Tools

Slugline. Simple, elegant screenwriting.

Red Giant Color Suite, with Magic Bullet Looks 2.5 and Colorista II

Needables
  • Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz
Monday
Apr082013

Blackmagic's New Cameras

Blackmagic Design announced today what was leaked last night—two new cameras.

The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is a “4K for $4K” update to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Same not-quite-ideal-but-who-cares form factor, but now with a Super35 4K sensor with a global shutter. It’s priced at $3,995, and is available for pre-order at B&H.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera would easily be mistaken for a Sony NEX5 or Panasonic GH1. It’s tiny, solid, and a joy to hold—even before you realize that it has a 1920x1080 Super-16 sensor with 13 stops of dynamic range, an active MFT mount. Also available for preorder at B&H for the is-there-a-zero-missing price of $995.

I’m told that the reson Blackmagic isn’t touting the dynamic range of the 4K camera is that it’s about a stop less than that of the Pocket. Aparently that’s the cost of the global shutter.

Both cameras shoot Cinema DNG (lossy compressed even, in the case of the 4K model), ProRes (which I bet will be the more popular choice), and are said to ship in July.

Will they ship on time? One has to hope that Blackmagic has learned a lot from their production issues with the original BMC. But even late and in short supply, these cameras will shake up the market.

This makes the subject of my SuperMeet talk tomorrow—Digital Cinematography - What do we do now that we’ve won?—all the more appropriate. I’ll be talking about the origins of BulletProof, and how important it is now that camera manufacturers are finally bending over backwards to build exactly what we need, at a price we can afford.

Reader Comments (8)

Saw a interview on dslrnewsshooter.com where the guy said the pocket camera only shoots pro res 422 not raw DNG as the sd cards can't handle the data rate. raw is only in the other two cameras.

April 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterScott Wharram

Scott,

John Brawley addresses the raw DNG issue on pocket and 4K and much more:
The pocket rocket…Blackmagic downsizes the BMCC and does a 4K upsize of the orginal !

April 8, 2013 | Registered Commentertest

I'm as excited about this as the next guy, but, to induce some caution...

The 3 most important bits of information from the John Brawley post linked above:

* the 4K camera won't record RAW initially; it may do so through a firmware update; the pocket cam doesn't record RAW yet either, but it will do so when it starts shipping

* the pocket cam has a 2.9x crop sensor, the 4K cam has a 1.7x crop sensor

* "compressed RAW" means lossless huffman-coded 1.5:1 to 1.2:1 compression, so the datarate will be huge: 225 MB/s for the production camera and 53 MB/s for the pocket camera (and those MB are megabytes)

Also, if the sensor in the 4K camera is the CMV12000 (everything points to that, except the active area measurements that John Brawley cites), then DR may be problematic: natively, it only has 8-10 stops of DR (my measure - their spec); you can get it up to 13-15 by using the HDR mode, but this has the motion-artifacts issues of RED's HDRx mode (luckily, it dowsn't have any of the workflow issues). On the plus side, without an OLPF, that sensor is really really really sharp (sharper than a 5K still from my NEX-5N). And it could also shoot 90 fps, if BlackMagic's ASIC allowed for that.

April 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterSamuel H

The active area issue is solved (John Brawley quoted the figure for UHD, not 4K), now I'm 99.99% percent sure the cmosis CMV12000.

And the CMV12000 is a damn good sensor. With some damn awful downsides.

It has great color, it is 4K, and it is very, very sharp; sharper than a 5K still from my NEX-5N: pic
It can also do 90fps at full resolution, but the ASIC in the BMC-4K won't allow you to use that, the camera will only give you 30p.

The downsides:

* ISO: I only had one week to play with the sensor, but I couldn't get the analog gain to work properly. If BMD solved that issue, the camera may offer ISO 200-400-800. If it is a sensor issue, it will be only ISO 200. And those are my kind-of-optimistic numbers, it could be "100-200-400" and "only 100". Wait and see, but I think this camera will have to be exposed for basically as if it was shooting film.

April 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterSamuel H

* DR: cmosis claims 60db, which means 10 stops, but I ran my usual DR tests with it, and I came with just about 8 stops. With the same methodology that gives me 11.7 stops on the D800 or 11.3 with a T2i, which many people say is very optimistic. There are several HDR modes in the sensor, but they all have the same downside: they create motion artifacts in the highlights. If they're recording 4K, I guess BMD went for the same method I was planning to use: piecewise linear exposure. This method eats part of the sensor's DR (e.g. one stop) and expands it with one or two shorter exposures. So, instead of 8 stops at 1/50s shutter, you can get 7 stops at 1/50s, plus, say, another 5 stops at up to 1/1600s. Areas of the image exposed on this extended DR will show no motion blur at all, and may be subject to things like flicker, etc. It is basically like RED's HDRx, but without all the workflow issues (bitrate is not doubled, and there's no need to mix two datastreams in post). This means that you don't want to use this expanded DR to record your main subject: you want to use your regular 7 stops for your subject, and you'll have 5 extra stops of headroom in the highlights. Don't try to push up the shadows in post, though: there's nothing there. Again: this camera will have to have to be exposed for basically as if it was shooting film.

On the plus side, BMD may have found workarounds for these issues, they surely have much better engineers than me! :)
(I'm also designing a camera based on this sensor; I'd rate my chance of success at around 5%; mine would be more expensive, but it would do 90fps and record CineForm RAW, so I think I still have a market in the very unlikely event that I succeed...)

April 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterSamuel H

Both cameras will record raw from day one of their availability, according to the Blackmagic Design reps I just spoke with. 4K is lossy compression DNG, Pocket = lossless.

I don't understand why caution is warranted with regard to the crop factors—those are the crop factors for Super 35 and Super 16, when compared to a full-frame SLR.

April 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterStu

Great to hear about RAW recording from day one! Got misled by the JB post, then.

Caution about sensor size is because Initially I was under the impression that the pocket BMC had the same sensor as the original BMC, but it is in fact smaller. Not a huge difference, I know. And probably my fault anyway, if nobody else was thinking that.

April 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterSamuel H

The best part of NAB hands down this camera weight is 355 grams You can rig it with anything anywhere. It would really riock as a gopro killer if it had global shutter as well

April 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterAndrew Waldron
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