A handful of years ago, shooting professional video in Chicago with a still camera would have seemed ridiculous, but the Canon 5D changed that, now it seems every major camera manufacturer makes a large sensor handheld camera. These HD-DSLR cameras and large sensor “Super 35” Digital Video Cameras spawned a line of cameras and accessories, and several companies have jumped into the fray. Black Magic Design, mostly known for its Da Vinci color correction system, has slowly crept into the video production equipment line. They have created their own version of the “Super 35” Digital camera called the Black Magic Cinema Camera. A relatively straightforward name compared to the complicated model numbers of many Sony, Canon, and Panasonic cameras.
The Black Magic Cinema Camera has a 2.5K Sensor that can get you a 2436 x 1366 video shooting in 12 bit CinemaDNG RAW uncompressed file. If you need a more traditional file format, the Black Magic Cinema Camera will also shoot 1920 x 1080 in Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD files at 10 bit resolution. Instead of a traditional viewfinder, or LCD screen, the Black Magic Cinema Camera has a 5” touchscreen on the back of the camera. This allows for quick zooming, by tapping on the screen, instant metadata entry, and even slating a shot for your editor. Like the other “Super 35mm” Digital video cameras the Black Magic Cinema Camera uses third party interchangeable lenses. It can use either ZE or EF lenses, which means you can use Canon and Zeiss lenses. Also packed with the Black Magic Cinema Camera are the Da Vinci Resolve and Ultrascope, which are stripped down versions of their industry-leading color correction hardware.
Black Magic Design has made their Cinema Camera for a specific market. Without a lens it prices under $3000, which seems intended more as a complimentary camera in the arsenal rather than the flagship of your camera fleet. It gives you many of the benefits of a “Super 35mm” digital video camera in a stripped down camera. The touch screen, metadata, and slating features are very forwarding thinking options for easy transition from location production to the editing room. The Black Magic Cinema Camera lacks many of the fringe benefits like variable frame rates, shooting modes, and other options provided by Panasonic and Sony in their line of cameras that are at twice the price point. It also does not have XLR inputs, which makes it is closer to the Canon 5D Mark II than the Panasonic AF-100 or Sony FS-100. The Black Magic Cinema Camera offers the freelance director of photography a reasonably priced alternative to the current world of HD-DSLR cameras and “Super 35mm” digital video cameras.
The Black Magic Cinema Camera starts shipping at the end of July. Did you see the Black Magic Cinema Camera at NAB? Let us know your thoughts about this brand new camera.