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April 20, 2012

Blackmagic Design's Cinema Camera Now Available for Pre-order - What Will the Barebones Cost You?

It seems like it was just yesterday that Blackmagic Design's Cinema Camera was announced -- and now it is available for pre-order!  As expected, the camera body will run you $2,995, and the projected availability is July 30.  So how much will you have to spend to get this thing bare-bones hand-held shoot-ready?  And what effect will the Super16-ish sized sensor have on your existing lenses?  Let's see:

Lenses  and Crop Factor / Focal Length Magnifier

The nice thing about this camera, as previously detailed, is that it will accept EF/ZE mount lenses -- so if you have that Canon-EF and Zeiss-ZE glass, or EF mount adapters, you'll be able to save yourself some money.  Otherwise, you can approach it just like shopping for DSLR lenses.

Using a Super16-ish (or Micro 4/3rd-ish) active sensor area of 15.6mm x 8.8mm, you'll have to re-calibrate your perceptions with regards to different focal lengths (i.e the 35mm lens you've used on your 7D will have a smaller viewing angle on the Blackmagic).  By my calculations, the "crop factor" or "focal length magnifier" for the Blackmagic Digital Cinema camera's active sensor area will be 2.4 relative to a full frame sensor camera like the 5D (or 1.5 relative to the APS-C sensor on a 7D/t2i).

So, lets say you want the viewing angle you get from a 50-55mm lens on a full frame camera like the Canon 5DmkIII.  On the Canon 7D/t2i, you would need a 30-35mm lens.  On the BlackMagic, you would need a 20-25mm lens.  Something to consider if you are using existing lenses or thinking of buying new ones.  With a 2.4 crop factor/FLM, folks are going to need to some very wide lenses to achieve wider angles, at which point some of those wide Tokina lenses start looking pretty attractive.  Just how wide can you get before distortion becomes an issue?  I'm sure it will depend on the quality of the glass, and the area of the image.  It'll be interesting to see just what folks find out once they start shooting.

Storage

Unless you're outputting to an external recorder, you'll need to buy a compatible SSD (solid state drive) for on-board recording.  B&H has a few suggestions (when you click on "Accessories" and "Media"), just remember it will need to be in a Mac OS Extended format (you can do the formatting on a Mac or through software like Mediafour MacDrive on a PC).  Looking at the prices, it looks like you'll have to put down between $280 and $965 for something between 256GB and 480GB.  You can go for smaller drives, but considering that shooting in RAW at 24fps will get you 30 minutes on a 256 GB drive, I don't see why you would.

Hand holding...

Wondering about that nifty handle thing-a-majig?  You can get it for $181 dollars.  I could see that being helpful, although I'd probably go for something shoulder mounted if I was really needing to do something handheld.

Barebones Price

So, assuming you buy one prime lens, a basic 256 GB drive, and (what the heck) the handles.  You'll have something you can shoot with for between $4500 and $5000.  Not bad!  But what's even nicer, is that for folks who already have DSLR rigs and lenses, they should be able to knock that down to the price of the body and SSD (so around $3300-$4000 depending on how much storage you get).  Who would have thought we'd have a ready to shoot 2.5K raw shooting camera in that range?

Are you planning on buying it?  What do you consider a barebones rig?  What would it cost you?  Are you debating between this camera and a 5dMkIII or D800?

[*Update*:  I decided to simplify and clarify the section on lenses/crop factors -- some folks were getting lost in the jumps from the 7D to 5D, back down to BMD CC.  Understandably so!  (It makes more sense to go from largest to smallest.)  Also -- updated the sensor comparison image.  As Marco points out in the comments, one could easily call it "4/3"-ish!  But I like Super16-ish :) ]

Your Comment

178 Comments

I'm sticking with my Digital Bolex

April 20, 2012

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Javed

joke?

April 21, 2012

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Jordan Carr

Yes: the Digital Bolex IS a joke.

April 21, 2012

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FabDex

Still have not seen any original files for download straight from the camera (and I'm not talking about youtube or vimeo web recompressed footage). Why the fuck would you buy a camera you've never seen the footage from. No one is talking about the IQ from the sensor. If it's shit, none of the file formats will make a difference. Would be nice if they gave DxO optics a pre-production unit to test.

April 20, 2012

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Look how many people put down great money on the Bolex - a camera not even in production yet!

April 23, 2012

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You probably will also have to upgrade your hard drives to have enough space to store and edit all that raw data.

April 20, 2012

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john jeffreys

Only if you shoot RAW. ProRes (Apple) or DNxHD (AVID) are great formats to shoot if you want compressed footage.

April 21, 2012

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Jordan Carr

for me at least, even a prores 422 workflow will require massive hard drive changes :/ I have 20GB left on my main internal and 200GB left on my external

April 21, 2012

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john jeffreys

I think this will take EF-S lenses, so the Canon 10-22 (which has remarkably low distortion and quite good optics overall) will be akin to the 24-70 range on FF. 17-50 EF-S zooms will be like 50-150 tele zooms. 24mm primes will be your "normal" eye-view lens. And all of these are faster lenses for the price than you could get for FF formats, although the sensor will harvest far less light and have not as narrow a DoF.

I am tempted to pre-order one of these, but am not in a particular rush since there will apparently be several fine cameras released this year. The SSD-based storage and direct-to-ProRes is awesome. The whole system is very well thought out though I want to know more about powering the unit (Battery grips? The 2 hour internal battery is not removable?). I think Blackmagic have established a watermark here in price/features and when they come out with a larger sensor version and everything starts working well I think the industry will have to follow with massive price reductions and elimination of proprietary nonsense like the RED SSDs.

April 20, 2012

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Peter

It would make sense for the camera to take EF-S lenses with the smaller sensor, but everything points to it being an EF mount...

April 21, 2012

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MRH

EF and EFS are the same mount different field of view in lens so that the EFS doesn't cover FF completely. Same mount different glass.

April 27, 2012

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Dietrich

Not yet entirely convinced that "everything" is well thought out until it gets some usage in the field. Also, what's the go with the lens mount? Doesn't look like you can bolt a different one on (like a PL mount or MFT mount). No reason they couldn't have finished a generic mount place closer to the sensor so that we can choose our own. I hope I'm wrong.

April 21, 2012

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I've seen rumors regarding a 4/3 lens adapter. I'll be sitting on the sidelines with my GH2 until that happens.

April 20, 2012

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Eddy

you can't adapt EF to M43... You need to hope they have different lens mount options or swappable mounts.

April 21, 2012

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Markertek has it for cheaper...

April 20, 2012

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I can't afford it, but if I could there is still one thing I have mixed feelings about - how it looks. It just looks like a toy, and if you were to show up to a shoot with that it honestly doesn't look all that impressive.

You can't attach any monitors to it (touch screen) and overall to the ignorant client it looks like something you could pick up for $200 off of Ebay.

April 20, 2012

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Tyler

Bury it inside a huge mattebox (those are cheap nowadays) and it will instantly look dressed for success. The SDI out will drive a monitor, you have to control the camera on its own body isn't unusual and touchscreen interfaces are nice and quiet.

April 20, 2012

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Peter

I may be wrong, but from what I heard it couldn't have an external monitor.

Or I just mis-understood, it was a quick video from NAB so yeah.

Also, that crop factor annoys me. I hate crop factors. Argh. Oh well.

April 20, 2012

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Tyler

Yes, you can use the SDI out for an external monitor

April 20, 2012

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Ryan

HD-SDI out and Thunderbolt will both be capable of monitoring. (Though thunderbolt exact functionality remains to be seen)

April 21, 2012

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Thunderbolt will power BlackMagic Ultrascope and Media express software.

April 21, 2012

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Jordan Carr

*Sigh* So what!? Are you shooting to impress colleagues/clients on set or to produce great images? I do have a matte box, but the only time I've used it was when I rented it out to someone in dire need of impressing a client, just like you. He didn't need the filters (indoors), just to make the package look more impressive... IMHO, it's just plain silly...

April 21, 2012

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Oh, I forgot...while everyone has been picking apart/judging/questioning/critiquing all the other features of the camera DR, flexibility in post, codecs, resolution, inputs/outputs, color space...you're the first person I've seen worry about the important factor of how cool it may or may not make you look.

I think you've taken the old Canon/Agassi slogan, "image is everything" and totally misinterpreted it.

April 30, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

Oops! Grr...I don't get where these comments get posted, sometimes. That was not for Richard, like it looks. It's for Tyler.

April 30, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

& remember you can shoot to ProRes or DNxHD on this puppy. I would only shoot Raw when I'm looking for something major in post.

April 20, 2012

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Tyler, attach a monitor via the HDMI out. Put a matte box on it, and rails. You'll need a follow focus anyway. Presto, big time look.

Or just put it in a cage.

As a RED owner, I prefer the aesthetic BMD is going for with this cam.

April 20, 2012

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There is NO HDMI out. But you can use the SDI for a monitor. They also make EVFs with a SDI loop-through so that you can have both..

April 21, 2012

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c.d.embrey

Sorry, SDI out.

April 20, 2012

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I'm really intrigued by this camera, but I'm cautious because it still seems too good to be true, as if there has to be something they aren't talking about that is bad. I really hope this is as good as it looks. I'm going to wait until the reviews and test shorts start rolling in this summer, and if it proves itself as a good camera, I'll almost definitely be getting one.

April 20, 2012

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Anton

My point exactly. If BMD wants to make sure people don't hesitate pre-ordering, they should release some raw footage for us to play with and give some blogs the opportunity to play with the camera. If it is THAT good, they have nothing to hide...

April 21, 2012

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I'm digging the raw capabilities, DSLR have no range and suffer for it.

Only think I don't care for is the touch screen, looks like a giant Iphone.

April 20, 2012

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But the ability to add metadata during the shoot is plain revolutionary and a huge timesaver in post!

April 21, 2012

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I had this very question about the crop factor and lenses and then bam, an article answers my question. Damn, this sites good.

April 20, 2012

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Jason

The article says that the "Cinema Camera features a Super16-ish sized sensor" which in reality, the sensor fits right in the middle of Super 16mm and Micro 4/3rd. So larger than Super 16mm, but smaller than 4/3rd. For a larger comparison of all sensor formats, from 1/3" to Full Frame 35mm, I created one for my article on Creative Cow: http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/is-the-new-blackmagic-cinema-cam...

April 20, 2012

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Marco, you are absolutely correct! Which is why I threw in the all important "-ish" ;) I think folks use Super16 as a shorthand to describe the sensor because they are comparing it to other larger sensor formats like APS-C, or Super 35mm, giving folks a rough sense of how large the sensor is. I threw that image in just for relative scale, but you are right, the sensor should be somewhere in between the Super16 rectangle and the Micro 4/3"(since Super16 is 12.5mm x 7.4mm, compared to the BmD CC's 15.6mm x 8.8mm). Great article, btw!

April 20, 2012

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Ah yes, the "-ish"! On that token, I'll say 4/3rds-ish, LOL! ;-) No worries.

Just another note if you don't mind me saying: As you referred to, if you wanted to shoot around, say, a 50mm lens equivalent in 35mm world, I'd use a 20mm or 24mm lens (preferably my 24mm f/1.4L). But I'd be shooting in the center sweet spot of the lens, without the wide distortion you mentioned (especially using EF as opposed to EFS lenses). Also no edge softness or vignetting. Realistically, I think the 24mm f/1.4L will probably look rather nice on it as my 50mm f/1.2L replacement. And my 35mm f/1.4L will then be my 85mm f/1.2L replacement! Of course, I wont know until I get my Cinema Camera to start testing on. But from what I've been seeing, I think my Canon L set is going to be very juicy on this camera. Can't wait!

And thanks for the kudos on my article. Much appreciated!

April 21, 2012

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In considering this purchase, it's the Resolve/Ultrascope addition that pushed me over to the "buy" side of the fence.

April 20, 2012

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Eric Emerick

http://vimeopro.com/johnbrawleytests/blackmagic-cinema-camera/video/4058...

Thats pretty darn good skin tone - even Vimeo compressed and at 720p

DSLRs don't look like that.

I preordered - it can only look better at RAW 1080 and with future upgrades.

April 20, 2012

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Jordan Carr

Wrong. The blackmagic's sensor is somewhere in between super 16 and m43.

April 20, 2012

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Chet

And for everyone complaining about hard drive space, or any trouble they may encounter with the raw workflow...DON'T BUY ONE. For some of us it doesn't even cross our mind and we're ready for it. It's nothing.

April 20, 2012

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Chet

Or just use DNX compression.

April 21, 2012

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Jordan Carr

Yeah. Just buy a raw capable camera and opt to use compression.

April 21, 2012

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Chet

DNX or ProRes is nothing like avchd or the canon crap people are used to - those files hold up well.

April 21, 2012

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Jordan Carr

Yeah that crop factor makes me a little apprehensive. I've dealt with the GH2's, and that's as small as I can go really with my existing lenses. If you need a wide shot but can't pull back far enough, its already much needed for m43, so good luck with that.
The other thing that bothers me is the ergo, and the fact that I can't swap batteries and it internal lasts about 2 hrs only? Don't forget to add to that number a battery belt that can power the thing handheld/shoulder mounted.

April 21, 2012

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Joseph

Sigma makes 8-16mm zoom and there are tons of 10mm and 11mm and 12mm options - no "very" wide but enough for establishing shots.

April 21, 2012

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Jordan Carr

You forgot battery.
how about this
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/503090-REG/Tekkeon_MP3450_MP3450_m...
it's 8.3 x 2.3 x 17.3 cm and the camera is 16.6cm by 11.cm x 12.6cm
and this to hold it
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/598008-REG/BEC_BEC_TEK_BEC_TEK_Mou...

April 21, 2012

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Andres

I think you need to look a bit left field, this takes ANY battery in a large range of voltages.
12v lithium 6.8ah off ebay are only $25 AUD so prob cheaper if you are in the states. Have an old cordless drill? connect it up! doing a shot out the back of your car? straight into the cig lighter. In an emergency you could run it of 10 AA batteries for crying out loud. I am super impressed!

I think the best thing about this is the openness of the design, Standard voltages, Standard lens, Standard SSD even standard workflow and file formats.

If I had $3k I would get this over a 5Dmk 3 and stay with my 5dmk2 for stills.

April 21, 2012

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Unfortunately, it's closer to a M43 sensor, not S16.

I say unfortunately because if you could adapt S16 lenses (which can be gorgeous AND cheap), you would have severe vignetting. If it were closer to S16 you could get away with it and have some very nice glass for cheap.

April 21, 2012

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ISO - Why aren't we talking about this?

Good stuff:
I'm super excited about this camera. I feel like I have already been benefited by it before anyone's even bought one. Why? simply because of the big ass hole this created in the fence of the existing marketing paradigms of companies who seek to sell video cameras to people like me. Black Magic Design fired a shot... and they hit something big. The innovation and competition of the market is going to a new level, like it did with the 5D. This camera has game-changer potential.

Bad Stuff:
Now that we see the potential here, why on earth would this game-changer have ONLY THREE steps of ISO???

Is there something to understand here that I don't get? Is there another type of gain control or something?

It seems rather odd and debilitating to me. And I'm not even talking about wanting to go HIGHER than 1600 ISO. I use the range of ISO selections on my 60D heavily to manage the noise/depth of field of my images. I've been told that the BMD camera has been finalized and that the ISO settings might change. In my mind, the ISO range currently available on the camera seems terribly out of step with the rest of camera.

Someone clear this up for me and explain how this isn't as much of an issue, please.

April 21, 2012

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You obviously have never shot Red / Alexa / Phantom etc that you shoot almost exclusively at a native ISO.

Same goes for this cam and because it shoots RAW you push/pull ISO in post production. And since they claim (seems true) around 13 stops of DR - you will have plenty of latitude to work with.

Remember that it is really only the cheezy DSLR folks that shoot one scene at ISO 200, another at ISO 1600 then back again to ISO800. Then when someone watches the footage they see different amounts of grain, sharpness, contrast, color, dynamic range....nothing matches and everything is a mess.

The idea behind a lot of Cinema Cameras is that you LIGHT and LENS your shots. Not tweak with ISO and wonder why NOTHING matches when you get your footage on your timeline.

(journalism and available light nature shoots are different - just rent a C300 for those)

Make sense?

Even when shooting film RARELY would a director use more than a few different film stocks - consistency is very important. You never want to take your audience out of the film and make them think..."yuck someone changed a camera setting."

April 21, 2012

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Jordan Carr

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