You probably already watched our interview with Canon about the newly announced C300 Mark III and read the post. I had the camera for a couple of days and went out during “lockdown” in Vienna to capture social distancing in all its beauty for this first look, to gather some impressions about the camera.
When we got a chance to test the C300 Mark III, I got very excited – I was an owner of the original C300, and before that, in 2011 when it was announced, I shot a short film with it and fell in love with that camera – you can watch the C300 short “13:59” directed by Mario Feil by clicking here. It still holds up nicely, 9 years later.
But let’s get back to the C300 Mark III, fast forward 9 years to the presence – first off, the Canon C300 Mark III feels very much alike the full-frame C500 Mark II (watch our first hands-on here and read our lab test looking at the dynamic range and rolling shutter of that camera here). The reason is simple, it shares the same body.
Apart from the features that already made the C500 Mark II an interesting proposition – internal Cinema RAW Light recording, Dual Pixel Autofocus – in my opinion, there are two new features of the C300 Mark III which are most interesting about this camera: The newly introduced Dual Gain Output (DGO), which essentially combines two amplifications of a moving image into one, achieving a dynamic range (according to Canon) of 16+ stops. And the other one is the fact that this camera can shoot up to 120fps at 4K resolution, even in Cinema RAW Light.
As for DGO, I have to refer you to our C300 Mark III Lab Test by my colleague Gunther Machu which will be released tomorrow – he has some (good) dynamic range results in store. Regarding the high-speed recording, this is amazing. So far, Canon cameras, and even the C500 Mark II, were disappointing when it came to high-speed recording. As soon as you wanted to achieve more than 60fps, most of the cameras cropped massively into the sensor. But the 120fps in 4K of the C300 Mark III look amazing, and they are remarkably easy to set – and there is no differentiation between PAL and NTSC and you can access 120fps quickly and easily through the menu. You can’t select all frame counts individually as there are different “jumps” in between, but I don’t see this as a problem as they are all multiples of 24, 25 or 30p.
What’s strange about the high-speed recording that 180fps is only available in a Super16mm crop mode. This is “old Canon”, and I don’t quite understand why it wasn’t possible to at least give us 180fps in 1080p while maintaining the full sensor readout (that would have put the Canon on par with the most recent Sony offerings). Nevertheless, 120fps in 4K (and RAW) are really amazing and better than what most of the competition offers, so we should be more than happy about that.
Handling and built-quality wise, I think this camera is extremely versatile. The Extension Unit 2 adds a lot of functionality, but the body itself can be used beautifully alone as well, and it’s small enough to use on a gimbal. I still can’t see anyone buying the standard viewfinder that only works when NOT using an Extension Unit though. The touch screen is also the same as on the C500 Mark II and works really well – combined with the very nicely working Dual Pixel Autofocus it makes just a A LOT of sense to have a touch screen (I hope Sony is reading this, as much as I love the FX9, but it really needs a touch screen for its otherwise also great autofocus!).
We will be trying to work more with the C300 Mark III in the near future to share some more extended thoughts, but I will leave you with this footage teaser for the time being! Let me know what you think in the comments below.