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Thoughts on the Canon 1Dc 4K beast

21 Aug 2013 at 12:59pm

Thoughts on the Canon 1Dc 4K beast

EOS-1Dc

I have always wondered about the image from Canon’s not so new now 4k video shooting DSLR the 1Dc and thanks to Saul at Camera Electronics I have finally been able to see first hand how it stacks up.

To give you a bit of background I currently own two 5D mk2’s, one 5D mk3 and a C300. As a videographer I’m constantly trying to capture vision with as much quality as I can afford. Unfortunately for me I go through periods where I just cant get excited about the quality of the footage that I have taken. Pixel peeping drives me nuts. I’m constantly fussing over a lack of sharpness here or too much digital noise over there etc etc. Also in the editing suite I stress about how badly footage breaks down when you try to push the limits of the recording compressions.

Why cant shooting video be like capturing a still image and working it in Photoshop with all that information in the RAW image to manipulate?

I guess it can be if you have the brass to shell out on cameras like the Red Epic, Sony F55, or Arri Alexa. For most of us this isn’t an option so we have to deal with what our budgets allow.

Which brings me to the 1Dc. Has it got me all gushy about the image coming out of it? Not really. I think the problem is I am comparing it to my C300. Had I been comparing it to the 5Dmk2 or mk3 it would be different but the image is so close to the C300 I was a little disappointed. The lure of a 4k-motion jpeg image made me excited with anticipation to the possibilities of having double the resolution of any thing else I had ever shot. I guess it’s a testament to the quality Canon has got from the C300’s Super 35mm full HD sensor.

Canon 1Dc #2

Ok so the 1Dc image is nice and I think slightly better than the C300 in my honest opinion and without comparing it to the other Canon DSLR range I’m sure it is the king of video image content for DSLR’s. The vision is recorded using the same Canon log capture as is with the C300. This gives good compatibility when shooting the two cameras together on the same project. Dynamic range seems comparable to the C300 and there is definitely less digital noise present than is with the C300. This may have something to do with camera settings such as ISO so please don’t take this as any real technical assessment of both cameras. I’m sure someone who really knows the camera may be able to shed light on the best way to maximise this cameras features.

It’s a DSLR so the ergonomics are different to cameras like the C300. It’s been a while since I have used a DSLR for shooting video so it was like “yeah that’s right, I cant look through the view finder to shoot and help stabilize a hand held shot, and I cant flip or tilt the LCD when I’m doing a low angle shot”. It’s so nice using a dedicated video camera but you know what, I’d take image quality over ergonomics and functionality any day because there is always a work around to complete the job.

1Dc #2

One thing I like about this camera, which would make me consider it ahead of a C300, if I didn’t already own one, is the ability to shoot full HD 1920×1080 vision at 60fps. The C300 can only achieve this at the lower resolution of 1280×720. This frustrates me immensely. In actual fact I feel both cameras should be able to offer even higher frame rates but hey I’m not a Canon tech guy, I’m just the video guy who has no technological knowledge and doesn’t want to know about that stuff. I just want a camera that shoots vision that I want to see.

Ok so the vision from the camera is nice. Better than a C300 just, it shoots higher frame rate full HD footage, it can take high quality still images not to mention over 4096 x 2160 pixel still images straight from the footage, is full frame and can also shoot a high quality super 35mm crop. Perfect for videographers and photographers shooting weddings and other events. It shoots 4k, internally to CF card, no other camera on the market does that yet I think, as well as a number of different resolutions right down to Standard Definition. It’s compact, lightweight and can also be used to shoot timelapses. You can hand operate stabilizers like the Glidecam 2000 and 4000 without breaking your arm and it leaves more room in your camera bag for the all important lenses.

canon_c300_main

What it doesn’t have is professional Audio terminals, flip monitor, EVF viewfinder, 4:2:2 recording in Full HD (4K only), built in ND filters, Vectorscopes, Zebra Stripes, Peaking, Audio monitoring, all the things that make life a hell of a lot easier when making short films or documentaries. It’s also only 8 Bit but so is the C300.  10 Bit recording would be nice on both cameras.

One thing the 1Dc does do is chews up hard drives when shot in 4K. You have to way this up when most of your delivery format is going to be on-line. It’s very hard to tell the difference between 4k and Full HD on Vimeo so 4K may only be of use for future proofing your work when the technology becomes mainstream and it certainly will eventually.  You also have to upgrade your CF cards to faster recording types with larger capacities just to capture the same amount of footage a smaller cheaper card could handle in Full HD. This is quite an expensive proposition but as anything prices will fall.

So the big question for me is would I buy a 1Dc?

The answer is absolutely, however I would look at what I do most and make a decision between the 4K quality on offer, how I can benefit from having it, and wether the extra spend to get a camera like the C300 with all it’s in built features, is the way to go.

Luckily for me I don’t have to make this decision as I bought my C300 long before the 1Dc hit our shelves.

Let me finish up with one really important point and I have to remind myself of this fact from time to time. A better camera is not going to make you a better photographer or filmmaker. I have seen many people with new amazing gear producing pretty average work (me included).  The reliance on quality over content is missing the point. If what you have shot doesn’t connect with your intended audience then you may as well of shot it all on an iPhone.

Good quality crap is still crap when you get down to it. But then again I’m just saying that because I cant afford a C500.

Cheers

TVG (The Video Guy)

p.s. I’m posting a short video I shot with the 1Dc and Canon’s flagship Cinema Prime lenses soon. Stay tuned

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