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This is the main menu of the Master Guide to Rigging the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. If you’d like to read the updated (January 2013) version of this guide as a 100 page ebook, subscribe below. To read the older version of the guide online, scroll down for the main menu.
There’s no doubt about it – the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera (henceforth BMCC) has been a marketing success. Yes, there are other companies claiming to provide RAW 2K for cheap, but none with the stature of a proven company like Blackmagic Design.
First, let’s understand whom this camera was designed for. Here it is, in the manufacturer’s own words:
…it’s perfect for independent film, television commercials and episodic television production…
…it’s perfect for displacing video-only cameras for work such as sporting events, weddings, music videos and more!…
…Building one of the finest cameras in the world requires attention to every detail…
…Every aspect of the image path has been totally optimized for quality, so this means you always get the quality you need for the most demanding work…
This Guide is divided into 10 parts. Since the BMCC isn’t out yet at the time of this writing most of this guide is conjecture – based on my personal experience and analysis. It is only a starting point, from which you will hopefully continue to research and find what best suits your workflow. You are solely responsible for your decisions and actions.
I have one bit of important advice: Buy only what you need. If you can’t judge rationally, get somebody with experience to assist you. A rig is a constantly evolving thing, and you’re better off starting with the bare minimum and adding stuff later, than spending all your money on a setup that will evolve anyway.
Part 1: Ergonomics and Connections
ERGONOMICS, DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT
The BMCC technical specifications page, which can be found here, is severely lacking in details about the dimensions of the camera. So, I used what’s available, and reverse engineered my own specs.
Keep in mind: These are very rough estimates, and for exact measurements either ask Blackmagic Design (BMD from here on) or measure yourself. Click to enlarge.
The BMCC is by design a front-heavy camera. If you flicked it forwards it will topple over. If you flicked it backwards, it most likely won’t, unless the force is great.
I imagine the center of gravity to be slightly below the mid-point of the lens mount, which is okay for light lenses but not good enough for heavy lenses. With heavy lenses the height will make it easier to topple over. There is nothing new here, as a similar design is found in most other cameras and DSLRs.
In order to hold the camera on a plate, it has a 1/4″-20 UNC screw thread tripod mount with a locator pin at the bottom. This mount will also accept BSW screws of a similar gauge without causing much pain.
On the top there are three 1/4″-20 UNC screw thread mounting points to attach or secure whatever suits your fancy.
Weight of the camera body is 1.7 kg. Weight of a typical SSD drive is less than 100g, so the total weight of the camera with one SSD drive is about 1.8 kg.
The camera chassis is machined aluminium. It has rubber front and back finishes for an easier grip – if you were inclined to hold it like a 7″ tablet.
Recording Media – SSD
On one side is a slot for one 2.5” Mac OS Extended format SSD drive. Windows users will need third party apps to create or read mac-formatted drives that can be used on this camera. Yes, the BMCC is an Apple friendly camera.
Recording formats supported
2.5K (2432 x 1366) 12-bit Cinema DNG RAW at 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p.
1920×1080 10-bit 4:2:2 Prores HQ (or 422) or DNxHD 220 at 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p.
The following SSDs are recommended for CinemaDNG video capture:
BMD only recommends SATA III 6 Gbps drives. The list is not comprehensive, so you might be able to find drives that pass muster. Don’t forget to check actual real-world benchmarks to see if your preferred drive can sustain 150 MB/s minimum.
Connectors and Buttons
I actually like the fact that all of the BMCC’s connectors are on one side – except I feel it’s on the wrong side for shoulder-mounted rigs.
The BMCC has the following connectors:
The buttons on the BMCC are:
The BMCC ships with a detachable sun shield, a camera strap, a turret dust cap and a 12V AC adapter (BMD haven’t said whether its 120V, 220V or both). I can’t imagine many people lugging the camera rig around their neck.
If you’re thinking: Why not? Doesn’t it replicate the behavior of a DSLR? This is when I must ask you to reread BMD’s words above on what projects their camera is intended for. Their competition is the Arri Alexa, no less.
Inside the camera, in true Apple style, is an integrated lithium-ion polymer rechargeable battery that will give 90 minutes of life (BMD has not specified whether this is standby time or recording time). It takes 2 hours to charge, so unless you are only shooting for an hour everyday, you’ll need additional batteries. Imagine what will happen if your battery dies out a few years from now – how will that affect the resale value of your camera?
Blackmagic design also sells a separate Handle which I think should be shipped free with the camera.
In real world use, if you are using both hands to hold the camera via the Handle, what will you use to operate it – your nose? While you figure out how to support your camera to free a finger I’ll move on to part 2, where I’ll discuss lens, filters and other accessories.
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