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?