Cinematography : Blackmagic Design Camera? by Antonio Villaronga

Antonio Villaronga

Blackmagic Design Camera?

Does anyone have any experience with the Blackmagic Cinema cameras? Either the 2.5K model or the recently released 4K version? How does it compare to other similar models? I'm trying to decide if the huge difference in price with, say, the RED or the Sony CineAlta cameras mean that it is a much, much lesser quality camera or whether it is a good deal for the price. Any input appreciated. Thanks.

Parker Reeve

I have shot with Blackmagic. And RED and CineAlta and Alexa. Blackmagic is considerably lesser quality than those cameras. But it's a fine camera.

Antonio Villaronga

Thanks Parker.

Leopoldo Bolaños Cacho

I own a Blackmagic 2.5 camera, and I love it. I have a great time using it, and the quality is more than enough for film or documentary work. Also, you can´t ask for more at that price level. Go for it...

Antonio Villaronga

Great info. Thanks Leopoldo. Are any of the clips on your reel section shot with that camera? Gracias!

Leopoldo Bolaños Cacho

Y este curso tiene tomas en raw y pro-res: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntR4fCFv_nM

Lee Daley

We own 2 of the 2.5k cam's and use it as B cam on Alexa shoots. You can ask 100 people and get different answers. The best thing to do is to rent it and see for your self

Adrian Sierkowski

For the price they can't be beat-- but don't forget to about double the list price to get a really usable shooting kit-- sometimes more than that. On my own personal pocket, which is $995, I wind up strapping on close to $15,000 worth of other equipment, from matte boxes, to lens adapters, monitors, cinetape, ect. As for how they compare. They have a higher dynamic range than the epic/mx unless you're shooting the epic in HDR mode (which I rarely use) It is comparable to Log C on the Alexa. However there are some image artifacts to be aware of-- black hole suns on the 2.5K and a grid pattern on specular flares on the pocket. It's no deal breaker, but one must be cognizant of them. Media can be a headache and if you are shooting raw you are under a tremendous data load-- on one single camera 2.5K shoot we were pulling around 1TB of RAW data per day. Were I to buy one today, I would pick up a 4K version since that will be in demand next and can easily accommodate most productions-- though I am no fan of the EF mount and am hopeful they release a MFT mount version soon so you have the option of putting real cine lenses on the thing. I have only ever paired my camera with PL or old B4 lenses-- though I do have some nikkors I use for specific situations (Macro work specifically, or If i need to match it to a vDSLR or for portrait work or other special optics (tile shift for example, or drone work) The best advice, by the bye, with any camera system, is never to buy it until you need it and know you can pay it off before the next system comes out. Sadly I wasn't able to "pay off" my pocket on rentals before the 4K came out-- but that was primarily due to getting involved in quite a few features in a row which meant it sat at home. I'm not really mad/worried since it's such an affordable and unique little camera-- but it may mean I sell it for a bit of a loss if need be.

Senate Ewah Blakspirit

The sony f65 cinealta and red(epic or dragon) are better options... Shooting blackmagic 4k is more like a mini-cam that can do a bigcam's work. The black magic is a better experiment for an individual film maker... Less price but good pictures. A good investment. Just get the good lenses and adaptors u r good to go! Bless

Senate Ewah Blakspirit

You nailed it perfectly.

Paul-Thomas Parnell

I really liked it, but I'd love to get a red also. Here is something we shot with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De5PdEif2u0 with the lenses we had it was a bit tough on the focusing, but it worked pretty smoothly otherwise.

Mark Stolaroff

I think with this camera or any camera in the price range where you can afford to buy it, (let's say, under $6k?), the question is really about production flow. If you are shooting in a way where owning the camera is important or cost-effective, then comparing the BM camera to an Alexa or even a RED is a mute question. You need to be comparing it to other affordable cameras, like the DSLR's, the new Panasonic GH4, the FS100, the AF100, the C100 and the like. Of course, those are tricky questions too and really depend on what you're doing and your preferences. The advice here of renting one before buying and seeing if you like it is very sound, as is only buy right before you actually plan to use it. If, however, your production flow is more conventional--let's say you're planning on shooting a relatively high-budget film (over $100k?) with a large crew for a small number of days (under 20?) and you will never have access to the locations or actors again, then renting a camera is probably more in line with what you're doing. Then it probably makes sense to rent something higher end. My feeling on all these cameras, from the 7D to the Alexa, is you can get great images from all of them. Some have more work-arounds and are less user-friendly, but those are sacrifices you make to save money. There's a reason (several) the Alexa is multiples more expensive than a BM camera. And then, of course, the DP is the most important variable here.

Antonio Villaronga

Thank you all for your input. I have found a place that rents a 2.5K BM camera so I will try as many of you suggested.

Royce Allen Dudley

As prices drop, differences in quality compress. That's where digital is, and why DSLRs are so popular... they are good ENOUGH for the price to many people.... We also should not confuse purposes- many RED owners own them because they already get paid enough as a DP to justify the camera- it's NOT the other way around... you do not necessarily make $ off the camera just because you have it. Many DP's in large cities consign their cameras through rental houses to pay them down ( since movie cameras have been around, many of the cameras you rent are privately owned consignments, a little known hush hush fact among rental houses ). A producer might buy a RED to save long term rental costs- but then he is stuck with ongoing insurance maintenance and depreciation, so unless it works all year long... bad move. The cameras and their potentials as tools are different... and the fact is, a cheap lens on a RED or a great lens on a lesser camera? Always bet on the lens. And lenses do not go obsolete. Many DPs own great glass and equipment-agnostic accessories, a cheaper ( or even no) camera body, and then let producers rent when the time calls for a SuperCamera ( that's what I do ). I also own lighting and grip gear- although this year even that is changing a bunch ( finally).

Ken Koh

the 4k production camera is incredible for the price. but working with raw can be a pain, you'll need someone to use da vinci, lots of hard drive space and computer power for rendering. But the cheapest option out there to shoot 4k for now. I'll be doing a full test of it soon so I'll keep u posted.

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