Popular Post crevice Posted August 14, 2019 Popular Post Share Posted August 14, 2019 Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera Super Guide and Why it Still Matters Today The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera was released in 2012. At the rate that cameras are being announced these days, that’s a century ago in the consumer/prosumer world. The camera was released with very little fanfare as it didn’t have a monitor and was marketed as a great companion to drones, head cams, dash cams, sport cams, etc. Some people rigged it up, but for the most part it wasn’t exactly the most popular camera at the time. Though I keep speaking in past tense, this camera is still available to buy today - though with the Pocket 4k and 6k on the market - it’s very unlikely anybody is buying them. As we enter the most competitive market ever for the low/mid tier videographer and filmmaker, I am here to tell why this small unassuming - and rather ancient by todays standards - camera is special and why it could fit well with some of you. This guide is meant to be a fun way to explore a hidden gem, not to cause a spec war, fanboy war, or any kind of mean spirited debate. It is just an opinion of one person, but something that I have been thinking about doing for awhile. Lets get into. Brief History The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera shares the same sensor as it’s older cousin, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. A camera that truly revolutionized the filmmaking world, by giving filmmakers that didn’t have the cash to buy expensive cinema gear a camera that had an amazing cinematic and filmic quality to it. Something that wasn’t found in DSLRs at the time with not only the film look, but also specs. The camera could record internal RAW at a price point that was and still is unheard of. But the camera suffered from many issues. The screen was garbage, there was a lot FPN issues, and most notably the battery life was straight up horrible. Batteries would last around 20 minutes and often times much less. The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera shares the same sensor as the original pocket. Its’ a sensor created by Fairchild Imaging, with a sensor called the CIS1910F. Fairchild are a company based out of San Jose, CA. They have created several sensors for Blackmagic, but I believe the new sensors of the Pocket 4k/6k are now Sony sensors. The sensor is important in this guide, because thats where the special sauce lies. Blackmagic Micro Differences to Pocket The Blackmagic at first glance seems like a stripped down original Blackmagic pocket. The thing is, it actually cleaned up quite a bit inside the hood. The micro received a new more modern processor, allowing it to clean up some FPN issues and improved rolling shutter. Though not a low light beast, it handles things generally better all the way around compared to the Pocket. When using a monitor, accessing the menus though tedious with its button placement, is much more responsive - where the pocket was a lag fest. Here is where we get to the good stuff. The micro cinema camera on paper and at first glance seems like a bit of a letdown. No monitor? No cold shoe? No handle? Canon Batteries? But, thats because of how Blackmagic marketed it. They didn’t market it like how Red or Zcam do it, which is a modular camera with a build your own adventure way to build it. They didn't even really offer accessories for it. But that is how it needs to be looked at. You get a brain and you need to add accessories, there is no way around it. But building around it is not as daunting as most people make it seem and once you take the step, you really unlock something special. Whats the Point of This and What Makes this Camera Special? I am going to use some overused/misused terminology here to explain how the footage looks and what makes it special. In a current era where modern sensors show every single pore and are mostly made by Sony (with insane modern feats) - there is an organic look about the early Blackmagic cameras (BMMCC, BMPCC, BMCC) that is special and has a very film like look to it, which is what Blackmagic set out to achieve and emulate. This is going back to Fairchild and what they were able to achieve. The look that is ever so popular with almost every young filmmaker and over used on almost every filmmakers youtube titles - which is a ”cinematic or film look”. Yeah, I know, you want to argue its lighting and lenses and actual cinematography skills that achieves that. You are right. But there are still more tangible attributes besides that which can affect the way a video looks. Color science, DR, a soft look, and motion cadence are 4 keys to getting that look. If you can nail all of those, you get a rather easy filmic/cinematic look out the box. And the Blackmagic micro has all of those and is really the last Blackmagic camera to ever use one of those organic sensors that Fairchild brewed up. It’s also the last and only Blackmagic camera that you are able to buy today that has one of those most special sensors every created for its cheap price and accessibility. . It is a hidden gem and footage from the camera are often confused for cameras way out of its league. It’s a look that modern mirrorless cameras don’t often have, at least not without heavy film grain, pro mist filters, vintage glass, added motion blur, etc. What makes this camera special is not on the spec sheet, because 1080p isn’t going to making you excited. It’s not on the paper that will make you go “wow”. It’s simply with the footage. You can throw all the specs you want. The footage of this camera and the fact that it’s still available today new and very cheap used, is the reason for this entire guide. Keys To Rigging You need a cage and an external monitor. There is no way around this. If you don’t purchase or have those, there is no point exploring further. Remember, like I briefly mentioned above - don’t think drone cam or sports cam - think modular RAW capable cinema cam. Smallrig and 8sinn both make cages for it, I have the smallrig and don’t see why you would need anything else. Take your pick with monitor, that is a personal choice, but I prefer something with Sony style NPF batteries. If you only shoot RAW with this camera (which is what I do) - then you can basically set your settings and forget them. I would leave your ISO at 800 and manage your light with your lens aperture and variable ND Filter. There is no need to go into any menus, other than to possibly reformat your memory card. If you do that, you avoid the headache which is the awkward placement on the menu buttons. If you shoot pro-res and you want to constantly change settings (ISO, WB, etc) then you will need to either get used to the buttons or buy a second hand “One Little Remote”. Which is a little add on module that can help you change your cameras settings without menu diving. For battery, you can use canon batteries for about an hour/hour half before it dies. Or choose the best option, which is to buy the NPF bridge (https://www.starvingartist101.com) which allows you to simply attach NPF style batteries to the camera. With this option you can get around 4 hours of battery life on 1 charge or even longer if you opt for the larger style NPF batteries. A monitor most people already have. And if you shoot RAW, which is kind of what makes this camera special and what I recommend using, then you don’t need to menu dive or you can simply use the one little remote. And if you use NPF batteries you now have a cinema camera that doesn’t require v-mount batteries and can shoot RAW video for about 4 hours. All in an insanely small package with amazing footage. I think thats what gets lost with this camera is that people complain about having to rig it up - but a lot of the add ons are either pretty cheap or you already have. The NPF bridge is around 30 bucks. Cage from smallrig is around $80. The monitor you prob already have. You really don’t need the one little remote if you shoot RAW or get used to the menus. Memory Cards If there is one legit complaint, its that newer sandisks memory cards do not work with this camera. Here is the scoop: “Please note that we have discovered an issue with the newer revision of the Sandisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXC 95 MB/s cards that begin with the product prefix SDSDXXG. These cards do not work with the following products: 1. Pocket Cinema Camera 2. Micro Cinema Camera 3. Video Assist 4. Video Assist 4K We believe that these new cards have the V30 rating on them. Currently, only Sandisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXC 95 MB/s cards that begin with the product prefix SDSDXP are compatible.” Though that sucks, good news is that if you have a sandisk pre 2018, it should work. Also there are non sandisk cards that do work. I have tested this one for example: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X1406EC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and it works fine and with RAW. It is still something that you should be aware of. I got lucky and all my sandisks work. Speedbooster There is a dedicated speedbooster for this camera in Nikon or Canon variant. Its called Nikon G to BMPCC or Canon EF to BMPCC. There is a “T” version that has minor improvements, especially to the felt material inside. There are other speedboosters for micro four thirds that will work as well. Viltrox speedboosters also work. The difference is that the specific BMPCC version gives you a 0.58x vs x0.71 or higher crop factor. Resolution Let us now address the elephant in the room. This camera does not shoot 4k. If you want a camera that shoots 4k, this is not it, simple as that. But, if you are a person that cares more about the image quality than the resolution, you won’t be disappointed. But lets say you really do want 4k, well, there is another hidden gem that takes this camera one step further. Inside Davinci Resolve is a feature called “superscale” which upscales footage beautifully. And scaled micro cinema footage to UHD/4K looks fantastic. See Rob Ellis' beautiful video on this: Also even if you need 4k for certain projects, this camera should still be in your arsenal. It’s cheap enough where you can have it along side something like a pocket 4k/6k. Again, the footage speaks for itself. IR Cut and Moire I highly recommend using an IR Cut filter with this camera as there is some IR pollution that can affect your image if you dont use one. You can find some for as cheap as 20-30 bucks. There are also some moire filters, like the RAWLITE OLPF, that does IR CUT and reduces moire at the same time. You install this over the sensor and you dont have to worry about using filters, but it's costly. I don’t have too much of an issue with moire - so for most a simple IR Cut filter could be enough. Where to Buy You can still buy these new today. But you can score amazing kits on ebay, craigslist, etc. You can often find one with a one little remote, cage, and even memory cards for under $700. Some will even include a monitor. You can legit get a full kit for $1,000 - including every thing you need to shoot and rig it up. Conclusion (TL;DR) I made this post because I am a junky of sorts. I buy all the new cameras, fall into the hype traps, and have severe GAS. Every camera I have used lately has left me with a “meh” feeling. Except the micro. Specs can be great, some have amazing autofucus or great color. Some have shit color and shit bitrates. Some are great but the lens system and adapting to it are a pain. And some are plain beautiful but are really expensive. The micro has a rare balance of amazing filmic quality, a lens mount that most of us on here are well aware of at this point, fantastic battery life of around 4 hours with NPF batteries, compact size, legit RAW (not BRAW) to internal SD cards instead of expensive cfast or having an SSD hanging from your camera and its cheap. Ridiculously cheap if you buy used. It also has that old blackmagic special look so many of us fell in love with back in the day and in my opinion is lacking today. It is a hidden treasure in the filmmaking world that is still available new at many retailers. I created this to share and possibly open eyes to what is an amazing camera this is and probably the last of its breed. As we enter the resolution wars with sharper, high res videos, we will slowly be leaving behind that soft organic look. If you like shooting older cameras with vintage glass to get that "look" then you can think of this camera the same way. You do it for the look, not for the specs. Bonus: Footage!!! Here is some great content that I believe shows off this camera and what is capable of doing (All the footage from his reel at the start of this video are from the micro) Patrick B., thephoenix, Katrikura and 9 others 7 5 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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