That’s it, it’s official now. The first compact pocketable cinema camera has been announced. It seems that the (r)evolution in the filmaking industry which began four years ago with the Canon 5D mk II has completed its circle. After delivering the first RAW capable cinema camera under $3k one year ago (the Blackmagic Cinema Camera), the company has just announced two new products at the NAB show in Vegas which started today. Could you ever have imagined that, one day, the words ‘cinema’ and ‘pocketable’ could be uttered in the same phrase when talking about filmmaking?
The first is a 4k cinema camera with a Super 35mm sensor and a price of only $3995! (Watch how happy all those indie filmmakers out there are going to be when this baby comes out!) Basically, Blackmagic is doing what Red wasn’t able to achieve with the Scarlet camera.
The second announcement is the even more surprising Pocket Cinema Camera, with a Micro Four Thirds mount. The sensor is the same as the original BMCC, but it will record a 1920×1080 image instead of the original 2.5k, which results in a crop factor of 1.3, the equivalent of a Super 16mm sensor. With a price of only $995, you will get Full HD 1080 recording in both apple prores codec and 12 bit lossless compressed Cinema DNG format (RAW), with a claimed 13 stops of dynamic range, which is huge considering the sensor size.
Of course, being a very pocketable camera, you will loose some of the features professionals like: no HD-SDI connection, and only mini-HDMI. Mic input is only through a mini jack 3.5mm connection. The camera records to SD cards, but considering the recording format, you will probably need to buy cards with the highest performance (and price tag).
Will it be a winner? Well, the price is definitely attractive, and it could work well as a second body designed to fit into unusual and tight spaces, but at the same time, the 16mm sensor equivalent gives you an significant crop factor (around 3x when compared to 35mm). The best lenses for this camera are going to be 16mm or Super 16mm prime cine lenses, or maybe other c-mount lenses. The official press release doesn’t provide the size of the camera, but from the pictures I have seen, it seems to match the size of Sony Nex cameras. You can see some pictures on John Brawley blog post here.
This is definitely the way professional equipment is going: great quality in compact bodies. While the rise of mirrorless cameras has already started, professional cameras seem to be on the same path. Will it be an isolated case? Only time will tell.
For sure, this Pocket Cinema Camera won’t be easy to use in every situation. The way we videographers shoot videos varies and we often need to rig the cameras with accessories to make them more practical in real world situations. I can already visualize accessory manufacturers scurrying to create rigs for this camera. Up until now the battery power has also been a weak point with the BMCC
Of course, we will have to wait and see if the image quality is up to par, but considering the positive experiences people have had with the first BM cinema camera, the expectations are high!
I personally think that the 4k version could be the camera that every filmaker has been waiting for: 4k RAW with a Super 35mm sensor for less than $4k? Nice work Blackmagic, really nice work!
You can read the full press release here.