I spent most of the morning at the Visual Impact C300 open house. They had 3 C300’s on show. One on a camera set alongside an F3 and an Alexa, the other was a very simple handheld configuration for people to play with and a 3rd on a stedicam rig.
What impressed me the most was how nice the camera was to hand hold and how good the rear viewfinder is. You certainly don’t need anything extra to shoot with it.
On the camera set I was a little less impressed. At the beginning of the day when I first quickly looked at the 3 monitors I could see no obvious difference between any of the cameras. The monitors were fairly small 20″ Panasonic monitors. However when I went back to take a closer look, for some reason the C300 looked a little soft or not quite in focus. No matter how I played with the focus, the edges of the image looked soft compared to the F3 next to it. Both the F3 and the C300 had Arri 32mm master primes so they should have been similar. I was told all the cameras were set up with standard gammas, but looking at the C300 it looked quite flat, so perhaps it was setup with the Canon Log gamma and the resulting lower contrast was making the image appear softer. There were so many people at the event that it was difficult to really get at the camera to figure out what was going on. I don’t think something was quite right, I’ve seen better from the C300. I asked if I could record some footage but was told that this was not possible on this occasion as these are pre-production cameras. Shame, I had a pocket full of CF cards and SxS cards. Anyway I have been promised a test shoot very soon.
I really hope that the softness was a peculiarity of that particular camera or the way it was set up as the C300 would for me be fantastic for my storm chasing and extreme weather assignments. I’d love to take one up to Norway in January to see if it sensitive enough to shoot the Northern Lights without having to resort to slow shutters or long exposures (Stop Press… I’ve placed an order and hope to have one in time for Norway). I’ve done the math, and according to my calculations it should just about be sensitive enough at 22,000iso with a f1.4 lens to shoot the Aurora in real time. It would be really cool to try and stream the Aurora live from Norway in January. On other assignments I could shoot using Canon L series glass or my B4 to Canon adapter and get broadcast ready material without needing an external recorder. I still think the Sony F3 with S-Log and an external 444 recorder is capable of a better image, but that’s a significantly more expensive package and more cumbersome, power hungry etc. It’s horses for courses. The C300 for me looks to be fantastic for simple, fast, easy shoots where shallow DoF is desirable, while I would continue to use the F3 where the extra bulk of an external recorder and the slightly more complex S-Log workflow will not be an issue as I think the ultimate image quality will be better. I might just have to place an order for one, especially as the price will be less than anticipated. The price I was offered from Visual Impact today was £9995, available from mid January…. Just in time to take to Norway????