Blackmagic Releases New Panels at Insane Price Point
For years, Resolve only offered $30K advanced panels, but now there are two options for under $3,000.
Blackmagic has a long-standing reputation for releasing products at unbelievable price points. The company took the DaVinci Resolve platform, which had required a major investment of tens of thousands of dollars, and released it for only $1,000, with a free version that was plenty capable for many users. Then, they released the cinema camera line, which offered SSD and RAW capture, for a tenth of the competition's prices. However, sitting in their product offerings for the longest time has been an outlier: the $30,000 Advanced Control Panels for Resolve.
These panels are wonderful, with cast iron construction and smooth tactile control and every single function button you could want. But they are $30,000, and many other manufacturers including Tangent and Avid have come in with panels at a tenth of the price to fill the hole left in the market for the vast majority of us who can't afford to spend the price of a car for color grading control. Good things come to those that wait, however, and Blackmagic has finally come into the lower end of the market with two panels, the Micro and the Mini. Both promise to offer most users a fantastic interface at a very reasonable price. It appears that Blackmagic was waiting until they could engineer products that were cost effective but not cheap, and they are here.
The Micro panel is only Micro when compared to the big iron advanced panels; compared to the rest of the market, it offers a tremendous amount of control at a very reasonable price. Coming in at $995, it uses the same design for the master control wheels, as well as having a host of control knobs that are designed to put the most creatively fruitful tools at your fingertips. While the balls themselves are a hair smaller than on the full-sized panels, they offer the same 4096 steps of encoding for fine-grained color control.
Midtone detail is a popular control that many colorists manipulate on every shot they grade, but it has typically been hidden in the easily overlooked lower panel of primary control on the second menu page. Because of the focus on popular, powerful controls getting front placement, it gets its own dedicated knob, along with contrast, pivot, and color boost. The panel itself is entirely powered over USB-C and only needs to be connected to the base station by a single cable, and ships with a USB 3 backwards compatible cable for those of us running older systems.
The Mini panel comes in at $2995, and is a full fledged panel that should satisfy the vast majority of colorists and editors using Resolve in the widest variety of situations. It builds on the design of the micro and adds two screens and more buttons for navigating the more complex menus of Resolve with speed. In addition, it has both wall power and battery power options. When powered from the wall, it can actually feed power over the USB-C connection, so if you set it up on set with the 2016 Macbook Pro or another USB-C laptop, it can work as the laptop's charger. It also has ethernet input and can be powered over ethernet, which is great as ethernet is capable of much longer runs than USB and will be a popular setup in facilities.
Along with the release of these panels, Resolve is now available as a download-only option for Linux. This is a huge bonus as previously Resolve Linux only came bundled with the panels at $30,000, and Linux offers a powerful option for users who want a lot of bang for their buck. Linux allows the building of machines with up to 8 GPUs, and Resolve will put them all to good use, allowing high resolution and stereoscopic projects to be handled with ease.