C300 and F3 Grading Tests.

Ungraded C300

I spent some time today looking at how gradable the C300 C-Log footage is. I chose to compare this against my F3 as I know many of you would like to know how they compare.  Rather than try to show the differences with some jpeg frame grabs I have provided a link to some high quality TIFF from grabs at the bottom of this post. Please download these and take a look for yourself because the difference is very small indeed. Now I did only look at one scenario which was the usual view from the back of my house and today we had some very bright sky with scattered cloud. Quite a challenge for any camera to deal with. I tested the cameras with their internal recordings as well as outputting to a Samurai, recording ProResHQ 422.

C300 Graded

Rather than go all out to try to break the codecs, I really wanted to see how they would perform with an average grade, so the grading is not extreme. Due to the very different base color differences, the images from both cameras are quite different. I didn’t try, to bring them closer together in the grade as I felt doing this may skew the results in the favour of one camera or the other due to whichever had the most pushing to get it close to the other.

So, what are my conclusions? Well both the cameras grade well, even the 35Mb/s 4:2:0 of the F3 holds up OK.

The C300 50Mb/s 422 comes out a little cleaner than the F3 35Mb/s 420 after grading.

The F3 recording to the Samurai at 10 bit ProRes HQ is cleaner than the C300 50Mb/s 422 after grading.

The C300 recording to the Samurai at 8 bit ProRes HQ falls between the F3 ProRes and the C300 native 50Mb/s. It’s closer to the C300 50Mb/s than the ProRes F3.

So, no surprises at all. This was what I was expecting and confirms my view that for run and gun the C300 is going to be a great choice, but for applications where an external recorder is not an issue the F3 has the edge.


There are no big surprises in the results. [downloads_box title=”C300 and F3 Tiff frame grabs (24MB)”]
Canon C300 and Sony F3 frame grabs.

When I get the time I’ll repeat the test with a low key scene. The results may be different!

11 thoughts on “C300 and F3 Grading Tests.”

    1. Best for what? Best for who?

      If your a primarily a photographer that already owns a large number of Canon lenses, then the obvious choice has to be the C300. You’ll feel at home with the way the controls work and you’ve already got the lenses for it.

      If you shoot news inserts, documentaries and other very mobile, rapid turn around projects then the C300 may be the better choice. Stripped down to the body only it’s very compact and does not require an external recorder to meet broadcast specs.

      If your a more traditional camera operator you might prefer the F3. The controls are more traditional with dedicated switches for the gain, white balance and shutter etc. You have full manual iris control (with PL or Nikon lenses) that operates smoothly and not in small steps.

      If your making commercials, features and movies then the F3 is the obvious choice as you can take the full 10 bit RGB 444 output to an external recorder for a highly gradable, high end image that will look great on a big screen.

      Both produce great images. I think the F3 has very, very slightly better dynamic range that holds on to the extremes of shadows and highlights just that little bit better. The F3 has a more traditional layout of it’s controls and switches and I prefer the F3 LCD placement. I also think that if you want to work with a shoulder mount the F3 is ergonomically better. The C300 is very compact, has 50Mb/s internal recording and you can throw an EF mount lens straight on it, so for travel, rapid work and news type projects it clearly has an edge. I think you really need to try both for a few days before choosing. There is a disproportionately large amount of hype around the C300. It IS a good camera, no doubt about that, but it isn’t necessarily a better camera than what’s already out there, just different.

  1. I’ve just bought the C300 camera with Samourai recorder but I can’t record the HD-SDI output properly. I’ve got a lot of artifacts and lines when i record on the samourai and the monitoring doesn’t work. I can’t find what is the problem. If someone knows something about this issue I’ll be happy to hear it.

  2. How did you grade ProRes files?
    I don’t think they keep 10bit precission (in case of F3). di you use sofwtare which reads 10bit in ProRes and does 10bit (or more) processing?
    I woudl suggest Resolve Lite as it’s one of not many solutions, whcih will read 10bit in ProRes properly.

    1. I used Premier with the “use maximum bit depth” option enabled to maintain the 10 bit precision. Most NLE’s will happily work at 10 bit’s provided the edit software is set up correctly. Certainly FCP, Avid, Premiere and Vegas can all work in 10 bits or more.

  3. Hmm- sorry but this is bit naive assumption- have you ever tried/verified it? Most of these NLE do 10bit (or higher) processing, but it’s not so obvious that they read 10bit from source like ProRes. All of them will work fine with uncompressed v210 (best format to pass 10bit).
    As far as I know Vegas does not read 10bit from RroRes/DNxHD- it does 32bit precision processing, but does not see 10bit in ProRes/DNxHD.
    Premiere- not sure neither (don’t normally use it).
    I know AE, Resolve and new Edius 3D beta (build 06) will see 10bit in ProRes and DNxHD for sure.
    You can try to compare Premiere and AE (set to 16 or 32bit)- add some levels filter with strong settings and compare if you get same effect for both cases.
    You can also use ffmpeg/ffmbc (both will keep 10bit) to decode ProRes to v210 and than load both and compare how they behave during grading.

    Also- don’t be so sure about AVID, read this:

    1. FCP Definitely passes the full 10 bit data provided the sequence settings are set to 10 bit. Premiere CS5 also reads the full 10 bits from ProRes and if you use project settings with a 10 bit codec or uncompressed any material included in the time line is upscaled to 10 bit automatically. There are many monitoring issues of course as the real time playback engines are 8 bit as are most monitors (many monitors with 8 bit inputs only have 7 bit displays to allow for gamma shifts). So when you monitor you will often see banding, but render the material out and it will be 10 bit.

      Premiere sadly will not read 10 bit uncompressed AVI’s on a Mac, you must use quicktime for 10 bit.

      Interesting about Avid, that I did not know. I don’t use Avid for grading, only editing of long form projects.

  4. Do you use Premiere on MAC? I’m talking about Windows version, so this may be the “issue”.
    Do you have QT 7 installed on your MAC? If not try to install it and than try AVI in Premiere.
    I tried it some time ago and at least QT 7 was able to read v210 AVIs- data is exactly the same just different container (you can even put ProRes into AVI and works fine).
    There seams to be loads of lost support due to QT X.
    Read here:
    I use Edius and latest beta has support for 10bit in ProRes/DNxHD and adds 10bit color correction (preview is full quality so you see difference between 8 and 10bit straight away). I use mainly Windows, so 10bit support for MOV is not that easy/obvious there.

    1. You seem to be trying to make a big issue out of a very small issue that only affects a few cross platform workflows. If you work on a mac, then you would work with QT files, not AVI’s for many, many reasons. If your on a PC you would most likely want to work with AVI’s. Mac’s and QT have supported 10 bit workflows for years. Premiere on a PC with AVI’s has supported 10 bit for years as well (it uses the same render engine as After Effects).

      Yes, you can get issues when you start mixing wrappers designed for one platform on alternate platforms, but that’s nothing new. Working with uncompressed is no guarantee of a 10 bit pass through, probably the best workflows for uncompressed is DPX which is what my Gemini uses. This uses still frame sequences (Tiff’s) so tends to work with the majority of NLE’s (FCP requires a plugin and AVID needs MetaFuse). As DPX is not a specific Mac/PC wrapper it does not suffer from the cross platform issues of quicktime and AVI.

      It does not matter which version of QT you use, premiere will not pass 10 bit AVI’s on a mac. It’s a premiere issue, not a QT issue. As I said, if you are using a Mac, use QT, if on a PC use AVI and most of these issues go away.

  5. Yes- it has nothing to do with AVI or MOV- it’s up to software manufactures to make it working properly. 10bit use to be only available in high-end solution – only last years brought it to most NLEs, but even so, it’s still problematic.

    Cross platform workflow is a massive issue- one of the biggest, which post production industry has to face.
    It’s not that simple as you’re saying- people pass files MACPC and it’s quite “bad” that there are still so many issues. Besides this FCP puts everything into MOV and creates no-standard files- like ACV-I- it always should be in MXF as per standard (not some fancy MOV AVC-I)- it’s only Apple ignorance not to keep it this way. This is the reason for many problems, but Apple does not care at all. I hope soon there will be no pro products on MAC at all- they make phones and tablets these days and don’t give a sxxx about pro users (as they use to). FCP-X is best example!

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