Canon Cinema EOS C300 Portland Meet up | What we learned from Canon Reps

Exciting stuff in Portland, OR today.

Today Mr. Welch and I had the opportunity to go hands-on (somewhat) with the EOS C300 today in Portland Oregon.  Canon reps have been traveling around giving more insight into their new cinema flagship.  What we learned was pretty exciting.  Seems the press event on November 3rd left a lot out.

Here is a list of some features that stood out to us.  You may already know this stuff, but we learned some new things!

Price Point!
First off, we’ve all heard $16,000-$20,000 as the price point.  The truth is that nothing is currently set in stone.  Right now Canon is dealing with making a price point that is equal among the euro, yen, and the dollar.  And there has been such fluctuation that it’s made for a difficult process.  They are doing this to avoid grey market cameras in the future.  Other rumors speculate that the true dealership price could be as low as the $13k range.  Then again, it could maintain the strict  $20k price tag.  (let’s hope for lower!)

They said the price point will be available January 15th!

*We also heard there could potentially be a leasing option!  Why rent when you could have one for $300-$400 a month?!?!

4K vs. 2K and sensor stuff

They did defend their stance on the 4k vs. 2k argument a bit.  There were a few questions regarding the 4k sensor that only outputs to 1080p.  Basically they are able to maximize all information the powerful 4K sensor receives and output an amazing final image.  Their concern wasn’t in resolution, but quality.  There is science to it, it’s all a bit confusing, but your getting a better 1080p image than nearly any other digital camera out there.

One rep stated that a camera that records in 4K with the same type of sensor could be up in the $40k+ range.  So, just know that this sensor is definitely worth the price tag.

Features – why no 120fps? why no 1080 60p?
Again, some paper specs might leave you doubtful, but Canon’s main concern was in image quality and usability.  You can shoot in scenarios with this camera that no other camera can.  You’re not going to be limited by HDSLR shortcomings either.  You can go handheld, you can shoot in the dark, you’ve got a great ergonomic design with tons of customizable features.  The reps said they could have focused on specs, but instead they compromised nothing for image quality and created a sensor that beats out nearly anything else in the digital realm.

ISO Performance
This is really where this camera shines.  The native ISO of the C300 is 850, and you get 12stops of Dynamic Range with that.  This is where you’ll get the cleanest picture from the camera.  Jump up to an insane ISO 20000 and you still get an amazing picture!  What about the noise?

This was interesting.  They went into detail about why the noise created in the camera looks more like film grain rather than digital noise (a lot of this went over our heads).  Basically they said the noise is constantly moving.  The processor pulls noise from each color channel independently, and much of the noise is carried in the fourth color channel (an extra green) making it easier to seek out the noise.  So, the noise that appears is constantly moving across the color channels instead of being stagnant.  This appears to look much like film grain, which can actually be a desired effect.  So, no more worrying about shooting with a high ISO.

Built in ND Filters
As you know, the C300 also has built in ND filters.  We had a chance to play with these a bit.  They are legit filters and it was even neat to see on the monitor the filter coming down over the image as you switched them in and out.  Seems better than what we were used to with some old school camcorders.  With the ISO flexibility and the ND filters you can literally run and gun shoot in any environment.

Wireless Control
There will be a WiFi adapter available for syncing the camera with iPad’s and other mobile devices.  The controller app looks sweet and will offer Live View, and most of all main camera controls including focus adjustment (with EF lenses), ISO, shutter, all that good stuff.  Looks like you’ll be able to control the camera from up to 150ft away.

All you shooters out there who are pre-HDSLR, you understand this.  This may be an obvious feature, but it’s great, and can be crucial.  Similar to zebra stripes for exposure correction, there is also focus peaking available for focus assist.  This feature works on the monitor and in the viewfinder and will put a small colored line around everything that is in focus.  You can program this line to be different colors.  Now you don’t have to strain your eyes while focusing on the back of your 5d and 7d.

Other details, camera body, etc.

  • Battery life – 2-3 batteries can give you a full day of shooting
  • monitor is programmable to show an LUT version of the image when shooting in Canon Log gamma (flat cinema look), so you can see what the image might look closer to during post.
  • around 6 programmable buttons on cam.  Customizable menus so you can have quick access to what you want without dealing with all the other crap.
  • side handle is removable and rotatable.  monitor is rotatable and able to be placed on different parts of the body.  monitor cable is proprietary :(.
  • camera felt great in hand, heavier than 5dmkii.
  • Custom Picture profiles are programmable to an SD card

Fun Facts

  • 80% of 5D mkii’s don’t have a shutter click. Is this real?!?!
  • Firmware updates?? reps hinted that firmware updates could unlock future potential down the road.  remember when the 5dmkii only shot 30p?  the question for 1080 60p, 120p was asked, and the response was that if developers and technicians can figure out a way to make it work within the hardware, then a firmware update could offer these features.  They have to release the camera first in order to get to that point.

We asked Canon why they announced the release of a 4K Cinema EOS HDSLR along side the C300.  They were very vocal with the fact that the C300 is only the beginning. They’ve developed a whole new department with the sole focus being Cinema EOS.  That being said we were concerned that a 4K HDSLR with improved video features may be better than the C300.  Why buy the C300 when a 4K cam is around the corner?  He insured us that the Cinema EOS HDSLR would be a completely different camera and would still suffer from all HDSLR problems.  The C300 is not an HDSLR, it is a motion picture camera, and the sensor was designed for a different purpose than delivering 4K resolution.

Also, remember that 2K (typical film resolution) is just a hair above 1080p HD.  Know what you need.  Not many need 4K.

Overall we were very impressed by what we saw.  Seeing the films on a large screen in a theatre was way more impressive than seeing them online.  We are excited to get our hands on this camera and create something with it!

C300 = Awesome, this video is awesome.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, check out ‘Mobius’ by Vincent Laforet.


Ron Howard’s upcoming short film, shot on the C300. Check out the trailer for ‘When You Find Me’.