The Canon C300 Review

Hands On With The Canon C300

I recently had the pleasure of shooting some video on the new Canon C300 during the C300 event at New Day Pictures. The aim being to show off the camera’s abilities to the guests by supplying footage for editor and colourist Neil Patience to showcase during the day. Our model for the day was the extremely talented and wonderful Vicki Blatchley.

For this video I used the C300 PL, which as it’s name suggests, has the PL mount. During the shoot I used the RED 50mm and 85mm PL lenses. Lighting was by two LED panels with the main light coming from a Kino Flo Diva-Lite. I also had the pleasure of trying out a Miller tripod for the first time and must say, I was rather impressed. All equipment was supplied by New Day Pictures (whom I highly recommend for any video, lighting and accessory rentals).

An ungraded, straight from the C300 stills capture, using Quicktime. The colourspace on the camera was set to EOS for this clip. Image: Edmond Terakopian

Firstly, I need to clarify that the C300 was a pre-production model; having said this, it performed flawlessly. Having never seen, let alone used this camera, after a few minutes of training by Canon’s staff at the event I was ready to shoot. It’s an amazingly simple camera to get to grips with with a clear menu system and extremely clearly market keys dotted around the camera; I found it ergonomically brilliant. A very comfortable camera to hold and use. I was also surprised that it was lighter than I anticipated. For any prolonged handheld use though, I would probably suggest a shoulder rig. All the shots in their short film where done on the Miller tripod. My only disappointment was the microphone holder needed a spacer and so I couldn’t use my trusty Rode NTG3 to test out the camera’s audio abilities.

Vick Blatchley with the EF mount version of the Canon C300. This image is a screengrab from a Canon C300 video file. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

After the first shoot, I was impressed by the camera but was extremely keen to see what the footage looked like on the editing station. Once the files were transcoded from MXF files to Pro Res 422 (using the free Canon XF FCP plugin) we looked at them in FCP 7. Straight out the camera the files were amazingly lush. Full of detail, vivid with accurate colours and pin sharp. The most astonishing aspect was the dynamic range; the camera has it’s widest range at 850 ISO. Not only was this apparent in all the extreme highlight and shadow detail, but equally apparent was just how clean the files looked. This camera is the available light shooters’ dream. Along with it’s built in optical ND filters, shooting to achieve maximum dynamic range in outdoor situations is going to be a walk in the park. In use, the fold out LCD monitor was an absolute joy to use. For handheld use, the built in viewfinder makes things more comfortable, taking on the form factor of a DSLR and providing another point of contact to steady the shot.

Using the Canon C300 at the NDP open day event. Photo ©

For my edit here, I used FCP 7 and the Canon XF plugin to transcode the files and imported them into FCP X for my edit. Initial grading was done in FCP X and finished off using Magic Bullet Mojo. This workflow is a bit annoying (and is the first time I have used FCP7 since upgrading to FCP X) but I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time until there’s full compatibility).

My half day with the camera was an absolute joy. My nervousness at perhaps jumping in at the deep end having to produce footage on a brand new camera were unfounded. I took to it like it was a familiar piece of kit. Judging by how well it performed (running for around six hours solid) and how amazing the footage looks, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the C300. The only snag is the £10,000+VAT asking price. If I find my video work increasing as it has done over the last few years, I won’t hesitate in getting one of these, but until then, alas it will remain out of reach. So far, it is the most capable video camera I have worked on, and that includes the RED One and my beloved Canon 5D MkII. In fact, why not rent one from the folks at New Day Pictures and see what the fuss is about!

8 responses to “The Canon C300 Review

  1. Well I would have liked to see some footage from thus camera not just a pretty girl. I’ll look into the price here in the US of A. Thanks for the BRIEF summary. SJ

    • As I mentioned, this was shot during an open day even, which involved us shooting some static footage for guests to the event to see. There were also many people there who naturally wanted to play around with the camera. As a result, this is all that I could really shoot. Hopefully I will get more of a chance to do a more thorough test of the camera.

  2. It’s a great camera Ed!
    I had a day out with it 3 weeks back. It’s so easy for an individual to operate whilst running around working and shooting in the real world. People shouldn’t get hung up on technical comparisons with the Red etc.

    It’s the economics of the usability that counts for my business…… we have ordered two EF mount versions to work with our existing 5d’s and lenses.

    It’s an ideal camera for the new market of tight budget web films with a high production feel.

    • I think anyone who compares it with a RED has never shot with a RED. I’ve shot quite extensively with the RED One and although the files are great in good light, in low light it was useless; everything need to be lit. It’s great to have a RAW file though, but this hugely increases the workflow and the resources needed (time, skill, storage). In a movie studio environment, REDs are great, if the resources are there. It is a different market though.
      The C300 is superb for your suggested use and for much more. In the right hands this is definitely a high end TV and film producing camera. I was extremely impressed by it.

  3. Hi Edmund,
    It looks like an exciting camera, and while I’ll probably never own one, I’m interested in the way Canon is pushing the envelope with it, technically. I am considering a 1dx as my next SLR, and while I realize that’s not in the same league as this, I’m hoping that some of the technology from

    So I have a strictly amateur question for you here. In the Vimeo posted reel, it looks like the highlights on the skin are really blown while normal skin tones are in the right range. Is that a function of the pre-production imaging system, lighting error (due to speed of shooting) or post processing, or am I somehow looking at this the wrong way (and the web never helps; FWIW I’m looking at this on an EIZO CG series sRGB monitor) ?

    Thanks for any comments you can make here!

    • I think the Canon 1DX is going to be phenomenal, both as a photographic tools and video tool. The C300 though is pretty amazing. I have gone for a high key look for the beginning of the video, both in exposure, lighting and grading. To judge the camera’s dynamic range, look at the end clips as well as the fresh from camera still’s grab on this blog post; this one shot shows the range of the camera and is totally ungraded.

  4. Thanks a lot for the perfect review! I’m considering a new camera ; a c300 or a scarlet. Just rented the red last week.. Great cam, for making personal (unpaid) work. Nowadays time and money is a big issue in all the paid work. Just want to shoot in a small team, fast and with a high-end professional look. Internet is most of the time the final source… How are the c300 files in post? Is it good enough to grade the 8-bit material? Sometimes i work with a ColourGrader.. Most of time i do it myself in low budget situations. Is it an idea to shoot (in case of high budget productions) on a Blackmagic SSD recorder for better results in post? A lot of clients don’t see the difference in quality.. Is it a personal thing to want the best of the best? Maybe the 5d is still good enough? It’s difficult to spend a lot of money for (less?) quality improvement! Butt…. in my opinion a high quality standard delivers more work. Upcomming project is a shoot on Ibiza.. Hope to fly with my new cam + macbook and do a part of the post on location…

    • My pleasure. During the day, I was shooting demo clips for editor and colourist Neil Patience and he was extremely happy with the footage. It has lots of range and detail and scan be graded really well. Having played with it myself too, I absolutely agree. We had a prototype and it wasn’t wired for an external recorder, but I am certain it will work well and give even more detailed files. I was extremely impressed by the C300 and if I had enough video work to warrant it, I wouldn’t hesitate in getting one.
      The only area the 5D MkII or 5D MkIII have an advantage in is the full frame sensor giving a narrower depth of field. As a video camera, with the video tools and full audio ability, it’s a far better option.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.