WATCH LIVE, AUGUST 23rd, 10AM EST
TL;DR: XLR Audio, Power/Rigging, and Focus Tracking…
Where we came from and where we’re going
As a filmmaker and photographer, I spent many years building up a collection of EF-mount lenses. The crossover of photo-video utility was only partly a financial consideration. It was mostly about the simplification of transportation, storage, and inventory management.
Back in the glory days of Canon 5DmkII (hushed tone…basically celluloid), filmmakers would franken-rig it with another blockbuster indie device: the Zoom H4n. The 2-channel XLR input ran on two AA’s and had appalling battery life. It was an anxious device to use.
The Zoom H6 that followed was much more robust. It still sits in my kit to this day as a backup audio recorder. But for small gigs, such as an interview setup, it never solved the need for balanced audio inputs direct to tape. (“tape”…)
Enter the Canon Cinema line, accepting EF glass and XLR inputs.
We rented the C300 a lot for commercial and doc work, and C100 for cheaper multicam event work. I finally purchased the C200 back in 2017 and enjoyed the crossover compatibility with the EF glass from my 5D3/4 series of photography bodies.
With Canon transitioning to the new RF-mounts since 2018, it placed the lineage of EF investments in a peculiar position. EF glass can be adapted to RF camera bodies, but not vice versa. Therefore, as I continue to purchase new RF lenses, my C200 is obsolete.
I never fell in love with the C70 due to its smaller sensor size, “DSLR-body” shape, and mini-XLR inputs.
But the Canon R5C… now there’s an interesting proposition.
The new Hybrid King for the decade
This moment harkens back to the 2008 Canon 5DmkII days, when a photo camera declared it was more than a single image.
The Canon R5C is a 45-megapixel beast smiling at you like Inigo Montoya in a sword fight – the “C” portion of “R5” declaring it is not left-handed, but rather 8K60p RAW.
It gives me what I need as a photographer, and as a filmmaker, the codecs alone outstrip my C200.
However, while it works as promised out-of-the-box in photo mode, there’s one major crippling factor to the R5C being a Cinema boy-wonder (person-wonder): power.
It just burns through juice. Brand new LPE6NH batteries are supposed to give 40-min, but in the real world it’s more like 25-min… even if you’re not recording (Canon: firmware update??). And if you put in an older gen LPE6N battery, you’ll be lucky to get 5-10min.
Remember that anxiety-inducing Zoom H4n recorder?
With that in mind, on today’s livestream we will look at three tips to turn the Canon R5C into a pro video camera.
TIP #1: PRO AUDIO with TASCAM XLR
I’m not sure I love the Tascam CA-XLR2d hotshoe adapter just yet, but so far it does bring in XLR input into the Canon R5C as promised.
The design feels plasticy and cheap, it’s too big (and yet too small), and there is no digital meters or feedback that you are hitting levels correctly. There’s not even any feedback in the Canon menu to let you know the hotshoe is seated correctly.
I wouldn’t put too much weight on it, and it’s disappointing that it cuts out the possibility of a top handle, unlike the Sony FX3 handle.
I’ve also heard anecdotally from friends who own the unit that unplugging microphones while the phantom power is on can fry the unit… goodbye $500.
The two main pros are: power via the camera (one less power source to manage, phew!), and all the physical buttons are easy to access.
(The other pro is that when you remove the Tascam unit it, there’s no added bulk to a photo stills body…)
This audio device is in the category of Gets The Job Done. Here’s an affiliate link in case my tepid response hasn’t put you off:
- TASCAM CA-XLR2d (Amazon)
TIP #2: POWER & RIGGING
This one will cover a couple of areas for getting around the R5C’s power limitations, including on a gimbal, on an interview rig, and for live streaming, so you’d better tune in!
Here’s the gear we’ll cover:
- DJI RS3 Pro Combo Gimbal (Amazon)
- Zitay LP-E6 Dummy Battery for DJI RS2/RS3 (Amazon)
- FXLION Nano Two 98Wh V-Mount Battery (Amazon)
- SmallRig Mini V-Lock (Amazon)
- SmallRig Nato Clamp (Amazon)
- SmallRig Base Plate (Amazon)
- SmallRig 12-inch 15mm Rods (Amazon)
TIP #3: FOCUS TRACKING
This tip is more of a general how-to, but understanding how the focus works on the R5C is critical to understand to avoid chasing your tail on set.
When you have the focus modes dialed in, you will make the most out of the camera, whether running with a gimbal or dialing in a super-shallow DOF during an interview, and can instantly switch between auto/manual, eye-tracking/ point-tracking.
Many people are familiar with the R5 photo menu’s approach to focusing – the capability is also there in the Cinema menu, you just need to know what to look for in the setup.
Any questions about Canon R5C or my studio setup?
Ask me live on air…
See you at the top of the hour!