October 25, 2016 at 12:07PM

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Will a BlackMagic Cinema Camera get the job done?

If there was a way to get a used Black Magic Cinema Camera EF Mount in a bundle with accessories (A top handle, Lens, battery packs, shoulder rig, a case, 250 GB HD, SSD Hard Drive Reader) for a negotiated price of under 3,000 would you take it?

I'm leaning towards BMCC but a common con is that by the time you get all you need to get it up and running you've spent tons of money.

One of my main wants in a camera is dynamic range, color science (leaning towards more natural, like the ARRI ALEXA), handheld, ease of use and freedom for Narrative filmmaking. Is this a direction I should look into taking? If so, what are some other cons of the BMCC

17 Comments

If somebody offered me a BMCC for free, I wouldn't take it.
The dynamic range is nothing close to what BM claims (or the sensitivity), the color filters are weak, suffers alias/moire, infrared pollution, it can't be hand-held without a lot of rigging, it's not the easiest to use, bad rolling shutter, poor audio capabilities even with adapters and most important, it's unreliable. Sadly, I don't have a solid suggestion in that price range because my one preference is discontinued. It might be a good idea to invest in one of the Sony 1" camcorders. They are reliable, have good color science and some even have 10-bit modes.

October 25, 2016 at 12:23PM

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Thanks very much! Just curious was your one choice a Digital Bolex?

Jackson Flowers

October 25, 2016 at 2:00PM

Yes: excellent color, no rolling shutter, no alias/moire, good dynamic range, good on-board audio, well-built in Canada. I really wanted one (or several) for myself but never had a good opportunity. I used it on one very demanding shoot and put it through its paces for several days. It might just be the firmware (for which there have been many updates) on that particular one but it would occasionally lock. Aside from that, it not only met but exceeded my expectations in every way. From a guy that's done S16, 35mm and video with $25,000, that's a difficult thing to do.

October 25, 2016 at 2:26PM, Edited October 25, 2:26PM

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I'm looking into the Bolex but the workflow and storage is ungodly. 1 TB for 10 minutes of footage?!

Jackson Flowers

October 30, 2016 at 12:55AM

The BMCC remains the low-cost RAW champion. The RED RAVEN is the new low-cost/high-value RAW champion (but at $10,000 in a shootable configuration it's a little more than 3x your stated budget).

I sold my BMCC when I moved to RED as my camera platform, but still have some accessories, such as a four-bay SSD reader and a dual waveform monitor. And I also have some SSDs left over, too. Lemme know if interested.

October 25, 2016 at 2:45PM

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Will do!

Jackson Flowers

October 26, 2016 at 11:01AM

Gt it if you can.. dude up top very salty and i don't see why if the camera is used as B camera on Arri set why the hell i wouldn't get it as well. I've done a lot of work with Blackmagic Camera (especially the pocket, URSA Purchase coming up) and once you are aware that its not a DSLR you are in for a sweet ride. its a brilliant camera and you just have to prepare yourself for the learning curve and once you use it and understand it, you will be amazed!

October 26, 2016 at 1:24AM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2714

Blackmagic cameras are wonderful because they can record raw. Nothing beats them in that price range. For reference, you can check some of my shorts I have on my YouTube channel. The latest one 'Canopy' was shot on the pocket camera. For all its faults, BMPCC produces very cinematic images. The film 'Baby Monster' was shot on BMCC. Shot it indoors with available light during the day. There is one more film called 'Max' you should check out. BMCC again. The one thing you should be careful is not to under expose these cameras. Also watch out for Moire.

At this point I don't know if 3k is a sweet deal for a used BMCC cam (depends on the lens that comes with it). The camera body by itself is selling around $1300 street price, used. If you are getting it, make sure that you get the dongle for DaVinci Resolve full version. Can't praise that piece of software enough. It's really awesome.

October 26, 2016 at 3:21AM, Edited October 26, 3:33AM

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Rajesh Naroth
Filmmaker
330

It's going for 1,600 and the price is negotiable. BMCC would be my absolute go too but everywhere on the internet I look theres negatives, maybe I should research it more

Jackson Flowers

October 26, 2016 at 6:15PM

Good luck with the hunt. Once you have color graded a well exposed raw clip, you will never go back. BMCC is also 2k. That extra bit of resolution helps recompose and stabilize shots in post. I personally own the BM pocket camera. For all its faults I love what it produces.

I would also recommend renting this cam for a day a seeing if it speaks to you. Raw video is not easy to wrangle.

Rajesh Naroth

October 28, 2016 at 1:35PM

Oh the reviews I read... I demo'd the BM URSA mini for 2 weeks I abused it pretty good too. end of day I was impressed. It is Not an Alexa, but nothing else is an Alexa ( I have a cinematographer friend who intercuts his BM mini footage with Alexa) . I did like the skin tones, the color science, highlight roll off, the form factor, the menus, and ease of use and it shoots direct to pro-res, which means no transcoding. With all its perks I kept thinking was I just lucky with a great demo camera, or is this a standard? I haven't used a different body so I dont know. What you'll spend coin on afterwards are lenses, batteries and Memory cards ( personally I would get a PL mount and then a PL to EF adapter) . I shot sunsets on the beach at 24fps and 120fps as well as time lapse, all looked great, the sun lost detail, but it just went over exposed which was better than arti-facting, as some cameras do. I also shot a welder, which is what really impressed me, as well as macro shots at 120, and LA city streets at night. I would avoid going above 800asa, that is the biggest problem, very noisy . but shooting Downtown LA at both 800 and 400 worked great. I realize more and more I need to cut that demo and get it online.
Best
Jimmy www.dpmatlosz.com
Jimmy

October 26, 2016 at 2:11PM

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Jimmy Matlosz
Cinematographer,Director,Writer
64

I'd encourage you to balance the first reply here with some research into those using BM cameras very successfully. Look for films shot with them and advice from those who have used them and got the best from them.

It's true that the BMCC is clunky. But if you're planning to pursue narrative film-making, you won't be phased by rigging things to a camera. You might also not be too troubled by the lack of mic amps or strong in-camera audio and these issues also apply to other cameras, including the smaller Sonys, etc.

You mention DR and colour science - you won't find 12 bit RAW or 10 bit Pro-Res in a more affordable package.

You might also consider a BMPCC with a Speedbooster. Not far off Super 35mm 12 bit RAW for less than £1000 used. If you understand something about lighting, composition and colour grading, I can't see why you wouldn't get some great images. If the moire and IR pollution become an issue (and moire is there on many cameras, not just BM), then spend a bit more on one of the OLP filters available for this camera.

As ever, why not rent or borrow before buying?

October 27, 2016 at 5:57AM

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Thanks for the tips Ben! I'm still researching other cameras and I've been learning that I can get by with lighting and color grading without 12 bit Raw etc. How to you rank cameras like the C100?

Jackson Flowers

October 27, 2016 at 12:37PM

You certainly don't need 12 bit RAW, but if you want to do much colour grading, you might be disappointed with the compressed codec of the C100. I didn't really like the image much when I tried it, but it was comfortable to work with.

Ben Johnston

October 27, 2016 at 4:40PM

I finally uploaded some very random BM Ursa Mini demo footage https://vimeo.com/189171007

October 27, 2016 at 12:08PM

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Jimmy Matlosz
Cinematographer,Director,Writer
64

My BMCC has been pretty rock solid. I mostly record in Prores and find the format great for doing color correction. If I'm not sure of the exposure or color balance then I may record in RAW. As others have mentioned the audio is terrible - you will have to record audio with another system. The picture is so much closer to the cinematic image of an Alexa and RED than it is a DSLR, especially with a good LUT. One thing I wish it had was high frame rates. If I were to invest again in a narrative camera I would probably get a BM Ursa Mini or a used RED. It will be a while before you outgrow those cameras.

October 28, 2016 at 6:37PM

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I just noticed this guy posting his new showreel, all shot on BMCC except the aerial shots. Ergonomics aside, decide for yourself if the DR, moire or rolling shutter have caused problems. I would guess his clients are very happy...

https://vimeo.com/185024196

November 1, 2016 at 1:53PM

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