April 08, 2013

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design keeps on keeps on disrupting the market with broadcast equipment at lower prices than the competition, and has done it again with two new cameras: The £665/$995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the £2,675/$3,995 4K Production Camera.

Both offer high quality lossless 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW and Apple ProRes recording, and lots of interesting features that should keep prospective buyers salivating until they ship in July.

It has only been a year since the launch of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, its first ever camera, which despite the low price, packed a lot of features into an innovative (if not always ergonomic) design. Blackmagic should be able to build on that with these new cameras, and at the price there won’t be many in the business that don’t want to give them a chance.

The HD Pocket Cinema Camera is being touted as a “true Super-16 digital film camera that's small enough to take anywhere” and promises 13 stops of dynamic range (which is almost as much as an Arri Alexa). There are two dynamic range settings: film Log, which is useful where you will be colour grading the image in post, such as with Blackmagic’s own, free DaVinci Resolve Lite; or video REC709, the normal broadcast video standard.

Is that the rear lens cap? - No, it's the Pocket Cinema Camera...
It will have an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount, so you can use it with almost any lens (via a wide range of adaptors) – it is powered so can provide electronic control of focus and iris.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera has most of the features of its older brother, including its feature film look, but has been redesigned with a dramatically smaller size that is less than an inch thick and at 355 grams can be held easily in your hand, and looks like a small mirrorless stills camera.

The company says that it’s so small that “it can be used in situations in the field where a larger camera could be dangerous,” such as war zones.

The camera records full HD resolution at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 frames per second to small, low-cost SD cards.

There is a built-in 3.5-inch LCD screen (with one-to-one focus assist), a built-in microphone (plus a mini-jack connector for external mic/line level balanced audio connections), built-in speaker, plus headphone port, and micro HDMI output - which includes an overlay of all camera data such as timecode, transport control, shutter angle, colour temperature setting and ASA information. 

It also has LANC remote control and standard DC 12v power connection. It also uses a replaceable, rechargeable lithium ion Nikon EL-EN20 battery (providing about an hour running time) that you can easily get at (something that couldn’t be said of its predecessor).

“Our original Blackmagic Cinema Camera was small, but this new model is so much smaller than the original, we almost cannot believe it features very similar image quality,” said Blackmagic Design’s CEO, Grant Petty. “It’s going to allow shooting in situations that could never have been achieved at this quality level previously. It’s also going to be the camera that thousands of new up and coming cinematographers use as their first camera for their independent films.”

Also newly announced is the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, which is about a third of the price of any comparable camera (such as Sony’s Super35mm NEX-FS700 or the full-frame 35mm Canon EOS 1D C DSLR). Like them it has a larger sensor than the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera, in this case a Super35mm size sensor, but in a package that is virtually identical to its existing existing Micro Four Thirds model. It also has a professional global shutter (so no rolling shutter effects), and an EF lens mount compatible with many lenses from Canon, Zeiss and others, with full electronic control.

It records high quality compressed CinemaDNG RAW and ProRes 422 (HQ) files in 4K, and, significantly, also supports the new 6G-SDI single-cable video connection out so it can be used on live video production, which could make it useful for broadcast use, where it can plug into an ATEM Production Studio 4K (also by Blackmagic – costing £1,345 so you can put together a low-cost live 4K production package). If you want to output in HD, you can reframe or zoom into shots in post without quality loss. It supports Ultra HD (4K – 3840x2160 pixels) and 1080 HD resolution capture at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30fps.

There is a high-resolution 5-inch LCD touchscreen, which shows settings such as shutter speed, colour temperature, aperture and timecode in an easily read status strip.

Menus are accessible with a touch of the finger, making it simple to change settings such as recording format or shutter angle. The touchscreen also allows you to enter metadata that is compatible with popular video editing software, including Final Cut Pro X.

It uses a built-in high-speed solid-state drive recorder. Once the shoot has wrapped, the 2.5-inch SSD can be connected to a computer for editing or colour correction of the shots straight from the disk, which can be formatted in either HFS+ or ExFAT for Mac or Windows compatibility.

Besides the regular CinemaDNG RAW format, Blackmagic Design will also implement a QuickTime wrapper for the open standard CinemaDNG and companion codec, allowing the camera to record in a format that allows RAW editing in popular editing software.

It offers 12 stops of dynamic range, which is about the same as Canon’s C300 HD camcorder, and it includes DaVinci Resolve colour grading software (newly upgraded to version 10 and normally $995) to make the most of it.

It includes a built-in Thunderbolt port and UltraScope software for real time waveform monitoring. For audio there are two 1/4-inch jack mic/line inputs, as well as a 3.5mm headphone socket, 12v to 30v DC input and LANC remote control.

“Customers have been asking us to design a camera with global shutter and a large sensor. With the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K we have delivered that, plus the high resolution needed for the latest Ultra HD production work,” said Petty.

By David Fox

1 comment:

  1. Superb post! I have a great liking for cameras and photography and from this i come to know about a new Black magic Pocket Cinema Camera . Thx for the info i am definitely going to buy this camera

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