Quick Look : Blackmagic Cinema Camera

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Inspiration for this post comes from NCC member Eden.  Eden is making a number of short films, shooting on a Canon 60D and asked the other night about the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.  My knowledge was not really sufficient so I spent time digging into the product to produce this quick look. blackmagiccinemacameraThe Blackmagic Cinema Camera is designed from the ground up for video.  It's architects have built a product for commercials, episodic television, documentary work and feature film creation.  Blackmagic has great street creds in the areas of digital production.  Indeed they make many products that make getting to video simpler for people of all skill levels.

bccelegantThe camera is a compact device taking interchangeable lenses.  There are two models, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT.  The EF takes Canon EF and Zeiss ZE cinema lenses and the MFT takes passive micro four-thirds lenses.  PL lenses can be mounted to the MFT using a third party adapter.

Cinema lenses are different architecturally than still lenses, they are built for cinema film work and excel in this space.  Canon's recent foray has brought their C series of cinema cameras as a competitive offering in addition to RED and to Sony.

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The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is unique in its price point of under $3000 USD for the body.  That is substantially less than its erstwhile competitors.  It is compact and effectively sized and doesn't look like a classic cinema camera.  As you can see from the pictures herein, it looks like a simple box with a display on the back.

bccssdThe camera houses a 2.5K sensor capable of capturing 12bit RAW footage.  In this format about 30 minutes of 24p video can be captured on a 256GB SSD.  The camera also natively supports Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD at 1920x1080 pixel resolution.  This means direct interaction with popular Non-Linear Editing systems without the need to transcode, a significant time and quality saving.  Storage is on removeable 2.5" SSD drives.  This is a very innovative approach as it provides the filmmaker great flexibility and huge storage performance opportunity.  Drives can be prepared (formatted) native with Mac OS X or with third party formatting tools for Windows.

One of the real hallmarks of the camera is that it has 13 stops of dynamic range, far superior to that found on still cameras used for video capture which top at 6 stops in good examples.  Focus is manual but focus peaking is built-in to obtain precise focus and an auto Iris button is provided to control the iris to prevent clipping.

bcctouchscreenThe integrated display is 5" diagonally and offers 800x480 pixel density.  It is a capacitative touchscreen design maximizing camera rear real estate.  The display can also be used to add metadata in the field, to make annotations and notes, and to otherwise keep your footage organized as you capture it.

Connection to the computer is via Thunderbolt so extremely fast file movement is available. There is 10bit SDI video out in 4:2:2 and 4 channel SDI-HD bccconnectionsaudio out.  The camera has two 1/4" balanced inputs switchable for mic or line level input.  There is also a built in mono mic and mono speaker for monitoring capabiility.  There is a standard 2.5mm LANC jack for connecting a remote.

The camera follows industry standards offering 48khz 24 bit audio and SMPTE 292M video.

The camera is capable of running for 90 minutes on a fully charged battery, with recharging time taking about two hours.  The camera includes an AC supply and there is a port for external battery packs as well.

bccdavinciresolve bccultrascopeIn addition to the turret cap, sun shield and strap, the camera includes DaVinci Resolve full license software for Mac or Windows and includes the dongle.  Media Express software is included for video capture via the Thunderbolt port.  Blackmagic also includes their Ultrascope software for waveform monitoring via the Thunderbolt port.

All in all, it's extremely impressive.  Yes you will need to buy glass in addition to the camera, and you had better have a computer handy, and yes you will probably want to be a Mac user.

Full specs can be found here.