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.
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!
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
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
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
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).
3840 x 2160
3840 x 2160, 1920×1080.
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.
Focus button turns on peaking.
Iris button automatically adjusts the lens iris settings so no pixel is clipped in film mode. Scene average auto exposure in video mode.
EF and ZE mount compatible with electronic iris control.
5″ and 800 x 480 resolution.
Integrated LCD capacitive touchscreen.
Automatic camera data and user data such as shot number, filenames and keywords.
On screen touch menus and physical buttons for recording and transport control.
Integrated mono microphone.
Integrated mono speaker.
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.
Mac OS Extended or exFAT format. SSDs can be formatted on any Mac or use Mediafour MacDrive (not included) on a Windows PC.
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.
1 x 2.5mm LANC for Rec Start/Stop, Iris Control and Focus.
Thunderbolt port for capture of HD video and audio. USB 2.0 mini B port for software updates and configuration.
Standards SDI Compliance
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.
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.
Integrated Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable battery. 11V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter.
Approximately 90 minutes.
Battery Charge Time
Approximately 2 hours when not in use.
Length: 6.54 in
Width: 5.24 in
Environmental Specifications Operating Temperature
0° to 40° C (32° to 104° F)
-20° to 45° C (-4° to 113° F)
0% to 90% non-condensing