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Blackmagic Micro Cinema Super Guide and Why It Still Matters

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56 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Does the Production 4K not potentially represent a sweet spot for what you're after?

EF, Super35, ProRes, Global Shutter, cheap media and the majority of the stuff I've seen shot with it properly looks pretty compelling.

Odd but not insurmountable ergonomics.

The price the two systems change hands for used now means you might even make a small profit swapping out the Micro for one or at least break even.

Yeah, the Production 4K is a nice camera but I don’t know if it’s worth a swap from the BMMCC. As much as the crop factor annoys me, there are some benefits with some c-mount lenses I own.

I think my point was that I think minimalism is underrated around here and in my equipment closet. For some, if you have the need, or the means, why not have a few cameras and a slew of lenses... I probably would if I was in that situation but I’m not. I’m a hobbyist that have always wanted to make movies.

I’d love to get an FP, but it would be a second camera right now. I feel the same way about the S1H. It’s an amazing camera, and in some ways it would probably be more fun to shoot with than my 5D3.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just easily impressed, but I am still enamored with the images I am getting from my 5D3 and ML Raw and I don’t feel I’m missing out on any IQ based on any newer cameras on the market... that I can afford.

In fact, unless the ML team has a breakthrough with the 5D4 or EOS-R, I could see myself going straight to a proper cinema camera after my 5D3 runs its course... barring any surprises from Canon... 1DX Mark III or the 5D5.

With that being said, and to stay on topic... I think the Micro is an amazing little camera, so I am going to keep it for a bit longer and give it a fair chance, with my sensibilities, before I sell it... unless a quick and easy and profitable sale comes my way from this thread. Lol.

Btw, did you get an FP yet? If so, what do you think? I think you mentioned this before, and I agree, the FP seems like a full frame, spiritual successor to the Micro... with the a screen. 

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8 minutes ago, mercer said:

 

Btw, did you get an FP yet? If so, what do you think? I think you mentioned this before, and I agree, the FP seems like a full frame, spiritual successor to the Micro... with the a screen. 

No, as impatient as I am to get one, I'm going to Japan in February and the price differential (FP with 40mm is £2400 in the UK vs £1500 in Japan) is just way too stark for me to not wait for a couple of months.

Plus, in the intervening period there is enough time for a few used ones to show up there which will mean another chunk of money off and also enough time for some of the rough edges to be knocked off the early firmware.

 

 

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On 11/1/2019 at 9:20 PM, BTM_Pix said:

No, as impatient as I am to get one, I'm going to Japan in February and the price differential (FP with 40mm is £2400 in the UK vs £1500 in Japan) is just way too stark for me to not wait for a couple of months.

Plus, in the intervening period there is enough time for a few used ones to show up there which will mean another chunk of money off and also enough time for some of the rough edges to be knocked off the early firmware.

 

 

Dang, that’s some crazy savings.

I’m really interested to see how the camera evolves after a firmware update and to see some more footage from it. So far, I am impressed but not blown away. I’d love to see Sigma put ProRes in the camera, which is a major benefit of BM cameras... including the Micro. If Sigma made a bold move like that, in a FW update, the camera almost becomes a no brainer... especially for Japan prices.

Back to the Micro for a second... can I shoot internal raw and export to an external recorder for ProRes? With the new Video Assists coming out, I assume I can get a deal on the original. A ProRes and Raw version of my clips, on SD cards, could negate my desire to use the small Ikan VL35 I have now... cut a proxy ProRes LT version in FCPX and then send the edit to Resolve for raw color work, audio mix and export.

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1 hour ago, mercer said:

Dang, that’s some crazy savings.

I’m really interested to see how the camera evolves after a firmware update and to see some more footage from it. So far, I am impressed but not blown away. I’d love to see Sigma put ProRes in the camera, which is a major benefit of BM cameras... including the Micro. If Sigma made a bold move like that, in a FW update, the camera almost becomes a no brainer... especially for Japan prices.

I think the Gnarbox 2.0 has the potential to be a pretty ubiquitous fixit device for this stuff.

Being able to put a card in and get auto backup and transcoding to ProRes while you are on your way back to base and have it ready to edit on straight away more or less represents a de-facto addition of ProRes to all your cameras.

The only thing in doubt that I can't get a clear answer to is whether this version supports CinemaDNG as I'm pretty sure the first one does.

1 hour ago, mercer said:

Back to the Micro for a second... can I shoot internal raw and export to an external recorder for ProRes? With the new Video Assists coming out, I assume I can get a deal on the original. A ProRes and Raw version of my clips, on SD cards, could negate my desire to use the small Ikan VL35 I have now... cut a proxy ProRes LT version in FCPX and then send the edit to Resolve for raw color work, audio mix and export.

Yep.

Another one to consider might be a Ninja 2 which are a bit cheaper, smaller and go straight to SSD.

The latter part may be important because if I remember correctly the Video Assists have the same issue as the Pocket/Micro of only being compatible with a very limited range of new SD cards.

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Seeing this thread has made me put out a watch on ebay. Looking for a cheap raw camera to kick around on, though the ML 5d2's or 5d3's are tempting too. But 60p and cinema DNG's make this really appealing.

Chris

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3 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

I think the Gnarbox 2.0 has the potential to be a pretty ubiquitous fixit device for this stuff.

Being able to put a card in and get auto backup and transcoding to ProRes while you are on your way back to base and have it ready to edit on straight away more or less represents a de-facto addition of ProRes to all your cameras.

The only thing in doubt that I can't get a clear answer to is whether this version supports CinemaDNG as I'm pretty sure the first one does.

Yep.

Another one to consider might be a Ninja 2 which are a bit cheaper, smaller and go straight to SSD.

The latter part may be important because if I remember correctly the Video Assists have the same issue as the Pocket/Micro of only being compatible with a very limited range of new SD cards.

I never heard of the gnarbox before but it looks like a great solution.

The Ninja 2 would be great but lack of 60p is a no go... one of the few reasons I’m considering keeping the Micro is for its 60p. 

Btw, any chance you can make a Canon EOS-M EVF work with a Micro? That thing would be a perfect little Super 8 digital camera with a small EVF instead of a screen. 

43 minutes ago, Trek of Joy said:

Seeing this thread has made me put out a watch on ebay. Looking for a cheap raw camera to kick around on, though the ML 5d2's or 5d3's are tempting too. But 60p and cinema DNG's make this really appealing.

Chris

It’s a fun little camera the size of Rubik’s Cube. I prefer ML Raw personally but if you are a Resolve user, you may like the Micro better. You can’t go wrong with either one, really. And if you’re patient, you can find a Micro for stupid money.

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On 11/2/2019 at 4:30 AM, crevice said:

Not mine, but this was 90 percent shot on the original bmpcc with 1 lens

Which lens?
 

On 11/2/2019 at 6:15 AM, mercer said:

Not only was it shot mostly with one lens, they shot it on ProResLT.


ProResLT is better than many people give it credit for, especially if you're already shooting in Rec709 and nailing exposure / white balance correctly, so you don't need to tweak it much further in post anyway. 

 

On 11/2/2019 at 1:01 PM, BTM_Pix said:

Does the Production 4K not potentially represent a sweet spot for what you're after?

EF, Super35, ProRes, Global Shutter, cheap media and the majority of the stuff I've seen shot with it properly looks pretty compelling.

Odd but not insurmountable ergonomics.

The price the two systems change hands for used now means you might even make a small profit swapping out the Micro for one or at least break even.


With how dirt dirt cheap the URSA Mini 4K goes for I'd just take that over a BMPC4K

 

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10 hours ago, mercer said:

Btw, any chance you can make a Canon EOS-M EVF work with a Micro? That thing would be a perfect little Super 8 digital camera with a small EVF instead of a screen. 

Yeah, I spent a bit of time looking at the Olympus ones as they were also used for Leica X Vario and M240 so could be compared to Pen 5 etc for more of an insight into reverse engineering.

The connector is proprietary and from the it to the board is actually an individually stranded cable that I've highlighted here.

So, erm, fuck that !

M240.jpg.d8e7e8f0750155f21a1420edafed1103.jpg

 

4 hours ago, IronFilm said:

With how dirt dirt cheap the URSA Mini 4K goes for I'd just take that over a BMPC4K

The last BMPC4K I seriously looked at was a bit tatty so at sub £600 (pre haggle) is probably a bit on the cheap side but even so I can't find many Ursa Minis in the UK at least for quite a bit over double of that. 

The Ursa Mini is obviously a far better rounded proposition but for a dabble (and the much cheaper media option of not using CFAST) the BMPC4K has the edge for me as the balance could go on lights that it will certainly benefit from ;) 

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3 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

The connector is proprietary and from the it to the board is actually an individually stranded cable that I've highlighted here.

So, erm, fuck that !

Haha, okay. I thought an HDMI cable could be added from the removable EVF side and then powered through a dummy battery or something... but this is way out of my depth so I’ll take your word for it. 

8 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Which lens?

They used an old m42 28mm f/3.5 with a speedbooster.

8 hours ago, IronFilm said:

ProResLT is better than many people give it credit for, especially if you're already shooting in Rec709 and nailing exposure / white balance correctly, so you don't need to tweak it much further in post anyway. 

For sure, although I think they chose ProResLT to save card space. These guys went DIY and good enough wherever they could. They even built their own shoulder rig out of copper pipes, seatbelt pads and a velcro ankle weight for counterbalance...

But don’t worry, they had a boom operator. Haha.

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Hey @mercer

This might seem like a sledgehammer to crack a nut but bear with me.

49192198_CineEyeBMMCC_small009.thumb.jpg.58df26c93ba2e627324a5751b1934612.jpg

This is the Acsoon CIneEye HDMI that enables you to transmit the HDMI camera output to your Android or iOS device over wifi up to a range of about 100 metres.

For just over £200, it does seem slightly overkill to spend that amount when you are only going to be transmitting about 2% of that range and a cynical view would be that used in the way I've got it here makes it is a very, very expensive virtual HDMI cable .

And you'd probably be right in that cynicism or perhaps wrong depending on how you work.

Starting with the practicals, here is how I have it mounted to the cage. Initially I was finding it slightly awkward to find a good position to mount it because its tripod mount is on the base so I used the cheap mini ball mount to effectively change it to a 90 degree angle.

1873889052_CineEyeBMMCC_small015.thumb.jpg.4ddff770a1c141f85ebc248e2204cead.jpg

One happy accident of this is that having the adjustable ball head means that when it comes to changing batteries, the ball head can be loosened and the CineEye can be swung away.

The phone is mounted with a SmallRig monitor mount and a cheap adjustable phone holder.

This combination means that it can be oriented in every direction so you can have standard rear facing, tilted side view or of course front facing.

16149733_CineEyeBMMCC_small010.thumb.jpg.a6e1b52c6527bdf102300bd4754e4f93.jpg908296073_CineEyeBMMCC_small012.thumb.jpg.66ad4d47824f1cb3e1f6c7a2d01278f7.jpg761550793_CineEyeBMMCC_small014.thumb.jpg.72c6019b46817a68c504825b99d69500.jpg

The mount also means that you can just fold it flat when in front facing mode to make it compact to go in a bag.

So once its mounted, what can you do with it ?

In short, a lot.

It offers a range of selectable monitoring options including 

  • Grey Scale
  • Monochrome
  • Focus Peaking
  • Zebras
  • Safe Mark
  • Center Mark
  • Histogram
  • LUT loading

And of course a false colour mode

1257386858_CineEyeBMMCC_small016.thumb.jpg.3520a7cc248aec9d73716133d4739a9b.jpg

There are also options to punch in and also some anamorphic de-squeeze mode but I haven't tested those.

The big question of course with these wireless solutions is latency and the figures quoted by Acsoon are 140ms for iOS and 200ms for Android and whilst I've only tested it on Android and wouldn't really challenge their figure. In practical terms, I'm OK with that sort of latency that I'm getting with it in use and bear in mind that my Samsung phone (and possibly yours) needs a build of their app that uses software decoding so is likely a worst case scenario.

I haven't used this combo in a heavily saturated WiFi area (though to be fair, the amount of different routers in my house probably does replicate a small town ;) ) so I can't give any idea about performance impact but the CineEye does actually seek out the clearest WiFi channel to use when it boots up so at least there is some method to try and counteract it and the channel can also be set manually.

What else can it do that a monitor can't to justify getting one?

Well for one thing, as its wireless you can just unclip the phone and go and monitor from anywhere around the set which is a boon for anyone working on their own who is positioning lights or altering a mic boom etc to not have to go back to the camera to confirm the changes.

The signal can also be shared by up to four different devices so if you are working in a larger crew then they can have their own feed or you can have it on a bigger tablet on a stand etc

Another aspect that can also be beneficial using phones to monitor on is that a lot of them have very high brightness levels.

The overall form factor is also helped by how much slimmer a phone is compared to a monitor.

61777929_CineEyeBMMCC_small013.thumb.jpg.5d24000ce5adcf8d2751290806b06ada.jpg

As both the phone and CineEye have internal power (the CineEye run time is about 4 1/2 hours) then there is an additional big saving in not having to use additional power.

Does all this mean that its better than a dedicated wired monitor ?

On a technical level in terms of resolution and latency then thats a firm No.

However, its certainly more flexible and far less hassle to power and depending on how you work that might make it more appropriate.

More product info here

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1485196-REG/accsoon_cineeye_wifi_full_hd_5g.html

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Its surprising how thin the Atomos recorders are, at least the newer ones (beyond Atomos 2). Still you need big batteries for them. 

Not having the ability to swap batteries on a phone always made me not want to use one. You could use one of those phone battery cases though.

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52 minutes ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Its surprising how thin the Atomos recorders are, at least the newer ones (beyond Atomos 2). Still you need big batteries for them. 
 

True enough but its the NPF batteries that add it back on.

Having said that, my Ninja V even using one of the slimmer NPFs would have to do some serious low carbing to get down to my phone's level of slenderness ;)

1014369090_CineEyeBMMCC_small017.thumb.jpg.76f35e763de51a6f31f80344eb6cc8de.jpg

54 minutes ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Not having the ability to swap batteries on a phone always made me not want to use one. You could use one of those phone battery cases though.

Yeah, the fixed battery is a limitation but on the upside finding alternative power sources to keep the phone running is a lot easier.

 

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@BTM_Pix that is pretty slick but I wish it was a touch smaller... I have an old iPod Touch sitting in the drawer collecting dust... it would be perfect for it.

Right now I'm using the Ikan VL-35 but I may trade up for the SmallHD Focus to get the ability to power the camera and monitor from a single source.

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3 minutes ago, mercer said:

@BTM_Pix that is pretty slick but I wish it was a touch smaller... I have an old iPod Touch sitting in the drawer collecting dust... it would be perfect for it.

Yeah thats the beauty of it in that you can scale up or down what monitor you use with it depending on circumstances and there are a few 3 inch Android phones around now that are ideal.

Only thing to be careful of with older devices like the iPod Touch is that it needs to be a model that can work on 5.8ghz wifi.

18 minutes ago, mercer said:

 

Right now I'm using the Ikan VL-35 but I may trade up for the SmallHD Focus to get the ability to power the camera and monitor from a single source.

I really like the Sidefinder thing that SmallHD did for the 500 series.

Pity someone doesn't do it for other monitors as having a 5" monitor in that side on configuration makes so much more sense with narrow cameras.

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20 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

Yeah thats the beauty of it in that you can scale up or down what monitor you use with it depending on circumstances and there are a few 3 inch Android phones around now that are ideal.

Only thing to be careful of with older devices like the iPod Touch is that it needs to be a model that can work on 5.8ghz wifi

Good to know, thanks. I think I have the Touch 4, so I'll have to check... it is pretty old. Those 3" androids look interesting as well.

All in all, it's very intriguing... just wish it was a touch smaller or could be integrated cleaner into the rig... maybe by wrapping it inside a chest pad or shoulder pad.

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9 minutes ago, mercer said:

All in all, it's very intriguing... just wish it was a touch smaller or could be integrated cleaner into the rig... maybe by wrapping it inside a chest pad or shoulder pad.

The transmitter you mean?

It can actually be mounted flat on the roof of that cage with a 90 degree adapter and leave enough clearance for the monitor above it.

But yeah, once you get any sort of rig involved the options increase a lot.

As does the form factor of the whole package so its a lot less Micro ;)

 

 

CineEyeBMMCC_small 018.jpg

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@mercer

Don't fully know what's happening in this thread but it seems like you'd love the Z cam - you can natively run your phone as a monitor either over wifi or by plugging it in, in which case it charges off the camera's power.

It's a lot like the Micro but with 4K and a larger sensor. Not sure the exact size comparison but it's a tiny cam, as well.

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8 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

The transmitter you mean?

It can actually be mounted flat on the roof of that cage with a 90 degree adapter and leave enough clearance for the monitor above it.

But yeah, once you get any sort of rig involved the options increase a lot.

As does the form factor of the whole package so its a lot less Micro ;)

 

 

CineEyeBMMCC_small 018.jpg

Yeah, I wish the transmitter was a little smaller. It seems like a great solution if it doesn't double the size of your rig. But I am very particular about the Micro... I don't see the point in making it any bigger than it needs to be. I'd have to see it mounted flat to the top of the cage because that seems the least cumbersome. 

7 hours ago, EthanAlexander said:

@mercer

Don't fully know what's happening in this thread but it seems like you'd love the Z cam - you can natively run your phone as a monitor either over wifi or by plugging it in, in which case it charges off the camera's power.

It's a lot like the Micro but with 4K and a larger sensor. Not sure the exact size comparison but it's a tiny cam, as well.

Basically, I had the Micro back in the summer of '16. I loved the image but didn't love rigging it up. At the time, there weren't many peripherals to keep it compact. So, out of frustration with the ridiculously large rig and the piss poor battery life, I ended up selling it. Eventually, I moved on to ML Raw and found the perfect camera for my needs, and wants, with my 5D3.

Fast forward 3 years and I found a great deal on a lightly used Micro. Since I really liked the IQ and since there are more options to keep the camera compact, I decided to give it another try. All in all, with the Ikan monitor, I have around $500 into it. Even though it's a great second camera for me, whenever I reach for a camera, I always grab my 5D3, so I'm kinda on the fence about it.

On the one hand, it was so cheap that I'd love to find the perfect rig to make me want to use it more. On the other hand, I'm not the most prolific filmmaker and I barely have enough time to work on my current film, let alone set up a new project with a different camera. So I'm on the fence with it. I may sell it, but I hope to hold on to it a little while longer and shoot a small short film with it this winter.

With that said, I love what Z-Cam is doing and prefer the image from the E2 to the P4K. I also love the phone/monitor solution they've integrated. If I was going to buy a new camera today, the E2 would be at the top of the list, along with the Sigma FP and the S1H.

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