Basic video production with the Canon C100

Nick Geidner
8 min readJan 30, 2019


This guide was made for students in my documentary production course, who have access to the C100 through the JEM equipment room.

Note: For the time being, Clint Elmore, the school’s video production specialist, is keeping the C100 kits in his office and not in the main equipment room. You will have to email him [celmore at] to set up times to get the C100 kits. Additionally, you can stop by his office, Communication Building 294.

The Canon C100 mii

In the Box

When you check out a C100 kit from the equipment room, it will come with the following accessories:

  1. Canon L-series 24–105
  2. Rode Filmmaker Wireless Lav Mic Kit
  3. Rode NTG4 Shotgun Mic
  4. Manfrotto Tripod
  5. Canon BP-xxx Battery

Please make sure everything is in working condition before you leave the equipment room.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The equipment room does not provide SD cards in either the C100 or 6D kits. You must provide your own.

Starting It Up

In this section, I’ll run through everything you need to think of when you turn on the C100.

The power switch on the Canon C100

First, you need to decide what equipment you need. As you’ll see when you open up the hard case, the camera comes disassembled. You will need to decide how you want to put it together.

Start by asking yourself what lens you need for the shoot at hand? The 24–105 that comes in the kit should be good for most general shooting, but sometime you might want to use something else. For example, we have a set of Rokinon cine prime lens, which are great for using on sit-down interviews or for cinematic supporting footage. Regardless, pick the appropriate lens and throw it on. Match red dot to red dot (see picture above) and give it a quarter turn clockwise. It should lock in place.

Next you need to decide what mics you want. You have three options:

  1. Internal mic on the C100 — While I appreciate that the C100 has an internal mic, it should really only be used to synch audio. In a crunch, you can use the built-in mic for background, natural sound, but that’s it.
  2. Shotgun mic — This mic is going to be perfect for collecting natural sounds in a scene. You can also use it for some actuality interviews, when close to the subject. Additionally, if you checked out a boom kit, you can use the shotgun mic on the boom for literally all your sound.
  3. Wireless lav mic — This mic is great for your sit-down interviews (though going with boom + shotgun will give you better sound), actuality interviews, and for catching clean audio of your subject in non-interview situations (e.g., interacting with other people at a location).

If you want to use any of the external mics, you will need to attach the C100 handle, which includes 2 XLR inputs. The handle screws into the hotshoe on the C100 body. Once you attach the handle, connect the cable coming out of the side of the handle into the external mic jack on the side of the camera (see picture below).

#Protip: Do not force anything. If the screw isn’t turning right or the cable isn’t going in right, do not try to force it. You will break it, and you will be on the hook to pay for its replacement.

Attaching the mic cable from the handle to the camera

Now that you go it setup, you can go ahead and turn it on. Turn the power switch up to the “Camera” mode. I won’t cover it in this, but if you wanted to review your footage in the camera you would turn the power switch to the “Media” setting.

Regardless, once you turn on the camera, the monitor should look something like the below picture. I know a bit daunting, but we can walk through the important parts.

C100 Monitor
  1. Battery display — How much battery you have left.
  2. Card display — There are no cards in the camera right now. When you put a card in, the A or B boxes will turn green and then it will say how much time you have left on the card in the current shooting settings.
  3. Exposure settings — Down in this corner of the monitor, you can find all your current exposure settings, including: white balance (AWB; 2600 K), aperture/iris (F4.0), film speed/gain (ISO 2500), and shutter speed (1/48).
  4. Audio levels — The bars will light up, showing you your audio level for each channel. If they aren’t moving or they sitting up in the red you have a problem. I cover the fix below.
  5. Format — This information will tell you what format you are shooting, including your frame rate. Currently, I am shooting at 24 frames per second.

Changing Exposure Settings

Below you’ll find a brief explainer of each of the different exposure setting and instructions on how to adjust them.

White Balance

The C100 offers manual, automatic and a number of preset white balance option. But before we go over that:

What is white balance? Not all light is the same color. Sunlight is blueish (or cool or 5600 degrees Kelvin) and an incandescent light is yellowish (or warm or 3200 degrees Kelvin). Because of the variability of light, we need to tell the camera the color or temperature of the light we are shooting in. The camera will then adjust everything to compensate.

The C100 has various white balance modes. I use four of them:

Side of a dirty C100
  1. AWB — Auto white balance — the camera decides everything for you. The camera in the photo above is set to auto white balance. The AWB square, by the point #3, indicates that the camera in the photo above is set to auto white balance.
  2. K — Manual white balance — you set the white balance by entering the specific color temp you want (e.g., 3200 K).
  3. A — User preset 1 — you can set and store a white balance based on a given scene
  4. B — User preset 2 — you can set and store a white balance based on a given scene

You get to these different modes by pushing the “WB” button on the side of the camera (#1 in photo) and then using the joystick on the monitor (#2 in photo) or the handle to move between the modes.

If you choose the manual mode (e.g., K), you enter the color temp you want by using the joystick to pick the K mode, then move over to the temp — 3300 in the picture — , and then move up or down to the correct temp.

If you choose one of the user preset modes, you use the joystick to choose the “A” or “B” mode and then while pointing at something white in your scene holding in the second white balance button (#3 in the photo).

Adjusting aperture/iris

All you need to do to adjust the aperture on the C100 is scroll the dial on the handle — right behind the record button.

Additionally, on the side of the camera you have a “Push Auto Iris” button, which automatically set the iris for you when you push the button.

Note: This is for any lens where the camera has control of the iris. If you are using one of the Rokinon cinema lens or another manual lens, you will control the iris by rotating the iris ring one the camera.

Adjusting shutter speed and ISO/gain

You adjust the shutter speed and the ISO the same way, so I’ll deal with them at once. For either all that you is hold in the corresponding button (#13 or #14 in the picture above) and then use the joystick to adjust up or down.

Adjusting audio levels

You can see the audio levels on the monitor, but you do all the adjusting of your audio levels on the handle. I will assume that for everything in this class you will be using some kind of external mic. Once you plug in your mic into the XLR port on the other side of the handle, you will have to mess with the controls outlined in the picture below.

  1. Audio level for Channel 1 — The dial and switches labeled 1 to 4 are all for Channel 1 settings. The dial labeled #5 and the switches below it are all for Channel 2. [Sidenote: The C100 and most other camera allow for two channel recording. This could be used for a single stereo mic, recording an individual right and left channel or — and how we generally use it — to record from two separate mono microphones like a shotgun and a lav.]
  2. Auto or manual — Do you want the audio levels to be set manually or automatically? Generally I use manual.
  3. What type of input are you using? — This switch tells the camera what type of input you are using and if it needs to send power to the input. If you are getting audio from a source that is already amplified (i.e., most sources other than a mic, like a soundboard or mult-box), then you choose “Line.” If you using a mic with a battery (e.g., the wireless lavs), choose “Mic.” If you are using a mic without a battery (e.g., the shotgun mic), the camera will have to send power to the mic so choose “Mic +48V.”
  4. Int or Ext — This switch tells the camera if you are getting audio from the internal mic or an external source. This should be set to “Ext” for most of your work in this class.


This guide should get you started with the C100. The best thing you can do is keep checking it out and practicing with it. Additionally, the C100 has a huge user base, so the answer for any question you could ever have about the C100 is only a Google away.

Finally, remember! When putting together any of the equipment, do not force anything. If you are using anything more than a little bit of effort to connect parts of the camera or lights, you are probably doing it wrong and are about to break something.



Nick Geidner

Associate Professor of Journalism and Director of Land Grant Films (@LandGrantFilms) at the University of Tennessee.