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.