Superproducer Ted Hope on...

April 17, 2012

Hands-On With the 2.5K Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

I had a chance to play with the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera - and it's definitely going to be a disruptive product. The touch screen on the back of the camera was very sensitive, and it took me only seconds to find exactly what I was looking for. The specific camera I was using had a Zeiss 18mm T3.6 while another had a Canon lens, so the versatility is not to be understated. I had a great conversation with Simon Westland, Director of Sales EMEA at Blackmagic. You can watch that video below, as well as some additional photos of the camera.

It's really inspiring when you can interact with a company that is not only excited about their products, but about everything else from other companies being released. The people at Blackmagic were extremely humble when other cameras were mentioned, and rather than positioning this camera as a direct competitor to anything out there, they have decided to make something that they believe shooters are asking for: a RAW camera at a reasonable price with a relatively large sensor.

The most exciting part of this camera is the flexibility, because if you don't want to record RAW, you can get DNxHD or ProRes - both highly professional and versatile formats in their own right. The touchscreen might turn some people off, but this is a camera with ease of access and usability in mind. Every single aspect was designed to be as intuitive as possible, and I can attest that I was changing settings as quickly as I have with any DSLR that has dedicated buttons.

From what I can see - the camera didn't look too noisy at 1600 on the LCD, but I'll have to wait for the final product to see how it handles noise. Speaking of the LCD, the 5" touchscreen LCD on the back of the device was certainly good enough to pull focus - as I was doing so with the Zeiss lens on the specific Cinema Camera I was using. Things have gotten very, very interesting in the camera market with the introduction of this professional solution. DSLRs certainly have their place, and the 5D Mark III and D800 cameras that I've been testing are still valid options, but if you don't need stills and you can deal with the slightly under 4/3s sensor (my initial calculations are over 2x crop factor), this is going to give you unmatched quality at this price point ($3,000).

Link: Blackmagic Cinema Camera

[Thanks to Nick Novotny for this use of his camera for this video]

Your Comment

120 Comments

Poor Joe Focuspulling seemed to be hard with him ;)

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

It's a really nice cam.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Álex Montoya

If this camera performs well, the DSLR revolution is dead as far as I'm concerned. Thank god

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Ryan

Looks like it would be great for HD nature documentaries.. With the crop factor you don't need massive telephotos. It really looks like it might be a great option for almost any movie-length project. I think this is the sort of set-up that a company like Panasonic should look long and hard at. Take the GH2/GH3 framework and go in this direction.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
jchilds

my only concerns will be:

IS/AF support from the EF mount
Rolling shutter severity
built in Battery...as opposed to removable battery
No USB 3.

So depending on the final product and samples of it's output...I might very well be standing in line for 2 of these cameras.

One things for sure, Black Magic is going to have trouble keeping up with demand!!

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
seanmcr6

Sensitivity and rolling shutter are my biggest concerns right now.

I hope we get to play with some native footage anytime soon.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Álex Montoya

Like everyone else I'm also really excited about this camera, but yeah some of John's test footage is pretty shaky, as is most handheld dslr footage without IS. I'm a little concerned about stabilization since it's designed to be a handheld camera, as per the interview. EF lenses with IS are few and far between and some people just prefer not to use lens IS at all. Looks like we may need a shoulder rig after all. Have to wait till more footage comes out I guess. Still, camera looks like it has huge potential.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Scott

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

Internal battery?! It's insane! How could be done a full Day shooting outside If i can't replace batteries?! Should we use external heavy lead batteries like the nineties? It's crazy! Impossibile in fast handheld shooting!

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Luigi

You can power it with almost anything. Watch the video.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Álex Montoya

Who said anything about lead batteries? Power it with your canon batteries if you want with a simple adapter.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Roger Freeman

Large studio productions often have a large Anton Bauer tethered to the camera. I think V-mount batteries will end up being the best option unfortunately.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

I've been watching the sample videos, and rolling shutter in the few places where I could actually see fast camera movement, the camera didn't seem to handle it too well. Maybe I'm just imagining things, but I just can't deal with another camera with a heavy rolling shutter issue.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Chris

So what camera would you suggest then? Seems like every camera has this problem unless you're willing to spend the big bucks. You can't have Ferrari for the price of a Ford. I for one could almost care less about rolling shutter - put your camera on a proper stabilization device!

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Roger Freeman

Jesus F*%%ng Christ, if I hear one more person complain about rolling shutter on here...

Sorry. Just had to vent.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Hummer

Who needs usb3. It has thunderbolt and ssd media.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Paul

USB is a much more widely adopted standard than thunderbolt, and is really all this camera needs. It can't send out video data or anything via the port, so what's the need? USB 3.0 would be really nice for those of us who work on PCs.

May 2, 2012

0
Reply
Joey

And this is only a first generation product. This may be a kick in the pants these companies need to show they can provide professional options at affordable prices.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
moebius22

I think Canon missed the lesson from their amazing accidental success with the 5D, it was never, "wow look at that image" it was "wow look at that image for that PRICE". The new $15,000 HDSLR trend is an insult really. You want to compete in image quality, you are still up against true Cinema cameras that even Hollywood rents and doesn't own, if I'm playing in that league, forget Canon, I don't see Ridley Scott on these forums. But for the thousands and thousands of us who make up the emerging indie film and advertising market, we want the cheapest possible equipment that will give us the highest quality output.
BMD GETS it, they released DaVinci Resolve "lite" with almost no restrictions, and I'm coloring my first feature on it, if you get to play with the toys that the big shots do, it makes you want to buy some of that stuff too. If I can get my budget rangled together, I plan on picking up this camera and upgrading (FOR FREE) to the full DaVinci Resolve. This company understands what our market is. We are the 99% in the film world today. We will be the ones who buy from them in quantity, and we will be the ones who make them rich for doing it.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
James Neuendorf

Ah James, I don't think Canon missed a trick at all, why change what you're doing when it clearly works. DSLRs are not just about video, they're first and foremost stills cameras. Blackmagic don't have that constraint and could design a camera without all the other distractions. If you consider it an insult that they've created a 4k camera for $15k that can record 4k directly to CF cards then you really don't understand the market very well. The 5D mk2 is going to plummet in price and it's still a great camera, it's just even better value now. I don't think Canon never got it, nor Sony nor Panasonic, they're just bound by financial imperatives and market necessity in a way that Blackmagic aren't. Plus, the camera is essentially a hyperdeck shuttle with a sensor attached. They already had most of the parts required to build the back end, from many years of dealing with exactly those kinds of specs and sensors, Canon have had to build it from scratch. It just feels like everyone's getting all pissy at manufacturers when we've never ever had it so good. From someone whose first films were shot on a PD150 up against the big boys shooting S35, I think it's hilarious when indie filmmakers are complaining about the cheapest tools we've ever known.

Let's be thankful that we have such a brutal arms race going on, because we're the ones who benefit.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

No, I think Canon really did miss the mark on this one. Pardon the pun.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
swested

Canon most certainly missed the mark (pun intended!).
1. The 5d line has never been $3599 until now. 5dmkII which has same MP, and is sharper was $2699 remember? Ok, so we get better AF and cleaner ISO's but softer video and headphone jack for, wait, $1,000 more?? Not cool.
2. Canon jumps ship outside of the DSLR movement with the cinema cameras and launches them into the stratosphere of 16 and 30k prices!!
3. Canon comes back into the DSLR sphere with the 4k but has no RAW and launches this into the stratosphere of $15k. What DSLR (non medium format) is $15k? What motion jpeg cinema camera is $15k? So in one swoop, Canon came out with the most expensive DSLR and the most expensive prosumer camera (not near a digital cinema camera!).

Wow, thanks Canon. You have lost my business! Hello BMD! (I need Resolve 9 anyway. PS: design us a $3k or less interface controller for the indie masses. We'd appreciate it :) )

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

I'm certainly not complaining, I am just saying that Canon, who arguably started the HDSLR revolution with a happy accident, didn't learn from their success. I was a professional photographer long before I got into doing video, and so I fully understand the challenge of mixing a stills camera with a video camera. But they don't seem to have realized what made the 5Dmk2 such a big hit with film-makers, the same thing you just said, that this is an incredible time to be an indie production because of that cost/quality ratio. I'm not whining about the revolution here, I'm remarking that Canon just lost it's spot on top of the revolution because of missing the lesson from their success. Other companies are going to fill that role and get our business. The new 4k HDSLR from Canon is an "insult" because this is the same company that democratized film making, heck, I was a Nikon photographer 100% but the Canon 5dmk2 made me become a Canon loyalist, (it's not an easy thing for a photographer to switch brands). I had the highest hopes for what the mk3 would be, and instead Black Magic Design seems to have met them instead. my 2 cents.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
James Neuendorf

I agree absolutely, I'm not whining either because we know that companies like Bolex and Black Magic are filling the gap that Canon jumped. But every film maker I've talked to is disappointed with the Mark III, and that's Canon's deal. Even if jumping the gap wasn't an accident and indie filmmakers aren't Canon's target it doesn't change the fact that they're alienating those of us who don't have a butt load of money just lying around, and that's a fact.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Aaron

For what you pay with an increase in price and what you get in new features, the 5DMIII is a disappointment. I am glad to see other companies move into this sector of the market bringing new form factors and new ideas. I hope BM does well with this. Maybe they will come out with a version 2 with a bigger sensor and removable battery.

But we need to see more footage that challenges the sensor to see if this is a true contender.

April 19, 2012

0
Reply
Mickey Jones

Canon's constraints have nothing to do with also having to be a stills camera. Their constraints are they have a motion division that got completely side swiped by their arms race (in the stills world) with Nikon. When Nikon added video, they realized, hey, we gotta do it too...and in the process, they outperformed their (overpriced) motion division.

And now with their off the mark pricing we're seeing a company trying (and failing) to come to terms with the two sides of it's business.

It reminds me of Sony (although not their motion picture cameras)...they had a similar corporate quandry...this is the company that invented the Walkman... and they a record label (a big one!)...yet...they could never reconcile the two halves, and that's the iPod revolutionized music, not a digital Walkman.

BMD "gets it", as someone said. For it's price range, you want usable color and having it encoded well (with a choice of formats)...and you want SDI, but not having to pay $15k plus for it. You know, basically a D-SLR with a couple of small tweaks. I think the tiny sensor size is unfortunate, and I have little doubt they'll make a normal sized sensor in the future. This is what people want out of a camera in this price range (excluding the tiny sensor size), and actually more in line of what people wanted out of Canon in that price range.

April 21, 2012

0
Reply
Daniel Mimura

looks like the rolling shutter is quitte severe, 3:43 when he touches the camera on the tripod. The image on the lcd goes all wiggly.. :(

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Ardon

I guess if rolling shutter proves to still be an issue, it will come down to how it compares to the rolling shutter from your average dslr from similar price range, mkIII, D800, etc. If it's roughly the same, it'll definitely be a disappointment, but the other features would still likely push it out front for me. If it's worse, then maybe not.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Scott

In fact, the rolling shutter with the Mark III is very minimized. My bet is that this camera has more of it, though I hope I'm mistaken.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Álex Montoya

NOT true - rolling shutter on the 5DMK3 is crap. Here is a video my friend made proving it. There is virtually NO difference between the MK2 and MK3 in rolling shutter.

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/QKzLeFOqYsI/

Take care.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Jordan Carr

I guess the rolling shutter mentioned in the video is actually the lens elements shaking. A problem with non cinema lenses. Espessially with telephoto lenses.

April 18, 2012

0
Reply

it's a pretty long zoom it looks like, so it might also just be any vibration multiplied by the zoom factor. You know what even breathing can do at 300 mm, even more so with that crop factor. It was a bit jiggly though.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
James Neuendorf

True, it's a shot with the canon zoom lens, didn't see that. Let's hope it's worsened due to the zoom lens and it's still a prototype, so let's hope for the best

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Ardon

...that isn't what rolling shutter even looks like. That's lens vibration.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
swested

I love how none of these idiots noticed that, or you pointing it out. And honestly, RS is their main issue? What are you shooting? Paul Greengrass can rent Alexas, or you know, shoot film. I cannot think of a shoot I've done or cut in the last 3 years where the RS of a DSLR prevented a shot. This is just trolling.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

I'm more concerned with Moiré patterning than RS.

April 19, 2012

0
Reply
Mickey Jones

rolling shutter, while probably present, shouldn't be THAT much of an issue, given the smaller sensor size. with a 2x crop factor, as well as a what looks like the 70-200mm L lens, this looks like a lens vibration.

rolling shutter comes from the time it takes to read the sensor top to bottom, and the image in the frame changing during that time. at this price point this camera probably doesn't have the fastest processor around, so i'm sure some rolling shutter is present, but at a S16 size sensor, it should be less of an issue than that of a larger sensor camera (like 5dii).

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Kevin

Lens vibration creates rolling shutter.

April 21, 2012

0
Reply
Daniel Mimura

Oops...sorry...that was for swested.

April 21, 2012

0
Reply
Daniel Mimura

I wonder if it'll accept spinning hard drives such as a 7200rpm notebook drive, and have enough throughput to capture ProRes. Sure I know it wouldn't work with RAW, but it would be pretty sweet if you could slap a 750GB 7200rpm drive in there and get a massive amount of ProRes onto $120 worth of drive.

I can't wait to see some side by side comparisons on the DoF. While I know everyone wants to shoot wide open it's a tough gig to pull focus at that point, not to mention many times it's actually distracting to the story you're trying to tell, so I'm not slavishly attached to the 2" depth of focus look. My only real concern is sourcing lenses for situations where you need to go wide. Interiors might be pretty hard when your widest option is a 22mm equivalent (assuming roughly 2x) out of an 11-16mm Tokina.

Color space is a HUGE deal for me. I'm not even that seasoned of an eye and the 8bit colorspace leaves a lot to be desired. This camera shooting in 12bit, for only $3k, is remarkable. Combined with all the perfect assortment of I/O ports and man, I would be EXTREMELY hard pressed to buy an FS100 for my inventory when they're 66% more expensive (at $5k). That said, if I get to doing more of what I'd prefer to be doing (music videos and sports) I'd probably stick to my guns about getting an FS700.

Slow-mo is the new time-lapse.

Then again maybe RAW is the new slow-mo?

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

"Slow-mo is the new time-lapse.

Then again maybe RAW is the new slow-mo?"

Actually, RED is the new black! ;-)

+ 1! Lack of wide angle lenses in EF mount is their big problem.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
c.d.embrey

The other thing to worry about with all that crop is the distortion properties of the wider lenses versus how close to your subject you need to be in order to frame up things like medium tight shots. At some point your lens is pushing the subject's ears (assuming human) so far behind their ever-warping face, that people start looking funky. A lot of people think "oh well, the crop just makes a 25mm act like a 50mm but the two have totally different looks with the same framing. Oh and now that I think of it, if you were to use the 2k image as a way to have reframing options you're REALLY starting to crop things. So I dunno.... I'll have to see what people think of the crop factor on this bad boy but it looks really promising.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

Good points, but it gets back to: what have filmmakers done with s16 (more crop than this) for the past 100 years? Seems like they have mastered their craft. Is it because of the s16 lenses?

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

25mm is considered as the standard lens for 16mm, so the long end of a 10-22mm will be fine. I've shot close with a lot shorter than 22mm (5.7mm, 10mm, 15mm) back in film school days.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
c.d.embrey

The chip is slightly larger than S16 and slightly smaller than 4/3. Therefore only two useable lenses for "intimate story films" are the EF 14mm f/2.82.8L prime and the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom. And maybe the EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye zoom, if you like that sort of thing .

This camera will be great for shooting BIF and Surfing. A $1,350.00 EF 400mm f/5.6L will give you a lot of reach for not much money. On the other hand, shooting in 10x12 apartment bedrooms and compact car interiors, like many low budget features do, may be difficult.

BTW, much better interview than the typical 90 seconds that most sites do.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
c.d.embrey

Wouldn't the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 be an option as well? Best price anyway, though the Canon 10-22 isn't much more.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Scott

I just mentioned the OEM lenses. I have no idea what the 3rd party makers are doing for wide lenses. Does Tamron make a wide zoom ?

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
c.d.embrey

Tamron makes a 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply
Scott

The Tokina is great on the 7D but only usable at 16mm on the 5D so I would guess it would be fine through the full range on this smaller sensor.

April 19, 2012

0
Reply
Mickey Jones

I would get this camera EXCEPT:

It seems to be very badly ergonomically designed for handheld

built in battery

RAW = lots of money on storage.

April 17, 2012

0
Reply

Pages