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December 18, 2012

Firmware Updates Are Flying, Cinema Camera Will Get Aperture Display, exFAT, Timelapse, and More

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is not quite shipping in volume yet and we've already got one firmware update, which added Image Stabilization and DNxHD, and now it looks like another is on the way. During my time with the camera thanks to Rule Boston Camera, using electronic iris lenses like Canon EF was a bit of a mess, since the camera couldn't tell you the aperture of the lens on the display. While the iris button would automatically set the exposure based on the highlights, fine-tuning was difficult because there was no way to tell how open or closed the iris was without some serious fiddling, and even then, it wasn't realistic to work that way in an actual shooting environment. That problem looks like it will be solved very quickly, however, and it could come before most people even get to using their cameras.

Marco Solorio, who has done a number of great tests with the BMCC, posted this on his Facebook page (Bold is Editor's emphasis):

So I received permission from Blackmagic Design to talk about the latest Cinema Camera 1.2 beta firmware update I've been testing the last couple of weeks. It includes aperture readout on display, 2.5K rez time-lapse recording, exFAT format support, improved CinemaDNG file naming, better overlay options on SDI output, fix on RP188 output over SDI, and my Canon 35mm f/1.4L lens is working again! Gotta say, these are really nice improvements, as I was secretly using them on our shoot this past weekend (my crew didn't even know!). Yes, there are some wish list items missing in this release that I'd love to see, but I'm sure many features are still to come. And even if you don't have your camera just yet, at least you'll get it with added features we've been requesting and testing by the time it gets in your hands. More to follow! Cheers!

This is a great sign, and it means that we are going to see regular and consistent updates for the camera. The other big update, exFAT support, means the drives will now work natively with Windows machines, so you won't have to use any software to read the drives if you're not already on a Mac. This was an update that was recently added to the Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle 2, and I had suggested that we would see it soon (since that's basically the hardware in the BMCC). Some may still choose to stick with HFS+, but the exFAT file system has read/write capability on both Windows and OSX, so at the moment it would be the easiest way to transfer between environments if you didn't want to use third-party software. John Brawley has also been posting on his Twitter about the updates:

He recently uploaded a picture of what will likely be a go-to lens for anyone wanting a fast wide on the BMCC Micro 4/3 mount camera, the SLR Magic 12mm T1.6:

I think most of the requests for basic features will be answered with a firmware update sooner or later (likely sooner), so this should be a far more complete camera in very little time -- probably just as many of you receive your cameras. The other big firmware update I would like to see is some sort of file management or at the very least a way to format the SSD within the camera. I'm not sure if the tech is there to actually facilitate this, but not being able to completely erase SSDs means you have to be that much more diligent about media management away from set, and simply forgetting to format your cards means you might not be shooting that day. That is definitely a real-world example, and something that can easily happen on smaller sets where it might not be one person's job. I know for my shoots I wait as long as humanly possible before formatting any cards, usually right up until the next shot is happening and we need a fresh one. At the moment that practice can't work with the BMCC, but I'm hopeful they can figure something out in the future.

Either way, it's clear that Blackmagic is listening to feedback, and hears everything the community is saying (and will also act on requests in a far timelier manner than some other companies might).

What do you guys think?

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39 Comments

This is great but I really want to know more about high frame rates. Will 60p be in the camera. They dont have to do it right away just tell us if its coming.

December 18, 2012

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Russell

It's complicated, and they've talked about this before, but part of it has to do with overheating - and I believe the other half is the sustained data rate in RAW at that speed giving them trouble. If we get it, it would most likely be compressed-only - ProRes or DNxHD. So right now there is no definitive answer.

December 18, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director
286

That would be fine to have it Pro Res just would like to know.

December 18, 2012

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Russell

I would imagine they haven't given up on it or we would have a definitive answer, but there are far more important updates that need to come first from a usability standpoint.

December 18, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director
286

Joe or ANYONE for that matter ,So does the black magic camera name and record files seperately at all. Like if you shoot 5 mins on one shoot and shoot another scene for 20 mins , does it name each file seperately and individually or is it just one big file that we have to edit in a computer, i can deal with non erasing in camera part at first.

December 18, 2012

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JAY CHASE

Each time you press record a new clip is created and named separately. ProRes and DNxHD are their own files, while RAW files are stored as DNG sequences with a separate audio folder - which Resolve combines automatically in post when you want to convert them.

December 18, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director
286

no one cares about useability, specs are all that matters

December 20, 2012

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Nick

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that someone from BM said 60p in ProRes was doable and that they were looking into it. I'm pretty sure it will come. Still not news directly from them but... Well, there you go.

December 18, 2012

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Galen

Even 48fps on pro res would be cool for shorts. Either way, think I'm gonna get it. At the price, hard not to.

December 18, 2012

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It would seem they could do up to 120fps in bursts like the FS700, 1. it would solve over heating, 2. avoid sustained data rate in RAW issues.

December 18, 2012

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DGregory

The Canon and Panasonic hacking communities are already buzzing about finding out what this camera can really do. If the most recent firmware update goes public, it would give these communities a little head start, but without cameras yet... realistically it would be a while before any hacks reach stable releases. Even then, it's all at your own risk, but it sure is interesting!

December 20, 2012

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Jules

"Blackmagic is listening to feedback, and hears everything the community is saying (and will also act on requests in a far timelier manner than some other companies might).

What do you guys think?"

I think it doesn't matter what they add firmware wise if they don't get their butts moving and deliver cameras. B&H alone has over 700 on back order and were told they were only going to get them in at batches of 50 at a time.

I keep praying that they can pull it off, but with NAB in a few months, if someone (like GoPro) releases their own 2k+ camera (since they are partnered with Cineform, and just release a 4k GoPro) for about the same price, this camera will be dead in the water.

And no Russell, it will never have 60fps on this model. John Brawley (DP, and chief BlackMagiceCinemaCamera evangalist) has said this is due to heat dispensation and what-not. If you need 60fps, buy a GH3.

December 18, 2012

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Marshall why would anyone buy a GH3 for 60fps in 720 to intercut with a beautiful 2.5k footage, the fs100 would be a better option because its 1080p in 60fps

December 18, 2012

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JAY CHASE

The GH3 does 1080 60p @ 50mb/s

December 18, 2012

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AdRath

8-bit 4:2:0 = No thanks.

December 19, 2012

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Razor

Depends on your requirement. If you whole feature is a slo-mo feature, than yeah - no thanks.

If someone does 99% of their work in 30fps then for the difference in price, I'm sure they will get away with 8bit 4:2:0 in that instance - especially if creatively graded.

December 23, 2012

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Terence Kearns

Well... from a consumer standpoint, one kinda wishes that happens right? Lol. If the blackmagic gets outstripped at that price point by the time they get the production ball rolling, I feel bad for them, as they've done so much work. They just seem like a real stand up company.

But on the other hand, if they are dead in the water as fast as you are proposing... just more good news for us buyers :D :D :D

Not sure that'll happen though this quickly, not at that price point. Could be wrong though O.O

December 18, 2012

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How ironic that there could be, perhaps likely be, a competitor to BMCC that unveils something at NAB, delivers it, and shooters make movies with it and post them, months before most BMCC preorders reach buyers. Should get into the Guinness Book of Records as being the longest pre-order in history, longer than Kickstarter projects.

December 18, 2012

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mammals_2.5k

Adding the time lapse ability is a big deal. Especially with a Raw codec, just makes a lot of sense and I'm glad they added it!

December 18, 2012

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Yeah I agree, I was supper happy to see that. Almost as happy as the exFat, now I can save $50 bucks on not buying macdrive.

December 18, 2012

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Jeff Akwante

You should own MacDrive anyway. It's a great program and greatly increase the kind of work you can do and who you can work with. It's very much worth the investment.

December 19, 2012

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About the Ex-FAT, do you know how long will the camera let you film, for example for long concerts or will they stop every 12 or 20 mins like Canons do.

Thanks for all the head ups

December 18, 2012

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As far as I know exFat has no file size limit, so a time limit shouldn't exist. Just when you run out of hard drive space

December 18, 2012

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Thanx Marshall!........ I hope all of this is true, since they haven't released the camera yet.
Don't wanna go out and just buy the camera and then is not what i was looking for

December 20, 2012

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Yeah, isnt the record limit for FAT 4gb? Not sure, would like some clarification
Thanks!

December 18, 2012

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Xiong

exFAT is specifically designed to overcome the 4GB limitation while keeping a relatively simple filesystem like regular FAT. Maximum exFAT filesize is a number that's too large for me to even remember.

December 19, 2012

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Luke

Thanks for clearing that up for me.

December 19, 2012

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Xiong

Amazing Luke Thanks!!!!!

December 20, 2012

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What about deleting files??? Trim should be useful too...

December 18, 2012

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LA

Can someone tell me what's still missing? Audio meters? Does it have a histogram? Focus peaking?

Cheers

December 18, 2012

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Stu Mannion

Audio meters and histogram are not there, but you do have Zebras. Focus Peaking is there - by hitting the Focus button on the back.

December 18, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director
286

May be a silly question... is the Beta available for all BMCC camera owners or just the Beta testers?

If so Just plug in the usb and let it update ????

December 18, 2012

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Josh Papp

Looks like Beta testers only at the mo. Cant find any Beta version on the BMD site

December 18, 2012

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Josh Papp

Please help me on this. Looking at the limited number of BMC out in the wild it seems to be an impressive camera with a ton of features for an incredible price. How us it this camera is less expensive than the Canon c300, and offers so much more? They are already speaking of updates with this camera, and I as a c300 owner sits here and ask myself why did I invest $16K in this? The c300 is a great camera, and it doesn't seem Canon is listening to their customers. They say they are, it i honestly don't see it. Seems their interpretation of listening was to make a c500 and charge you more. Why doesn't this camera have 1080 60,120 and 240fps? Canon support says its because the chip can't do it and overheating. I won't quote them on that, but its along those lines. How is RED able to offer firmware updates quite often, and NOTHING of substance from Canon. Yes, the camera just works and I'm feeling like their idea of a firmware update is the c500. Support us https://www.facebook.com/CanonStopTapDancingAndUpdateTheC300

December 18, 2012

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Gregory Dillard

How long will it take for someone who hasn't pre ordered a BM to get one?
A year?
I'm buying a D800 in the mean time.

December 18, 2012

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VINCEGORTHO

That was my plan. I'll rent a BMDCC and see how I go. I also need the MFT mount so may be at least 6 months for me (I want to put PL glass on it). Who knows what will be out by then. :-) In the meantime I'm shooting fine on my D800. Its good enough that I've never HAD to buy a better camera. You shoot in its sweet spot and it looks amazing.

December 19, 2012

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marklondon

Firmware update? How about a production update?

December 19, 2012

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Hummer

if you like 50 / 60fps no need to buy a GOPro 3 , check the Rollei Bullet 5s 1080p , same Quality like Hero3 , but way more accessories, display and remote includet , better mounting system ( tripod mount ) AND WAY CHEAPER ;-)

December 19, 2012

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action jack

What kind of rig is shown with the camera the the top photo? Can anyone identify it? It looks nice- form fitting.

December 20, 2012

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