Tag Archives: 5d

Canon’s doubtful move with the C300

Nobody can deny the fact that Canon has totally changed the game of digital filmmaking forever. Since the introduction of their 5D MKII in 2008 and the whole set of HDSLRs that followed, Canon has allowed anyone with 2 000$ in their pockets to have access to a quality of image highly comparable to cameras that were worth several tens of thousands of dollars not even 5 years ago. The 5D MKII became one of the best-selling cameras in the world and Canon have completely dominated the indie filmmaker market from this day.

3 years have passed since, and even if these cameras are great tools, they have flaws. Consumer feedback has been pouring all over the Internet since the arrival of the 5D, and while Canon have adressed some issues, they still have a lot of work to do to make its line of HDSLRs perfect. The rolling shutter is a pain in the ass for any fan of shooting handheld, the h264 compression drives editors nuts and the audio input options are horrible. And those are just a few of the problems filmmakers face everyday while working with these cameras.

Last Thursday, November 3rd, Canon and RED both held press conferences to announce their new camera models. Rumours were all over the place as to what Canon was releasing, while there was more certainty towards RED, who were announcing their much anticipated and budget-friendly RED Scarlet.

Canon presented its new camera, the C300, a digital S35 camera, priced at around 20 000$. Big mistake. I’m sure the C300 will be a good camera, but that’s not the point. The problem is that Canon just let down the consumer bracket that put them back on the map in the video domain. Since they released the GL2 in 2002 (I think), they had been out of the game for videographers. Sony and Panasonic dominated the market, and suddenly, the 5D changed all that. Now tell me why, Canon, would you leave the consumers that crafted your rebirth with flawed tools and try to create a camera for TV-size productions ? The price tag isn’t everything in business. Even if Gucci sells 700-dollar pants, GAP still has 3 times their revenues by selling good old 20-dollar jeans.

On top of that, on paper, the RED Scarlet will outperform the C300, for a lesser price (maybe equal once you buy all the required equipment). And in terms of consumer confidence, I guess people with 20k to spend on a camera are most likely to go towards RED, who have been the leader in high-end digital cinema since 2007, while Canon has pretty much never developed a Hollywood-level camera.

I’m looking forward to try both these cameras and see how they compare, but I’m also anxious to see the financial winner of this c300 vs. Scarlet battle.

I think Canon already lost.

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The Bokeh Experiment

In the past few years, I’ve embarked on a quest to obtain shallow depth of field in my video projects. For me, shallow depth of field was synonym to quality, an unobtainable style in the years I was shooting with a good old Panasonic DVX100a. In 2008, while studying in Montreal and working with my friend Charles-Etienne Pascal, I realized I wasn’t the only one involved in this journey. CE decided to manually create shallow depth of field in our short film “Face à Face“, rotoscoping each and every frame of the 10-minute long movie, to recreate the effect of out-of-focus backgrounds, something that could not be achieved with the Sony HVR-V1U we were using for the film. The result was still amazing indeed (check out the making-of), but it lacked something, and I couldn’t figure out what back then.

In the first year I started to work with Nova Film, the company acquired a Letus35 Extreme adapter, which allowed us to attach Canon FD lenses to our HVX-200. I almost orgasmed when I first saw the 1080p image with super shallow depth of field. The quest seemed achieved for me, finally. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. While now being able to produce the images I envisioned for close to 3 years, I had no knowledge whatsoever of lenses and aperture, which is key when your thing is shallow depth of field.

The next year, the first Canon 5D MKII videos started emerging, and boy did I get served with depth of field. Every single shot in every video was a close-up of something with almost everything out of focus. While watching those videos, it finally struck me. The sharp circles created by out-of-focus lights, the ocean of dots created by leaves, the massive reflections on chrome and metal… Every material and texture had its own unique kind of blur. Later on, Phil Têtu, a fellow worker at Nova Film who has more knowledge about lenses than an encyclopedia, pronounced the word that finally gave a name to the endless blurry-background descriptions I was using: Bokeh. The answer to all my questions.

Bokeh became almost an obsession for me in the last months. Now that I have a fair knowledge of lenses, and that I’ve tested quite a few, I’m always looking for the best out-of-focus background to put my subject in front of, the best texture that will render the most amazing circles, hexagons or octagons behind my subject.

Three weeks ago, I acquired an old Zeiss 50mm 1.7, from the man himself, Phil Têtu, and I decided to go out and take a few shots to see what this new baby could do. I came back with many disappointing shots, a few good pictures, and one that amazed me, this one.

I was really struck by this picture. To be honest, I almost didn’t look through the lens while taking this picture, so that’s why it surprised me. And of course, the blur, the circles, the light and the rainbow flare were the first things that caught my attention, not the few little flower tips that were in focus. And it inspired me to do some more. I then realized something: why do I need a subject when all I’m looking for is that perfect abstract shape that an out of focus background gives me ? Why can’t the background become the foreground ? And that is exactly the new challenge I’ve embarked on today and for the coming weeks, and maybe months.

For now, this will be simply called The Bokeh Experiment, because, let’s face it, that is what it is. It’s probably been done before, and frankly, I don’t care. In the end, I’d like to come up with a series with a more original name of 10 to 15 pictures composed of nothing (or close to) but out-of-focus rendered shapes. I will start out with my personal lenses, and maybe rent/borrow some to achieve results that my personal gear can’t produce. If you have any suggestions of lens I should try out, please, PLEASE post them in the comments below. For the first time since I made my last ski-movie, I’m looking forward to the first snow, because sunlight reflecting on snow crystals is one of the most simple yet amazing things that light can create.

So here it is, the first picture of the set. I don’t know yet if it will make the final cut, but I feel like it’s a good start.