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Hands-On With the 2.5K Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

04.17.12 @ 12:30PM Tags : , , , ,

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]

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  • I’m personally quite excited about this camera! I cancelled my pre-orders on two 5dMKIII bodies due to the poor quality, resolution and issues with the camera. The 4K Canon camera was also outrageously priced, this seems like the perfect solution, although it may not be full-frame (unfortunately) it seems like the quality is there.

    Going to wait until tests come out to see whether it can actually live up to the hype. This and the FS700 very great news indeed!

  • It’s nice to see a reasonably priced camera come to market by a company that understands the needs of its intended users. I shoot with a 5D and have invested a lot in canon glass, so this is a nice fit for me. While I’m intrigued by all the new cameras that have been released, I must agree that the prices are a bit too high for my budget. The built-in battery on this unit was my only concern but I’m sure there will be a quick solution in the near future. Let this be a wake up call to all the other companies that lower priced, quality cameras are coming and that they no longer control the market or it’s price points. I was going to upgrade the the 5Dm3 but feel the cost increase didn’t justify the product. I was also looking at the Digital Bolex but I think I will be ordering the Blackmagic now because for the price it’s got most everything I need and add in the bundled software… It’s a no- brainier.

  • The video stops just before 4minutes and then it’s just green!

  • What I find disappointing is the sensor size. If this was APS-C, this camera would be perfect.
    “Slightly smaller than four thirds” is not necessarily too small, but the weird 2.x crop factor will be a problem because you won’t be able to get the right focal lengths.

  • Why im not going to get this camera..

    first.. no HDMI out.. why? i really would like the option to hook up my smallHD screen
    second.. no XLR audio inputs.. who dosnt use XLR mics ?
    third.. no super35-isch sensor.. just something i really like to have.
    fourth.. everything is controlled by tuchscreen… yuck!

    Otherwise the specs on the camera looks really good
    /D

    • @David Nilson “no XLR audio inputs.. who dosnt use XLR mics ?”
      Only every DSLR camera. For the price, this camera is toe to toe with the Nikon D800…
      the Black Magic camera may only have 2 1/4 inch inputs, but that is far superior to the D800 internal mic and its 1 stereo 3.5mm audio input. Besides, you can always use a h4n for the audio if 48kHz/24 bit isn’t good enough for you, which you would have to do anyway if using a DSLR. At $3,000 show me a camera that can record RAW at 2.5k with better audio.

  • BECAUSE it was a very early test, BESIDES I’d rather have this kinda test instead of one done with expensive gear that most of us will never acquire! and well how many people have that kinda glass(ZEISS CP2) that would be considering a camera at this price point, I mean, the price, people the PRICE/SPECS remember the promise of the scarlet? look now you have to fork out almost 3 times more than what we thought they were going to charge, i like what BMD did look at the market see what the other manufacturers have neglected and deliver! I mean seriously DSLR shooters have opened a whole new market that is worth millions (depending on your currency :)) but what do we get for the last 3+ years? good cameras with loads of potential, if, you fork out even more money for the accessories and even then you have loads of limitations, as a Canon sponsored DoP, I will tell you that i will be using this instead from now on for the relevant projects and still use my 7D for 50fps work etc but

  • “…so when it comes to RESPONSE, we’ve responded to customer demand, as opposed to responding to what any other camera does.”

    Love it. I’ll buy into that line. A lot of evidence to prove the truth in that statement.

  • Looks awesome! I’ve put down for 2!

  • It’s a pity about the design faults. The specs look good.
    But why a Canon mount on a MFT sensor camera??? What were they thinking. A MFT mount would have been perfect and giving the option for a great amount of manual focus Voightlander lenses and also the Olympus lenses etc etc…..

  • You can’t have it all people. The specs on this cam are very good. Just like any other pro cam out there we’ll need to get accessories to make it work the way we want. Price point is good and you can live with the sensor size. I hope once the camera is out we’ll see some more options for the lens mounts. That said, the majority of potential users buying a cam at this price own canon glass anyway. Would like to see how this baby performs in the real world, but so far I’m almost sold.

  • There’s a poster who has the camera that insists ProRes is encoded LOG data. He can’t/won’t say whether this is only in the “filmic” mode or another mode entirely beyond Filmic and REC709.

    I was told specifically that the ProRes was a codec that had 2 non-linear (Filmic and REC709) modes optimally pulled from the log RAW data converted from the sensor. Filmic I assumed was either for conversion to film or to make video look more like film. (Forgot to ask.)

    I think this person is seeing a flat Filmic gamma and assuming he is seeing LOG.

    Or, he’s correct — and “filimic” is the name for 10-/12-bit log data. In this case it may need to be de-loged (LUT) during import.

    However, were ProRes 12-bit RGB 4444 log data — it would have more than the full 16-bit sensor’s linear DR. A killer feature!

    Even 10-bit log RGB 4444 would carry the full 16-bit linear sensor’s DR.

    The free version software could handle either of these.

    Does anyone know?

  • Awesome. I was interested in the Digital Bolex, mainly because I am a huge Bolex fan, but this looks and sounds superior.

  • Interview with the president of Black Magic Design. https://vimeo.com/46000873 Sheds some light on some design features (choice of sensor). Basically, they were shopping for a sensor while trying not to tip their hand about their move into the camera business.

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