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Black Magic Cinema Camera

First of all I am going to show you the cameras spec as it was this that first got me interested in the camera.

Active Sensor Resolution – 2432 x 1366
Raw Resolutionv – 12-bit RAW files recorded at 2432 x 1366
Shooting Resolutions – 2.5K RAW at 2432 x 1366 & ProRes and DnxHD at 1920 x 1080
Frame Rates – 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p 30p
Active Sensor Size – 15.81mmx8.88mm
Dynamic Range – 13 Stops
Lens Mount – EF and ZE mount/Passive Micro Four Thirds
Screen size – 5”
Screen type – LCD Capacitive touchscreen
Power – Integrated Lithium-ion Polymer Battery
Battery Life – 90 minutes
Storage type – Removable 2.5” SSD
Storage Format – Mac OS Extended format
Storage Rates – 5MB/frame in RAW 2.5K % Compressed HD formats fit more than 5 times the amount of RAW video.
SDI Video Output – 1x 10-bit HD-SDI 4:2:2
Analog Audio Input – 2x 1/4” balanced jacks
Software included – DaVinci Resolve grading software
Cost – £2,200.00 Approx.

Looking at the spec you would think it’s going to be a fantastic camera, you would be right but there are a few little niggles that would make your life that little bit harder. Lets go through them –

1. The sensor – It’s fantastic that you can get 2.5K, 12-bit RAW video files from a camera that only costs £2,200 but because it is a small sensor the crop factor is huge at 2.4. The diagram to the right shows the difference between the various sensor sizes and when you think a Canon 5D MK111 has a Super 35mm sensor with no crop factor it soon becomes obvious how small the Black Magic Cinema Camera’s sensor is (shown in orange).

2. Frame rates – This one isn’t a biggy and at this price point you can’t really complain but I thought it was worth a mention. The Black Magic Cinema Camera’s frame rate tops out at 30p which is a lot lower than many of its competitors and renders it pretty much useless for any slow motion work.

3. The screen – It is incredibly reflective and can be hard to see your exposure on a bright day. it does come with a sun hood but nothing beats a viewfinder! Third party products are available such as the Zacuto EVF.

4. The battery – Oh dear! A professional cinema camera with an integrated battery, this is bizarre especially as the battery only last approximately 90 minutes. Third party battery systems are available but it’s all hassle.

5. Camera display – At the time of release the camera does not display what f stop you are using on the screen, I imagine this will be included in a firmware update but if your wanting to be precise it would be a pain.

6. Audio Input – Jacks? For a professional camera this is a strange choice, I know that XLRs are larger and wouldn’t have fitted within the camera body but they are standard.

This blog has been a little negative so far so I’ll look to the positives for a minute. The camera has 13 stops of dynamic range which is incredible and the images look beautiful, it only costs £2,200 which is cheaper than a Canon 5D MK111, it records at 2.5K, records in very good formats and it ships with DaVinci Resolve which is a very good piece of grading software.

Conclusion

This camera is very frustrating, the images it captures are beautiful but you have to jump through many hoops, have a lot of space if you want a wide shot and put up with little annoying things that shouldn’t really be a problem in the first place.

Will

November 2012