Overview of Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

When you think about it, the most magical word for beginning and low-budget filmmakers is: 4K. Mention of it brings to mind the silver screen, movie stars and fantastic images. There’s just some juno se qua about the idea of shooting with a 4k camera.

When Blackmagic Design announced the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K at NAB 2013, many indie filmmakers felt their pulse rise. And I was one of them. 4K for $4,000? Yes, please!

But before we throw our money at the Aussie company, we need to do some evaluation.

The Good: Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

  • 4K for $4,000. The price isn’t everything, but you can’t ignore it.
  • Super 35mm 4K sensor with global shutter. This is great because there is not the dramatic crop factor of the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) and we will not see jello (rolling shutter) in our footage. Twelve stops of dynamic range is nothing to sneeze at, either.
  • Blackmagic_4KBlackmagic color science. Some would disagree with me on this point (and this is still a matter of speculation – see below) but Blackmagic, in my opinion, did a great job of matching the images of the BMCC and the Blackmagic Pocket Camera (BMPC). This creates such a consistency between the cameras that there might be times that it would be difficult to distinguish between footage shot from each camera. Shooters can use a BMPC as a B cam for a BMCC, then use the BMCC as a B cam for the BM4K camera. It’s an almost Apple-esque ecosystem for the cameras that is well though out for multi-cam shooters.
  • 4K and 1080p, raw and Prores. Both are good options for shooting, and shooting 1080p off of a 4K sensor can yield some beautiful results from the over sampling.
  • Canon mount. I know that some people were not thrilled with this mount, and using a more easily adapted mount (e mount?) would have made sense, but with the number of Canon shooters with Canon lenses sitting around, there is a built-in base of users ready to jump the 4K shark (more in this later)
  • Form factor. Wait, this is a good thing? Well, yes – it’s design is seemingly intended to be built up on a rig, which is what most productions will do with their cameras anyway.

The Not So Good: Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

  • Form factor. Wait, didn’t you say the form factor was a good thing? Yes – unless you are considering handholding the camera itself – but in all honesty, would anyone who busy this camera actually do that?
  • Internal power. An external power supply is basically a prerequisite, so bear that in mind when you consider the purchase.
  • Fast SSDs. Even the BMPC requires very fast storage media, and I’m sure the 4K camera will be a storage hog in many ways. And you though raw from the BMCC took a lot of space?
  • Limited audio inputs. No XLR inputs does limit your ability to record on-camera audio, which can speed up your workflow if you don’t need to synch sound in post.
  • No high frame rates. The BM4K maxes out at 30 fps, and it includes the “standard” 23.976, 24, and 29.98 frame rates that we all know and love, but you won’t get slow-mo out of this camera.

The Bad: Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

  • The worst for me is- this is still all speculation at this point. The general public has not seen any 4K footage, and the camera that was originally supposed to be released in summer is still waiting… Somewhere. While some complain, rightly, about missed deadlines, I’d prefer to wait for a higher-quality, finished camera then a rushed design.

Black Magic 4K BackConclusion

Having access to an affordable 4K might be something that smaller filmmakers are now slobbering for, but here is what you have to remember: the camera is just a tool. If you don’t know how to use it. Buying a 4K camera will not solve your problems.

The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K has a lot to look forward to, but be sure that you know your tools and have a good story to tell before jumping on the 4K bandwagon.


Blackmagic Camera and NAB Recap

NAB 2012 Recap
By, filmmaker Joseph Ort

Here is a breakdown of some of the key stories from NAB 2012 for indie filmmakers.

GoPro Hero firmware update to 24fps & 35Mbit (previously 15Mbit)

This is great news because now you can match your Canon DSLR footage seamlessly with your GoPro footage. They are also going to release a Cinestyle with the GoPro, so you will have more color correction latitude in post. Find more info on the GoPro HERE

Canon released their DSLR 4K camera

The EOS 1D C. Initially we thought this was going to be a great new camera for indie filmmakers. But then the price was released. The camera is going to run you around $15K, so that canceled hopes for indie filmmakers.

Keep in mind that this kind of footage is going to use up a lot of hard drive space. Even though the Cannon 4K is impressive – you need to remember that hard drives (while getting cheaper) are not that cheap. And you are going to need a few hard drives to handle the data.

Here is a quick breakdown of 4K storage:

  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 10-bit: 253.125 Megabytes per second15.2 Gigabytes per minute – 911.3 Gigabytes per hour
  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 12-bit: 303.75 Megabytes per second – 18.2 Gigabytes per minute – 1.093 Terabytes per hour
  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 16-bit: 405 Megabytes per second- 24.3 Gigabytes per minute – 1.46 Terabytes per hour

You will want to store this footage twice, just in case drives fail. An average 3TB drive is around 200 bucks.

Introducing The BlackMagic Camera

Then out of nowhere, the company Blackmagic released their 2.5K camera for 3,000. This camera was the best kept secret at NAB and when released, the news became all the buzz. If you are eager to get your hands on this camera, the release date is sometime in July.

With the Blackmagic camera, the breakdown is:

2.5K RAW – (2432 x 1366)  12-bit, at 24fps: 144 Megabytes per second.  6.8 Gigabytes per minute – 410 Gigabytes per hour

So that’s not too bad, but just remember your post workflow when dealing with these new line up of cameras. More info on the Blackmagic Camera HERE

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