I have a C200 and recently just worked on a short spot shot in 12bit raw and during the import, I realized it was optimizing the media. So my question is, does FCPX optimize Red .r3d files but retain the raw settings? If I input Canon raw files and FCPX optimizes the files, am I getting any benefits of raw other than bit depth and chroma? I know I can choose not to optimize or create proxy files and I did a test with original media. I was not able to pull back an overexposed sky using FCPX color tools. This would be a simple task using .r3d or CinemaCNG files in Resolve.
Basically, how do you maximize raw from the C200 in FCPX? What does FCPX do to Canon raw files in the background?
Well if it optimized to ProRes RAW then yes you'd still get the RAW benefits. Otherwise no. Is it? I was toying with the idea of getting a C200, but now I'm considering a C300 as it can be paired with an external Atomos drive to record directly to ProRes RAW.
Well it's supposed to have native Canon raw support in FCPX 10.4 and up. I haven't used it yet, so I can't confirm, but if it does indeed have native raw support, you should be able to fully utilize your raw. For r3d, you have that extra panel where you can tell it how to interpret your raw with the typical RED settings. Not sure how Canon does it for C200, but theoretically it should have just the normal controls in the inspector pane. Are you sure you don't have a LUT applied that's clamping down your footage? FCPX usually tries to be smart about most formats and will apply a LUT if it recognizes the metadata.
After inspecting the transcoded media I can confirm that it is ProRes 4444 not ProRes RAW. It seems logical that at some point Cinema Raw Light files would be transcoded to ProRes RAW but maybe that's not how ProRes RAW works.
Visually, I did not notice a difference between non-transcoded Cinema Raw Light files and those that were transcoded to ProRes4444. However, neither of these files grade and perform like .r3d or Blackmagic raw files. Especially in the highlights.
Seems like native Canon RAW support does work if you have the plugin. It doesn't seem to have controls like for RED files, since it seems to tag it for Clog2 by default, but it does seem to be raw.
But as you say you've had those clips optimized to ProRes 4444 so when you link back to the finder, you'll get those as ProRes. No idea why the optimization doesn't go to ProRes RAW which would make sense.
As for why you didn't notice a visual difference between the two, it's probably because your Canon RAW files were tagged for something like Clog2, so it's the "default" color/gamma for your clips. When FCPX optimizes the clip, it turns it into ProRes 4444 with Clog2. And ProRes 4444 with a log profile is still pretty great for color grading, but obviously it doesn't have all the information of RAW.