Alex Van Wagner, Independent Cinematographer /
03.20.2013 04:58 PM
Canon Cameras Provide Cinematic ‘Look’

Alex Van Wagner
HOLLYWOOD—As the segment director and main DP/cinematographer on a network TV reality/talent series, I work with multiple crews and cameras in shooting a number of two-camera location interviews that document the “journey” of each contestant/performer from their first appearance on the show to their last.

These interviews require us to get a large-frame cinematic look while at the same getting more bang for the buck. We found the best solution was Canon’s EOS C300 camera with Canon EF lenses. This combination provides great images while also being cost-effective.

Stage segments are shot in traditional TV style with another camera system operating in 60i. Our Canon EOS C300 location interviews are shot in 30p (29.97 fps), and even though we were mixing progressive and interlace scans, these two HD frame rates intercut very nicely. The C300 is very intuitive and user-friendly, and its menus are simple and easy to navigate. When I put experienced camera operators on the C300 for the first time, they could figure everything out right away.

Another nice thing about the Canon EOS C300 is its low-light performance. We shot at ISO 2,000 and the images looked great. I even turned the C300 up to ISO 10,000 and was pleasantly surprised. Also, the ability of the C300 camera to shoot in Canon Log gamma gives you all the latitude you need to shoot a “digital negative.” You can bring your content back into post and create the look you want with your online editor. We take a lot of care with our visuals both in the field and in post, and the C300’s Canon Log mode and workflow convenience makes this that much easier.

The number of lenses that Canon offers (as well as all the other compact primes available for use with the EOS C300) and the flexibility to use so many different lenses for interviews and B-roll has greatly enhanced our creativity. The Canon EF 70-200 mm f2.8 L IS II USM telephoto zoom is a favorite of mine and we used it a lot for interviews; otherwise, the compact primes are our go-tos for interviews. I own several, including the 85, 50, and the 35, which are my favorites. Then there’s the ability to put a super wide-angle lens or a tilt-shift lens on the camera; with the C300 all you have to do is to put on the Canon TS-E 45 mm tiltshift and you’ve got a great look.

Our aim was to make the show as cinematic as possible—a visual experience, and not just a story experience. The Canon EOS C300 helped make that possible. If you want a real full-frame look, the depthof- field you can get with the camera is fantastic. Canon has taken everything that its EOS 5D Mark II digital HD-SLR camera did really well and made it even better with the C300.

Alex Van Wagner is a Hollywoodbased cinematographer specializing in documentaries and reality TV series. He may be contacted at

For additional information on the Canon EOS 300 camera and Canon Cinema lenses, call 855-246-3367 or visit; for information on Canon EF-Series lenses visit

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