BlackMagic Production 4K camera

BlackMagic Production Camera 4K – a tempting 4K option

BlackMagic Design just announced that their top-of-the-line 4K camera is finally shipping – after almost one year delay. In addition, they have reduced the price to $2995.

This makes for a very attractive deal on a camera that offers 4K RAW recording and a great codec – the 4K Apple Pro Ress 422 movie mode. The camera, of course, lets you shoot at 1080P too.

Here is my video review of the camera

You can now buy the BlackMagic Production Camera 4K at B&H Photo Video

At the reduced price, the camera should now get serious consideration from DSLR filmmakers who want or need 4K. But there is a rub. $3000 will not be enough to get you working with this camera. As was the case with the older model, the Cinema Camera, the camera is not production ready, despite of what BlackMagic Design’s marketing is telling you. To get the camera ready for the real world, you will need to spend another $500 to $3100, depending what options you choose.

Having work experience with the BlackMagic cameras, I recommend several additional purchases.

Battery
Yes, the camera has a built-in battery, but it’s a battery that’s not removable and it only lasts about an hour! So, this means that if you charge up your camera and go out on location, you’ll be done using the battery before you even get really started. Therefore, investing in an external battery source is a must.

The camera accepts from 12 to 30 volts. Before, there was only one solution to power the battery – expensive V mounts and batteries. Now, there are a few other options that also work, I have found.

Bescor now offers the cheapest battery solution that will power the camera for about four hours. That is great. On the downside, the battery comes in a carry bag that you will somehow have to modify if you want to mount the battery on your camera or rail system.

Other solutions that are also affordable are these two Sony and Canon battery mounts.

Sony battery mount
Get this rail block so you can put the battery mount on your rail rig


Canon battery mount


Here is another option that’s a bit more expensive, but works great


The most tried and tested way to power this camera is to use the industry standard V mount batteries. They are however not cheap… but they work great and will power the camera for a long time!

Battery
Battery Mount
Battery charger


Battery+Mount+Charger


Media Storage
When shooting RAW, you will need a lot of hard drive space. For one day of shooting, I recommend at least 4 Terabytes. This camera ONLY accepts SSDs (Solid State Drives) that are more often used for laptops, etc.

Here is the best deal I found from Scandisc.


You will also need a docking station so you can copy the footage to your computer and to format your hard drives. Note that you CANNOT delete or format the drives in camera. So, when doing this on location, you’ll have to employ a laptop.

This is the best SSD Dock with USB 3.0 and eSATA connections


Here is a great dock for a more portable use with USB 3.0


Monitor
The camera has a built-in touchscreen so you might wonder why you need this expense. From first-hand experience, I can tell you that the monitor on the back of this camera is useless unless you’re working indoors on a controlled set. Once you step out into the sunlight or any bright lights, the monitor is so reflective that I, at times, used it as a mirror to check my hair.

Also, the monitor doesn’t flip out or tilt at all… so if your camera is high up or at a weird angle, you will not be able to see what you are recording. Trust me, you need a good monitor – a monitor that’s got a lot of pixels and also accept the SDI signal.

Here are some monitors I recommend.
This is a cheaper version with the SDI input


You will also need something to mount the monitor


Shoulder Rig
This is not a must, but since the camera is not designed to be held – and you will now need to attach those accessories like the batteries and monitor – I suggest you get a good rig with a standard rail system.

I tried using this camera once just by itself, hand-holding. The camera is made of aluminum and has no handles or grips like DSLR’s… it ended up slipping from my hands and falling. Thank god, I was filming a steamy love scene and the camera landed in the bed. Otherwise, it would have been one expensive slip.

Here is a decent rig to get you started

Here is another rig that will work great with this camera


Other Accessories
You will also probably want to invest in some kind of an audio solution. Even thought you can connect microphones directly to the camera, it doesn’t use the industry standard XLR connection. Plus, there is no phantom power coming out of the camera. Therefore, I recommend you get this audio adapter

When shooting outdoors, you will also need a neutral density (ND) filter. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to shoot at very high shutter speeds – upwards of 1/1000s, giving you no motion blur. Here are a couple of very good options.


Finally, it’s a good idea to get a protective case. Here is a good deal

As you see, the initial cost grows significantly as you start adding all the accessories that are really necessities in the field. But don’t get me wrong. I think that – at this new lower price – it is still a great deal. The camera really produces stunning 4K footage with 12 fstops of latitude AND it uses the new GLOBAL SHUTTER. So, there are no more problems with JELLO-O artifacts in your footage, like the DSLR’s and even the Red Epic give you.

Now, is it a better deal than the Panasonic GH4 (see my review)? The price for the GH4 has not been released yet, but the similarly equipped GH4 will most likely be cheaper than the new BlackMagic. Even if that’s the case, the BlackMagic has the advantage of shooting in RAW, in addition to a great codec. So, whichever camera you think is better, the great news that there are now two very solid options for 4K cameras that don’t break a bank.

BlackMagic Production Camera 4K Specifications

Camera Features Effective Sensor Size
21.12mm x 11.88mm (Super 35).

Effective Resolution
3840 x 2160

Shooting Resolutions
3840 x 2160, 1920×1080.

Frame Rates
3840 x 2160p23.98,
3840 x 2160p24,
3840 x 2160p25,
3840 x 2160p29.97,
3840 x 2160p30,
1920 x 1080p23.98,
1920 x 1080p24,
1920 x 1080p25,
1920 x 1080p29.97,
1920 x 1080p30,
1920 x 1080i50,
1920 x 1080i59.94.

Dynamic Range
12 stops.

Focus
Focus button turns on peaking.

Iris Control
Iris button automatically adjusts the lens iris settings so no pixel is clipped in film mode. Scene average auto exposure in video mode.

Lens Mount
EF and ZE mount compatible with electronic iris control.

Screen Dimensions
5″ and 800 x 480 resolution.

Screen Type
Integrated LCD capacitive touchscreen.

Metadata Support
Automatic camera data and user data such as shot number, filenames and keywords.

Controls
On screen touch menus and physical buttons for recording and transport control.

Microphone
Integrated mono microphone.

Speaker
Integrated mono speaker.

Mounting Options
3 x 1/4″-20 UNC thread mounting points on top of camera. 1 x 1/4″-20 UNC thread tripod mount with locator pin.
Storage Features Storage Type
Removable 2.5” SSD.

Storage Format
Mac OS Extended or exFAT format. SSDs can be formatted on any Mac or use Mediafour MacDrive (not included) on a Windows PC.

Storage Rates
880 Mbps using Apple ProRes 422 (HQ).

Compressed Recording Formats
Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) at 3840 x 2160 and 1920 x 1080, visually lossless compressed CinemaDNG RAW at
3840 x 2160 and 1920 x 1080 with either Film or Video Dynamic Range.
Connections SDI Video Output
1 x 6G-SDI 10-bit 4:2:2 with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range.

Analog Audio Input
2 x 1/4” jacks for professional balanced analog audio, switchable between mic and line levels.

Analog Audio Output
1 x 3.5mm stereo headphone output.

SDI Audio Output
2 channels in 6G-SDI 48 kHz and 24 bit.

Remote Control
1 x 2.5mm LANC for Rec Start/Stop, Iris Control and Focus.

Computer Interface
Thunderbolt port for capture of HD video and audio. USB 2.0 mini B port for software updates and configuration.
Standards SDI Compliance
SMPTE 292M

SDI Audio Sampling
48 kHz and 24-bit
Software Software Included
DaVinci Resolve grading software including Resolve USB dongle for Mac OS X and Windows. Blackmagic Media Express software. DiskSpeed Test.

Software Applications
Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier Pro, After Effects, Nuke, Photoshop, Pro Tools, DaVinci Resolve, UltraScope, Media Express, Disk Speed Test.
Operating Systems Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or later.
Windows 7 or later.
Power Requirements External Power
11V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included.

Power
Integrated Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable battery. 11V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter.

Battery Life
Approximately 90 minutes.

Battery Charge Time
Approximately 2 hours when not in use.
Physical Specifications
Length: 6.54 in
Width: 5.24 in
Height: 4.96

Environmental Specifications Operating Temperature
0° to 40° C (32° to 104° F)

Storage Temperature
-20° to 45° C (-4° to 113° F)

Relative Humidity
0% to 90% non-condensing

3 thoughts on “BlackMagic Production Camera 4K – a tempting 4K option”

  1. Hi,
    I saw your review of the camera.. Mine is.. hopefully.. on the way.. It’s been 2 months now wait.. Nice review.. I am a little upset about low light performance..

    I have some questions for you..

    1) What are shutter options (I couldn’t find anywhere).. Do I have fast shutters like 90, 45 or even 15 ?
    2) On your site you have RAW footage.. but you mean raw no RAW correct? 🙂
    I mean.. is MOV format.. but this camera delivers also DNG doesn’t it? That’s why I got it.. I know they are fixing the firmware for that but it’s said to come soon.
    3) Regarding RAW format.. Do you think light performance will be better on these files? I mean… all the vertical stripes.. could’t they be caused (also) by the default settings for delivering MOV format?
    4) Did you try also the TV-LIVE mode.. signal is supposed to be different (probably less info in it on fray areas.. I guess)
    5) I am building a Lanparte rig (already using it on my Canon 5D MarkII).. what do you think of it? My worries are accessing(in an easy way) the touchscreen. I have a second monitor for viewing.. but I hope I don’t need to much to touch the touchscreen all the time.
    6) I have a circular double-polariser (screws on my Canon 24-105mm) that acts like a ND… would you suggest to use it…? You rotate one polariser and it acts like an iris almost closing all. When open (when the two polariser are aligned) you lose one stop.

    Thanks,
    Marcello

    1. 1) 45 is the lowest shutter angle… 360 is fastest… I don’t remember what else is in between but there aren’t many options
      2) Yeah its RAW mov files… no Cinema DNG yet available in camera.
      3) No the RAW format doesn’t make the camera more sensitive to light or remove the low light artifacts. This will NEVER be a low light camera. You have to always use lights to light your shots. Like back in the day when using film cameras.
      4) nope never tried that or even heard of such thing.
      5) I have reviewed my lanparte rig and all the accessories I use with my Blackmagic cameras here: http://tomantosfilms.com/3832/lanparte-rig/
      6) I would advice that you don’t use circulare polarizers or variable ND filters since that degrades the image quality and is very obvious in 4K. You will need to get a mattebox and traditional ND filters for this camera for sure… to use it outside you need to reduce the light by about 5 f stops since the camera has few options for ASA and shutter angle. Again watch the two videos I did on this page and you’ll seem me talk about those things: http://tomantosfilms.com/3832/lanparte-rig/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *