At NAB 2012, a little post production equipment company surprised the world when they introduced one of the first small form factor cameras capable of recording RAW images. The Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera was a mighty promise for filmmakers – but production delays (which involved the supply of a third party component) meant the Cinema camera was off to a rather bumpy start. But if you’ve since dismissed the Australian company, now may be the time to take another look as Blackmagic announced two new lines that fill in the gaps that camera spec jockeys have been arguing about for the past year.
Blackmagic Production Camera
This is it folks: 4K for $4K – the Production Camera is capable of capturing a UltraHD (3840×2160) image at a maximum of 30fps onto SSD drives either in ProRes 4K or CinemaDNG 4K (Raw). The Production Camera sports a new Super-35mm sized sensor (comparable to APS-C like the Canon 7D) which is more familiar to cinematographers than the slightly larger than Micro 4/3rds of the Cinema Camera. A new and exciting feature is the Global Shutter – gone is the Jello-effect of Rolling Shutter that has plagued traditional CMOS sensors (I saw a Canon 1D-C demo and the rolling shutter on that camera was quite obnoxious). Because of the Global Shutter you will be losing one stop of dynamic range – but the camera still sports a humongous 12 stops when shooting in the LOG setting and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
I was told the camera would also be able to record in 1080 mode in ProRes HD – this would be a great alternative when you still want the dynamic range of these cameras, without the 4K overhead required. The Production camera currently comes with an active Cannon EF Mount (which means it can control the electronic aperture of Canon lenses).
The Production Camera will begin shipping in July for $3995.
You can read up on more specs at the Blackmagic Design Production Camera site.
The Pocket Cinema Camera
Say you like the ergomics of your iPhone but you really want something capable of shooting really great video. The Pocket Cinema Camera is it. The components are packed into a body that’s not much larger than a smart phone – perhaps not the best ergonomically but its size and shape can get the camera in small places where no larger camera can go. Sporting a Super 16mm sensor (which is half the size of the Production camera and a little smaller than the 4/3rds-ish size Cinema Camera), the Pocket Cinema Camera shoots 13 stops HD video in either ProRes or RAW onto SD cards. Unlike both the Cinema Camera and Production Camera, the Pocket Cinema has a removable battery. The Pocket Cinema will be availabe in July 2013 at a price of $995.
See more about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera on their site.
The Cameras themselves are just part of Blackmagic’s strategy – let’s not forget that the company is in the business of post-production products. This year saw their introduction of the ATEM Production Studio 4K – a switcher capable of handling 4K footage from multiple cameras (including… wait for it… the Blackmagic Production Camera). Another interesting addition to their product line is the SmartScope Duo – a simple waveform monitoring solution available for $995.
This year’s NAB is seeing the large camera manufacturers like Sony, Canon, and Red trying to court more of the high end markets with their camera offerings and updates. Blackmagic Design seems to be trying to service the smaller and medium productions with their cameras. Obviously, these cameras have yet to be battle tested, but footage from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera has really been nothing short of gorgeous. The Production Camera seems to answer the nagging issue of sensor size that shrouded the Cinema Camera.
If nothing else, you need to keep an eye out for Blackmagic Design.