Raw Power

For two straight years, Australian-based company Blackmagic Design stole the show at NAB. In 2012, the announcement of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera rocked the show floor, with its interchangeable EF mount and the ability to capture 2.5K RAW CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes files for a price less than $3,000. (The current price has come down miraculously to $1,995.) In 2013, they announced not one, but two cameras that disrupted the industry again. The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K shoots Ultra HD (3840×2160) in RAW CinemaDNG or Apple ProRes. But unlike the BMCC’s smaller-than-4/3s sensor (15.81×8.8mm), the EF-mount Production Camera 4K contains a Super 35-sized sensor (21.12×11.88mm).

But generating even more excitement than the Production Camera 4K was the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Crowds of filmmakers, cinematographers and journalists hovered around the glass case housing the miniature bar-shaped camera just for a glimpse. What makes the camera special is that it’s a true digital motion-picture camera that’s not much larger than an iPhone 5S. Oh, and by the way, the price of the camera is only $995—essentially, a third of the price of a high-end DSLR. (It’s important to remember that without a mechanical shutter, the BMPCC doesn’t have still photography capabilities.)

For color grading, Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve has been used on more feature films and television programming than any other system. In working with CinemaDNG files shot with the Film Dynamic Range look, I added the Blackmagic Cinema Camera default LUT and transcoded the files to ProRes.

TRUE POCKET CINEMA

You’ve already read the reports that camera phones have completely obliterated the consumer point-and-shoot still camera and palmcorder video marketplace. Although the BMPCC is a pocket-sized camera that shoots 1920×1080 resolution like most camera phones today, the ability to record both ProRes and now RAW CinemaDNG files is what sets this camera apart from any camera phone, action camera or even DSLR (non-hacked). In fact, the closest thing I can really compare it to is a miniature Super 16mm camera—one that will fit snugly inside your pocket (sans lens). The BMPCC’s sensor (12.48×7.02mm) is roughly the size of Super 16mm film (7.41×12.52mm), and CinemaDNG is similar to having a digital negative.

BMPCC TECH SPECS
Dimensions: 5.04(L)x2.6(W)x1.5(D) inches
12.48×7.02mm sensor
1920×1080 resolution
Lossless CinemaDNG RAW and
Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) at 1920×1080
Shoots 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
13 stops of latitude
3.5-inch LCD with 800×480 resolution
Metadata support for logging camera data

FIRST GLANCE

Without a lens attached, the BMPCC looks very much like a smartphone length- and width-wise, and like the BMCC, the body is very modern, with smooth surfaces and no wheels or dials. There are small playback buttons that sit next to a REC button on top of the camera. There’s also IRIS, FOCUS, MENU, POWER and toggle buttons on the back of the camera that allow you to make changes. At the bottom of the camera, there’s a battery door for both the battery, an SD card and a USB port to update the camera’s firmware.

On the side of the camera, you have five connections, including LANC Remote Control, which uses the standard LANC protocol, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a 3.5mm stereo audio connect that accepts microphones or line-level audio. This is different, and in my opinion, an improvement over the BMCC, which uses two 1⁄4-inch jacks. There’s also a 0.7mm 12-20V DC input to connect your power supply to charge the battery. All and all, because of its small size, the BMPCC has a very economical and efficient design.

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