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Cinema Camera Firmware Version 1.3 is Out, Plus a Conversation with Blackmagic President Dan May

Blackmagic might have introduced new cameras at NAB, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still working on support for the current 2.5K camera (which is still trickling out slowly but surely). Contrary to what most people think, research and development doesn’t necessarily interfere with anything they are doing to support the current camera, as it is normally different teams of people working on different things. The company has just released firmware update 1.3, which should be great for those who’ve wanted to bring the Blackmagic Cinema Camera into a broadcast environment. We’ve also got a video from Andrew Wonder that takes a little different approach to NAB coverage — check out the video below where he sits down with Blackmagic President Dan May to talk about the company’s philosophy and their new cameras.

Here is the only addition to the firmware in version 1.3:

SDI outputs interlaced video when frame rate is set to 1080p25 or 1080p29.97 and overlays are turned off

This isn’t going to be a huge deal for a lot of people, but it’s very important if you’re trying to put the BMCC into any sort of broadcast situation, since the camera would normally only output progressive frame rates.

And here is the video from Andrew Wonder, who was doing NAB videos for ProductionMeeting:

Regarding Dan’s comment about the camera being a little less sharp: even though he’s talking about the 4K camera, I would be very surprised if it was actually less sharp than the 2.5K camera when both of them are downscaled to 1080p. Of course both of them will have varying degrees of sharpness at full resolution, but theoretically even if the 4K camera has a low pass filter, I would expect them to be around equal at 1080p at the worst (but of course we won’t know until we get our hands on one).

I think Blackmagic was definitely in an interesting position to build a camera, and even though they’ve had sensor issues, the fact that their cameras will all eventually have RAW of some kind and also have 10-bit ProRes log internally — all for $4,000 or less, speaks volumes about where they think emphasis should be placed regarding image quality and affordability to consumers.

You can find the link to the 1.3 update at their support page below.


Disclosure: Blackmagic Design is a nofilmschool advertiser.


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  • I’m looking forward to trying out the pocket cinema camera. slap a metabones speedbooster adapter on there with an small inexpensive wide prime like a Contax EOS modded 28/2.8, and boom we’re talking about a seriously good B/Crash/Coptor Cam OR low profile pickup shot cam. If the rolling shutter timing is fast enough, maybe even an emergency backup Camera!

    • Jorge Cayon on 04.25.13 @ 12:32PM

      Why not just stick a Panasonic lens on it? It’s a native mount and believe it or not they make small light lenses that are fast and sharp. Why the hassle of adapting Canon lenses?

  • vinceGortho on 04.23.13 @ 9:17PM

    With global shutter and 4k, the 4k blackmagic should still outperform the 2.5k in low light, right?

    • The 4K Blackmagic Camera will be rated below 800 ISO. I’m thinking it will be around 400 ISO, but we won’t know yet. So to answer your question, no, it will be worse in low-light.

      • Chris Lambert on 04.24.13 @ 9:07AM

        Sony EX3 is about 3-400 I think so as long as it isn’t worse than that I’d feel ok about the BMPC

      • I thought I saw a post on where Jon Brawley estimates a native ISO of around 640. I’ll dig to see if I can find it.

    • Kenneth Merrill on 04.23.13 @ 9:26PM

      “Outperform in lowlight” meaning have a better exposed image with less noise? Not necessarily, since the 4K camera has many more pixels, making them smaller and less receptive to light. However, BM may have overcome this. We’ll just have to see. My guess is that it will be AS sensitive, at best, as the cinema cam.

      • I suggest not worrying about low-light performance and get/rent lights. A couple china balls and few Tungsten Fresnels and a big openface will add more to a cinematic look of a project then shooting at a higher cleaner ISO. A good china ball I can highly recommend are the ones made by LanternLock. I picked up a few on a whim, they’re great and fit perfectly in Cstands. I am not affiliated with LanternLock beyond being a customer. I find them incredibly handy for either for single soft light fill and/or placing a few strategically in addition to big gun lights for raising overall shadow levels a touch in a scene. The later method helps to provide for a cleaner grading experience with more shadow detail in post. Hope that helps.

        • vinceGortho on 04.23.13 @ 11:34PM

          Thank you very much, it does help

        • Whereas I complete back you up on getting some lighting, even if it’s just a few china balls (I’m a lighting technician for Theatre in the “other half” of my life so I have a HUGE lamp store at my disposal and still often turn back to a good old china ball), I would certainly be made to worry about low light performance as I (as many others probably do as well) use my cameras a lot for capturing live events and theatre productions pay fund the more fun stuff, and light intensity can be next to nothing at times. I know my situation isn’t the same as everyone else’s but it makes a big difference to some people. I bought a 6D for such bad lighting situations and as it’s MASSIVELY sensitive to light it’s saving me a fortune in faster lenses :) But yeah – I still think the pro’s of this camera in all other areas make this a worthwhile purchase either way!

      • The 4k sensor is bigger than the 2.5k sensor though, so that’s not really entirely true. All of these large sensors have huge photo sites, and studies have indicated that differences in size at this level doesn’t make a significant difference in performance (compared with tiny sensors used in cell phones and similar devices where photo site size is much more relevant).

        The decrease in sensitivity and DR is almost certainly due to the global shutter. Even Sony’s more expensive F55 is less sensitive than the less expensive F5 due to the global shutter.

        • Kenneth Merrill on 04.25.13 @ 7:29PM

          Good point. Totally spaced that they’re different sizes silly me. I agree with the posters above: if you are going for cinema, them you’re going to need some lights anyways. However the sensitivity of a sensor can save you thousands just by making it possible to rent an arri kit rather than 2k mole richardsons.

    • Usually more pixels mean less sensitivity because individual pixel is smaller. However, in this case the pixels are not comparable since 4K sensor is actually S35 and 2.5K is closer to MFT. I’d guess the global shutter means less sensitivity since Sony F5 is rated at ISO 2000 but F55 with global shutter only at 1250. Blackmagic has also stated that 4K has DR of 12 stops instead of 13 in BMCC which to me could hint also lower sensitivity.

  • He said “The 4K camera is amazing but its got a little less dynamic range and currently its a little less sharp”

    Currently its a little less sharp????? What does that mean? Less sharp than what? Is he referring to an issue thats not known yet because nobody has had their hands on it yet?

    • I assume he meant it’s not as sharp as 4K should be, because if it is not as sharp as the BMCC, well… you’re left with “only” Super35 and global shutter.

      • Right, and as I said above, it doesn’t make much sense that it would be less sharp than the 2.5K camera at 1080. They should be about equal based on downscaling at worst, even if the 4K camera were a little soft at 4K. But he’s either referring to the 4K camera at 4K or he meant the Pocket Camera.

        • I didn’t think about that, but yeah, perhaps he was talking about the Pocket Camera. When the subject of resolution on that camera was brought up every Blackmagic interviewee said it wasn’t as sharp as the BMCC.

          • Yeah, he might have just misspoken, that’s possible. The Pocket Camera has to be softer due to Debayering since it’s only starting at 1080p. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in it, but the Pocket Camera will likely only be as sharp as the 5D Mark III.

          • VINCEGORTHO on 04.24.13 @ 5:20AM

            Here is some pocket cinema camera footage.


  • Is interlaced output required for live broadcast or also non live? I’m sure progressive material can also be shown on tv.

  • Grant Petty mentioned the camera being less sharp and he was referring to the pocket camera. It also sounds like they want the current cinema camera customers to feel better about their purchase.

    • Sounded to me like he was referring to the 4K camera otherwise why would he bother saying it as its obvious 2.5K wont be as sharp as 4K but then again sharpness refers to pixel detail so a 1080p image could be sharper than a 4K image when comparing its crop.

  • VINCEGORTHO, what happened to the footage dude? Did you get asked to remove it? I was really excited for a moment :’(

  • Say goodbye to Gopro and hello to BMPC? Could this be a better camera for my multicopter?

  • May I just say that after finding Cinema Camera Firmware Version 1.

    3 is Out, Plus a Conversation with Blackmagic President Dan May on SilverStripe, what a delight to find somebody who basically understands
    what they’re talking about when it comes to this. You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. Many more people have got to look at this and have an understanding of this perspective. It’s surprising
    you’re not more prevalent, as you most really have the gift.

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