Blackmagic 4K Production Camera – Second Impressions

Here’s a regional commercial for a local bank that I just directed & shot with the Blackmagic 4K Production Camera. The client was looking for the slightly desaturated, shallow depth of field look that is popular in high-end national spots. It was a perfect opportunity to use the BMPC.

A couple of quick notes, now that I’ve been using the BMPC for a few weeks.

1) The amount of data this camera captures in the shadows is UNBELIEVABLE. Prior to this commercial shoot, I had to shoot in a dark computer lab, and accidentally took a couple of shots before I realized I had left the ND filter on the lens. I was going to delete the clips as useless, but decided to see how they looked with a little Colorista II and Denoiser applied. To my astonishment, the footage turned out perfectly usable! Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend underexposing your footage by three stops, but it’s good to know that you can salvage what would be a grainy, noisy mess with a different camera.

2) The BMPC is not nearly as forgiving as the 5D2. Part of the 5D magic is that it made almost anything look great. The BMPC really requires good lighting. However, with a decently-lit and composed shot, the clarity is far beyond anything I ever got out of my 5D2.

3) Audio is AWFUL. Far worse than any DSLR. Not only is the hiss and noise of the camera totally unacceptable, but the camera seems to clip any signal over about -20 db. Maybe I’m missing something, but until I figure it out, I am using dual-system sound for every shoot, and syncing the clips with Pluraleyes.

4) The built-in LCD screen on the BMPC is a bit difficult to focus with (especially outside, in bright sun). Unfortunately, the camera does not have HDMI output, so I had to get an SDI to HDMI adapter in order to use the camera with my existing field monitor. I didn’t want to spend $500 for a Blackmagic adapter, so I bought a $40 one from alibaba.com. The adapter works, but I’m a little nervous about how flimsy it is, so I try to use it as little as possible. At some point, I’ll need to invest in an SDI monitor.

  2 comments for “Blackmagic 4K Production Camera – Second Impressions

  1. June 4, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Hi Alex, thanks for your thoughts. Good work on the video, can’t wait for the raw update.

    If you’re not sold on the $40 adapter, Atomos makes a very solid yet small SDI to HDMI converter that runs on a Sony battery and lasts for an entire shoot (~10 hours). Built to last and pretty solid. Cheaper than the Blackmagic converter at $295 but significantly more than that $40 one.

    http://www.atomos.com/connect-converters/

    • Alexander
      June 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Thanks, Sherwin! I will check out that product.

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