November 11, 2015 at 2:51AM


Upgrading full gear - yes or no?

So I have been working on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera workflow for a little more than 2 years now. Has you know, the BMCC is a great camera....for "cinema" shoots. My line of work is more on the commercial side so you can Imagine the obstacles of having such a bulky camera to walk around on run and gun situations. Plus, I cant buy any of the cheaper gear (stabilization, sliders, etc) because none of them fit such a big camera.
I have the BMCC with a speedbooster, converting the MFT to nikon with my samyang vdslr lenses, 14 24 35 85, plus a 50mm zeiss f1.4 (my favorite).
I thought to myself - I should get rid of all this: I only use half of those lenses, and even when I use the wider ones is because of the crop factor I get on the BMCC sensor. If I sell my blackmagic with all the accessories I have so far plus the sensor, with a little bit extra I could get a whole new, lighter and more ergonomic setup. I was thinking more of the lines of a Sony a7r II with one of those neat cages, and to start I would just get two of those "good all around" lenses with variable focal lengths. I thought working with primes was the best thing, but that is all great for cinema work (I also work for short film productions sometimes).

What do you guys think about this? and if you think its a good idea, what recommendations you have based on your experience?

I was thinking in the future I could just walk around with a small rigged a7r, a smaller 3 axis gimbal, tripod, a tiny slider, 2 or 3 lenses, and a monitor (or external recorder).


I hear what you are saying, but your proposed solutions seem self-contradictory. First off, if you are truly aiming for "run-and-gun" as your principal mode of shooting, you should get a proper all-in-one video camera. Prime lenses, even interchangeable zooms are too limited for real "run-and-gun" scenarios. I happen to think the Panasonic DVX200 looks really sweet. But if you don't need 4K, there are obviously other options.

If you want to reduce the bulk of your BMCC, you can greatly reduce lens bulk by buying m43 primes (such as the Veydra lenses, instead of FF35 primes with a speed booster. FF35 primes are over-built for a m43 image circle, and the speedbooster just adds to the imbalance of the system.

The SONY a7r II is an amazing low-light camera. And because it's a FF35 image sensor, you can scrap the speed booster. But you are still using a much larger lens than the m43 equivalent. And you have much shallower depth of field, which militates against "run-and-gun".

When it comes to "good all-around" lenses with variable focal lengths (zoom lenses), I think you'll find that good performance and decent aperture again push the weight of these lenses well beyond your breaking point in terms of weight and balance. Especially if the format is as large as FF35. Interchangeable zoom lenses give will give you about 1/3 to 1/4 the range and 1/2 to a full stop less aperture than the zoom lenses typically built into an integrated camcorder.

Finally, adding an external recorder (so you can get full performance out of the a7r) is a weight and balance nightmare. It is the distinct opposite of "run-and-gun".

There is an expression: "horses for courses". It may well be that it's just too much to expect a single camera and a single lens family to bridge from cinematic and short-form film all the way to run-and-gun. And it just gets worse as you add more and more adapters to components that are not even designed around your principle acquisition platform. I suggest you reset your thinking as to what you really want to do, formulate a package that does the most of that for a price you can afford, and then see whether it makes sense to incrementally adapt or to treat it as a completely different toolkit for your business.

November 11, 2015 at 3:58AM, Edited November 11, 3:59AM


Hi! Thank you for your input.

I'm not using 4k right now, but If i'm investing now I should get a 4k capable system for the near future.

The "bulkiness" of the BMCC is bad on the camera itself, changing the type of lenses would help but the problem is on the body itself for a start. I can't even tighten the tripod's slate thing (don't know the term in english) because the body gets in the way. Can't use it handheld in any conceivable way that doesn't add a stupidly huge rig because even if I put only a cage, I wont be able to focus properly. Can't put it on sliders (unless I spend double what I could with a smaller camera) and wouldn't even think about getting a ronin for example, because the weight of them combined would be too great for me to handle on a whole day shoot. I have one of those great manfrotto monopods, but I can only use it with my panasonic g7, with the blackmagic it is unstable. I love using it but can't.

I have tried using a sony a7r II rigged up on a small cage, with a rode videomic and a shogun external recorder, and still it felt two times lighter than my blackmagic without a rig. You may be right regarding the weight and balance, but still is a better option than what I have right now.

I do fully understand what you are saying and will take into consideration. The options I'm considering are only based on a small experience I had with the sony a7r - this type of input is the reason why I came here in the first place!

Miguel Pinto Ferreira

November 11, 2015 at 6:02AM

I understand about the weight of the BMCC. It does feel a bit like a brick. And its fan noise was a nuisance. I sold mine not because of the weight, but because I'm now solidly in the 4K+ camp (two RED DRAGON cameras and a GH4).

Speaking of which, the GH4 is a nice, light camera. It does need an external recorder to realize its full (4:2:2 10-bit 4K) potential. But it rocks solidly as a FullHD camera (you can down-sample 4:2:0 8-bit to 4:4:4 10-bit, or attach a recording monitor). The GH4 is also much less expensive than the SONY. (And much less capable in low-light, alas.) The GH4 V-Log L feature is nothing to write home about, but if you can learn to love one of its color profiles (I find Natural matches well with my DRAGONs), it's an amazing value. The Olympus PRO 12-40mm f2.8 lens is very nice for what it is, and very much smaller than any equivalent you might find for the SONY.

November 11, 2015 at 6:50AM


I feel you man. I love the image of the BMCC; but it's a pain to use--mostly for ergonomic reasons.

I know you said above that you want to go the 4K route; and that resolution can come in handy every once in a while. But here's my advice anyway: sell you gear (keep that Zeiss lens!), and use the money to buy a used Canon C100 Mk1 and a 17-55 f2.8 zoom.

I agree Michael above that for run and gun filmmaking you will want a true video camera. The A7 cameras and the GH4 all have amazing features, but they lack the ergonomics and functionality of dedicated video cameras. I would seriously take internal ND filters any day over 4K. Plus I think the C100 creates a more cinematic image than either of those other cameras--unless you're shooting the A7 in s-log mode, which is a real pain in the butt (I used to own an A7s). Those are my 2 cents!

November 12, 2015 at 10:21PM

Kenneth Merrill

The C100 is a great camera no doubt, and it does fit within my specifications - it is small and can fit in most gear since it's not that heavy, and has a big set of another advantages like the built in nd filters like you mentioned, plus XLR inputs and other features a "true video camera" has.

My only concern is the thought of the "investment for the future". Right now, 4k is an illusion, specially in my country. There is absolutely no 4k content anywhere (except on the internet) and people only like talking about it. The only good thing about it right now is the possibility of creating multiple shots from one. But, as soon as people start trying to make 4k the new standard definition, which wont take that long, ill have a problem. I can foresee the small clients that want to pay 800€ for a short promo video to share on the internet demanding 4k content.

November 13, 2015 at 2:53AM

Miguel Pinto Ferreira
Creative Director

I hear what you're saying. You know your clients better than anyone--and even if 4K vs 1080p doesn't always matter, they might be real sticklers about it. I will say in that situation, you could always tell them that the C100 shoots 4K and down-samples the image in-camera to save time and money in post...

It's a tough one. I do have some friends that love their NX1's. You could check those out...

Kenneth Merrill

November 14, 2015 at 6:52AM

Your Comment