The Blackmagic Pocket Cam & 4k Cinema Camera

by planetmattLeave a Comment

NAB is looking very exciting and Blackmagic is aggressively adding to their repertoire of cameras. Remember, just last year this company dived headfirst into making their FIRST camera ever: an affordable cinema camera that could shoot RAW and have high dynamic range images. Dubbed early on as the mini Alexa, my BMCC (orded 6/1/12) JUST arrived. In fact I have not unboxed it yet and possibly for good reason, however I do see Blackmagic creating a niche of three camera lines. So let's look at them. And let's see what I should do with my new-but-not-so-new Cinema Camera.


1. The BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera (new)

  • $995
  • Small form factor, 355g, removable battery
  • 13 Stops DR, S16 sensor, crop 3.0
  • 1080P in lossless CinemaDNG RAW & ProRes 4:2:2
  • 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
  • MFT mount
  • Removable SDXC, SDHC cards
  • HDMI Video out, HDMI audio out (2 channels 48khz/24bit), 1×3.5mm analog audio input, USB 2.0

Addressing the sometimes bulky form factor of the original BMCC, this little guy fits snugly in the hand in the spirit of a point-and-shoot camera. Only this pocket camera comes packed with the ability to shoot lossless DNGCinema RAW. The color science and RAW capability of this little camera is amazing – it has the same look as the original BMCC. With the Micro Four Thirds mount you can add all types of vintage glass as well as S16mm glass without vignetting. This camera ships with Davinci Resolve Lite.

2. The Original Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC)

  • $2,995
  • 13 Stops of DR, 2.3 crop sensor
  • 2.5K in DNG RAW & 1080P in ProRes 4:2:2 and DNxHD
  • 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
  • EF and ZE (shipping) and passive MFT (not shipping) Mount
  • Non-removable internal battery
  • SSD removable media
  • SDI 10bit video out, 2 x 1/4″ analog audio, SDI audio out (4 channels) 1 x 3.5mm headphone out, Thunderbolt interface, USB 2.0
  • Full Copy of Davinci Resolve and UltraScope

This is the camera that started it all: small form factor, cheap price and dubbed a mini Arri Alexa. This Camera is now a year old and is JUST shipping to early pre-order adopters (such as myself). With included software totaling $1,500, the camera comes at a really nice price point.

3. Blackmagic Production Camera 4K (new)

  • $3,995
  • 12 Stops of DR, near s35mm sensor with Global Shutter
  • 4K in lossless CinemaDNG RAW & ProRes 4:2:2
  • 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p at 4k
  • 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p, 50i, 59.94i at 1080
  • EF and ZE compatible Mount
  • Non-removable internal battery, same body as the original BMCC
  • SSD removable media
  • 6G-SDI 10bit video out, 2 x 1/4″ analog audio, 6G-SDI audio out (2 channels) 1 x 3.5mm headphone out, Thunderbolt interface, USB 2.0
  • Full Copy of Davinci Resolve and UltraScope

This new Cinema Camera is hot. Just months ago people were saying a s35mm sensor with global shutter and RAW output could not be added to a camera under $10k. Blackmagic has achieved this and deserve their share of praise. Say good-bye to crop factor and embrace some nice DOF. And rolling shutter shear? Gone! This is an action camera for sure.

Conclusion:

The original BMCC and pocket camera appear to have the same sensor. This sensor has been tested and found to contain great color science and beautiful, smooth dynamic range with 13 stops. This is currently more than any DSLR on the market today. With the 4K cinema camera, an entire new sensor from a different manufacturer is being used. Adding global shutter has taken away one stop of DR but will we notice? John Brawley says the look is being preserved and will “certainly [be] better than most of the dSLR’s from what I can see.” The active image area is  21.12mm x 11.88mm which is very close to super 35mm (24.89 mm × 14mm). One final note, Brawley says the 4k cinema camera is a “smidge less sensitive in terms of ISO” than the original BMCC.

I also appreciate how Blackmagic is embracing some sort of lossless compression in the form of CinemaDNG. This will eliminate one tedious step in workflow for many people using the original BMCC, save SSD space and hard drive space. And hopefully we will see some more firmware updates for the BMCC soon.

So what do you think? 4k, RAW, s35mm, global shutter, up to 59.94 fps in 1080 for $4k. Seems pretty rocking to me. So much so that I have left my original BMCC in the unopened box. Should I sell it? Should I write Grant Petty and see if he'll allow me to trade it back in, similar to how RED has allowed their customers to do? I do not know. But things are changing. 4k is here to stay. Global shutter is a very valuable feature that future cameras will embrace. And the price point is still leagues under any other camera manufacturer. PERIOD.


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