Out of the Black: BlackMagic`s new Cinema Camera – why they got it right, but so wrong

Some of the things that really created quite a rumble at NAB this year was Black Magic´s Cinema Camera. I´m not gonna list the tech specs, since most folks that read my blog already know them by heart (for everyone else, look them up on the BM site). I want to share my thoughts, why BM took a step in the right direction, but on the false foot.

I love BM. We use their video-cards and products since SD days in everyday postproduction and I never had a problem with the hardware. Build and signal quality is outstanding and they made a lot of stuff available and affordable for smaller facilities and even self contained film makers.

I trust them to develop and bolt together everything that has a video signal going trough, but they are definitely not camera guys yet.

What I want to say is, they have not much experience, in what it means and takes, to wrangle a camera in the field or on the set everyday.

You can easily see that at things like, all the connectors on the wrong side. Bummer!
They poke right in your ear or face, if you have the camera on the shoulder. Especially the longer audio plugs.

The handles BM provides are nice but useless. Do you really want to hold the camera with both hands (tourist style) in front of you? How do you control focus or iris? Let one hand go? Bad idea.

That brings me to iris control on EF glass. Do you really want to dig into a touchscreen menu just to change your aperture? (I herd they changed that now to buttons on the back).

Next thing is the mount. And yeah a lot of guys where whining, that they can´t use their precious Canon glass with anything else than Canon. But hey, BM announced a CINEMA camera. CINEMA like in PL mount. So we have a cinema camera that doesn’t mount the industry standard of cinema glass.

But if BM is smart, they make an universal mount, with a super short flange distance (like the e-mount) and sell adapters for everything and the kitchen sink. So people can adopt about every glass on the planet. That´s what I would call “open”.

Talking about “being open”. The SSDs must be MAC (HFS+) formated. All software I tried, to make my PC talk (and format) HFS+, seriously screwed up my system and the transfer was slower than with NTFS on the same hardware.
ExFAT – like ATOMOS does it – that would have been be “open”.

The Camera comes with Resolve and Ultrascope. Problem is, you only can use Ultrascope if you have a laptop with thunderbolt (aka Apple). What´s wrong with USB3? I got a Black Magic UltraStudio SDI and it works just great with USB3 on my Dell laptop. And BM offers a USB3 version of Ultrascope. But no, they (again) have that Apple centric approach.

And what do you gonna do with that Thunderbolt? Download the SSDs? Can´t imagine a DP downloading material from his camera while the rest of the crew, director and actors stand by. Come on – you gonna pop out the SSD and hand it over to your DIT or stick it in a Peli case for later transfer.

So what else? You can plug the camera via Thunderbolt in to your laptop and look at the curves of Ultrascope or even capture the material, skipping the need of a SSD – as long as you have one in your laptop (cause a HDD will be to slow) – and hopefully you are not planning to capture on your system drive? Do you? Bad idea!

So I can imagine a former Canon MKII shooter, that has upgraded to the BM Cinema Camera, holding the camera in one hand, the laptop in the other hand, on his back a rucksack with a raid and ether a ton of batteries or he tows an AC-generator behind him, on a little red wagon. I know, thats exaggerated, but you get the picture, when I say “they are no camera guys yet”?

Form factor is about the same as any DSLR. That means nothing if you are on a tripod, but if you want to go hand held, you need some sort of rig. The same dilemma a lot of guys face these days. They want super small and lightweight (what they call “ergonomic”) but at the same time they see, that most of their material is so shaky that they can throw it away. You need mass. There is no free lunch, no way around and no way to stretch the physics, you need mass, and you need it on your shoulder, if you go freestyle.
That means you need a rig, and while at it, you need a monitor, to see what you shooting at. And there comes the batteries, a follow focus, a matte box andwhatnot. There you have it. The super small and lightweight camera sits in a huge rig and you finally can go shoulder shooting – stable and smooth, like we did in the 90s with our Digibetas. But now it´s not small and lightweight anymore.

There is a touchscreen and some buttons on the rear (where you want to mount your V-mount battery, but that´s an other story). That might be workable on a tripod, but on the shoulder its a pain in the ass. I understand that they can add features or change things better in firmware that way – even some things that would be impossible with hardware buttons, but some barebone switches in better places would be really nice.
My FS100 has buttons (some even assignable) all over the place, and I can use them blind, instead of fumbling my way trough menus.

One thing that is really annoying is the build in battery. I know you can run the camera on external sources, but the battery always gets charged and uncharged. So how many cycles does it last that way? What happens when it is toast? Can you just open the housing and pop in a new one, or do you have to break out the soldering iron? Actually you have to send the camera in, to have the battery changed.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and actually I dont give a damn what my camera looks like. As long as it delivers the images I want, they can make it out of cardboard and duct tape. On the other hand, everyone likes sexy gear. I´m not a RED fanboy, but I´m a fan of RED´s tactical design.
When my girlfriend saw the BM camera (and she really don´t cares about cameras) she laughed and said: “This looks like something Mickey Mouse could have used, like a camera out of a kids comic book”.

Well I would not go that far, but this pseudo 70s Ikea design is not really appealing to me. The only thing that´s missing is some fake leather applications.
To me, it looks like they try to match their gear to Apple products so that they sit beautiful and nicely between MacBooks and iPhones, instead of coming up with some original design. But maybe their chef designer is just a big Apple fan. Who knows?

So what is this camera for?

Run and gun?
Probably not. You run out of battery quickly, so you need an external battery that mounts where? So you need a rig – you need that anyway, if you want it on the shoulder. But on the shoulder you can´t control aperture, because of the touchscreen on the back. Let´s say you hold it in your hands (both hands) – now you can´t control aperture and focus, unless you have a third hand. (3 handed DPs are a small market, i guess). Even if you have a third hand, there is no aperture readout on the screen – and no, there is no auto-focus ether – glad you asked. Maybe you want sound. But you don´t have audio levels on screen during recording and the plugs are poking in your face, while you search for a place to mount your microphone. A powered microphone, I might add, cause there is no phantom power ether. Also you only have Histogram/Waveform if you carry a Thunderbolt Laptop with you. Not what I would call a run&gun configuration.

As Mike Curtis wrote in his Article on PVC:

However, BMD’s experience is in the above listed kudos. What they DON’T have experience in, and it shows, is making a physical device where the ergonomics, the physical human interaction is critical -and for a camera, it just IS. How to hold, monitor, power, connect, and add other things are critical if you care about your image. And while they’ve made a camera that can record a given image extremely well (RAW/ProRes/DNxHD/metadata), they haven’t shown similar care to how you GET that image.

In their press materials and talking points, they discuss the resolution…but never the sensor size. I actually think a smaller than Super35mm sensor size is a good idea for low cost cameras that are likely to be solo operated and not have a crew to pull full frame depth of field. But they seem to be most excited about what happens AFTER the image comes in the lens and hits the sensor, not what happens DURING.

Narrative work on a set or in a studio
This is where the BMCC shines, cause you have it on a tripod or dolly. You can attach as many batteries, field mixers, monitors, laptops andwhatnot to it, as you like – it doesn’t matter.

Okay, having said that, will I buy one?
Probably yes. The BMDCC is a minimalist camera for a minimalist price. It’s close to what many people wanted the RED SCARLET (including me), but never happened. Ultrasope (if I ever have something with Thunderbolt) and Resolve are worth half the price of the camera.
Shooting raw is something the geek and gear slut in me wants for quite a while, but was obscene expensive till now. At least it takes my Nikon glass with a dumb adapter.
I will have to invest in something like a Tokina 11-22, some SSDs and (grrrr) in some software that can read and format that dammed HFS+.

I think it is a step in the right direction. After the megapixel race – like in the photo world – we will see a picture quality (dynamic range/high bit-low compression) race in the next years. When everyone shoots 4k, that´s the next big thing.

It´s a great camera, though I think it has some design flaws and I will have fun shooting with it, but in my humble opinion, it´s not ready for production or professional field work in the moment.

I hope they fix some of those issues on the production model and that camera flies of the shelfs though, so BM has the money and motivation to make a 2.0 version with a super 35mm sensor and a more professional body.


47 thoughts on “Out of the Black: BlackMagic`s new Cinema Camera – why they got it right, but so wrong

  1. every word in stone , agree in 100%
    i wish they would listen to some of your comments about being really “open” and not the apple approach , and also waiting for a 35mm sensor version , 60fps would be also nice
    but still they did an amazing work as a non camera guys
    RAW at that price – they just smacked everyone in the head

    • Not the most ridiculous complaints, but I rolled my eyes too many times while reading this. I’m not saying this camera looks perfect, but it sure seems like you’re trying really hard to nitpick a $2845 camera with a sensor slightly smaller than m43 that shoots 2.5k raw to removable SSD drives and comes with $1500 worth of professional production software.

      Of course you’re going to be getting one, but maybe you should wait for their second generation camera and then complain that it costs more.

      No, I get it though… with so many people who are ecstatic about this camera, you’re trying to bring a contrary/balanced view of it. I just think you missed the balanced part.

  2. How on earth are you a writer?

    “but I´m a fan of RED´s tactical design”
    That expands to “but I am a fan on RED is tactical design”

    “and she really don´t cares about cameras”

    “But maybe their chef designer is just a big Apple fan”

    Oh, and a backquote is not the same as as single quote.

    • Not 100% sure, but I believe that English is not Frank’s first language. Cut him some slack! He seems to have a better grasp of the language than you do though. That’s pretty sad. Is English your first language?

      You’re plain wrong.

      “but I´m a fan of RED´s tactical design” is just fine.”

      That expands to “but I am a fan on RED is tactical design” is so wrong. The apostrophe is in the right place to show the possessive (not to mention you botched “of” into “on” somehow). Great writing there turbo!

    • “but I´m a fan of RED´s tactical design”
      That expands to “but I am a fan on RED is tactical design”

      Hum, no. In this case he’s using it as we would say “I went to Harry’s house today”. ” ‘s ” as something that belongs to somebody.

      Sorry for my bad english, it is not my first language, but I’m pretty sure I’m right on this one.

      • “Hum, no. In this case he’s using it as we would say “I went to Harry’s house today”. ” ‘s ” as something that belongs to somebody.”

        Exactly! He’s saying he is a fan of tactical design. Who’s tactical design? Red’s tactical design. The apostrophe ‘S’ indicates the possessive and does not break down to, “but I am a fan on RED is tactical design” like you originally posted.

        I’m guessing you really have no clue what you’re writing or you’re just purposefully being stupid for a laugh. Either way, I’m out.

  3. “Okay, having said that, will I buy one?
    Probably yes.”
    R U an idiot? No you just like to collect and criticize Mickey Mouse Cameras. My guess is you are under the age of 30.

  4. Fair comments – my first reaction was how do I change stuff on a shoulder rig when the touch buttons are on the back and I’ve got it rigged up with mic cables power d-tap cables with a v-mount battery etc hitting out at my face side on?

    And I want wifi for time sync and iPhone start/stop/feature options if your not going to let me rotate the screen… V2 will have this I bet, with xlr plugs for sound.

    but I’m ordering three right now, it’s perfect for my needs. For my 3-6 month doco I’m just about to start in china, I’d say 90% of my files will be prores and only using raw when I do the operating room footage ( its a high tech medical self funded doco ) the operation beds are ultra bright red LEDs and laser surgery.. I’m hoping this raw will work somewhat better the. My last attempt in there with the canon which turned out only red blobs of light 😦

  5. Very silly article.. You make some good points.. and a lot of really bad ones!

    Connectors on wrong side: Yeah, I get that. Not a huge deal though.

    Mount: I understand your argument that it should be something like the e-mount so that you can adapt all day long, however, They were going for a budget camera that still packed a lot of punch! Making an adapter that can still communicate with EF mount lenses would cost more money, this was the simplest and cheapest way to do this. Also, EF is the new PL (at least in the low budget range.)

    SSDs being HFS: I get it, its not a bug deal to me as a mac user… but I get how that can be a problem for others. You are right, UDF would probably be better.

    You have a problem with Thunderbolt: This is just silly. USB 3 is a dead technology for professional work. It will come to the PC soon. You will not miss USB 3 as a pro.

    Your admittedly over-exaggerated view of the MKII upgrader: You should have said that it was really ridiculous and dumb. How in the world would you have to have more gear than a 5D mkII to go with the BMCC?

    Your form factor complaints: It all comes down to the fact that you like shooting with the ultra heavy beta cam… really? just because you see tons of shaky cam handheld crap on youtube and vimeo does not mean that real pros have similar results. Of course you will need at leas tome rig to shoot handheld.. but that is by design. This way, you can make it whatever you want. In your case, you could bolt it in place of the lens on your beta cam.

    Your touchscreen gripes: This is just silly as well. You are acting like the touchscreen is from a 1990’s windows phone.. touchscreens can actually be quite nice, and it appears like this is one. I also own a FS100 and thought I would love all the buttons.. but I rarely touch them. I would buch rather have a larger screen and an on screen keyboard.

    The built in battery: My only complaint with it is that, like you said, it will wear out. But, I plan on treating it as if it wasn’t there anyway. I am going to use my V-mount batteries to power this little guy. The 12-30v power port is an amazing feature! I am really glad that they left it up to the owner to decide on what battery system to use!

    The look of the camera: I kind of dig it.. it does not look like a toy. Apple makes beautiful products.. why would designing things that resemble their design be a bad thing?

    you said “At least they offer an ZE mount, which takes my Nikon glass.” This is a confusing and inaccurate statement. They do offer ZE. This is Zeiss’s EF (Canon) mount. Some of the BM people (and maybe even in some literature) have said that it has ZF mount. ZF is Zeiss’s F (Nikon) mount. This was a mistake, and has since been corrected. They only support EF/ZF (canon) mount lenses. You could probably still adapt Nikon lenses to it provided that they have manual control.

    I am also looking forward to the next version. I would love to see a $4K 4K S35 version of this camera.

  6. I think you have a lot of very valid concerns but I think they are a little misplace. I know the camera is called a “Cinema” camera, and that’s where you have placed your expectations, but I feel like the word has more to do with the ‘Look’ then the actual application. you have to understand where this camera is aimed. I think what you really want is a Scarlet or Epic. Those cameras are aimed squarely at short/feature production that fit within the expectations of that high level field. A feature film DP will be able to use a RED as expected with very little modification of what he’s already used to with Film. But I don’t think you’ll find anything like that in the $3,000 price range for quite some time. Personally, I believe that this one is aimed at a different market completely. I guess you would call them “Semi-Pro” but I think that has to many negative connotations to it. Basically, I expect it to sell well to professionals who want an inexpensive, purpose built camera that can give them as cinematic a look as possible. People who have been looking into getting a Canon DSLR for documentary, music video, sports, broadcast and commercials as well as Short film and low budget features too will love this camera. These people wont care that they can’t shoulder mount it or use standard batteries or PL mount lenses. It uses all the same lenses that they probably already own. Which is a pretty large portion of the expense of owning a camera like this. It’s also got a ton of features that are geared toward making it easer for the individual or small team to better deal with footage handling. Things like not having to transcode might not be a big deal for a larger budget production because they usually just have someone who’s job is simply to sit and do this. But with a smaller team this is really important. The important thing is that I don’t think these kinds people will have the same extreme expectations of this camera as say, a RED or Alexa.

  7. @michaelbeckjr

    Great comments! This is the first generation of this little beauty. I sincerely hope that BMCC starts a new revolution and it probably will. Raw footage a this price range WITH a full copy of Davinci for $3000 ???? This is beyond awesome! Put a Tokina 11mm-16mm on this baby and bang! Go shooting professional ready footage and grade it on one of the best piece of software ever created for color grading (not to mention the awesome tracking it has). We just need to see some more footage but with all the hype right now I guess BM will treat the final adjustments with really care. NAB this year belongs to BM for us low budget shooters. Canon 1D C for $15K ??? Ok canon… Let’s go Black Magic!

  8. I have to say the negativity with which some of you have attacked Frank’s article is unnecessary and petty. I understand the Net is open and democratic and seems to invite any opinion voiced in any way we want, but why not just be respectful?

    We rave when Frank does exhaustive research and posts picture profiles which improve our work, but attack him when he is intelligently pointing out some design features which could show improvement? I suspect designers from Black Magic who might stumble on this post and are anxious to improve the next generation camera will actually appreciate some of the points he makes, if not all. I have a friend who spoke with one of the designers at NAB and experienced him as really open and excited about future possibilities of the camera. They are fully aware they are not camera designers per se.

    This camera was designed by hardware interface guys used to making codec possibilities accessible between differing platforms and while Canon and Sony are giving us bottle necked data streams to protect their sales of their upper end cameras, these guys, with no camera line to protect, gave us something no one else has, the ability to record 12 bit raw or pro res data streams, onboard to SSD’s packaged with high end editing and scope software for less than the cost of the “upgraded ” canon 5D…the camera which in effect launched a revolution.

    If the Black Magic Designers read this article and incorporate Franks insights into their next designs and keep the price point in the affordable range, we will all be lining up to get our hands on one…amazed at all of the features and ergonomics we are getting.

    The pont is when educated endusers offer informed feedback to designers, they become better designers. I am sure that the Black Magic Team conceived of this camera as a possibility simply because it was an extension of what they already had in the hyperdeck shuttle and made the logical conclusion I have been waiting for since this digital revolution began…why not basically make a sensor and a recording medium that is packaged together.

    We all have tangles of wires on our cameras as we off board to external recorders.
    The day is coming when the offboard recorder will be as necessary as the letus adapter.

    We complain that Canon crippled its HDMI port where we could get less compressed images from our sensor. We all desire a more compact, versatile form factor.

    Black Magic just gave us a huge leap in that direction.

    Frank recognizes that. In my estimation he is simply pointing out that it can be improved for shooters, and he is right, it can. And the Black Magic team from my friend’s experience talking to them is they are only too excited to do so and hear how they can.

    We all win
    So everyone is right. It is a fantastic camera which will improve substantially and force “real” camera manufactures to evolve and do what they are really technically capable of doing.

    Even as the 5d in effect invented the FS100 and gave us the F3 and C300,
    all of these innovations, including Frank’s critiques, are making our work better and manufacturers get better…

    Keep building profiles Frank…even the ones that are just designed to make us think about the ways we design.

    I, for one, am happy you do so.

    • I hope any BlackMagic designer or engineer who reads this article will mostly just ignore it and not waste their time trying to make Frank’s ideal camera.

      I think we’re missing that this camera is so amazing mostly because of it’s ability to record 13 stops of DR in RAW to removable SSDs and only costs $2845! I understand it’s not perfect, but even design decisions like the built in battery have been made to cut costs.

      I’m glad BM have done some out of the box thinking with this camera. That’s why it’s so special and why so many people including Frank will end up buying one. They seem to have a very focused goal in mind and I don’t want them doing anything else but getting THIS camera out as it’s currently spec’d.

  9. Thanks for your great review but:

    There is a super easy fix for your problem with HFS+ volumes and Thunderbolt. Get rid of your PC and get a Mac! Or maybe you should just format your hard drive, remove the inferior operating system and install Linux on it, I think with Ubuntu you can format HFS+ volumes! The Black Magic camera would be open if it had Linux support, open source software, open raw specification, and would integrate nicely with Blender.

    Biggest turn down for myself in this camera is the very small sensor size (small for what I am used to). I am very much used to the full frame look. I would love this camera if it had full frame sensor. It would be even greater if it took stills rivaling 5d MK III. I could completely forget about Canon if they could offer that.

    • “I would love this camera if it had full frame sensor. It would be even greater if it took stills rivaling 5d MK III.”

      That would be great, but let’s be real. This is a cinema camera with a sensor slightly larger than S16mm and the 5d mark iii is a world class stills camera. I can’t think of any current digital cinema camera at any price that has a FF sensor and shoots motion raw. If there is such a camera currently on the market, I guarantee it’s not $2845.

  10. I too like a lot of what is in this camera…..RAW at this pricepoint
    is just awesome and I love that they gave the option to record very
    high quality ‘compressed’ codecs as well. Dynamic range is another
    HUGE plus. 13 stops??? WOW, just WOW!

    But sorry, I have to agree with Frank. Touchscreen interface? I would MUCH MUCH rather have buttons and switches to adjust settings. And for all the ‘electronic’ lenses that have no physical iris on them, just another thing to be adjusted via touchscreen? I can adjust three or 4 things at the same time on a more traditional camera without having to scroll through menus to adjust one parameter at a time….to me this reminds me of consumer cameras you find at Costco….you may be able to adjust shutter speed, iris and gain, but you have to dig through menus to do it. I’d also
    like a bigger sensor (not only for more shallow depth of field control, but better low light sensitivity. But most of all,
    because if we are going to be using Canon EF glass on this camera,
    it is going to be hard to get lenses which are wide enough).

    This is one of the things about all these video and cinema cameras
    constantly coming out. Everyone has different wants and needs. No one camera will have everyone’s wants and needs in them. There are pro video shooters, former still photogs, hobbyists, those trying
    to shoot indie films, wedding and event shooters, corporate film makers and many others who are evaluating cameras. Many of them have different priorities. We shouldn’t be bashing people like Frank if he doesn’t agree with YOUR priorities. He has very valid reasons why it won’t work as well for HIM as it could. I like the camera but I won’t be buying one. It just won’t work for what I do. However, I WILL be watching them closely and if they come out with a ‘version 2’ which fixes a lot of my issues I will jump all over that one. If they released this with physical switches and
    buttons to control things, a super 35 sensor (or heck, even
    micro 4/3 as it has a lot of wide lenses that could work well)
    then, I would consider getting it, even if it was a couple thousand
    dollars more. But that is just ONE person’s opinion, I’m SURE they
    will sell scads of these things, and I hope they do well enough to
    make a version 2.

    • I like you’re post, especially that no one camera will be perfect for every need.

      How wide a lens do you need? A Sigma 8-16mm lens will be roughly an 18-36mm (35mm equiv.) If you’re used to shooting on a crop sensor like a 7d or S35 film then 8mm on the BMCC will be about the same FOV as a 12mm lens.

      In my book, that’s really wide. I have shot wider, but this is more than wide enough for most shooting.

      I wouldn’t mind at all if it was a m43 sized sensor, but do you realize that at it’s current size it’s only slightly smaller than m43?

      • Yeah that 8-16 would be pretty wide. I think one of the issues
        is, with micro 4/3 or super 35 you have a lot more lens
        options and with this strange sensor size (too big for
        16mm lenses to small for micro 4/3) you have 1 or 2 lenses
        that work for wides. To me, another big issue is
        I don’t want a touchscreen ‘menu driven’ interface.
        I like my iris, shutter speed, gain and white balance
        to be on switches. While ideally there would be iris
        rings on the lense but Canon EF lenses don’t usually
        have them and I’m not a huge fan of auto iris or
        digging into a touchscreen menu to change something
        as basic as my iris. Again this is just me and
        plenty of people will make up for my decision to
        pass on this camera, it will sell like hot cakes.
        I’d just rather wait for version 2. I can shoot
        wother my FS100 in the meantime.

  11. great post frank! I am planning to buy my first “prosumer” camera, i plan to shot shortfilms, events, promos, a low budget feature and STILLS. I know this BMCC its a great deal but it dosnt match my workflow and post prod hardware (2010 i7 macbookpro + external hdd). I find this camera really attractive: RAW, improved DR and da vinci resolve for 3k!, but its not for me at this point of my career. Im going for the 5d mark III. Also i think high tech cameras dosnt make great films, great filmmakers do. Dont get obsesed about numbers or tech specs, be obsesed about script, direction and production.
    Example: http://vimeo.com/31632891


  12. Perfect, and a good article. Thanks.
    I will now avoid buying this Apple-proprietary crap.
    wow, “Computer 101”, from many moons ago, warned to NEVER tie yourself down to any “one” hardware/OS maker.
    Be “open”, or be dead.
    Well, obviously BM has completely forgotten that hard-learned lesson. And so I bid adieu to those Apple-fanboys at BM.
    thanks but NO thanks. – Get it RIGHT -the next time, pleeeez BM.

    • I don’t mean this as an argument to what you are saying or anything. But just as an alternate line of though;
      Allen Kay (the guy who was ran Xerox PARC, inventor of Small Talk and overseer of the Alto system that changed computers for years to come) once said something to the effect of, “If you’re going to write software, you’d better make the hardware it runs on. Otherwise it’s out of your hands and some other guy might screw it up and wind up making you look bad.” Well, something like that anyway. I can actually get behind that and it’s one of the reasons I use Apple computers. Memory of my PC days still haunt me. Incompatible chipsets causing drivers to fail causing some service to not load and all you wanted to do was run some program. I know it works just great for some people but I do not miss it at all.

      And Apple aren’t really THAT proprietary anyway. I get what you are saying about the whole Cinema camera being more Mac centric though and I agree to some extent. But, the way I see it is that there are hundreds of examples where manufacturers have chosen to do the opposite and only support PCs. It’s a refreshing change for someone like me. I know that doesn’t help you at al though.

  13. The point of a review is to uncover all the problems you might face so you can make a judgement. So a good review. Black magic have taken advantage of the crippled camera era and give us the basics of what we should already have.

    This should open the door to other manufacturers giving us other options like digital bolex could clean up with the 16mm lenses and maybe even panasonic rethinking the AF100 now. Maybe Sony dishing up a S35 version. If they don’t they will lose out.

  14. Pingback: bnaro.com » Archive » About That Blackmagic Cinema Camera…

  15. Ugh. Some of the responses make me sad, and I mean from both sides. The more affordable gear becomes, the more comments sound like political debate.
    Anyway a piece of flat boring info to think of: if you’re excited about the camera’s RAW capability, keep in mind the data rate is 7GB/minute. So storing that footage will cost you about $50/hour. That’s a minimal cost for dual hard drives or LTO. (Excluding transcodes, an LTO drive, RAID chassis, the SSDs, etc.) Two 256GB SSDs will run $600 and store half an hour each.

    • Yep, we are starting to push the envelope here. I think that’s a good thing by the way. 😉 SSD priced have already come down so much since they first started turning up so it’s only a matter of time before we are able to pick up a TB for $200. That’s going to be awesome!

  16. He’s right about the battery issue though. You can’t replace it when it dies, if you out on location away from a power outlet, this can become a major issue.
    they’re still tweaking it though, Let’s hope that they fix it before it’s release.


  17. All the negative people miss the point completely – you either understand beautiful design (Mac products, Eames chairs, Aston Martins, women’s bodies) – or you don’t. The sheer simplicity of this camera is genius. The smaller sensor does not mean a thing when being able to extract RAW. On the other hand being able to shoot Pro-res is perfect for fast turn around stuff that is more and more called for. Being able to use Canon lenses steals immediately from the 5D market. And to top it off the interface with the best colour grading sortware in the world is the cleverest thing about the whole system. Nikon, Canon, Red, Alexa – they have all been outwitted. I’ve just ordered two. Check mate.

    • Yeah, it´s so simple that it even has no audio levels, but hey who needs to meter the audio when the design is so genius. Don´t know if your producer has any interest on the design of the body when you come with messed up audio. But to each his own.

      • This one is as good a place as any to interject on.

        Any proper production, be it film, tv, advert, doco,.. would have the audio being recorded separately and also being fed to the camera for reference use only.

        And as for iris control being an issue, proper lenses have their own iris.

        HFS and ProRes aren’t an issue for me – MacDrive8 works just fine under XP,
        Avid can use files recorded for it, and Edius opens ProRes files natively.

        SSD’s? No big deal, pop one out, another in, and while you keep recording the Data Wrangler will make multiple copies to HDD arrays.

        Neither is the sensor size a big deal, super shallow depth-of-feild is already over done anyway, and is not always the best way of drawing attention to where you want it.
        The greater dynamic range, being able to have more exposure range to work with is far more appealing.

        The design isn’t crApple centric, but it is interesting, I expect the majority of hand-held work will be done on DSLR style rigs using and external viewfinder such as that from Zacuto, letting the operator keep both hands up near the lens where they belong.

        I for one, am looking forward to trying it.

  18. Wow… a lot of hate in this here comment area.

    Frank, you make very good points and I don’t mind your ranting.

    I will be buying a BMCC over any other DSLR. Why?
    Well, its the quality of its picture and that I don’t plan to “run and gun”.
    I want the best for my story telling and though DSLR’s have many great qualities, they also have many trade offs. This camera is no different but with an added bonus of 2k RAW.

  19. I reckon BMCC have it right, even though I agree the ergonomics are terrible.
    I shoot TVCs, Music videos and Corporates: I have a PMWEX1 (with a letus elite I don’t get much time to use), and a Lumix GH2. I’v already paid for my BMCC – it’ll do something well that my other two cameras won’t, while still being compatible with my rigs (V-lock batteries for instance). No, I don’t plan to run and gun with it… it’ll pretty much be on sticks using my Nikon lenses I bought for my Letus (and then GH2) kits.
    Why didn’t I buy a 5D mkIII? The advantages of Prores or RAW shooting outweighed the benefits of having a 2nd DSLR rig.

  20. I have to admit– I’m having a hard time with these arguments for the most part. I think that Frank’s arguments regarding the rear facing touch screen and the ports on the left side are completely right on. I’ve been really wondering how easy it’s going to be to control the camera in any kind of shoulder mount config.

    That being said, I really disagree with the other arguments being made. It sounds like he’s comparing the BMC to an ENG camera. The BMC is trying to occupy a different niche I think. It’s going after the more modular cinema cameras and pretty much all of them have the same limitations. And how many ENG cameras could you suction cup to the windshield of a car to get a driver closeup?

    Battery: Almost all pro cinema cameras don’t include a battery at all. Think battery belts for film cameras, red VOLT, v-mount, anton bauer. True that most broadcast and prosumer cameras have a removable battery, but how many people end up adapting them to an all in one system? Once you start adding diverse gear to a rig, a central, non-proprietary battery system becomes a lot more attractive. Think of the built in battery as an emergency backup.

    Form factor: Um red anyone? Scarlet, Epic, even Red ONE are just brains when you look at their base price. The BM is continuing that trend of modularity. It’s just a lot cheaper entry price.

    Storage: So SSD is bad because it’s mac formatted, but P2 and SxS, Red Mag, and others are OK even though they’re proprietary formats that required many users to get very expensive external units to read them. And I’m not even taking into account the amount the media cost in the first place. Considering Macdrive is a very small expense compared to even the cheapest of this proprietary media. And Beta SP?? We needed expensive tapes, VTRs, and capture systems to even begin working with the stuff. Talk about the barrier to entry.

    Lens: An interchangeable mount would be great! But if that’s not the case, in this price range Canon makes sense. You can adapt nikon and other lenses to it. CP.2, Optimo, LWZ, and many others have optional Canon mounts. So pro lenses aren’t too much of a problem. Considering the advent of the DSLR, I think it really is the next best thing to PL. And probably a better idea at this price point because many would never be able to afford the glass. And if the camera really takes off– I’m sure there will be hot rod style mounts to enable us to use the old super 16 glass.

    Really I could go on for a while here. But I think the problem I’m having with the article is that it’s comparing an apple with a cucumber. Trying to suggest that any ‘cinema’ oriented camera is going to compare to a ‘broadcast’ oriented camera is a tough sell. They are two very different markets and one camera is not going to appeal to both. If you are a shooter and find yourself agreeing with Frank’s idea of what the camera should be, perhaps a cinema oriented camera is not the right option.

    • Super 16 glass would be just great, since there is a ton cheap great glass out there, but it will not cover the sensor. So no dice unless you want to crop.
      Regarding ENG style. I could not care less, since I very seldom do shoulder shooting. But most of the guys that want the camera, tell me all abut size and weight and how great it is to go without cumbersome sticks and all. Those are the same guys that where going mad about the screen placement and ergonomics of the FS100.

  21. strange I love most of it, the only SERIOUS complaint I have about it is the mount. Using a Canon EOS mount on a small sensor camera is crazy. 1_You will never have a decent wide angle 2_ Say goodbye to the best lenses: C-mount, PL-mount, Leica-M, Contax-G, Canon FDetc. a Sony e-mount would make is a much better camera.

  22. Why people are complaining too much about the lens mount? It is a compromise one has to make. I mean that for example I have lots of Canon glass for my Canons (5d mark II + 60D). Now that if I would get the Blackmagic, surely I would not want to redo all my glass purchases, it would be way beyond my budget to do so for the foreseeable future. It has been a major investment for a personal hobby to purchase all that glass. For extensibility of course it would be nice if there would be a changeable mount that I could use some micro four thirds lenses on it, but since I don’t have any, for myself as Canon user it does not bother me at all that it has EF mount. In the contrary if it did not have EF-mount (or worse it would come with PL-mount only), I would not even consider this as viable option. Glass is way too expensive to be all replaced if you have lots of it already. And I am quite sure that I will never buy a single PL-mount glass, no matter how good. Because PL-mount glass is too expensive, simply put, it is overpriced and ripoff of those who don’t know where to put their money otherwise.

    The way I see the current Blackmagic Cinema Camera: Small sensor + Canon glass intended for larger sensor has its downside, wide angle is gonna be difficult. But I am already thinking Blackmagic Cinema Camera +1. So if the company keeps up disrupting the market, the next model might have a bigger sensor. And my EF mount glass would go much wider then. The idea is not to give up on my EF (L) glass because it is very good (good enough for 21 mpix still photographs), so it is way overkill for 2K video. It does not make sense to change to any other glass than the EF unless the intention is to go wide extreme angle. Well I have one EF-S wide angle, the 10-22. I could go to 25 mm full frame equivalent with the BMC with that. It is wide enough for me not complaining too much. Any wider than 25 mm, could be covered with my 5D mark II.

    I haven’t yet made decision to buy the BMC, but I am kinda warming up to the idea. It does have much smaller sensor than what I would want, but on the other hand, everything else on it appears to be rather awesome. I am looking forward to seeing more footage out of the camera (to do the final judgement for go-no-go). Regardless if I will buy it or not, I am very excited that BMC has done this kind of really disruptive product. Especially the pricing. First it seems to be awesome camera (small sensor makes it not perfect, but still is rather awesome by any other aspect), secondly it is priced right and not above what everybody can afford. If it was priced at 5000 or more (or like Canon C-series, 15000+, superoverpriced), it would be a different story, I would have already forgotten it, but at 3K it is rather tempting. And thirdly, the BMC uses standard solid state drives and not some rebranded drives which would have 10x price tag for no added value, but just for collecting money of uninformed customers. BMC has done quite many details just right and they seem to be very fair towards their prospective customers.

    I hope that Black Magic will continue to disrupt the market with products like BMC. I would love a BMC with larger sensor at reasonable price tag (not going to Canon C-series pricing!). But I guess I have to wait for some time. On the other hand, if BMC is more a lean startup kind of company whereas Canon is one of the dinosaurs with such heavy organization that they are almost paralyzed, I am expecting new BMCs to come much more frequently than Canon will come with mediocre 5D replacements. Looking forward to see more like this from Black Magic and very excited about their first entry already.

  23. There is one simple rule I follow- there is not one right tool for every job. And I cannot understand why so many people try to do just that in the 21st century.
    Back in the days of Betacam you bet it was just one tool. And if you had 70 or 80K to buy the gear you were a working cameraman. I know a few guys in my market that still have payments on their Digital Betacam. So believe me when I say with all my heart I will take connectors on the ‘wrong side’ a touchscreen to change my settings and an internal battery I will never use in lieu of a third party adapter. But I will make money with 90% of my clients using this camera.

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