Matt Battershell sent us info about his recent ‘hands on’ with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and we thought you’d like to know a little more.
Matt will also be joining planet5D as a writer hoping to specifically target the Blackmagic Cinema Camera so you’ll be hearing more from planetMatt in the future!
Matt hands on:
So in lowly Rancho Cordova, Sacramento CA, Blackmagic visited a film and meet gathering and I spent my time talking with Dan, holding, using and shooting on the BMCC and asking questions. I hope to share some nuggets of information, but most of it you all already know.
About the Keynote:
First, the presentation was really cool because they show the actual Leah footage from a "well known DSLR" and then from the BMCC. It actually includes her walking into the scene with the camera on a dolly following her through the room. One of our vendors had a super high resolution 4k+ projector doing the presentation, so the HD examples were totally vivid and sharp (and didn’t fill the entire screen obviously).
Let me tell you one thing: the footage comparison is completely AWESOME! The DSLR is pretty bright, windows are all blown out, walls are blown out, Leah has magenta cast and of-course, from line-skipping, is soft. However, the funny thing was, I didn’t really notice that UNTIL I was shown the footage from our little friend.
It is night and day different! The sharpness difference is well noticed even from 20 feet away, all the windows are exposed with the BMCC, Leah’s face looks like flesh, the overall cast was a bit darker – but it was all ungraded (from both cameras). There is so much latitude. The DSLR footage looked like bright polished video whereas the BMCC looked right off a film set. Again, no color grading so it could be pushed in amazing ways.
Out of maybe 50+ people there, many were very surprised. Again, the BMCC had such a different mood and film look to it that right then and there, I knew I was pleased with my pre-order.
Dan said they hope to release samples next week to the world.
Then the presentation showed stills in a subway, and different models’ faces, all looked like really nice DSLR RAW images with more dynamic range. That is impressive!
A note on Thunderbolt: it is not for monitoring or hooking up to a computer to transfer data through (unless using their data express? I missed some of that sorry) – but Thunderbolt is for scopes on your laptop.
Dan said the number one request was 60p and they are discussing it but really their main emphasis right now is to ship in July and not frustrate people with a product that doesn’t function properly or over-promise something.
Obviously, RAW in 2.5 k and 60p is too much for SSD’s to record properly, but doing something in 1080 with ProRes could happen *no guarantees* but this will all be discussed after launch. In his presentation, Dan was the one who said "now as you know, the sensor can record higher frame rates." Now, Dan said the product has a USB port and firmware upgrades will be something they WILL do.
PS: Davinci 9 looks awesome and is redefined in the GUI for faster navigation and a much cleaner look. Version 8 users will have a free upgrade.
About the Launch Date:
Blackmagic has "thousands" of cameras on order from vendors. I asked, "hundreds of thousands?" No, but still, they a lot more then they could of dreamed about and are very excited about the buzz and so is Apple who have been very supportive of them (as you know, including a screen shot of the BMCC in their keynote). But they are also aware of the work involved to get things going and shipped. So, hundreds will be fulfilled in July, and the thousands filled by October into November. Basically, they will be working really hard to meet all these orders, it is all up to where you stand with the vendor and how much they decided to get in the first batch run.
Hand On Impressions:
The camera was fit with a Canon 24-105mm F4 L lens and the first thing I experienced was a breath of release seeing 24mm. It was surprisingly wide for the room (an office building). In fact, I was zooming on the lens to frame more, so my 16-35L lens is going to be great for me. I thought the lens was a 2.8, but online, I can only see F4, so that helps too because at 800 ISO (the native ISO), and wide open, everything was exposed fine, even stopped down. The room was not very bright, more dim – basically an office building with half of the lights on.
Now this Camera was the NAB camera so not all the menu items were fully working.
First, there is no f stop value displayed in the menu and it may not be displayed on the shipping model either (Dan had conflicting reports from the lead engineer), so you just use your arrow buttons to open or stop down. (That is why I was unsure of the lens’ f stop). I told Dan this needs to be a firmware update ASAP but it is not a deal breaker once you see the image.
I cranked it to 1600 ISO, stopped down the lens a bit, then put my face right against the 20″ cinema monitor it was hooked up to and pixel peeped. Guys, noise is minimal and has a grain / RED nature to it (albeit without the grid-like-banding on the Red One *whew!*) I am very pleased.
Then I did some whip pans. Rolling shutter is *definitely* better than the 5dmkII IMO. I’m not worried.
The touch screen is fast and large and great resolution, I’m very happy. One thing I was already asking for though was a zoom in feature before recording like the DSLR’s have because, unless you have an external monitor, I was still unsure of critical focus. Dan said that it certainly is something a firmware upgrade could do because hardware wise, no changes there would have to be made. I told them I wanted it!
I was never too worried about my pre-order on faith, never having touched the camera nor seen really many samples, but now, I am not worried in the least. I’m excited. The quality, DR, noise and sharpness are cinema in nature, the FOV was not as bad as I was thinking based on everyone’s talk and worry. I’m going to have a go with my 16-35 L 2.8 and probably get a Samyang 24 1.4. I may not have the camera as soon as I want, shipping is going to be a little crazy, but we must have patience.
Finally, the company is really cool. Their history is one of innovation and breaking down walls of impossibility -like creating their own camera. They will certainly deliver on future firmware updates and things will only continue to get better – which is simply cool!
(cover photo credit: snap of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera)