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Philip Bloom's Full Video Review of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

09.6.12 @ 4:51PM Tags : , , , ,

Not many people were given early access to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and most of the footage has actually come from John Brawley, who is an Australian DP that has been working with Blackmagic to develop the camera. Besides Vincent Laforet, one of the bigger names in the DSLR/camera reviewing world to get an early unit is Philip Bloom. Now, the review many have been waiting for is finally online — with loads of new footage and a truly in-depth review of all of the positives and negatives of the long-awaited Cinema Camera.

First, here’s a bit of footage he posted online before the review. If you already know all of the positives and negatives of the camera, checking out this bit of ProRes footage first might be right up your alley. Be sure to download it for the best quality:

Here is the review. You might want to grab a coffee (or two), as it weighs in at almost 45 minutes. This one is also available for download, and I would recommend going that route as you’ll get a better sense of the quality of the footage contained in the review:

Well, if you do watch the whole review — and it’s certainly worth it — he details literally everything about using the camera. The big issues that need to be addressed for me are the f-stop readings and the fact that you can’t delete clips or format the SSD. I would love phantom power, but those two issues are really huge and they actually impede your shooting in a lot of ways. We’ve literally discussed all of the other things about the camera, from the wide lens selection, to the design, to the external power issue, but not knowing your f-stop is a bit of an issue (even though I’ll be using mostly manual Nikon lenses with the camera).

As for the other things that aren’t implemented in the first firmware, DNxHD and image stabilization are both absent. These aren’t crucial for me, but I know for some they will be very important. Now that we’ve said all of that, this is still an amazing deal at $3,000 for the image quality coming out of this camera (plus the expensive software included). It cannot be stressed enough that a RAW file from this camera will blow away all video DSLRs in existence. It’s just a fact of having high dynamic range with a proper recording format.

I personally have been waiting for a camera like this to give me this kind of image quality sub-$5,000. I’m willing to deal with the issues considering the cost, and I feel like it’s going to be a very similar situation to RED owners: deal without a few features now and they will all come in future firmware upgrades or future models.

What do you guys think?

Link: Video review of the BlackMagic Cinema Camera!! — Philip Bloom


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  • I’m surprised that not many others have brought a lot of these simple issues up.

    I never thought of the reflective screen, the lack of ability to delete video…

    I think that BM didn’t really think everything through. The whole 2.5 crop is really off putting because it’s so crazy.

    • Joe Marine on 09.6.12 @ 6:19PM

      It’s a 2.3 crop as compared to full frame.

    • I think the reflectivity of the screen is probably not that big of a deal. Just go buy an antiglare iPad screen and cut it to fit on the screen and you’ll be set.

  • Very in depth review. I will wait until the first firmware update before I order mine. Not knowing your f-stop is pretty rough. Still a really exciting camera and I think as long as Black Magic listens to the user’s feedback it will be a real winner.

  • Well I think we now understand the price: this is a first-generation product. And it’s awesome that they are essentially shipping it below cost (once R&D is amortized) to gain a foothold in the camera market and try to make Resolve the indie standard as well as the pro standard.

    I imagine it will be spring or so before the obvious firmware problems and the RAW converters are sorted out…the new bad news in this review is that the 1/4″ jacks have no phantom power, and there are no audio meters, means this will be a dual system camera where you just send line level in from external preamps for ease-of-sync purposes when shooting on sticks. That explains no XLRs…while it may have preamps, preamps without P48 aren’t really preamps in a useful sense, but 1/4″ is a standard format for line level.

    And probably in 2014 they come out with the S35, mirrorless mount camera we all want, but by then, there will be a lot of response to this camera already in the market. The nice thing is the price pressure this will bring, people will be very willing to work around the limitations vs. spending over $10K, so the other manufacturers are going to have to forego profits in the hopes of volume.

    I should note that Mr. Bloom’s signature slider which he sells so proudly on each review showed some rather klunky starts and stops even in the hands of its papa. ;-) But I thank him for the detailed review and all the proper complaints and praise alike.

  • the biggest issues for me are: m4/3 mount removable battery 1080/50p in DNxHD/ProRes (for now)

    I would like to see something like battery grip for dslrs that would have good ergonomical handle (something like 7D or red epic) and that will have removable batteries inside, so you can use your camera in hands and not worry about battery also you get better ergonomics – 2 quirks solved.. cut that stupid incompatible EF mount ,give us a firmware update for slowmotion and take my money

  • I gotta say Philip Bloom’s reviews always seem pretty balanced and honest. Enjoy watching them.

  • This was a very great, thorough review. We all had to work around the issues with these DSLRs and get a handle on them, so it’ll be interesting to see what the general consensus is like in a couple of months.

    I’m now extremely curious to see where this places Digital Bolex, as they seem to be holding a handful of features the BMCC lacks (and vice versa), including a smoother transition for DSLR shooters by incorporating CF card recording.

  • Clayton Arnall on 09.6.12 @ 7:14PM

    I really enjoyed his review. Kinda disappointed in the reflectivity of the screen and the focus assist feature not really being that great (at least in the current firmware). I’m actually somewhat tired of always bolting an external monitor onto my rig, so was really looking forward to the built in 5″ screen and focus assists. But after watching that, it looks like an EVF or non-reflective external monitor will still be needed.

    • Could you just put an anit-glare screen over it? Say, take an iPad anti-glare screen, cut it to fit and place over it. I don’t how well it’ll work but might be worth a try so you don’t have to carry around the monitor

  • Ben Holden on 09.6.12 @ 8:13PM

    I’ll wait until they release an m43 mount before I think about getting the BMC. GH3 will do me just fine until then.

  • If it had a standard 4-pin XLR power connector so I can power it from my Anton Bauer gear, 3-pin XLRs with phantom power (and metering — eh?), 24 bit audio and a M43 mount, I’d buy one in a hearbeat. The Panny 7-14 zoom would basically solve all the wide-angle problems, albeit with ergonomics that aren’t ideal for cinema use. OK, it wouldn’t be as wide as it is on an AF100 or a GH2, but at least the example I have is sharp as a tack. The Rokinon 8mm is interesting, particularly the geared version, but I’m not sure I can live with the barrel distortion.

  • If producers catch wind of all the gripes about this camera, getting gigs with it will be tough. Looks like Black Magic is already black listed. Nice try, witch.

  • I’m guessing that’s not the best place to hang dry your freshly washed clothing… oh yeah, and not being able to delete clips on an SSD that holds only 30 minutes RAW is silly.

    • Johnny Unitas on 09.6.12 @ 10:33PM

      CEO of Blackmagic Grant Petty said in an interview that these models of the BMC were sent to testers, like Bloom, so that they could see what people like Bloom wanted so they could add it via firmware.

    • Well… you can use any size SSD you want. Need to record longer than 30 min… then get a larger SSD…

  • Philip,
    Great review! I think I’ve read in other places that you can double tap on the screen and it would do a zoom in on the image for focus.

    I’m excited for the future of this camera!

  • How does the fs100 uncompressed footage compare with prores of this camera. I believe the fs100 can squeese out 4:2:2 10 bit

    • FS100 is max 4:2:2 8-bit. They both would give great results, but the BMCC has more dynamic range.

  • Wow, this was sort of that grain of salt i needed to take a step back before jumping in on this camera, give it another year…

    • Same here. I was waiting for Phil review just to make sure the rolling shutter was acceptable and then order the camera. But with the negative points he’s bringing up I might wait for a firmware update to have sound meters and f-stop display at least.

  • I watched it and appreciate the thoroughness of the out-of the-box review. Coming from a no-budget, no real camera perspective, his disclaimer/admonition that this camera is a very specific tool that ‘won’t mean all things to all people ‘ is well understood from the getgo. Shit, the best camera I ever shot from was a t2i with vintage Nikon glass. That this camera exists at all, and that I might handle one is so, so good.

    Limitations aside, I want nothing else than a camera that could be shot locally, then screend at the thursday night brew and view around here without a whiff of shit codec.

    -Also, somebody should do a kickstarter to raise money for crates of vintage scotch and whisky, or fabulously expensive wines, and have Mr. Bloom do reviews of them in front of a fireplace while smoking a pipe.

  • Great Review Philip. I really don’t think you were being negative with the camera review. There is plenty missing and better to address before some poor kid buys this and later realizes how much more is needed to operate it properly. This camera is a tease only for its 2.5k Raw. Good for Fx workflows and a controlled shoot but do you really need it? Is your current camera not good enough? I really think the issues in this camera are in the design and connection choices more than the firmware. Even if BM were to pull off 60p and add audio metering, the biggest mistake is the fixed Canon lens mount for their small sensor size. This camera is weird in every way and could give you grief if you don’t know its disadvantages. All in all this camera is quirky and will surely add up time and money.

  • Good stuff. Phil really likes his sliders, eh? On a side note, I keep hearing 2.5K RAW, 2.5K RAW!!! Is the prorez 2.5K as well? Or does it just record 1080p? That kinda seems like a common sense question, but I’m not up to snuff on my technical know-how. I really just want 2.5K to re-frame my crappy shots in post.

  • This is $ 3000 camera but BMD is charging $ 5000 in INDIA for this cinema camera,why? very disappointing and bad practice in part of them.Nikon, Canon are not like them, they are selling $3000 camera for $3000. Is $3000 price are for only USA ?

    • I don’t think it’s Black Magic charging $5000 for it, probably the local importers/distributors. In South Africa this camera cost me nearly $4000. Shipping + Taxes + Local distributer mark-up. But it’s a price I’m willing to pay to deal with an official local importer. Especially as this is a new camera and might therefore have some issues.

  • They make a M4/3 mount version!!!

    “We have also been working on a Passive Micro Four Thirds model of the camera. People have been asking for this as there are a lot of nice high end manually operated MFT lenses on the market, and the MFT mount can also be easily adapted to PL and other lens mounts using third party adapters.

    The new Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT is expected to ship in December, and will be the same price as the original model. It’s identical in features as they are both the same camera, just with different lens mounts. The price will also be the same at $2,995. We will be working with our dealers to help people change their orders if they want.”

  • perfect blackmagic!

    ok so you can strike the first point from my yesterday comment that it has no m4/3 mount
    now, I want to see firmware update and grip accessory with removable batteries, and also compression options (3:1/5:1) and damn almost perfect!

  • Wow!! they now their updated price is $2995 for INDIA too. thank you BMD, Great Day today for me first price came down from $5000 to $2995, second MFT mount, Thanks BMD for listening.

  • I shoot quite a bit of documentary, so I will be staying AWAY from this camera.

  • I think i’ll get me a BMDCC 2.0

  • BMD just announced a M43 Mount Option! Same price, same features.

  • HOLY SHIT!!! M4/3 mount for the BMCC OFICIAL!!!!

    I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW FAST BLACKMAGIC REACTS TO CUSTOMER FEEDBACK!!! AMAZING!!! I wouldnt be surprised if 1080p 60p is already being tested by JB right now!!! And a Super35 version already being tested too!!!! Wooot to Blackmagic!!!

  • This seems like a fair review.I like the issue he has brought up BUT i think this camera is still a camera worth getting. The overall image of the camera is still great, i’m sure firmware shall fix some of the problems. He said its not for everyone and its not. When you think about it he and vincent laforet talks about how its not ideal for the work they do. But guys like me who shoot more commercial, this camera is great. Almost everything i shoot is shot in a controlled environment so I can get around these problems. This camera is still great for film projects. When buying a camera we should take in consideration what kind of work and things we’re filming. Just look John Brawley has a background in vfx and film shooting, Philip Bloom narrative/documentary on the go filming. Two different styles of film making and two different feels for this camera. For me this camera is still a must have coming from having canon cameras and a heavy renter of cameras, the bmdcc makes a lot of sense for me. Worked with Raw but never owning, but now i can. As filmmakers and camera lovers we are in blessed times

  • Meh, if I already had the manual Voights the BMCC M43 would be interesting, but most of the M43 lenses are electronic iris, and it won’t support that (at least “initially”) nor IS. Yes you can adapt it to a wider variety of lenses but those adapted lenses are still not designed for this sensor size, nor will any of them have electronic iris control, netting us not much, and giving BMD more things to deal with. The M43 Voights just come in 17mm and 25mm which would give you a normal and portrait lens to work with and won’t solve the wide angle issue…they would be good for DOF but combined cost over $2400 and the point of this camera is to be cheap and use existing lens collections.

    I do like the responsiveness of the company but I actually think the EF mount camera is a better product right now. Electronic iris and IS for M43 (especially with f-stop display) would change that equation.

    • Except IS isn’t working on the EF model yet either. Assuming they fix that in firmware, I imagine they’d address the IS issue for the MTF mount as well.

    • “most of the M43 lenses are electronic iris”

      These are not the MFT lenses we want to use with it though and you also overlook the vast range of lenses this opens up via adaptors. It’s simply a better mount for this size sensor.

  • I really think that in a year they will have the killer camera, but i can’t afford to make this gamble now only to want to replace it with their 2.0 version next year, I suppose that goes for any camera but the flaws on this are all very fixable and as prices go down, a better version is always just over the horizon… I think I will make sure the rest of my film is in order and get the camera upgrade at the last possible minute.

  • seriously…..

    BM entered into this market quite smartly by choosing the price point first and building the best camera they could at that point. Price/performance will create demand. Attention to customer feedback/requests will build loyalty and trust. In a year, release a Cinema Camera “Pro” model…with a super 35 chip, 4K, removable battery and pro audio hookups. Keep it below $10K and they’ll have another winner as well as an upgrade path for customer who started out on their “entry” camera.

    I’m pretty impressed with Black Magic. Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

  • thanks for the lovely comments guys. means a lot to me. A crap load of work went into this…am actually finishing my tweaked version to add in the m43 version…kinda wish they went with this first. Makes way more sense! Put any lens you want on…just need Metabones to do a m43 version of their excellent adaptor.

    • Thanks for the great review as always, Philip! We’re looking forward to getting our hands on one (they’re hard to come by!) but we’ll probably just end up saying, “yeah… what Philip said.”

    • trackofalljades on 09.9.12 @ 5:54PM

      It’s very encouraging to see that so many of the first run “niggles” seem to be solvable in software, especially considering the company’s proven track record with software development.

    • Great Review Philip.

      This thing is impressive….

  • The blackmagic camera has way to many negatives for it to be bought… No f/stop indication? Not good. If you have a lens with a adjustable f/stop, then let’s say it’s ok…almost…
    I really would rather buy the canon 5d mark III instead of this camera, even though it doesn’t shoot 2.5 k. That crop factor reminds me of my old canon 400d.
    A Super 35mm sensor would cost a hell of a lot more, and that would mean a huge step coming with a huge price. If it was a super 35mm sensor then it would have been a bad boy and i’m sure they wouldn’t let the camera with so many holes…
    Not being able to delete the files from the camera?…wow….ok…we’ll leave aside the firmware based flaws…

    Those artifacts from the material filmed with the black magic are from the lens?

    Minus for the camera
    a BIG plus for the excellent made review. Good job!

    • When the BMC comes in with M4/3 Mount, and all the PL options beome available, as they did for the AF100 and GH2, i think this camera will come into its own.

    • I am thinking most of the issues you mention will be fixed (by firmware). Phillip B. mentions it the same way, why are you so negative?

      • Let’s put aside the firmware problems, shall we?
        The only big problem i have with the camera is the crop factor. And no, the firmware won’t fix that. Besides the 2.5 k resolution, i don’t see any other reason to buy this camera.

        I would still invest in a DSLR for independent movies. The settings of the Blackmagic somehow reminds me of phones or consumer digital cameras. Does “EV +/-” ring a bell?

        Sure, blame the firmware. Why would you present a camera that doesn’t let you change the absolut basic settings needed for making a, let’s say, low bugdet short movie.

        Make all the mounts and lenses available for the camera, the crop factor is still a problem.
        I don’t see any REAL reason of why i should buy it. A DSLR makes a better job than this camera…

  • trackofalljades on 09.9.12 @ 10:41AM

    I have a minor editing suggestion for the article (great article, by the way!). Vimeo doesn’t allow download links like those, they’ll only result in an error page for readers. If you click over to the actual page for each Vimeo video however, then you can download either one just fine. So it might be better to instruct readers to take that path (and provide links to the videos’ respective pages).

  • Quite a fair review, and informative. The images look great coming out of it, and all of your criticisms are quite legitimate.

    I’m not as concerned about the 1/4″ jacks, since this is an audio industry standard for non-mic connections. Yes there are usually XLRs on the back of preamps as well as TRS jacks, but if one is missing on the back it’s always the XLR. Those are on mic cables. Plus I have miles of 1/4″ balanced cables around the studio. I get that it’s going to be awkward for film people who are used to 1/8″ and XLR, but it’s going to bring cabling more in line with pro audio, which is a good thing in the long run. Wouldn’t it be great to just have one crate of audio cables, with a mic side and a gear side?

  • Thanks so much for the review Philip.
    Now that is has MFT lens mount (my favorite lens is also the voigtlander 25mm f0.95) it’s a deal, I’m buying it!
    I’m only guessing here but having only the pixels for 2.5K to offload the rolling shutter should be less, no?

  • It always throws me off when two different sites I respect interact on the same page. It feels like the old school crossover comics from my childhood.

  • Absolutely!

  • I understand that you can’t delete in camera, but can you review your shots?

  • Typical long-winded review from the Bloom. :-) But a few useful nuggets (buried) in there. They should have gone M 4/3rds first. Very very tempting this bloody thing. Laforet is right: its fantastic and frustrating. But at that price….at some point I’ll crack.

    • just hit fast forward…

    • Matthew Santa Maria on 09.16.12 @ 2:16AM

      Wow – can you say – Rude – I am not in the video/film making world but use video to help my small business sell products. I have been helped countless times by Philip Bloom’s posts and video reviews. So for you to start a comment by saying – typical long winded – I find utterly insulting. Philip has obviously spent several days/hours and presented a very detailed and comprehensive review to us all for free. So if you can point me to a more even handed short review of your own I would be glad to watch it half way through

  • I was unable to get either of the download links to work.

    Thanks so much, I’m looking forward to watching these. Thanks to Philip Bloom for putting in the hard work.

    • He uploaded them again, I’ll just get rid of those links. If you go straight to video the links are there.

  • Gary Simmons on 09.13.12 @ 5:57PM

    the biggest problem for me is the crop factor it will eliminate to many shot options in close quarters which is why I chose a compact form factor in the first place. A APC sensor is as much crop I can get along with and it still bumps into my comfort zone some times.

  • tito haggardt on 09.14.12 @ 12:51AM

    this looks like a job for MAGIC LANTERN!
    thanks for the indepth review, Phil, straight arrow as always

  • Awesome review. Thanks!

  • Nice review – gut wrenching honest – I like that.

    So, in the final analysis, is the BMC a good deal? The sensor is small. You canNOT get any really good wide angle lenses to work. Even a 15mm is about 35mm equiv. So what happens when you want a wide angle shot of 18-21 or so. Can’t get it. Ouch. All lenses better than double – whats so good about that? Then RAW – IF and it is a big IF, requires a monster computer for marginal gains. And battery, oops again. what 2 hours – kinda shoots that one down. And no aperture control on the lens, ouch. It is ungainly in it’s design. What about the follow focus guys? What about shooting in bright light with it behind you which blanks out the screen? Ouch again. You need to make adjustments while shooting and need screen input, so what are you going to do – put your fingers on the screen – kinda takes away from the creative moment.

    So what is there to like about it? Well, if you can get over the hurdles which are monsters, you get 13 stops (so THEY say). I don’t believe it. Yes, it is a bit sharper at 2.5k, and yes the price is lower. But if you can’t get the optics, what good is it? And no night shots either. Some of the best filming is in the evening, darkened rooms, shadows etc. The best wide angle lens is the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 – which gives you 35 mm – but at f 4.5 (oh, by the way, you have to use manual lenses to know what the aperture is), you don’t have much light gathering ability. IF, you could get a brilliant optic 15mm, f 1.8 (which does not exist – a Zeiss 15mm f3.5 will set you back $3,000+), you are still stuck with deep Depth of field – the shallow dof is next to zip, the very reason why we need larger sensors in the first place. If you want anything high quality wide angle, it won’t happen (I think).

    By comparison, Sony’s FS100, although not quite as sharp, takes damn nice stuff, on a small SD card, workable codecs, batteries that last 8 hours, clips that can catch 2 hours or more, a little tight on latitude, yet can see in the dark, use any lens out there, 1-60 fps, auto everything or manual anything, XLR inputs and complete control of audio, peaking, histograms, delete scenes in a pinch, last screen review, zebra, 3 start stop buttons, incredible control of picture profiles (as many as you want really), a S35 sensor at 1.5X which means all my Zeiss glass works well. And in post, those images can even be tweaked a bit to come close to what the BMC can do without all the pitfalls and headaches, limitations. The BMC is not exactly professional user friendly.

    I don’t think you will will find too many pros get excited about it unless it is for special occasions such as small form factor, hide in a closet, – a specialty unit perhaps. Is it really that good when you add it all up? I’ll pass.

  • Hey Philip,
    Thank you very much for the detailed review. Naming the kitten as Nura was hilarious. Keep Rolling Sir..


  • So let me get this straight…. You will never know what Fstop you’re shooting at because it is not displayed? WOW.