Blackmagic 4k

The last day of NAB seems to be the best time to actually play around with gear. I was able to spend over an hour playing around with both the Blackmagic 4k camera and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Basically it was the reps, myself, and maybe 5 other people milling around off and on. In that time I was able to ask a lot of questions and fondle all of the cameras on display.

The first bit of bad news for those interested in the Blackmagic 4k camera according to the rep, is that the maximum ASA (basically iso) setting will be ASA 800 upon release. According to the rep, having that much resolution in an S35 size sensor means that the Blackmagic 4k camera had to sacrifice a lot of low light sensitivity. You do get 4k for $4k but you’ll want to bring along a lighting kit.

Blackmagic 4k video screen

Taking a closer look at the Blackmagic 4k camera record settings screen, you’ll see that they have included a time lapse features. However I was unable to change or adjust any of the settings in this menu on the greasy little touch screen. The rep explained that the recording options were still in development. Apparently Blackmagic isn’t sure what they’ll have working by the time of this cameras release, he wouldn’t confirm or deny any frame rates, settings, or time lapse options.

Blackmagic 4k audio screen

I have confirmation from Blackmagic reps that neither the Blackmagic 4k camera or the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera will have audio level meters upon release. You will be able to adjust both the left and right input levels and monitoring levels in camera but there aren’t any on screen meters. They did say that the “feature” might be implemented in the future, but that it wasn’t very high on their priority list.

Data rates on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera are large as I mentioned in an earlier post, but the Blackmagic 4k camera’s files are obese. Shooting in Proress 422 at 4k will be about 7GB a minute and if you plan to shoot RAW DNG expect at least 10.5GB a minute. The advantage that Red cameras offer over Blackmagic cameras is a decent compression rate in their R3D file format, with 1:5 compression rates as standard and the ability to increase the compression rate on RAW capture even higher if needed. Blackmagic’s open sources RAW DNG format is basically just taking advantage of an open source RAW image format. Sure it’s RAW, but it basically gives you a single image file per frame of video which is a lot less efficient than the R3D file format Red cameras use.

Blackmagic 4k from the side

I think both the Blackmagic 4k camera and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera will, like the original BMCC camera, be unfinished upon release. From the sounds of it, they’ll be struggling to meet the release date and we’ll end up getting a beta camera that will eventually be ready for prime time at some future date.

Blackmagic is one of the few companies in the camera market pushing the envelope. If you are willing to accept a beta camera and cross your fingers for future updates it’s the wild west and you could be headed for a gold rush or a stagecoach robbery, only time will tell. I’m going to risk it with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, wish me luck.

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