Fun in the sun: A look at the Canon C300 Mark II (video)

Canon C300 Mark II test frame
Acquisition
November 19th 2015 at 12:10PM

Canon sent DP Brett Danton to go play with the EOS C300 Mark II. Here's what happened.

Filmmaker Brett Danton puts the EOS C300 Mark II through its paces in real-world field test Brett Danton is an Australian filmmaker with extensive experience using Canon equipment as a photographer, director of photography, producer and director. Because of this experience, Danton was approached by Canon to field test the brand new EOS C300 Mark II. The idea was to really put the camera through its paces to see what it could do in a real-world shooting environment.

To replicate a real-world documentary-style production process, Danton wanted to take the camera somewhere with a lot of unforgiving natural light and constantly moving cloud cover. His purposely sparse production crew worked with the camera’s features to overcome these elements while delivering picturesque scenery that showed 4K in the right way.

The content of the film itself would be decided on the fly and additional lighting or grip equipment was purposely limited. Danton wanted to see how the EOS C300 Mark II could capture a beautifully composed frame using nothing but the lens. The crew wanted only to shoot in natural light and purposely turned down training on the camera in keeping with a real-world scenario. The Greek island of Mykonos certainly had the right scenery backdrop for this extensive test shoot.

“With this shoot, I wanted to take the camera and put it in a position where all it had to do was perform,” said Danton. “We wanted to shoot in a real-world situation - a remote location with harsh lighting and no option to get more equipment that we would ordinarily have otherwise used.”

With that in mind, Brett and his director of photography, Ashleigh Carter allowed themselves the EOS C300 Mark II, a small bag of Canon EF and Cine lenses to work with and a Ronin 3-axis stabilised handheld gimbal system from DJI.

 

Directing

“Before my crew arrived in Greece, I had a day to drive around looking for locations. I didn’t have much of an idea of what I wanted to capture and knew I’d be working from shot to shot,” continued Danton.

“The concept of the film was mine and I wanted it to have both a cinematic and photographic feel. This was one of the things I wanted to get most out of the camera and this project was an interesting way to do this. We started with a basic idea and the  was so simple to use that we were able to quickly learn its features as we went.”

As Brett and his crew set up at each location, they’d have to read the lighting conditions and adjust the camera accordingly. Not having the option to erect any Kinoflos or Redheads meant the camera was really tested on how an image looks through the lens.

Jumping between directing and operating the camera, Brett Danton always had a visual for how he wanted the next scene to look. He was able to work with Carter to produce a film full of beautiful shots. The film’s model interacts with some incredible scenery which is presented in rich colours created naturally through the lenses mounted on the EOS C300 Mark II.

Canon EOS C300 Mark II shoot

Performance

On the shoot, the EOS C300 Mark II spent most of the time attached to an EF 24-70mm L Series EF lens. “While we did have access to a number of other lenses, we just loved the way the camera looked with this EF lens,” explained Danton. “This is a lens that’s three years old and it looks just as good with this brand new, ultra-high resolution camera. That’s a testament to the longevity of Canon glass.”

The other lens which was used on the shoot was an EF 50mm F1 L Series. Eight years old, the 50mm lens was used on the interior shots of the film. It gave a rich depth of colour and worked perfectly with the camera’s autofocus feature to achieve a shallow-depth close up focus pull. With a long broadcast heritage, Canon lenses are proven in a workflow no matter their age.

Besides the 4K and HDR technology built into the camera, Danton found the autofocus function to be one of the most exciting features of the EOS C300 Mark II.

“I rarely use autofocus when shooting – maybe just a handful of times across my photographic and filmmaking career. I do, however have to say I was just blown away by the function on this camera, it was phenomenal” said Danton. “It was also so easy to use. We purposely turned down training on the EOS C300 Mark II – one of the key things we wanted with the shoot was to see how a user would be able to operate it if handed a camera with no training in the field.”

While neither Brett nor Ashleigh had any instruction prior to using the camera, they found it very easy to get a quick hold on the menu structure, button layout and operational handling. Danton felt as though everything that could have been improved on in the C300’s second model was done so. “The camera’s body is more solid than the original. There’s no flex through the body and the illuminated buttons help the operator get to grips with the layout easily,” explained Danton.

 

Simplicity

What impressed both Brett and Ashleigh during production, they said, was that they didn’t have to think too much about the camera. While using the EOS C300 Mark II, Brett said he was able to really enjoy the experience of shooting again.

“Manufacturers have recently built such advanced cameras that users need to be completely up to speed with every button, switch and knob on the thing,” said Brett. “What we loved about the EOS C300 Mark II was that you’re able to just be comfortable knowing the camera is going to perform. You’re able to really concentrate on the image in the frame.” The flexible storytelling that the camera allows is a huge bonus for any users and means the camera is well suited to any production’s environment.

Also impressed with the simplicity with which the EOS C300 Mark II fits into the workflow, Danton liked that it records in RAW. This feature lets him use the camera to open up more professional content by tapping into any professional post production workflow. The compact size, shape and weight of the camera brought benefits too. “You can put a camera in a case with a few lenses and you’ve got a carry on 4K cinema system," said Danton.

After this production, Danton has said he’d consider swapping the camera he uses to shoot regular content for a client with a new EOS C300 Mark II. “With all its advancements,” says Danton, “the best thing about this camera is that it lets me go back to what I do best – shooting great looking content.”