by John Pokorny
The Canon EOS C300 is always in our carrying case for all interviews and shows we attend across the globe, and it’s great to find out how much it is used in the documentary filmmaking world as well. With so many great features and capabilities, it was perfect coming across illuminate Hollywood’s review on the cam while learning about all the bells and whistles that helped create a Toronto Film Fest project to sold out crowds.
The Canon EOS C300 was famed cinematographer, Zac Nicholson’s tool of choice for ‘No Place on Earth’ a film showing how nearly 40 Ukrainian Jews survived and hid for 18 months from the Nazis. The caves featured in the documentary have crevasses so deep and narrow that it is impossible to get lighting equipment into them. Out of the three cameras that were ultra-compact, the Canon EOS C300 was used due to its unprecedented low-light performance. Nicholson knew that using this camera would ensure that the images filmed in the cave would look professional on the big screen. Many of the scenes used only candles or oil lamps as a lighting source, making the Canon EOS C300 an equipment choice. The use of this Canon camera allowed the emotions and intimacy to be beautifully captured on camera.
Director and co producer, Janet Tobias, believes that the use of this camera saved them money by eliminating the need for the rigging that would have been needed for larger cameras to film in the limited spaces.
As you may already know, this state-of-the-art camera weighs only three pounds and can be used with many different filming accessories. It has a 35 mm CMOS sensor, the Canon DIGIC DV III image processor with a 50 Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 codec. It has 1920 x 1080 HD and an ISO range of as much as 20,000 for great performance in very low-light situations. It can be used for both simple and complex projects.
Not only was the C300 used in cave scenes, but Nicholson also found it invaluable when shooting scenes just prior to the sun setting. At the hour before sunset, an important scene showing the Nazis searching for Jewish families in a village just outside of Budapest was shot. Nicholson attributes the camera’s ergonomics to the success in filming this special scene. Not weighed down by a heavy or cumbersome camera, Nicholson was able to quickly move around to make multiple shots in a short time frame. This camera also provides a top handle, which allows the cinematographer to run while shooting scenes and to reduce shakiness.
With all of its features, this camera lent itself perfectly to postproduction. The EOS C300 allowed Tobias and Nicholson freedom in their creativity that they otherwise would not have had. By seeing into the dark and seeing into the shadows, this camera helped create a realistic and quality documentary. ‘No Place On Earth’ debuted at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival to sold-out crowds.