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Is BMD the new RED?

And is EF the new PL? More on the BMD Cine Camera.

By Adam Wilt | April 17, 2012

A few pictures of the $3000 BMD Cine Cam and some infonuggets. [update: added EOSHD's sensor size comparison.]


The camera uses a single 2.5K sensor, around four-thirds in size according to one of the BMD folks in the booth, 15.6 x 8.8mm according to comments in John Brawley's writeup about using the prototype. Think somewhere between Super16mm (12.52 x 7.41mm) and Four Thirds (18.8 x 10.6 for GH2, 17.8 x 10.0 for AF100, according to Abel Cine) and you'll be in the right ballpark... assuming these numbers are at all correct! [Update: EOSHD's sensor size comparison.]

13 stops dynamic range, 12-bit raw recording to CinemaDNG files, or 1920x1080 ProRes and/or DNxHD wrapped as Quicktime. Uses off-the-shelf SSDs, I think.

5" touchscreen, with soft-touch rubber membrane switches around it for transport controls, on/off, iris, focus assist (peaking). Switches feel good and solid, and touchscreen is nicely responsive.

12-30v DC power, with built-in (?) battery. LANC remote control. Add-on handgrip $195. Two channels of audio in, on 1/4" jacks (!). One HD-SDI out, one Thunderbolt port. No genlock or shutter-sync port as far as I can tell. Three 1/4" accessory sockets on top. Not sure what's on the bottom.

Canon EF mount, with electronic communications. Not sure what lens functions aside from iris will be supported.

The demo camera I fiddled with offered settings of ISO 400, 800, and 1600. There's an adjustment for shutter speed, but in the demo camera it was fixed at 24fps.

The pix looked pretty good on the built-in displays and the 18" (?) Panasonic LCDs the cameras were feeding. No obvious aliasing or other demosaicing artifacts, at least not in these difficult viewing conditions.

Each camera comes with a full version of DaVinci Resolve, so it's really a $2K camera with a $1K grading package included (grin).

So, is BMD the new RED? They're certainly revolutionizing what it costs to get into interchangeable-lens, raw-recording motion-picture cameras, just as RED did—but I don't see RED, Canon, Arri, Sony, or other camera makers quaking in their boots. The BMC Cine Cam looks like a great DSLR-killer, but it's a smaller sensor (or so I'm led to believe, so far), it's "only" 2.5K (thus none of the 4K cameras need fear obsolescence just yet), and it's unclear if the camera has the systems-level capability to satisfy productions beyond the lone indie-filmmaker crowd.

But it's early days yet; the camera won't ship for a few months. And, fercryinoutloud, it's $3000! One can live with a lot of compromises for $3000.

I go back Wednesday or Thursday for a more detailed look-see, and a firmer grasp on specifications. Look for a writeup within a week (I'm focusing on data-collection now, writeups after the show).

Disclosures: I'm attending NAB on my own dime, and with a press pass to save the cost of admission. Blackmagic Design did not offer me any material consideration for a positive writeup, and there is no material connection between me and Blackmagic Design.

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Marco Solorio: | April, 18, 2012

Yo Adam! Just to add, BMD prez mentioned that the two 1/4” audio inputs are switchable (via menu) between analog and AES/EBU digital.

Vijayendran: | April, 18, 2012

Black Magic Design makes products are great but 90% out of the gate. Revision 2 is usually the one to buy. (They just added TC detection on the Hyperdeck, something the Atomos always did). But their price points are reasonable.

The BMD Cinema camera is great compared to the 5D but a few notches below.

1) There are no audio bars to monitor audio
2) The sensor is smaller than the M4/3 sensor, depth of field will be better on the 5D with its full sensor
3) There’s no handle or grip
4) No mount points on the body
5) The screen is 800x600
6) Without buttons, how do you control the camera during handheld filming? Does it come with a tripod?

The pros are mainly the way is records; RAW, DnX, and ProRes, and on an SSD!

Wait for Revision 2!

Adam Wilt: | April, 18, 2012

Well, I saw at least three mounting points on the body (as I described above) and an add-on handgrip bracket (ditto), and as Revision 1 isn’t released yet (plenty of time to add things like audio metering), I’d suggest we just wait and see what the actual camera will be before making any hasty judgements.

Vijayendran: | April, 18, 2012

Thanks for responding! Looking forward to the Revision 1, as BMD is on the right track!

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