Note – 2016/07/10: Please see my new post, Handles, Plates, and Shoes, on quick-release rail options for the C300.
I have had my Canon C300 for almost two years and it seems that it has taken about that long for certain accessories to sort themselves out. Looking around my studio I realized that I had three types of rails for connecting the body to Arca-Swiss standard quick release clamps and three types of hoods for the camera’s monitor.
None of these are expensive or what one would term major accessories but they are things that you are likely to use daily so it is important that they function efficiently.
When the C300 first came out there were no hoods for its display. The Hoodman HD450 was a close fit so it worked for the time being. The problem was it wasn’t quite big enough and its design (needing a velcro connection on one side plus a pair of thin elastic velcro straps) was wanting. The hood would often end up a slightly squashed parallelogram because it wouldn’t sit correctly.
You can’t really fault Hoodman for the above as the HD450 was not designed to work with the C300.
Next up was the Petrol PA1016. A nice try but still not quite there. Its design is a bit fussy, it requires both a strap to hold it on and strap + clasp to hold it in shape. The strap wrapping around the display is too thin so the hood can rotate off axis. It is also shallow in depth so Petrol includes a hard plastic extender. With the extender mounted you cannot rotate the display into the down position. The plastic extender is too long and you would have to remove the hood regardless to reorient it with the extender on the top.
Stepping in more recently is the Hoodman HD Hood for the Canon C300. It’s simple and well designed. It holds its shape, it’s perfectly sized, and its large strap keeps it in position.
The hoods above are all between $24.99 and $39.99. The hoods for the C300 also fit the C500.
While I use the C300 for its quality and professional features (built-in NDs, xlr’s, waveform, peaking, viewfinder, etc.) I run it as if it’s a dslr, preferring to keep it as stripped down as possible. I don’t use a follow-focus or a matte box. So, I don’t need a base plate or 15mm rods. In the same vein, I don’t need an old school large ENG video quick release system to mount the camera but I do need something… My camera is often bouncing between handheld, a monopod, a tripod, a slider and a jib.
Coming from the stills world I was already a longtime user of Really Right Stuff clamps (RRS) which utilize the Arca-Swiss standard. In the past couple of years some video grip equipment manufacturers have adopted the same standard creating clamps and rails which are interchangeable.
My preference for clamps is currently Kessler’s Kwik Release. While similar to a RRS clamp it has more mounting points and a snap-in design.
Kessler, RRS, and more recently Zacuto make rails which fit the Kwik Release. Similar to the hoods above, they all work, but they all differ slightly.
Seen above are – the Kessler Kwik Short Camera Plate. It comes with two ¼”-20 screws. The Zacuto QR Dovetail. It comes with a ⅜” and a ¼”-20 mounting screw. And the RRS MPR-113 Rail. It comes with two ¼”-20 screws.
All three come with catches, seen on the bottom, which prevent the rail+camera from sliding out of the Kwik Release. The Zacuto is the lowest profile and the lightest. The Kessler is the highest profile and also the shortest. Pricing ranges from $29.95 for the Kessler to $55 for the RRS.
Which one is just right? For me it’s the RRS MPR-113. Its length is a perfect match to the bottom of the C300. It doesn’t extend beyond the body in the front, keeping the body comfortable to handhold. Its shape and size keep the C300 relatively balanced if you set it down on a flat surface.
The Kessler Kwik Short Camera Plate is a bit too tall and a bit too short. It leaves the C300 rocking and rolling too much when you set it down. Kessler does make a longer plate but it’s a bit too long. It would extend beyond the body and it would still be a bit shaky side to side.
The Zacuto plate almost feels too light. It also didn’t not appear to sit 100% flat on my C300. I don’t know if that was because of the rubber pads built into it or its thinner design but when screwing it down it seemed to leave the back end a bit higher than the front.
The Zacuto QR Dovetail comes with both a ⅜” and a ¼”-20 screw, matching the base of the C300. The RRS MPR-113 rail and the Kessler Kwik Short Plate both need a ⅜” to ¼”-20 reducer bushing to mount their rails.