The Black Magic Cinema camera is not out yet (it’s planned release date is July 2012), but it’s worth mentioning as one of our top video cameras of 2012 because this camera looks like it’s going to be a major game changer. Students in our online filmmaking course have been begging for a pro video camera with RAW shooting capabilities that won’t cost them over $15,000. Now, it appears as though all of their begging is about to pay off.
Price & features
The Black Magic Cinema camera is going to be released for $2995. You can even pre-order the camera now. The camera shoots native 2.5K footage and boasts an assortment of other exciting features.
Where to begin? There are so many things to like about this camera. DSLR cameras have been, and will continue to be, great tools for filmmakers. That being said, DSLRs have always been multi-purpose machines and us filmmakers can’t help but feel like these cameras have been designed primarily for photographers. Call us greedy, but we really want a camera that was built exclusively for the needs of filmmakers (and we would rather not pay $15,000 for it if possible).
I think most of us expected to pay $5000 to $8000 for such a video camera. That seemed like the middle ground price for a camera that entered the market to fill the void between the Canon 5D and the Red Scarlet. So the price point of the Black Magic Cinema camera came as a nice surprise.
What’s interesting about the price of the camera is that the camera comes bundled with DaVinci Resolve 9.0 video editing software for Mac and Windows (which retails for around $1000). This is a professional grade NLE that will allow you to create an easier workflow for editing and color correcting your RAW footage.
This is an important consideration because you’ll be shooting uncompressed footage when you shoot with the Black Magic Cinema camera. Using the CinemaDNG format, you’ll be getting a full 12-bit RAW image (at 2432 x 1366). However, if you don’t have the computing power to handle that quality of footage, you don’t need to worry. You can also shoot compressed footage in 1080HD recording into ProRes and DNxHD compressed video formats (at 1920 x 1080). This allows you to scale your camera to match your computing power.
The camera is also compatible with EF and ZE mount lenses. So for those filmmakers who were using EF lenses on your DSLRs (Such as Canon, Zeiss or Sigma to name a few), these lenses will transfer over to the Black Magic Cinema camera just fine.
Another feature we really like about this camera is the affordability of data storage. This may seem like an unusual thing to appreciate about a video camera (since we always assume video is so cheap compared to film), but when you’re shooting RAW that’s not always the case. RED’s proprietary memory cards, for example, cost around $950 for a 64GB card or $3200 for a 256GB card. Many film sets use 2 -4 of them to ensure they have a continuous shooting day. Then you need to take into consideration the need to transfer the footage. After that you need to take into consideration the cost to store the footage (most filmmakers will backup RED footage on two, sometimes three hard drives).
While there is a still a cost associated with storing Black Magic Cinema footage, the cost doesn’t seem as financially excessive. Not only that, but the removable 2.5” SSD isn’t proprietary. You can use any SSD chip you like! Since you’ll be shooting 2.5K RAW you’ll probably want to use a 120GB, 240GB or 480GB SSD card. To give you a price range of these cards a 120GB SSD card costs between $90 and $150 while a 480GB card goes for between $350 and $500.
So how much RAW footage can a SSD card hold? On the Black Magic Cinema website they say that shooting RAW takes up roughly 5 MB/frame. This equals about 144 Megabytes per second, 6.8 Gigabytes per minute or 410 Gigabytes per hour.
This means if you decide to shoot RAW 2.5K footage you’ll fit about 30 minutes of 24p video on a 256 GB solid state disk. However, as Black Magic Cinema states on their website, if you decide to shoot compressed footage you’ll be able to fit 5 times that amount on your memory card.
Another great feature about this camera is its sensitively to filmmakers’ needs to shoot footage with post production workflow in mind. You can do this the old fashioned way with a DSLR (using a pen and paper and a slate), but the Black Magic Cinema camera takes this a step further by giving you a sort of digital slate. They’ve built in a metadata entry feature that is compatible with popular video editing programs. You can display a slate (showing shot number, scene number, location etc) as well as include details such as tags and timecode.
The camera has the ability to shoot in the following frame rates: 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p. I would have loved to see 60p in there to allow for slow motion work, but maybe we’ll see this on an upgraded model.
Smaller Sensor Size (16mm vs 35mm)
so you’re probably wondering “what’s the catch”? We’ll there is no “catch” per se, but the camera doesn’t use the equivalent of a 35mm sensor. Instead the use the equivalent of a 16mm sensor. This allowed Black Magic to keep the cost of the camera down while still maintaining a high image quality. To give you a sense of the sensor size difference between the Black Magic Cinema camera and the 5D see below:
Canon 5D Mark II: 24 x 36mm
Black Magic Cinema Camera: 15.81mm x 8.88mm
This means that the Black Magic Cinema camera won’t handle as well in low light. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just something to be aware about as a filmmaker as your shots may require more light for proper exposure. But with the camera boasting a wide 13 stops of dynamic range, the smaller sensor size will become less of an issue to some filmmakers.
Another disadvantage is the fact the current release does not have a removable battery. That being said, you can attach an external battery to the camera at an added cost.
As more footage from this camera gets released we’ll be proud to show it on our blog. Please check soon for more information on the release of the Black Magic Cinema camera!
More footage will be coming soon.
Click to see Black Magic Cinema camera footage.
Interview about Black Magic Cinema Camera