Canon C300 – the ultimate low light test with Rodney Charters, Drew Gardner and Lan Bui

by Lan Bui on January 3, 2012

This video is what i will consider the ultimate low light test for the Canon C300.

Rodney Charters, Drew Gardner and Lan Bui (me) spent New Year’s eve hanging out in the countryside of England… we had a few drinks, ate delicious food and then shot this non scientific test for low light with the Canon C300. Rodney shoots a lot of TV stuff and has much more knowledge than I do on how good this test really is. I was blown away at how well we were able to see Drew when we lit him with just an iPad. Yes thats right we lit a person with just an iPad and shot it with a C300. Now some of you might we thinking it is unrealistic to actually use an iPad in a production to light something. I’m not going to tell you if it is right or wrong… but it is a possibility.

This test really shows off what lighting packages can be stripped down to… literally the minimum things you have laying around. I love when Rodney asks for a flashlight then realizes he has a light in his pocket and we then use his iPhone to light C300 footage.

Then I look at the footage I just wonder what it could look like graded by someone good. So if you are someone that wants to see how far you can push a grade with 20,000 ISO footage out of the Canon C300 lit by an iPad and an iPhone… let me know. I’ll send you the pro res files.

So here is the ultimate low light test with the Canon C300 setup:
Canon C300
ISO 20,000
Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L lens
f/2.8 aperture
1/25th shutter (360 degree)
Canon Log Gamma (Cinema lock mode)

So… just after this ultimate Canon C300 low light test we sat around some whisky and talked for about an hour about filmmaking, the C300 and so much more… I will be posting that stuff in the next few days. Stay tuned.

Follow me on twitter now for more stuff like this!

  • ohno studio

    Drew looks like an unwilling prisoner ;-) While I would never base a buying decision on something like this, it is an excellent test to show what might be possible for production incorporation.

    On any new camera I get, still or video, I usually perform 4 tests of my own – one for what is usually perceived as normal using the same subject every time, one for how the cam handles highlights, then two low light tests. On the low light tests, I conjure some conditions that could be called “realistic” low light. Something like a birthday cake in low room light with people. And then I’ll take things down to the max. On the newer cams, the area of bare bones usefulness for low light usually falls somewhere in between.

    • Lan Bui

      Unwilling prisoner or kind of drank a few glasses of wine…? Haha! Maybe both!!!

      Great comment, yes, testing yourself before you buy is very highly recomended.

  • Joel Bergvall

    I’d love to get a hold of the raw footage and push it around with some color correction. Please shoot me an email at and check me out at



    • Lan Bui

      I’ll upload it today!

  • Anonymous

    Bunch o’ malarkey about the iPad. I shot a night beach scene on a Canon T2i lit with a bonfire (fish oil), two iPhones and one of those headband LED work lights…each gaffed to sticks and buried in the sand to give the actors catchlight and separation from the moonlit sea. Feature film. A super-duper-cheap feature film.

    • Lan Bui

      Woah, that is cool.

      Post a link to the video here! I want to see!

      • Anonymous

        I’ll do it as soon as I can. I was looking for any BTS pics to show the setup. The bonfire is what lit the scene, but the LED lights added the extra “umph” (same color temp as moonlight). I remember the moon reflection highlights let us know the ocean was behind the actor, the bonfire lit him as he sat on the ground, the headband LED and iPhones hit his shoulders and hair for separation. I think I remember wrapping CTO around my iPhone’s LED and using that as a catchlight on close-ups…I THINK…it could also have been a flashlight. Still…I was fond of the idea of having shot the world’s first completely T2i-shot feature…only to have it disappear into post-production oblivion. It was called Wasted Away. Apparently, so. I’ll keep looking. I was really proud of my little Canon and I know the C300 would be a fantastic tool! Thanks for the great vids, btw!

        • Lan Bui

          Sounds like it would be great to dust off and finish if you have time… The T2i is still a relevant camera!

          Many of our projects should have also been named Wasted Away…

          • Anonymous

            I would if they gave me the footage! Still, I got to live on the beach for two weeks with a great cast and crew. I’ve shot with Epic, CineAlta, Varicam, 5DMkII and everything else, but my little T2i is still my weapon of choice for micro budget indies. It’s like the 7D, but without the freak out when sand gets on it…

        • Lan Bui

          Oh, and I’m glad you are enjoying the videos!

  • Studio56k

    I think this is effing BRILLIANT! What I love, is that you are having fun pushing the bounties of a camera and enjoying the results. It also lets you know that maybe, you wouldn’t shot a film this way, but you can create amazing images with more creativity and less gear that ever before. For those who love creating images and telling stories this so remarkable and freeing. Thank you for sharing your NYE/NYD with us. I would love to hang out with you guys at 2am shooting tests.

  • Dlevine

    would love to do some grading on it, email it over to

  • Hanno di Rosa

    Great blog m8! Enjoyed listening to the talk and how an old expert said it once more: the rules are there to be broken! What exciting times we got coming up, new cameras which scare the old hands, generator trucks on epain…

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