As any videographer will tell you, with the rate of technological advancement a new camera can become outdated within a year or two of its initial release, but good glass is a lifetime investment. One other long-term investment that gets its due much less frequently are batteries.
A career’s worth of batteries can represent thousands of dollars. Thousands of dollars that can become valueless if you decide to switch to a different camera system. Because of this, many shooters turn to V-mount or Gold Mount batteries for a truly brand agnostic power solution. However powering off these batteries can sometimes entail kludge-y rigs with wires hanging every which way and nothing but Velcro and hope holding 3lbs battery bricks in place.
Our story begins with the founder of UK based Full Frame Camera Corporation: Alex Stone. Upon receiving his Canon C500 Mark II and realizing that the OEM solution to power the camera from V-Mounts, the EU-V2 Expansion Unit, was on back order he simply decided to make his own instead of waiting around.
The V-mount plate is manufactured in small batches and is compatible with Canon C500 Mark II and C300 Mark III cameras. A Gold-mount option has been introduced as well, if that’s more your flavor.
The Compact V-Mount plate is machined from aluminium (Ah-loo-mini-um if wish to pronounce it in the manufacture’s native tongue), attaches to the camera via two captive M4 bolts and powers the camera via a low profile right angle xlr connector.
The plate features one D-tap port for supplying 10A to any other accessories on your rig. The port is located on the side of the plate at an angle so that all the rear buttons and SDI outputs are still accessible.
An additional feature of the plate is that in its default mounting position the Canon A60 battery slot is unobstructed, which allows you to hot swap batteries.
The plate is compatible with any V-mount battery and can be mounted in a lower position for a more streamlined setup (if you are using taller V-mount batteries). One drawback of this though is that in this position, the plate blocks the A60 slot making the aforementioned hot swapping impossible.
Recently Canon Europe interviewed filmmaker Brett Danton after he used Canon’s new C500 Mark II to shoot a commercial for Jaguar to promote their new luxury SUV.
Here are some of the advantages he found while using the camera.
Brett was a convert to the Full-Frame shooting capabilities of the Canon C700 FF. The large sensor mated to fast prime lenses at wide apertures – aided by built-in ND filters for exposure control, provided a unique look that Brett trusts for prestige brands.
The new Canon C500 Mark II shares the same 5.9K sensor as the C700 FF, with the added benefit of being able to record Cinema RAW Light internally to dual CFexpress cards and recording Canon XF-AVC with 2K 4:2:0 8-bit simultaneously to an SD card to use as a proxy.
Brett relies on the flexibility of the Cinema RAW Light codec to be able to dial in a precise look in post to satisfy discerning clients. “Jaguar has a very specific list of cameras it will allow its commercials to be shot on, and it doesn’t want silver cars to look grey. I had to get everything right first time.” said Brett.
The small form factor and modular nature of the C500 Mark II provided other advantages over its larger counterpart the C700 FF. The C500 Mark II could be rigged up with monitors, follow focus rigs, the whole shabang to make it a decked out cinema camera, or stripped back to make it as light and compact as possible for use on a drone or gimbal.
For the Jaguar shoot the C500 Mark II was attached to a Russian Arm mounted to the top of a separate Jagaur F-PACE to get chase shots of the ‘hero’ car. The camera was also used in a Ronin 2 gimbal and flown up in a drone to get more dynamic images as the F-PACE zoomed through the Spanish mountains.
Another distinct advantage of the C500 Mark II is its user swap-able lens mount. For the Jaguar commercial Brett used Canon Sumire Prime lenses. “The Sumire Primes bring a filmic feel and give nice flares. Using a Sumire to shoot the car coming towards you at dusk with its headlights on softens the image. The highlights on the metalwork gleam and there are flares from the headlights – just what I wanted.” Brett explained.
Brett did not have a full kit of Sumire Primes on set so for the drone shots he had to use a Canon CN-E14mm T3.1. The CN-E14mm had an EF mount instead of the PL mount of the Sumires. In a matter of minutes the crew was able to swap the cameras mount from PL to EF and keep on trucking.
The benefits of this system became even more apparent when Brett swapped onto some of Canon’s super-telephoto prime lenses, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 IS II USM and the EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM. The advantage of this interchangeability is that you are able to use canon stills glass on the C500 Mark II while maintaining auto-focus functionality.
Here’s a video that goes into more detail about the swap-able lens mounts:
“It was amazing,” Brett says. “We were tracking the cars charging up mountains and the autofocus just kept everything sharp. I don’t care how good a focus puller you are, if you’re using a 300mm or 600mm lens wide open, it’s a hard thing to get right – especially on a full-frame sensor.”
The C500 Mark II also supports face detect AF. Brett noted that “The C500 Mark II doesn’t suddenly stop focusing when the shot is sharp; the focus has a roll-off which gives it a more traditional look, like a focus puller feel. You can really notice it – it just makes it look right.”
With a quick turnaround on the commercial Brett was able to wow the clients with just a quick color grade and LUT. The footage he was able to pull out of the camera exceeded all of his expectations.
“I shot everything in 5.9K as I wanted to see it on a big screen, and taking it down to 4K cleans it all up. The dynamic range is crazy, over 15 stops for sure. Filming in Cinema RAW Light, I shot at the base of ISO800 the entire time and in the edit added no noise reduction, yet I can’t see any noise at all. The camera performed and made my life easy.”
Brett came away from the shoot thoroughly impressed with the C500 Mark II’s capabilities and versatility.
“The C500 Mark II has the same sensor as the C700 FF, so there’s consistent quality,” he says. “You can build the camera to the shape you need to make it work for that particular environment. I’d use the C500 Mark II for 90% of my work now and go to the C700 FF with its RAW recorder for SFX work when I need to pull out every last bit of data if the post house requests it, or if I need more choices on SDI output to send more signals out on set.
“The C500 Mark II is a camera I would now happily use for everything, either on its own or with the C700 FF – everything matches up beautifully.”
Internal Recording Options for the Canon C300 Mark II
External Recording Options for the Canon C300 Mark II
This video in the tutorial series shows how to set the EOS C300 Mark II menu up for external recording. He goes over the menu options found in the Recording/Media Setup, Picture/Terminals Setup menus as well as relevant menus in the Odyssey 7Q+ that he is using.
We expect that the native EF mount version of the Cine-Servo lens will be very popular with Canon C300 EF owners and operators who have not had a native EF Mount Servo lens available for use with their cameras.
The Cine-Servo PL and EF mounts can be swapped by Canon Cinema EOS Service Centers for an additional fee. One upgraded, the extra mount is returned with the lens.
Texas Media Systems is accepting Pre-Orders at the links below with an expected ship date of August 2014:
MELVILLE, N.Y., April 2, 2014 – Shallow, creative depth of field, high-resolution and optimal low-light shooting capabilities are just some of the many reasons that large, single-sensor digital cameras have been kitted and rigged for use in nearly every application involving video capture. Further enhancing the versatility and adoption of these cameras into markets such as ENG (Electronic News Gathering), documentary, narrative production and special event coverage is the new CINE-SERVO 17-120mm T2.95 zoom lens from Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions.
Designed to perform in a shoulder-mounted application or as a traditional cinema lens, the Canon CINE-SERVO 17-120mm T2.95 zoom lens has an ENG-style Digital Drive handgrip with zoom rocker switch, which can also be detached to allow for manual cinema operation. The new CINE-SERVO lens features high 4K optical performance throughout the broad focal length of 17mm to 120mm within its compact and lightweight body, a three-group inner focus system to help minimize focus breathing and provide a stable angle of view, an 11-blade iris to help achieve creative depth-of-field manipulation and natural “bokeh” background, user-friendly design features, support for matte boxes, follow focus and other accessories, and rugged reliability. Designed to work with single-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in either PL- or EF-mount.
“Since the launch of the Cinema EOS system, Canon has been a part of the large-sensor camera movement that has taken many video markets by storm. Each day the markets that employ these dynamic tools are growing, as is the way professionals are using them in the field,” explained Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A. “We remain dedicated to providing the equipment and service that enables professionals to reach the full potential of their talent. With the CINE-SERVO 17-120mm T2.95 zoom lens, we sought to arm them with a lens that is equally as versatile and adaptable as they are, and just as comfortable shooting a feature documentary as it would be shooting a corporate event or an interview for the evening news.”
Compliance of the Canon CINE-SERVO 17-120mm T2.95 lens with industry-standard camera-to-lens communication protocols helps ensure its compatibility with multiple brands and models of 4K, 2K, and HD cameras. These standards include 12-pin serial communication (common to major broadcast camera brands), Cooke’s /i Technology, and Canon EOS technology (employed by the EOS C500, EOS C300, and EOS-1D C Cinema cameras, and the EOS C100 Digital Video Camera). Specific types of data-management functions involving focus, zoom, iris and other settings can vary, depending on camera brands and models. In the case of the Canon EOS system, precise lens data – including aperture setting – are displayed in the EOS camera’s viewfinder, as well as recorded in the video file as metadata along with the model name of the lens and focal length setting.
With its Canon Digital Drive handgrip unit attached, the CINE-SERVO 17-120mm T2.95 lens is ideal for shoulder mount camera configurations commonly employed in ENG, broadcast, or cinema shooting. Attaching the Digital Drive unit does not require manual adjustment of the focus, zoom, and iris gears on the lens, and a rubber cap prevents dirt from entering the Digital Drive unit connections when it’s detached. Together with Canon’s unique LCD display equipped on the Digital Drive unit that allows the operators to easily access the various digital functions, a 16-bit high-precision microprocessor contained within the Digital Drive unit enables operators to pre-program focus and zoom position/speed, as well as iris settings if desired – allowing for precise, repeatable performance. The microprocessor also provides the capability of a very high-speed zoom of 0.5 seconds to a very slow and consistent zoom of 300 seconds, from wide-end to telephoto-end. Three 20-pin connectors on the Digital Drive unit enable the use of zoom and focus demands or the precision integration of images from the lens and its accompanying camera into a variety of virtual set systems.
In addition to its removable ENG-style Digital Drive unit handgrip that gives users a choice between programmable broadcast-style or fully manual cinema-style operation, the new Canon CINE-SERVO 17-120mm T2.95 zoom lens integrates strategic design features for intuitive, convenient operation by a wide range of camera operators. These features include an ergonomically designed compact and lightweight Digital Drive unit that fits into an operator’s hand and brings the palm closer to the center of the lens barrel which can contribute to lessening fatigue on the operator’s arm. The lens barrel markings are clearly engraved in both feet and meters on both sides of the lens barrel, and focus indicators on the front side of the lens are marked on an inclined surface to make them easier to see from the back of the camera, especially when mounted on an operator’s shoulder. Additionally, luminous paint is used for the scale display on one side of the barrel to help make the markings visually identifiable in the dark.
Combining both broadcast operability and the accuracy required by cinematographers, the lens features a 180 degree focus rotation angle. Both 0.8 type and 0.5 type gear module focus accessories can be used, with the 0.8-pitch gear positioned in front of the focus ring to preclude any interference with the Digital Drive unit or a connecting cord. Major power-driven accessories, matte boxes, and other standard options used by filmmakers can all be mounted. Lens support shafts for support rods as well as a lens hood unit are also included with the lens.
As a symbol of inheriting the optical technology that was developed for other Canon Cinema lenses, a red alumite identity color is used for the mount area. A structure enabling the lens’ EF mount to be replaced with the PL mount, or vice versa (electrical system included), is also incorporated. This conversion upgrade can be provided at authorized Canon service centers.
Pricing and Availability
The Canon CINE-SERVO 17-120mm T2.95 zoom lens (CN7x17 KAS S/E1 in EF mount and CN7x17 KAS S/P1 in PL mount) is expected to be available in August 2014 for a suggested list price of $33,000. For more information, please visit the Canon U.S.A. website atwww.pro.usa.canon.com/cine-servo.