Sunday, April 29, 2012

Black Magic Design's new Camera

Post contributed by Stuart Hohl -

Is The New Black Magic Design Cinema Camera All It Appears To Be?
  Filmmakers have had an exciting time as more and more information about the new BMD Cinema Camera has come out in the past month. We’re slowly starting to see some images produced on some of their prototype cameras and preorders have gone through the roof.
  First off, what’s so exciting about this camera? Well, the tech specs are pretty impressive:
  • Raw Resolution: 12-bit RAW files recorded at 2432 x 1366
  • Shooting Resolution2.5K RAW at 2432 x 1366. ProRes and DNxHD at 1920 x 1080
  • Frame Rates: 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p 
  • Sensor Size: 16.64 mm x 14.04 mm
  •  Dynamic Range: 13 stops
What’s more impressive is the price: $3,000! Most cameras shooting RAW footage cost at least 4 times that much or more. But is it too good to be true?
 Well, that depends on what you’re using it for. It may not be very effective for production companies but for an indie filmmaker then it may be a great choice. There are some cons that may make a competitor like the Red Scarlet more attractive: first, it has an internal battery. This is an issue because on long shoot you have to be tethered to some sort of power supply - also, replacing an aging battery will become more difficult; second, there's o reference or time code input available (This becomes an issue on multi-cam shoots where you would want to synchronize footage to make life easier in postproduction. Also, it may make life harder if you want to synchronize audio as even one frame off can be a pain to fix and half a frame would be a nightmare); third, no XLR input for audio (It does have ports for similar cables, but that’s either new cables or an adapter for many filmmakers).
  So, how does it compare to say the Canon 7d, a favorite of indie-filmmakers? It’s twice the price but the bonus with the BMD is that you can shoot RAW footage and don’t have to deal with the h.264 compression codec and 4:2:0 color of the 7d. It means that your video is suddenly more true and versatile than a Canon 7d. However, functionality is about the same in that a multicam shoot with a BMD is just as difficult as with a 7d. Also the BMD has 13 stops of dynamic range as compared to the ~8 of the 7d which means that your depth of field will always be better with the BMD.
  The verdict? To buy or not to buy? I say that if you are trying to make compelling, gorgeous video without needing a multicam shoot and are willing to ignore the internal battery issue, then go with the BMD. For $3,000 no one can compete with the price point and provide uncompressed video. If you are not worried about compression or portability is key to you then the 7d (or similar camera) may be a better or choice for you. Right now, the BMD looks great and I’m excited to see what this level of competition does to the DSLR and RAW video markets.

For some initial footage with a BMD prototype go here.

Sources - BlackMagic Design product info

BJB - some minor editing

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