BLACKMAGIC CINEMA CAMERA 2.5K REVIEW: AN EDITOR’S IMPRESSION

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so we know the 4k BMCC is out, the URSA and that other one(the studio camera) is out too, or rather has been announced but knowing blackmagic it won’t be available when the masses expect it to be. So i got a chance to shoot with the blackmagic 2.5k not too long ago and the footage just got sent to me so I’ll just put up my experience with said device up here quickly.

Blackmagic  sort of looked at what RED had started. Giving film makers the kind of technology ARRI boasted of -or the kind that could compete with ARRI and the high end Sony camera for a fraction of the price. Blackmagic  took it a step further and offered pro res right out of a camera as well as RAW. Period. Why is pro res important? Outside of RAW, which is amazing as regards what you can do with RAW footage in post. Pro Res has a lot of latitude when color grading  and doesn’t ‘break’ when you go in on those RGB curves. getting pro res out of the box meant no round trips or log and transfer. Plus pro res is not a storage hog like RAW, although the bit rates are definitely higher than regular mp4 or mov shot from DSLRs and other cameras. Add to that the fact that the price was and always has been an absolute bargain. Enough about what blackmagic  did or didn’t do, let’s get into my experience with this camera.

FORM FACTOR.
You see that blackmagic eh, it is hard to hold. End of story. Unlike the hand grip shape you see on a DSLR or the handle and the shoulder mount on cameras like the P2 or Sony EX3, this device is like a flat screen television.A touch screen flat screen TV. I like touch screens on my phones but not on cameras. Shot a video on the canon 650D once and the only advantage was touch based focus. Navigating through a touch screen camera is for enthusiasts. At least until they redesign the user interface so you know you’re not holding a tablet but a camera. but i guess if you’ve been recording videos successfully (i.e with minimal shakes and jitters) on an iPad, you’re good.

VIEWFINDER
Only viewfinder you’re ever going to need is the screen, and the colour representation is quite good. While there are some electronic view fiber gizmo ice seen on the web for this camera, let’s be honest, this is Nigeria and at best you’d get a visor placed over the screen. Like i said the image representation is quite true as opposed to canon that has a reputation in my books of making images appear brighter on its lcd monitor.

ACCESSORIES
the BMCC(blackmagic  cinema camera for long) was made with two types of lens mounts. The EF lens mounts that works with regular canon DSLRs and the MFT or micro four thirds mount popular with Panasonic DSLRs so there’s a wide array of lenses for any version of the BMCC you choose to use. Although the EF mount performs better in low light as the APS C sensor traps in more light than an MFT sensor would.
Storage is done by means of an SSD (solid state drive)
Of course the usual rig ensemble are available for this camera too.
Buying the MFT mount BMCC means you can use super 16 lenses on them, but then again there’s a greater prevalence of EF lenses so you’re better off buying an EF mount based BMCC

IMAGE QUALITY
As long as you know the look you’re going for, this camera helps you achieve it. The image comes out with a lot of latitude and don’t look like they’ve suffered through a lot of post processing. This is good as I have to grade some ‘warm’ shots and make them cool for this project. That’s on the pro res front. RAW is of course really flat. For now I probably would not shoot RAW as the post production workflow is time consuming and requires lots of storage.

AUDIO:
Audio is a mess. Always have a primary, properly functional audio recording equipment if you’re using the BMCC to record something that’s not a music video or commercial. If for any reason your external audio gives up on you do not go guerrilla style and try to record with the BMCC’s inbuilt microphone. The editor who gets to fix that job will curse you. I’d you’re the person who’s going to have to edit it, you’ll curse yourself in retrospect. True story.
No options to monitor or control audio and I can see why they’d overlook that. I mean you’re most likely to use a zoom or something-if you’re working on a low budget-or have the actors read their lines in a studio, if you’ve go. But in Nigeria where rental equipment can misbehave, don’t you want to know that  there’s back up audio in case the recorder suddenly lost its connection or something? I once edited a scene in a movie where I used my lip reading skills (bequeathed to me specifically for that purpose) to sync audio and video files together, with the video having no discernable audio at all. Imagine if it was the audio device that went mute and you had to use the audio from the video clip? On the BMCC? Just fogerrrit

Like i was saying the blackmagic  at its price beats a lot of racially challenged DSLRs that fails to depict an African’s colour tone accurately(or is it just my picture setting, which is usually neutral with contrast turned all the way down). however getting used to it’s unusual ergonomics is another learning curve altogether but as an editor, this camera can ring my bell any day of the week.

Apologies, no doc360 this week, been working! but like I said on Twitter, there’s tons of stuff worth seeing about to be released so please bear (Lion) with us for now.

P.S I will be reviewing editing suite “lightworks” over the next few weeks. Will let you know what I think afterwards.

Bye,
PIXELMORPH

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