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18 Things I Learned About the Canon C300 Mark 2 – Philip Bloom

*This post has been edited and reposted with permission from www.philipbloom.net. To read the full blog post and see more naked camera pics please click here.

Earlier this month I got to try out a pre-production version of the new EOS Canon C300 Mark 2 thanks to Canon UK. I used to own a C300 but sold it last year, as I had bought a Sony F55 a few months earlier and couldn’t justify having both. I was sad to see it go, as it was one of my favorite cameras. A superb HD super 35mm camcorder that delivered gorgeous images. Spec-wise it was always a little underwhelming, especially when first announced, but in practice it turned out to be a winner and became hugely popular. One thing it also missed was decent slow motion, a recurring theme with Canon cameras.

Now a replacement for the C300 was due and much speculation was made about what it would be and also how much it would cost, especially with the release of the $8000-ish Sony FS7 which has taken the market by storm. The Canon C300 Mark 2 has a huge list of high-end features, matched by performance that doesn’t disappoint and a price that is essentially a war cry to everyone else!

Spec Plusses and Minuses

Canon C300 Mark II plusses over Mark I Canon C300 Mark II minuses over Mark I
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4k Internal recording
New sensor
15 stop dynamic range
Dual Pixel CMOS AF
New high quality codec: 10 bit XF AVC up to 410 mbps. No more 8 bit! (unless you choose to!)
Internal 4:4:4 RGB 12 bit codec available for some frame rates
World Camera
Improved Viewfinder
CFast cards
New screen and handle
Slow Motion up to 120fps
Raw output
4K is up to 30p only
60fps/60P is in HD/ 2K only
High Frame Rates over 60P in crop sensor mode only
Uses CFast cards (both positive and negative, but obviously necessary with the new bitrates)
EF Mount, so no chance of the huge lens flexibility of other cameras in its class
New batteries
Heavier

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18 Things I learned about the C300 Mark II whilst talking with Canon

*these are the highlights of a longer list. Head to the original post to see the full list.

  • New log mode code C-LOG 2 with base sensitivity of 800.
  • The 15 stop dynamic range applies to C-LOG2 AND C-LOG original version AND raw.
  • Minimum ISO is reduced to 100 and is available in all log modes. Maximum sensitivity is 102,400.
  • Dynamic range is astonishingly held to the high ISOs throughout the range above 800. That’s holding 6.3 stops over 18% from native onwards. Below native it is more like 3.3 stops, as the image is pulled down to create these low ISO, affecting the dynamic range more.
  • Auto focus is MUCH improved. Face tracking is available with every Canon lens, not just STM lenses, which is needed for other Canon cameras. There is also a selectable AF speed with response from -3 (slow) to + 3 (fast).
  • With the additional WFT wifi dongle, the C300 MK2 app (which is pretty impressive) actually lets you select ANY object to track by touching it on the screen. It worked. It followed my cup of Costa Coffee! Although this seems to be available in the app only for now.
  • The new XF AVC codec is already supported by Premiere CC 8 and FCP X.
  • Bit rate at 4K is a variable bit rate of 410mbps in 4K which gives you about 20 minutes per 64gb card.
  • High Frame rate is around 440Mbps VBR.
  • There is a long-gop lower bit rate mode available of 50mbps for HD.
  • The high frame rate slow motion is up to 100fps in “PAL” mode and 120fps in “NTSC” mode. The increments are 2 frames.
  • This mode is a 2x crop of the sensor, effectively making it native. There were very negative shaky heads when I asked if this might be made into a full sensor scan in future firmware. My guess is a C500 MkII will be the camera that will do this.
  • You can output a 12 bit raw signal AND record 4K internal at the same time. Impressive!
  • The SD card slot at front of camera records 8 bit full HD MXF proxies at 24/ 35mbps.
  • The ND mechanism is enormously improved. 2 4 and 6 stops of ND are available as standard.
  • An extended ND mode engages a second wheel behind the first which adds another 2 or 4 stops giving the option of a total of 10 stops of ND.
  • When you go above the single wheel of up to 6 stops and engage the second wheel, the optical path changes slightly which will affect your current focus so it needs checking.
  • Colour Matrix options available in conjunction with gamma settings. “Production” is similar and useful for matching with an ARRI ALEXA. “Matrix” is similar to that of the Sony F55 and “Cinema EOS” is the same as what was once knows as “Cinema Lock” mode on the C300, C100, C500.

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That’s a pretty impressive set of features. The key is, what exactly is the Canon C300 Mark 2 like to shoot with? As an owner of both a Sony FS7 and F55, there are many things it really needs to impress me with, given that it lacks two key features of both of these cameras. Namely HFR in HD up to 180fps (150fps in PAL) and 4K up to 60fps (50 fps in PAL).

I have always found the Canon log image a joy to work with, way easier than the Sony equivalent. Canon skin tones especially have been my preference, but with work in the settings and a little in post you can get the Sony to match it pretty well.

The new C-Log 2 gamma curve holds a more uniform output through a much larger portion of the log space than the old C-Log 2, making it theoretically easier to grade. I have been told this doesn’t affect the dynamic range, and it’s still 15 stops in the old C-Log. With the Sony cameras, the S-Log 3 has a higher mid tone and increases the dynamic range by about 1.5 stops over S-Log 2. S-Log 3 is also easier to grade.

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I mostly used my original C300 when I had it without a rig, as I like to keep my cameras small, but at times I needed one. It helped when Zacuto brought out their C300 Z-Finder. With the increase in weight, it’s going to be harder to shoot with the Canon C300 Mark 2 without any rig at all – it’s definitely heavier than before. Zacuto makes one of their excellent Next Generation Recoil Rigs for the Mark 2. It uses a helmet screwed directly into the top of the camera, a VCT style baseplate and a grip relocator so you can move the camera grip down to act like a handle. While the C300 Z-Finder is great, I also use the Zacuto Gratical, which is an exceptional EVF. Check out my Gratical HD review here.

I took the camera out to Westminster and Piccadilly Circus. What I like about it there is the amount of people to film, the very London double-decker buses everywhere, but mostly the challenging as hell dynamic range of those whopping bright screens!

It was a real pleasure shooting with the camera, correction….I loved shooting with it. It’s very familiar to me to use, and the LCD screen is lovely. It’s an awkward shaped bugger though, and its additional weight means a rig is essential.

Looking at the footage afterwards, well, apart from my underexposures it looked pretty good, especially when I got the shots in focus! I shot mostly around 800 but sometimes higher or lower. I did some high ISO shooting which I will put in post two. The image looked pretty damn clean. Occasionally I saw some noise in dark areas, but I think this was more to do with my underexposing/ pre-production camera than anything. Also I have a lot to learn about the settings on the camera. The camera I had was quite buggy and kept on losing settings when changing battery, resetting to a factory state, so it through me a bit.

A second Canon C300 Mark 2 post will be coming soon on www.philipbloom.net with more clips, both edited and native, I will talk about the raw, auto focus, low light, more about operation, and a sum up of my feelings about the camera.

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One Response to “18 Things I Learned About the Canon C300 Mark 2 – Philip Bloom”

  1. Jonathan Wibberley on January 20th, 2017 12:36 pm

    Sounds like you needed to install the lithium battery underneath the camera! its hidden near the plate mount

About the Author


For the past 20 years, Philip Bloom has been making films. Combining his love of cinematography and his passion for travel, he started his filmmaking career traveling the world as a cameraman for Sky covering news events globally, everything from wars to politics to natural disasters, before moving onto documentaries, commercials, short films and Broadcast TV work. In more recent years, this London-based independent DoP and Director has worked with all of the major Networks in the UK and many in the US, including Discovery HD, Channel 4, and ITV. Some of his commercial credits include: Greenpeace: “Voices of Change” which was filmed in Delhi, India and shot on the Canon 5DMKII, a commercial for M-Tel in Bulgaria, and a commercial that was shown in movie theatres around the world for the National Theatre in London.

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