Update: 17-1-2012 – The Canon C300 is now available for Pre-order from B&H.
Today I went along to CVP in Brentford London to have a closer look at the new Canon EOS C300. Announced on November the 3rd this new Canon S35 camera has received a lot of attention as well as a fair amount of criticism due to the combination of a much higher RRP than expected and some less than cutting edge specs.
The Canon EOS C300 was announced with a recommended retail price of $20,000 without a lens. Many DSLR users were expecting a camera that would compete with Sony’s FS100 but as it turned out a it’s closest competitors are the much higher end Sony F3 and the Red Scarlet, the later of which which was launched on the same day as the C300. Since the release there have been a lot of rumours about the price actually being less than $20k and it does seem as though this is the case with many UK dealers now listing it for pre-order at less than £10,000.
Like the Sony F3 the C300 records at a maximum resolution of 1080p to it’s internal cards. The C300 trumps the F3 slightly in this regard with it’s BBC approved 50 mbps XF codec but whereas the F3 has the ability to output a full blown 4:4:4 uncompressed signal to external recorders with the addition of a $3,700 S-LOG option the C300′s single HD-SDI port is limited to a 1080p 4:2:2 8bit output. This single limitation is seen by most as being the biggest weakness of the C300.
The Red Scarlet is a feature limited version of the Epic, the king of high resolution raw output with it’s 5K sensor and workflow. For my use though working with 5K or 4K raw footage would actually make my post production a lot more time consuming than it is at present and my clients would be unlikely to pay for that time. I moved away from having to transcode footage when I started using Premier Pro a year ago, I don’t want to go back to doing that again for every shoot. Should a project come along that needs super slow mo or 5K raw files I would definately rent an Epic. As a massive fan of slow-mo I’d love to shoot with an Epic, but both the price of that camera and the fact that it would increase my post production timescales are good reasons to look elsewhere. The Scarlet isn’t quite as attractive to me, you get all the workflow implications without the awesome 4K frame rates.
So what many see as the C300′s Achilles heel isn’t actually such a problem for me, I’ll be perfectly happy recording to the cameras internal compact flash cards at 1080p. The one specification that I was disappointed by though was that the C300 can only record over cranked 50 fps or 60 fps material at 720p. It would have been great if Canon had built the camera to do 1080/60 but much like the Sony F3 and EX range it means switching to 720p first.
I had a few reservations and questions based on ergonomics and functionality of the camera. How well would it fill the gap between my EX1 and DSLR’s? Things like exposure aids, audio capabilities and hand holding ability were amongst the list of things I wanted answers to so below is run down of what I discovered…