by Tim Fok | 24th June 2014
After a false start, Blackmagic has released firmware version 1.8 affecting most of their current cameras. There has been a bit of a debate on the Blackmagic and BMCuser forums after the firmware appeared briefly before disappearing from the official forums. However now version 1.8 makes the front page of blackmagicdesign.com, clearing up concerns of an unofficial release. Here is what has been changed: Blackmagic Production Camera 4K Updated user interface Losslessly compressed RAW DNG recording support Addresses an issue where pixel artefacts are seen in edges with strong highlights while shooting in 1080 mode Adds autofocus support for compatible EF lenses Blackmagic Cinema Camera Updated user interface Adds autofocus support for compatible EF lenses Improved debayering when shooting to ProRes or DNxHD Improved focus peaking display Improved ISO handling when shooting at ISO 1600 Improved general audio performance Iris setting is retained when switching between camera recording and clip playback Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Updated user interface Improved performance when recording using internal microphones Improved instances where a grid-like pattern may occur in some flare highlights General improvements in autofocus with active MFT lenses Adds supports for stabilization in MFT lenses without physical O.I.S switches Improved support for Sigma MFT lenses Improved support for Lumix 12-42mm PZ lens Improved support for Olympus 60mm f/2.8 MFT lens Iris setting is retained when switching between camera recording and clip playback Blackmagic Studio Camera Improved phantom power compatibility Addresses an issue with interlace video being output as progressive video The main talking point will be the addition of RAW support on the Blackmagic 4K camera, however image improvements for the initial three Blackmagic cameras will be warmly welcomed. We’re still missing some crucial features, features some would have anticipated in this release. Lets just hope there’s another update not too far around the corner. What are your thoughts? What would you have like to realistically seen in this update?Read more
by Johnnie Behiri | 18th February 2014
Important notes concerning the video above: • After some concerns with our Blackmagic Production Camera 4K review unit we were holding publication of this article until we received a replacement unit from Blackmagic today. • Now that we have a replacement camera in our hands we can confirm that the initial concerns are correct and seem to be consistent. • The footage the camera produces IS sharp. It is not only important to shoot with quality lenses but to also use a good ND filter when shooting outdoors. Unfortunately the “Light Craft Fader ND mark II” I’ve used when shooting this video is not up to the task and significantly softens the image beyond a focal length of 85mm. • At the end of this article you can find an ungraded version of the video for your assessment. • If you are interested in this camera it is recommend that you download the 4K source from Vimeo: LINK After the first part of our Blackmagic Production Camera 4K review (from now on referred to as “BMPC4K”) I went out into the field for a more thorough and practical look, especially stressing the documentary abilities of the highly anticipated new “4K budget wonder”. Blackmagic was kind enough to send us an early sample of their new Production Camera 4K which we took a very close at. One of the first things you notice is the name: The first Blackmagic camera was named “Cinema Camera” while this new version is identified as a “Production Camera”. Blackmagic Design emphasises not only by its name that this camera is aimed at the production market, meaning studio and television productions, documentaries and small scale live event shoots. I took the camera out for a short “documentary style” work and I’m happy to share my experience as I think there’s quite a bit to consider. Anyone who previously used the original BM cinema camera will feel at home immediately as the camera body and menu structure are very much identical. I haven’t changed my mind that in terms of ergonomics there is much left to be desired BUT the market has moved forward and today you’ll have the benefit that you can find lots and lots of accessories to make your life easier when working with this design. (external batteries and dedicated rigs and more dedicated rigs, etc). In terms of overall picture quality I certainly got mixed results: When there is sufficient light the camera will produce wonderful images as long as you record at no more than 400 ISO. When changing the ISO value to 800, you are risking recording unusable footage (unconfirmed). My advice is to avoid ISO 800 on the BMPC4K at the moment. To be fair we have to note that Blackmagic’s CEO Grant Petty already wrote back in August of 2013 that “This camera is not a low light camera”. A concern is Blackmagic’s quality control. The camera we originally got had a strip of black dots at the bottom left/center side of the image (right-click open images below in new window for 4K resolution). The second one did not have it. A second issue we ran into were hundreds of white (dead?) pixels that were visible when shooting in dimmed/dark places and also dark areas of well lit images. In the screenshot below we show you footage taken in total darkness as this is where these white pixels on all parts of the sensor are best visible. We have circled some of them in red. Note that certainly we do not recommend shooting in a lowlight situation like that. the concern is however that the pixels also show up in dark areas on well lit scenes and also the image below has not been graded or boosted in post. In part 3 of our review we discuss this issue further as these white pixels seem to appear and disappear without explanation. We are further investigating this issue. There was no post processing done to these images and the dead pixels were also visible after applying the dedicated Blackmagic Cinema Camera LUT in DaVinci resolve 10.1.1. On the positive side: No Moiré or aliasing were detected, the audio got improved and of course recording right to pro-res is a time-saver. Concerning audio: I must admit I forgot to bring an SD card for my Tascam DR-60D so the mic was connected to the Tascam WITHOUT recording on it. I sent the audio signal to the BMPC4K and recorded internally. As you can hear the audio quality is good enough for “normal” usage or when you don’t have a soundman working with you. It is unfortunate that after such a long time there are still NO audio meters on the Blackmagic Cameras to judge in camera audio levels. All in all. If some of the concerns raised here can be addressed in some way, the camera can become good value for the money. Camera settings used in this short review: • ISO: 400-800 • Shutter: 180° • Recording format: ProRes (HQ) 4K • Frame Rate: 25 • Dynamic range: Film • Graded with: film convert Music kindly provided by www.themusicbed.com Music title: “Willow Be” by “Live footage” A big thank you to Thomas Strini who was up to the task of helping with this review in zero time. You can find out more about Thomas and his work at www.strini.at Ungraded version of the video: vimeo link (to download 4K file) Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.comRead more
by Nino Leitner | 10th February 2014
Blackmagic Design has cut the price of its global shutter 4K Production Camera from $3999 to $2999 – probably as a reaction to the announcement of the Panasonic GH4 last week, which is rumored to be priced at $1999 with a similar price tag on the optional XLR/SDI accessory for 10bit 4:2:2 4K output. (Official price in Europe will be € 2735.) The Blackmagic 4K Production Camera is available for order from B&H now. In Europe, AF Marcotec offers the camera for € 2.079 net price with an additional €50 off with the exclusive code C5DBMPC4K, valid only until Feb 28. The price drop will be extended to all pre-orders too, a move that will bring Blackmagic Design a lot of additional sympathy for sure.Read more
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