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about to shoot with c300. What do I need to know?

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Trevor Ward
about to shoot with c300. What do I need to know?
on Jun 24, 2013 at 7:49:41 pm

I'm shooting with a c300 next week. First time with this particular camera. I'll probably have the camera for half a day to get familiar with it before shooting. It's a doc, with cinema verite style shooting AND some sit down interviews. I'll be using L-series lenses on it.

Typically, I like to shoot a project, then edit the project, to learn what the camera can and can't do. I won't have that luxury this time.

What do I need to know about shooting with this camera? For example: LCD accuracy, protecting for highlights, audio levels, ergonomic factors. Battery life. Cards. Overheating. ND filters. Etc.


-Trevor Ward
Red Eye Film Co.
Orlando, FL

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Todd Terry
Re: about to shoot with c300. What do I need to know?
on Jun 24, 2013 at 10:22:03 pm

Gosh, where to start...

Well first, go out, buy and hat, and hang the $%&#*% on to it, because this camera will blow you away. It did me, it's my fav camera ever. We've been shooting with it since last fall.

Let's see, from your list...

"LCD Accuracy"...
Very accurate, I've found, and a pleasure to use. Easy to see, even fairly easy to see in sunlight, and you can move the LCD unit into, I think, four different positions on the camera body (with or without the handle), and it rotates and flips. VERY sharp for an LCD, and you can even trust it for focus if you use the Red Line, peaking, and magnification focus assist features. I usually like to use an external monitor as well, but I'm still perfectly comfortable using the LCD for monitoring.

"Protecting for Highlights"
Easy enough, I usually keep the waveform monitor turned on to make that easy, but there are also two simultaneous levels of zebra stripes that you can set (I'm not a huge fan of zebras so I rarely use them).

"Audio Levels"
Easy enough, there's an on-screen VU meter for each channel.

"Ergonomic factors"
This is the only place I don't give it really high marks. The camera is a weird shape, and kinda tall... so it's easy to get top heavy. The first couple of rods/plates systems we tried made the rig VERY top heavy. We finally landed on this very thin sort of "pancake" plate from Zacuto that is made for the camera... it's very thin, only slightly taller than the 15mm rods that go through it. Works like a charm. I didn't buy the Zacuto plate at first because it's $400... but in hindsight it is worth every penny. There's a weird "lip" on the bottom front of the camera that gave us a little trouble too... it wouldn't let my followfocus unit slide back far enough on the rods to engage the gears, so I had to get a different FF with the gear on the other side (and now have a really nice Redrock FF just gathering dust). So the moral of that story is that you need to make sure all of your accessories and other things will fit/work as soon as you get your hands on it.

"Battery life"
Fair, but not great. I was spoiled, though... I powered my previous XLH1 with a full-size AB brick, which would go for 8-10 hours or more even with my P+S Technik Mini35 running. The C300 batteries are a fraction of that. You can use a more powerful battery than the "stock" battery, but it is bigger and you can't close the battery compartment door. In fact, there's a little tab you push to remove the door entirely for that purpose.

We use SanDisk Extreme 60MB/s 16GB cards. I've heard some people having trouble with larger cards than that. We have had a couple of unreadable cards, so ALWAYS shoot two cards simultaneously if you can.

I've never had the camera overheat, nor heard of anyone that had an issue with that.

"ND filters"
Well there are 6 stops of ND built in (2, 4, 6). If you like to shoot wide open though, you might want a little more. I sometimes put .9 in the matte box for sunny exteriors, because even with the lowest ISO speed (320) and the maximum internal ND I still want a little more.

The biggest thing to notice about the camera is the incredible light sensitivity. It will go to 20,000 IS0... and I think the picture looks great all the way up to the max. You won't get any gain noise until about 16,000, and even then it looks pretty organic like film grain, not like video noise. This camera has totally changed the way I light and think about lighting. I'm doing so much more subtractive lighting now than additive lighting. We rarely break out HMIs now unless we are compensating for exterior windows, and do almost all LED lighting now (batteries... no more running stingers!). It really took some getting used, to, but I like it.

The other thing is that there are many many adjustable parameters so you can really paint the camera like you like. BUT... you're only going to have it to play with for a little while before your real shoot... so I would either shoot C-log (where you'll take care of all your color grading in post), or in one of the pre-determined profiles (probably the EOS profile would be a good choice). Doing more than that just takes more time to learn and set than you will have available to play with it.

Happy shooting!


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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