In Use: Canon C200

I was sent the Canon C200 to review, and while there are a handful of pretty comprehensive reviews from a more clinical perspective, in an effort to shed light on its usability I just grabbed the thing and started shooting. Here’s how that shook out.

To start, I’ve shot 99% of OWL BOT’s content on a C100mkII, so I’m already familiar with the body type and workflow. I picked that camera for the ability to basically pull it out of a case and start shooting immediately with minimal downtime; built-in NDs, XLR jacks, excellent autofocus, low power draw/file size, and easy to find/inexpensive recording media. As it’s a 1080p camera, I can shoot for about 11 hours on one 128BG SD card, and the battery lasts almost as long. I actually use an IDX Duo to power it, lasting multiple days. Assuming the C200 was largely similar I didn’t even read anything about it and got to work.

First step was to set up the camera the way I like it. The menu has been updated slightly but is functionally the same, so I was able to do the exact same somewhat-specific frame guides as my C100 and my waveforms/peaking options/buttons were set the same as well. Nice. In regards to shooting settings, there were obviously more options in the C200 including the oft-mentioned Cinema RAW Lite (4K DCI 12 bit Resolution), which I chose to shoot in as I was also the editor of these videos and knew the workflow involved. As a surprise, I saw that there were *three* system frequencies: 59.9Hz, 50Hz, and 24Hz. This excited me as I’ve always held the (perhaps silly) belief that you can subconsciously “feel” the difference between 23.98fps and true 24fps. So with that, I chose 24Hz. After formatting the 256GB CFast card (and the two backup SD cards) I saw that I had 36 minutes until I had to offload, which for me is a slight issue as I don’t own a laptop. That being said if *you* have a laptop, or a friendly friend, the card dumped in about 8 minutes to my PC so it’s not going to really ruin your day if you only use one card. 8 minutes is a nice little pause for the cast and crew without having to break for lunch or whatever.

For the first video, Mahalo’s “In My Arms” I shot with the gorgeous 15.5-47mm CN-E lens Canon included with the camera for me. As I primarily shoot with the Sigma 18-35mm, this was a perfect replacement and the extra reach in either direction was nice. As it’s a cinema lens, I had to hand pull focus which was a bit of a struggle as the focus throw is so long, but the benefit was that I never was visibly “searching” for focus, and didn’t have to be incredibly accurate with my pulls as there was that forgiveness. Since we were literally running around Hollywood stealing shots, that was more beneficial than detrimental. The size of the lens kind of stood out in public, but this being LA no one really cared. 

Shooting RAW was a blessing here because I had absolutely no control over the lighting, nor did I have any modifiers. Often times, shooting in direct sunlight proves challenging as you -generally- have to expose for the highlights and that makes the shadows deeper than perhaps they should be, meaning they won’t look their best when corrected. With RAW, you can bring those lower exposure ranges up just fine. I also shot with the proxy option on, because why not, which simultaneously recorded 2K files to the SD card. Surprisingly, even at 35Mbps those proxy files looked pretty decent. In addition, the 10 stops of available ND meant I could shoot at an f4 (on average) and keep my depth of field in check while maintaining proper exposure in a matter of seconds no matter where I went, and unlike the C100mkII, the C200’s ND wheel is electronically actuated so you don’t have to physically rotate them into place. A minor inconvenience but one I think of often.

For the second video, I used my Sigma as I knew I’d be in a car for parts of it, necessitating a smaller lens, and the video was largely focused around dancing so I would want the auto focus. While my C100mkII only uses Center-Weighted AF, the C200 has selectable AF via the touch screen and face detection, both which worked flawlessly for me. Normally I have to center my subject, quickly turn the AF off and on again to pull focus, and then reframe. I try to hide that with camera moves usually but sometimes it’s painfully obvious. With this camera, the Face Detect AF was like having a 1st AC with me; it knows exactly what’s important (the people) and doesn’t freak out when it loses a face, just keeps it where it was when it lost tracking. Nice.

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