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What is the Dynamic Range on the Canon C300 Mark II?

Dynamic Range of the C300 Mark II

The EOS C300 Mark II has a class leading dynamic range, with 15 stops just like its older brother the EOS C700. However, the dynamic range is not evenly distributed in terms of over under, so it’s important to understand how to expose best for this camera. 

The dynamic range of the C300 Mark II, documented
The dynamic range of the C300 Mark II, documented

First, you have to choose your gamma profile. Canon now has three profiles for you to choose from - C Log, C Log 2, and C Log 3. To maximize the dynamic range recorded in your camera, C Log 2 will be the best choice. It is purpose-built to be as flat and gradable as possible and leaves more power in the hands of the colorist than either of its companions. Just note that this will also have the noisiest shadows out of all the curves because of how deep it digs in and pulls out information. Check out the comparing Canon Logs video for more information on making this decision.

Secondly, you will need to pay attention not just to the /total/ dynamic range, but also to how it splits above and below a normal exposure of 18% grey. In this chart from Canon USA, we see the C300 Mark II preserves about 2.5 stops more in the shadows than in the highlights. This means you will only have 6 stops separating a neutrally-lit subject from absolute blown-out whiteness - compared to the 8.7 stops in the shadows.. Light and expose your scene accordingly. While I typically protect for highlight information, if more of the relevant information is contained in the lower exposure range, make sure you expose for that properly.

The Sensitometric characteristic with increasing ISO settings for the C300 Mark II camera
The Sensitometric characteristic with increasing ISO settings for the C300 Mark II camera

ISO Matters

Possibly the most important fact you’ll learn from this chart above is that as you go lower than ISO 800, you start to lose highlight protection, meaning things will clip sooner. If you are going outside, you’ll want to fight that urge you may have to lower your ISO to reduce noise. My rule of thumb is if there’s any uncontrollable highlights in the shot, I shoot at ISO 800 - but if I were to be on a controlled stage where I can light every inch of it the way I want - I might even consider shooting at something like 400 ISO. Going one step further, if I’m shooting soemthing like a green screen key where I have a very small dynamic range, I might even shoot at ISO 200 (0dB) to get the cleanest key possible.

In Conclusion

This camera will deliver a rich dynamic range in a wide variety of shooting conditions if you just know how to work with it a little. That means keeping an eye on your Native ISO, using the built-in ND filters to compensate when needed, and exposing your shots in the way that Canon intended the C300 Mark II to be used.