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BlackMagic Surprises With Cinema Camera Announcement

DP’s are probably aware of Blackmagic Design’s capture and playback devices such as the HyperDeck Studio or UltraStudio SDI. They may have even heard of their Davinci Resolve color grading software. But I don’t think anyone expected Blackmagic to announce a digital camera, which is what they did yesterday at NAB.

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera features:

• Super wide 13 stops of dynamic range allows capture of increased details for feature film look.

• High resolution 2.5K sensor allows improved anti aliasing and reframing shots.

• Built in SSD allows high bandwidth recording of RAW video and long duration compressed video, capturing open standard CinemaDNG RAW, ProRes and DNxHD files.

• Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software such as CinemaDNG 12 bit RAW, Avid DNxHD and Apple ProRes. No custom file formats.

• Standard jack mic/line audio in, BNC 3 Gb/s SDI out, headphone, Thunderbolt, LANC remote control and standard DC 12-30V power connection.

• Capacitive touch screen LCD for camera settings and “slate” metadata entry.

• Compatible with extremely high quality Canon EF and Zeiss ZF lenses.

• Refrigerated sensor for low noise.

• Supports 2.5K and 1080HD resolution capture in 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps.

• Thunderbolt connection allows direct camera capture via included Media Express software and supports live waveform monitoring via the included Blackmagic Design UltraScope software.

• 3 Gb/s SDI output.

• Includes a full copy of DaVinci Resolve 9.0 color grading software.

Just looking over the feature list is intriguing, but there are a couple of things to be aware of; it’s not a Super35 or Full frame sensor, but reportedly the sensor is 15.6 mm x 8.8 mm. Compare that with the Sony NEX-FS100 which is 23.6mm x 13.3mm. So you won’t get the super shallow depth-of-field you can get with the Super35 cameras. On the other hand, at $3,000, it’s $2,000 cheaper than the NEX-FS100.

The other thing to wonder about is the performance of the sensor. At 2.5K it closely matches the resolution of a 1920 x 1080 frame, so aliasing and moiré will hopefully be minimal. The real question will be: how does it perform in low-light?

And while the camera offers some interesting connections (Thunderbolt!), uncompressed recording to SSD’s, a large LCD screen and Canon EF and Zeiss ZF mount compatibility, operationally it may be a little more like a DSLR than the NEX-FS100. It seems certain that you’ll want to use it in some kind of rig.

Since it lacks 4K, and the high-frame rates of the NEX-FS700, another real question is; will it compete with the Canon 5D Mark III, the NEX-FS100 and Panasonic AG-Af100, or carve out it’s own niche? With an expected ship date of July, we should know soon.

John Brawley has posted some clips shot with an early build of the camera: John Brawley Vimeo

On the beach, I shot these clips watching the sun go down and into night. There are a lot of colour changes and the clips are in and out of order here. It was a beautiful sunset and the colours were changing very quickly. Night here was 1600 ISO with a 360 deg shutter. Lighting by LCD screen and tally light !

And finally,  if you don’t already own Davinci Resolve, you’re almost getting the camera for $2,000!


Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Cinema Camera product page

Blackmagic Cinema Camera
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