Filmmaking RED — 04 November 2011

The Canon EOS C300 is a disappointment.

There were two big announcements in the world of prosumer cameras yesterday.  Canon announced their Cinema EOS C300 and RED announced the new specs on the Scarlet-X.  The Canon faithful were disappointed in Canon’s new cinema camera.

The C300 records a 4k image but it’s output is only a 1080p image.  4k is slowly becoming an industry standard, particularly if you intend to show your footage on the big screen.  Why not start with a bigger, better quality image before output.

Slow motion is only available in 720p.  Shooting 720p is like shooting standard def.  Slow motion just looks better and should be done in camera not as a speed ramp in post.

The 10 bit color depth and 4:22 color compression are a huge improvement but we are talking about something that should be industry standard and a minimum requirement if you are doing any animation or green screen work.

The camera has an expended ISO and does well in low light but Mitch at Planet 5D and a few others commented on noise in the blacks during the live presentation.  Just because you can shoot at ISO 1600 with no lighting doesn’t mean you should.

The camera comes with either a Canon mount or a PL mount.  I would love to get my hands on the new Canon Cine lenses but it also limits the number of high quality lenses the camera can use.  This camera should have the option to use a PL mount as well.  Any good cinematographer knows that it’s more about the lenses than the camera and not shooting PL is a sever handicap.

The mpeg2 .mxf codec is non-proprietary making it easy to use in any post-production suite and shooting on CF cards is cheap; but this is little comfort with a $20,000 price tag.  I’ve already seen rumors that the price will come down.  It has to if Canon is not offering a lens at this price point.  (See the Sony F3).

Scarlet-X offered by RED impressed everyone and even angered a few EPIC owners.

It records a 4k image at 24fps and up to 120 fps at 1k.  The camera accepts both Canon lenses and for an additional $2k an interchangeable PL mount.  The same camera can use both cine and still lenses.  The still lenses come in handy because the camera shoots 5k stills.  The color depth is 16 bit with RAW color making things like ISO and color temp metadata. The image compression is 3:1 and the body starts at $9750.  The full package without lens is $14k.  Again, overall better specs than the Sony F3 with a comparable price.


Amy Puzia, Cinematographer and RED Owner


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(1) Reader Comment

  1. The C300 is a 4K sensor, just like the Scarlet. But it’s not really 4K pixels, since there’s only 1 red for every 4 pixels, 1 blue, and 2 greens. So if you consider the CCD technology, a sensor that was 1920×1080 pixels had 3 sets of each 1920×1080 matrix of RGB. The C300 or the Scarlet doesn’t even have that many pixels.

    Basically the C300/Scarlet are really a 2K for red/blue and 3K for green. Nothing 4K there except for how many light sensors there are.

    So when Scarlet outputs a 4K RBG picture, that’s only an extrapolation…. or if you prefer they’re inventing those extra pixels. The C300 isn’t. They just compiling the information and reducing it to a 1080P image. Essentially with Scarlet, you have to have the computing power to decode their REDCODE they’re giving you. If you’re decoding it into a 1080P picture you’re losing a bit of information, but if in 4K RBG then you’re inventing pixels the camera has never captured, pretending you’ve recorded a 4K RGB pixels image. To decode that REDCODE you need a RED PCI CARD that costs $5K, and a computer that can handle the huge amount of data, that’s RAIDs and a big computer for you… so you’re talking an extra $10K min just for the computing power. With the C300 or F3 you don’t have that additional hidden costs.

    Plus of course the Scarlet sensor is old… and is not up-to-date in terms of technology. The C300 uses a 4K sensor with larger photosites essentially capturing more light in less time, so it’s way more light sensitive than the scarlet.

    RED will be releasing a new sensor DRAGON late 2012, and people can expect to get hold of Scarlet with that sensor mid 2013. Essentially RED is financing their development of that new sensor with selling their old technology.

    With the scarlet, you can’t do slow-motion, except if you’re cropping the picture. Let’s say you want 60fps, well you have to record at 1080P, so that’s essentially a 4.5X crop factor. So you’re 50mm lens becomes FOV equivalent to a 225mm lens….. What else is there to say.

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