Here is my video review of the Zacuto recoil rig and their new EVF, the Gratical Eye. There are more details and pictures below.
The first camera I used professionally was Sony's Betacam SP. It was well balanced, it sat perfectly on the shoulder, you could zoom in a shoot things far away without wobbling. Over the years, camera image quality improved, while camera ergonomics went backwards.
After a few years we all found ourselves buying boxes for cameras. Being able to produce near cinema quality images is nice, but not if your rig is wobbling around on your shoulder and you can't see if the shot is in focus.
This is where Zacuto have stepped in and created something that really works.
The recoil rig itself is pretty versatile. It has a really long plate and can be used with most cameras out there. Here, I am using it on the Canon C300 mark ii, but it fits nicely on to the Sony Fs7, F5/55 etc.
The Canon C300 range has always been a bit odd ergonomically, at least to my mind. It is a really top heavy camera, and all of the inputs you would expect to be at the back, like the audio XLRs, are at the front. Zacuto have managed to sort this out by relocating the LCD module and pushing the Canon side grip forwards.
The recoil rig works much better than I thought it would. The unit really fits snuggly into the shoulder and makes on the shoulder shooting so much easier. With my old rig, I would tend not to shoot with lenses longer than 50mm. Now I put on longer lenses and feel a lot more comfortable.
The quality of the engineering and workmanship on this thing is amazing. Everything is built to last. Nothing at all is plastic.
The Gratical Eye itself is awesome. I love how small this thing is. Zacuto have taken away a few of the extra ports you get with the Gratical HD, to give a much more stripped down model. The Gratical Eye is powered externally from a D-tap into a lemo connector, and the image comes from an SDI cable, and that is it. It makes the viewfinder much smaller, and to my mind much better.
As with all Zacuto EVFs, it comes with an absolute tonne of features, including, LUTS, false colour, peaking, scopes. The scopes can even be switched between monitoring the LOG footage and the LUT.
The quality of the image is really good. There have been a few shots, where looking at the LCD monitor I have thought details were being lost in the highlights, and then looked into the Gratical Eye and seen what is really going on, and have been pleased to see detail is still there.
Overall I would say this is a very high quality piece of gear that I can imagine owning for years and even swapping onto new rigs in the future when my current camera becomes obsolete. Although it certainly isn't cheap, the Gratical Eye is a bargin when you consider the price of a dedidicated EVF from many of the major camera manufacturors. The beauty of the Gratical Eye being that you can use it on any camera you choose. As for the recoil rig, you get what you pay for here, its solidly built and will last years.
NB Ethics statement: If you buy a product from the Zacuto product links above, I receive a small commission. My review of products on my site is based on what I think. If I thought this product was bad, I would say so.
I have been following Rodney Charters on Twitter for years so when I heard he was speaking with Dan Chung from www.newsshooter.com at CVP in Fitzrovia I went along.
Rodney Charters is known for shooting 24 with Keifer Sutherland and more recently Dallas and the US version of Shameless.
Rodney took as through his shooting career with a slide show of giant camera rigs, huge technocranes, green screens the size of apartment blocks and studio sets with vast numbers of people.
Rodney Charters was born in NZ and moved to London as a young man. He worked as a photographer before going into documentary film making and then feature film work in Hollywood. Interestingly, he still shoots documentary and has a great love for it.
So what can we learn from a succesful Holywood DP? His discription of shots that could be achieved with a technocrane were interesting, but its not something many of us can request on our next project.
While some DPs might refuse to work in certain conditions, or refuse to use certain lenses and lights they believe to be inferior Rodney Charters seems to want to give all sorts of things a go. He seemed so enthusiastic, like a young kid that just got his first job in TV (he was born in 1948).
He talked about his excitement when he first saw the image put out by the Canon 5dmarkii and had a slide comparing it side by side with a shot from a movie he was working on when the camera came out.
In lighting, while many people out there shun LED lights and freak out about there CRI rating, Rodey Charters is straight in there trying out all sorts of lighting options. Not all of these lighting choices were expensive either, infact many of them were incredibly cheap. He explained how he once lit an entire scene with sodium lights bought from a hardware store. He realised there was so much practical sodium lighting in the scene that he was better off adding to it with more sodium lights, than trying to get rid of it.
He also comes across as a huge fan of useful gadgets. He had an amazing little light in his pocket called an Aladin. It was tiny, but was dimable and even colour controlled from tungsten to daylight. This thing is so small it can be held or gaffer taped into place and gives a little kick of illumination.
There were other gadgets he had pictures of: an LED string of lights, which looked like a row of bullets. These things could be uncoiled and stuffed into car interiors or taped anywhere you like to give a little lift. These are the kind of thing you can pick up for pennys on ebay or amazon.
He also had an oversized looking iphone6s strung around his neck (so big it couldn't fit in his pocket). He used it on set all of the time to look up shots and photos he had be sent. Thousands of photos were constantly with him for quick reference.
I could have stayed all night listening to Mr Charters talk, and such was his enthusiasm he had to be dragged from the room, as he stood around chatting with us and asking what we were working on.
If there was one thing I took from this talk, it would be to stay inventive. As you career progresses and technolgy changes you have to move with it, embrace it and get the best you can from it. Rodney Charters is certainly someone who is doing exactly that.
Thanks to CVP in Fitzrovia for hosting this event and to Dan Chung at Newsshooter for organising it all and for Rodney Charters for being so generous sharing his time and knowledge.
I don't often get excited when a new bit of kit is released, which is probably for the best, as I'd live my life like some kind of gibbering idiot, since a new peice of kit seems to be released each week these days.
However, I'll admit I was pretty impressed when I saw Small HD has released a new series of monitors. Small HD have been busy releasing great little monitoring units for years, but these were always on-camera-monitors, and nothing over 7 inches.
The latest series of monitors start at 17 inches, and there is also 24" and 32" model.
The price structure looks like this
17" 2999 USD
24" 3499 USD
32" 7999 USD
"So what", you might be thinking, "there are loads of monitors out there at this size", and you'd be right, there are. The big difference with other monitors is that you can't drive over them in a truck or throw them through plate glasss windows. Well, you can, but I doubt they would work afterwards.
They look really nicely designed with good mounting options and also don't look overly heavy as they are very slim.
It's good to see a company like Small HD moving into this space. Even the 17 inch model would be slightly large for my purposes on lots of jobs. I travel a lot and ideally would like a director monitor that is as rugged as this one, but slightly smaller. After all, the monitor is the one peice of kit I put in the hands of directors, and let's face it, you almost expect them to be dragged down a set of stairs by a BNC. I hope this is just the start for Small HD and that there will be other products like this in the pipeline.
The settings of the Canon C300 mark2 Custom Picture have changed a fair bit from the original C300.
There are 3 settings which can be adjusted:
- Colour Space
- Colour Matrix
There are 8 Gamma settings, 4 colour space settings, 5 colour matrix settings (6 if you include off).
These can all be used in combination with each other, giving the user a huge choice of picture profiles.
In order to use these settings you must first switch the preset to "off".
Alternatively you can just go for one of the 7 presets.
Firstly here are the presets.
- Canon Log2: Cine Gamut
- Canon Log2: BT2020
- Canon Log2: DCI-P3
- Canon Log2: BT.709
- Canon Log
With the presets switched to off, you can now access the 3 settings yourself and use them in any combination:
| Canon Log 2
|| Cinema Gamut
| Canon Log
|| BT.2020 Gamut
|| Production Camera
| Wide DR
|| DCI-P3 Gamut
|| Cinema EOS Original
| EOS Standard
|| BT.709 Gamut
| Normal 1 (Standard)
|| EOS Standard
| Normal 2 (x4.0)
| Normal 3 (BT.709)
| Normal 4 (x5.0)
Since any of these can be used together, there are hundreds of different combinations.
The first video that is well worth looking at is from Roger Price. Here each of the 8 Presets are run through (including off). This is followed by Gamma and Colour Space both being set to BT.709, while each of the colour matrices are changed.
Again, the video below is not mine, it was made by Barry Goyette and shows the look of the different Colour Matrices on skin tones. The images have had a LUT applied in post. As you can see, the Gamma and Colour Space doesn't change (they are always Canon LOG 2 and BT.2020 Gamut.)
Although the EOS standard Matrix and the EOS original Matrix probably give you more accurate colour rendition, I can't help but prefer the less vivid look of the Neutral look. I also quite like the "production camera" matrix, which designed to fit in with the colour profile of the Arri Alexa.
This doesn't come as a big surprise to me as the original C300 produces colours much more accurately using the EOS matrix. I discovered this when filming works of art that needed to be graded very accurately to look as they should. I guess accurate colours are not always the most beautiful, particularly with Canon when they work so hard to produce great looking skin tones.
As far as a good look for the C300 mark ii that comes straight out of the camera, I still have some more experimenting to do. I'll keep updating this page as I go. So far I have used and liked the BT2020 preset. It looks pretty good as is, and with a small amount of grading it can really look nice.
I recently bought the Canon C300 markii and thought I'd share some of the footage and some first impressions here.
Although the markii has the same form factor as the original C300, it immediately feels a lot more solid. The camera itself is slightly larger and built from stronger material. The first big difference is the handle. This is so much sturdier than the original. Rather than having one small screw to fix the top handle, there is now a much more robust solution. The handle is fixed with two thick screws to a plate, which is then fixed with three further screws to the camera. On the whole this is great. It means you can now pick up the camra with confidence, no matter how big your lens or other accessories. The only downside to this is that it does take a while to remove the handle as there are now five allen key screws to remove. Still, a small price to pay.
The cables running from the LCD to the camera can now be fully removed, which is a major improvement. Also, one cable is for audio and the other video. This is another big advantage for gimbal users, as you can now mount the LCD monitor with just one cable fairly efficiently.
The big change with mark ii really comes when you start looking at the images coming out of the camera. I already liked the image I was getting from the C300 but the markii really impressed me.
The dynamic range is something that immediately jumps out at you. One of the first things I shot with this camera was inside a dimily lit cafe and the sun was absolutely blasting through the windows. The camera handled it so well. I used Log2 Cine gamut, which gives a slightly flatter image than the orignial Canon Log. I know pretty much nothing about colour grading, so I simply slapped the appropriate LUT on. I thought the LUT was a bit intense and made everything a touch to contrasty. I then backed off with the LUT to 50 percent and left it at that. There is a lot more that can be done to grade the image, but I just wanted to put this up as is, so you can see what comes out of the camera. The shots using Clog 2 are at the begining part of the video above.
The shot below is a jpeg screen grab from an ungraded shot, using BT2020.
The next thing, which I just couldn't believe was the low light ability. I was tentaively going higher and higher with the ISO expecting to see grain and digital noise and it just didn't happen. I was shooting with the camera on a Ronin, so I didn't want to shoot with the lens wide open. In order to have half a chance of getting anything in focus, I decided to stop down and use the ISO. To further complicate things I was shooting half speed at 50p and 120 shutter (we were in the USA, hence 120 rather than 100).
The shot above was taken at night a couple of hours after sun set. The only light illuminating the face here is from an iphone.
The lens flares are deliberate. I was using my Leica 35mm lens which flares like crazy if you don't use the hood or matte box. I personally love it, so use it as an effect.
The shot above was taken just after sunset. Again there is no lighting here. Despite the lack of light, I really like the natural look of the image, it could certainly benefit from a grade, but I am pleased with this as a starting point. This is an image straight out of the camera with no LUT applied. For all the night time shots I didn't use LOG but shot with the BT2020 profile. This gives a decent amount of dynamic range and requires less work in post.
One of the feature I was keen to try out was the face tracking and focus. Since all of these shots were taken on the Ronin, I wanted to see if auto focus or assisted focus was possible. I found that, to my surprise, the face tracking and focus worked pretty well, with a few caveats.
The face tracking does work and the focus is smooth enough to use. However, it really functions best in decent light conditions. In daylight, or if you are lighting your subject well, the face tracking quickly picks out a person and tracks them. However, in these dark street scenes, where the director did not want any lighting, the face tracking struggles to see the face.
Another issue is that the auto focus does not work at all in slow mo. I found the best way round this was to shoot in 50p and then conform this to 25p in the edit, which gives you your half speed, but keeps the audio and the auto focus features.
A funtion that I really like was focus assist. If you are using a Canon lens, the camera is able to tell you whether to pull fowards or back to acheive focus. This was amazingly useful, particualarly when the camera was on the ronin. Even if you are using peaking, it's really tough to see what is in focus when you are running around with the ronin, but the focus assist really made it easy.
Often I would set the focus at a distance I wanted to be from the subject, and then turned on focus markers. Depending on whether the two triangles are above or or below the single triangle, lets you know which way to pull (or move). On the left shot the focus is set towards infinity and the focus is behind the flowers. In the shot on the right the focus is set too close and the focus is infront of the flowers.
This was particualarly helpful on the Ronin, and I would just move the rig closer to or further away from the subject.
It is also very useful in an interview situation if you are shooting at a wide aperture and your subject is moving backwards and forwards a bit. It is nice to have control of the focus yourself so you can decide if you want to pull focus or not.
The only thing I didn't like about the focus was that the digital zoom in now doesn't work once the camera is in record mode. This seems like a step backwards to me. This will apparently be fixed in the next firmware update. For now, I just need to learn to trust the focus guide - so far they have been amazingly accurate.
Many people will already own a Ronin or Ronin M, and before using the new C300 mark ii, you might wonder if it will fit on the Ronin.
The short answer is: yes.
Canon has made the C300 mark ii slighly bigger and slightly heavier. This isn't enough for the average user to worry about, but with gimbals, it makes all the difference.
The other issue with the markii is the change from a removable eye peice to a fixed one. CANON! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING! Really, I mean I never use this stupid eyepeice and I'd rather it wasn't on the camera at all, but it is.
All of this moaning aside, the camera fits on both the Ronin and the Ronin M. With the larger Ronin you can buy arms from Cinemilled to extend the range of set ups and lenses you can use.
With the Ronin M, there is less space, so the range of movement you get from the camera is much more limited. I found that if I used the heavier Canon batteries, to put some more weight at the back of the camera, I could put on a light lens, and easily balance the camera. If you look at the shot of my C300ii on the Ronin M below, you can see how much space there is. Not a lot. This means that you are limited to how low down and how high up you can tilt. This isnt ideal, but it is just about work able.
However, there is a way to improve this.
By putting more weight at the back of the camera, you can slide the whole camera further forward, giving you more space to pan up and down.
Cinemilled have made the Dove Tail Pro. This base plate is slightly larger than the standard issue from DJI and it is covered with tapped holes which you can screw weights on, to better balance the camera.
I bought the plate and 2 of the larger weights. This significantly increases the range of tilt I can get, when the C300 mkii is on the Ronin M.
Obviously the lens on the camera needs to be pretty light. Here I am using the Tokina 11-16mm. Most of the Canon EOS primes would work and also lenses like the the Canon 17-40mm would work very well, being so light.
If you wanted to put anything heavier on the front (such as a cine prime) you would be better off with the full size Ronin or the new Ronin MX.
However, if you already have the Ronin M, and are looking to increase the range of camera set ups it can take, this is a good solution.
You can buy the parts direct from Cinemilled or go to a re seller like B&H
Ethics: I have no affiliation whatsoever with Cinemilled and paid full price for these parts.
A reader of the blog wrote to me with a few questions about working as a cameraman. I thought I would publish my answers here.
1) What is the most difficult part of your job?
This is easy to answer. It's the freelance juggling act. Jobs flow in, all of them will be "pencil bookings," unconfirmed jobs. Many of these jobs will overlap, some projects will be better than others. The hard part is choosing the best jobs for your career, and the jobs you think are most likely to actually happen. All of this has to be done without offending Producers and without messing up their schedules.
2) Whats more important, a creative mind or technical knowledge ?
On the whole, Producers and Directors are looking for a balance of both of these skills. On a larger project you may have an Assistant or a Gaffer and you can rely on these people for technical camera knowledge and lighting respectively. However, on a smaller project you will need to be technically savvy. Often people will look to you for technical knowledge, Researchers, Assistant Producers and even Directors are all now starting to self-shoot. They will often come to the DoP for help and technical advice.
Also, sometimes you could be shooting miles from anywhere with no tech support and no rental facilities. If you run into technical difficulties of any description, having someone that can step in and help will always be a plus to a Director.
3) How long do you spend on planning and preparation before going on set?
This one varies massively, depending on the job. Some jobs I might get a phone call the night before, I turn up on the shoot with almost no idea of what to expect. At the other end of the spectrum a Director might call me with an idea, or a potential shoot. Initial conversations might be about budget, equipment, logistics, or what can be achieved in the time available. This might go on for months, then one day the shoot happens several months after the initial conversation.
Reading this, you might think this is a lot of prep and forethought for a job that might not happen, and you'd be right. However, Directors are often in need of this support. Of course, they might have a Production Manager who can find out whether you can travel around Africa with a jib, or how much it costs to rent a certain bit of kit etc. The reason a Director might rely on a Cameraman for this kind of research is that you may already have experienced theses situations before. Years of travelling around filming things gives you experience and knowledge that can't always be looked up on the internet. It is this first hand knowledge is often vital in the early planning stages of a shoot.
4) How far does your degree take you when applying for jobs?
When getting work as a cameraman, it is your experience that counts, not your academic achievement. However, entry level positions such as Runners or Junior Researchers are always oversubscribed, so any advantage you might have over others is a good thing. Languages are often useful, as is specialist knowledge. If a programme is being made about Machu Picchu and you studied Spanish and Ancient History at University, then you are more likely to get hired than the next person.
The connections you make at university might also be useful. If a director is looking for an Assistant Camera Operator and you happened to go to university with them, you will stand more of a chance than others.
This might sound unfair, and it is, but in film and TV the old adage about "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is very true. Think of if this way: the industry is based around trust. People are agreeing to pay for your skills, before you have proved your worth. For this to work, they need to trust you are good at what you do. People tend to trust people they know, or their colleagues know, over strangers.
Lenses vary hugely in price, so what do you get for your money?
Let's take a look at a few 50mm lenses. 50mm probably the most commonly used lenses, manufacturers sell large numbers of them, and every manufacturer makes a 50mm, so it is easy to compare them.
This is by no means a complete list of all 50mm lenses, but just illustrates the price difference.
|Price in Dollars
| Zeiss 1.4
| Canon 1.2
| Ziess CP2 1.5
| Canon CNE 1.3
Cooke s4 mini 2.8
Arri Master Prime
As you go up the price range two things change, the housing that the lens is in and the optical quality of the glass.
The Canon 1.8 is so cheap, it isn't fair to criticise the lens, for what you pay it is a bargain. However, the housing is light weight and plastic, the focus ring is so small that it is very tough to use. This lens is really designed solely for photographers using auto focus. I have seen people using these lenses for video, but I would only advise it if you are on a really tight budget.
The Canon 1.4 has a better focus ring and is easier to use manually. The housing is slightly better than the 1.8
The Canon 1.2 is an L series lens, so the housing is weather sealed and a bit tougher. Through the canon EF range, the more you pay the faster the lens becomes.
If using a lens for video, I would choose the Zeiss 1.4 over the Canon 1.2. Zeiss make a good solid metal housing for their lenses. The focus throw on the Zeiss is also larger than on the Canon lenses, which makes manual focusing much easier. Zeiss lenses also hard stop at infinity. Canon EOS lenses are designed with auto focus in mind, the focus ring will circle around forever, pushing a touch past infinity and then you have to bring it back. With the Zeiss lens, if you just roll it all the way and infinity is where the focus barrel stops, altogether much better when you are filming. Leica is another lens similar to Zeiss in this aspect, and also similar in terms of cost and build quality. The image of the Leica and Zeiss do vary, but which you prefer is down to individual taste.
The Arri Master Prime
The next set of lenses are a big step up both in price and the quality of the housing. Zeiss Compact Primes have been around for a while and in a similar price bracket are the new Canon CNE range. One of the things you get at this price range is uniformity. All of the lenses in these sets are roughly the same length and barrel size. This means changing lenses is quicker, as there is no need to adjust matte boxes or moose bars as you may have to with stills lenses, which all tend to vary in size. Another big change is that the iris control is alway on the lens itself, this is obviously a massive plus when shooting. The distance marks on the lens are accurate and the lenses can be easily used by a focus puller. (Stills lenses are really tricky in this regard as you can roll the focus around indefinitely and loose all of your focus marks.)
So how much should you spend on your lens if looking at the housing and mechanics alone? This really depends on what type of work you do now, or see yourself doing in the future. If you think you'll be on a film or commercial set then spending the extra to get the dedicated lenses could be a good idea.
If you are a solo operator and don't see yourself using a focus puller very often, the decision is a bit more difficult. Having a big focus throw and an external iris wheel are very nice, but they aren't essential, and you also have to deal with the added weight.
So what about the quality of the glass and the image you get from the lens? At the lower end of the cinema lens range, the quality of the glass is very similar to the optics used on the top end still lenses. For example the Zeiss CP2 are close to the Zeiss ZE and ZF stills glass, and the Canon CNE range is similar to the L series EOS lenses. There are however a few differences. You tend to get much more dramatic lens flare on the cinema lenses, simply because the lens is that much bigger on the front end. I have also noticed the Canon CNE lenses create very round out of focus highlights, whereas the still lenses have an octagonal shape to them, and that is due to the larger number of iris blades on the cine primes. It is said that the better quality glass is cherry picked for the cine lenses and that these lenses are also given better coatings.
There are also clear differences between manufacturers and the type of image the glass produces. Generally speaking, the more you pay the less the lens breathes, contrast also tends to be better and the way the lens deals with highlights improves. I have noticed reds really pop out on Canon lenses, whereas Zeiss have a slightly colder, clinical look to them, which I quite like. Leica tend to produce a beautiful buttery smoothness in the out of focus bokeh, which I am also a fan of.
With lenses you need to pay a huge amount of extra cash, to get a small increase in the quality of the image. Another thing to note here is that in many situations that extra money won't show. If the lens is stopped down and the lighting is very controlled, there often isn't much to choose between two lenses, even though they maybe hundreds of dollars apart. However, open those lenses up and film in some more unusual lighting conditions and the more expensive lens with likely start to shine.
The video below, as unscientific as it is, shows how the 125 dollar Canon compares to the 20k Arri Master Prime.
Before you rush out and buy a Canon 1.8f, remember that this video doesn't really show much of the Master Prime. Go and watch The Danish Girl at the Cinema, which was shot on Master Primes, it looks unbelivable. Much of it looks like it was shot wide open at T1.3. It's also worth noting that Fstop and Tstop measurements are not the same. F stop is relative to the size of the lens, Tstop is not. So the T stop in most cases will be much faster than the Fstop equivalent.
Another thing to say here is, I have only once seen what I have shot projecting on to a cinema screen, but it's a humbling experience. Every details is really visible when you are looking at a giant screen. I suspect if you were to watch this lens test at your local cinema, instead of on your iPad, you would start notice a few more details.
Unlike cameras, lenses don't seem to loose much value over time, so it makes sense to spend a bit more money on lenses if you can afford to. If you are shooting with a small crew and always pull focus for yourself you can probably get away with stills lenses. If you can afford to do so, it is well worth getting something at the top of this range, from Leica or Zeiss who make stills lenses with metal housings, large focus throws and in some cases external irises. If you can't afford this, then go for something like the Canon 1.4f or similar.
The video below is from Shane Hurlbut's crew and it compares Canon L, Leica R and Zeiss CP2s
There is also a really in depth lens comparison here, which looks at Ziess CP2s, Ziess Super Speeds, Canon CN-E and Leica Sumilux Cs amoung others.
In the cine lens range it really depends on the work you are getting and your ability to get your lenses onto a job. If you buy a set of Zeiss lenses and then a director says they really want to shoot with Cooke, you'll end up having to rent. If you really love the look of a certain lens and can persuade any director that they are absolutely the best lenses for the job, then the investment could well pay off.
Don't be put off by pixel peepers and geeks on forums. Buy the lenses that you can afford and which have the look that you like. A lot of it is subjective anyway, some like the Leica look, others hate it, some like ziess, some don't. Few lenses are perfect and you are always going to get a certain amount of breathing, distortion and other flaws (unless Master Primes are in your budget).
Buying a set of primes could easily cost as much as your camera, but on the plus side they will certainly out live it by many many years.
There are so many different cameras coming onto the market at the moment, I thought now would be a good time for a brief overview of what is out there. Here is what you get for your money.
||VariCam 35 LT
It wasn't that many years ago when there was really only one choice if you worked in TV, you bought a Beta SP camera and that was that. These days the camera options out there are mind blowing.
This table only represents a small fraction of what is out there. I have hardly touched on the options from RED. This is because, firstly the article would go on forever as there are so many options, and secondly, because most of the RED specs go way beyond the specs set out in this table (as do the prices).
Sony have historically been pretty much alone in this market. Canon then made a suprise entry with the 5D markii, eventually following it up with the Cinema EOS range. The Canon C300 was a massive hit for Canon and so Sony have struck back.
If you look at the C100 markii and then compare it to the Sony FS5, the price is pretty similar, but the Sony blows Canon out of the water on the specs.
The next model up, you look at the C300 Mark ii and the Sony FS7 is half the price, but has better slow motion. The C300 ii does have a nice look straight out of the box in my opinion, but again the Sony is half the price.
New to the market is the Ursa mini 4.6K. This isn't even availble to buy yet, but in the specs for price war, its looking pretty strong. Aimed right at that mid range where vast numbers of cameras are sold, it looks like a steal at just 5,000 USD.
RED produce a lot of cameras that are well above this mid range price. The brains themselves aren't too bad in terms of price, but the cost really starts to add up when you tack on the accessories to make it into a fully functioning camera. The new Raven however goes for just 6,000 USD for the brain. I put 10k in the table above as that is the basic packag to get you up and running.
Arri have also brought out the Alexa mini and the Amira, although still expensive, the prices are lower than the Alexa. The offerings from both Arri and RED will certainly tempt camera buyers in the mid range to pay a bit more to get top end pictures.
So what to choose?
At the top end 30k + will get you a Sony F55, An Arri Amira (or an Alexa Mini) or A good setup with many options for RED.
At the mid range 16k will get you a C300ii or RED Raven or a Sony F5.
Below that price there are a massive range of cameras, many of which have specs that out perform cameras in the 16 k bracket.
In the end it comes down more to functionality and usability than specs. If you need to mount the camera on your shoulder and access all the necessary buttons quickly then ergonomics are going to be more important than just specs.
The other issue is production work flow. If you need to get your camera onto lots of jobs where there is a production workflow already in place, then this needs to be considered. As you go up the price range, cameras will spit out whatever codec you ask them to. This is where spending more money on a more versatile camera could save you money in the long run.
Working as cameraman, we are often alone in our craft, in the sense there is usually only one of us on the shoot. There is rarely another shooter there to bounce ideas off, or learn something different from.
One of the site's readers, Oli Cohen, remarked that he found it hard to find a mentor working as a DoP. With this in mind I thought I'd write down a few places where I have found peices of inspiration.
Here are a few places I use to start us off.
Eric Steelberg shot Juno and Up in the Air. His Instagram feed is full of interesting shots taken on and off set.
rpstam is Rodrigo Prieto who shot The Wolf of Wall Street
Chivexp is Emmanuel Lubezki. Recently he has been posting lots of stills from the movie Reverant. He also shot Birdman, Gravity, The Tree of Life, Children of Men and Y Tu Mama Tambien.
This is a fun one to follow. There are some amazing on set shots on this account from all kinds of movies. If you want to see Jack Nicholson goofing around on the set of The Shining with Stanley Kubrick, this is a place to get it.
Edu Grau shot A Single Man for Tom for when he was 27. Yeah 27, makes you feel slightly sick doens't it. Anyway, he is good to follow and often post slightly odd, stark, but beautiful shots.
Rob Hardy BSC British Cinematographer who shot Ex Machina. This feed has some fantastic looking shots that all have a certain specific style to them.
Really beautiful shots on Reed Morano's feed. She is the only woman on this very male dominated list, in what I guess is a very male dominated profession.
Phedon Papamichael shot the superbly charming and beautiful film Nebraska.
Roger Deakins doesn't need much of an introduction. He has worked with The Cohen Brothers, Sam Mendes.. He shot Shawshank Redemption, Skyfall, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo, Oh Brother Where art thou, The Big Lebowski, to name just a few.
Here are a few DPs who put out lots of interesting and useful information on their own personal websites
The world's favourite DP Roger Deakins has his own site where is unbelievably helpful and friendly offering advice and help to those who comment. I am not going to list his credit, you know what he shot.
Shane Hurlbut is often setting up some crazy test to see whether one lens is better than the other. He puts a huge amount of work into these and is good about sharing his information and communicating with his readers.
This list could go on and on, but I think I'll leave it there and ask you about where you find inspiration or mentors.
Still in need of inspiration? Check out the film below of DoPs on the craft of Cinamatography.
Finding your focal length / Shooting with primes.
I love to shoot on prime lenses, in many ways I think of it as a luxury. Certain jobs will force me to use zoom lenses, due to the nature of the filming, or time constraints, but whenever I get the chance, I'll always switch back to a prime. They look nicer, they are faster and they give your pictures that extra bit of punch.
So which focal length is best? When it comes to prime lenses we would all like to own a giant set with every possible lens. Even if you do have the cash to buy a vast number of lenses, transporting them around isn't always practical, so inevitably we have to make some decisions and find a few favourites.
A lens around 24mm (manufacturers vary their sizes around this size) is great for those wider, story telling shots. People often wonder which lens is closest to what the human eye sees. This is a tricky thing to discern as the human eye isn't much like a camera lens, the eye sees just a small part of detail in focus and the brain fills in the rest of the detail. That said, 24mm on a super 35 crop is fairly close in terms of magnification to what the human eye sees. Instead of zooming in, you just have to walk closer to your subject. Shooting wide hand held means any wobble is less visible, so it is very useful if you have a lot of tricky fast action to follow.
I am a big fan of the 35mm lens on a Super 35mm chip camera. This focal length is pretty close to a 50mm on a full frame camera such as a 5d 1d etc or original 35mm film. It is well documented that Henri Cartier-Bresson spent his entire career shooting on a 50mm (on film, so close to 35mm on a super 35 sensor). He felt that with wider lenses you always have something in the scene that you didn't want. I can see the logic in that. When you shoot with a wider lens you can often get a general scene, tightening up to 35mm forces you to make a decision, forces you to create a composition. This is what I enjoy about the 35mm, it is wide enough to capture general street scenes, but tight enough to force you to make a composition choice, rather than just pointing and shooting.
I absolutely love 50mm lenses on super 35 chip cameras. It is probably my favourite lens for a huge variety of reasons. Firstly, 50mm lenses tend to be the cheapest and fastest of all prime lenses in any set, they are great value for money. The next thing is, it is long enough to give you a really nice out of focus bokeh. Wider lenses just can't compete here. 50mm is also about as long as I like to go when shooting hand held video. I might occasionally push in further on a zoom for a small amount of time, but I know I can hold 50mm and get rock solid shots. I also like 50mm for the composition size, it forces you to look at the frame and ask, "what's of interest." If you are following actuality you can get up close and get really nice detail of hands filling the frame or full face shots. You could argue you could do the same with a 35mm, but you'd have to be dangerously close, and if you are filming actuality it is safer to keep you distance. People typically don't want a camera right up in their face either.
Longer lenses such as 70 and beyond are nice to use on a tripod. I wouldn't go longer than 50mm on most grip gear (jibs, sliders, track or a gimbal stabiliser). I usually find 50mm a touch to wide for an interview, unless you want an unusually wide shot, which can be really nice, but you need to be in a nice location with a decent background for this to work. 70mm will really give you a nice out of focus bokeh when opened up and tends to give great portraiture, without being so close as to make interviewees feel uncomfortable.
Long lenses beyond 70mm
Once you get into the longer lens range, I find that prime lenses don't offer that much more that zooms. Rather than buying several long primes, you may well be better off with a single zoom. Something like a 135mm wide open might give you spectacular shots, but it's worth thinking about how often you will use it, versus something more versatile like a zoom that is a stop or two slower.
In the past I have used the Sony F55 for a day or two, but having just spent a week with it on a shoot, I thought I'd write a few notes on my experience. This might help you out if you have a shoot coming up on the F5 or F55 and want a few basic tips and tricks. (Users more familiar with the F55 will be better of looking a Alister Chapman's blog where the camera is covered in incredible detail.)
Shooting with the Sony F55 in the Saudi Arabian desert.
In order to get the best out of the camera and use the full 14 stops of DR available I shot with the S-Log 3 cine-ei mode. This image is VERY flat. Productions might steer away from super flat images if they are worried about time in the grade. That said, there are plenty of LUTs available now that will bring your footage in to line pretty quickly. To my mind if you are going to the effort of shooting on a high end camera, it is probably worth while using it to its full capabilities. There is of course the option to apply a LUT to the output, but I was confident the editor was very experienced and would be able to get the best out of the image.
Slog3 and REC 709 to monitor
The first thing to say about using S-log3 in Cine-ei mode is that your white balance can now only be selected by the presets and you can't manually dial in the exact temperature (but then you shouldn't need to shooting Slog). Changing ISO will not effect the image the camera records and it will continue to record at native ISO. The only problem with this is I found very hard to focus, especially in low light conditions. The easy solution to this was put a REC 709 LUT through the viewfinder. (Canon C300 users will be used to doing a similar thing when using Clog together with "view assist".) I found myself switching the 709 LUT on and off in the viewfinder occasionally so that I could check that the actual S-log footage looked as expected. Another option would be to attach a small monitor to the camera and feed the slog output to it.
NB On the side panel of the F55 you can switch viewfinder MLUT on and off after selecting the "Camera" button.
I liked shooting with the REC709 in the viewfinder for monitor exposure and focusing, but found it a bit annoying that this feature couldn't be used when shooting high frame rates. Once in HFR mode I was back to looking at a flat washed out image. A solution to this is to assign the view finder "high contrast" mode to the side of the camera. This helped with the focusing, but for low light shooting I found it actually made the situation worse. Adding contrast meant even more of the picture was darker and focus was difficult. Having the feature assigned to the side of the camera meant I could flick it on and off depending on the lighting conditions and this helped a lot.
On a side note, it did make me think, if I was going to buy the F5 or F55 I would definitely check out Zacuto's gratical evf to see if was better or worse than the Sony OLED viewfinder.
High frame rate shooting
Shooting with the F55 in down town Riyadh, with plenty of lights to cause strobing.
One place where the F55 really excels is it's high frame rate shooting. I loved using this. When you first try to switch the camera to a high frame rate using the buttons on the side of the camera, it will only go up as far as 60fps. In order to access anything faster, you need to go into the menu and select HFR mode and switch it to from "off" to "Full Scan" or "Centre Scan" if you want to crop the sensor. In this mode you can only go as low as 66fps, so if you want to go back to a lower frame rate (such as 50fps or 60fps) you need to go back into the menu and switch the HFR mode back to "off".
The great thing about the F55 is that it is just so flexible here. I was shooting for a 25 fps production, but was shooting in a 110 60HZ country, so immediately you have the issue of flickering lights. However, the F55 is so versitile it is really easy to get around. One option is to match up the FPS with the local country's electricity. For 60HZ countries slow mo rates of 60fps and 120fps are going to offer less flicker. Using these rates, it is easiest to switch the camera to shutter degrees, let the camera sit at 180 degrees and then you don't have to touch the shutter when shifting between slow and fast frame rates.
If however you can't shoot at multiples of 60 and you need to shoot at say 50fps to give you half speed for a 25p project, then I find it easier to switch the shutter to fractions rather than angles (my maths is terrible and it would take me too long to work out the angle needed). With fractions selected for your shutter you can then just add the multiple of 60 here. So if you were shooting 50 frames for 25p you would normally shoot at 1/100 shutter but being that the electrical system is 60 HZ you will get less flicker at 1/120.
Whether you are using your shutter at angles or speed it you can scrol down to "continuous" and dial in the exact number needed. This is invaluble and allows you to adjust the number until the flickering disappears.
Over all I found the F55 good to work with. It has a serious heft to it, especially as I was shooting with Canon's 17-120 PL mount, which is a bit of a beast. I found it pretty comfortable for handheld work, using the Arri rig and the basic shoulder pad that comes with the camera. The menu system is fairly large, as with all Sony cameras, so it is worth having a long look around it before shooting as there is a lot that is very useful in there. Assigning buttons to the outside to quickly access what you need is also a big help.
Here is the thing, we started off with a nice chunky Beta SP/Digi Beta/DSR or whatever that sat comfortably on our shoulders. It was perfectly balanced, had a useable eyepeice and it came like that straight out of the box. Then we suddenly realised DSLRs produced fantastic images and since then we have been fiddling around with ever stranger rigs to make some weired box of a beast sit on our shoulder.
In this group of weired boxy cameras I include Canon C100/C300, Sony A7s, Blackmagic Design, RED, Sony FS7 etc etc, the list goes on and on. Decent rigs typically cost quite a bit, there is nothing worse than working with some cheap half-arsed piece of junk, so you end up spending money. The problem with this is, these days you might only keep your camera a few years, before you need to upgrade, and then that really expensive rig you bought is now useless.
My second big gripe with most rigs is that they mount the camera too high on the shoulder. Older cameras were build with a curve where your shoulder would go. Newer cameras have flat bases, mount these on a rig and they are too high: they are both unstable as they are top heavy and the LCD or view-finder is then above your eye. It might only be an inch too high, but if your head has to look an inch or two up all day long, you will have one big pain in your neck at the end of a day.
At last it seems Zacuto have developed a great product that works on an absolutely massive variety of rigs, and will almost certaintly work with whatever freakish-shaped-box-of-a-camera that comes out in the future.
This just makes lots of sense. There are three things here: 1) You aren't mounting directly over the rods. This means you bring the camera slightly lower to the shoulder. 2) The area you can slide the camera backwards and forwards is massive. This is so useful, both to balance the camera on your shoulder, and even to find decent balance on a tripod. 3) Finally, this can be used on almost any camera out there. It isn't the cheapest bit of kit, so if I am investing in it, I want it to work on subsequent cameras.
Another feature I quite like is that it can be fixed to a normal base plate, these have been around for years because they work well and hold the camera to the tripod properly.
There is a whole lot from Zacuto that can be added on to this. There is the grip relocator for C300/100 users and there is also the Gratical evf. The Gratical is an awesome bit of kit. Best of all it can be mounted wherever you need it, so you aren't straining your neck.
The Gratical EVF isn't a cheap bit of kit, but then if you buy an OLED eyepiece from Sony for your F5/55 that isn't cheap either. The difference being that you can move your Gratical EVF onto any camera you are shooting and it will still work. Not so with proprietry viewfinders. There is also now a greater selection with the Gratical Eye. The Gratical Eye has the same inner workings as the Gratical HD, but has just an SD in and a lemo power connector. It is therefore a much smaller unit, but with the same quality image.
If you do a lot of shoulder work I'd say this rig is well worth a look.
I am not going to bang on about the features and specs, if you are interested check it out at Zacuto.
Three and half years ago I asked the same question: should I buy the new Canon C300? At that time the market was a very different place, many people were still shooting on DSLRs and the C300 solved many of the problems inherent in shooting video with a stills camera. The C300 mark ii enters a market awash with cameras that shoot 4k and high frame rates.
There are plenty of options out there. For those on a small budget, cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and Sony's A7s both shoot 4k and have good low light abilitiy. Blackmagic Design have entered the market and are supplying low cost 4k options like the URSA. If you need internal ND filters and the ability to plug in XLR cables you can pay a touch more and get the Sony FS7 that has incredible specs for the price: 4k and 180fps at 1080p for $8000! Move up the price range and there is the sturdier, PL mount, Sony F5/55 and plenty of options from RED.
At $16,000 (US price) the C300 mark ii is not a cheap option. When the camera was first announced many, myself included, were disapointed with the slow motion options. People are used to seeing iphones cranking out super slow motion and expected more from at $16K camera. The mark ii manages only 100fps PAL 120fps NTSC at 1080p using a senor crop. Using a crop to achieve slow motion can be annoying on a shoot. Not only do you have to set the camera to record slow motion, you also then have to change lenses or reposition as you will now be too far zoomed in on the shot you had.
Sony has gone some way to improve camera ergonomics. The F5/55 sit comfortably on the shoulder, and even the cheaper FS7 isn't bad at all with a dedicated eye peice and removable hand grip.
Having said this, up until now, all we have had to look at is stats, numbers on paper. The pictures the camera produces is really what matters. The people who pay my bills might occasionally require slow motion, but above all else I need to supply them with fantastic looking pictures. A couple of films were recently released that piqued my interest.
There was a lot I liked here. The dynamic range is obviously pretty impressive. Lots of shots straight into the sun and the camera really holds on to the detail in shadows. The skin tones looked great and I liked the colour and tones generally, especially inside the house.
If the first video got me mildly interested, this next one started to draw me in a bit.
It's the shots inside the Japanese house where the woman inside looks like she hasn't even been lit. Of course this is a video produced by Canon marketing and for all I know there could be a massive poly board bouncing some very subtle fill back on the actors face, but it doesn't look that way. Again the tones are stunning, soft natural and not at all vivid or video ish.
Although most of the footage looks like it was shot on a slightly overcast day, you can clearly see the sun is smashing through in this shot. The trees have shadows amongst them and shadows are being cast on the roof of the building opposite around the chimney. Yet, despite all this sunlight we aren't loosing too much detail in the trees and the actor's face is still look good in a dark, un lit room.
The next video that is well worth a look at is this one that shows of the Canon's auto focus function. Auto focus has always been something I associate with home video cameras from the 19080s, but this video might change that.
I had thought auto focus for video a horrible idea: motors constantly hunting for the focus point, rapidly shifting in and out of focus. This looks very different though. When the model turns away from the camera the face following software stops, and then picks her back up when she completes her turn. (this happens 1 minute in). The auto focus system doesn't freak out and focus on the pony tail or the back wall, it just sits and waits to pick the models face back up like a camera operator would. The face against the mirror trick is also very impressive (around 1:25). At first I thought I wouldn't have much use for a full auto focus system, but what about if the camera is mounted on a stabilised gimbal, or maybe on a jib? It could be a very useful function, if it works as well as this video suggests.
I am also interested in the dual pixel focus guide.(1:45) The amount of times directors have wanted a ridiculously difficult pull focus, where a presenter is walking towards camera whilst delivering their lines. The safe thing to do is stop down, but so often directors want to shoot wide open, not realising just how hard that pull will be when you are operating by yourself. Having an indicator that says whether you are focusing too far or to close from the subject could be very useful. Again, it is hard to say how this would work in a real life situation, but it is only a few months until the camera is out and reviews will start coming in.
Here is the full video without all the camera info
If you want to see the focus being tested out by someone other than the camera manufacturers, check Dan Chung at Newshooter.com The video is below and the full article can be found here.
I like the fact that focusing speed can be selected, and you can manually choose which person to focus on when there are two people in shot.
So what else has changed with the updated C300? I have covered this a bit in a previous article comparing the C300 mark ii to Sony's FS7 and F5, so I'll keep it brief.
1) The top handle has been improved. A single screw thread has been replaced by a much more solid offering.
2) All camera buttons now illuminate and make less noise when you push them.
3) A basic mic has been added so you can shoot without the LCD.
4) A new additional unit can be attached that take in audio, but without the LCD screen
5) The monitor cables are no longer hard wired
6) The whole camera is in a stronger diecast housing.
7) Extra ND added (8 and 10 stops)
8) 2k and 4k in camera
9) 4 channels of audio at 24 bit (previously 2 at 16bit)
10) 15 stops dynamic range
11) 120fps Slow mo (crop) at HD.
12) High ISO at 102400 Canon are saying the camera has great low light ability, and it that is almost certainly going to be true.
13) Built in "looks" to better match the C300 with other cameras such as Alexa, Sony F55 etc.
14) Records higher bit rate to faster cards to stop rolling shutter.
If you haven't seen it, the guys from Zacuto give a really good all round chat about what has changed with a representative from Canon. It's 25 mins long, but worth a look if the camera is on your radar.
So, to come back to my original question: is this camera is worth buying or not? I know there are going to be hoards of camera owners pulling their hair out here saying WHAT! $16K for a camera that under performs cameras that can be bought for half the price!! I know where they are coming from, it seems a little highly priced to me too. There are pluses the C300 mark2 will have against it rivals. In the broadcast world it has a fantastic reputation, massive amounts of TV has been shot on the C300. They have also proved themselves as absloutely rock solid. I have used mine solidly for three and a half years, I have lugged it all over the world and it hasn't given me any problems. This may not be true of RED or Blackmagic Design, but it is almost certainly the case with Sony's cameras as well, which I have also owned in the past.
My next comparison would be to Sony's F5, which shoots nice pictures, can be easily upgraded to shoot 4k. Despite being over 2 years old the F5 is still ahead of the C300 mark ii shooting 180fps. This is a hugely popular camera, particularly in the world of sports TV where high frame rates are often needed.
As a personal preference, I like the look so far of the C300 mark ii over the Sony F5, however, I prefer Sony's ergonomics and the way the F5/55 sits on your shoulder. The auto focus thing may be a gimic, but I'd certainly be keen to try it out, so far my impression has been that it looks pretty good. At very least the auto focus will be useful for gimbal and jib operating. The F5 is a bit more versatile when it comes to lenses. Being able to chuck a PL lens on when needed, and then switch over to an EOS lens with an adapter is another big plus for the F5.
The fact that a lot is currently shot on the C300, could push me towards the mark ii. If a documentary already has material shot by shooting APs on a C300, they may want their main camera to be the mark ii. The post production process is fairly well geared to the C300, but then that is also true of the Sony cameras as well.
In part my camera buying decisions are dictated by the desires of directors. To an extent I will persuade a director to shoot on a certain camera, but often people come to me and say "we really want to shoot on x" If people start to lean toward the C300 mark ii, I can well see myself buying one, for now I think I'll wait and see how the camera is received when it comes out in September.
The new Ronin M is half the weight of the original Ronin, it is designed specifically for smaller cameras, but the motors are strong enough to take fairly heavy set ups. My first question when this came out was "Will the Canon c300 work with the Dji Ronin M." Happily the answer is yes, so I immediately bought one.
As you can see, there is plenty of room around the sides of the camera, once you have removed the handle grip and the eyepiece (there is a locking screw on them underside of viewfinder).
With light prime lenses you can get full range of movement with the Ronin M. However, once you add heavier zoom lenses the camera becomes front heavy and you have to shift the baseplate back. This limits your tilt range somewhat, as the top of the camera the hits the back of the Ronin. This isnt a huge issue on some lenses as the angle you can get is still pretty steep.
This is the Tokina 11-16mm on maximum tilt up. It can tilt all the way down, but the back of the eyepiece area just touches the back of the Ronin M at this angle. Obviously, the heavier the lens the further you need to shift the camera plate back and the smaller the angle will be when you tilt up.
This is the 17-55mm, which is a pretty heavy image stabilized lens. This is at the maximum up tilt angle and the back of the camera is touching the Ronin at this point.
Lots of people own the 16-35mm, which I don't have, but to give you an idea the 16-35mm mark2 Canon weighs 640g (the mark 1 is slightly lighter), the 17-55mm weighs 645g so the angle will be pretty similar.
If you want to use heavier lenses and keep the full tilt range there is a solution from Cinemilled. Cinemilled have made tilt extension arms so you can lower the camera further, allowing you to tilt all the way up. There is already a thread on the bottom of the Ronin M tilt arms, so the Cinemilled arms will just screw straight in.
Audio options with the C300 on a Ronin gimbal.
The next issue to deal with on the C300 when pairing it up with the Ronin M is audio. There are a couple of options here. Firstly there is an audio input minijack just above the grip handle. You can't control the level of this to my knowledge, so you are going to end up with auto levels, good only as a guide track, but at least you will have something to synch to the sound recordist's audio. UPDATE - You can control the levels of the mini jack input inside the menu under audio. When you plug your radio mic receiver or any other mic using a mini jack cable, the auido options turn from grey to white on the camera menu and you can now set the audio levels.
A radio mic is pretty easy to mount on the cross bar with a hot shoe mount. I run a small mini jack to mini jack from my radio mic to the mic input on the camera.
The second option is to mount the C300 LCD unit to the cross bar. This does limit your range of movement somewhat and the motors will have to work a bit harder as they are swinging two thick cables around.
At present, the monitor mounting bracket from DJI (above) isn't availble in the UK. I have one on order from CVP, but orders seem backed up. There are a couple of mounting screw holes as you can see in the picture above. They are the normal 1/4" and 3/8" so you can attach a monitor directly to it, or via a Noga arm, ball mount or simliar so you can move the monitor about. I'll probably mount my TV logic 5.6 via a noga arm here, as it is a light monitor. There is a similar DJI mount out for the original Ronin, but it is slightly larger, as the Ronin has a wider bar. Again, Cinemilled have a shim for this if you want to use the original Ronin monitor mount. I also have also ordered a very thin BNC to allow the unit to move freely.
In the meantime I have ordered this 3rd party solution from Amazon:SMALLRIG Clamp Mount V2 w/ Ball Head Cold Shoe Mount and CoolClamp. This is wide enough to fit on to the Ronin M bar and also has a cold shoe, so I could mount the C300 LCD if needed. The cold shoe screws into a ball head on a 1/4 inch mount so I can remove the cold shoe and screw directly into a monitor instead. There are lots of other mounting options from Small Rig on Amazon.
After hours of playing around with various configurations I mounted the C300 LCD on the cross bar of the Ronin M with the Small Rig clamp.
This worked well enough, except the LCD cables are only just long enough, limiting your camera tilt moves somewhat. (they are just long enough to pan left and right.)
You could also use a magic arm, I played around with my Noga arm and got the LCD to just about work, like this.
The trick to making this work is getting the cables as close as possible to the camera. The best configuration I worked out was to put the LCD further back. Every milimeter helps here as the cables are not quite long enough.
On the whole I think I will stick to using my 5.6 TV logic monitor with an extra thin BNC cable. I don't like the idea of using the LCD as I think it will only be a matter of time before the cables get damaged using them in this way. For the occasional situation where you don't have a sound recordist and audio is essential, this would work, but for more extreme moves and better control, the seperate monitor is definitely the best solution. Below you can see my TV logic 5.6 mounted to the Ronin with a portabrace cover to provide a sun shade.
Also worthwhile, I have put on a thin BNC cable to keep the weight down and improve manoeuvrability. It is also worth having a right angle bnc connector to keep the cables in the right place.
Another good thing about pairing the C300 with the Ronin M is the fact that the hand grip can be relocated. Since you have to take the hand grip off anyway, it makes sense to mount it onto the Ronin M and that way you will have record on and off control and iris or ISO control. To do this you will need a grip relocatator from Zacutto together with a clamp like the one above and a screw in spud from Redrock or Zacuto make a "zud". The Spud or zud serves to connect the zacuto 15mm rod clamp to the 3party clamp. For more info on how to do this check out Cinema 5d
Lots more to come with the Ronin M. I'll be posting something about the settings and hopefully get some video footage up before too long.