Remember way back in November 2011 when Canon announced the C300
it instantly became the most hired cameras in the UK and we could not get enough of it. We started using our Canon D5 as second cameras and got ourself's one of these little beasts as our main work horse.
It took time for die hard old school camera ops to get their heads around the weird form factor, were all the buttons are and the fact you need to change lens so often. It made us put down our Sony PMW500's and Sony PDW750's in favour of this smaller Super-35 CMOS sensored newbie from Canon. So what was the difference? Well as a camera operator you could now use prime lens easily and cheaply so your work instantly looked more filmic as it was easier to achieve a shallow depth of field. Canons less video and more traditional warm “Canon look” was pleasing to the eye and it came with 9 scene files called picture profiles one of which was C-log allowing greater ability to grade the footage in the edit, good low-light capability (80,000 ISO) and 3 internal electronic ND filters to increase shooting versatility a big upgrade on the zero ND filters of the Canon 5d. This camera was defiantly a game changer but then...
On the 12th September 2014 at IBC in Amsterdam Sony to no ceremony or celebration announced a new camera called the PXW-Fs7
. I can remember asking my business partner can we go back and take another look at this camera as it looked like Sony were trying to mussel in on Canons then dominant C300
market and exceeding the spec of our now most hired out camera at the time.
This new camera from Sony was better thought out with its form factor harping back to Sonys handy-cams and ENG kits, it had a ND filter wheel, ISO / Gain, and white balance preset stitches which were easy to find when the camera was on your should, oh and yes you could put the camera on your shoulder with out having to use a rig! The view finder could be used as a screen or a monocular (so much better when shooting in bright sunlight) its audio controls were on the side of the camera and not mounted on a separate unit on the top so much better when adjusting audio levels on the go and it could internally record 4K and do continuous slow-mo in HD up to 120FPS PAL. A little cherry on the top of all that was with the XDCA-FS7
extension unit you could use V-lock batteries on the camera and therefor extending your shooting time and possibly only using 1 and a quarter batteries per shooting day.
So were there any down sides? Well yes is has an E-mount and nobody really had any E-mount lens to put on the front of it, but step fourth the metabones adaptor. It used a new card system called XQD so post houses would have to get us't to ingesting them and production company's would need to spend more money on new cards. With the arm extended you can't put it on the floor on location with out it tipping over this is a pain when your a single op having to adjust mics and lighting, now you can get a shape arm that easily allows you the fold the hand grip away and the final annoyance was that if you wanted to put timecode into the camera you need to have the XDCA-FS7
extension unit were as the C300
had timecode built into the camera body.
To answer the original question, why did the Canon C300
loose out to the Sony FS7? Well at the time it was down to being able to do a high frame rate (slow-mo) and 4K internally but now in 2020 with Canon and Sony having launched MKII versions of them both, the Canon C300 MKII
now being able to shoot 4K as well as do 120FPS in HD its down to the pure ergonomics and ease of use of the design, giving hardened videographers something they are familiar and easy to work on.
What camera is my camera of choice now, first off they are a pair of very good cameras but I have to say it has to be the versatile Sony PXW-Fs7
any day purely on its ease of use but sometimes I do hanker for that less video warm Canon look the C300