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

09.26.12 @ 11:29AM Tags : , , ,

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


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

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • trackofalljades on 09.26.12 @ 1:12PM

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

    • 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.

    • 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….

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

  • but I want it nooooooooOOOOOW! *stomps feet*

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

  • john jeffreys on 09.26.12 @ 2:21PM

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

  • 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…)

  • 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???

    • I heard you the first time ; )

    • 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?

    • Newer, better light sensitivity, better dynamic range.

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

  • Peter Kelly on 09.26.12 @ 5:04PM

    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

    • Johnny Unitas on 09.26.12 @ 5:12PM

      Jim Jannard…is that you?

      • Peter Kelly on 09.26.12 @ 5:33PM

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

        • “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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

          • @ 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

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

        • Johnny Unitas on 09.26.12 @ 6:11PM

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

        • Roger Freeman on 09.26.12 @ 7:50PM

          What have you said that isn’t unreasonable? Post a link to your site to let us see some of your work if you’re actually a real person and not a RED/Canon/Sony viral marketing person from India.

    • john jeffreys on 09.26.12 @ 7:56PM

      Haha why would you be booking jobs that are dependent on gear you don’t yet have?

    • Haha! It’s amateur to book a camera that has yet to be released for a coming job. I’m not sticking up for black magic design, but don’t have a hissy fit if they’re not released because you had something that wasn’t even built yet booked for a job. Rule: you have to think ahead even if the others don’t.

      • well … after reading everyone’s comments stating the exact same thing is I did, I feel like i didn’t think ahead !!! Hahaha!

  • Marcus people pre order cars all the time, and car manufacturers delivery those cars when they say they will, well 99% of the time anyway, the other 1% ends up with a pretty pissed off carless customer.

    And not having this camera is costing people money, of course it is, think about it. First of all, like you said you have to rent, but even that’s not the real expense. This camera is looks amazing, use it well and you’ll wow clients and pick up more gigs. Not doing that for two months is costing money.

    The fact that I don’t own and shoot with a red epic costs me money EVERY day.

    • Dude, never mind

    • You know there is a car company that is way behind schedule delivering, and there are tons of people who have pre-ordered. The company is Tesla Motors, and like Red, Black Magic, ect. they are doing something innovative. Sure there are some people pissed. But then there’s everyone else who’d rather see something new late than see something mundane on time. I read a recent stock rating that was quite positive, and it basically said it’s better that Tesla gets the car right without any problems/recalls than it is for them to get a lot of them made early on. Same thing applies to the BMCC.

      Seriously, of the products you know of, how many were innovative and came out totally on time? I honestly can’t think of any myself. There’s a reason so much technology is incremental…it’s a lot easier to get it out on schedule.

  • Joe it doesn’t bother me that the camera is delayed, it makes no difference to me, I’m at least 12 months away from my next camera purchase (which could very well be the BMCC). I suppose the reactions to the delay really surprise me, how ok everyone seems to be so ok with it. And just because delays have happened with other camera companies shouldn’t make it ok this time, that’s not good logic.

    I never said anything about booking jobs on this camera without having it, that would be stupid, of course it would, but still not having the opportunity to shoot with it two months down the line is expensive.

    If a big company says you should get a product by a certain time, two months later is just unacceptable.

    • Lord… all this and you’re not buying one for 12 months, and then you may not even buy the BMCC!
      By the sound of it, I thought you preordered three of them!

  • Stu Mannion on 09.26.12 @ 9:55PM

    After waiting out all the Red launches this kind of delay does not surprise me one bit. That’s how it goes.

  • Peter, here’s some perspective: Act 1) After the 2008 MkII launch, the community patiently waits over 3 years for ‘the next big thing’. Nothing comes up… Act 2) When finally the new gen cameras come (F3, C300 etc) , all the big players decide to charge 10,000+ for their cameras, effectively pricing these cameras beyond the reach of the bulk of the indie community… Act 3) Blackmagic goes out of nowhere with a camera that not only addresses most of the requests of the indie community (in regards to the limitations imposed by DSLRs) but also costs a fraction of the competition prices. … there you have it, I rest my case.

    • But some people are really greedy and even with a great camera like this, they still want everything cheap and ready for them. This is new tech for an affordable price with some limitations and yet people complain requesting a Super 35 or even full frame camera for a little more cash. Well, there is no 35 sensor at this price range or close to it. And you can go RED for a “little” more.
      They told what happened. I bet they are as frustrated as we are right now, but december we’ll have an MFT mount and I hope that everything will be fine.

  • The “ordering a car” scenario would be appropriate if you said you planned to order a car from a company that had NEVER built a car before, but — in it’s defense — was offering small streams of proof that when it was delivered, it was going to be an AMAZING car with nearly TWICE the fuel efficiency at ONE THIRD the price of a good car from ANY known car manufacturer in existence. And they hoped to have it in customer’s hands by August. No wait, September.

    But it would still be silly to start booking trips for clients in your all-new wonder car…

  • I’m just going to clarify my POV once more and leave it at that. My points are

    It is very bad that this camera is delayed as long as it has been

    I find it funny that this fact doesn’t seem to bother anyone else on here

    I really like the look of this camera and may buy one in the future

    I don’t book gigs with a camera I don’t have. But If I had pre ordered this camera I would hope to be shooting with it by now and this would be benefiting my career and hopefully earning me extra money

    In my mind The fact that this camera looks amazing doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s so late

    • it is ridiculous to be angry about the delay, BMC is a revolutionary camera for what it offers at its price point, coming from a small company who has never manufactured a camera before, it makes sense there will be delays. In the meantime those waiting will continue to shoot, if people are “losing” money because they dont have this camera, then this camera probably wont make them much money anyways

    • Since you’ve basically admitted that your only interest in this camera is its ability to make you money and you seem to have no artistic aspirations whatsoever, I’m having a pretty hard time understanding your problem. The idea that one camera being delayed could drive anyone’s career to a complete halt is basically the equivalent of saying that you need a magical machine to compensate for the fact that you are completely talentless. And seeing as you’re not even buying any camera for twelve months, any problem you’ve mentioned so far is purely hypothetical. If time is money as you say, then at this point it might be beneficial to your career to stop wasting time commenting on things that have nothing to do with your career.

      • Read these sob stories…

        The camera is marketed at people who aren’t professional but are instead the ones who supplement their income with video work (e.g. events, weddings, music videos, etc.). These people can’t really be blamed for not being savvy enough to defend themselves from marketing hype and preorder madness. The marketing was so slick and effective, they became so dedicated to the idea they are suffering for it. Should we scold the customer for believing in the company and its marketing promises? Really?

        BMD should throw in a free SSD for the preorder sufferers or something to make it up to them. And if the blemished sensor glass story is true, they should bill the supplier for the SSDs.

        • It’s unfortunate and frustrating, but how is this any different than the release of the Nikon D800, or the release of the Canon 1D X? Same exact situation happened with both cameras, and will no doubt happen with countless more.

          Blackmagic has at least come out with an official statement and has been in contact with customers. That’s a lot more than I can say for Nikon and Canon.

  • The 1D X was delayed as Canon was finetuning its AF (auto focus for still photography applications). It wanted the AF to be best in its class. I have no idea about Nikon and hence can’t say why D800 was delayed.

    It is the first time Blackmagic was creating a camera. There are many aspects that can derail the production. One should realise that and not book jobs on the basis of an announced camera. We all wish that one or the other announced camera soon lands up on our lap, but that is not how it works out.

    • It may be partly true, but Canon never issued an official response (so it’s really anyone’s guess) and delayed the 1D X at least 3 times and over 4 months from it’s initial shipment date without informing anyone why that was happening. When it did arrive, first priority went to photographers at the Olympics who are members of CPS, so regular people had to wait even longer.

      This is from a company that has been building cameras for a long time…

      I’m not getting on Canon, actually, I have no problems with delays – I’m just pointing out that this happens all the time – like with the D800 which was not delayed but shipped in ridiculously low volume for at least 5-6 months. Some who pre-ordered waited 2-3 months for a camera.

      Building cameras in any sort of volume is very complicated and there is a lot that can go wrong, even from companies that have been doing it.