March 29, 2013

MFT or EF Blackmagic Cinema Camera? Philip Bloom Weighs in and Reviews the Micro 4/3 BMCC

The Micro 4/3 mount Blackmagic Cinema Camera was announced back in September 2012, and just recently we saw that beta cameras were starting to ship to people around the world. Many have asked which camera they should be ordering (since they both sell for $3K and you can switch your pre-order to EF), and while we've done our best to answer that question (and more), it's always good to hear the perspective of someone who has used both models. Philip Bloom reviewed the camera back in September, but he finally got an MFT camera to try out, and he's posted his review online. Check it out below.

Be sure to head on over to his website to read the rest of his thoughts on the matter. Here is the review (you can also download it from Vimeo):

If you missed it before, here is his review of the EF mount version of the camera (Blackmagic addressed some of the initial concerns in firmware V1.1 and firmware V1.2, like DNxHD, on-screen aperture display, and universal hard drive support with exFAT):

I'm certainly partial to the MFT mount because of more lens compatibility (and that's the one I've had on pre-order since shortly after they were made available). You're losing two things with the MFT mount camera: image stabilization and camera control of the iris. While products like Redrock's Micro LiveLens will allow you to control the iris on Canon lenses with the MFT mount camera, nothing will ever give you back image stabilization, so if that's a major concern for you, you may want to look at the EF camera instead.

The EF BMCC really only allows Canon, Nikon, and Leica lenses to be used, but the MFT mount opens up all sorts of options, including manual iris Micro 4/3 (like the new SLR Magic 25mm T/0.95) and PL mount lenses. Even though you may not own lenses currently in all of the possible mounts, the MFT camera gives you much more flexibility. For example, while they may be expensive to own, there could be projects in the future that allow (or require) you to use PL lenses.

Certainly some people will find the auto iris setting on the camera to be helpful with the EF mount, but I think that unless you're very heavily invested in Canon lenses, and you're not interested in getting an adapter, the MFT camera is a better investment. There have been some rumors of an electronic MFT mount, which got even more heated when it was announced that Blackmagic was joining the MFT foundation (which as it turns out doesn't mean that much), but it's not clear when we might see a version of the camera with an electronic mount capable of taking many of the Panasonic lenses that need power. Obviously that would be the ultimate version of the camera, but there has been some talk that an electronic mount would require some redesigning of the camera itself -- so it's possible we won't see an electronic version in this design.

I would be surprised to see an announcement for a new version of the camera at NAB, especially since there are still shortages for the EF version (and no deliveries of the MFT version), but anything is possible.

Which camera did you order? If you have an EF mount, are you also looking at getting an MFT mount? Which one do you prefer?

Link: Review of the Blackmagic Micro Four Thirds Cinema Camera -- Philip Bloom

Your Comment

64 Comments

I'm curious about one detail...if someone might intend to carry the camera around handheld in some kind of rig frequently (as in, more often than fixing it to a tripod) would the IS on the EF model be more important than lots-more-lens-rental-options?

March 29, 2013 at 11:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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trackofalljades

Depends on your shooting style. Many rigs give enough stability that you don't need it, but if you're shooting naked or nearly naked, the IS is very handy indeed. I miss the IS of my regular Sigma 17-50 when I use my low light f/1.4 prime.

March 30, 2013 at 10:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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If you're shooting naked better worry about your own (emotional) stability. =)

I know no cinema lens with IS, if they made it so far without IS so can you I guess.

March 31, 2013 at 4:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Francisco

As someone who is planning on buying a cinema camera this year, but already has a couple of decent EF lenses, I have no idea what to do

March 29, 2013 at 11:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mr. W

You EF lenses on that sensor are not the same lenses, just think it X2.7.
You'd need to buy new wides for sure.

March 30, 2013 at 9:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tulio

The crop is 2.3X, not 2.7. It's a pretty easy calculation taking full-frame sensor size and the size of the BMCC sensor.

March 30, 2013 at 4:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

You own EF glass and don't know which model to buy?

Uhhh ... EF model would seem to be the correct choice. :)

March 31, 2013 at 6:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ant

Simple. Order the MFT BMCC, and a Metabones Speedbooster, for EF to MFT. This will allow you to use your EF lenses (manual only), but you get a full stop and a wider FOV. Sadly, both things are likely to only be available in Q3 2013.

April 4, 2013 at 3:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Paul Gillingwater

Having image stabilization on this camera is very important. A lot if the non stabilized footage I have seen is jello wobbly to hell.

March 30, 2013 at 12:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Guy

I didn't notice it being any worse than a DSLR without stabilization. It all depends on the operator and the rig - or lack thereof. Stabilization is helpful for long lenses, but if you do any quick movements there is a good chance you're going to see the elements moving and it's going to look jerky, far worse than stabilizing in post. There are definitely benefits, but having it shoulder mounted removes most of the problems (just like with a DSLR).

March 30, 2013 at 12:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Then youve seen some very badly shot footage. IS is nice, but if you are a decent operator its perfectly ok without it.
The MFT is by far the more sensible option for most situations.

March 30, 2013 at 12:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Marklondon

Rolling shutter is very close to DSLRs, aka just as bad. The only thing the BMCC has over DSLRs when shooting without a rig is the fact that it's much heavier.

March 30, 2013 at 1:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Certainly has its draw backs but in terms of price and image quality, nothing else right now compares to the image this camera produces. In my mind it's far more filmic than even the Epic or Scarlet.

March 30, 2013 at 12:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ugh, it's really a tough decision. If only they made an active MFT version, it would basically render the other two models obsolete instantly.

March 30, 2013 at 12:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hummer

The best version is the one you can actually get your hands on.... which would be? Probably neither camera right this second. The resell market price for the EF version is starting to drop at least though, so that is probably the realistic choice for the next six months. And if you are going to wait six months, why not just get the V2 version which will probably come out next year. You can always wait for a better camera. I just it depends on if you just want to kick the tires around or actually want to film something.

March 30, 2013 at 1:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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sfernald

You answer your own question - if you need to shoot right now, buy a resold version. Even at @$4k its a great buy. Or, you know, rent. There are quite a few available at rental houses at excellent rates.
I don't understand this 'there's none around' argument. If you really want to use one, and you need it next week, there are plenty of the EF model around.

March 30, 2013 at 11:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

if you need to shoot right now, just rent one

March 30, 2013 at 4:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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john jeffreys

I got mine already. Paid $3500. Slightly over when you consider that I would end up paying sales tax on the purchase. Loving my camera. Much better than the c100 I used to own.

April 1, 2013 at 11:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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sfernald

Only $650 over retail (or only $300 over due to sales tax in Cali): http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sfv/pho/3711235928.html

March 30, 2013 at 11:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

Is there anyway in which an EF to MFT and then putting the speedbooster onto that MFT adapter would reduce the crop and allow IS? I know it's a ludicrous idea and somethings quite probably going to get misalligned but better to ask than not

Or would it just make more sense to either buy more EF lenses or get an MFT to EF powered adapter? (Is IS possible through those) I know a good operator can make IS meaningless in a lot of setups but a lot of the work I do is run and gun and would rather know its there when I'm exhausted and doing the double digit hours worked than not.

March 30, 2013 at 3:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris Lambert

You'll never get image stabilization with MFT, none of the adapters are capable from what I understand.

March 30, 2013 at 4:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Blackmagic is doing the smart thing and not releasing a passive mount Blackmagic Camera. From their point of view, they have to figure out what sells. Everyone will buy the MFT-Passive version and allow BM is work out all the bugs. And then version 2 of the camera will be an electronic MFT with OS upgrades. This happens with everything electronic.

March 30, 2013 at 7:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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BMCC V2 will have electronic MFT mount, sensor stabilisation and 60p. That would be the dream cam. Even if that gorgeous sensor is left unchanged that would still be awesome. Been watching closely recent oscar winning conematography, and blockbusters...ultrashallow dof is used very rarely if not never. Film look is all about dynamic range and resolution and color. And this sensor has them all.

March 30, 2013 at 8:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Quobetah

Isn't the center of of the lens the superior part? In which case you'd be retaining the best part of a full frame lens on a cropped sensor? I understand that you'd be accentuating any spots or dust if they're there, but if your lens is clean wouldn't the image still be better using full frame lenses?

March 30, 2013 at 10:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David

It's true, lenses perform best at the center. However even at the center, image usually has some flaws (for example chromatic aberration). These flaws would be magnified, when only portion of the lens is used. You could say that crop works a bit like zoom. Also when you "zoom in" the center of the lens image, it is possible that instead of real information (resolution) you just "magnify" the original information the lens woud get. I am not sure about this last bit. But I think there is some resolution loss compared to the image from the whole lens.

March 31, 2013 at 12:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PeterK

Good points. I'd imagine the discrepancy is more pronounced too with cheaper or older glass.

March 31, 2013 at 6:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David

I'm sure my Zeiss glass in the center is better than 95% of other glass in center, middle, outer edge or anywhere else.

April 1, 2013 at 11:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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sfernald

I get the feeling that Philip Bloom really dislikes the BMCC for some reason...

As I see it, the Black Magic cam is really just a high-quality image making box. That's it. It was never even advertized as a solution for "videographers"... yet in his other video he keeps comparing it to that style of production, and then calling the shortcoming in that context "faults". Like driving a Ferrari in the snow and then calling the terrible performance in those conditions a problem. It's kind of nutty. I don't understand why those situations were even brought up in the reviews.

This camera is for narrative "film" production. With planning, set design, ect. We get that it doesn't fit the "shoot now... make it work later" style. But neither do any cameras use for this area...

March 31, 2013 at 3:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bwhitz

I like the analogy. And I agree.

April 1, 2013 at 12:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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+1

July 4, 2015 at 4:09AM

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Brian Anthony
Student
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PB's MFT review leaves me with mixed feelings about the BMC. The fact that the 2.3x crop is not ideal for a huge majority of lenses that are designed for larger sensors (Canon, Zeiss, Nikon) leaves only the MFT lenses as "Optimal" lenses for the BMC. But since there is no electronic aperture, that only leaves the Voigtlanders as the only optimal lenses. Plus, investing in expensive MTF lenses that can't be used on any other system? Not sure about that one. BMC should have just done it right and released an electronic MTF so more ideally compatible lenses could be used.

As for the argument that BMC is designed for Narrative Film use which I hear over and over again. That is a very lofty goal, but let's face reality here. How many of you are actually solely narrative film makers? Probably not many. Most of us, if you want to make any type of cash are probably doing many other things with your camera (music videos, run and gun docs, sports, corporate vids, etc.... I've done all those) with the goal of making narrative films. BMC should have made the camera a bit more versatile IMO.

March 31, 2013 at 10:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene Sung

I do want to add that for the price, it's a great image and I love the direction BMC is pushing the market. I just wish a few aspects (like the electronic MFT and the versatility of the camera) were thought out a bit better. It's obvious that BM is a company that learns fast so I'm sure the next one will be out of this world (Hopefully a super 35mm). Also, if Metabones came out with a MFT Speed Booster, that would help the BMC tremendously in that all that glass designed for a larger sensor would probably work better for the camera.

March 31, 2013 at 10:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene Sung

"I do want to add that for the price, it’s a great image and I love the direction BMC is pushing the market."

I don't know why people always phrase it as "for the price"? It's a great image for ANY price. Amazing really. It's 2.5k RAW with 13stops of latitude. Feature length films have been shot on cameras with lower specs/quality than this... sheesh!

March 31, 2013 at 5:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bwhitz

I know. People just don't get it. It's not the tool now. Breaking Bad and Walking Dead are filmed in super 16 mm and they are absolutely amazing. There's no limitations stopping you in terms of imagery with the BCC. You don't need S35+ format. You don't need 4k. The technology is there for only 3k.

The only thing stopping you is yourself now.

April 2, 2013 at 12:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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sfernald

Nothing wrong with the image. They just put the sensor in the wrong container.

April 2, 2013 at 12:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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dixter

Have you held one? It is pretty frickin awesome. Like it more than c100. It is less handycam and more apple-eqsue.

April 2, 2013 at 4:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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sfernald

"As for the argument that BMC is designed for Narrative Film use which I hear over and over again. That is a very lofty goal, but let’s face reality here. How many of you are actually solely narrative film makers?"

Well, it doesn't matter if it's a lofty goal or not... this is just what it was designed for... narrative film-makers (of all levels and budgets), not videographers. It's not a "video camera" and it doesn't "need" to be versatile in other areas, and the lack of that is definitely not a flaw. It was never advertised as such and that's why I don't understand why anyone even started thinking of using the camera in that context.

And seriously, it's only $3000 for the body. We're not talking about an entire system you have to invest in. I'd probably agree with you that if you only need ONE camera for doing everything... then, yea, this is probably not it. But to say it's not useful as a "videographer" tool, therefore it has flaws, is a strawman argument. If you need something versatile to make money with, then look at video-cams, not Digital Cinema cams...

March 31, 2013 at 5:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bwhitz

I'm not a narrative filmmaker, and I'm making money with my BMCC. The dynamic range can really make it easy to fix elements in post that you couldn't control on the set. If you don't have a lot of old manual lenses, get the EF model, a wider lens or two, and enjoy image stabilization.

If you can deal with manual focus, manual exposure, don't need higher frame rates, and are happy to tweak color in post, then the BMCC is perfect, no matter what you're shooting.

April 1, 2013 at 2:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Well, yea, there you go! I agree here as well. You can definitely use it for anything. I was just mainly responding to the "straw-man" arguments of comparing it to "video cameras" and then saying it has flaws. Doesn't make sense... unless one is simply aiming to discredit the camera for some reason.

April 1, 2013 at 5:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bwhitz

Um...aren't you forgetting PL lenses?

April 1, 2013 at 10:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gabe

I absolutely am in love with eh BMCC. I shoot narratives and music videos, and the BMCC is absolutely perfect for my needs. I have tons of storage, super fast computers, and no problems with the Apple format of the HD... But I can't wait anymore. I just can't. Cancelled my preorder, sold my trusty 550D, bought the Panny 25mm and 14mm, the Rokinon 85mm, and Olympus 45mm. GH3 is here now and working. I can't continue to work with this hyper compressed AVCHD, as I'm going to be doing a lot of heavy VFX this summer with a scifi narrative. Renting is too much trouble, as I like to take all the time I need in preproduction doing test shots. I'm jumping all in with the GH3 and hoping our friend Vitaliy can do something about the aliasing over the next year. If not, I'll work around it. But I'll be WORKING.

March 31, 2013 at 11:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Re: "But I’ll be WORKING." - Gaining experience while others are waiting around. Yes, that's the smart spirit!

March 31, 2013 at 12:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Razor

The GH3 is fabulous. You won't be disappointed.

March 31, 2013 at 12:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hummer

If you have time and space for experimentation, consider getting also GH2. I imagine that for VFX work, hacked GH2 on super-high bitrate setting would work better than GH3 (and no moire).

March 31, 2013 at 12:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PeterK

If you're really concerned about VFX work, you'd be better off with true a cam capable of 4:2:2. A super high bit rate codec on the GH2 is pretty much a placebo after a certain point.

March 31, 2013 at 3:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hummer

I just did a big greenscreen shoot with the 5dmarkIII. Lots of green (whole studio was green), lots of compositing. And the end result is great. You don't need 4.2.2 if you know what you are doing. Most people don't know how to even light a greenscreen and then blame the camera for the huge amounts of spill.

March 31, 2013 at 8:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I have considered a GH2. The combination of the price doubling since the revelation about Caruth's new film, the All-I and 60p of the GH3, and the high probability of a GH3 hack arriving (firmware update just hit the street) lead me toward the GH3. Since they cost about the same right now, I'll go for the technology that is still being actively developed. Order goes in this week.

April 1, 2013 at 1:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Just saying that GH2 is really super sharp. Probably only BMCC and above can touch it. High bitrate codec will get rid of the compression artifacting. This combination can result in very clean edges for background separation. (even if it's not 4:2:2). So when you get to the VFX part of your filming, you might perhaps borrow/rent GH2 for some shots.. Just a consideration ;-)

April 1, 2013 at 8:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PeterK

The GH3 is just as sharp...the only difference is you can turn edge enhancement off, whereas it's always on to some extent in the GH2.

April 1, 2013 at 10:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gabe

Not to mention if BM does end up producing an active MFT mount camera you'll already have some nice glass to use! I have a GH3 and the Panny 25mm, it's a great combo. The 12-35mm is a very sharp all-rounder as well.

April 1, 2013 at 12:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Scott

Yeah I grabbed a GH3 while I was waiting for my year old BMCC order at BnH.

the GH3 is amazing, better than my HVX for sure.

The BMCC could be that much better, but ....

April 2, 2013 at 1:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I got my BMCC for $3500. You get get them for that price today, maybe even less. Some shops are starting to stock them. That's not that much over list.

If you are doing green screen and vfx work you should really consider the BMCC. That's practically what RAW was made for.

April 2, 2013 at 12:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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sfernald

You sound just like me, I did the same.

The BMCC is just a perfect product for me too, but happy they made me look at MFT. The format Rocks.

Will order a BMCC as soon as it all settles ( maybe never? )

April 2, 2013 at 1:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anyone know how long I would be waiting if ordered the EF today?

March 31, 2013 at 11:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Peter Kelly

30 days depending on the retailer

April 1, 2013 at 5:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ryan

Looking at the PB's review, that camera is incredibly sharp. I just checked The Hobbit which was shot at 4K. @ 1080p it looks about as sharp as BMCC. Amazing camera.

April 1, 2013 at 8:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PeterK

surely you must be watching those both at 1080p though?

April 1, 2013 at 6:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris Lambert

CONCEPT
_________

His head.

April 4, 2013 at 10:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jules

I take it back, I think he understands that (he referred to watching @1080p), I think he meant that 4k footage @1080P and BMCC footage at 1080p look close. Which is super cool.

April 4, 2013 at 10:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jules

Ordered my BMCC the second I saw it at NAB 2012, WAITED A YEAR.. but decided to give up for now.

To many changes , shipment issues and possible updates even before I got my BMCC. They changed from EF to passive MFT, and before I even have mine ( more than a year after I ordered it ) they may just added electronic MFT mount.

I originally ordered the EF mount to replace my HVX but without any EF lenses ( only NIKON ) I was starting to add up the cost of lenses. They announced the MFT mount and immediately changed my order.

Meanwhile I sold my HVX , phew... and started to collect MFT lenses and a second MFT body while I waited for my BMCC to arrive.

Grabbed a Panasonic GH3, H-HS12035, H-HS35100, H-H020 and a H-FS100300 for all about the same price as the HVX kit sold for. Then I had a load of old minolta lenses, and grabbed the 17mm and 25mm Voigtländer F0.9... and waited.

I am very happy with the GH3 for my corporate video work, but was looking forward to producing a better look, but in the end I gave up, for now.

I am very happy with the MFT specifications, size and performance, happy to move to an "open" mount and one designed for modern CHIP ( not film ) cameras.

Hoping BMCC will get there act together soon and be able to deliver the product , and maybe an electronic MFT mount! THEN I WILL IMMEDIATELY WAIT A YEAR AGAIN, hopefully less time this go round.

April 2, 2013 at 1:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The new "Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera" which retails for $995 has ACTIVE MFT mount which means you can adjust iris and use lenses such as the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 with POWER O.I.S. image stabilization :)

http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/

April 9, 2013 at 2:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I feel I'm missing something... I keep reading about the much wider selection of MFT lenses available, yet most I've seen would need an electronic mount (eg. all the Panasonic glass). And there are stacks of EF lenses available. Am I'm missing a secret stash of suitable MFT lenses? I understand the better MFT/sensor coverage...

September 1, 2013 at 5:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ben

I am pretty impressed with the image quality in MFT. But the problem is Image Stabilization as I have to shoot handheld shots as well. Will a shoulder rig help to get a stabilized image ?

August 7, 2014 at 8:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Arijit

Is there someone willing to trade in his BMCC MFT with my BMCC EF? :D

November 9, 2015 at 10:33AM, Edited November 9, 10:33AM

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Mike Linde
Director / DP
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