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November 15, 2012

Shipping Prospects Improving for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

It's been a frustrating few months for everyone involved, but it seems like Blackmagic and their suppliers may have finally ironed out the issues that have been plaguing them and the production of the Cinema Camera since shipping was first delayed over the summer. The supplier that Blackmagic is using for sensors has not had proper testing in place to catch some contamination that has been getting under the glass that is bonded to the sensor, so it took for Blackmagic to actually get in there with engineers for the this problem to be resolved. It's all a bit technical, but Grant Petty, the CEO, has posted a new message that should be encouraging to anyone who still has not received a camera (which I'm guessing is just about all of you).

The message from Grant:

Here is another update on the camera shipments.

Some good news. If you have read my other posts about the causes of the camera delays then you know we have been dealing with a problem with our sensor supplier related to contamination of the glass that's bonded on the front of the sensor. It's not been clean and so we had to stop production of cameras.

There have been two issues here we have been dealing with, the first that the sensor supplier has not been able to see the contamination because their tests were not good enough, and secondly that they need to find a way of bonding the glass on the sensor without contamination.

The good news is that we got a small shipment of sensors that the sensor supplier had tested with their new test setup and they were all ok when we built cameras with them. This is good because they will now be able to see sensors that are contaminated and not ship us anything that's unable to be used to build a camera.

Also, the sensor supplier has done a small run of sensors at the new company that's bonding the glass and they got almost a 100% pass rate, which is also great. This means they finally have a solution to bonding on the glass that looks like it will work.

The plan at the moment is to do a small production run this week and we hope to get those sensors next week where we can build cameras using them and see how it all goes.

But things are looking quite good. This run of cameras next week will test the sensor supplier's ability to build sensors without contamination and to also be able to test them correctly so we only get good sensors. If that's all ok then we look like we will be able to move back into production. 

I will update everyone next week when we know. I also hope to have more info on how fast they can ramp up with this new supplier and the new test. 

I hope this update helps.

So that's certainly good news, and even though some of you have had pre-orders dating back to April, if things go as planned, they could be building cameras starting next week, and in greater volume (hopefully) soon thereafter. I have seen some suggestions that this may simply be a coverup for a greater problem, and frankly with the amount of energy that is being spent to update users, that seems extremely unlikely. If you've been paying attention to the way other companies release cameras (with the exception of RED), if a delay happens, there is almost never an explanation given.

A recent example is the the Canon 1D X, which was delayed numerous times over a few months without a real reason given from Canon (and then wasn't in stock for even more months after that). When Nikon introduced the D800, it remained in almost perpetual backorder without explanation for months. It's one way "small" companies like RED and Blackmagic have been different from the competition, and while it's a situation that can certainly backfire over a long enough period of time, I prefer honest communication from a company rather than silence. Others might think differently, and certainly, it's possible for too much communication. I think in this circumstance, however, Blackmagic has done as good of a job keeping people in the loop as possible, especially since the real problems didn't become apparent until much later.

If you've got a pre-order, we should know in the next week how things are going and when they might be able to start really cranking these out. At this point the backorder situation is anyone's guess, but ideally we'll know relatively soon what that's looking like.

Link: Camera Shipping Update: 11/15 -- Blackmagic Forum

Your Comment

22 Comments

Hey Joe,
I can only agree. How Blackmagic deals with the sensor issues is great. I can absolutely understand if people with pre-orders are frustrated but I personally still am excited to finally get this camera and shoot my first film on it!

November 15, 2012

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I preordered in mid May and hope to get mine before Christmas or maybe for Christmas. The delays have been annoying but they're doing something they never have done before, and this is my first camera I'm buying out right, so I can wait. good news to hear though. I really want the camera to come out so I can go to bmcuser or the blackmagic forum and not hear people bitching as if the delay infringed on their civil rights

November 15, 2012

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Jason

Honestly I applaud Blackmagic for their openness throughout this whole delay process. Not to mention that they actually sent their own engineers to the sensor factory to help iron out the issue. That shows a commitment to both the product and the consumer that is rarely seen from companies these days.

And based on the limited amount of footage and reviews floating around the interwebs, I really think that the people who didn't jump ship for one reason or another are going to be incredibly happy with this camera. I only hope that I'll have the cash to pick one up at some point, because this camera is exactly what I'm looking for in terms of image quality.

November 15, 2012

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Robert

I know RED is (in)famous for their delays and they let people know, but I thought their explanations usually ran along the lines of "you'll get it when you get it." It's hard to fault Blackmagic for much other than announcing (and maybe taking pre-orders) too early.

November 15, 2012

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interesting quote. The most serious flaw was accepting pre-orders for an unknown product.

November 16, 2012

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Felipe Leonardo...

I have been in the roadshow of Blackmagic cinema camera in stockholm, they show us that the camera exist, how works and some quality test. I just want to said to everybody is waiting to have one, you are gonna be f happy!

November 15, 2012

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Nacho

Jag var också där! Vart har du bokat den? och vad blir din total summa för kameran?

November 19, 2012

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Noah

Realistically i say FEB should be the "sweet spot" for them as for when they are in a constant clockwork stage of producing and shipping cameras.

I talked the a rep at b &h photo last around last month and he told me December, Usally i add 2-3 months, so around Feb is my threshold. hopefully everything will be good, if it is not ready by SUPERBOWL OR NBA ALL STAR BREAK FEB then i may look elsewhere maybe RED scarlet and 6d for b camera.

Right now its out of either 3 black magic cameras, a scarlett, or canon 1ds

November 15, 2012

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Jayyyy

These sorts of problems are unfortunately all too common when dealing with prototype technologies and new suppliers. It's why there all sorts of quality standards and the auto OEMs (for example) work so hard on supplier qualification. I wish Black Magic all the success with this. It's an amazing looking camera (from the specs).

November 15, 2012

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Aw man another week?

November 15, 2012

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Julian Terry

Agree with your assessment. There are a lot of frustrated people posting on the Blackmagic Forum, but at least they have a forum to post to. Where is the Canon forum? The Sony forum? The Nikon forum? The Panasonic forum? Did the CEO of Canon personally explain the delays to the 1D X? No, you get nothing from these companies. This industry desperately needs Blackmagic to be a success. Because, delayed or not, this camera exposes the camera giants for what they really are.

November 15, 2012

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TiCa

Valid point that large companies don't inform customers for production issues like RED and Black Magic. However, one has to understand that apart from their ethics, large companies are also answerable to shareholders and are critically analysed by analysts/activist shareholders. So large listed companies like Canon, Sony etc can't just BS.

Unlisted companies can talk anything and still be safe.

I hope Blackmagic can sort out their production issues soon. Having worked in electronic manufacturing industry, I will be extremely nervous becoming an early adopter of their cameras. Having said that, their success is important for the competitiveness and growth of this industry.

November 16, 2012

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"Almost 100%" ?? I hope blackmagic desighn doesn't skimp on quality control to speed up production.

November 16, 2012

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alguti

You hope they don't skimp on quality control to speed up production? This is the only camera they've ever made and it's already six months late because of quality control.

November 16, 2012

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Johnny

In the world of electronics "almost 100%" is pretty damn close to the best to be physically possible.

I would be highly skeptical of ANY company that claims a full 100% because there will be error or flaws of some type. I for one am really glad that they have let users know what is happening as things progress to an actual 'go live release'

November 22, 2012

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Jonathan Barnes

If you pre-ordered a camera that is the first one they've ever mass produced you simply aren't allowed to be upset about any shipping delays. They didn't sucker you in, you chose to order it and you wanted it before anyone else had a chance to write a real review about it. You took the gamble, now sit tight. It will be amazing.

November 21, 2012

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Mike Hendzel

Well said!

November 21, 2012

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avatar
Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer
28

Two key points:

1) BM HAVE a QA process and caught the problems BEFORE shipping, rather then use us as the guinea-pigs to troubleshoot their products.

2) They tell us the problem AND what they're doing about it AND keep us in the loop re progress.

To my mind, that sets them 'right up there' in terms of customer service.

November 22, 2012

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I'm in no way impressed with B-M keeping customers in the loop or whatever.

All I see is passing blame. It is always the boss' fault. Always. It's really easy to blame some (unnamed, unidentified) vendors for failing...but the bottom line is I don't care. It's always the company's fault to fail to deliver, and I want to hear them accept that.

Or I did...I honestly don't care anymore b/c I don't even want their camera. I was planning for months on buying one b/c it did the most in it's price range. The particular misgivings I had about the camera are no longer a concern b/c I ordered a BTR1MX a couple weeks ago. The dim touch screen, the ports in your face, the weird audio connections, the uncompressed (as opposed to compressed) RAW, and mostly, the small sensor...

...so...thank you for messing up. I got what I wanted due to me not being able to purchase your camera by the time I needed one.

November 23, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

Out of curiosity, if you had a budget of 3K-4K to work with then what other camera did you end-up getting? DSLR?

November 28, 2012

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Razor

I had the BMC test camera for my feature film shoot the other day. I found out that the camera has problem with lenes' backfocus, making the focus range unusable. I had tested the camera with Zeiss Compact Prime CP2 and Canon Cinema Lenses and both show problems (mostly with 50mm lenses). To prove this fact, me and Thailand's Canon Technician tried the lenses with various cameras and come up with accurate focus range. May be something went wrong with the sensor plain (unaccurate ?). I had sent the problem to The Distributor to tell Blackmagic about the problem and still looking forward for their answer.

So far, I had put a little test with BMC (Shot on Raw 2.5K), Red One MX and EPIC. After color correction with Baselight, you can't notice any different between each footages shot, making it a great news if there is no problem with the production camera that'll be release in the future.

Therefore, people who buy it might have to look forward to the heat problems (I shot my film in Bangkok, Thailand which make the camera heat up to the point that you can't handle the SSD drive when you take it out for file load up). The camera turned itself off few times during the shoot but I still can't figure out the reason (but not when it's on the recording mode, Lucky me). I hope I'll come up with some resolution to cool the camera down buy the time I get my hand on the real production one.

http://instagram.com/p/SQRHFDoj6s/ (Both on left side is EPIC, Top right corner is Red One MX and lower right corner is BMC) .... Little Different in Skin tone color and grey color ... only thing noticable is the highlight at the background windows which actually hard to notice by naked eyes (but somehow iPhone4 camera caught it)

http://instagram.com/p/R22HnNoj-x/ Rigging the camera for top shot with external 12v battery (we modified cable for standard 12v 5pin battery widely used in Thailand equipment rental house)

http://instagram.com/p/RykFweoj7i/ Full set with modified accessories to make it usable with normal Arri equipment (this include mattbox, follow focus, monitors, handle, baseplate, slideplate etc.)

http://instagram.com/p/RthF3VIj-R/ Shooting alongside RED Camera

http://instagram.com/p/Rr8IzLIj8P/ Testing with Zeiss CP2

Hope this will help with people who interest in BMC. Sorry for my English.

November 26, 2012

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Re: lower right BMCC - Looks to me like the BMCC is handling color and detail a little better than the Red One MX.

November 28, 2012

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Razor