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First Blackmagic Cinema Camera Footage Since NAB, Camera Won't Have Optical Low-Pass Filter

07.27.12 @ 2:53PM Tags : , , ,

Earlier in the week John Brawley, a director of photography helping Blackmagic with the development of their Cinema Camera, posted some full resolution screenshots of footage he’d been shooting with that camera — the first such material since NAB. Now we’ve got the next best thing — he’s posted a minute of footage online. Video samples from this camera have been rather scarce, according to Brawley, since Blackmagic has been working on finalizing the sensor calibration and wanted to wait until they felt good that the calibration and firmware were fully mature. There has been quite an interesting revelation in the past day, however, and it has been revealed that the final camera will not have an optical low-pass filter (or anti-aliasing/blur filter as it is sometimes called). We all know that moire can be a problem on many of the cameras we shoot with (mostly DSLRs), so the big question many are wondering is, how will moire be on the camera now that it won’t feature the OLPF?

The footage has been made available only on the Vimeo page for John Brawley, so you can get there by clicking the video image below:

Here are some of the details about the shoot from Brawley’s blog:

Lenses were the lovely Zeiss Compact Primes…18mm for the wide, 35mm for the panning shot of Casey at the table and most of the closer shots were the 50mm or the 85mm. Exposures were mostly T2.8 or T8 for when I was looking back at the windows. Shooting at ISO800 to ProRes 422 (HQ) in film mode.


The clip was edited in FCPX and then it was exported using XML into Resolve 9, and graded using only single nodes and primaries. The lighting was very minimal, and with such little done to the footage in post, it’s remarkable how nice this camera is rendering colors. The skin tones in the clip have a nice balance without too much red, yet the shirt, her lips, and the red pool balls show excellent saturation and a full range of tones. This type of shot is difficult to replicate with DSLRs without introducing noise somewhere. Often, you can shoot for nicer looking skin tones, but you’ll lose the fullness in the reds, and if you try to bring those back to what they were, there’s a good chance you will be introducing some noise. This is not the case with this footage, thanks to the high bitrate and exceptional color space (ProRes HQ at a maximum of 220mbps and 4:2:2 color). Even the compressed Vimeo footage shows clear separation and excellent tonality.

We have now learned a major detail about the camera, that it won’t feature an optical low-pass filter. I don’t believe this will change, as this is what John Brawley has stated (I’ll be sure to update if this is wrong). It may not suffer from moire and aliasing nearly as badly as Canon’s cameras have in the past. They achieve their image in a very different way, and some of the problems come from the fact that those cameras have to figure out a way to get from 5K down to basically 2K. What this does mean, however, is that very fine detail patterns have a much greater potential of posing an issue. If you’re still reading and have no idea what’s going on, you can read more about the Nyquist and sampling theorem here (have fun with that one if you’re not an engineer, it’s a very in-depth read).

With the way this camera derives its image, I believe the positives will far outweigh the negatives. The huge positive of not having the optical low-pass filter should be improved sharpness. That’s because OLPFs are a trade-off. Make one that’s too strong, and you’ll lose fine detail that wouldn’t have been affected by moire, and make one too weak and you’ll let a lot of moire through. By not having one at all, similar to digital medium format cameras, you should be able to get slightly more overall image quality. This is not too dissimilar to the way the Nikon D800E works, but in that case, Nikon actually used two filters that cancelled each other out. All of these cameras have to have an infrared filter, to block out the infrared wavelength which pollutes much of the color in daylight images.

We’ll see what this will mean for the image soon enough (and how bad moire will actually be), but it may just be another trade-off for maximum image quality and lowest cost.

[via John Brawley]

Related Posts

  1. Removing the Front Optical Low-Pass Filter on the 5D Mark III for Sharper Video
  2. John Brawley Shows off More Graded Material from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera
  3. What's the Verdict on the Canon 5D Mark II Optical Anti-Aliasing Filter?

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  • I don’t understand the lack of downloadable files. The camera is supposed to be released in a couple of weeks and it still seems like it’s in early beta testing. It seemed so promising at first but in the months leading up to release it sure seems like Black Magic isn’t really ready to release this camera yet. I hope I’m wrong but you have to admit they are going about this in a very unorthodox manner. Let’s hope that means the camera is unorthodox (awesome).

    • I honestly can’t tell you, I mean no company ever releases downloadable footage for their cameras. There is a plausible deniability to web footage. I actually don’t think that’s the issue, I think bandwidth could be more of an issue, but if you look at it from their point of view, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It should be common practice to release full quality footage, but this just sadly doesn’t happen.

      • I guess I’m more worried about the overall lack of information. No cameras being released early for test/review. Firmware and little changes like no OLPF coming days before supposed ship dates.

        • I don’t know if it was a change, it may just have been something they weren’t sure if they were going to implement. July 31st is not a hard ship date for the camera, I think it will be a few weeks roll-out before it gets into any serious volume. I think this just proves how hard camera design is, it’s not like the thing isn’t working, I would imagine they are being extra cautious since this is their first camera and they can’t make a second impression.

          • I want it to be a great camera. I really do. I’m rooting for it because IF it does end up being an amazing cam then it forces the hand of bigger manufacturers and spawns smaller companies to get in the game. Good for everyone.

          • The reason they said they didn’t release the footage yet (from what i remember) was because they keep improving the camera and tweaking it. I still would like some tbh. but owell.

        • John Brawley on 07.28.12 @ 3:22AM

          I’ve actually mentioned from very early on that the use of an AA filter was very much up for grabs.

          jb

          • @roy oh my, perpetual beta. Where have I heard that before?

          • I know right? Lol. Just saying what I think I remember them saying.

          • John Brawley on 07.29.12 @ 5:16PM

            Hey BMD aren’t those guys. I’m the only one that get’s late night email rants from the CEO of BMD ! ;-)

            In all seriousness, they plan to get the camera out the door and get the camera making nice pictures in a basic way (and it doesn’t get more basic than RAW).

            Depending on feedback, they will implement feature request where they can based on demand (how loud people yell and jump up and down)

            jb

  • The doubters of this camera and people who just love to be negative and point out flaws in general are about to rip this camera to shreads over this smh. Either way for the pricepoint the image i’m seeing is revolutionary. I’m glad they don’t have slow motion on this camera as it gives me an excuse not to buy one (I only shoot music videos where slow motion is a necessity) and I can wait for them to fix the bugs of the first generation. If they through at least a 4/3rds mount (aps-c size even better) add slow motion and get rid of aliasing I would glady pay even more than they are charging for this now.

  • There you go! Maybe for a few dozen people this is new news :-)

  • john jeffreys on 07.27.12 @ 3:57PM

    That actress has a great ass. John Jeffreys seal of approval. I’d shoot that all day. All day.

    • john jeffreys on 07.27.12 @ 4:03PM

      Now in regards to the actual topic, this recent series of stills and footage from Brawley is really, really, tempting me to sell my 5d kit and put it towards a BMC. My biggest concern was a very small-sensor-ish depth of field but it seems perfectly fine in that clip, AND he was only shooting at 2.8. The colors and dynamic range is unbelievable, so filmic. Crop factor is my only concern right now.

  • Black dynamite on 07.27.12 @ 4:00PM

    Jacob:
    “I would glady pay even more than they are charging for this now”
    You people will always complain about the cameras even if there is everything you mentioned above..

  • Did anyone else notice the color or aperture shift/pop around 0:40 – 0:42? Is that the camera or the Vimeo player?

  • matus amrich on 07.27.12 @ 5:05PM

    it´s not a compression artifact, when you wach again carefully that shot is made from two shots , and their gamma/gain doesn´t mach perfectly

  • I’m not particularly excited about this camera, but the dynamic range is certainly impressive.

  • For completeness of this article, what is the native rez of the BMCC sensor again? Without an OLPF the aliasing/moire will be introduced at that rez, and any downsampling after that can amplify or hide artifacts introduced at the higher rez. There will be a downsampling in post as well from 2.5K to 1080p, though usually better downsampling algo’s are used in post (because their authors don’t have a captive audience like the camera manu’s do), and moire/aliasing shouldn’t be introduced much then. But again that downsampling can amplify artifacts upstream.

    I am sure the moment someone even vaguely scientific gets their hands on a BMCC the tests will be done. If the news is good, Blackmagic should release its own proper tests preemptively. If the news is bad, they should try to filter out geeks from the list of people who receive their bodies first, and try to sell on subjectives. I’m someone who balances both factors but I want to see the objective data before spending $3,000.

    • Full RAW resolution is 2432 x 1366. Moire/aliasing are also dependent on pixel fill without the OLPF. The more pixels you have theoretically the less moire/aliasing will occur because it’s resolving that fine detail.

  • Pretty impressive. Didn’t realize how much the BMC looked like Alexa footage, are they seriously selling the body for only 3k…? At one point I was tempted by the Red Scarlet… but damn, this looks far more impressive than anything I’ve seen shot on Epic or Scarlet in regards to regular 24p.

    This is pretty much the most cinematic image I’ve seen a digital camera produce aside from an Alexa. Where the hell was I during the pre-order…?

    • Just for your information this was actually filmed in 25p.

      • How do you know it was shot in 25p? Also i wonder why they would not of shot in 24p.

        • Because 25p is PAL standard in Australia, where John is based.

        • John Brawley said so and yes, it’s also the PAL standart in Australia.
          And Richard it depends on the person, I probably couldn’t but i know an old DP who could guess after say, one minute of footage just to be sure. I guess it’s a simple matter of experience and knowing what to expect beforehand.

        • John Brawley on 07.29.12 @ 5:18PM

          The first lot of footage WAS shot 24 because that’s all the first prototype could do ! But yeah, even for cinema, we often still shoot 25 FPS in this part of the world.

          jb

  • RebelPhoton on 07.27.12 @ 6:37PM

    NO OLPF= BAD NEWS=SAD POTENTIAL CUSTOMER ;(

  • For the price, and what you get, this camera looks great. I’m not gonna be too nit picky about it.

  • Nasty moire in the back of the chair at 0:22. Disappointing.

    And you don’t blow the chalk off the cue. Amateur move.

    • Her blowing the chalk is a ‘cinematic’ move… stop moaning lol.

    • John Brawley on 07.28.12 @ 3:31AM

      Yeah it’s there. But honestly I rarely see it. In this case, if you think about it, it’s amazing that it’s showing up. That is a pretty wide shot and you’ve got some very fine mesh at quite a distance.

      It will never be nearly as bad as say a 5D because the root cause is quite different.

      jb

    • The moire in the chair have nothing to do with the camera, at least in this shot. I would guess it’s some “real” moire that you would also see with your eyes because the chair has two layers of slightly transparent fabric (basically a very small grid) stretched around it which is causing moire.

      Your eye will always see moire patterns when two grids are held one behind another and are a little tilted. Moire in camera appears also because of two grid layers, the one being filmed, like a brick wall or some fine fabric (you won’t see moire here with you eye, only with some cameras) and the other being the pattern of pixels on the sensor of the camera itself.

      So correct me if I’m wrong, but this as I think is moire filmed by the camera that you will also be seeing with your eyes. So there is nothing to worry. Or is there? ;)

      There are some colour shifts in 0:21-0:23 on the chair, I guess this is some camera issue and an effect you wouldn’t see with your own eyes.

      What do you think?

      • john jeffreys on 07.28.12 @ 6:45PM

        There is in installation at MOCA that actually uses “natural” moire as an intended effect. Its a bunch of wires stretched from edge of the ceiling to the other, and you walk down the hallway and look up and watch the lines go crazy, like some bad 5d footage.

  • DeaconWhite on 07.28.12 @ 4:21AM

    Thanks so very much John Brawley for posting this video and all of the other stuff you’ve done concerning the BMC. I (and others) really appreciate it

  • Would love to get a raw clip to pull into the color bay. Also, I think I’m going to wait for BMD to release an aps-c sensor. They already said that this camera was just the beginning. Love the dynamic range!

    • They also do said an APS-C version could cost 20K if they can’t find the right chip off the shelf.

  • I think this footage looks really good. Like a baby Alexa. Can’t wait to try it. Great job John & Black Magic!

  • Kevin Marshall on 07.28.12 @ 1:00PM

    Mixed feelings about no OLPF, but I’m not super-worried. I imagine it’s possible someone could make an aftermarket one like the Mosaic…but we’ll see. Not a deal-breaker by any means, to me.

  • Antoine Bordeleau on 07.28.12 @ 10:54PM

    OLPF or not, this footage goes to show that talented people will be able to make amazing images come to life with this camera. I don’t give a shit if it’s a foetal version of an Alexa; it’s a fraction of the price and still way better than anything in its price range. How can people complain about that? If you need a 100,000$ camera to make good movies, that’s because you suck. Of course if you have the budget then sky’s the fucking limit in this domain! But if you’re a young up and coming indie filmmaker, then the BMCC is freaking big news.

    So stop bitchin’.

    • Damn right!
      That camera for that price with great specs and a great looking picture and some minor flaws that you can work around. Just look at DSLRs, how many flaws do they have and people still make great movies with those things.

      I just don’t get it. People complain about more or less minor stuff. The sensor is not s35, I can’t change the battery, I want interchangeable mounts…yes sure that would be ideal. But ideal wouldn’t cost 3k. If you want ideal, go buy a camera for 20K or even much much more.

      Just stop whining and go shoot some movies!

      • Here a copy of the comment, because it is not fully shown due to the video embed I guess:

        Damn right!
        That camera for that price with great specs and a great looking picture and some minor flaws that you can work around. Just look at DSLRs, how many flaws do they have and people still make great movies with those things.

        I just don’t get it. People complain about more or less minor stuff. The sensor is not s35, I can’t change the battery, I want interchangeable mounts…yes sure that would be ideal. But ideal wouldn’t cost 3k. If you want ideal, go buy a camera for 20K or even much much more.

        Just stop whining and go shoot some movies!

    • Nick Ligonis on 07.29.12 @ 7:43PM

      Amen brother.

  • With respect to quality, it should be noted that some of the problems people seem to say they are spotting are due to how this video is being flagged (best term I can come up with) by certain browsers and how it is embedded. I’ve watched the original posted video on Safari and it looked amazing. Sharp, sharp sharp. Watched it in Chrome and it was compressed, maybe even SD. Seems I can’t get any of the current posts to pull up the same way it did originally, so I’m not sure what’s changed between now and then. Also worth noting, I DID upgrade to Mountain Lion. Just putting that out there and it has been confirmed by others as well. So, John, whatever you had up the first time, I’m definitely not seeing that quality out of any of the embeds now.

    On an up shot, the footage I originally viewed looked pretty damn impressive for $3000. I’m all in.

  • The sensor size is fine…please give us 60p though!

  • Gregg Toland on 07.30.12 @ 2:25PM

    A worthwhile article Joe but remember, ‘loose’ and ‘lose’ are different words.

    • I welcome pointing out typos, but I think you might be the first to point one out pretty much since I started writing. I think after almost 20 posts in the last 7 days, I’m allowed at least one lose/loose, their/they’re/there, and its/it’s. :)

      Though I do appreciate softening the blow by complimenting the post first.

      • Gregg Toland on 07.30.12 @ 4:05PM

        You’re doing a good job Joe, it’s appreciated. Just giving you a friendly kick up the arse about small mistakes. You can do better, same goes for all of us. Such is life.

  • Gary Roberts on 08.2.12 @ 3:54PM

    Just watched the video. That is a nice sharp image. This camera rocks.

  • The colours and the dynamic range in this clip looks fantastic. I prefer this much more to the overly clean look of many DSLR cameras out there. The depth of field looks good, which was my original concern. I think I will be getting this camera, but first I would love to see some low light test footage first, I fear that could be where this camera significantly falls down against competitors like the FS-100….

    • Mind you he is shooting with some crazy great lenses in this clip…. Not sure many people spending $3k on a camera can afford a full set of Zeiss Compact Primes….

      • Joe Marine on 08.2.12 @ 7:40PM

        Well the Compact Primes are pretty much the same lenses as the Zeiss ZF/ZE lenses. It’s the same formula, the glass might have some higher tolerances, but other than that image quality would be very similar. The Compact Primes don’t breathe nearly as much and the barrel does not extend when you focus – that’s the reason for the higher cost.

      • Daniel, if you dig the Camera, just buy it and find a lens to use …until. That’s what I do. I use what I have and often look for another way to view an object. If my hearts set, then I rent~

  • Chris K Jones on 08.3.12 @ 4:26AM

    So we already know the camera isn’t perfect, but could be a real game changer, and just like Red will have release and development problems too. But I’m excited for BM, it’s their first camera, and a really boldly different approach. After seeing the f65 in action I concluded that in future the ‘creative action’ would shift from acquisition to post, BMs development of a post- ready acquisition format both in terms of hardware and codec suggests this will be the way to go, current HD workflows are a confusing inconsistent mess that is slowing the production process and pushing up costs. The pictures look great at that price point and ha ha what a subject to choose for a demo, all rock chick playing pool n stuff….nice pins…

  • I don’t understand why no changeable batteries, what if the batteries dies?

    • Agree! They boast no proprietary connections which is awesome, but why take the apple approach to batteries considering you can only get 90 mins on it?

      • You can use v mount batteries, that are basically used on almost any more or less professional camera setup for film shoots. Sure it’s not ideal for a very small setup where you only want to take the camera and some lenses. But I guess there will be some mounting solutions from other manufacturers so you can attach other external batteries from sony, canon and others.

  • Just as an exercise in perspective, remember that just over 10 years ago, $3000 bought you a Canon GL1 shooting 4:3 SD miniDV, a cheap mic and a box of tapes. Five years ago, two guys with $3K each still couldn’t afford a Sony EX1. If you want all the goodies mentioned (and complained that the BMDC is lacking), simply stick around. Someone will put it all together for a couple thousand dollars, and others will complain it doesn’t come with an O’Connor head and a Schoeps mic built in.