Current response to Blackmagic Cinema camera
After several weeks - I still really like the Blackmagic Cinema camera! I’m coming from a context of shooting with a cheap DSLR (Canon T2i) with Magic Lantern firmware and Cinestyle. I don’t like the crushed blacks look, although I often appreciate it in others. I saw a digitally remastered version of the African Queen and about 50% of the screen was black. I prefer a more graduated look. The BMC is similar to Cinestyle in providing a lower contrast look, although obviously with greater latitude and on a codec that is 10-bit and has 4 times as many colours. I’m surprised that so much of the value of the camera is the codec. Brilliant to edit with. Very fast. You can colour correct, stabilise, speed change, add effects at any point (2012 iMac).
I wonder how much more raw provides over ProRes. For cinema, shoot raw. But for documentary, it’s difficult to improve on ProRes, which means you are shooting in an editing format. You could just plug in the drive and edit on the SSD! I’m investigating raw now. I’m suspect raw provides 2% more for 92% more work. In the sun it matters; it grey old England? Perhaps not.
The BMC really does need light, as John Brawley has emphasised. In an unlit interior, it produces images just as bland as an HDSLR. But as a person moves to the window, the image comes to life in an extraordinary way.
In contrast, the other interior shots are too bland to share, even as evidence of blandness ;-)
I don’t like any of the battery solutions as they are clunky. I think I’d prefer a belt or something to clamp on a tripod leg or monopod. I need to shoot in a documentary context where a tripod is too slow. And I need a viewfinder because on a bright day, you can’t see anything on the screen, and you can’t wrap your coat around you anywhere near well enough. And I am told wearing a black cape looks eccentric. I’m looking at this viewfinder from Grid.
I learned yesterday that the IS only stabilises images when the camera is recording. I thought it was broken. I didn’t shoot because it was too shaky ;-)
If it weren’t for the 8bit H.264 codec on the HDSLR, it could be a very capable B camera. (<-Not really intended as a backhanded compliment.)
There are no sound meters. You could record directly to camera, but you need a tiny mixer to set levels and pre-amp. The audio on the camera is automatic: it has a hard limiter and perhaps even automatic gain control. On the other hand, the Rode VideoMic seems to work well enough, although the cropped sensor pushes people away from the camera - unless you want to go wide and shoot fat-heads. I need to figure out why the radio mics didn’t work.
If you are used to shooting with HDSLRs, it’s an amazing camera. And like an HDSLR - at the moment you have to put up with things - like unfinished audio processing, or not being able to view clips on camera, or not having a good battery solution, or using separate sound recording.
I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head. I love it despite it’s deficiencies. We’re going on a date this afternoon.