Blackmagic Cinema Camera vs the DSLR video world

by planetMitch17 Comments

Ok, Blackmagic Cinema Cameras are being delivered (although slowly due to sensor issues) and videos are appearing in around the planet – so what are the conclusions so far?

Well, it depends on whom you talk to – I've seen “DSLR killer” phrases as well as “ho-hum” pronouncements… and the biggest surprise to me is what appears to be a small excitement for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera – view counts on most BMCC videos are tiny – I was expecting much more of a splash! Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places?

Last night, I was watching the first video below (the one from OneRiver) and my teenage daughter walked in and without telling her which camera was which, she often said the footage from the BMCC was “ewww.” Altho clean and crisp, I often thought that it was too clean and crisp and she agreed (and she's not a filmmaker LOL).

There are lots of positive things to say about the BMC and I'm glad it is on the market – hopefully it will kick Canon and Nikon in the ass to get moving and improving! But so far, in many cases, it looks too much like video tape to me so far. I will say tho that some daytime outdoor scenes have looked very very nice (see the Jon Carr video below)

So, I've created a couple of new poll questions (see way below) to find out what our audience is thinking about the BMCC.

Oh, and let's not forget that there are problems getting the cameras shipped (see comments about the sensor problems from Blackmagic here) as well as other issues like the dreaded “black spot” issue that caused a huge uproar (and condemnation of Canon by many) – yet we've barely heard a whimper about it.


“Comparing the Cinema Camera & 5D Mk III
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“Comparing the Cinema Camera: Part 2, The Impact of 12-bit RAW”
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“Side by side 5DMark II vs Blackmagic Cinema Camera
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An interesting article by Vincent Laforet on his time with the BMCC: “Black Magic Cinema Camera (BMCC) Beautiful & Befuddling“.

Jon Carr has a nice outdoor video:
“A Week With The BMC (1080P)”
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Black Spots?

Here's what I noticed in the OneRiver Blackmagic Cinema Camera video above:

“Bug affecting BMC sensor”
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However, in this test video with several shots of the sun, the black spots are not evident… so is it camera/firmware dependent? [tentblogger-vimeo 52954080]


In May, we asked our readers what they thought at the time… here are the results:

New polls!

I've created 2 polls to try to gauge your thoughts – the first is what you think of the BMCC and the HDSLR market in general and the second is about the BMCC specifically.

You can select up to 3 answers in this poll:
[poll id=”31″]

In this poll, you can pick up to 4 answers – please pick 2 positives and 2 negatives (or less)
[poll id=”32″]

(cover photo credit: )


chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind

He's incredibly happy running planet5D and sharing so much joy of photography and filmmaking with his readers.


  1. Not feeling the fact that I’m forced to pick two negatives that make statements I don’t agree with. I wish the battery was external but it’s not a “deal breaker”.

    Also you’re missing footage from John Brawley and Phillip Bloom. Not to mention the plethora of color grading test out there. EosHD just released test and footage as well.

    I’m a DSLR shooter, but there is no question that the BMCC is light years ahead in regards to image quality.

    One River Media is not the first to release footage it was John Brawley. One River Media’s video didn’t do the camera justice and they acknowledged that in their wonderful comparison video. Frank Glencairn did a wonderful DR test video as well.

    Also low light isn’t a problem. The DR allows you to retain info. See EOSHD article for that.

    1. Author

      N.K. thanks for your comments! I wasn’t trying to post every review/video in one post so there are plenty of samples I could have posted. I also don’t think I said that oneRiver’s video was first, it was just the first one listed here on my post.

  2. You can compare pixels and specs all day, the fact remains it means little as to what really looks better.

    Full frame DSLRs just look more cinematic. Most average people will pick its look over the BMCC camera.

    Also the BMCC shoots raw but so far almost every video that I’ve seen the colors don’t look that great. It looks like old 16mm film where as Canon DSLRs looks like 35mm film.

    Dynamic range is not a big deal especially if you light well. And fact of the matter is cameras pale in comparison to the human eye. Also blown highlights on DSLRs like the 5D MK3 have a milky look that actually doesn’t look to bad at all.

    Raw video is a bit overrated. I love it for photography but in video it comes with the heavy burden of huge file sizes and slower work flows. Also 80% of people don’t know how to properly color correct and never will so it kind of defeats the purpose. Understanding how to shoot a scene as you want it to look as a final product is much more valuable then trying to get a look or fix it in post. People as so dam lazy now days in learning the craft on how to get the the desired look at acquisition. When movies still were all shot on 35mm film, the DPs really had to work to get everything they wanted out of the look of the footage, and they did it with near perfection.

    Again specs aren’t everything. Whats pleasing to the eye is. The Alexia looks so much better than the Red Epic even though the Epic has better resolution. The Sony F3 no matter how good the specs still comes out looking like video. All these are tools. People forget that film making is an art, at the end of the day the process and content trumps any technical aspects of a camera.

    Most people that compare specs of this camera and that don’t even have the real world experience working with a wide range of cameras. Most big productions are more concerned with the look than the specs. I’ve worked on big network shows were we can shoot on any camera we want or need too. And DSLRs are still a popular choice for some stuff just because of its aesthetics cinematic look and it matches the looks of the Alexia well.

    Its the painting that matters not the canvas or brand of paint that was used.

  3. I think more than the painting, it’s the painter that matters. I’ve seen tons of bad film and tons of amazing video (and vice versa)… it’s what you do with what you know that makes the difference.

  4. I feel that we’re looking at different images? What I see with BMCC is leaps & bounds better than DSLR video. Much finer grain pattern. No banding. No blown highlights. No crushed shadows. Only downside that I see is the cost of RAW storage, but that will become easier/less expensive over time.

  5. Blah blah RAW blah……I’m still going to get a 5D MKIII…..can’t imagine using my 50mm on the BMC and it turns into a 100mm lens or something like that….and ppl say “just move away from the subject”…well what if the room is small then what? don’t what a super wide lens thats slow in F-stop…..Plus with the clean hdmi upgrade coming I’m sticking with Canon

  6. I can’t WAIT to get my hands on one of these to really run it through the ringer. That oneRiver video is just a promotional video– to call it a ‘review’ would be generous. Vincent’s is good. But I really want to get a chance to compare it to the 5D3 and maybe a Red and really get a quantifiable feel for where it excels and where/what its achilles is. :D

  7. The BMCC is way better. If you can’t make the BMCC look clearly better than the 5D Mark III then you have no business shooting RAW. If you need to hire a professional colorist stick with a 5D. If you have a problem with the sensor size get the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 or get the MFT mount version with the 12mm SLR Magic F1.6. This camera can shoot good low light. I’ve played around with DNGs that looked unusable to a person unfamiliar with RAW grading and made it look fantastic. So much detail can be recovered in the highlights and shadow. The 5D can be a good B camera for tight shots, super wide shots in tight spaces or some other occasional uses.

    1. Author

      I appreciate you commenting – but I would encourage you to not be so harsh and judgmental. There are plenty of people learning here and to brand them as you have here. And you can’t just “fix” the sensor size by getting a different lens.

      1. There’s nothing to “fix”. You just choose the right lens for the right camera or sensor. Super16 and Super35 cameras have existed for a long time and they are not “full frame” (that’s more like the kinda prohibitive 70mm film).
        Almost every movie you’ve ever watched had to get their “lens sensor fix” because they were shot in Super16 (smaller sensitive area than the BMCC’s sensor) or Super35 (similar in size to APS-C sensors like those in the 7D or T2i). There will be a plethora of options for the MFT mount, which goes beyond the MFT line (it’s known for its wide adaptability). There’s no need to fix, you just got to have a bit of discernment.

    2. I agree but really, amateurs have no business shooting raw video anyway. Formats such as this are for people who hire a professional colorist in post. There are plenty of great amateur formats (such as dslr/h264) available. It’s very annoying hearing amateurs/enthusiasts opining about stuff that’s clearly not designed for them. It like me (a cinematographer) complaining about surgical equipment that i know nothing about.

  8. Oneriver as fancy as their video looks need to get their facts right. Dynamic range and bit depth are NOT linked. 12 bit doesnt mean the ability to see further into shadows and highlights, it just means the graduations between the cameras dynamic range are finer than 8 bit. In theory you could have a camera with just 1 stop of dynamic range but saved as 12 bit. Its still not going to see past the 1 stop of light.

  9. (BMCC was “ewww.” Altho clean and crisp)

    That can be correted in post….

    but not the other way around.

  10. In terms of the question in the title I see this camera as the BMCC as aimed more specifically at professional video shooters at the lower end or the market or higher end pros who don’t want to risk an $18K plus camera on certain shoots. The amazing thing about the DSLR is that it allows for high quality video and professional stills in one camera. Many professional filmmakers do not require the stills function for there work. I think full frame creates a sort of “epic” quality to the image which is not always what the story requires. For narrative drama, drama or doc work 16mm has a certain realistic quality which is some advantage. The key is in the storytelling anyway. I think cinematographers such as myself will enjoy the advantages of the expanded dynamic range. I plan to pick up a version of the BMCC this Spring unless another revolution at this price point occurs between then and now. I’ll also keep shooting stills and video with the 7D. A great camera that keeps on giving. Thanks for being an excellent resource Mitch!

  11. I think you are right Mitch, about it depending on the person.

    I feel the BMC camera is better than anything except very high end cinema cameras that I couldn’t even afford to rent :-) All video/TV cameras are beyond consideration at any price.

    I imagine I will keep shooting with 550Ds (T2i) and it will take some time before I’m confident with BMCC and workflow. I don’t shoot that often as editing takes so much longer than shooting. I’m not a cinematographer. I’m a filmmaker, so I can’t invest much in a camera. And I really love editing and grading, so ProRes, raw and Resolve are a big part of the deal.

    Philip Bloom’s Dungeness BCCC footage is the best I’ve seen. It’s the only footage I literally jumped up and down about. I know you can shoot blah stuff with this camera, but I’m with EOSHD – although I wouldn’t call it a DSLR killer – because I don’t even care :-) This is what I’ll be using. History of excitement: mini 35mm lens adaptors – 5D – 550D+MagicLantern – BMCC.

  12. great post. although i’m having a post production background. im glad i know what i do while shooting. havent had the need for raw in years since my workflow relies on ‘get it right in camera in the first place’. raw (but cropped) vs. fullframe ( w/ All i) is still kind of a big deal for me. just my 2 cents

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