Blackmagic Cinema Camera – Documentary shooting style test

Like others, I was excited finally getting my BMCC and immediately put it for a “documentary shooting style” test.
In this test I wanted to see how easy it was to work with the camera (operating and ergonomicaly wise).

I chose shooting in ProRes with colour “backed in”. I also decided to shoot in relatively harsh conditions and throughout the day as you can see with the changing lighting conditions.

Let me start from the end…
The BMCC is to my opinion a “niche” camera and has a very specific usage. It will never serve as my main camera.
For documentary shooting style, RAW is not an option. ProRes is great but the way the BMCC is built, functions and handled, makes it very hard to operate. At the end of the day the main reason to buy this camera is its price tag/recording formats. If you are whiling to compromise on a camera with a small sensor and functionality limitations (hope most can be fixed in a future firmware update), then it is the camera for you.

For me it wasn’t, hence it was sent back to my dealer.

In this test:
Footage shot on ProRes, PAL 1080/25p
Editing software: Adobe Premiere CS6 (no colour grading done, playing with contrast and brightness only and yes, blacks are a bit crashed).
At 2:18, shot with Canon 1Dc

Equipment used:
Tripod-Ace L
Lenses-Canon 17-55mm, 70-200mm f4 (I could not use my Tokina 11-16mm due to the infinity focus problem between the camera and some Tokina lenses)
Shape BMCC cage
Alphatron EVF
Swit battery

Camera weaknesses:
-Small sensor
-Terrible ergonomics
-Touch screen driven menu
-Low quality LCD
-fuzzy sound adjustment and connectors
-No sound level meters
-While being able to see a picture with LUT on the camera’s LCD when shooting flat, there is no way to output the LUT to an external monitor
-Not low light sensitive
-Internal battery not replaceable
-Strong moire is some filming conditions (see a sample at 00:31)
-Frame rates are limited to 30 frames per second

Camera strengths:
-RAW recording
-ProRes/DNxHD recording
-Free copy of DaVinci Resolve

Special thanks for the great people at for their hospitality


Camera work/Picture editing: Johnnie Behiri

Assistant: Claudia Würtl

Johnnie Behiri is a BBC freelance cameraman/editor operating from Vienna Austria. When not BBCing, Johnnie is filming documentaries, commercials, music videos and testimonials/image videos.

Watch it on Vimeo

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nigel February 26, 2013

Great review, to the point, honest. Love what you’ve done with the site.

Johnnie Behiri February 28, 2013

Dear Nigel, thank you for taking the time watching the video and commenting. Appreciated.


Guilherme Kanso February 27, 2013

is it me or the focus ins’t right sometimes!?

Johnnie Behiri February 28, 2013

It’s me….

Indeed there is a shot or 2 when focus is a bit off. Not easy focusing with this camera on a run&gun situation.



Silton Buendia February 28, 2013

Every time is see video from this camera I just don’t like it. It just doesn’t look good at all and the dynamic range claims just don’t show IMO. Footage reminds me of old 16mm in a bad way.

Don’t get me wrong good job in making the video but its just the look of the footage that I don’t like and it’s been the same for ever project I’ve seen shot with this camera.

The FS700 video posted below this story looks a million times better just in the look of the footage.

And the horrible form factor of this camera makes it even less desirable. Sad thing is price point is good but on the same note I rather get a 5d with footage that looks a hell of a lot prettier then the stuff that comes out here.

Johnnie Behiri February 28, 2013

Hi Silton.

The FS700 video is on a completely different level of production and my friend Sebastian did a great job with it!.

I’ve seen good stuff coming out of the BMCC but all in all it is not the camera for me.



Simon Bailey Reply
Simon Bailey March 1, 2013

I agree. BMCC looks more video than the EX1 I used to have. Also agree about the dynamic range. A lot of moire on the guy patting the dog at 33-34 sec in.

The video itself is fine. Perhaps not the music I would have gone for but thats what makes the world interesting are our differences.

Johnnie Behiri March 6, 2013

Dear Simon, thanks for taking the time watching the video and commenting.


Peter J. DeCrescenzo March 3, 2013

Hi Silton: Have you seen these BMCC videos? (Download the higher-quality “original” files from the Vimeo pages):


Peter J. DeCrescenzo March 6, 2013

Hi Silton: Have you seen the following BMCC videos? Some were shot using the BMCC’s RAW mode, others using its ProRes HQ mode. (Download the higher-quality versions of the files from the Vimeo pages.)

More here:


Philip Barry April 10, 2013

sorry just realized I reposted one of your links

Philip Barry April 10, 2013

Have you seen this video?

Just thought I’d share it, because to me not only is it a great piece but it captures what you can do with the raw footage of this camera more than most videos I’ve seen shot on the bmc. I’m interested in it not only for the dynamic range but for the grading potential. Maybe it’s just me though. ;)

Cam Macduff March 5, 2013

Nice work. Hard subject with all that white and primary colours.
Couldn’t be more challenging.
Any chance you’d post a few DNG’s to have a look at the high res?
Thanks for your efforts. Only had my BMCC for a few months and I’m liking the output. Definitely better than my EX1 by a mile – but then if I hook my EX1 up to my Hyperdeck shuttle and record uncompressed, it’s pretty close. However the highlights are much harder still and the roll off much steeper.

Johnnie Behiri March 6, 2013

Hi CM, thanks for watching the video and commenting.

The video was shot in ProRes so no DNG’s.

Thanks you!


Karoliina Salminen Reply
Karoliina Salminen March 10, 2013

It looks quite apparent that BMCC is RAW-only camera. The downscaling from 2.5K RAW to 1080p ProRes in-camera just does not seem to work with adequate quality. The 2.5K is too close to 1080p and downscaling (without upsampling it first to 5K (oversampling) before downscaling to 1080p, in other words high quality downscale in post) will cause nasty looking softness like running LCD on something else than its native resolution. All ProRes 1080p examples I have seen so far have been muddy, soft and disappointing. Every single one of the impressive BMCC videos had been shot RAW. So if I get this camera, I better get huge SSDs to record always RAW and never ever use the downscaled 1080p. Of course if Black Magic would do 2.5K ProRes, the result might look a million times better. I wonder why that is not made as a standard feature. Or are they short of CPU power to compress ProRes at 2.5K?

Johnnie Behiri March 11, 2013

Dear Karoliina, thanks for taking the time watching the video and commenting.

Interesting observation, thanks for sharing.

All the best.


Peter J. DeCrescenzo March 11, 2013

Hi Karolilina: This BMCC ProRes footage shot by James Tonkin does not look “muddy, soft and disappointing” to me:

(Download the 603MB version of the file from the Vimeo page to see it in higher quality).

The BMCC does not add sharpening in-camera when recording. Adding a tiny amount of sharpening in post to its ProRes & DNxHD footage can yield very nice-loooking results.


Peter Kent April 30, 2013

marry me

Klaus Bremermann March 26, 2013

I totally agree with you Karoliina.
It seems that the BMC is a Raw only camera.

ProRes is the real deal when talking about work schedule and speeding workflow.

Thank you very much indeed Johnnie Behiri.
Keep up the good work !

Johnnie Behiri March 29, 2013

Thank you Klaus for taking the time watching the video and commenting!


Peter Kent April 30, 2013

Great review as usual, it’s a good warning about what to expect with this system. Do you think this would be any better with an ENG zoom?

Johnnie Behiri May 1, 2013

Hi Peter.

Thank you for taking the time watching the video and commenting.

ENG zoom is easier to work with then photo zoom lenses but I am not sure it is relevant for the BMCC camera. The currant non photo zoom lenses for the EF mount are from Zeiss and are priced around $20000…..

PeterK May 3, 2013

oh no, you can use old eng zooms (I’ve heard) a 2/3″ broadcast eng zoom with a built in 2x extender will cover a 4/3 sensor area (while the extender is engaged) and would be more than enough for the BMCC sensor. There are a few B4 to m4/3 adapters floating abound and the zoom rocker can be powered by a battery pack (which is already recommended when using a BMCC) plus the Black Magic cameras have a LANC remote plug for remote start and stop recordings (though I am unsure if anyone has made a Hirose Y cable with this compatibility)

Brandon August 29, 2013

Don’t mean to sound preachy, but I honestly believe the BMC may be one of the most misunderstood cameras to come out in recent years. After just returning from the middle east with the camera shooting a documentary, I can honestly say it’s most certainly a terrible run and gun cam, but I can’t say enough about the image. RAW is spectacular, with crazy sharp detail, film-like highlights, color and dynamic range to compare at times to my Alexa footage. It’s caveats are annoying, absolutely, I don’t like the moire, smaller sensor, and all the other little features they left out, but its still spectacular for the price.

CineAlta September 26, 2013

Is that a Teradek Swit battery? How does it perform? Would you recommend it? If so could you let me know what version of it you used (there are a couple different ones). hanks.

Johnnie Behiri September 30, 2013

Hi CineAlta, sorry for my late response.
Honestly, can’t remember. It’s already 7 months ago since I did the test and the set I got is already gone.