August 7, 2012

A Mini Alexa for $3,000? New Blackmagic Cinema Camera Clip Proves Comparison Isn't That Far-Fetched

Depending on your level of excitement for the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera, the picture on the left is very promising. There has been plenty of skepticism regarding the BMCC and the suggested retail price (and certainly the image quality), but every single piece of footage just continues to improve the prospects of this camera. The fact that you can get an image like the picture on the left, is just astounding, and it shows just how flexible this camera will be. John Brawley has thus far been the only DP allowed to release footage (since he's helping develop the camera), and today he's got a nice clip that may just blow you away. It certainly begs the question, is this as close to Arri Alexa image quality as low budget folks will get?

The footage below was shot with ProRes log, and John does say at some point he will be able to release full resolution files of both ProRes and CinemaDNG (there isn't any audio in the clip below):

Here is what John had to say:

Lenses were again, the lovely Zeiss Compact Primes.  The widest I had in the CP’s was the 28mm, so the two extra wide shots were done with the 15-85 Canon EF-S...I also did a fair bit of handheld.  Most of the mid shots’ and close ups are hand held with the 35mm or the 50mm CP.  I was generally shooting around T4 @ iso 800 (using T1 ND’s to get the right stop). The one exception was the 2 steadicam shots which were shot at T16 @ 28mm.  I didn’t have any remote focus motors so I went with DOF...Using the Zebra’s I simply made sure I exposed by looking at what was clipping at 100% and making a judgement on what I wanted to keep in terms of exposure. Now for those looking for Moire and aliasing, pay attention to Ella’s cardigan.  You can often see the weave of the fabric there, and on many DSLR’s I would expect this kind of pattern / weave to cause aliasing issues.

While he is using some of the best lenses money can buy, they offer similar optical quality to the much cheaper Zeiss ZE or ZF still camera lenses. What you lose in smooth iris and less breathing you make up for in lower price.

There is definitely some good news regarding aliasing and moire. It's going to appear at some point for everyone (since the camera does lack an optical low-pass filter), but it's clear from the clip that it's not going to be that bad. Since aliasing and moire in DSLRs show up for slightly different reasons, there's a good chance it won't be a real problem in normal shooting conditions. Owners will have to do their own testing, but this should come as a slight relief to those who were worried about rainbow patterns littering their frames.

John has joked about this camera being a baby Alexa, but judging from the newest footage, it might not be that far off. This camera won't match an Arri Alexa in features and shallow depth of field, but could it come close with image quality? RAW pixels aren't too far off -- about 2.4 on the BMCC versus 2.8 on the Arri Alexa. Comparing them is completely unfair (and probably a bit foolish), but the only other time I've seen footage with this much dynamic range and skin tones this natural is from Arri Alexa clips. There is a quality to the colors that reminds me very much of Arri's color science, and for the price, that is absolutely a steal.

We've talked about some of the shortcomings of the camera, but if the image quality will truly be as good as it looks in this Vimeo clip, it's going to be worth it to spend a little more to customize it for your workflow. This will never be an Arri Alexa (nor any of the more fully featured cameras for that matter), but it's going to give some crisp 1080p with a staggering amount of dynamic range. We can't wait to get our hands on one, but it's likely going to be a couple more weeks.

Either way, what do you guys think of the footage? How many shorts and features do you think will be shot on this camera over the next year?

Link: Some more Blackmagic Cinema Camera Footage - John Brawley's Blog

Your Comment

135 Comments

I seriously can't wait for some raw footage samples :)

August 7, 2012

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Micheal

Digital Bolex, C300/500, AF-100, Blackmagic the choices are starting to pile up!!!!

August 7, 2012

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I guess the only real thing that worries me is the crop factor. Being use to the t2i,7d crop factor and the 5d full frame going to 2.4 crop might be a leap.

August 7, 2012

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There was plenty of shallow DOF in that video, so I'm not worried about that. What worries me slightly is the lens mount; more difficult to get suitably fast wides for EF than for M4/3 or C-mount.

August 8, 2012

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Luke

Exactly: the only reason DoF will be a problem is that you can only use EF glass, and with a 2.3x crop factor you're going to be using mainly ultra-wide-angles, which are not the fastest lenses around either.

For a normal lens, you can go for a 24mm f/1.4 (Canon L, or Samyang), which will be equivalent to 55mm f/3.2 on a 5D2, in terms of field of view and depth of field.
For a portrait lens, you can go for a 35mm f/1.4 (I'd go Samyang, but it can be Canon L too), equivalent to 80mm f/3.2 on a 5D2.
The problem is for a wide angle: all you have is f/2.8 or slower (e.g. the Tokina 11-16), and in terms of DoF that's equivalent to f/6.5 on the 5D2. Not a huge issue, since wide angle shots don't usually require shallow DoF, but still...

Plus, a 24mm or a 35mm with EF mount are not usually designed with bokeh as a main concern, and blowing up the image 2.3x times will show all the imperfections in a lens: we may get some surprises when out previously-awesome lenses are just not suitable for what we want to do with them now.

August 9, 2012

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Yep, which is why so many people want an interchangeable mount. That's really the only big issue: faster, wider lenses. All of the other compromises aren't a big deal. For people who really want shallow there are some interesting M4/3s lenses that would have been perfect, like the 25mm 0.95 lenses.

August 9, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

C 500? haha very funny

August 8, 2012

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Amaury

That is pure glory.

August 7, 2012

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I love the intial shot with the car windscreen

August 7, 2012

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alan b'stard M P

Looks really great. And what I find so impressive is how well it did without lights and in direct sunlight.

August 7, 2012

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Casey

Beautiful footage. Really impressive. Hmm...

August 7, 2012

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Markus

I can't wait to get one. It's the first camera I'll own myself, so I'll shoot everything haha.

August 7, 2012

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Jason

Looks like it was shot in Australia. Always nice to see local works!

I love the image quality, dynamic range and colour depth, but I'm really not impressed by how wide the DOF is. I've been spoilt by the large sensor Canons, and really like a blooming bokeh in the backgrounds these days.

I'm very keen to rent one of these bad boys and see how far I can push it on that front with some controlled lighting.

August 7, 2012

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Ben

Looks to me like it might have been shot down the road from the Australian Technology Park near Redfern.

The "Dusk" video was shot in King St, Newtown, so John's hunting grounds are fairly close by.

August 7, 2012

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we need to see it in places with more contrasting colours. I'd love to take it into a a lovely garden with a steadicam, or see the texture of the down on a duck's back, and the colours.

August 7, 2012

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alan b'stard M P

I didn't notice anything distinctly Australian until the coffee shop scene, when I saw the terrace in the back of shot. Is that the dusk scene you were talking about?

August 7, 2012

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Ben

Oh... Not sure where that coffee shop is, to be honest, though it looks familiar. The initial car accident stuff is down the road from Australian Technology Park (Everleigh). Other locations, I'm not quite sure about, though I think the big UTS building in the background is a clue for one of them.

"Dusk" video is one of the earlier videos JB released of BMC. You know -- there was Dusk, Bondi, Leah. Looks like it was shot on different parts of King St, Newtown.

August 7, 2012

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By the way, "Gather on the Green" cafe seems to be in Camperdown, which is also sort of in the vicinity of UTS, ATP, Newtown. I don't think I know the place after all; can't recall ever having gone there.

August 7, 2012

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Correct. First scene was in Buckland St, Alexandria (annoyingly just down the road from my house... I kind of feel like I need to just spend my days driving around the neighbourhood hoping to catch a glimpse of this camera). The "Central Park" ones were at the new development at the old brewery site at Broadway/Ultimo. And the coffee scene was as you said, at Gather on the Green, Camperdown.

Here's the Google maps locations:

https://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=buckland+street+alexandria&ie=UTF-8&hq...

https://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&safe=off&ie=UTF-8&q=uts&fb=1&gl=au...

https://maps.google.com.au/maps?ie=UTF-8&q=gather+on+the+green&fb=1&gl=a...

August 8, 2012

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Stephen

1:30 in it says central park sydney on the wall behind the girl,

August 7, 2012

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There's more than one way to skin a cat. There are other ways of achieving shallow depth of field other than relying on a S35 sized sensor ;-)

August 9, 2012

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Jay

Well I can certainly tell you I'll be shooting my movies on this baby whenever I can manage to save up for one-which may be awhile...

August 7, 2012

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Michael Joseph

Its really really nice, and I get more and more tempted every time I see a clip. This IS going to replace Alexas in a lot of shoots, and its a Scarlet killer. What I like is it would go straight on all the rigs I have for my D800.
But no slowmo of any kind is a deal breaker for me. And the crop is a pain in the ass.

Having shot a lot of AF100 it takes quite a bit of getting used to.

But am I interested? Hell yes! I keep reaching for my wallet......

August 7, 2012

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marklondon

A scarlet killer? HAHA. not by a longshot. Prosumer logic is hilarious.

August 7, 2012

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john jeffreys

Instead of blasting people why don't you just elaborate. After a few visits I think anyone can observe that "prosumer logic" is the basis for this entire website. Assuming you don't need the extra resolution or frames per second on a given project, this camera seems like a very logical alternative.

August 7, 2012

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jime

It isn't just resolution and frame rates. Red dsmc's are modular, have changeable lens mounts, bigger sensors, tons of accessories, a cult following (reduser.net), unparalleled post flexibility and an impressive repertoire of both indie films and big budget films that have been made with them. its an entirely different class of camera and calling this new budget minded toy black magic camera a "scarlet killer" is really foolish.

August 7, 2012

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john jeffreys

A DSLR killer? Maybe; aside from sensor size this camera is untouchable at its price range.

August 7, 2012

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john jeffreys

You're really talking about the EPIC and MX. GREAT cams, although both have terrible ergonomics.
The Scarlet, and I mean this in the nicest way, is a bit of a pig.

And given the number available used, I'm obviously not the only one who thought so. I'd buy a used MX over a Scarlet.

August 7, 2012

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marklondon

@Johnjeffery.....Sounds like you a troll from RED or you just bought a 5D3 5 months ago....kick rocks We here are fans of BMC dueces!

August 7, 2012

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snoopyrawdogg

Actually I've been a user of DSLR's ever since the t1i way back in the day. I currently use a 5d 2. Lately I've been sick of it, and I'm in a transitionary period in which I save up for a professional cinema camera and subsequently stray away from the typical DSLR user-turned-blackmagic-supporter stereotype, of which you seem to be a shining example of. I need something more powerful than a dslr or budget cine camera full of compromises, something thats actually made for high end productions that I can learn from and make mistakes with.

And no, I'm not a troll for RED. I don't own one. At the moment.

August 8, 2012

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john jeffreys

John, this camera, and the FS100, and others have the quality that pros desire for many jobs they do at a small aquisition price. It allows amateurs with talent to produce better results. Basic important things, admittedly built to a price are there

This camera, and those like it will knock the guts out of much of Alexa's market if authorized for broadcast TV and cinema, although not all of it.

This camera serves a purpose, or will do.

August 7, 2012

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alan b'stard M P

correction, I meant, scarlet

August 7, 2012

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alan b'stard M P

the fs100 is a great deal right now if you want professional quality and slow motion. i picked up a used one with 3 batteries and the lens for 3500 shipped.

August 8, 2012

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Pretty sure I'm not a prosumer in any way :-)
I've shot with the Scarlet many times. It's an ok camera, but has many significant negatives. And that footage above (and the pool room stuff) looks IMMEDIATELY far better than what you'll get out of a Scarlet, especially the skin tones and DR.

If you were using Canon lenses on that Scarlet, it would be way behind.

Note I didn't say EPIC killer. Love that camera. Although even those are starting to turn up used for very low prices.....

August 7, 2012

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marklondon

I didn't mean to be harsh; its just that the term "-killer" bothers me sometimes. And yeah, the used market for reds is a nice place for people on a budget. I have seen original red one m's go for 8-10k, most of them fully outfitted.

August 7, 2012

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john jeffreys

Fair enough.
As I just posted above, I looked VERY hard at buying a used MX. They are a great cam. But the way i like to shoot, that would have meant buying at least two of them.

But I just feel there's a really great RAW cinema camera coming at about the up to 8k mark, and my clients are happy to rent right now. Especially as all everyone wants is the bloody Alexa. :-)

For my personal stuff and B cams my D800 and Canons will tide me over another 6 months or so.
But I'm tempted to buy one of these just in case....

August 7, 2012

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marklondon

You don't like the skin tones of the Scarlet but you love the Epic? That's a bit strange since skin tones and DR are exactly the same on both cameras. What exactly makes you love the Epic over the "pig" of a Scarlet (your term) other than the extra frame rates?

August 8, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

If you think the colormetry is exactly the same on both cams, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
In my experience with 3 different Scarlets the grading we needed to do re skin tone (vs what we shot) was far more than i've ever had to do on any other camera. Including one job matching it to an Epic on an A lister's face.
I'm not saying you can't get good results with a Scarlet if its one you work with non-stop and you light for it, but I've had not one experience where we all turned around in the online and went 'we're definitely using that camera again'.
Recently I had a decent budget music video lined up, and we decided to test the concept with several cams first (DSLR,F3, C300, Scarlet). My pick going in was the Scarlet. It did not do well.
I'm editing a Nat Geo doc right now I shot along with others that if I could I'd show you raw sequences where a Scarlet gets its ass kicked by cameras costing far less, and is shown up by a Red MX. And that's before we get into the extra post stage re Red Cine-X.
That's why I call it a pig. Yes it shoots 4K. But the instances where that adds production value in the real world is suprisingly limited.

Just a note: I think the MX is still one of the best digi cinema cameras ever made, and I love the Epic.

August 8, 2012

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marklondon

SCARLET and EPIC are exactly the same camera inside (much to the disappointment of many EPIC owners - but thankfully for them, RED made sure the camera wouldn't be able to touch EPIC in specs). Color science is not baked in with RED, you're getting RAW data, so the only portion that is really baked in, is the way the actual sensor picks up information, as well as the A/D convertor - which, incidentally enough, are exactly the same as on the EPIC. The parts supposedly didn't pass quality control on the EPIC, and thus they decided to use them on the SCARLET.

It's also a little baffling that you say RED ONE MX beats SCARLET, because they share the exact same sensor inside. In fact, not only do they share the same sensor, but SCARLET is doing 16-bit color while RED ONE is only doing 12-bit. I will agree with people that say specs mean nothing, what does the image look like, but something is being done wrong if SCARLET and EPIC footage are that drastically different - and the MX footage actually looks better.

August 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Weird persistence against the Scarlet specifically. The c300 1dc 5dm3 sony fs100 fs700 f3 are all safe but the scarlet is dead. Especially when theres an upgrade path to dragon of which no one really knows what the outcome will be. All that I know is that Red is nuts, they are not afraid to bring things to market.

When I get the BMC camera, and after I test it, if its better than my scarlet then, I'll sell my scarlet, but I don't make decisions off of web footage. I'm surprised that someone with your apparent experience would decide the contrary. Is it that the BMC is a scarlet killer or do you just want it to be based on you're experience with the scarlet. As long as people are watching movies on the big screen high resolution acquisition will have its supporters and I think most scarlet owners would agree, if you can't get great footage out of the scarlet then maybe its not the scarlet. Its a workflow with pitfalls if specific things are not done correctly. Its not for everybody.

Personally, I think the skin tones of the BMC where a little too milky desaturated for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I would take that any day of the week over plastic sony or just plain wrong 5d, but I would guess in reality there was more pigment in their skin. I'm sure it was a creative choice and the camera is capable of what ever you want but its all subjective now.

August 8, 2012

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Ryan

I know what my eyes saw freak what you talking bout

August 7, 2012

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snoopyrawdogg

August 8, 2012

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I think the BMC (if the specs are on target) and scarlet are in the same range. This is not prosumer logic by any stretch. If your shooting with a 5D2 than you may just be a prosumer yourself. The BMC is probably not a camera for the typical HDSLR user. It would be for people like me who need a HIRES cine cam that can do green screen, CG compositing and used for adverts and narratives(any type of traditional CINE production). I will watch this camera closely and see how the PC workflow comes out. The only drawback I see with the BMC is the lens mount, but I understand why they would make that choice.

August 8, 2012

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JEF

Oh, and CPs? Great to work with, but I'm not a fan of their look at all.
That entire film would have looked better (in a way that served the narrative) with Roks or Nikons.

August 7, 2012

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marklondon

Scary to think I'm 10 months out of College (Australian) and I can afford this camera, Especially when it comes with Resolve and Ultrascopes. If you look at a certain way you are really playing around $1,300 for this camera... Scary

August 7, 2012

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James Pemberton

If you find this scary, just stick around a bit more for the flying weaponized nano-robots controlled by an A.I. with consciousness ;-)

August 9, 2012

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Jay

I totally agree, Joe - there is a vague familiarity with color science. Arri is a strong word for any camera conversation, but this test gives me a shiver. The DR around the 3min mark is for serious. When DSLR's came around everyone was talking about that "film" look - mostly chalking it up to DOF. I feel like this sort of DR and color depth is really getting closer to reproducing a "film look." Personally, I can't wait to use this bad larry on a giant landscape, everything in focus. Sharp as a tack, corner to corner. Everything exposed right.

August 7, 2012

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I agree--very nice. However, one begins to wonder what the issue is with releasing more samples of what this camera can do. If there's a bug or an issue (In particular with the audio input), I would think the public would be more receptive to seeing the faults rather than being kept in the dark. or maybe, that's the point: good marketing. Still, would like to see some low light (High ISO) and quick panning/movement....

August 7, 2012

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I can't really think of many camera companies who give any more than what black magic has - I remember the scarlet-x coming and and all we had for the longest time was that slow-mo lion. And when Canon were releasing the 1D-X we had low-res video of some boxers until users started releasing their own footage. It might just be standard practice to not give too much away - though I agree, it would be awesome to see some real low-light stuff. We might just have to wait and see.

August 8, 2012

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This does look very much like Alexa footage, which is just baffling when you consider the price. I'm willing to bet that when blind tests come up a few months from now comparing both side by side... there's gonna be a lot of head shaking in disbelief. As far as Red is concerned... this surely isn't a fully fledged cinema camera like that... but judging by pure iq at 24fps... this takes the cake... easily. It's not even a competition in terms of DR (w/o HDRX). This looks like the real deal.

August 7, 2012

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James

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