. Canon recently announced two outstanding-quality professional cine zoom lenses, in PL mount:

  • CN-E 14.5-60mm T2.6L SP
  • CN-E 30-300mm T2.95-3.7L SP

These are optically and mechanically identical to the superb CN-E lenses mentioned above, but the "SP" in their names indicates PL-mount. Predictably, they can be mounted onto not only the EOS C300 PL, but to any other cine camera (film or digital) with Super 35 or smaller imaging format and the industry-standard PL lens mount.

RESOLUTION/CODEC/WORKFLOW

The EOS C300 uses the MPEG-2 Long GOP 4:2:2 MXF codec with a high constant bit rate of 50 megabits/sec. It is the only Super-35 sensor camera in its price category (as of fall, 2011) that records 4:2:2 color sampling on-board, without the need of external recorders. This fulfills a niche for green screen work that previously required additional equipment and investment to achieve. For its price class, it is the best codec available. Combined with the full RGB output of its unique sensor, the C300 is a great option for green screen and effects work.

In today's highly accelerated production world, speed of delivery is crucial. Working with established NLE software companies such as Adobe, Apple, Avid and Grass Valley to ensure compatibility with Apple's Final Cut Pro (7 and X), Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere CS5.5, and Grass Valley Edius non-linear editing software, the EOS C300 already works seamlessly with the most commonly used professional editing systems and does not require proprietary software to prepare footage for editing. In addition, the MXF codec is robust, with a high bit rate that meets or exceeds network broadcast specs. It's the same codec that is used in Canon's existing XF-series camcorders (XF100 and XF300 series), making the EOS C300 one of the very few cameras in the sub-$20,000 price category of Super-35 sensor class that can provide 50 Mb/sec, 4:2:2 output at Full HD 1920x1080.

COMPACT FLASH MEMORY CARDS

Unlike some high-end, professional cine cameras, the EOS C300 and C300 PL use industry-standard CompactFlash (CF) memory cards for video recording. CF cards are readily available, affordable, and offer proven durability. Compared to the proprietary recording media of some competitive models, they're significantly less expensive, and in a pinch, can often be purchased on-location. Furthermore, many SLR owners who are considering stepping-up to a pro video camera already have CF cards, and won't need to invest in new media with the EOS C300.

The EOS C300 has two CF card slots. These can be used as follows:

  • Standard Recording: Single card used in either slot for recording
  • Relay Recording: Two cards installed (A and B); instant switching when first becomes filled
  • Double-slot Recording: Two cards installed; same data recorded to both cards (provides in-camera back-up - perfect for situations where shooting really can't be repeated, like interviewing a corporate CEO)

Other features include the ability to hot-swap cards (while one is recording, the other can be accessed and removed), and the ability to initialize (format) one card while the other is recording. Initializing is a menu-driven feature, and as a safety precaution, cannot be performed to a card that is actively recording.

CompactFlash cards have a proven history of durability and reliability among professional video and still-image users, which is another benefit for prospective EOS C300 owners and camera operators.

Typical recording durations for CF cards, at different EOS C300 quality settings:

Card Capacity 50Mb/s (CBR) 35Mb/s (VBR) 25Mb/s (CBR)
8 GB 20 min. 25 min. 40 min.
16 GB 40 min. 55 min. 80 min.
32 GB 80 min. 110 min. 155 min.
64 GB 160 min. 225 min. 310 min.
128GB 320 min. 445 min. 625 min.

Note: "CBR" = Continuous Bit Rate; "VBR" = Variable Bit Rate.

An important note about CF card compatibility with Full HD video cameras: since video continually feeds a large amount of data to a card, users must understand that compatibility means more than a simple card "speed rating." These ratings do not factor-in a card's ability to sustain high data rates. The only reliable method to truly ascertain true compatibility is a series of specific in-camera tests. Canon, Inc. engineers have performed extensive compatibility tests, and can confirm that the following CompactFlash cards will function properly in the EOS C300 and C300 PL, as of October, 2011:

Manufacturer CF card model 4GB 8GB 16GB 32GB 64GB
Sandisk Extreme   Yes Yes Yes  
ExtremePro     Yes Yes Yes
Hagiwara Z III (UDMA-5) Yes Yes      
Lexar Professional 300x Yes* Yes* Yes*    
Professional 600x   Yes* Yes*    
Delkin Devices CombatFlash   Yes* Yes* Yes*  
Transcend CompactFlash     Yes* Yes*  

* – operation confirmed in all camera shooting modes EXCEPT slow motion

FRAME RATES

The Canon EOS C300 has variable frame rates from 1 to 30 fps in 1080p mode, and 1 to 60 fps in 720p mode. These frame rates are adjustable down to exact 1 fps increments.

Also, time-lapse can be done in-camera to record a specified number of frames at specific time intervals. This can be used to film a flower bloom, for example, or a structure being built over time.

Frame recording can be used for stop motion or Claymation applications to record a specified number of frames at each burst, manually controlled by the camera operator. Doing this process in-camera allows the frames to be laid into the specified HD recording time-base frame rate preferred by the user.

CANON LOG and CINEMA LOCK MODE

For cinematographers, one of the most exciting aspects of the EOS C300 camera is the introduction of Canon Log, and the Cinema Lock Mode. While it's true that the EOS C300 and companion EOS C300 PL models do not offer a RAW recording option, the ability to use the new Canon Log option brings some of the advantages of RAW recording to video editors and colorists, without the enormous file sizes and computer overhead that true RAW recording would require.

Canon Log is a custom picture setting that has log gamma and high dynamic range, leaving maximum freedom in post-production with color correction in mind. The image is recorded with a flat image quality with subdued contrast and sharpness. This setting helps provide the most image information, subject detail and texture from the sensor. Canon Log is therefore ideal for the film cinematographer who doesn't want to rush to commit to a look on set, but would rather adjust color carefully during the editing process, in a proper viewing environment with a trusted colorist. Canon Log gamma can be selected and activated via the CUSTOM PICTURE button, on the camera's left side.

Cinema Lock mode is different: it's a setting that can be engaged in the Camera Set-up Menu. It activates Canon Log, but additionally, it locks-out access to the numerous other image adjustments possible within the EOS 300. And, if any such adjustments (saturation, black gamma, knee adjustments, noise reduction and so on) have previously been made in-camera, they are de-activated and returned to factory-default status when Cinema Lock is engaged. Thus, in one quick setting, the cine shooter can know that his or her camera is set to deliver reliable files that are ready for further editing and color work, with no unexpected surprises.

Many video cameras come from a legacy of ENG (electronic news gathering) design, and as a result have menu systems and a multitude of picture settings that are non-intuitive for the cinema user. By engaging Cinema Lock mode, the cinematographer can rest easy knowing that the camera is simply and quickly optimized for post-production without checking a numerous amount of menu settings that could have been bumped or changed by mistake.

Canon Log and Cinema Lock also come with the option to activate a View Assist function, which allows the cinematographer to see a preview of a color corrected image (a generic simulation of what might happen after a standard grading) on their LCD screen while still recording a flat log gamma picture. This is incredibly helpful when lighting a scene, so that the crew can preview how contrast ratios are working or if there are any highlights or other distractions that might be hard to catch when viewing a flatter, less-contrasty screen in Canon Log. View Assist also helps focus pullers judge focus more accurately by enhancing the contrast in the picture.

In the past, video cameras have offered images that either had a baked-in look or a raw format. There was no middle ground. With Canon Log and Cinema Lock mode, Canon is introducing a mix of the two concepts. It meets the needs of many productions looking for more flexibility in color correction with the least amount of complication in workflow.

OTHER "LOOKS": THE CUSTOM PICTURE MENU

The EOS C300 has not abandoned in-camera, traditional looks, however. A great deal of success of the HD-SLR revolution can be owed to the fact that the images and video files coming straight off the cameras often look great "as is." There are still a number of productions in which this is an important asset, especially when something needs to be delivered immediately for television or cine use, with time or budget for color correction not being an option.

For those applications, the C300 has included the "EOS Standard" look, inspired by the Standard Picture Style from Canon's popular EOS HD SLRs, which includes the iconic high contrast and vivid colors we've come to expect from modern HD SLR productions.

These are in the camera's Custom Picture menu, which is called-up directly by pressing the Custom Picture button on the left side of the camera.

The Custom Picture menu consists of two pre-defined Gamma entries: Canon Log (listed on the menu screen as "C8: CINEMA"), and "C9: EOS Standard." Within the Custom Picture menu, there are also seven available "blank" spaces (C1~C7) for users to select an available Gamma setting, and if they choose, to further modify it with any of a host of possible fine adjustments. Each of these is initially numbered, and can be re-named by the user to reflect the settings or application for them to be used in.

AVAILABLE GAMMA SETTINGS:

Normal 1: Meant for images to be viewed on a TV monitor. (outdoor sample) (studio sample)

Normal 2: Meant for images to be viewed on a TV monitor, but enables the high-brightness areas to be to be recorded with even more brightness than Normal 1. (outdoor sample) (studio sample)

Normal 3: (ITU-R BT.709) Meant for images to be viewed on a TV monitor, allows a fuller rendering of gray to black, and greater shadow detail, compared with Normal 2. (outdoor sample) (studio sample)

Normal 4: Similar to Normal 3, but even greater rendering of shadow areas. (outdoor sample) (studio sample)

Cine 1: Gamma setting at which the texture and gradation akin to movies can be obtained. (Please note that Cine 1 is not the same as the "C8: CINEMA" setting on the Custom Picture menu, which refers to the Canon Log setting.) (outdoor sample) (studio sample)

Cine 2: Similar to Cine 1, but softer in contrast (outdoor sample) (studio sample)

Canon Log: Gamma setting which assumes that the user will engage in post-production processing. Very flat, low-contrast rendering of image data, but preserves the widest range of tones and detail. Color correction will be needed after shooting. This is pre-defined, within the Custom Picture menu – although further adjustments can be made to it. (outdoor sample, ungraded), (outdoor sample, graded), (studio sample, ungraded), (studio sample, graded)

EOS Standard: Gamma setting for creating image quality similar to EOS HD SLR cameras, using their Standard Picture Style setting. Vivid colors and higher contrast. EOS Standard is also pre-defined in the Custom Picture menu, and can be further modified or fine-tuned by the user, as described below. (outdoor sample) (studio sample)

Any of these Gamma settings can be selected, and then a wide range of adjustments can be applied – including:

  • Black (Master Pedestal, Master Black)
  • Black Gamma
  • Low Key saturation
  • Knee
  • Sharpness (Level, Detail frequency, Coring, Knee aperture, and more)
  • Noise Reduction
  • Skin detail
  • Selective noise reduction
  • Color matrix
  • White balance (adjust WB offset of each RGB color over a ±50 step range)
  • Color Correction (Area setting, Area revision)

Different combinations of these settings can be applied to any of the Custom Picture settings 1 thru 7. Thus, for users who truly need to fine-tune the output of their files, it's clearly possible to by-pass Canon Log, and instead generate files that can precisely be optimized for the look, subject type, and lighting conditions they're shooting in. This can be especially valuable to independent film or documentary TV users, who often need to have video files that are as close to "ready to go" as possible, to meet tight deadlines.

Even the pre-set Custom Picture settings (C8 – Cinema, C9 – EOS Std) can be further adjusted, giving an incredible range of potential to create a specific "look" that will require little or no color manipulation during the editing process.

Once a camera operator has made any detailed in-camera image adjustments, his or her settings can be loaded onto an SD card and copied onto other EOS C300 cameras, to match looks for multi-camera shoots. The EOS C300 has a special SD memory card slot, exclusively for this purpose.

These picture profiles can only be engaged when Cinema Lock mode is OFF. When Cinema Lock mode is ON, all picture settings and changes are locked out. Some people coming from the legacy of shooting on motion picture film cameras often find the endless options in picture profiles on modern digital cine cameras to be confusing and intimidating. Others may also find that working out those settings on-set wastes valuable time. Canon Log and Cinema Lock now offer a quick and easy, no nonsense solution for film cinematographers to work in a way that they have for generations, with their focus on lighting and framing rather than setting up electronic menus. And in that way, it is empowering.

FORM FACTOR/BUILD/FEATURES

Image quality is one thing, but a camera needs to be built to allow cinematographers the flexibility and speed to get the best images possible. There is no way around the fact that build quality and form factor inform how we shoot.

Out of the box, Canon's EOS C300 is set up for a variety of shooting styles without the need for additional accessories. It is also small enough to replace specialty B-camera shots where HD-SLRs used to be the only option due to their small size. However, conventional HD-SLRs are not designed specifically for cinematography, and they often require third party accessories and rigs to get the camera to feel and behave more like a conventional video or film camera for handheld use or other operations. Ultimately, a properly built out HD-SLR rig often gets just as big and heavy as a normal pro video camera, if not larger or heavier with all the additional LCD screens, viewing aids and counterbalance weights. The C300 provides a different option, with a well thought-out design that is very modular yet already naturally set up for a variety of handheld shots right out of the box.

The viewfinders on the EOS C300 (both the flip out LCD and eyepiece) are in useful places and have very helpful rotations – allowing more viewing options than any Super 35-sensor camera in its price category. In addition, the rear panel LCD has readouts so that you can quickly change crucial settings such as ISO, White Balance and Shutter Angle without needing to refer to the viewfinder or flip-out LCD.

HD-SLRs have also appealed to cinematographers due to the simplicity of their controls. Their back-to-the-basics approach to controlling ISO, F-Stop, Shutter Speed (angle), and White Balance (Kelvin) in some ways simplified the task of recording video imagery. On the EOS C300, adjusting these settings is quick and easy, using the function button, along with a familiar EOS Select/Set dial on the camera body or on its removable grip.

Many additional user-requested features have made their way onto the EOS C300. Internal ND Filters are quickly accessible via buttons on the camera body. A lock switch (integrated into the camera's main On-Off switch) can be turned on easily to make sure buttons aren't accidentally pushed or bumped during a shot. Professional audio inputs allow broadcast-ready uncompressed audio to be recorded directly to camera, while a mini audio jack is also provided in the event that the cameraman wants to use legacy HD SLR audio mics for reference audio or for their compact size.

Time code and Genlock capabilities smooth post-production while HD/SD-SDI and HDMI ports provide much needed outputs for both users and clients. Staggered placement for these and other inputs make it easy to plug and unplug items quickly on set. The EOS C300 boots up faster than many competitive cameras, being ready to shoot in seconds.

While maintaining a weatherproof design equivalent to the sealing performance of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the C300 also resolves the sensor heating issue by utilizing an intelligent and quiet cooling system that both the camera and sound departments will love. Intake vents on the lower front and side of the camera channel cool air into a special duct; the special (and almost silent) internal fan then pulls the air up through the duct, removing sensor heat, and exhausts the warm air at the top of the camera.

For the camera operator, several frame lines (2:40, 1:85, 1:66, and more) are available at the flip of a switch, allowing the camera user to precisely adapt the camera for specific requirements for the job at hand, or to match footage taken with different cameras. And for those brought up with traditional cine film cameras, shutter settings can be represented by "Angle" rather than "Speed," while sensor sensitivity can be represented by "Gain" or real "ISO" numbers – these choices can be made in the EOS 300's menu.

BATTERIES AND POWER SUPPLY

The EOS C300 is normally powered by a Canon BP-955 rechargeable battery pack (one is included with the camera , along with Canon's CG-940 charger). At normal temperatures, if both the camera's eye-level electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor are active, users can expect approximately 190 minutes of recording time per battery charge (this decreases by about 10 minutes if SDI is active).

The BP-955 battery (also used by Canon's XF300 and XF305 cameras) has a rated minimum capacity of 4900mAh, and a nominal capacity of 5200mAh.

Other compatible Canon rechargeable batteries include:

  • BP-950G (same capacity ratings and approx. recording times)
  • BP-970G (higher capacity ratings; approx. 265 minutes recording time)
  • BP-975 (highest capacity ratings; approx. 280 minutes recording time)

The EOS C300 also ships with a dedicated AC Adapter, the Compact Power Adapter CA-940. This multi-voltage adapter enables powering the camera by AC power nearly anywhere in the world, as long as AC line voltage is available. It connects into the camera's "DC-in" socket, on the bottom of its left row of input terminals.

CONCLUSION

Available in a choice of either EF or PL lens mounts, the EOS C300 is ready for professional productions of today. It is flexible, versatile and durable, while also being affordable enough for serious freelance and independent shooters to consider ownership. In combination with a brand new sensor, great image quality and unprecedented range of usable ISO sensitivity, the EOS C300 and EOS C300 PL are poised to fulfill a need in the film industry that EOS HD-SLRs helped create. This marks the first of many big steps for Canon in our commitment to the professional cinema industry.

Canon USA will continue to post educational and informative materials on the EOS C300 and Canon's new CN-E lenses here on the Canon Digital Learning Center. Continue to check back for more information on these stunning new products for professional video users.

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.

http://learn.usa.canon.com

© 2014 Canon U.S.A., Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.