The Canon C100: a camera for everything?
I was asked to be the Director of Photography on a short film that was shot at the beginning of July 2013. After initial discussions with the Director Aidan Gault it was decided to shoot mostly using a handheld and shoulder mounted style as the film was to be fast paced and hard-hitting.
Having owned the C100 for a while, I knew it could meet this requirement easily as its big DSLR styling meant there was a vast market of existing DSLR rigs that could be adapted to work with the camera. My only concern was weight over prolonged periods of time. You see I have had experience of a 550d and the heavier 5D Mark II DSLRs mounted on an out-in-front style shoulder rig with follow focus and matte box and found that arm and back fatigue and pain set in very quickly. I saw rigs like the Zacuto Recoil placed the camera on the shoulder which would alleviate this problem. However, this causes a problem for the C100 – viewing would be difficult as the LCD or EVF would be to the side and slightly behind my head. I own a Atomos Ninja 2 which could be placed on an articulating arm out in front, however, I was not confident that I could focus accurately using it even though it has a peaking feature as the screen has a soft nature.
My old Cinevate Rails couldn’t be adjusted to suit the C100 and I couldn’t mount a follow focus, so I modified a Proaim DSLR rig borrowed from the director. He placed some Velcro on the underside of the tripod plate and on top of the rubber shoulder pad. It worked well and put the camera where I wanted it. I found I didn’t need a grip relocator as I could easily reach the record button on the top handle. Also I was using Samyang primes and so didn’t need the grip located wheel to change aperture.
I also borrowed a Zacuto EVF and fixed it to the rails out front. I was instantly impressed by the resolution of its 3.2″ screen. I turned on red peaking as an insurance policy though the screen was sharp and would have allowed me to confidently find focus without it. Screen resolution was miles better than the Ninja 2, and also better than the C100 LCD. I find the C100 LCD isn’t completely confidence inspiring though the peaking feature is a great help and I can work with it. Conversely the Zacuto EVF is sharp as a tac and allowed me to pull focus using the follow focus with ease.
Then 3 weeks ago, I was asked to shoot and edit a highlights video for a week long church event. I wanted the camera to be light and efficient so I decided to leave the Ninja 2 at home and shoot to SD cards. I used a mono pod for the events, and a tripod for interviews. Since working on the film shoot I had purchased a Zacuto Gorilla Plate for C100 and rails to mount a follow focus. (More on both in an upcoming blog). I didnt need to record sound except for some quick interviews so the C100 handle wasn’t needed.
So what did I learn? That I need “another” monitor?? No. I already have the C100 EVF and LCD plus the Ninja 2 that I use on every job. I learned just how versatile the C100 is. It’s ergonomics allow it to be used stripped to the basics and shoot handheld using the grip or the top handle. It can also be mounted on a shoulder rig with all the toys attached, though it does require a front mounted monitor/EVF. And of course there’s tripod and mono pod use. During the short film shoot I switched between all 3 styles easily and quickly.
Back in reality my bread and butter is corporate promotional video where I require light weight and efficiency. To give me both I have the excellent Zacuto Gorilla Plate and rods for the basis of a good foundation for tripod and handheld use. And further if I need to place the camera on the shoulder I can add a Zacuto Shoulder pad and grips and borrow an EVF.