April 13, 2015

Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design has announced what it claims is “the world’s smallest digital film action camera.” It also boasts an “innovative remote control”. The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera has a Super 16mm-size sensor (12.48mm x 7.02mm) with 13 stops of dynamic range plus a new expansion port that provides access to many of the camera’s functions via widely-used wireless remote control systems, such as those for model aircraft. It will be available in July for $995/£709/€1179.

The expansion port features PWM and S.Bus connections that are used on model aircraft remote control gear for connecting to servos to control the aircraft. Such systems cost little as they are consumer hobby products and feature multiple “channels” that can be connected direct to the camera itself. These channels can be mapped to any camera or lens setting (such as iris, focus, audio levels, and start and stop recording) and then remote controlled via the radio controller. Because a standard, easy-to-solder DB-HD15 connector is used, even simple wire cables and switches can be created for controlling the cameras.

The expansion port includes composite video out with overlays allowing use of the same low cost video transmitters to give real-time feedback from the camera for framing, confirming camera settings and to see the state of recording.

The expansion connector includes four PWM channels for using all brands of control gear, or custom wiring, as well as a single (more modern) S.Bus connection which can accept up to 18 channels of control using a single cable. S.Bus is commonly found on Futaba and FrSky radio control equipment and can also be used to design custom embedded controllers.

The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera can be mounted in cars or on walls and controlled directly from buttons on the front of the camera itself. This means customers don’t need to reach around the back of the camera to start recording, and a front mounted tally LED shows that it is recording.

Its body is not much larger than its Micro Four Thirds lens mount, making it as small as a camera with a professional lens can be. Its core is lightweight magnesium alloy, so it’s durable enough to use anywhere, from the ocean floor to the stratosphere or beyond. It is perfect for use on quadcopters or drones, or as a crash cam, or can be hidden on set for reality TV.

It has a global shutter that can expose the entire image at once, to avoid the skew caused by rolling shutters common on almost all small cameras - although it also has a rolling shutter that doubles the frame rate (from 24/25/30 to 50/60).

Its built-in recorder saves lossless 12-bit log CinemaDNG Raw (520Mbps at 30p) and broadcast quality Apple ProRes (up to 220Mbps at 30p) files, both of which can be easily edited and colour corrected with the included DaVinci Resolve Lite for Mac and Windows.

“The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera is the smallest and most expandable digital film camera in the world,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “For the first time, customers will be able to get incredible action and point of view shots that look better than anything they’ve ever seen before. The new expansion port allowing radio remote control is exciting because it opens up entirely new shooting possibilities that will let customers shoot things they’ve never been able to shoot before!”

  • 1080p HD, with 13 stops of dynamic range
  • Switchable 60 frames per second rolling shutter or 30fps global shutter
  • 12-bit Raw and ProRes recording
  • Active Micro Four Thirds lens mount - adaptable to other lens mounts
  • Expansion port with DB-HD15 connector and breakout cable
  • HDMI connector for monitoring
  • SD card slot for recording to low-cost SD media
  • 3.5mm stereo input for external microphones or other line level devices
  • Built in stereo microphones
  • Weight: 10.65oz/300g 
  • Canon battery (LP-E6) compatible plus 12v power via DC jack on expansion cable
Related story: Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K is “world’s smallest Ultra HD live studio camera”

By David Fox

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