Canon’s new Cinema EOS C300 camera is expected to become a serious rival to Sony’s PMW F3, according to hire firms and rental companies, which predict that despite some shortcomings, it will prove popular with broadcast productions.

Launched in Hollywood last week, the camera builds on the unexpected popularity of the video capabilities of Canon’s large-sensor 5D MkII SLR device and marks the manufacturer’s move into the digital high-resolution market.

VMI managing director Barry Bassett said that because the C300 has the same interface and codec as Canon’s XF305, it will become a low-risk camera for hire and rental companies to invest in.

“The C300 also looks like it will do all that Sony’s PMW F3 can, as well as being able to shoot documentaries without the clunkiness of an external recorder,” he said.

Safe bet

Alias Hire hire manager Danny Dawson described the C300 as essentially the innards of Canon’s XF305 camera merged with an SLR sensor, meaning broadcasters would pass the camera as fit for transmission.

“It records at 50Mbps so it’s a safe bet,” he said.

The C300’s 422-colour sampling is “widely used in high-end production” and “does an excellent job supporting green-screen and blue screen digital compositing processes”, according to Canon, but it was a source of concern for some of the companies Broadcast spoke to.

“If Canon had opted for two SDI outputs with a view to record 444, it could have already won the battle, if not the war,” said Dawson.

The Post Factory director and chief technology officer James Milner-Smyth said the Canon device was let down by the lack of 4K capture and that its 8-bit output was a disappointment.

“That is where the F3 will have an advantage,” he said. “As soon as you shine a torch on a wall and film it, you can see the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit.”

Shoot Blue joint managing director Jon Howarth said Red’s Scarlet, which was also launched at the end of last week, could potentially rival the F3 and C300, but that Red remained an “abstract concept” for some working in broadcast.

“That’s especially true with the workflow, which is particularly important for broadcast users,” he said.

“Because Red shoots in Raw it takes a bit more processing, and people need to understand what they are dealing with in a broadcast environment.

“Red has some loyal followers, but the Scarlet, fully equipped, costs a lot more than the headline price of the brain [$9,750, or £6,080]. I can see a lot of budget feature films using it and it will be good for second units and as a camera that offers 4K at a low price.”

Procam managing director John Brennan dismissed the Red camera for TV work because of its workflow.

“We don’t expect to see any impact from the Scarlet in television production in the UK,” he said.


As a guide to the UK price, Canon said the body of its C300 would cost EUR12,000 (£10,277) before tax.

Alain Lolliot, technical operations manager at Procam, expects the C300 to have a major impact on the digital cinema for T.V. rental market.

“It is going to be interesting to see what happens to the Sony PMW-F3, given the competitive price point of the C300. If this camera does what it says on the tin, it’s going to settle - and possibly dominate- a relatively unstable section of the market.”

Brennan said he felt the price of the C300 could be a concern for some.

“I think Canon followers will be gutted - they were hoping for a £4,000-£6,000 follow-up to the 5D,” he said.

At last week’s launch, Canon unveiled seven new 4K EF Cinema Lenses as well as a concept EOS equipped with a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor for the recording of 4K video at 24fps. Further details have yet to be announced.