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The Canon EOS C300 Cinema Camera: DSLR Straddles Hollywood & Photo Enthusiasts

Canon EOS C300 Cinema CameraAs DSLRs quickly become more accessible to the average user, Canon develops a new, high-level DSLR camera that doubles as nimble video camera that lives up to Hollywood standards.

Since the advent of photography and the motion picture, picture taking and making has always been an exclusive and expensive hobby, limited by the expense of the equipment needed to compose and produce fine images. Whereas a master painter can use the same, inexpensive set of oil paints and canvas as an amateur and produce a fine work of art, the quality and impressiveness of photography and film making depends in large part on the quality of the technology used to produce it.

Fortunately for the photo enthusiast, however, the exclusivity of photo technology has diminished over the years, becoming increasing company, feature-rich, and affordable. We’ve seen this most recently with the rise in popularity of high end smartphones with 8 megapixel camera sensors, as discussed in another blog article. The result has been a shift in the DSLR market, wherein entry models are becoming more affordable, so that the amateur photographer who prefers their smartphone for taking snapshots can now afford a higher-end DSLR.

But this isn’t to say that premier digital camera companies like Canon have ceased making high-end DSLR cameras. In fact, one of their newest models, the EOS C300 Cinema Camera, is set to revolutionise film making as we know it.

This isn’t the first Canon digital camera to shake up the film industry: ten-plus years ago, their XL-1 digital video camera gave filmmakers on a budget the ability to shoot high quality digital video in a camera model that was under $5,000. The EOS C300 Cinema Camera is every bit as revolutionary — a DSLR that shoots video and photos, but at a level of quality that rivals the portable, nimble digital cameras that are becoming industry standards in Hollywood.

Studio Daily has a wonderful piece on the EOS C300 that puts it into perspective for the kind of effect it is bound to have on the film industry. They note that as “Compact portable lighting and versatile digital cameras have reduced crew sizes for film projects in most of the world as budgets have shrank and crew members wear many hats . . .”  the Canon C300 offers “a more cost-efficient approach will gain acceptance at the highest levels of the industry.” That is indeed a bold statement to make, but Studio Daily follows it up with a litany of impressive functions: “The Video C setting is particularly noteworthy in the C300; it optimizes playback on consumer TVs by deepening the muddy or splotchy blacks typically found on cheaper displays. Since the video village on many sets these days often feature a large-screen TV, the Video C setting and an HDMI output that actually works are helpful additions. Canon has clearly put in a lot of thought into this camera and listened to pro users.”

In addition to an accessible video setting and output, the EOS C300 also offers a universal format: “For most shooters the 50 Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 recording format is quite ample.” the fact that Canon has chosen this format proves that the C300 is designed to be positioned in such a way that student and amateur filmmakers will be able to use it as much as film crews in Hollywood.

Studio Daily is quick to point out the limitations of Canon’s new DSLR: “The Canon EOS C300 is not intended to replace an industry workhorse like the ARRI Alexa. With wireless FIZ (focus-iris-zoom), superior ergonomics, and choice of output codecs including RAW, the Alexa Plus, at almost four times the price, is rugged as hell. The weight, heft and operational precision of the C300 are simply not in this league.” In this way, it could be used as a perfect second unit camera unit, or for making documentaries.

That being said, there are also some issues involving the Canon digital camera battery for the OES C300. It isn’t so much that the battery lacks the juice needed to take it into the field — the 7.4V DC digital camera battery pack appears to be every bit up to the task in terms of capacity — but the quality and ruggedness has been called into question: “The prosumer C300 battery may also scare some shooters who would prefer a standard IPX or Gold Mount configuration. Batteries, cables and plugs account for perhaps 90% of equipment failures these days, making high-end professionals particularly sensitive to these potential troublemakers.”

In the end, however, there is no doubt that Canon has moved toward blurring the lines between high-budget Hollywood films and what the amateur, low-budget, and indie filmmaker can now craft. The EOS C300 Cinema Camera is bound to spur on a new generation of filmmaking that will not be held back by the exclusivity of high-end DSLRs.

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1 Response to “The Canon EOS C300 Cinema Camera: DSLR Straddles Hollywood & Photo Enthusiasts”


  1. 1 GD Mar 12th, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    But no bugger seems to be selling it! Where are theonline stores in Australia where I can buy online ffs??

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