September 7, 2012

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Getting Micro 4/3 Mount This Year

Well, unexpected would be an understatement. I triple-checked the information very early this morning to make sure I wasn't seeing things. Today at IBC Blackmagic announced that they will be introducing a model of the Cinema Camera with a Micro 4/3 mount (same mount used on the Panasonic GH2). One of the biggest complaints about the camera was the lens mount being EF only, and now this issue has been addressed. This is fantastic news -- but there is a little bit of a catch.

Thanks to Luke Neumann for bringing this to my attention at 3:30AM EST. First, here are some pictures to salivate over:

A catch you say? Yes, the catch is that this mount will be what we call a dumb mount (or passive as Blackmagic calls it) -- though it's unclear if it will ever be able to receive electronic iris controls (though based on what John Brawley saws below that seems more promising now). This means there will not be any electronic control between the lens and the camera -- so you must use lenses with a manual iris ring. The old model will be renamed the Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF, and this model will be named the Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT to avoid confusion.

According to John Brawley, here is the deal with pre-orders and when you can expect the camera to be available:

As the mount will initially be passive, you should think about this mount if you are happy with manual IRIS lenses...So to recap, the m4/3 version will be IDENTICAL to the EF version in every other respect, and you should be able to switch your order without penalty (dealer dependent). The m4/3 version will start shipping in December.

Now users have some choices to make. If you go with the Canon mount camera, you'll be able to enjoy electronic control of the lenses as well as image stabilization (at some point, since it's not enabled just yet). If you go with the MFT version, you won't be able to use Micro Four Thirds lenses that do not have an iris ring, as there will be no way to control the aperture -- not to mention all other lens mounts will need adapters that can handle lenses without an iris ring if you choose to use one. The only way that automatic iris MFT lenses will work is if the iris opens to full wide as you mount the lens, and then you would only be able to use the lens at its widest aperture. Admittedly I don't know how this will work on the new camera, but you will most likely want to stick with manual iris MFT lenses.

This definitely makes the camera a lot more interesting for a lot more people. While we could get really picky and ask for completely interchangeable mounts, the fact that Blackmagic listened to the complaints and is introducing a MFT model is a huge deal. What this really means is that the BMCC can now use almost any lens ever made, including expensive PL glass -- without needing to modify the back of the lens. Check out this handy chart from Samuel Hurtado to see exactly what lenses you can adapt.

So now that we've gone over lenses for the EF only model, let's go over what lenses might work well with this camera  -- and their equivalent 5D Mark II/Mark III field of view (since they need to have a manual iris):

So there are definitely some interesting options now at the wider end, especially those lenses capable of opening up all the way to f/.95 (which also give you another stop in low-light over an f/1.4 lens). So while this news isn't perfect, it's about the best thing Blackmagic could have done based on all the feedback with the EF mount only camera body.

Blackmagic also announced a few other new products, and I'll be detailing the more interesting ones in a future update. You can pre-order either version from the links below, and you can also check out some more photos from John Brawley below.

What do you guys think?

Links:

[via DSLR News Shooter and John Brawley]

Your Comment

73 Comments

Good news, but they should really introduce switchable mounts like RED (one of few things I like about RED).

Not so good about not being able to control the iris electronically. This wouldn't affect me since I use vintage Nikon (manual, mechanical aperture was a big +)

September 7, 2012

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Hampus

Wow! a camera company that listens to consumers and reacts to what they want.

September 7, 2012

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This is great news. Seems like BM is one of the few companies that actually listens to their customers. This gives me much more faith in the product and company. Now time to start saving my pennies.

September 7, 2012

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William

It's not about "listening", it's about responding intelligently, or better yet, perceiving a problem in advance. MFT should've launched with the camera.

Rolling shutter is also a major bummer. It really limits what the tool can do.

September 14, 2012

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Lucas

Is no IS on the MTF fixable with an eventual firmware upgrade as is with the EF version, or will it never be functional on this model?

September 7, 2012

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Scott

I'm more concerned about aperture control, but it would be great if full electronic control will come with a firmware update. Maybe they rushed to get this mount version together in response to feedback and just haven't had time to perfect the electronics yet?

September 7, 2012

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JR

Actually I take back what I said - John Brawley did say this in his blog - so maybe it might come with an update in the future:

"As the mount will initially be passive, you should think about this mount if you are happy with manual IRIS lenses."

September 7, 2012

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

That photo of the BMCC MFT lacks the 11 pin electronic contacts, so most likely the model that ships in December will *never* be able to be firmware-updated to working with electronic iris or IS MFT lenes. They may let you send it to Australia to get a hardware upgrade to a new model, or that photo may have just been a mockup that omitted the pinouts, but that is what we have to go on.

So four lenses plus adapters are all you get with this version. I'd still get the EF version right now. It has the electronic contacts. It can be adapted for Nikon lenses too.

I think this announcement creates confusion and is half-baked. Better I think if they were patient and maintained focus on the product they have that's (almost) ready for primetime.

September 7, 2012

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Peter

I really don't think it's half-baked at all or confusing - if you follow sites like ours we very clearly explain what's going on.

As for the mount, who knows, if the camera isn't shipping until December anything could change in 4 months. The mount opens up more than just those four lenses though, you can now adapt all sorts of PL mount lenses, and if you're willing to crop you can also use Super 16mm lenses now - which actually is no different to what Digital Bolex is doing since they will be using a 2K sensor at Super 16mm.

This mount is less for the micro 4/3 option and more for the fact that 4/3 is a better mount to adapt other lenses. If you shoot in RAW mode you can now adapt literally anything out there (as long as you crop) - it might as well be an interchangeable mount.

September 7, 2012

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

People using PL lenses will want a professional camera to fit them to. This is just a fun camera with better IQ for people upgrading from the Canon DSLRs. If they supported the whole MFT range then it would also rope in the GH2 shooters, of which there are far fewer. It's not a professional camera and I don't think it will make sense to buy manual MFT lenses (at greater expense than the camera, and there are no zooms) just for the year or two before it is obsolete and we all move on to S35 size (perhaps E mount in addition to EF) which the MFTs won't cover.

Cropping to S16 to make use of those old and affordable lenses might be a neat look but would defeat a lot of the IQ benefits. All of this seems a stretch...the original idea was sound, they just have to make it work fully, and then upgrade to a larger sensor version for better low light, wider view angle and DOF.

September 7, 2012

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Peter

I think it's a stretch to know what everyone using PL mount lenses wants in a camera. This is not a fun camera to me, personally. This is a professional tool that I will be using on real jobs, and at the end of the day it's not going to affect the way I shoot.

I would rent some older PL mount lenses in a heartbeat to use with this camera. You can get tons of PL glass for way less than $100 a day - plenty of them are $50 a day - and that includes a weekend rate (35mm lenses that is). So for a personal project shot over a weekend that has an actual budget you will be able to use proper lenses.

As far as cropping to Super 16mm, it's not going to be any worse resolution wise than the Digital Bolex or the KineRAW. Both of those are 2K before debayering - same as the crop you would need to make Super 16mm lenses work. As much as I like resolution, it's not the final word on image quality. The difference with Super 16mm lenses is that you won't be magnifying the issues those lenses might have since you're already using a smaller piece of glass. I don't know if I would shoot with Super 16mm lenses, but it's now actually going to be possible.

September 7, 2012

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

Thanks for letting me know that I want a better camera than this to shoot out PL. I have no idea what I was thinking.

Signed,

Zeiss Ultra Prime and Cooke S4 junkie

September 7, 2012

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Kholi

You'll agree with me several thousand dollars from now. =)

September 7, 2012

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Peter

Well, if you have any valid points to share, I'm here to listen. At this point in time I don't see one in your posts. Just assumptions, really. Ones that are very very far off of what the reality is.

September 7, 2012

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Kholi

Wow. Peter is a tough customer:D

The MFT mount makes this camera accept almost very type of lens known to mankind (PL, Nikon, Canon, Pentax, M43, Leica M mount, Leica R mount, even those Russian OCT-18 and OCT-19 mounts)

So I guess you'd rather be confined to Canon's lenses with iris control than a wide selection of lenses. You probably have have a lot of expensive Canon glass. If that's the case I'd go the Canon mount route too.

A lot of us don't buy Canon glass because of the electronic only aperture control on those EF lenses. So this new mount will work perfectly fine for those guys. This will also give you access to very fast, very wide glass to offset the smaller sensor of this camera.

You can always rent PL lenses for cheap btw.

September 7, 2012

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Mike

@Peter

So the BMD is a toy, a "fun camera"... as opposed to more expensive cameras stuck in 24Mbps AVCHD land?

Cameras are becoming a commodity whereas lenses remain an investment. For DOF, the voightlander f/0.95s are equivalent to f/1.4 on full frame and if I was going to have a Tokina cine modded, I'd be taking the PL version. I have no interest whatsoever in electronic mounts.

Can you think of anything I've overlooked, some benefit in me choosing an EF version?

September 7, 2012

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nobody

@Mike yes exactly I do have lots of expensive EF glass, only a few of which are manual iris. Which makes me the target customer for the BMCC EF. It also makes sense because I shoot stills as often as video, and electronic control makes that dual use economically sensible. This synergy created something you might remember as "The DSLR Video Revolution." Canon got rich.

And if I happened to have the four listed manual iris MFT lenses, I would be a target customer for the BMCC MFT. If I had PL glass or rented it, I would, at minimum, be shooting on an F3 or C300. It's just a matter of what world you fit into. Are you a professional filmmaker? Then you would use professional tools, otherwise, facing facts, you are playing games with toys.

Now insulting someone's new favorite toy will get me into hot water I see, but honestly, image quality and ergonomics and workflow and the whole lot either matters or it doesn't...and if it doesn't, then you don't stress over it, you use something cheap and cheerful that's at hand. If it does, then you pay the man accordingly. There are plenty of nutty enthusiasts who post on online forums who will happily build Rube Goldberg machines just because they can. And then there are people who just want the right tools for the job and budget. The BMCC is definitely an enthusiast camera, and I am certainly enthusiastic. This passive MFT version is for the overenthusiastic. =)

September 7, 2012

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Peter

What does that even mean? Anyone whose main priority is motion and not stills need not invest in "electronic" lenses. So surely it is not overenthusiastic to be able to understand the value in the new glass options that are available for this camera.

September 7, 2012

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An overenthusiast places a Rolls Royce grille on a VW beetle.

It's a matter of balance, and also product line strategy. Compared to the 5D2 this camera is indubitably an upgrade camera. Those cameras already have massive ergonomic weaknesses to work around, so those customers' experiences with this will be positive. For people in the league who have PL glass or other pro cinema gear this will likely be a downgrade camera. There will be a lot of complaints about how it fails to live up to its promises as a "true cinema camera" coming from that set. The GH2 shooters who don't understand that it won't ever support even focusing on most of their lens collection will also be hurt if they buy it.

That inevitable negativity will hurt the brand overall even as a few mavens who are signed up for the workarounds can't understand why people are so stupid in their expectations. A brand and a product is often best crippled a bit, ironically, to prevent such disappointment. Listening too much to your customers is not something Steve Jobs (whose designs clearly inspired the BMCC) did...he insisted on a product making sense as a whole to its target customer and as a result the Apple brand is the most valuable in the world. He let the people wanting Rube Goldberg machines suffer with Windows.

BMD would be best served by making it clear this product is just for the DSLR kids and not a pro camera. Rather than rushing out half-baked products, they should just say "we hear you and we will have a solution for you" and stick to the plans that make sense and are going to make the actual buyers happy regardless of the gripes from the peanut gallery fringe in the meantime.

September 7, 2012

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Peter

While I'm impressed with your mystical ability to gauge the future and your grasp of capitalist economics, I am looking on these products as a filmmaker looking for tools, so forgive me if I overlook the fatal flaws of a brand that listens to their customers.

As far as anyone being "hurt" by the discovery that this camera cannot focus for them, there is probably a ring on the front of your lens for that.

September 7, 2012

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@Peter

You're wasted forum trolling, please author a book of self-defeating arguments instead. Funny stuff...

"Are you a professional filmmaker? Then you would use professional tools, otherwise, facing facts, you are playing games with toys."

"And then there are people who just want the right tools for the job and budget."

---------

"Listening too much to your customers is not something Steve Jobs (whose designs clearly inspired the BMCC) did…he insisted on a product making sense as a whole to its target customer"

September 7, 2012

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nobody

Unfortunately jime, the focus rings on most MFT lenses, as well as many recent Canons (even L's), will fall useless on the BMCC MFT. They are focus-by-wire and need power. There will be a lot of misunderstandings out in the field where people bring or rent lenses that they think should work, they fit, and they don't work, and BMD will hear it from them when it screws up their shoot.

Oh you say, kids shouldn't be playing with professional gear. But sadly, this isn't professional gear either. Uncanny valley. Unfinished product. Bad idea. After the honeymoon wears off, even the overenthusiasts will gripe and it will be that much harder for the company to regain faith. $3000 is a significant expense for a lot of them and the resale value on these first gen products is going to be poor. Not to mention all the lost money rigging and working around this odd thing.

But enjoy your camera.

September 7, 2012

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Peter

I actually can't wait for the next version of the Blackmagic Camera if they keep up the way they listen to their users :)

September 7, 2012

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John Mark

yes, without sparking a "with that attitude, you'll always be waiting" frenzy: any educated guesses, what the bmcc product cycles could be like for those who want to wait? 12 months until "the new bmcc" with critical hardware tweaks like internal battery and other 1.0 flaws ironed out or more like 2-3 years, as it they keep it fresh with software updates etc. in the meantime?

i know that obviously, with todays announcement, anything is possible with those guys...

September 7, 2012

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martin

... though todays announcement has a rushed feel, aimed at giving everyone whos waiting for their preordered camera the opportunity to switch before its too late... so i wouldnt call it a new version already but rather a somewhat simultaneous release of two different 1.0 versions... so the question remains about the future product cycle...

September 7, 2012

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martin

Like RED I would imagine they're going to be able to do a lot of things with software updates, so I wouldn't start waiting for a "next version" as this one isn't even shipping yet (for all intents and purposes). Assuming you have something you want to shoot in the meantime...

My guess would be that a true "next version" would be Super35 version for 3-5X the price, and that it would be a couple years off (in terms of when it could actually ship).

September 7, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

If they indeed listen to their users, please ask them, "Did you use the Instagram Logo as a model for the body? Why in God's name is the record button on the front? Why no 60i or 60p?" Aside from that, would love to have one...

September 7, 2012

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Rob

You do realize there is a record button on the back, as well? Also, the 60 fps has been discussed as a possible firmware update or feature on the next iteration.

September 7, 2012

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someperson

This is GREAT NEWS!! Thanks for listening Blackmagic!

September 7, 2012

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RebelPhoton

All all BMCCs still on pre-order because they're holding off and continually tweaking them?

September 7, 2012

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For everyone hoping iris control will be enabled via software just look at the mount. There are no electrical contacts on it. Brawley is likely talking about a future body. I just wish they would release a model without the software for people who get more than one body.

September 7, 2012

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Chris

This is exactly what I've been waiting for. I prefer manual iris control, especially compared to the push-the-button-to-get-the-proper-exposure system on the EF version.

What a great time to be shooting.

September 7, 2012

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Colin

Seems like using a lens with manual iris would almost be better with this camera since people will likely be using NDs to dial in the exposure anyway to get a decent DOF. So just set the fstop on the lens manually and then leave it. And that way you know what your f stop is as well, unlike the EF version which leaves you guessing.

September 7, 2012

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Clayton Arnall

Right - but as I say I'm not sure if they will function exactly like that. I can't exactly test that since I don't have any Micro 4/3 cameras right now.

September 7, 2012

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

I'm floored by this news. It gives us GH2 users a future upgrade path or "A" camera to go along with our current ones. We're used to severe crop factors and we're used to lighting for a smaller sensor camera. And as a dude with a bunch of adapted lenses, the "dumb mount" is no problem at all.

September 7, 2012

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cinema camera. is a cinema camera, its not meant for event or documentary shooting, films and commercial sets it would be fine. its a cinema camera so cinema lens manual all the way would be fine. winner us who want too upgrade to a camera with a better image quality over dslr and the company samyang lol

September 7, 2012

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middy

If this was a true cinema camera, wouldn't it have a PL mount option?

September 7, 2012

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It does now, MFT to PL. Why limit yourself to one lens mount if you don't have to? The only other thing they could have done besides an interchangeable mount is made a positive lock system like KineRAW and Sony did with the F3. You lock the lens mount onto the back PL mount, and then you can use any lens adapters you want - assuming someone makes them.

September 7, 2012

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

Thanks joe for the comment about the pl mount. And @brendan even if it didnt have a pl mount the camera is still a great step in the right direction. Owning a camera with these specs even with these flaws would be worth it, Renting a high in camera over and over ain't cheap.

September 7, 2012

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middy

Great news. Well done them. The PL guy above - I use PL glass on all my cameras when I can. DSLR, F3 etc.
I still can't take the crop factor, but will make a final judgement once I've shot with one. If I was going to buy, I'd get the MFT version. I prefer manual iris control, and as I'm a mainly a Nikon mount guy I can just keep the MFT adapter on the front at all times.
If ONLY that was a bigger sensor....

September 7, 2012

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marklondon

The only thing that I don't like about this news is if I had ordered the EF version, could I switch to the m4/3?

September 7, 2012

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TRIFILMER

Yes you can, it's a simple switch for dealers to make. If you already received your camera though - you're out of luck, unless you could return it.

September 7, 2012

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

very optimistic to think this version will be released before the end of the year when the camera that was promised for July is still not properly released come September. No denying this is great news but i can't help feeling a little perturbed when BMD announce a new model without delivering on the first spec yet.

September 7, 2012

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Andy

yes, if i'd bought one I'd be kinda pissed about that, what if you had bought it with certain jobs in mind and it hasn't arrived in time.

Still, pretty amazing looking camera though

September 7, 2012

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Peter Kelly

FOCUS too. Since there's no electronic contacts on the mount, the focus controls won't work on (most or all?) current electronic m43 lenses because they usually use focus by wire, at least the Panasonics do, not sure about Olympus.

So forget about any ideas of setting the aperture somehow on the lens before attaching it and then being able to control the focus while shooting. It's not going to happen with electronic lenses.

It would have been great if they could have fully implemented the MFT standard, but I appreciate that they realized the opportunity of a quick turnaround. Now this is a true cinema camera, much more versatile with regard to cinema lenses and other lens choices (just not electronically controlled lenses).

September 7, 2012

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Shenan

waitwaitwait - this is a camera manufacturer who like.. listens to their customers needs? But... i don't know. This feels weird. Is this.. ok? Can we do this? It seems wrong... but... feels so right.

September 7, 2012

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GREAT< we can now use PL mounts, C-mounts, Contax G, Leica M etc.
I thought they would go for the Sony NEX mount or the new Canon EOS-M, but glad to see it

September 7, 2012

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tttulio

I'm no expert but I think you have to modify the lens to go from C mount to MTF. I don't think you can get to infinity unless you grind a bit off of the back of the lens. Would be awesome if I'm wrong.

September 7, 2012

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No, you use a $9 adapter.

September 8, 2012

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tttulio

Gh3 plus a BMCC = gangster (yet affordable) set up

September 7, 2012

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producerx

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