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

04.20.12 @ 8:34PM Tags : , , , ,

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.

The BmD CC's Super16-ish *or 4/3rd-ish* sensor (in red) makes a big difference in the kind of lenses you'll use

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.


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.

Ooh, handles

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 :) ]

Related Posts

  1. Hands-On With the 2.5K Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera
  2. BlackMagic Design's Cinema Camera is a 2.5K RAW Shooter with Built-in Monitor and Recorder for $3K
  3. NAB Roundup: Monitor/Field Recorders from Atomos, Sound Devices, Convergent Design, and Blackmagic


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