CVP Hands-On with Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

CVP Hands-On with Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

Back in April there were lots of cool toys to see at NAB. When you walked by the sitting areas or eavesdropped on chit-chatters in line for food there was definitely a reoccurring theme. Everyone was talking about Blackmagic’s newly announced camera. Still slated to ship ‘sometime in July’, this much talked about $3K camera could be arriving any day now. Until then, we have a hands-on impression from broadcast supplier and news site, CVP.

The camera still boasts 2.5K resolution and is currently listed on B&H for $2,995. Given the smaller size of the sensor you won’t be seeing the same shallow depth of field as the larger sensor DSLRs. The camera body alone weights 1.8 kg (4 lbs) – comparability, the Canon 5D MkIII weights just under 2 lbs. The touch screen and menu system were spoken highly of and I have to agree. The prototype I briefly played around with at NAB had a responsive touch screen and the menus weren’t difficult to navigate. Don’t forget that this camera comes with the advanced color grading software, Da Vanci Resolve. That about covers all the good stuff…

Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera touch screen and menu preview

The rest of CVP’s impressions are somewhat discerning as the drawbacks seem evident. The crop factor is the biggest concern as the micro four thirds size sensor has a crop of 2.1. Your 24-70mm lens is actually going to be closer to 50mm-147mm. That’s fine for getting close-ups but what are you going to do for wide angle shots in tight quarters? The camera’s battery is non-removable and lasts for 1.5 hours of constant operation so you’ll obviously need a 3rd party power source as an alternative.

There has been some talk of the awkward form factor but I don’t see it as a huge drawback. Shooters will be putting rails systems, shoulder mounts, EVFs, and all the other gadgets around this camera as they do with DSLRs so I wouldn’t be too worried about the form factor in that regard.

Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera
Ultimately, the camera will speak for itself when we get our eyes on some production model footage. As is common practice, sharing footage from prototype bodies is a no-no and CVP wasn’t able to share any footage as the model they had was in fact a prototype. Even with the drawbacks I’m still excited to see what the camera is capable of, especially considering the price point. One thing is for sure, if you haven’t pre-ordered one yet you might be waiting a while as it sounds like the lists are already quite long and without any notification of quantities shipping it could be months before pre-orders are even filled.

You can check out CVP’s full blog post here. So does any of this sway you one way or the other? What do you think? Will you be picking up the camera later this month (or whenever it actually ships)? Do the drawbacks outweigh the good? Let us know in the comments below.

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18 Responses to CVP Hands-On with Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

  1. JTC says:

    Looks like a real game changer camera for the smaller market.

  2. Sean Cusson says:

    We were very interested in this camera (currently shooting with 5D & D800) until we found out about the battery. We would never be able to invest in technology that didn’t allow us to quickly swap out a fresh battery in the middle of a shoot.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Sean
      Ya… that’s a huge one for me too. I’m really not a fan of the crop factor either.

    • Jack Crombie says:

      Hey Sean, No one here seems to think about the possiblity of using an anton bauer battery or V mount battery and powering EVFs, Lights and any other accessories off it as well as the camera, Basically turning the internal battery into a UPS (Emergency battery). The camera happily accepts 12V-30V DC, so you don’t need any converters between battery and camera.

      If you’re using a shoulder mount rig, the external battery can even be used as a counter balance behind the shoulder pad.

  3. Salil says:

    “That’s fine for getting close-ups but what are you going to do for wide angle shots in tight quarters?”
    There are a number of wide lenses designed for the micro 4/3 sensor size. As micro 4/3 grows, we’ll start to see more and more options.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Salil

      Absolutely. I had a conversation with another reader about a good wide angle lens. My big concern was that Blackmagic was obviously targeting the 5D MkII and MkIII shooters with their camera being that it’s EF mount. I’m eager to see where the market goes with these lenses too.

  4. Mike says:

    Very interesting design and a great attempt. Still too many drawbacks to be worth the money for me. I’d rather stick to a DSLR. The next generation of this camera could be something amazing if they address the issues.

    • John Doe says:

      Too many drawbacks to be worth the money? You get Da Vinci Resolve and Ultrascope with your purchase. That alone is more than a $1,500 value. You’d rather stick to DSLR? Really? You know what color grading on the Black Magic is going to be like? Plus the latitude on this camera? The only real drawback for me is the lack of XLR and awkward form, but those are also negative aspects that DSLRs possess. As far as batteries go, everyone’s acting as if they’ve never heard of Anton Bauer.

  5. Was thinking the same thing about the battery. Will 2.5 k justify it? Not for me. Cool toy for sure. Maybe the ultimate time lapse machine? Perhaps a killer lock down cam? Still the battery. So run and gun seems out. Love the trend though and the blackmagic products are always great at an
    Amazing price.

  6. tarquin says:

    The black magic camera seems like a very strange mix of pros and cons , almost as if it is in a fact a pre cursor to something perfect they actually have made sitting in a factory but releasing next year , marketing? no xlr inputs? crop? we can send machines to Mars , come on! I bought a 7d and even that has taken the role of very secondary camera , lets face it the 5d still rocks large

  7. Larry Robins says:

    Seems to me that with some of the very high quality, ultra fast lenses…think Nokton .95 4/3…and the raw 12 bit format, we might be looking at a game changer. Battery is an issue though AC power should work for many A pair of these would make an awesome interview kit. Cheap cinema. Software makes the deal that much more attractive…

  8. LSYoung says:

    I saw this camera at NAB, after hearing the buzz about it – compared to other manufacturer’s offerings (Larger sensors, better form factor, more intuitive menus, etc) I was largely unimpressed. 4K is fine for film (ACTUAL 4K that is) however MOST deliverables (UNLESS YOU are making a feature) are 1080P or i – meaning the camera’s image would have to be downsized for edit anyhow – thus 4k becomes less than valuable, The greatest reason to get this camera? The FREE inclusion of the Davinci Software. I also suspect the EDiT workflow may be a nightmare.

  9. LSYoung says:

    Forgot another thing – a NON REPLACEABLE battery is a complete NO GO for the field in studio it could also be a hassle. When I saw the camera I was thinking “Copy Stand” for archive photos.

  10. Alex Ibrahim says:

    I have to say, many of the comments about the internal battery seem a bit silly.

    You simply use a professnal battery system. I prefer Anton Bauer, and a single AB will power my entire rig including an EVF and an LCD ( or two LCDs) plus any FIZ motors or converter boxes.

    The camera is designed to be very tolerant of poorer inputs, so you could even wire up a car battery and attach that to a jib (use it as a counterweight!), or drop it on a dolly and run for like a week.

    I’d prefer a removable battery, but it certainly isn’t a deal breaker.

    I’m more concerned about the sensor size. I think Rokinon/Samyang 8mm Cine lens is about to become very popular.

    The Zeiss LWZ.2 in EF mount may also become very popular, at least at rental.

    I don’t recall if Duclos offers their 11-16 conversion in EF mount … but they should.

    You will definitely be able to lens this camera effectively.

    It’s a great camera for a bargain price. I think people seriously underestimate the value of having a high quality recording format.

    To those who think the edit process will be painful … Why? Are you having trouble finding editing systems that can process ProRes and AVID DNxHD footage? Maybe you forgot that the camera also records those formats. Do you think that “obscure” Adobe CinemDNG format will be unmanageable? I think that Resolve, After Effects, and Premiere supporting it out of the gate is a good start. Avid will follow pretty quickly.

    Then again, if Black Magic does what they normally do … There will be a QuickTime codec available … That is if Apple and/or Adobe don’t deliver one.

    There is an amazing upside to this camera. I think it will address a lot of the distracting bokeh porn out there in films. I prefer the S35 size, but I tend to shoot it at t/2.8 on interiors, and t/5.6 in day exterior. T/2.9 will be fine for wide masters on interiors, and there are lots of fine t/1.5 and t/1.3 lenses for your mediums and CU shots.

    Engage your creativity gentlemen!

  11. conrad gaunt says:

    i run a small camera rental company. we have an epic.. but i don’t think i’ve been as excited about a camera as this.. i won’t repeat Alex’ comments

    Listening to the boys at (RC podcast), who were speaking with an australian production thats using one on an Alexa shoot as a “get into tight places cam”.. apparently its intercutting very well with the Alexa footage..i know, i know.. you can go that with a 5D!

    downsampling from full-res DNG (2432×1366) to 1080p starts with a 1.6x pixel oversample.. which should produce a very nice output.. a bit like the Alexa does internally before spitting out its pro-res (unless you record the raw)

    what excites me personally is the uncompressed raw option, no codec deciding what to “throw away”, which should mean no difficult to compress footage..

    btw, ive had Red repair bills that cost more than this camera..

    a 5D mkII (with a mosaic engineering lowpass filter fitted of course to remove line skipping artifacts) is also an interesting 65mm camera, .. but i just don’t want to start from an 8-bit highly compressed start position at any sensor size..

    i won’t be buying one from Cinevate (i already hit a UK supplier long ago now..).. but hopefully our set of Zeiss Zfs will work on this camera .. which were a great buy from cinevate a couple of years ago!

    i actually prefer smaller sensors..

  12. sean orelaja says:

    Not sure what all the fuss is regarding the lack of battery, as you can easily pick up a 12v dc battery (rechargable) for $10-$25: Light and cheap. As far as DOF is concerened I also don’t see the problem, it looks fine on a 4/3 GH2 and with a tokina 11-16 or canon 8-15 you’ll get all the coverage of 25 to 37 or 18-34mm, what more do you need. The software alone is $995, so your getting a cinema quality camera for $2000, what more could you possibly ask for, solid gold socks.

  13. Mauricio B says:

    this camera was created for grading, you will able to control colors at levels like never before.
    crop factor is something to care about.
    shallow d.o.f.? try keep two actors in focus while they move around. or while you’re panning.