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.
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:
Also you can now toggle clean feed, frame lines and status on the HDSDI output. #BMCC— John Brawley (@brawlster) December 18, 2012
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?