Is BMD the new RED?

And is EF the new PL? More on the BMD Cine Camera.
Adam Wilt
By Adam Wilt 04.18.12


A few pictures of the $3000 BMD Cine Cam and some infonuggets. [update: added EOSHD's sensor size comparison.]











Infonuggets:

The camera uses a single 2.5K sensor, around four-thirds in size according to one of the BMD folks in the booth, 15.6 x 8.8mm according to comments in John Brawley's writeup about using the prototype. Think somewhere between Super16mm (12.52 x 7.41mm) and Four Thirds (18.8 x 10.6 for GH2, 17.8 x 10.0 for AF100, according to Abel Cine) and you'll be in the right ballpark... assuming these numbers are at all correct! [Update: EOSHD's sensor size comparison.]

13 stops dynamic range, 12-bit raw recording to CinemaDNG files, or 1920x1080 ProRes and/or DNxHD wrapped as Quicktime. Uses off-the-shelf SSDs, I think.

5" touchscreen, with soft-touch rubber membrane switches around it for transport controls, on/off, iris, focus assist (peaking). Switches feel good and solid, and touchscreen is nicely responsive.

12-30v DC power, with built-in (?) battery. LANC remote control. Add-on handgrip $195. Two channels of audio in, on 1/4" jacks (!). One HD-SDI out, one Thunderbolt port. No genlock or shutter-sync port as far as I can tell. Three 1/4" accessory sockets on top. Not sure what's on the bottom.

Canon EF mount, with electronic communications. Not sure what lens functions aside from iris will be supported.

The demo camera I fiddled with offered settings of ISO 400, 800, and 1600. There's an adjustment for shutter speed, but in the demo camera it was fixed at 24fps.

The pix looked pretty good on the built-in displays and the 18" (?) Panasonic LCDs the cameras were feeding. No obvious aliasing or other demosaicing artifacts, at least not in these difficult viewing conditions.

Each camera comes with a full version of DaVinci Resolve, so it's really a $2K camera with a $1K grading package included (grin).

So, is BMD the new RED? They're certainly revolutionizing what it costs to get into interchangeable-lens, raw-recording motion-picture cameras, just as RED did—but I don't see RED, Canon, Arri, Sony, or other camera makers quaking in their boots. The BMC Cine Cam looks like a great DSLR-killer, but it's a smaller sensor (or so I'm led to believe, so far), it's "only" 2.5K (thus none of the 4K cameras need fear obsolescence just yet), and it's unclear if the camera has the systems-level capability to satisfy productions beyond the lone indie-filmmaker crowd.

But it's early days yet; the camera won't ship for a few months. And, fercryinoutloud, it's $3000! One can live with a lot of compromises for $3000.

I go back Wednesday or Thursday for a more detailed look-see, and a firmer grasp on specifications. Look for a writeup within a week (I'm focusing on data-collection now, writeups after the show).


Disclosures: I'm attending NAB on my own dime, and with a press pass to save the cost of admission. Blackmagic Design did not offer me any material consideration for a positive writeup, and there is no material connection between me and Blackmagic Design.