Blackmagic Cinema Camera firmware update v1.2 released

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Blackmagic Cinema Camera - anamorphic rig

What’s new?

  • Timelapse interval recording
  • Canon lens F-stop display on the monitor
  • ExFAT file system support for SSD media
  • SDI output now supports RP-188 timecode

I’ve installed the update and here’s what I think…

This is an update I’d call necessary but not as much as I’d hoped for.

The most useful of the fixes is very welcome but absolutely basic – the display of F-stop for Canon EF lenses on the monitor.

BMCC firmware update version 1.2

ExFAT for camera media will be useful for those PC users who don’t use the Mac file system HFS. This means Windows will natively read and write to Blackmagic Cinema Camera SSDs rather than requiring a driver. However there’s still no option to format the media in-camera or even to delete individual clips!

The timelapse feature turns the camera into a stills camera which will record single raw or ProRes frames at intervals between 1-10 seconds or 1-10 minutes. It is a neat feature but I personally would use a stills camera for timelapse – they do stills better. The cinema camera is all about cinema.

SDI now supports the RP-188 timecode.

And that is all!

I have some suggestions for the next firmware update which I hope is more extensive.

The Camera Setting menu which is the 1st screen that comes up when you hit the menu button is half wasted. The camera ID, date and time take up the prime menu spot, the most frequently accessed space in the whole camera UI. They could have Recording Format, Dynamic Range, Frame Rate, ISO, White Balance and Shutter angle all on this first screen and you’d hardly ever need to go into one of the other tabs other than to adjust the monitor settings or audio.

Next biggest priority for me is to fix the black spots on very bright highlights in-camera. I am sure there is a way to do this in post but I haven’t found it yet. Shining a torch beam into the lens or pointing the camera at car headlights or the sun is a definite problem at the moment for me.

I’d like the ability to turn off or re-assign the single tap of the screen. Currently this brings up the metadata input screen and I don’t use it. It would be really nice to have the single tap programmable to other functions such as switching between film and video gamma on the display, or bringing up the focus assist.

Talking of focus assist, this magnification is activated with a double press of the screen and cannot be assigned to the physical ‘focus’ button. I am always bringing up the metadata by accident when trying to do a very fast double-tap for focus.

This magnification cannot be moved around the frame and only punches-in on the centre of the frame, so if your subject is not centred you have to move the camera, focus and then re-frame. It needs to be movable. It would be better as a picture-in-picture magic window at the corner of the display or in the centre like on the GH3 so that it doesn’t take up the whole screen. Even a focus confirmation box which goes red-yellow-green like on the Red Epic monitor would be handy.

The peaking function has no parameters for tuning it, for example setting the peaking colour or sensitivity like you can on a Sony NEX camera. Focus is a critical area of any camera so this should be top of the list!

Compatibility with some top EF lenses needs to be improved. Currently the 85mm F1.2L doesn’t even focus.

When changing recording formats sometimes the camera reboots but resets your aperture. So if your Canon F2.8 lens is set to F5.6 it goes to F2.8 after changing recording formats, I don’t see a reason why it should do this.

An anamorphic 4:3 mode I think is a must-have feature on this camera because the sensor is 4:3 itself and so all of it is not currently utilised to it’s full capability. I would love to see this. As well as the resolution gain, put a 2x anamorphic lens on a 4:3 sensor and you get a more dramatic result than 1.3x or 1.5x on a 16:9 sensor.

As mentioned above the ability to delete clips and format media in camera would really help in the field away from any laptop. A much smaller bug – if you are in raw and switch to ProRes you can’t enter playback to play raw clips any more, you have to switch the recording mode back to raw to view them in-camera.

It would be interesting to see if Blackmagic could implement a Red Epic style fan management too, which gains the fan up to top speed whilst not recording to dissipate heat and then slows the fan when record is hit to minimise background hiss.

By the way – the lack of these features do nothing to diminish my love of the image however, which is simply gorgeous.

Download the new firmware from Blackmagic

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British filmmaker and editor of EOSHD, Andrew works in Berlin on his own self funded filmmaking and video projects.

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