Blackmagic Cinema Camera – Documentary shooting style test

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.

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
-Price
-Free copy of DaVinci Resolve

Special thanks for the great people at husky-time.at/ for their hospitality

Watch it on Vimeo

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nigel
Guest

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

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Guilherme Kanso

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

Member

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… Read more »

Simon Bailey
Guest

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.

Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Guest

Hi Silton: Have you seen these BMCC videos? (Download the higher-quality “original” files from the Vimeo pages):
http://vimeo.com/58045466
http://vimeo.com/55887965
https://vimeo.com/55217018
http://vimeo.com/52269416

Cheers.

Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Guest

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.)
http://vimeo.com/58045466
https://vimeo.com/55217018
http://vimeo.com/55887965
https://vimeo.com/49272792

More here:
http://herefortheweather.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/bmcc-links-for-blackmagic-cinema-camera-2/

Cheers!

Philip Barry
Guest
Philip Barry

sorry just realized I reposted one of your links

Philip Barry
Guest
Philip Barry

Have you seen this video?

http://vimeo.com/58045466

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
Guest

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.

Karoliina Salminen
Guest
Karoliina Salminen

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… Read more »

Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Guest

Hi Karolilina: This BMCC ProRes footage shot by James Tonkin does not look “muddy, soft and disappointing” to me:
http://vimeo.com/55217018

(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.

Cheers.

Member

marry me

Klaus Bremermann
Guest
Klaus Bremermann

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
Guest
Johnnie Behiri

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

Johnnie

Member

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?

Guest

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… Read more »

CineAlta
Guest
CineAlta

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.