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September 26, 2012

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Delay Explained, DNxHD and Lens Stabilization Coming Soon

One of the most anticipated camera releases since the Canon 5D Mark III, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, has seen a number of delays, first with a slight delay that pushed the camera's release form late July until mid/late August. Just recently the public was informed that a major parts issue was holding up shipments, and that the company was working on the issue. Now we have official word from Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design, about the exact reason for the delay and the steps they're taking to resolve the issue.

This is a slightly shortened version of a message posted by Grant on the official Blackmagic forum early this morning:

Over a month ago now, we completed the testing of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and started production. Very quickly we started to see cameras failing our production testing as they suffered from blemishes on the sensor. These are high end cameras so need to be built to a very high specification. We started testing to discover the cause of the problem and discovered that the problems were from our second shipment of sensors. The first shipment of sensors were fine. All the cameras you currently see people using had been built from this first batch of sensors and that is why we did not see any issues until we started to build cameras in volume.

While investigating the problem our engineers found the blemishes were in the glass that covers the sensor, and not the sensor itself. This is good because the glass might just be dirty so we saw this as a quick fix, but wondered how a supplier could deliver us sensors that had blemishes, as they are supposed to pre test them. It is worth noting here what this glass does. Each sensor has a glass cover to keep contamination off the surface of the sensor itself, which is essentially a large semiconductor. If the surface ever got dirty, it would be impossible to clean, however the glass is easy to clean. All sensors have this glass cover. It is a high quality glass with optical coatings, similar to lens glass.

Anyway getting back to the issue, when talking with the supplier, it turned out they had a bug in their test software that tested sensors after the glass had been applied. That's why they shipped us bad sensors and did not notice. They fixed that problem and could then see the problems we saw and stopped production as about 95% of sensors were suffering this problem with the glass. The next step for the supplier was for them to work out the cause of the blemishes on the glass. They developed tests for the glass before being bonded to the sensor, and discovered it contained the blemishes on the glass before being used in the suppliers factory. After more testing over the last few weeks, the supplier has discovered the blemishes are caused by a contamination from the packing materials used by the glass supplier to ship the glass to the sensor supplier.

So that's where we are at now. The supplier is due to get more glass later this week and then hopes to start up production again using new clean glass that will result in good quality sensors that we can use to start building cameras again. We build our cameras in our own factory on a production line built for the camera so we can start shipping cameras again the day we receive good sensors.

I deeply apologize for the delay in shipping and it has been very frustrating for us as well to be sitting on a completed and tested product for a month that we cannot sell. Especially when people need them urgently. As you can also see from the breakdown of the problem above, there has been multiple stages of testing to discover the cause of the problem so it has been hard to lock down dates or what was going on until now, so its been hard to update everyone on the exact details. I hope this update helps people understand the delay. We should know more details about shipping times once the new glass arrives at our supplier.

We also have a new software update v1.1 for the camera due in a few days. The original v1 software did not have DNxHD support so thats now been added, as well as support for lens stabilizers and a bunch of other small features.

So even though the exact shipping dates are not confirmed yet, assuming the new glass is free of blemishes, I would expect to start seeing cameras sometime next month. While Blackmagic is off to a rocky start regarding shipping dates, at least the software seems to be progressing nicely from version 1, which was missing a few key features that were promised when the camera was announced, including DNxHD and lens stabilization. We should know within the next few days what features will be in the next software update, version 1.1, but it will be interesting if the updates go above and beyond the features that were expected to ship with the camera in the first place.

Link: Update on Camera Shipments -- Blackmagic Design Forum

Your Comment

71 Comments

I'm not gonna be able to afford it for a few months, anyway. So I don't care. :P

September 26, 2012

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TehRandax

Whatever it's worth, this a finely detailed explanation for a small issue. It's a shame that it kept the camera up from going into full production for so long.

September 26, 2012

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it is a long explanation, but probably in reality it was not the case, I'm sure that some other big company is trying to delay them, through various ways...

September 26, 2012

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Peter

peter... you rock again :P

September 26, 2012

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mizanul nasim

ahahah awesome...but how can that company delay BMD production?? I mean...they can make bad publicity but how can they delay since BMD is headquartered in Australia?? :)

September 26, 2012

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Jesus

You are wrong. Seems like a habit.

September 26, 2012

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Kholi

There are two different Peters that comment on here, actually - this is not the same one you've been talking with.

September 26, 2012

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

Ah, saw the same/similar avatar deal, thought it was the same guy.

Either way, no big company is holding them up. Not even close.

September 26, 2012

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Kholi

Paranoia strikes deep... into your life it will creep...

September 27, 2012

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Zan Shin

We need the ability to give thumbs-up to comments. I would start with yours

September 30, 2012

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DP

Any word on why the huge delay for their Teranex products as well? They were supposed to ship in June originally. It seemed like anything that wasn't already selling met with huge delays, not just their cinema camera, though I understand everyone's specific interest in that over their other hardware products.

September 26, 2012

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I rather have a camera that isn't buggy. at least they are not putting out a camera that isn't ready yet like Red does every time.

September 26, 2012

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jack

I like the BMCC, but it isn't any more ready than the Red's or Alexa or F65 were.

September 26, 2012

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Gabe

It's refreshing to see such a transparent explanation for a delay. My impression is that Blackmagic are a company that take customer service seriously. I imagine such teething problems are pretty common in this kind of small-volume high-end manufacturing. It also just highlights the incredible complexity of building a camera.

September 26, 2012

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Ditto, whether I want their camera or not, this speaks volumes about how seriously they take their brand. Kudos to Blackmagic.

September 26, 2012

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trackofalljades

I also agree with Sam. I can't afford the cinema camera right now, but it's nice to know that Blackmagic is focussing on the quality of the product (both hardware and software) and not just on cashing in on the hype the camera has introduced.

September 26, 2012

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Couldn't agree more. They're staying classy and taking ownership, even though in reality it's not even their fault. Thumbs up to them for looking out for their customers... unlike some other big-name raw camera manufacturers out there....

September 30, 2012

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DP

I know there will be whinges but dammit! I LOVE BLACKMAGIC!

September 26, 2012

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Conan

but I want it nooooooooOOOOOW! *stomps feet*

September 26, 2012

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And that's how a good firm manages public communications. Well done BlackMagic.

September 26, 2012

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Cool story Blackmagic. Now make a super35 model so I can buy it.

September 26, 2012

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john jeffreys

Red Scarlet?

September 26, 2012

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Luke

Yeah let me just pull 17-20k out of my ass. Just the BMC, but with a super 35 sensor, for 6k. Thats the sweet spot, thats what the C300 should have been.

September 26, 2012

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john jeffreys

C100

September 26, 2012

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Ryan

yeah because i love SD cards and h.264

September 26, 2012

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john jeffreys

And no HD-SDI.

October 3, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

Complain about price, demand things.

That's the cool story here.

September 26, 2012

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Kholi

You guys do that all the time.

September 26, 2012

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john jeffreys

Chill man, it was only a few years ago that the Red One was revolutionary because it only cost $20,000 instead of $200,000. ;)

I'm sure it'll happen eventually, whether it's the KineRAW or a new BM cam, or something else.

September 26, 2012

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Gabe

dear america,
make things faster for me to buy

sincerely
jj

September 26, 2012

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john jeffreys

Why stop at super35? I'd much rather have an 4k full frame Alexa for $3000. As long as we are talking sweet spots, I tell ya that's it!

September 27, 2012

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I'll hold off on this for at least another 6 months. By then it'll be ready for primetime! (and I'll have more cash to spend on extra goodies...)

September 26, 2012

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Hummer

A bit curious but why didn't blackmagic go with a ccd sensor with a global shutter like what digital bolex is doing??? A bit curious but why didn't blackmagic go with a ccd sensor with a global shutter like what digital bolex is doing???

September 26, 2012

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Al

I heard you the first time ; )

September 26, 2012

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Scott

Yeah, on that topic of global shutters... what is it/what does it mean/why is it so expensive? I have looked it up online but can"t quite find a resource that puts me in the right direction, beyond it gets rid of rolling shutter jello. Someone have a good recsource? Maybe you Joe?

September 26, 2012

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Drew

Newer, better light sensitivity, better dynamic range.

September 26, 2012

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

So it'll now support lens stabilisation on EF lenses? If I'm reading that properly, for me that's pretty big news.

September 26, 2012

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That was always the plan, but it just hadn't been enabled in the early firmware.

September 26, 2012

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

Ah lads, come on, if this was another company everyone would be going crazy. Congratulating a company for explaining why their cameras are 2 months late is ridiculous. Explanation is the least the could do, and frankly the official explanation is far too late in coming. BM can do no wrong it seems, based on most of these comments.

I would be furious if I had pre ordered one of these things, expecting to receive it in July and had a load of jobs booked and no nice camera to use. That is damaging for one's videography business. It's a bad start

September 26, 2012

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Peter Kelly

Jim Jannard...is that you?

September 26, 2012

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Johnny Unitas

No, but instead of making what you think are clever comments, tell me what i said that was unreasonable.

September 26, 2012

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Peter Kelly

"I would be furious if I had pre ordered one of these things, expecting to receive it in July and had a load of jobs booked and no nice camera to use",
Nobody has the reason to be furious,first of all, they can have their money back anytime and if you are an experienced professional you'd never expect to shoot booked jobs on a pre order estimation and untested camera. Frustration would be a reasonable feeling.

September 26, 2012

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Marcus

Ah come on!!

If you buy a car and they tell you to collect it Tuesday and its not ready Tuesday, then they tell you it'll be ready Thursday, then it's still not ready..... Money back or not I think most people would be very pissed off. Felling furious two months down the line is very reasonable i woulda thought, but hey, im not waiting on one of these bad boys. People are buying this camera because they want to use this camera,, presumably on professional jobs so they can make money and pay their bills. Time is money, not having this camera is costing people money.

September 26, 2012

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Peter

I'm not sure why it bothers you at all, you don't even have a dog in the fight. If you book jobs with a camera that doesn't exist yet, it's extremely irresponsible and unprofessional on your part. Most cameras have delays, or shortages, this is nothing new.

Nikon D800 and Canon 1D X both had heavy shortages, with the 1D X having a significant delay without a real response from Canon on the reason. Believe me, the professionals who would use a camera like the 1D X already had a camera, they weren't waiting on Canon - same with the D800.

You should never be charged any money for a camera that hasn't shipped yet, and if you are paying a fee up front, there are many places that will not engage in that practice. Again, a true professional would never book a job with a camera they don't already have in their possession, or a camera that they can't readily get at a rental house. If a non-existent camera is costing you money, you have only one person to blame.

September 26, 2012

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

@ Peter,
People are not buying this camera yet, they are pre ordering a product that never saw the light of the day, hence the comparison with cars are lame, sorry.
When you say"not having this camera is costing people money." is at least laughable since you can rent an other cameras for a reasonable price that could perform as good as this one for any money you might be losing, and again if you are betting paid jobs on a camera which has only shipping ESTIMATION dates, you do deserve to lose some as a lesson.
We are living a time where you don't need to hinge in one camera to have a paid job, there are an array of cameras already out there that can cover anything you might need.

September 26, 2012

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Marcus

I for one give every company some slack, whether it's Red, or Arri, or Sony, ect. If they're pushing things forward, I'm happy see it happen at all. That's because I'm not an idiot. I don't expect real life to be perfect.

September 26, 2012

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Gabe

You are an extremely patient person. If someone tells me I will have something in August I expect it in August. If I delayed videos to clients by two months a couple of times I'd never work in the business again.

September 26, 2012

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Peter

Maybe I am patient, or maybe my life doesn't depend on one specific camera out of the dozens already out there...

September 26, 2012

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Gabe

C'mon, Jim. Enough now. You're embarrassing yourself.

September 26, 2012

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Johnny Unitas

Hahahaha

September 26, 2012

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Bob

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