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Canon 4K refresh - C200 and C400 coming at NAB?


Andrew Reid
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Not trying to step on your toes when I say this, but a lot of this TV crap happens to be technically and creatively brilliant...

 

Absolutely.

 

I'm talking about the TV crap not the TV "brilliant and creative" :) Clue is in the words.

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You misunderstood me. I'm talking about the image aesthetics of the cameras. The C300 looks 'TV'. The GH4 looks like 'cinema'. You will see...

 

To be fair, it looks like tv because it's used heavily in tv (as a B camera for the Alexa and an A cam on reality). The Alexa looks like tv, too, for that matter. Correlation isn't causation. Victims of success. 

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I bring up Alexa because some on this thread think 4k is going to save the world. My apologies if I was "ranting", that was less than pro of me.

 

First of all I don't think you are ranting.  And what prompted my remark was reading posts by various people who bring up the Alexa in conversations where we are discussing a sub $2,000 4K camera.  I don't think anyone who is advocating for these consumer friendly 4K cameras thinks that they go toe to toe with an Alexa.

 

I think the problem is that a lot of offerings from the likes of Canon have soft output and these 4K cameras, at least in the few test clips we've seen, address that issue marvelously.  We obviously haven't seen extensive tests of any of these cameras so there may be other pros and cons to them we have yet to discover.  But what I can say is I haven't seen anything in the video field other than Blackmagic's Prores and Magic Lantern's raw that has caused as great a stir in the low end video world.  I have seen camera test after camera test comparing various bodies and to be honest with you most of them were not compelling enough to make me think switching from one body to another really made a substantial difference in the final product.  But, as with raw and 10 bit 4:2:2 Prores, 4K looks like it is a game changer.  4K has the wow factor.  You put downsampled 4K material in front of a lay person and they notice it.

 

I think there is a lot of excitment about it because for years we were told 4k is unecessary and you can't tell the difference.  I believed that line.  People walked you through logical thought exercises, biology, and physics and in the end you were convinced.  What they didn't do is show you any footage.  Well now that we've seen only a handful of clips we are all astonished that there is indeed a very clear noticable difference.  And even more surprisingly you can get that in a package that costs less than $1,700 at launch!

 

The GH4 may not be a C300 killer for a whole host of reasons, some of which have already been discussed, but it really does have the potential to be a game changer for a certain segment of the market.  There really doesn't seem to be a single major issue that Panasonic didn't try in some way to address.

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We see this a lot with the announcement of every new camera and I thought it was the worst with the BMCC.  People use the world game changer far too often.  

 

I own a C100 so maybe I'm bias.  Yes I shoot mostly for web and TV but to say the C300 looks 'tv', by which you mean bad, is just not true and I hate to say it but sounds kind of ignorant.  I have shot on the Epic, Scarlett, BMCC, C100, 5D, 7D etc and any of those cameras can look 'cinematic' when used correctly, and they can look bad when not.

 

I shoot mostly documentary material so for me the C100 is the perfect camera (The C300 would be my perfect camera if I could afford one...) Yes on paper the C100 and even C300 do not look over impressive, but once you see the footage these cameras are recording all that goes out the window.   I shoot to AVCHD and I have seen my work broadcast on TV in HD and it looks great, better then most things I have seen on CBC to be honest..haha.  

 

As far as a C200/C400, while I don't have any info saying otherwise, I can't see why Canon would upgrade just yet, their cameras are selling great right now.  

 

As for the GH4, Id like to withhold judgement until the camera is out and we can see some solid reviews.  I feel though it wont live up to the hype, similar to the BMCC (shot on it one and will never use it again) 

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Adam, Canon's sales, marketshare, and any given recent issue of American Cinematographer speak to Canon's success. Arri and Canon are cleaning up, but tbh (as a fellow C100 owner who also wishes he'd bought the C300, full disclosure), I do feel the Alexa has a much better "look" than Canon and would LOVE an Amira. But Canon has a better "look" than Red and Sony, and I say this as a kind-of fan of the F3 (which may have a modified Alexa sensor) and F5, and as someone who has learned to like the Epic/Scarlet just fine when I have to use one. Also kind of dig the GH3, but I'm trying to leave Canon dSLRs behind me... might have to give my 5D III (with raw) another go though on my next shoot on some pick ups.

 

Granted, there's a wow factor to 4k footage shot in beautiful natural light without compromise, and a lot of amateur stuff looks better than a lot of "pro" stuff. The GH4 looks amazing under the right circumstances, and the BMCC has its fans (an MK-V op I know who flew the Alexa on a shoot I was DPing) 

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We see this a lot with the announcement of every new camera and I thought it was the worst with the BMCC.  People use the world game changer far too often.  

 

 

 

 

I don't think every time a new camera comes out people call it a "game changer."  It's only a small minority of cameras that get that designation.  I think only the BMPCC and now the Panasonic GH4 have really gotten that monikor.

 

 

 

 

As for the GH4, Id like to withhold judgement until the camera is out and we can see some solid reviews.  I feel though it wont live up to the hype, similar to the BMCC (shot on it one and will never use it again)

 

 

Uh.... Blackmagic≠Panasonic

 

The BMPCC had serious design and QC flaws.  A lot of people were blindsided because they had never bought a product from a company like Blackmagic.  I've said it before and I'll say it again Blackmagic puts out beta cameras.  It does not produce finished products.  Panasonic puts out finished products.  There is simply no way the GH4 rollout is going to be anything like the BMPCC roll out.

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I don't think looking like "TV" is necessarily an inherently bad thing.  I think we're used to the Alexa as a gold standard of "cinematic" image because that camera is used so often on great films that are coupled with excellent cinematography, actors, etc.  Last years Best Picture nominees were all shot on Alexas.  Naturally, we're going to equate cameras that produce similar-looking images (e.g. RED and Blackmagic) with "cinematic-ness."  This type of image also best mimics film (in my opinion at least), which is what we have equated with cinema for decades.

 

The Cinema EOS line and a lot of the Sony cameras produce excellent images...more photorealistic and sharper in my opinion than the cameras listed above and often better in low light.  While the image is impeccable, we equate this with TV, since these cameras tend to be used more for sitcoms, reality TV, news/documentaries, and lower budget TV productions.  Again, the image is excellent, but different, and we associate it with TV rather than film.

 

If we had all grown up watching epic movies shot on C300's and American Idol shot on film or Alexa, we'd probably be having the opposite debate.

 

In the hands of skilled professionals the C100 and C300 can be made to look more cinematic, but even in some of the best examples I've seen, I think some of that "TV-ness" still shines through.  Conversely, even in the hands of amateurs the BMCC looks damn cinematic.  

 

Every camera has some flaws and some features that set it apart from the competition.  The root of this entire debate in this thread is that Cinema EOS bills itself as being a cinema camera line, while arguably producing a less cinematic image than even cheaper alternatives while offering some ergonomic and connectivity advantages.  

 

I also have to chime in on the workflow issues people have cited with the BMCC.  Even if you don't want to deal with the storage requirements of RAW, shoot RAW, reap a few of the benefits like exposure or white balance correction if needed, export as ProRes or even a more compressed codec if desired, delete the RAW file and you still have a better starting point than 24Mbps 8-bit AVCHD.  Even with an iMac this type of workflow takes very little time.  

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A reason the C100/C300 doesn't look as cinematic as other cameras is perhaps that since Canon supplies an amazing look out of camera, especially skintones, for fast turnaround TV productions the footage doesn't get graded to look cinematic.

 

A cinematic look is an "Unreality Grade". The image is tuned to evoke different emotions and meanings. When we look at realistic images, we don't have the same emotional reaction: looks like TV/News.

 

Just about any camera can be graded to look cinematic (and especially so if lit cinematically with cinematic camera moves). Matching the look of film is another matter (especially the elusive color and highlight behavior). Film doesn't necessarily look accurate or realistic- it's more Unreality that sells the experience. I suspect this is related to Uncanny Valley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley.

 

Canon could supply more cinematic presets with the C200/400 etc. If used frequently, it could start 'looking like TV".

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Cinematic-ness probably can be broken down to this:

  • Color balancing with priority given to skin tones
  • Lighting and adjustments to shadows and highlights to mimic the dynamic range of the human eye.
  • Motion blur you get with 24p, People say it's because we got used to 24p in the theaters.  I think it's more than that.  Motion of 30p and above and can steal your focus/attention from the subject.
  • Cross processing for complementary colors.(usually in the bounds of natural looking skin)
  • The wide aspect ratio.

And maybe reduction of chroma noise to make it look more like film grain, but that's only when noise/grain is desirable in the shot.  All these are adjustments to make the image look natural and pleasing to the human eye, because images straight out of the camera look entirely different.

 

If you miss one of these points, it starts looking to what some people may call un-cinematic.  And sure, you can deviate from this if you know your limits or if you are doing something abstract.  So far, it seems Panasonic is more willing to deliver better out of the box results.  Canon is always trying to decide which feature to leave out so they can sell their more expensive variation.

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And you seem to overlook the most glaring shortcoming of a GH4 - Micro 4/3's. It's a chip size that's neither here nor there. Too small to give a truly cinematic DOF and too limited in the choice of lenses.

 

So... films like Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" (s16mm even smaller than Micro 4/3rds) are not cinematic then?

 

I don't think you understand cinematography at all. You must be one of the "canon film-school" kids that believe cinematography began with the 5D MarkII in 2008.

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C stands for Cinema, and while the C-line has been super successful in broadcast, I'm disappointed that it did not actually deliver proper cinema tools. They should've named the line B for Broadcast, and focused on creating 1DC ( FF + S35 @ 4K ), 7DC ( 2K @ S35 ) and 5DC ( 2K @ Full Frame ) dslrs with internal EosRAW codec, this would've made the C-DSLR system very modular and perfect for filmmakers.

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C stands for Cinema, and while the C-line has been super successful in broadcast, I'm disappointed that it did not actually deliver proper cinema tools. They should've named the line B for Broadcast, and focused on creating 1DC ( FF + S35 @ 4K ), 7DC ( 2K @ S35 ) and 5DC ( 2K @ Full Frame ) dslrs with internal EosRAW codec, this would've made the C-DSLR system very modular and perfect for filmmakers.

 

What cinema tool would you like?

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It'll be interesting to see if Canon puts out a couple new cameras in their lineup.  I was watching a move, New World (Korean Movie on Netflix).  I liked the story (even with reading the subtitles) and I was impressed with the actual look of the movie.  So I checked on which camera and lenses were used.  To my surprise, it was the Red One Camera, Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo Lenses (MX sensor).   The camera is a tool.  Everyone has their bias.  What works for an individual within their means is all that matters.   Cheers.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

C stands for Cinema, and while the C-line has been super successful in broadcast, I'm disappointed that it did not actually deliver proper cinema tools. They should've named the line B for Broadcast, and focused on creating 1DC ( FF + S35 @ 4K ), 7DC ( 2K @ S35 ) and 5DC ( 2K @ Full Frame ) dslrs with internal EosRAW codec, this would've made the C-DSLR system very modular and perfect for filmmakers.

It's true calling them "Cinema" is a bit off. The C100/C300 are specifically not cinema cameras. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just off. They are wonderful broadcast cameras.They have efficient 1080p 8bit/highly compressed codecs for example. They even record to SD/CF cards. Ergonomics clearly designed for run and gun type of shooting not cinema. The C500 would be the only one I'd call a "Cinema" camera and maybe the 1DC just for the 4K mode not for design.  

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The C300 (not to mention the C500) has been used on plenty of theatrical release movies. By this definition alone it could be classed as a "Cinema" camera; whatever that term means. 

 

Since when does the name of a camera imply its function within the filmmaking world?! Is the GoPro only for Professionals to Go use?...

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To be fair, it looks like tv because it's used heavily in tv (as a B camera for the Alexa and an A cam on reality). The Alexa looks like tv, too, for that matter. Correlation isn't causation. Victims of success. 

 

I agree with your point in general, but i actually think it's one of the reasons Alexa is a bit overrated.  It's so expensive that it only gets used on the bigger budget projects.  So the overall quality of everything else (besides the camera) is going to be better, and therefore the final result will look better. 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

The C300 (not to mention the C500) has been used on plenty of theatrical release movies. By this definition alone it could be classed as a "Cinema" camera; whatever that term means. 

 

Since when does the name of a camera imply its function within the filmmaking world?! Is the GoPro only for Professionals to Go use?...

I just think the classification of products should be taken more seriously. It's misleading calling a camera that's designed for broadcast work a "Cinema" camera. Yes any camera CAN be used in Cinema work, the 7D and 5D have been used in plenty theatrical released movies, but I don't think they are cinema cameras. It's just like calling a Toyota a "sports" car while it's clearly a family car. Nothing wrong with a family car, just misleading. It comes down to marketing anyway, and names are a silly thing to discuss anyway :D 

But since we're on the naming subject, Arri seem to give it the biggest attention, the Alexa, how sexy is that? the Amira (Arabic for Princess), I think every camera should have a sexy female name! :D

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I just think the classification of products should be taken more seriously. It's misleading calling a camera that's designed for broadcast work a "Cinema" camera. Yes any camera CAN be used in Cinema work, the 7D and 5D have been used in plenty theatrical released movies, but I don't think they are cinema cameras. It's just like calling a Toyota a "sports" car while it's clearly a family car. Nothing wrong with a family car, just misleading. It comes down to marketing anyway, and names are a silly thing to discuss anyway :D 

But since we're on the naming subject, Arri seem to give it the biggest attention, the Alexa, how sexy is that? the Amira (Arabic for Princess), I think every camera should have a sexy female name! :D

 

Fair point, these things often relate to the potential marketability of the product. As you say, it's ironic that Arri seem to choose the most memorable camera names, particularly given their products are aimed at the few (or fewer at least). 

 

I do have an issue though saying this or that camera is not a cinema camera. There are simply no rules when it comes to such things, particularly these days. I also feel the Canon C cameras cop more than there fair share of flack so I will continue to champion them  :)

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The C300 was such an interesting product. I remember the big announcement for it and the Red Scarlet. On paper, the Scarlet absolutely destroyed it and I remember the reactions online were pretty negative toward Canon. I certainly wondered what the hell they were thinking and who they planned to sell it to.

 

Fast forward to now and we all know how successful it' been. It's definitely easy to forget that specs are only part of the equation. Versatility, reliability and ease of use are huge in production environments with fast turn around times.

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