High-end results on a single-shooter budget with the Canon EOS C200
Filmmaker David Newton on self-shooting Trash the Dress with the flexible, small form-factor EOS C200
David Newton was excited to put the new EOS C200 through its paces. His short film, Trash the Dress, took full advantage of the camera’s versatility and single-shooter potential: mounting it on gimbals and drones and making full use of its advanced autofocus features.
David Newton describes himself as a “photographer-filmmaker. I’m one of those people who made the crossover from being a photographer, from video stuff with DSLRs and moving up as projects required.”
Moving from video-capable DSLR cameras to the Cinema EOS range, Newton has led training courses on Canon cameras and was eager to work with the new EOS C200 as early as possible.
“The project came about because Canon said they wanted to put the C200 through its paces and wanted someone who’s made the transition from DSLR to cinema. The camera sits in two camps: it suits a high-end production workflow fully rigged up in a large production environment; and it also works very well for a solo shooter, or with a small crew, because of the ergonomics.” This, Newton says, is his specialist area. “I tend to work alone or with a small crew. I find it’s easier to get on and do it myself.” Having previously used the C200 on a project in Dubai, Newton had “had some experience with it already.”
Referring to the combination of a compact, lightweight device with inbuilt, high-quality Cinema RAW Light recording, Newton describes the camera as “a Jekyll and Hyde beast. Things that really work for me are the 4K internal RAW recording – it’s fantastic. It takes a camera that on price and size is mid-range but really steps it up to the high end, giving that quality that only RAW brings. We’re used to shooting MP4, equivalent to a JPEG from a stills perspective, with very limited grade ability, but now we get fifteen stops of dynamic range (from the processed Cinema RAW Light file).” This, Newton comments, makes high dynamic range delivery a realistic option, as well as increasing the possibilities in post production. “If you want to move into an HDR workflow you can. And when working in Rec709 it gives that much flexibility in the grade – and, dare I say it, recoverability if you mess it up (which never happens to anyone!)”
Newton is quick to recognise the value of both RAW and compressed recording. “You’ve got the RAW, but also you’ve got the ability to knock it down. You’ve got very high end and you’ve got compressed. If you set the camera up properly the results you get out in MP4 are brilliant. However, if you’re shooting a lot of Chroma key then you’re better off shooting RAW for the extra data. People who are going to shoot it at the lower end codec are going to be shooting weddings and events, where you don’t want to generate an absolute truckload of data or have the RAW processing requirements.”
Newton is particularly enthusiastic about the C200’s autofocus features. “The Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus system is brilliant. It’s a bit of a head switch to move from manual focus, where we’ve been manually focussing for years, to something that has autofocus you can actually trust and use.” This focus system takes advantage of the C200’s touchscreen when selecting a point of focus, creating a highly flexible system that reduces the need for a separate focus puller.
For situations where manual focus is unavoidable, Newton also admires the Dual Pixel Focus Guide functions. “You choose a focus point, then you’ve got arrows around that point so you know if you’re front or back focussed. So, if you do want to work with cine primes then you’ve still got focus confirmation.” With EF lenses, though, “you don’t need a focus puller, you don’t have to put on a separate follow focus system. It keeps it a bit more manoeuvrable, you can work a lot faster.” Thinking back to the days of video DSLRs, Newton is pleased to see the system on a dedicated motion picture camera. “Cameras like the 7D Mk. II have had this for a while and it’s nice to see it on a cinema camera.”
An optimised layout of controls and connectivity combine with a familiar menu system to keep things simple. “Having all the buttons on the left, ports on the right. You don’t find buttons in odd places. They’re all clustered together. You can work with it very quickly and simply, and anyone who’s shot on Canon cameras - DSLR or Cinema EOS – will find the set-up incredibly familiar. The menus are laid out in the same way, the buttons are in the same place and they’re labelled in the right way.”
Given the somewhat unpredictable nature of the Trash the Dress shoot, Newton especially valued the C200’s compactness. “It balanced nicely on a Ronin and on the bottom of a DJI 1000 - essentially a gimbal mounted under a drone - and worked exceptionally well. Being that riggable opens up creative possibilities.”
With modern cameras offering high sensitivity, there’s often a need for neutral density filtering, and on a gimbal or drone the bulk and weight of a matte box can be impractical, and Newton valued the ten stop internal ND option. “If you’re going to start shooting in RAW and you want the best dynamic range, then you’re going to want to be at ISO 800. To have the ability to knock in two, four, eight or ten stops of ND, that saves a lot of rigging hassle.”
I WAS VERY IMPRESSED WITH IT, THERE WILL BE ONE ARRIVING IN MY KIT BAG SOMETIME SOON
“I was very impressed with it,” concludes Newton, confirming that, “there will be one arriving in my kit bag sometime soon. It’s something that was that enjoyable to use and the results were that good that frankly if you’ve got the work to justify having that kind of camera, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. If you think about the Cinema EOS range it’s the most all-round camera. When you’re working you want something that just moulds to you rather than forcing you to mould to it. There’s so much that happens on a shoot that if you can make things a little bit easier it’s a time saving. Time on productions is always pressured.”
To go back to the EOS C200 Overview please click here