July 5, 2015 at 8:08AM, Edited July 5, 8:12AM

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Buying a Blackmagic camera -- help please!

(I apologize in advance for this message appearing multiple times -- I had trouble with the website, and verifying my e-mail address. Can't seem to find a way to delete the old posts.)

I've been interested in making films for a long time and have been researching buying a new camera for quite awhile now. I've done my homework, but now I'd like to get the opinions of people who have experience with this, since I do not. I've narrowed my purchase down to a Blackmagic. I know some will suggest that, as a novice, I should start with something cheaper, a DSLR or something of the sort, but I'm not going to do that. And I can't afford a Red Epic or anything like that. The Blackmagic is the camera I'm going to buy, but what I need help with is:

1.) Cinema Camera or Production Camera? I would like the ability to shoot 4k, and I can afford the Production Camera. Is there any reason I should opt for the Cinema Camera instead, other than price?

2.) What lens mount? If I go with the Cinema Camera, the MFT mount is an option, which it is not for the Production Camera. Otherwise, it's between EF and PL. I've read that the PL lenses tend to be more expensive. I will not be spending $20,000 on a lens. I'll probably start off spending about $2,000 on a lens/lenses. I'm leaning toward the EF mount, which offers image stabilization that the MFT (and the PL, correct?) do not offer. This is the place where I need the most help -- choosing the lens mount. There are adapters to use PL lenses on EF mounts, right? Whereas I've heard EF adaptors for PL mounts are less effective. Please help me come to a decision on the lens mount.

3.) Any good recommendations for lenses? I was looking at one of these Rokinon sets. Amazon has "Rokinon Full Cine 5 Lens Kit - 35mm + 24mm + 14mm + 85mm + 8mm for Canon EF/Black Magic + Protective Photography Hard Case + Accessory Kit" (http://www.amazon.com/Rokinon-Full-Cine-Lens-Kit/dp/B00EZ5SDYG/ref=sr_1_...). I will be a novice, and would just like lenses good enough to learn the different facets of the craft and to produce respectable, quality images. With these lenses, it seems like the EF mount is the way to go, but any input will be much appreciated.

I'm not going to be shooting documentaries or interviews. My tastes in cinema lean toward formalism, not realism, and my inclinations as a filmmaker will do the same. I'm interested in the cinema of the dream (Tarkovsky, Bergman, Fellini, Buñuel, etc.), not the cinema of reality. Just thought I'd offer that in case it's relevant to any input you can offer me.

Thanks for your time, and I'll be very grateful for any help.

5 Comments

I've only used the Production 4k camera so I'll give you my 2 cents there. It's a great camera, and with Raw you can get some awesome imagery out of it. We rented a EF lens set when we got it, but we now have that Rokinon set for day to day use.

If you've got the budget I don't see why you'd not get the Production 4k as it can do 1080p if you don't need 4k.

Also I'd recommend getting a external monitor, as the built in screen is pretty useless outside and I felt the color on it wasn't very accurate.

Hope this helps!

July 6, 2015 at 4:59PM

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Alex Everingham
Video Editor
610

I've only used the Black Magic 4k cam once (and the URSA once as well) and we shot in Raw. I'm not sure what exactly you're looking to do and Raw may not be a practical thing for you, but I'd still opt for the 4k cam if I were you and at the very least shoot pro res 4k to give yourself room to work in editing.

I'd go with EF mount, PL lenses are great, but they aren't practical to buy, those are definitely lenses you want to rent. We have the Rokinon cine set that comes with 5 lenses ranging from 24mm-85mm, it's a fantastic set and the price is really solid. We actually use them with our GH4's+EF Adpaters (We opted for an off brand other than metabones as we didn't need electronic control since Rokinons aren't electronic.)

Also the screen on the Black Magic is not great, it's fine for framing, but the brightness is awful and I felt the color wasn't totally accurate. I'd recommend getting an external monitor.

Hope this helps!

July 7, 2015 at 2:48PM, Edited July 7, 2:48PM

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Alex Everingham
Video Editor
610

Contrary to popular opinion, I think the black magic cameras are the perfect cameras to start with if you're serious. If you're on the fence about film making and anticipating quitting if things don't work out fast enough then I'd suggest buying a cheap used t2i or gh1 or gh2. The reason I like the black magic cameras for beginners is that they are more forgiving in post. If you shoot in prores and you over expose a little you can fix it in post to some degree. If you shoot RAW you can over expose even more (by mistake of course) and you'd still be able to bring the highlights back down to a reasonable level. With the canons and similar cameras you have to know what you're doing as they are not as forgiving in post. If you screw up the footage is screwed. So yeah, I agree with your choice in camera even as a beginner. But you have to be prepared to spend more on storage as the files are huge (unless you shoot in one of the lower prores flavors which kind of defeats the purpose of buying a powerful camera anyway).

I'd go with the 4k production camera. I don't personally care about the 4k. What I do care about is the super 35mm sensor. The 2,5k camera has a super 16 sensor (not exact). I have a pocket cinema cam and am dealing with the draw backs of having a super 16 sensor. Go with the bigger sensor especially since you can afford it.

I'd personally go EF mount. No story here, just personal choice.

I like the rokinon lenses. Once I realized that I like slightly softer images I began choosing slightly softer lenses. The Rokinons are sharp but not too sharp. I think the 14mm is very soft (in my experience with it). But all the others are just fine to me. Plus I enjoy manual lenses. I would buy one (24mm) and see if I like it before I bought them all. But I guess you could buy them all, try them out, and if you don't like them just return them within the return period of the vendor you purchased them from.

July 25, 2015 at 8:46AM

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Don Way
Writer/Director of Photography
987

DO THE CINEMA CAMERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do not to the production camera. 4k is nowhere near worth it yet to lose that much in dynamic range and the data hassles. The pocket and cinema camera have amazing dynamic range compared to the production cam (I've used both).
Don't get me wrong, all of them are great, but cinema camera has a leg up.
Go MFT. Many more lens options. MFT + Speedbooster will turn the cinema camera into somewhat of a 35mm beast.
I personally use the Sigma 18-35 1.8, such an amazing lens. I've used Rokinon as well...really wonderful image.
SLR Magic has some nice lenses as well.
I've used the Gh4, Sony cameras and I finally settled on the blackmagic pocket. Best choice ever. Blackmagic offers a beautiful image.
Get battery solutions, too. A nice V mount or Sony battery into the camera. Blackmagic have horrible batteries.
Cinema camera, plus battery solutions, metabones speedbooster and a nice lens, you'll be set to capture incredible images. Audio...is a different story :p.

July 25, 2015 at 10:37PM

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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1078

BMPC 4k
i used BMCC 2.5k for a full lenght feature movie, nice product, but actually i bought a BMPC4k some follow reason :
- bmpc4k vs bmcc dinamic is since one stop, on dark side, not so usable when you compare side by side
- bmpc 4k mean s35 global shutter sensor, less crop on both EF mount.
- choose EF be cause is active mount, where you need stabilization, you can have. m4/3 of bmc is passive mount, not good like gh2/3/4 (i owned them, different beast)
- bmpc4k mean you can shoot excellent prores 4k-fullHD, 4k raw gorgous
- bmpc4k mean you can extract 8.9 mpx photo set raw from shooting

bmcc mean s16 sensor with EF active fullframe mount or mft passive, or you search old s16 lenses (angenieu produce excellent lenses zoom and prime, zeiss also), or you work with large crop cut and very video aspect ...
for video aspect i mean you need tokina 11-16 to have a lens that have focal angle of 35-50mm but when you shoot a face, 16mm is so far to be a normal lens.
battery... bmc don't have production battery, olny switch battery like pro cameras.

if you compare directly bmcc bmpc4k you cannot find so big picture difference about dinamic gamma, we mix in different production without problems, but bmcc is a camera that must used only with s16mm lenses to express the best of .

Other info bmpc4 mean 4k, ultraHD, HD. BMCC mean 2.5k only raw, HD only prores.
with bmpc 4k you can have larger choose of format. Also worst ultraHD prores proxy scaled is better than HD of 2.5k

November 17, 2015 at 2:34PM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director
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