Three weeks later… thoughts on the BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera?

by planetmitch35 Comments

Ok, NAB was three weeks ago and the folks at BlackMagic Design threw everyone for a loop with their announcement of their 2.5k Cinema Camera – but now we're two weeks out and we're wondering what your thoughts are after thinking about it for several weeks. I'm not seeing much chatter on twitter about it lately… has the excitement died off?

My initial reaction was kinda ho-hum… the deal breaker for me and I think many of you based on the recent HDSLR poll is the micro 4/3 sensor (tho frankly many posts don't really complain about that).

Pre-order the BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera at B&H photo (planet5D affiliate link)

Poll Question

(note, I set it up so you could provide 3 votes in case multiple things got your attention) [poll id=”25″]

Small group of sample videos so far

John Brawley is the only one who's released sample videos… here they are [tentblogger-vimeo 40584879]

there are 3 others, but since we can't embed you'll have to go to John's vimeo page 🙁

Tho this is a ‘graded screen grab' from John's samples: [tentblogger-vimeo 40671729] [tentblogger-vimeo 40559110]

Other sites coverage

So, what are your thoughts?

Sound off in the poll above and in the comments below!

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. I would love to get my hands on it and really put it through it’s paces. I don’t think it will be the “Be All, End All” camera but I think the potential is huge. My only wish for it is a better ISO range.

  2. For me, already looking at the new Canon releases (then in my wallet, at the kids and back at the new Canons) this felt huge. Would probably have bought it the same day if it was out. Now… Bit more causious. The battery is a major issue, but also that I would love if it could record in a higher framerate…

  3. So, seems I’m the only one that pre-ordered ?
    I can’t wait to get it.

    I find it funny people talk about the size of the sensor as a deal breaker when we used to shoot with 1/3 inch sensors and were happy.

    Also no 60fps a deal breaker? Really? you need to shoot that much slow motion?
    Besides, the sensor in this camera can shoot up to 240 fps in 720HD. So it could be that Blackmagic will come out with a firmware upgrade to make this camera shoot slow motion.

    1. not at all. I run a little production company and my director has ordered one. He sees the value in it. It leaves DSLR for dead.

      These initial vids are not an indicator of what this can do, but we will soon be shown, and be happy with it

      I’m also interested in digital Bolex

  4. Story is what is important and cameras are the tools to tell those stories. Some of those tools may work best depending on the project.

    Having said that, the Cinema Camera comes at a time when many of us, who bought into HDSLRs for video feel forsaken. Canon has priced themselves out of affordability for we small time operators. $10000 for a 1D C, $15000 for a C300. Even the 5D mark III is $800 more than its predecessor and it has not given us much more, video-wise, that would merit a that price increase. Many of may slip back to Sony because, for the price, the F700 has far more value. RED also disappointed because we were promised 3K at $3K, but that essentially turned into RED Two.

    While moping about in our disappointment, two options come out of left field. The Digital Bolex and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, the latter allowing us to use many of the accessories, including expensive glass, that we were duped into buying. For around $3000, we find the camera that the 5D mark III should have been. Let us not forget how skittish we were to buy into still cameras for shooting video and just how much we had to make the 5D function like a camcorder. That was an incredible leap of faith on our parts, it would have been nice if Canon had rewarded us for our investment. Blackmagic decided to fill the vacuum. Is it a perfect camera? No, but will take far less to make this camera part of our workflow than even the C300, which will still uses its own proprietary codec.

    I was a little disappointed in this blog post. “Let’s have a vote about the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, but before that, here is what I think”. Leading the witness much? The biggest “complaint” is that the chip size is micro 4/3. To borrow from another context, “it’s not the size, it is how you use it”. The Epic creates 5K images, you would think that for this reason alone, everyone in Hollywood would be using it. However, everywhere I turn around, people are using the Arri Alexa. A week does not go by that I don’t see a set in my neighborhood, rarely are they using RED, they are using Alexa. Why? It was only shooting HD. Nowhere near as big as the Epic image. The reason, if you have a chance to talk to the artists and technicians in the post world, is that the Alexa footage is far superior in the back end. Colorists and compositors hate the RED footage because it’s very difficult to work with. Put in perspective, both the RED (after lots of expensive coloring) and Alexa are amazing cameras. Some projects I wouldn’t even think of using anything else but RED like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. However, Hugo, one of the most visually stunning films ever was shot on Alexa. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is going to become a reality of life for cost purposes as well as workflow. It is time to stop thinking about cameras in the same way boys go on about why their favorite super hero is better.

  5. @ Jake – Regarding the 60fps deal breaker, for people considering this is a main camera or only camera, it’s not about shooting “that much slow motion”. It’s about shooting any slow motion ever. If you’re in a position to own a variety of cameras for different jobs, I think this thing is a no brainier. As an only camera, it is a tough call. Same with the sensor size. Sure, most of us used to shoot on tiny sensors, but for the most part have invested in stills lenses at this point covering particular focal lengths for a large sensor. Most people can count on having to add new lenses to their kit just to have a usable range on this camera, so that expense has to be factored in.

    Solutions? I’d like to see the Rokinon 24mm 1.4 on this camera as a “normal” lens, and Twixtor/Optical Flow doing slow motion from 30 raw frames per second. If that worked well, it could work for me.

    1. Jay, OK you got me there. Didn’t think of people that would consider this as the only camera in their kit.

      For me I guess since I have a 5d and also a 7D that I could use for slo mo if needed my wants have been the need for less compressed footage (or in the case of the Blackmagic, no compression). Lack of jello and moire that plagues my DSLR’s
      That and the price point for this new camera is just unbelievable.

  6. I shot with 2/3″ chip cameras for many years and don’t want to go back to small chips. Although, for some things–shooting music events, for example–small chips with increased depths of field can be better. I also prefer the low light capability of bigger sensors.

    I think the camera is in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the 4K hype the industry is doing at the moment to make people think they absolutely must have it. If I did mostly chroma key work, then I might want it as a second camera for that purpose. In fact, it would be a damn good camera for that purpose. It might also be nice for shooting aerials with one of those remote controlled drone helicopters. But as my only or main camera, I don’t think so.

  7. No Jake you’re not the only one! I pre-ordered it the day after it was announced. I work with Red Epic here in Japan the one thing is due to the cost we rent it. With the Black magic camera it will work great for projects where we don’t need a Red. For those of us who shot on 16mm film the sensor is no problem. On the battery even at 90 minutes it’s still longer then 4 Red Volts which lasts 20 minutes each in the real world. We’ll do like we do with the Epic and power it with V bricks. Oh and as someone who edits Red Raw footage on a bi-monthly basis Once you do some serious color correction on raw footage you’ll learn the benefits. and the camera shoots Prores too. (Just make sure you have plenty of storage 4TB is a good start)

  8. My main complaint is the internal battery. I just don’t get that at all. The reason I’m not more excited at this point is that it’s only a step above vaporware. We haven’t seen much in the way of testing (or testing from people we know/respect). I’ll be more excited when we have a shipping product and some testimony from some of the usual characters (I’m looking at you, Philip Bloom). I was initially excited about native ProRes but if FCPX doesn’t catch on and more people switch to Premiere that might not be that big of a selling point.

    1. I’m not sure I understand your ProRes worry? If you use premiere on a Mac you have full access to the ProRes codec for decoding and encoding. The only premiere users that need to worry about ProRes are windows users which negates your comment about FCPX catching on…

    2. Just so I understand – tests from a serious working feature DOP you aren’t happy with, but from a jobbing camera guy like P Bloom you’re interested? Buy an FS700 and go away.

  9. I love this camera. the digital bolex is cool too but this camera seems to be better suited for the profesional camera person that does both filmmaking and corporate video. the internal battery drives me nuts and the LCD screen is right on the back and that drives me nuts as well. I would have liked it if the screen was a swivel screen like on the canon 60D and the body a little more friendly to hold with the hands. other then that I love it all. I also love the fact that it is 2 k with a crop sensor. people who think a bagger sensor and 4k is better are only kidding them selves. fact is it is way two damn complicated to work in a 4 k work flow. and many films are scanned at 2 k. so I really don’t see the craziness to go any bigger.

  10. I am psyched about this camera. I am planning on my first feature next year, and I would like to make it for play in cinema. The 7d/5d option take so much time and control to create color depth that doesn’t fall apart on the big screen… I saw Like Crazy and Act of Valor, and while sequences were awesome, the low latitude and bit depth often reared its head… Although this has a smaller sensor, many of my favorite movies were shot on 2/3 sensors so that shouldn’t be a problem (Zodiac, Miami Vice) and i hope the latitude and bit depth is as wonderful as the specs say

    1. Just to respond to the premise of the article… I do think excitement level is lacking mainly because we haven’t seen any true footage from it yet. Yes, there have been a few tests, but nothing even close to a Reverie, nothing anyone could really sink their teeth into. Hopefully soon though.

  11. I am actually just sad that the HDSLR world is being crushed 🙁
    I want to buy this camera, but IDK, the 5d Mark III could be better.

  12. This is only the beginning of the move away from DSLR’s. Personally, I love it as I have no need for the still photography capability of a DSLR. Big sensor in a box that takes Canon, Nikon glass, that’s the new revolution.

  13. At first I shrugged when I saw it was a smaller sensor and yeah the internal battery, meh… but then it dawned on me that it’d be perfect for green screen work. (Bill Pryor mentions this as well in a previous comment) particularly if you’re shooting an interview on green screen. Which there seems to be a lot of these days.

    It gives you a long recording time on the drives, the 2k capture gives you heaps for reframing in post and generally you don’t want or need super shallow focus when keying. Also the battery is not that big of a deal. Use the AC adaptor or get an external block battery for it. Most film cameras run off double blocks so it’s really not that big of a deal.

    As a professional cameraman I think this would be a great little camera to have… especially at the price. For under $4k you can have a killer camera in the kit that would pay for itself in 10-15 shoots. It’s not perfect nor does it suit every situation, but it has a lot going for it.

  14. unless i’m overlooking something, the battery/power is a deal breaker for me.

  15. The BMC is the ideal studio ‘chomakey’ and ‘talking head’ camera, it’s the 5×4 Sinar plate camera of the video world.

    Think about it – the lesser depth of field is a bonus in chromakey work, but the extra resolution and 12 bits are even better. Who cares about ergonomics when you’re on a jib-dolly and tethered to your ingest machine?

    You’ll shoot food with this. You’ll shoot cars with this. You’ll shoot shiny stuff in light tents with this. You’ll never shoot a wedding with this, nor the news. All your money will be spent on lenses and grip gear and nice lighting.

    It’s a Cinema Camera – a trite marketing term if ever there was one – a Cinema Camera has a crew that fuss around it, and it’s protected from the elements and has a trailer to go to when the light goes bad. It’s not a ‘News’ camera, it’s not a n ‘Event’ camera. It’s not even a ‘Multi’ camera. So, as a Cinema Camera it has an ego the size of a Shetland Pony and dreams of being Gimli Son Of Gloin.

    It’s just a Rostrum Camera with an Attitude, and I wish it well – might even own one if I got a lot of Chromakey work to do and the scary reports of rolling shutter issues are false.

    1. You nail almost everything, but I disagree that its a rostrum camera only. I think you’ll be fine making dramas with it. The kind we used to shoot with an SR2 or 3.

      As to the internal battery, I think its an interesting concept. We are moving quickly towards smartphones that shoot (my bet – two years we’ll have a phone shooting RAW).

      This is actually another step in that direction. I’ll just V-mount it (as I already have the V-mount batteries).

      If you are an event videographer, this is not your main camera.

      I’m hoping they will add slowmo in a reduced format, otherwise I’ll keep using Canon/Nikon/AF100 for that, or rent an FS700/EPIC.

  16. It is billed as Cinema Camera – with sensor smaller than m43? And yet, no m43 mount to peruse MFT lenses?

    Maximum ISO 1600 – really, in year 2012?

    Top frame rate 24p – goes straight on the ridiculist 🙂

    I want to love this camera, but can’t in its current incarnation, sorry…

    Oh, and why ProRes and not Cineform? I’d much prefer Cineform – which by the way has Cineform RAW flavor, which would negate the need for DNG…

  17. Why wouldn’t you shoot a wedding with it? If its a depth of field issue, I have a GH1 and have never had any issue getting the depth of field needed. It boils down to the lens you use and filtration. True, it’s not as easy as having a full frame sensor, but it’s definitely doable. Trust me, many will shoot weddings with the BMC. As for the post about the battery being a deal breaker, it’s called an external battery. There are manufactures as we speak making external batteries for this camera. Deal breaker, I think not.

  18. I took this quote from the camera specs:

    “Rates: 5 MB/frame in RAW 2.5K fits about 30 minutes of 24p video on a 256 GB solid state disk – compressed HD formats fit more than 5 times the amount of RAW video”

    This for me would be the deal killer. Is there a way of editing this on a macbook pro? Can I transfer the footage to a thunderbolt external disk and edit or do I need a peripheral? My question in general is what would be the editing workflow for this camera? Can we use 1mm lenses on this camera? Thanks to all for the previous comments I love the site.

    1. It all depends on the format you record in. If you record in 4:2:2 10 Bit ProRes or DNxHD you’re recording times will increase immensely. We’re talking 3 hours of footage on a 256GB solid state drive and obviously less as you go down. These files will play nice with most NLEs. You can log the files via the thunderbolt port on the camera or insert the SSD into a docking station. Either way you can transfer your files directly to your Mac or any external connected through your Mac.

      The only problems you’d run into is your RAW workflow. These are massive files and can be edited natively in Premiere and programs that support the RAW 2.5K CinemaDNG format. This codec produces even larger files than R3DRAW and ARRIRAW as it is uncompressed.

      Also, if you can find a 1mm lens I’d love to see it. A 12mm full frame lens will be roughly a 24mm equivalent on the BMCC, with a 25mm equally roughly a 50mm lens. The 2x crop factor isn’t horrible, and is quite manageable, but it’d be even more manageable if they decided to make it a 4/3 mount so that a wider range of lenses could be adapted to fit including the EF and FD mount it supports.

      I’m not sure what your deal killer would be. This camera definitely requires a more intensive workflow than dumping files off an SD card, but it also isn’t terribly complicated.

  19. Okay, I’ll fish, and why Eduardo would that be a deal breaker?
    Can you edit on a MBP, The ProRes 422 files that the BMC will also record, yes, absolutely. Will a MBP handle a RAW DNx file, I haven’t a clue.

    1. Not sure what a RAW DNxHD file would be. If you have Avid MC on your Mac you’re golden with DNxHD on an MBP (with adequate storage throughput), and at data rates of 145 Mbit/s and higher it compares very well to ProRes HQ.

  20. The camera is definitely impressive and the price point is fantastic but in the end, for me personally, it still misses without 30p, internal battery, etc…

    Still, it’s a great camera for a version 1 and I’m very much looking forward to future updates to bring it up to speed.

    1. Am I missing something or thinking of something different than what you’re saying?

      These are the specs:
      23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30p Frame Rates

      So it does have 30p and the others it mentions.

      The built in battery is a pretty strange idea I have to admit but not something that doesn’t have a work around.

  21. Yeah, I meant 60p. It’s too early in the morning.

    When you use it in conjunction with another camera (such as your 5D and 7D) I think it will compliment them and give you added dimension to your work.

    I just don’t think it’s mature enough to be an “only camera”.

  22. there is no requirement for full frame sensor shooting pro standard video. If anything it can be problematic

    In theoy, the Black Magic camera is the best thing since canned booze for the budget vid maker

    Full frame is for still

    Movie makers…Forget about full frame and incredibly high pixels

  23. Ok…. so this sounds great but that 60fps is killing me. That seems like a no brainer for me. I didn’t read all the comments, but someone said “who needs to really shoot slow mo’s that much?” …. uh…. I shoot Music Videos on a consistent basis, and slow Mo’s are a HUGE part of that artistry. This is the deal breaker. The battery thing sucks as well, but the frame rate issue is more important. I understand that you could just twixtor all the 24 footy, but who the hell wants to do that for EVERY SINGLE CLIP when cinema tools does it with one click? Lame-O. I’ll wait for the next generation to get it right, until then its 5d Mark iii or a Red Rental.

    1. I agree. This camera is actually useless to me without a high frame rate. Let me repeat: useless. I shot two commercials and two music videos last week. 90% at overcrank.

      Blackmagic are talking about getting an update to shoot 60fps in ProRes as apparently the data rate is too high at RAW.

      When it has that function I can contemplate it. Until then my lovely D800 will have to suffice for lower budget jobs.

  24. If there is one thing I have learned in the 12 years I have been shooting- there is no one right tool for all my jobs.
    However where some people seem to think the BM is lacking I see otherwise.

    The sensor size. The sensor will actually have a little MORE dof that full frame sensors. That to me is good. If I have a job where I run and gun this camera would be more forgiving in the focus. If I need to reduce my DOF I’ll dial in a larger f-stop or use a longer lens.

    Screen resolution is 800×600. You don’t plan to use an external monitor? I’ve had an onboard monitor for my 5D for years. BM makes a great SDI to HDMI adapter for $300. Saves me a boat load buying a new SDI monitor.

    Frame rates? Simple. BM is not the right tool for the job. Use your 7D or 60D. That’s my plan- and since all my gear works with the BM (lens, monitor, etc) It will be painless to use both on a job.
    Power. The internal battery is a real head scratcher. But my V-mount power station for my 5D has a 12volt out. So I’m good.
    Some guy on here mentioned never shooting weddings and news with BM as a negative? Yeah. I think you’re a little confused. I don’t know a single person in my market that would shoot news one day and commercials the next. Weddings? Don’t even go there.
    13 stops of latitude. Seriously. It’s why I am buying the camera. The 5D has 5 stops. I’m tired of fighting blown out windows, thick shadows, or increasing my lighting budget for one or two interior shots using 1200’s.
    So there you have it. A voice of reason among the clouded and senseless speculation. I will say again that there is no one right tool for every job. I shoot a lot of commercials, infomercials, and advertising. The BM is overall a good choice allowing me to offer my clients 2.5K at a price point that is hard to turn down.

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