Superproducer Ted Hope on...

April 16, 2012

BlackMagic Design's Cinema Camera is a 2.5K RAW Shooter with Built-in Monitor and Recorder for $3K

Holy cow. What if I told you BlackMagic Design was introducing a 2.5K resolution, 13-stop dynamic range, RAW-shooting (with format-agnostic ProRes/CinemaDNG/DNxHD options), Thunderbolt-connected, built-in touchscreen LCD, SSD-recording camera that comes with the new version of Resolve 9 color correction software... all for $3,000? You'd say, "what's the catch?" Looks like the only catch is a 15.6 mm x 8.8 mm (active) sensor size, which makes it a S16 camera, not a S35. Still, for that price and with those options -- this is a seriously disruptive camera and one that targets the HDSLR space perfectly.

If you don't think S16 is a large enough sensor, keep in mind that it's been used to shoot a million features lately, including Darren Aronofsky's most recent (The Wrestler and Black Swan), as well as this year's Sundance-winning Beasts of the Southern Wild. Also, BlackMagic was wise to make this a Canon EF mount camera -- PL glass is so expensive that a lot more of their target customers will already have Canon lenses lying around than will have PL lenses. Finally, the fact that it has a built-in recorder and monitor means it has the ease of use that most shooters want -- spec sheets be damned. And it takes standard 2.5" SSDs -- you are not tied to one (overpriced) brand of media, as you are with RED or (quite often) Sony. The flipside is that many believe that standard SSD connectors were not designed for frequent insertion/removal; time will tell.

The fact that it's a S16 RAW camera makes it a competitor to the Digital Bolex camera we mentioned previously, though I would note the fact that BlackMagic is an established company -- and the fact that it comes with the full version of Resolve and Ultrascope -- makes this one more appealing in theory.

There are video samples here by cinematographer John Brawley. For the most part the images look very good -- the only area they seem to fall a bit short compared to the best cameras out there is in low-light, which is to be expected given the smaller sensor size. Also, in the Beach Dusk sample there are numerous stuck/dead pixels -- presumably BlackMagic will work these out by the time a final camera is shipping (slated for July). Note of course that I'm judging compressed Vimeo samples, and I'm judging them against cameras that cost a lot more.

Images of the $3K shooter are below, as is the full press release and link to BlackMagic's official product page. It looks like if you were thinking about getting one of the new $3k DSLRs, like the Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III, now you've got something else to seriously consider. We will do our best to get our hands on one of these units ASAP!

Link: BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera

Press Release

LAS VEGAS, Apr 16, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Blackmagic Design today announced Blackmagic Cinema Camera, a revolutionary digital cinema camera design that includes powerful features such as super wide 13 stops of dynamic range, high resolution 2.5K sensor, built in high bandwidth SSD recorder, open file format support, color correction with full version of DaVinci Resolve and a built in LCD with metadata entry, all in an attractive compact design for only US$2,995.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera will be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design NAB 2012 booth at #SL220.

Many current generation video cameras suffer from a "video look" due to a limited contrast range, a maximum HD resolution sensor, poor quality optics and lenses, the use of heavy video compression for file recording and poor integration with NLE software metadata management. With these limitations, they cannot be used for high end work or feature films.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera has been designed to eliminate these problems so customers get a true feature film look, and at an affordable cost can shoot high end television commercials, episodic television programming and feature films.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes a super wide 13 stops of dynamic range, large 2.5K sensor, a built in SSD recorder that has the bandwidth to capture open standard CinemaDNG RAW, ProRes and DNxHD files, a built in capacitive touch screen LCD for direct metadata entry, standard jack audio connections, built in high-speed Thunderbolt connection, 3 Gb/s SDI output, a refrigerated sensor for low noise, and is fully compatible with extremely high quality Canon EF and Zeiss ZF mount lenses.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera also includes a full copy of DaVinci Resolve for color correction and Blackmagic UltraScope software for waveform monitoring. UltraScope can be run on a laptop connected to the camera via a Thunderbolt connection.

One of the most important features of the camera is its super wide dynamic range of 13 stops, allowing feature film quality images. Commonly people focus on more pixels, however often this just creates a higher resolution, but still "video" looking images that suffer from highlight and black clipping that limits details. Blackmagic Cinema Camera's wide dynamic range eliminates this problem and provides film quality with dramatically more detail retained in black and whites in the image. Once the shoot is complete, the included DaVinci Resolve color correction software can be used to adjust images and take advantage of this extra range in the images. The high quality EF and ZF lens compatibility also helps create sharp and cinematic images that look incredible.

To eliminate the damage that low bit depth and high compression video storage creates, Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes a fast SSD recorder. The built in SSD recorder can record on fast solid state disks the full sensor detail in 12 bit Log RAW files in the open standard CinemaDNG format. These files can be read by all high end video software. The full 2.5K sensor data is stored in the files completely uncompressed because the SSD has the speed to store video data at the required rate. Then this high quality file can be color corrected on DaVinci Resolve for the same high quality result currently only possible on cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera has been designed as the perfect companion to Final Cut Pro X and Avid Media Composer NLE software. Unlike other cameras, which require the use of custom video file formats that are not compatible with popular NLE software, often making the post production process a nightmare, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes absolutely no custom video file formats, and every file type included is open standard. It records into Cinema DNG format for RAW files, ProRes and DNxHD for HD resolution files compatible with Final Cut Pro X and Avid Media Composer.

The built in large LCD display makes focus easy, and allows playback of captured files. Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes a built in microphone, as well as external jack based mic/line level balanced audio connections. When playing back recorded clips, a speaker is built in, and there is an included headphone socket, as well as embedded audio on the SDI output and Thunderbolt connection. The SDI output includes all camera data such as timecode, transport control, shutter angle, color temperature setting and ASA information overlaid in attractive antialiased fonts.

For easy metadata entry, the built in LCD features fast and responsive capacitive touch screen technology. When the user taps the display with a finger, a data entry window called the "slate" appears. This lets the user enter shot information just like typing on a smart phone. This data is then stored in the files so can be accessed by NLE software when editing content later. Metadata is compatible with popular software such as Final Cut Pro X and DaVinci Resolve. All camera settings can be changed on this touch LCD, such as frame rate, shutter angle, color temperature, dynamic range, focus assist settings and more.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes an innovative industrial design built from solid machined aluminum metal which results in an attractive but rugged design. All of the camera, recorder and display have been shrunk down into a lightweight design that's very portable.

"This is one of the most exciting products we have ever created and its been a work in progress for a very long time," said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. "Ever since I was a telecine engineer back in the 1990's I have wished that video cameras would include features that allowed them to perform creatively similar to film. However current digital cameras are too heavy, way too expensive and need costly accessories to work. We felt there was a need for a camera that delivered these features in a design that's optimized for professional video shoots, as well as being a compact, elegant design that's easily affordable. We think we have achieved that!"

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Key Features

  • High resolution 2.5K sensor allows improved anti aliasing and reframing shots.
  • Super wide 13 stops of dynamic range allows capture of increased details for feature film look.
  • Built in SSD allows high bandwidth recording of RAW video and long duration compressed video.
  • Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software such as CinemaDNG 12 bit RAW, Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. No custom file formats.
  • Includes no custom connections. Standard jack mic/line audio in, BNC 3 Gb/s SDI out, headphone, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, LANC remote control and standard DC 12-30V power connection.
  • Capacitive touch screen LCD for camera settings and "slate" metadata entry.
  • Compatible with extremely high quality Canon EF and Zeiss ZF lenses.
  • Supports 2.5K and 1080HD resolution capture in 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps.
  • Thunderbolt connection allows direct camera capture via included Media Express software and supports live waveform monitoring via the included Blackmagic UltraScope software.
  • Includes a full copy of DaVinci Resolve 9.0 color grading software.

Availability and Price

Blackmagic Cinema Camera will be available July 2012 for US$2,995 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

Your Comment

202 Comments

Sounds like a good deal to me.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Natt

Just remember: SSD cards are REALLY expensive It takes about 650GB for the RAW files to record about half an hour. Also: internal battery only.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

I don't know. A standard 2.5" 120 GB SSD is $150. Meanwhile a 128GB REDMAG is $1,800. Still think that's expensive?

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

As someone who uses P2 cards, regular SSD's seems downright economical. Assuming that they work as reliably of course...

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Adrian Jans

Exactly, lol.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Lliam Worthington

it records uncompressed 12-bit RAW, at 5MB/frame
so it's 7.2 GB/min, >80 minutes on a 600GB SSD drive that puts the total cost at $4K

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

Or use Avid DNX - 5 hours on a 500gig SSD.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

According to BMD, recording time in RAW is as follows:

5 MB/frame in RAW 2.5K fits about 30 minutes of 24p video on a 256 GB solid state disk.
http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/blackmagiccinemacamera/techspecs/

You can also shoot directly to prores or Avid's format and get 5x that recording time...

April 16, 2012

-1
Reply

Right -- the codec options are huge for anyone shooting documentaries/weddings/events/etc. where there's not a AC/loader/DIT/wrangler person.

This camera costs less than one 256GB REDMAG. Let me repeat: this entire camera costs less than one 256GB media card from RED.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

You nail it. Its insanely (realistically) priced.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

I find it funny how everyone complains about it, yet this is pretty much what everyone wanted, minus the design. 2.5k raw 12 bit are you serious this is amazing, and for the price! Maybe even better than red's 3k for 3k deal.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Robert

Again exactly. People are bonkers.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Lliam Worthington

How do you figure internal battery only? It has a DC adapter plug marked on one of the doors. 15V V-Mount battery like an IDX doesn't seem like a problem. The huge problem is the lack of 1/4" and 3/8" mounting holes, so there goes $500+ for a camera cage to do anything useful.

April 16, 2012

1
Reply
Angelo

It has 1 1/4" on the bottom and 3 1/4 on the top

April 18, 2012

0
Reply

Huh? Where have you been while SSD prices have plummeted in the past year?

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
swested

So wait am I missing something here or will you not be able to use an HDMI monitor like smallHD DP6 on this?

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
carlos

You would, but you would have to use an SDI to HDMI converter. Blackmagic's external recorder does it, but it's a few hundred dollars. Dunno if that'd be worth it. The 5" screen sounds like it has focus tools, but only time will tell how good it is...

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

thanks man

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
carlos

Their website is getting SLAMMED.

IMO this is BIG news for indi-film makers.

Bolex, Ikonoskop, Nikon D800, Canon MK3 are all somewhat pointless (for video) when this hits the market in July for $3,000.

I would preorder one, but their website isn't loading.

Great news!

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

well, not pointless: this one has a 2.3x crop factor

but definitely a lot less relevant

BMD stole NAB2012

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

a 10-22mm ef-s lens is a must for this cam... luck me I did not order a ikonoskop yet!! With import tax for my country this cam goes from U$3000 to U$6000 to U$7000, but better than a U$10K that goes up to U$20K!!!

I think i´ll not need to rent a cam for my first indie feature in the end of the year! :)

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
guto novo

How do you get to 2.3? A standard 35mm frame is about 24mm wide, normalized for 16:9, versus 15.6 for this camera -- which yields a factor of under 1.4.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
jd

Crop factor is calculated on the diagonal.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
nobody

I think he must be comparing it to a full-frame sensor, like the 5D II or III. But full-frame is not a cinema standard.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
jd

I just called, you can't preorder one. I had my name and email added to a list that I demanded be created lol. Now I'm hounding B&H about one. Good luck to all...

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Chris

Thanks Chis! :) :)

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

Crap, B&H gave me the coldshoulder and just told me to check back later this week for preorder. I don't know how many of you realize how big of a gamechanger this camera bundle is, Blackmagic Design is one of my favorite companies to work with, their customer support even for their free products is outstanding and the quality of their hardware released thus far is literally unparalleled. Good luck trying to buy this camera, I plan on buying them all. o_O

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Chris

Agree - I own a hyperdeck and it survived a nasty trip through Nevada's Valley of Fire. They build great products and using your own SSD devices in a video product like this is a godsend. SSD prices are dropping and speeds are getting insane with competition from Intel, Samsung, and Ocz.

Thanks again chris!

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

Thanks Chris. Calling them now.

April 16, 2012

-1
Reply

I agree Chris. I think this will change the Indie world. The power of raw meets resolve is something many shooters have literally no idea about yet. Add to that that most people have been in love with images that weren't really even resolving 2k... For low end indies this is simply massive. A true game changer.

Well done BMD.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Lliam Worthington

What a nice tight little camera. Seems like exactly what the little guy who is serious about craft has been waiting for. So many plusses including standerd audio inputs, RAW, 2.5K and the Black Magic Ultrascope and DaVinci Resolve software. Great response to the big boys for not aiming higher!

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

It certainly looks like a very nice camera, only downsides being depth of field, sensitivity and resolution, since a 2.5K sensor yields a little bit less than 2K of effective resolution.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Álex Montoya

True but if you compare this to everything else at the 3k price point - I would rather watch a movie made with this unit because of its better DR, lack or moire, and less rolling shutter.

Nothing at 3k really hits true 1080 (hacked GH2 gets close) anyway. At 5k the Sony FS100 (better slow mo and larger sensor) is this cameras only competition.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

Hard to tell about rolling shutter at this point, until we get more samples...

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Can't be worse than a Canon MK3.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

If you look at the DUSK clip at 4:55.... rolling shutter looks really bad there, much worser than with the MarkIII.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

Sure, I wasn't being ironic. This looks like a very nice camera indeed. Can you flip the LCD?

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Álex Montoya

I think deeper depth of field also has a lot of positives that are overlooked however. Especially for Indies.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Lliam Worthington

This is too freaking cool!

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

Now THIS is the camera I hoping for.

@carlos - Looks like you might have to upgrade to a standard SDI monitor

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
MRH

Sensor size is the only con - 4/3" , but for that price (and explains the cheap price) with 12 bit uncompressed raw!

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Daniel

smaller than 4/3's, it is s16

April 16, 2012

-1
Reply

It's actually larger than S16 - in between S16 and 4/3" size. A few people have been posting size comparison graphs already (EOSHD and DVXUSER thread).

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Shenan

Where'd you see 4/3"? Try closer to 3/4".

April 16, 2012

1
Reply
swested

SOLD!!

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Perry Wilson

WOW!!! Another 2k+ camera in a price range that isn't absolutely absurd? These are exciting times to be a filmmaker, that's for sure.

Not to mention that this announcement completely undermines the D800 and the 5D3 as professional video solutions. Unless people really "need" the larger sensors on the DSLR's, this thing looks like it will win the video battle 9 time out of 10.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Robert

What would the effective crop factor on this be? What are the wide angle options given the EF mount?

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Dimitri

2.4 x

April 16, 2012

0
Reply

Supposedly it's 2.3x crop factor.

I've been using my EF mount lenses with my GH2, and found that these lenses incredibly versatile no matter the camera (and cheap alternatives too).
- Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 -- you would get coverage from 25-35mm on a 2.3x crop.
- Samyang 24mm f1.4 -- about 55mm, so great for the eye perspective view
- Samyang 35mm f1.4 -- makes it an 80mm.

All three can cover full frame sensor as well. (The Tokina only at 16mm). So I'm pretty happy.

Tbh, there's an array of lenses to choose from, some of them are pretty fast, which should make up for the lack of DOF on this camera.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
Sazlin

It may be 2.3 crop compared to a full-frame sensor, but full-frame sensor is not a motion picture standard. The factor is much smaller, compared to a standard cinema film frame.

April 16, 2012

0
Reply
jd

Pages