4K, 4.6K, 6K… is there a future yet-to-be-released 8K camera arriving from Blackmagic in the Spring of 2020? Yes, this is a rumor I am sharing. No, I did not start the rumor. This mythical 8K Blackmagic Design camera has been making the rounds of speculation on social media. I first came across the 8K suggestion on twitter. Is it wrong to perpetuate a known rumor? Hey, part of my goal as a writer is to read the tea leaves at times. All 8K of the tea leaves.
What my tea says to me is, “yes, I think an 8K camera in whatever form may be announced in late February or early March 2020. About now I am expecting you, the reader, to be asking yourself how I have come to this outrageous conclusion. I expect you might even suggest that my imagination has run unabated into the realm of fictional cameras. 8K? In my dreams, right?
You may be right. But, let’s talk about some interesting elements of this rumor. First off, let’s go with the known knowns of the camera world. Blackmagic Design has a 6K camera hitting the market right about now. It is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and it records in Blackmagic RAW 6144 x 3456 resolution. This 6K resolution is not too far away from 7680 x 4320 resolution. It’s only 1536K away.
Then there is RED and it’s top offerings of the Monstro VV or Helium with their 8192 x 4320 DCI which is just a wider version of the 7680 x 4320. But hey, the RED cameras are 8K and a touch more resolution than the Pocket 6K. In this comparison, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K is only 2048 lines of resolution away. Then there is the ZCam.
The 8K ZCam
The ZCam E2-F8 Full-frame camera features a full-frame sensor with 10-bit 4:2:2 color support and 14 stops of dynamic range, supports timecode, shoots up to 8K at up to 30 fps, and records data up to 300 Mb/s onto CFast 2.0 cards. The kicker with the ZCAm E2 is it will only record RAW 10-bit up to 4K DCI or 4096 x 2160. To achieve 8K on the ZCam E2 you need to shoot H.265 for 10-bit and H.264 for 8-bit recording. All 10-bit recording is capped at 30 frames per second.
Now RED has been a leader when it comes to the battle of resolution. The American digital camera company has two 8K camera offerings, the RED Monstro 8K VV and the Helium 8K S35. Both of these cameras record the 8192 x 3456 8K resolution. If you have followed the camera market through the years you may know RED and Blackmagic Design are pretty stiff competitors. I would not be surprised to see an 8K Blackmagic Design Camera built to attract the customers who want to own a RED 8K Monstro or Helium but cannot afford the much more expensive cameras. Then there is Blackmagic’s own URSA Mini Pro G2.
The URSA Mini Pro G2
The second generation of the URSA Mini Pro may be considered the flagship camera from Blackmagic Design. You have better than 4K resolution with its 4.6K sensor and you have wonderful color and dynamic range. But, this camera design is not brand new. The URSA Mini 4K, the first of this body styling, was first released in 2014 or 2015, I think and we are about to enter 2020. A camera manufacturer just does not sit on its laurels for 4 to 5 years without innovating and growing. And, where do you grow as a company?
Blackmagic Design already has a host of 8K post-production hardware equipment like their HyperDeck Extreme 8K HDR or their ATEM Constellation 8K on hand for those production companies needing 8K solutions. Blackmagic already has an eGPU, or eGPU Pro to use with your Thunderbolt 3 edit computer so you can have the graphics processing to handle 8K if you need the help. Blackmagic even has monitor solutions or 4K proxy recorders in their brand new Blackmagic Video Assist 12G HDR. If metadata can be shared via 12G SDI and file names that match between the camera and Video Assist then you have a 4K Proxy recording option for an 8K camera. As if 4K is now a Proxy, but hey if you’re shooting 8K it might be.
6K or 8K
We already have the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K which may uprez to an 8K timeline well. Now, this is all just rumor and speculation. Even if Blackmagic does not announce an 8K camera we all can be happy with 6K. Even if Blackmagic made a 6K URSA Mini Pro with the dual native ISO of 400 / 3200 and wider dynamic range it’d be a camera that may sell well. Remember, this is just random thoughts and speculation from a camera geek. I am usually wrong about these things.