Blackmagic Firmware 1.8 on BMPC4KEarlier today there was a bit of a surprise when the Blackmagic website showed a brand new firmware update download without any press releases or fanfare. We've been told for a while that this 1.8 update was coming, with the promise of unifying firmware across all of their cameras so that only one download would be needed. The 1.8 firmware update was available for a little while, but was then quickly removed. Downloads are floating around online, but apparently this update isn't ready for primetime, and could have bugs that won't be in the release version.

Here is Blackmagic's Terry Frechette on this update:

There was a false download sent around (no idea who started it). This is not a software release we have approved. We don't support it and it should not be installed on cameras.

If you do find the download online (and it's definitely out there), you should really wait until it is officially released. Obviously that hasn't stopped plenty of people from putting it on their cameras. User joechiazza on the Blackmagic forum posted this shot showing the new interface:

Blackmagic Firmware 1.8 on BMPC4K

While we don't know for sure if everything here will be in the official firmware update, or if there will be more added, here is the list that was included with the download for firmware utility 1.8:

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

  • Updated user interface
  • Losslessly compressed RAW DNG recording support
  • Addresses an issue where pixel artefacts are seen in edges with strong highlights while shooting in 1080 mode
  • Adds autofocus support for compatible EF lenses

Blackmagic Cinema Camera

  • Updated user interface
  • Adds autofocus support for compatible EF lenses
  • Improved debayering when shooting to ProRes or DNxHD
  • Improved focus peaking display
  • Improved ISO handling when shooting at ISO 1600
  • Improved general audio performance
  • Iris setting is retained when switching between camera recording and clip playback

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

  • Updated user interface
  • Improved performance when recording using internal microphones
  • Improved instances where a grid-like pattern may occur in some flare highlights
  • General improvements in autofocus with active MFT lenses
  • Adds supports for stabilization in MFT lenses without physical O.I.S switches
  • Improved support for Sigma MFT lenses
  • Improved support for Lumix 12-42mm PZ lens
  • Improved support for Olympus 60mm f/2.8 MFT lens
  • Iris setting is retained when switching between camera recording and clip playback

Blackmagic Studio Camera

  • Improved phantom power compatibility
  • Addresses an issue with interlace video being output as progressive video

Besides the interface updates, RAW for the 4K camera is one of the biggest additions. The RAW on the 4K, just like with the Pocket, is compressed, so it should save a little on space compared to shooting uncompressed. While it seems like fixed pattern noise will still be an issue depending on how you shoot with that camera, shooting RAW should give slightly more latitude and room to play around in post. We've also got improved debayering for the BMCC, which means your 1080p shooting on that camera should look better.

One of the other big improvements I'm seeing is support on the Pocket for lenses without an Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) switch. This means that essentially all MFT lenses should have stabilization, even if they don't have a switch to turn it off and on. For a camera like the Pocket that doesn't really have much heft to it, image stabilization is really helpful, and it's nice to see it come for other lenses in the MFT lineup.

It looks like some audio recording has been improved, but apparently meters are still not in the camera. It has been stated a few times, however, that this firmware update was the most difficult because they wanted to unify everything, and firmware updates should come much faster now that they have laid the groundwork (like meters and histogram).

You can read more about the experience people are having over at the links below, since a few have not only downloaded the update, but also installed it on their cameras. Apparently this is very close to a final release, so I wouldn't expect anything too drastic to change in the official download (but you never know).