Some initial thoughts on The Black Magic Cinema Camera:


This thing is going to sell like hotcakes. If you already own primes, it's sort of a no-brainer (assuming it delivers). For me, I think I still want a camera with an integrated/controllable zoom. Interchangeable lenses, yes; but I want to have the body and lens talk to each other. A lot of these cameras coming out lately (including the Sony F3, until the recent zoom for it came out) are in this we-do-the-imager and you-do-the-lenses...and the-camera-may-not-talk-to-the-lens deal. Which can be fine if you really are mostly shooting "cine style". For corporate, I gotta have a zoom that works with it. Be interested to see if Sony says anything about a zoom for the FS700.

This is the way stuff has been going in the big-sensor, DSLR-killer market -- toward separate cameras and lenses, intended for "film-style" shooting.  Which usually means you're going to hang a bunch of expensive crap on it to make it do what a full-on pro camcorder does.  That was one of the things that was popular about the Sony EX3, that you could use better lenses.  I was glad the lens they put on the EX1 was as good as it is.  It's really a decent all-rounder, especially if you can work around its limitations.

That footage from the BMCC makes me wonder if it will have the ability to set picture profiles as on Sonys. That footage had a pretty soft, ungraded look - although he was apparently trying to see mostly the dynamic range of the thing. DaVinci Resolve will work with either legacy FCP or X - you export XML from FCP and correct in Resolve, then come back.  They just made that possible in FCPX - it was one of the things it couldn't do before.  You have to have (I believe) a Blackmagic thunderbolt-capable box to make FCPX and Resolve work together.

That's a VERY attractive aspect of the Blackmagic Camera - that it comes with Resolve AND the Scopes.  You'll probably need a Blackmagic thunderbolt box as well.  It's a very Jobs-like deal - they are making an awesome piece of elegant hardware that will drive sales of their other products.  (I'm 3/4 the way through the Steve Jobs bio - it's an amazing story).  An integrated bunch of hardware and software all by the same company (well - except for the NLE).

Sony vs. Blackmagic

I mis-wrote when I said the BMCC is future-4k -- it's the Sony FS-700 that will have that capability.  The BM is a 2.5k sensor.

Phillip Bloom reviews the Sony:

Well really kinda apples and oranges here, they're both nice but different.  One thing that seems to get lost in the Blackmagic deal is that despite being a (future) 4k-capable imager, the chip is WAY smaller than the Sony.  BOTH need lenses and other expensive add-ons.  On the plus side of the BM vs. Sony is the built-in SSD recorder, includes Resolve AND Ultrascopes (each worth about a grand) though you pretty much need a Thunderbolt-capable computer to go with it.  I would say the Sony is a more "traditional" camera (in a good way) from the functionality point of view.  Plus it does awesome slo-mo.  I would guess that it will generally make better images than the BM, due to the imager - but in order to be apple-to-apples there, the Sony requires an outboard recorder like the Atomos Samurai, etc.

What I mean by that is that the BM has an onboard hard drive recorder that can potentially record in any format - and on the high end natively records 12 bit RAW files.  The Sony's internal recorder is NXCAM AVCHD compressed files.  As with my EX1, which records XDCAM EX at 35mbps - you have to go out the SDI spigot to get a 4:2:2 uncompressed signal, and to record that properly you need an external recorder.  The Samurai records ProRes in three flavors, I typically use the middle ProRes422 at 150mbps.

So if you wanted to truly compare the outputs of the BM and 700 apples-to-apples, you would need to record the Sony to a high res external recorder.  (Or set the BM to record compressed) So - another point for the BM.  $3k INCLUDING internal RAW recording capability AND full Resolve AND Ultra Scopes.  That would be a deal at $5 or $6K.  The Sony is $8k without lens (or external recorder, or Resolve or scopes).

This is not to say that the Sony's internal AVCHD files would not be fine for most stuff.  A drive in my Samurai locked up on a recent shoot, and so all I had was the XDCAM on the cards in the camera as backup.  Bummed me out, but the clients can't tell.  And I sure was glad I had the backup rather than having to re-shoot a half day.

So it's a lot to sort out.  I'm having this issue with a lot of items these days - not just what do they do, but what don't they do - and what's the best for my particular needs?