The Blackmagic Cinema 4K camera is a modern behemoth of image capture. Its compact size is deceiving—there’s a lot more power in this camera than you might think. In order to get this kind of quality in the past, you’d have to drop 10, 15, sometimes even 20K for an Alexa or a RED camera, but not anymore. Blackmagic really disrupted the market with their new innovation, and as a plus it comes in a much smaller, more compact package. We’ve been fans of this camera since day 1, and that’s why we shoot all of our projects on one. We’re here to dissect the pros, cons, and how it stacks up to the competition.
Let’s start right in with the specs. As it name suggests, the Blackmagic is a 4K camera that is capable of capturing at 4096 x 2160 (4K DCI), 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD), and 1920 x 1080 (HD). This versatility makes it easy to only shoot what you need and not always be stuck with huge 4K file dumps. And conversely, you have the option to record in the absolute highest quality for maximum latitude in editing. One of the beauties of 4K image quality is the ability to crop your frame without any pixel loss. This comes in handy, especially if what you shot initially isn’t quite what you need. You can also shoot at a variety of frame rates (23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94 and 60 fps) in order to suit the project. The higher frame rate options allow for intensely realistic slow motion and smooth image capture when shooting sports, cars, or other high speed subjects. The customization offered by this camera makes for a total workhorse that fits in with your needs.
One thing that really sets this camera apart is its global shutter feature. In recent years, the popularization and affordability of DSLR has made filmmaking more accessible for almost anyone, however many of these DSLRs feature a “rolling shutter” that makes for various image distortions with horizontal movement. Cars driving by seems weirdly titled, and if you do a quick enough pan with a rolling shutter, the whole image will look askew and slightly sideways. With the Blackmagic’s global shutter, you don’t get any of the odd image distortion that you do with typical rolling shutter DSLRs.
The camera records in SSD, meaning that unless you have these on hand, you won’t be able to use the SD cards you’ve already got for your DSLR. Unfortunately, this requires also buying devices to read and access the files on the card, which adds another cost to an already somewhat costly camera.
Overall, the camera is a stellar piece of technology. The images are crisp, and while the low light performance isn’t the best, it still offers the perfect middle point between full cinema Alexa cameras, and cheaper DSLR. This camera is great for smaller studios and companies, and is physically small enough to be easily transportable to on location shoots and more. It’s a pretty complete package, and you’d be smart to own one for your own studio.
Format: CinemaDNG RAW (future capability), Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), 1920×1080
Sensor Type: 4K Super 35mm Sensor with global shutter
Size of Sensor: 21.1mm x 11.9mm
Shooting Resolutions: 3840×2160 and 1920×1080
Frame Rates: 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
Lens Mount: EF and ZE mount compatible with electronic iris control
Microphone: Integrated mono microphone
Power: Integrated Lithium-ion Polymer rechargeable battery, 12V-30V DC port for external battery power, 12V AC adapter
Battery Life: Approx. 90 minutes
Recording Media: Removable 2.5” SSD
Audio In: 1/4” balanced analog audio jacks (2)
Audio Out: 1/8” (3.5mm) stereo audio headphone, 2-channel SDI Audio Output
Video Out: SDI Video
Other Interface: 2.5mm LANC for remote control; Thunderbolt port for capture of HD video and audio; USB 2.0 mini-B port for software updates and configuration
Weight (body only): 3.8lb. (1.7kg)
- 4K recording quality
- 12 stops of dynamic range
- Large sensor with global shutter
- Reduced moiré/aliasing
- Significant storage and computer power demands
- Poor low light
- Media management issues (no formatting, deleting, or capacity indication)
- Poor audio options