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Take an In-Depth Look at the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

09.2.12 @ 2:35PM Tags : , , , , ,

Not many reviews have come out for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera as it is just starting to ship, but a select few have been able to get their hands on the BMCC and shoot some footage as well as give their impressions after working with the camera. Rick Young, a shooter who hails from Australia (headquarters of Blackmagic Design), takes a look at the Cinema Camera and shows off some of the video he’s been taking. He also goes through the final shipping menu design of the camera and details many of the options in there.

Rick sat down and talked with Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design, about the camera. Here is his three-part interview:

I think I’ve probably exhausted what I can say about the camera. Until I actually start shooting with it I won’t know what actually presents a real problem and what are features that people would like to have, but don’t really affect the operation of the camera all that much. You can use any camera for any situation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean any camera is good for all situations. I know most of us have used DSLRs in situations that would really have benefited from a bigger or more fully-featured camera, and I think that will be no different for the Cinema Camera. I’m going to give my honest opinion once I shoot with the camera since I’ll be testing it in a wide variety of situations.

Has any of the recent material persuaded or dissuaded you from buying the camera? Has anything in particular made you take a second look?

Link: Rick Young

[via Notes on Video & Blackmagic User]


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Description image 69 COMMENTS

  • Christophe on 09.2.12 @ 3:00PM

    I think I’ll buy this camera, first reason is the price point.
    I’m waiting to see more footage, we’re still lacking some low light tests.

    The only downside to me is the crop-factor, really don’t know how sharp/smooth while moving it’ll be on a 70-200.

    Anyway, as I have not pre-ordred one, I don’t think I’ll be able to buy one “in stock” before november or even end of the year …

  • I am ashamed this has just come to me now, but stupid question first: Where do you adjust the f-stop when you have, say, a lens that has no manual ring for that?


    • Christophe on 09.2.12 @ 3:30PM

      Yep, that’s another reason why I think waiting a little before buying will be necessary.
      First time I see the menus of this camera, and thanks to this video, I’m wondering just like you, owning just EF-lenses that have no manual aperture. I can’t rely on “will be fixed with later firmware”.
      I must have a simple way to set my aperture, and THEN set the lights to adjust the exposure right.
      That’s more often the way I work. Expose first (even with the iris safe button), and then have an f-stop set to what the exposure needs IS NOT what I want.
      Waiting as always … hope I won’t have to wait the time I’ve been (and still) waiting for Mac Pros … ;-(

    • Right now, you have to use the touchscreen, and you can’t see what the stop is. Hardly ideal, and yes, I’d imagine they’ll fix this in an update soon. There’s too much interest in this camera to delay it any further without a PR disaster, but let Blackmagic know what you want for v1.1.

  • Great images,
    but not an independent critical review. Hope to read one in the future.

      • I wouldn’t call that an independent review. As much as I’ve enjoyed Vincent’s educative posts and videos, he’s a Canon Explorer of Light (as Shane Hurlbut). So, they’re like Canon’s ambassadors, and they’re opinions could be (even unintentionally) biased.

        He’s comparing the crop factor against a 1DX. C’mon, it’s a cinema camera, not a photography one! Fair thing would’ve been to compare against an Alexa / Scarlet / F3. Would he compare the 5D MK3 against a Hasselblad, or the Canon C300 against 70mm IMAX? I don’t think so. Apples to apples please.

        On the other hand, he makes some good points (both in pros and cons), and it’s worth a read.

        • Joe Marine on 09.2.12 @ 5:50PM

          Well he has nothing to do with Blackmagic, so regardless of what he says about Canon, his points about the Cinema Camera stand alone as his own views.

          • I also thought it was pointless to compare the crop factor between the BMC and Canon 1DX, since it’s a cinema camera it’d make more sense to compare with a Red or Canon 7D size of sensor. This is not a camera for who’s used with a full frame sensor.

        • Yes he makes some good points – but I never ever trust a ‘company man’

        • More subtle, but just as disingenuous, was his comparison of the dynamic range of the RAW video of the BMCC with the 1DC…in stills mode.

          • … and he also upscaled (!!) the BMC raw images to match the stills camera raw resolution to do a side by side!!! honestly…

          • Couldn’t agree more. There was a comment on the original blog (by Junius) which I will repost here:

            ** This over analysis of the BMC’s sensor has got me thinking that people have no concept of cinematography at all. There are many great films shot on 16mm sensors. And the concern over lenses not being “wide enough” – most films are shot between 25mm – 35mm, with apertures of F4 – F5.6. I think the “SLR revolution” really spoiled a lot of people and created an ideology of “large sensor = more cinematic”.

            Vincents response was inappropriate because it completely missed the point that Junius made (and was also rude in the process), but I won’t get into it here.

          • LOL! well I tried posting a comment in response to Vincent and it didn’t make it past moderation so I’ll post my reponse here…

            “@Vincent Laforet, Dude this response is lame because (A) it completely misses the point that Junius made, and (B) espouses an argument against the situation that made you famous on the web… I’m referring to ” And there lies the problem. What you are left with are a lot of lenses that weren’t necessarily designed to pull focus for cinema”. Dude, you because famous because a camera came along that used the very same bunch of lenses to deliver high quality optics – yet weren’t designed to pull focus. You’re forgetting what market segment this $3000 unit is aimed at. The DSLR revolution happened because “cinematic” images all of a sudden because monetarily accessible. You’ve forgotten all about that. This camera is for people who have one or two or three good (Canon) lenses sitting around and want to make films with those resources.

            If you want to do some good in the world of gorilla cinematography, go back to Canon and tell them to remove that stupid red dot from their HDMI output.

            I think this thinly veiled counter-attack from a Canon-sponsored person just makes Canon look like they feel threatened and it doesn’t do a great deal for your appearance of being legitimately objective.”

  • All of the video clips are being collected and discussed here, with news as it arrives:

  • Man, this video makes me miss my home city. Perth beaches, nearly unbeatable.

  • is there any news regarding m43 mount?

    im a nikon shooter but i failed to understand why this thing is ef mount only. if they make it as m43, we can use an adapter to convert it to any other mount. surely, electronic aperture isnt the best reason/solution.

  • The interview looked better than the examples. I’m waiting for someone to PUSH this camera. Not set it on a tripod with a 70-200 Canon lens and film some waves. That video isn’t selling any units. Let’s see some Cinematography!

    • Agreed, but at this point I just want this camera in my hands, enough of videos and reviews, we won’t get more impressed at this point. Anything better that what was seen already will take time and more money to be produced which is not the case, from now on it’ll be only waves, flowers, faces smiling and charts.

    • agree; that interview was probably done with the Sony F3.

    • I agree here, so sick of nature crap, every time somebody want to show something this is what they do, how a quick short or something, wanna see skin tones, color reproduction, over cinematic feel. Was going to buy digital bolex but all they do is take pictures with industry folks, nothing about the camera.

  • I’m excited for this camera for one reason… that it will prove to the big manufacturers, superior results don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. But, I won’t buy one.

    What I want for Christmas…

    A good sensor, a universal lens mount, hdmi and sdi outputs in a small box with so, I (the buyer), can decide which monitor I want, which external recorder I want and which lenses I want. If a sensor, lens mount, raw, prores, dnx recorder and a monitor (not to mention DaVinci) can be put together in one package for $3K, why can’t those items be sold individually at a per item comparable price? I’d even pay a little more for each one just for the flexibility. I want buttons on the recorder and a monitor of my choosing for size and positioning. I don’t care for touch screens and I don’t care for the Apple mentality of deciding what I need and where it should be. Great that it’s all that for $3K (and I hope it kicks Canon right square in the nads) but, it still don’t do it for me.

    • They have to make compromises for several reasons. They couldn’t get a larger sensor that did what they wanted, and are on record saying that a S35 sensor would have made the camera cost >$10K. Bigger sensor = more cooling = faster processing needed… it snowballs.

      The realities of mass production mean that you can’t simply buy a camera which is perfect for you. You can live with something nearly right for you, or you can augment a “nearly right” solution with accessories. What’s perfect for you is not perfect for everyone.

      Exhibit A:

      • Joe Marine on 09.2.12 @ 8:11PM

        That blog also contained one of the funnier videos I’ve ever seen debuting a concept car. This is why manufacturers have to make sensible designs and decisions about what is, and isn’t, included in a product – and a lot of those decisions come down to price.

      • Well, just for the record, I didn’t say anything about a larger sensor.
        You mentioned “the realities of mass production”. Small monitors are being mass-produced, external recorders are being mass produced and lenses are being mass-produced. The only thing missing is a little box with a sensor inside it and a hole in front. Why is that so difficult?

        • For most buyers, the integration of all these components is worth a lot. If they were all mix and match like a generic PC desktop, the total camera would be heavier, less protected, less strong, more prone to failure, and more expensive. Many of these decisions also force others — the lens mount determines the sensor size to some degree.

          For a true custom build, adding accessories to a bare bones camera is as close as you’ll get. RED allow a fair bit of customisation, but you pay for it.

          (Lastly, many have requested a larger sensor — apologies for implying you were one of them.)

          • I have requested a larger sensor, just not in this thread. :)
            My point still stands, though, I believe…

            heavier. maybe a little

            less protected. perhaps

            less strong. hmmm, yea but, with a cage, rails or rigged like most proper cinema cameras and taking care with it, like you would with a proper cinema camera, not sure ‘less strong’ is that relevant.

            more prone to failure. Actually, I think devices that have all their components in one housing are more prone to failure than having them separate and, by being separate, a broken part could be sent in for repairs while the other components could stay on-set and keep on working.

            more expensive. If all these components can be manufactured and put into a shell and sold for $3K, why could they not be manufactured and sold separately for essentially the same $?

            I really don’t get it and haven’t heard a good explanation of why this wouldn’t or doesn’t work.
            Large sensors aside (yes, I would prefer that and pay for it), if you are stuck on the sensor that BM uses then put it in a small aluminum box with HDMI and SDI ports on the back and, for, probably, less than a couple o’ grand (for this ‘brain’), you might have yourself a Red killer.

            Yea, a lot of people would still buy it the way they made it but, I’d be willing to bet, there are a hell of a lot of people that would buy that separate little box/brain, as well.

          • They had an article here a couple months ago about a box with a sensor that If I recall correctly, did 4K for $4K. But one thing you need for an EF-mount camera is aperture control, so your purely modular solution will mandate manual-iris lenses only, making it a niche product. But as far as I know what you want is available now.

          • Wait for Sep.12, Sony will announce the first in the VG range with a FULL FRAME (Photographic wise) sensor, that has an internal codec of avchd 2.0 that can shoot 1080p 60p. Judging from the VG20 that currently exists, its hdmi must be …. You got a small body with a full frame sensor, attach an external recorder from pro-res recording. Its on e-mount, the one TRUE UNIVERSAL MOUNT, so you can use any lens imaginable.’ve just got your dream camera. FF for all the DOF, prores for proper encoding, its monitor will most likely be properly placed on the side rotatable to anywhere ala EA50, and most likely will have an XLR audio input cause they are releasing a new xlr mic with it. So there ya go.

  • I am buying this camera. And even if I never bother to take it out of its box, I will be very happy to do so for one reason:


    If you fantasize about making “a disruptive product that delights its customers” there’s only one way to do so: have the person in charge, with full budgetary authority, have this much appreciation of the problem domain and the proposed solution.

    I am happy to view the $3000 as a charitable donation to this cause, although I do think I will be making some use of this product.

    (BTW, I also adored the narrator. Screenwriters, if you want to know how to get us to root for your characters, there is no better demonstration than this gentleman saying he was scared and intimidated to be working with Da Vinci and RAW footage for the first time. Charming!)

    Now, I have to demonstrate my credibility, and so I will note that the CEO is a specialist in post, not camera, and I perceive a confusion in his view about exposure. From the interview it’s clear he believes that aperture is the central factor in the exposure triangle. In cinema, shutter angle and frame rate is fixed. So should aperture be what we use for exposure? Hell no. Only as a last resort. Aperture is about two things: 1) Depth of field and 2) Getting the lens into its sweet spot. Aperture affects exposure as a side effect. When you have the DOF you want, and the lens is as much in its sweet spot as you want, should you change the aperture to get a better exposure. NO!!! You should use ISO gain or ND filters to adjust your exposure…as long as doing so won’t be worse that the side-effects of the apeture change would be.

    So that explains one of the primary weakness of the BMCC ergonomics: it has no Aperture display, and the IRIS button serves as an “Auto Apeture” exposure compensation button. That is how the CEO thinks cameras should be used, and so that is how this camera is. A CEO more versed in production than post may have prioritized built-in ND filters rather than an auto aperture button.

    But we are all human, and the humans who built this are better than most. Once my schedule is free enough to play with a new toy I think I’ll order one of these. WELL DONE!

    • If the BMC acts like other RAW cameras, you should never change the ISO to get your exposure. ISO controls the distribution of dynamic range of the camera. It should be fixed when exposing the sensor.

      • In RAW mode on the BMCC the ISO setting is just a metadata flag, the gain is fixed. In ProRes mode the ISO does have effect. And in that mode, an auto ISO adjustment may sometimes have been more useful than an auto aperture button. I use ranged auto ISO fairly often for stills, as long as it doesn’t change on you during the shot it could work for video too.

        I think auto iris will be useful it times, I just wish they cracked the EF code better to the point they could show the F stop value on the screen. I also wonder how abrupt aperture and ISO changes will be when recording. Setting the best exposure is going to be a bit difficult on this camera at least with the original firmware.

        It would also have been nice to have finer control over shutter angle for compatibility and fine tuning.

        Still quite excited about this product and this company. This is like RED all over again…they will get big investment for a follow up to this given how effective that CEO is.

  • I felt the footage looked like crap, personally. Not sure if this dude doesn’t really know what he’s doing or what, but I’ve seen better footage off an hv30. Maybe somethings wrong on my end, but I watch tons of footage on this computer. Anyways, kinda bummed out.

  • Also, the crop factor is unreal. 2.5 times zoomed in? Dear lord.

    • Joe Marine on 09.2.12 @ 7:35PM

      Crop factor is 2.3 as has been stated numerous times in many places. 36mm for a full-frame sensor like 5D Mark III vs. 15.6mm active area for the Cinema Camera. 36 / 15.6 = 2.30769

      It’s the compromise for getting RAW, ProRes, DNxHD and Alexa-type dynamic range in a $3,000 camera body.

      • But is a 2.5x crop that will completely obliterate your focal lengths on your lenses really worth it? 2.5 is a MASSIVE crop, and I don’t even know if the RAW would sell it to me.

        An 18mm turns into a 45mm. To get a 35mm focal length on this camera you would need to use a 14mm prime lens…

        If you were to move on from the BMCC then you pretty much have a 14mm lens that couldn’t be used as much as you would like.

        • Joe Marine on 09.3.12 @ 7:07AM

          I just did the math on the crop factor in the comment you replied to – 2.3x and not 2.5x. Not a huge difference, but it makes a bigger difference at the wider end.

          This camera has already proven it will give RED or Arri Alexa-like image quality at 1080p, so if the crop factor isn’t something you can get over, then there are definitely other cameras that would suit your needs better in this budget range.

          • so there is no way really to get a fish eye like lens effect strait out of the camera then is there? kinda gash if u ask me

            • Joe Marine on 09.4.12 @ 1:51PM

              Nope, but then again, in the grand scheme of things, how many projects call for fish-eye? If you really need it there are plenty of solutions that will provide good image quality and give you that look. I think if you really need that look all the time this camera definitely won’t work for you. If you only need it occasionally, you could certainly find a B-camera that will do it just for when you need it.

        • Am I missing something? Would my Canon 10-22mm EFS fit this camera. It’s mean’t for a crop senor so shouldn’t be giving up much….

  • Interesting read posted on Mr. Laforet says his IS didn’t work for the 100mm EF macro lens. Frank Glencairn’s recent blog update also made note that this camera just won’t do without any sort of support.

  • Colours looked amazing but can’t say I was impressed with the images at all. DOF was so deep it looked like video. Wouldn’t have taken much to throw a matte box and ND filters on that bad boy to get some images that actually looked ‘cinematic’.

    • Yea I agree. I don’t think the guy in the video is that skilled or he just didn’t have the time to do something that’ll show off the camera.

      • 90% of people operating a $3000 camera wont know what theyre doing. I see poorly processed Scarlet plenty so theres going to be a lot of ugly crap coming out of this beautiful camera.

        • Agreed. That’s the bad part about lower price points. It attracts all of the amateurs who will quickly produce tons of crap videos. And even with DaVinci Resolve they will muck-up the color as well. DaVinci Resolve is still a high-end and complex piece of software that requires dedicated knowledge and skill to use effectively.

  • For $3,000……I’m not mad at the crop factor because its easily fixed with lens selection. I’m not mad at the lack of nd filters because a cheap matte box and some drop in filters will fix that. I’m not mad at low light performance(learn to light & stop wanting everything to be handed to you). Internal battery not and issue, just use it as a backup when you’re swapping out external power. You’re getting a large RAW image with high dynamic range from this thing for 3K plus a high quality color grading application. The only thing I wish it had was 60p or higher but for 3k, It seems like a really great camera to own right now. This camera is ripe for companies to start making products to enhance it’s shooting capabilities.

  • Hey Rick, about your 1,5 day shooting, where are your external batteries ?? ;-)

  • While today the best quality budget camera is a m43 (hacked GH2) I still don’t see why they’re not considering m43 lens mount, the Panasonic 7-14 would be a perfect match with the blackmagic. The should sell it with a selection of lens adapters such as Red. Modular.

    No buy for me, too much crop, too small sensor, only external batteries. I don’t want a Ferrari engine inside an economy small car. Price it a bit more but ship it with s35 sensor or at least m43 mount, internal removable battery and I buy it.

  • [•] InFrame on 09.3.12 @ 7:59AM

    Not a fan of the cropped sensor but the Davinci software bundled with the camera is appealing. Len’s like the Canon FD or Leica M mount via adapter is the go to increase the ease of changing the aperture on the fly. I do hope the next version camera is full frame and that would be a game changer.

  • Well… If your problem is the lack of a S35 sensor but you want 13 stops of DR and RAW, you can move to a RED Scarlet and pay $20k to rig it properly…

    I worked with one last weekend and it’s is an awesome camera but the redvolts last nothing, so I decided to work with the v-mount batteries on the back of the scarlet.

    The point is if I buy a Scarlet and want batteries to last I need the v-mount ones not so different of the BMCC. I really don’t get this rant about internal batteries. Alexa also needs external V-mounts too…

  • Really: who the hell is this guy ? Seems like he knows very little about cameras in general. “Don’t know what shutter angle is” Duh !

    I learned nothing new about the camera from this vid. Come on Blackmagic: next time, give your “late shipping” product to a real pro.

  • On the second video, right about at the end where they are talking about sensor size, he mention the probability od adding high framerates!!!! That is the single thing thats missing for me about this camera!!! And he is actually considering it!!! 1080p 60p please!!!!! This CEO is seriously awesome.

  • I’m really close to buying this camera, but two things are holding me back:

    1) Lack of removable battery. Not a deal-breaker, but having to use external power negates some of the advantages of having a smaller camera.

    2) Lack of HDMI. I really don’t want to dish out an extra $200 for an SDI-HDMI converter just so I can use my EVF.

    Other than that, very exciting.

  • Seems like it’s all just hype at the moment. We should expect a lot about this camera to be spoken about differently in a month or two. In a years time this may be just another faded memory of press releases past.

    • I don’t understand why you think its hype. There has been several hands on reviews of the production camera by many of the top names in the business ALL saying very very good things about it. The video capability at the price point is the main thing and its not really comparable to anything close. Sure there are flaws and the reviewers mention them in detail, but the main thing is this is a real product.

  • At 12:15 on the top video there are pelicans in the water. There is some kind of clipping in the extreme whites. Is this also in the raw? Is this a compression artifact?

  • It’s the battery which is the big concern and the Iris control needs a little work also