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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review

Hands On Review Of The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Camera

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the new Olympus M4/3 12-40mm f2.8 zoom and grip. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the new Olympus M4/3 12-40mm f2.8 zoom and grip. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The E-M1 was about to join a list of cameras which had made an impression on me from the moment I had picked them up; the Nikon FE, FM, FE2, FM2, F3. The Canon T90, 5D MkIII, 1D MkII, MkIII (after the sub mirror fix), Mk IV and 1DX, Leica R6.2 and every single Leica M camera from film to digital, but excluding the M5, M8 and M8.2.

I was sitting in the airport terminal, waiting for our plane to Ireland. That’s when I first saw the 16MP Olympus OM-D E-M1 in the flesh. The second I held the camera, it just felt right. It was solid like no other micro four thirds camera I’d used, more like a pro DSLR. The ergonomics were right; the grip was the perfect size and the buttons just fell to hand perfectly. It definitely felt right. I knew then I was in for a treat. The little Olympus had joined a very exclusive list of cameras that conveyed a feeling upon first touch.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Olympus had arranged for a few photographers and trade journalists to fly off to Ireland’s lovely Castle Leslie and spend seven to eight hours with the camera. Various scenarios were arranged to give us the opportunity to try out the camera’s various functions and also to put Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds and older Four Thirds lenses (which are compatible and also AF, using an adapter) to use. Everything from models, lighting (flash and continuous tungsten), galloping horses, dark and dingy situations and an amazing light drawing artist were all at hand, as was the beautiful surroundings of the castle itself. I have to say that the event was organised and executed perfectly.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Lit with a portable Pro Photo studio flash triggered wirelessly. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Lit with a portable Pro Photo studio flash triggered wirelessly. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

We were each given a camera bag with the E-M1, grip and brand new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens (in 35mm terms, this becomes a 24-80mm f2.8 – we were in fact the first photographers worldwide, outside of Olympus staff to use this lens), a second lens (in my case a 12mm f2.0) and a flash (which I didn’t get a chance to try). We were split into three groups and within the groups we had access to all other micro four thirds lenses, including the simply brilliant 45mm and 75mm f1.8 lenses. We also had the knowledgeable Florian from Olympus Germany on hand to help with any technical questions.

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a Four Thirds Olympus 300mm f2.8 lens, attached with an adapter.  This combination was used to take the photograph below. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a Four Thirds Olympus 300mm f2.8 lens, attached with an adapter. This combination was used to take the photograph below. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 300mm f2.8 Four Thirds lens (effectively a 600mm f2.8).  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

A horse and rider gallop through a lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 300mm f2.8 Four Thirds lens (effectively a 600mm f2.8). Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

One lens not yet available, but a mock up of which I saw, was a 40-150mm f2.8 Pro lens (80-300mm f2.8 equivalent). With this addition to the system, I feel the E-M1 is ready for most things and could well be the news photographer’s perfect kit. Two E-M1 bodies, the 12-40mm and 40-150mm, all roughly pack into the same area as a traditional pro DSLR and 24-70mm f2.8 lens would take. It would also probably be lighter and roughly cost around the same.

The E-M1 In Use

Having spent around eight hours with the camera, I can definitely give my impressions of it, but it’s not long enough to be able to run a full test. Hopefully I shall do this in the future. As I mentioned in my intro, the camera just feels right as soon as you pick it up. Several photographers made the same comment and we were all surprised that we all said the same thing, using identical words! The design has obviously been really well thought out and tried out too.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Although there was no time to read through a manual, the camera’s buttons and menu system are easy enough to figure out and after a little fumbling, one gets very used to it. I’m a big fan of having buttons and dials for major operational features and as a result of incorporating these, the camera is easy and quick to operate. The rear LCD is extremely crisp; a high res, bright and touch capable screen that also flips up or down. Very handy indeed.

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Being a micro four thirds camera, it doesn’t have a mirror box, so it’s not an SLR. This means that the camera is much smaller (around half the size of a pro DSLR) and lighter. This in turn means the lenses are also much smaller and lighter too, even the fast f1.8 offerings. Being a Leica M photographer small is something I appreciate in my cameras and lenses; well, the Olympus lenses are even smaller than Leica M optics.

A floating bubble with the reflection of a glass roof. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot   Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

A floating bubble with the reflection of a glass roof. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Not having a mirrorbox naturally means no optical viewfinder, but Olympus have incorporated the very best EVF on the market (electronic viewfinder) into the camera. It’s bright, sharp, fast (no streaking or smearing) and supremely sensitive in the dark – it’s practically night vision. I’ve been using EVF’s since my Leica Digilux 2, then on my Olympus PEN E-P2. I now have an EVF for my Leica M (Type 240) and nothing I have used or tested before comes close to just how good the E-M1 and it’s built in EVF work. If you’re a sceptic, definitely pop to a shop and try it out when the camera is  available from October 2013.

A closeup of a flower, shot with the macro function of the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot   Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

A closeup of a flower, shot with the macro function of the new Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

The EVF allowed me to work in normal portrait conditions, in the bright sun, in a practically black, darkened library and also tracking galloping horses coming straight at me and also across from me. It worked flawlessly. During the day’s shooting, I didn’t once feel an optical finder would have helped me make better pictures.

Ghosts in the library. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Ghosts in the library. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

The speed of the drive is also very impressive; 10fps, falling to 6.5fps for continuous AF. The buffer is also huge, allowing 50 raw files to be buffered whilst writing to card.

Auto Focus

Ok, this really is surprising. The speed and accuracy of focus felt on par with my Canon 1DX. I haven’t done side by side testing, but the speed of the AF using Micro Four Thirds lenses really does astonish. No sooner have you touched the shutter button that the subject pops into perfect focus. I found this both is single and continuous mode.

The camera uses a dual AF system, combining phase detection and contrast AF, switching between the two depending on the lens in use.

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot witht he Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture and Silver Efex Pro 2*

Being old school, I very much tend to choose my AF point and work. A professional portrait photographer who was at hand convinced me to try the face detection, with eye detection during a portrait shoot. Very reluctantly, I did, as I don’t believe in gimmicks. Well, it’s no gimmick and works perfectly! The camera picked the face of the model and focused on the eyes. Shooting at f1.8 on the 45mm and also 75mm lenses, the results were spot on, pin sharp.

ISO and Low Light

The ISO also impresses, topping out at 25,600 ISO and giving clean and crisp results. The low light operation also has the immense benefit of the camera’s built in 5-axis image stabiliser. Being built into the camera means that every lens can be stabilised. The system works tremendously well, both in stills and in video mode.

Detail Crop: ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 6400. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 12,800. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Detail Crop: ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

ISO 25,600. Portrait of a model. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. The 5 axis image stabilisation has kept this 1/5th of a second shot pin sharp.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *RAW image processed in Olympus Viewer 3 and Aperture*

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Test Shot with the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. The 5 axis image stabilisation has kept this 1/5th of a second shot pin sharp. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian *RAW image processed in Olympus Viewer 3 and Aperture*

Video

Alas, this is the area where the camera could do more. Positively, the 5-axis stabiliser makes this the most suitable stills camera in the world for shooting video on. Stabilising, smooth clips are to hand. Another boon is the E-M1 has a built in mic socket. Sadly, the negatives are too many at this stage. No headphone socket. As far as I could see, no way to monitor manual audio whilst shooting (I may be wrong as time was limited). The huge omission though, and one which I hope with firmware upgrades can be changed, is that the camera only shoots in 30P in full 1080P HD. I really don’t understand why 24P and 25P were not included. Judging by the size of the buffer and processing power, I would guess that 50P and higher should have also been possible, allowing beautiful slow motion to be shot with the camera.

With the 5-axis stabiliser, Olympus have a winning feature that elevates them over the entire competition. They need to take this seriously and update the firmware to allow for the missing frae rates. Also future models need to have headphone sockets.

There are a huge list of other features; the built in WiFi with iOS App control, and amazing live bulb mode, it’s weather sealing and expandability all add up to impress. To get a full specification list, visit this Olympus page.

Final Thoughts

I really like the Olympus PEN range and they impressed me from the start. Olympus has shown itself to be one of a small number of camera manufacturers who really innovate. I played with the first OM-D, the E-M5, which impressed. However, the E-M1 just jumps ahead, light years, over anything Olympus have produced and most cameras on the market.

A shot of me with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: Damian McGillicuddy

A shot of me with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Test Shot with Live Time mode (bulb but with updated view of the long exposure, shown on the rear screen as the image develops), using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: Damian McGillicuddy

It feels right from the first time one holds it. The lenses are brilliant, the system works. Speed, accuracy, small size, unobtrusive. It’s a shame the video aspects aren’t up to scratch as the camera is pretty much perfect otherwise. With the addition of a professional service plan (Service Plus), Olympus shows it’s serious about the pro market. A few longer Micro Four Thirds lenses alongside the 40-150mm f2.8 and I think the system will be ready for most types of professional photography.

Give the camera a try. You won’t be disappointed. I for one was seriously impressed.

Visit my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Flickr Set to see more images shot with the camera.

The Leica M Monochrom Hands On Review

The King Of The Tones?

Opening of the Leica Studio-S, 27 Bruton Place, Mayfair. Portraits of photographer Edmond Terakopian trying out the new Leica M Monocrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. May 16, 2012. Photo: By Brett / http://www.bybrett.com

I have to admit that when I first read rumours of a black and white Leica M, I thought it would never happen. When I saw the announcements, I was a tad surprised, until I saw the images. Such tonal range and amazing detail at very high ISOs all of a sudden made so much sense.

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 640 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 640 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I was fortunate enough to be able to try out a pre-production Leica M Monochrom today, along with the astonishingly great Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. In my enthusiasm to shoot with the camera I unfortunately didn’t check to see if the camera was set to RAW, so all these test images are from jpegs which I have processed a little in Aperture. Naturally RAWs produce the best files, so take these jpegs, which have been saved again as jpegs and thus degraded the image quality (especially at higher ISOs) as a guide. Even so, they are amazingly good!

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 8000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 8000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 10,000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Test shots with the Leica M Monochrom and APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. Camera was set to jpeg. 10,000 ISO. ***All shots on a pre-production Leica M Monochrom***. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

One of the great aspects of the launch event for the press at Leica Mayfair’s S-Studio was being able to discuss the camera with friends and colleagues.

Photographer Ian Berry from Magnum Photos tries out the new Leica M Monochrome. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian (Image shot on an M9-P and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2)

Photographer Ian Berry from Magnum Photos tries out the new Leica M Monochrome. May 16, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian (Image shot on an M9-P and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2)

I must admit to being blown away and yearn to be able to work in black and white like the good old days!

The huge thing with this camera is not needing the bayer filter in front of the sensor. This makes the sensor much better at picking up ultra fine detail and a wider tonal range, not to mention it’s ability to produce really gorgeous files at 8000 ISO. Just playing with these jpegs it’s clear to me that Leica have in fact pulled off a master stroke of absolute genius. I can’t wait to get my hands on this camera again, shoot in DNG and process them properly through Aperture. It is going to be lush!

For a full set of images taken with the M Monochrom, visit my Flickr stream.

The B&W Connoisseur’s Camera?

The  Leica M Monochrom

Leica M Monochrom. Photo: © Leica

It does at first glance appear a tad odd; a digital camera that only shoots in black and white. There are two types of photographer who this camera will appeal too though; the high end enthusiast who is into monochrome photography and also the established professional photographer who has made a name for themselves by shooting black and white.

I’m very much hoping to do a hands on review soon, but meanwhile, Andreas Jürgensen from the Leica Forum has done an interesting video review.

The camera certainly appears not to be a Leica M9 which just shoots in B&W. It does indeed have a brand new sensor and it’s ISO range is upped to 10,000. Watching the video and listening to Andreas’ conclusions, the camera produces noiseless images at 3200 ISO and absolutely usable images at 8000 ISO. The sensor also renders massive amounts of micro detail. This camera appears to be an astonishing tool; an interesting concept brought to life with a brave decision making by Leica and also executed in a magnificent way. I really cannot wait to shoot with this camera and make some prints on my iPF6300 and Hahnemuhle paper!

Update: I’ve just read a fantastic piece by Jonathan Slack on the Leica M Monochrom; well worth a read and definitely check out the wonderful gallery of images.

Update: There are some images by Magnum Photos photographer Jacob Aue Sobol on the Leica M Monochrom site that are well worth checking out.

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!