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Andrew Reid

The downfall of the big guys just began - BlackMagic 2.5K Cinema Camera with 12bit RAW for $3000

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Hi all, I'm a major noob with a background in photography and some video (back when people still worked in DV on the non-pro level). I have several great manual Nikon lenses and one Leica-M which I use with my FM2 and CL bodies (yeah, old school, real film). But I now am preparing to shoot and direct a documentary for which I need to invest in some equipment. Everyone I know who does pro photo and low budget-pro video uses the 5D and raves about it. With the Mark III coming out, it seemed a no-brainer that I would get that and use my lenses with it (my understand is that there are adapters).

But then I saw this beauty, and my heart started thumping, and I realized that I don't know enough about pro video to make a real decision about which would most meet my needs. The documentary is about an artist, working in his studio and giving interviews to the camera. I want it to look very beautiful and cinematic.

I know this Black Magic baby isn't out yet, but perhaps someone here can give me an idea of if it might be worth holding off buying the Mark III with a view to perhaps buying this? (I do want to start shooting next month, though....)

Thanks in advance!

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If I may..
BlackMagic is well known for Davinci Resolve, a color-grading software used in BlockBuster movies.  The new camera is specifically made for heavy post-production and contain features offered by 10K$ and up camera (for the Bit depth at least): footage that can be graded (creative color treatments), keyed (people over green screen) and mixed with CG elements (Higher bit depths).

That being said, the footage that comes out of the BlackMagic Cinema Camera looks very dull and can be hard to treat in post-production!

Look at what BlackMagic Cinema Camera looks like:
http://johnbrawley.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/untitled_1-2-2.jpg

versus 5D Mark II standard color profile:
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachments/canon-eos-5d-mk-ii-mk-iii-hd/26308d1332879669-canon-5d-mk-iii-shipping-uk-pictures-screen-shot-2012-03-27-21.18.45.png

There is no guarantee you have the ability to make your BlackMagic Camera look as good as the 5D if you don't have grading skills - I struggle with color grading flat footage.

But if you try to make a serious post production with 5D footage (creative grading, visual effects), you will run into a wall, because the footage is in H.264, it is VERY compressed and you will have all sorts of distortion in your image.  If you plan to play with it extensively.

Finally, it is hard to grade footage to make it look as "good" as the default DSLR (GH2, 5D, 7D) out-of-the-box clips, but it is certainly possible :-* and the Blackmagic cinema camera is designed to look like... cinema.  If we can see more samples ; )

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Rick, OMG, just from looking at those two samples (thanks, BTW!) I felt so much more drawn to the uncorrected BM one that the highly contrasted and saturated 5D! That being said, I don't have any grading skills whatsoever and probably won't have much of a post-production budget. Won't there be any auto presets for color-correcting the BM footage for general usage?

Also, an unrelated question: will the footage from the BM be editable in FCP10?

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The BM camera outputs in 3 formats RAW DNG (hmmmmore Adobe), DNxHD (Avid) and Prores (FCP).

The automatic modes to correct your footage depends on your software, but I guess someone (maybe Blackmagic) will make a LUT for this camera.  LUTs are files containing a curve that softwares read to balance footage automatically.  I am sure though you will want to try those adjustments yourself, you still have several months to train!

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What is this "extensive" post-production work you guys are doing? Everyone is always moaning about h264 breaking up, but are you actually doing anything or just moaning? The reason I ask is that people have made excellent VFX films with even the 550d. I've also personally worked a lot on h264 footage out of the 7d and it really is not that bad as you folks seem to portray. So either you guys have actually not done any real VFX stuff or I'm missing something.

Still, this camera looks absolutely killer.

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[quote author=RickToxik link=topic=596.msg4134#msg4134 date=1334665244]
The BM camera outputs in 3 formats RAW DNG (hmmmmore Adobe), DNxHD (Avid) and Prores (FCP).

The automatic modes to correct your footage depends on your software, but I guess someone (maybe Blackmagic) will make a LUT for this camera.  LUTs are files containing a curve that softwares read to balance footage automatically.  I am sure though you will want to try those adjustments yourself, you still have several months to train!
[/quote]

Thanks, that sounds like it would work for me—so you think I might not be crazy to be considering the BM over the 5DIII for a documentary project, knowing very little about pro video and a lot more about old-fashioned photography? Should I be concerned about the smaller sensor in the BM?

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Holy crap... check this out!!

[i]"johnbrawley says:
April 17, 2012 at 7:11 am

I don’t see the sensor size as a letdown. EF mount gives a low cost lens option choice. They plan to do PL mount and possible m4/3 down the road. There are some lovely wide m4/3 lenses."[/i]

WoooHoo... hold on to those Voigtlanders!!  I am 99.5% sure they went EF mount first because they will follow up the S16 with an S35 in 6-12 months (NAB 2013?).  I bet with enough pressure from the public we can get them to put out an m43 mount sooner rather than later!

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[quote author=bellsbells link=topic=596.msg4136#msg4136 date=1334665623]
[quote author=RickToxik link=topic=596.msg4134#msg4134 date=1334665244]
The BM camera outputs in 3 formats RAW DNG (hmmmmore Adobe), DNxHD (Avid) and Prores (FCP).

The automatic modes to correct your footage depends on your software, but I guess someone (maybe Blackmagic) will make a LUT for this camera.  LUTs are files containing a curve that softwares read to balance footage automatically.  I am sure though you will want to try those adjustments yourself, you still have several months to train!
[/quote]

Thanks, that sounds like it would work for me—so you think I might not be crazy to be considering the BM over the 5DIII for a documentary project, knowing very little about pro video and a lot more about old-fashioned photography? Should I be concerned about the smaller sensor in the BM?
[/quote]

I'm sorry but I don't think this looks to be a very good documentary camera. On battery life alone (non exchangeable batteries) this camera will be a pain to use for docs. And then you have the form factor which is far more suited to being rigged out rather than ready to go.
For a doc you really need something versatile and reliable. I actually think that the 5dIII makes a great doc camera. Extremely reliable, easy to use, long record times. And despite sharpness issues the images aesthetic is still rather beautiful.

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[quote author=hmcindie link=topic=596.msg4135#msg4135 date=1334665283]
What is this "extensive" post-production work you guys are doing? Everyone is always moaning about h264 breaking up, but are you actually doing anything or just moaning? [/quote]

..we're still far from Hollywood here, but I made this short in a three-weeks marathon last year with the 7D. (fiction short)
vimeo.com/21606426

I don't want to monopolize this thread, I am just so excited too.

I work with my 7D for corporate work and I really see the h.264 compression all the time and find it very annoying.

Apart from the weird square noise patterns in the forest (1:00) that get exagerated in final compression, you can see the color banding in the skies (0:05, 1.35) (circle color gradients) in the sky in this video I shot two weeks ago. (bird watching)

youtube.com/watch?v=1hWbx1IpAC8

This is canon EOS h.264.  The video could have been shot better and the grading honnestly sucks (HEY I was trying something!!  I have Resolve Lite since last week!!  hahah), but you can see those artifacts when you try to grade EOS h264.

Why does your (...my) dvd looks worse than a Hollywood dvd when they share the same properties?  Because your EOS just does not support transformations, and most of all, the final recompression makes the flaws of the codec 50X more apparent.  Heavy post work in my case just means.....  Color grading!!

You can't grade EOS footage shot with standard picture styles (standard, portrait, etc).  They already are stylized, you need to undo what the camera does and then grade, and it introduces artifacts and makes the codec more visible.  That's why they introduced custom picture profiles Technicolor, Marvels, etc.  But me, it gives me really so so results everytime, and it's definitly not what I am after.  The h264 artifacts always show up somewhere for me, and even if I don't have the 5D, I do have some very decent len$e$.  So when I need to have good footage for my client, I must limit the "heavy" post production and never get too creative.  Forget Michael Bay's school of unique way of tinting hahaha

If I don't play too much with my footage I get decent results (corporate movie)
youtube.com/watch?v=xJcZosVaV4U&feature=context&context=C446daa7ADvjVQa1PpcFNy7AE77rAm48SDb6EkmrnQJuYjw4Z9maY=

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[quote author=jessekorgemaa link=topic=596.msg4138#msg4138 date=1334667816]
[quote author=bellsbells link=topic=596.msg4136#msg4136 date=1334665623]
[quote author=RickToxik link=topic=596.msg4134#msg4134 date=1334665244]
The BM camera outputs in 3 formats RAW DNG (hmmmmore Adobe), DNxHD (Avid) and Prores (FCP).

The automatic modes to correct your footage depends on your software, but I guess someone (maybe Blackmagic) will make a LUT for this camera.  LUTs are files containing a curve that softwares read to balance footage automatically.  I am sure though you will want to try those adjustments yourself, you still have several months to train!
[/quote]

Thanks, that sounds like it would work for me—so you think I might not be crazy to be considering the BM over the 5DIII for a documentary project, knowing very little about pro video and a lot more about old-fashioned photography? Should I be concerned about the smaller sensor in the BM?
[/quote]

I'm sorry but I don't think this looks to be a very good documentary camera. On battery life alone (non exchangeable batteries) this camera will be a pain to use for docs. And then you have the form factor which is far more suited to being rigged out rather than ready to go.
For a doc you really need something versatile and reliable. I actually think that the 5dIII makes a great doc camera. Extremely reliable, easy to use, long record times. And despite sharpness issues the images aesthetic is still rather beautiful.
[/quote]

Thanks for chiming in—I know so little about the points of comparison and have so little experience shooting pro video that I wouldn't have thought to make sure there were exchangeable batteries. Why doesn't the BD have this, is it supposed to be plugged in all the time? If it's not suited to docs, than what is it suited for?

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[quote author=Andrew Reid - EOSHD link=topic=596.msg4115#msg4115 date=1334651955]
[quote author=popalock link=topic=596.msg4114#msg4114 date=1334650883]
sorry, don't have time to read through all the posts.  You can pre-order already you know.

Just got mine in the UK done for £1925 ex VAT!!
[/quote]

SSHHH!!

By the way here is a 1080p frame grab http://johnbrawley.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/untitled_1-23-2.jpg

Detailed, not soft. 2.5K raw will comfortably beat the FS700 and C300 for resolution.
[/quote]

I also pre-ordered and in line for the first batch :P Not taking any chance before it does a D4/D800. It is a small company and may not be able to fulfill orders if it is too large. Just the software alone cost about a third of the total price so you are actually paying £1600 for the camera.
So glad that I did not buy the 5DIII off you Andrew :D

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It accepts external batteries, but yeah, it's one of its downsides.
When buying it you need to spend at least 500 dollars more on a battery system and the ssd hard drive(s). They're probably cheaper than CF cards though.

I don't see the sensor size as an issue at all, I don't know about you guys, but I'm kind of tired of watching 5D short films constantly going out of focus, full frame is way too much and too distracting for film imo, especially when pushed too far, as it constantly is.

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I guess you can buy it from the online sellers, or at least reserve one.  Or you can certainly call your local authorized dealer.
http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/blackmagiccinemacamera/howtobuy/
[size=18pt]Anyone can spare a three[/size][size=8pt]gran[/size] [size=18pt]for me?[/size]
:P

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I Love everything except one MAJOR problem. at this size of sensor using EF lenses there will be no wide angle wider than a 40-45mm? that is plain silly. it should allow for C-mounts on a sensor like this.

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What I really like from GH2 is the chance to adapt almost any lens on it and specially anamorphics lens.
These is because is a mirrorless cam and the flange distance is short, so it make posible to adapt more lens. So you get less vignette and correct infinity focus.
What is the case with these new cam?
Can anybody helps on these issue?
Cheers!

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Only for it's 2.5K RAW everything else in this iCam is a massive fail.  Ergonomics, battery power, compatible lens issues,  utilitarian use no.. for what or who exactly is this niche camera?  The original Scarlet 2K and a mighty still camera was to me the future for Pro's but obviously not at price for low budget indie filmmakers.  $3000 is some cash though and you need extras to make it adapt for even the most basic day shoot. It has no modularity all solid state, much like an Ipad  It will depreciate in value in 18 months, unlike a 5D or D800.  I am surprised Andrew you have a hard on for it or is just the fact that Black Magic just undercut the camera industry that makes it the sensation?  If Ikonoscope came in at this price I could see a win - for the price.  It shoots RAW.  In my mind the only application for RAW is to grade for ... a cinema screen or a higher end commercial. There are many option for commercials as they have huge budgets. 1080 for creative work to Vimeo/YT embed is so fine considering the camera options out there.  That means this camera is for indie filmmakers wanting to make a narrative low budget feature. How many  films does the average independent filmmaker make a year?  Even if you make one a year, that's a 3 week shoot. For the doc feature filmmaker, in my opinion the biggest growing market for camera manufactures this camera seems to be unsuitable for even 1080 capture. It's internal battery system is baffling. Over at no film school the admin created buzz for his choice of camera a year before shooting.  Making a feature is not about the camera.  Black Magic, Canon and web forums are tapping into 1st time filmmakers gullibility and telling them you have to have your 2K or 4K otherwise your film will be no good.  This camera is for a production company with several DSLR's, an AF100 who need cheap fast 2K for grading in studio and green screen and occasionally rent lenses.

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