Blackmagic Design (BMD) is a revolutionary company. They are always pushing the boundaries of conventional technologies. At NAB Show 2015 they unveiled a bunch of new products that further this reputation of theirs.
Lets begin with the smallest- the Micro Cinema Camera
Smallest only in name and in form factor, this camera packs a punch. This is one of the most exciting product releases if you consider all the filming possibilities with this camera.
Image courtesy Blackmagic Design press release
This is a robust professional-grade action camera made from magnesium with a Micro Four Thirds lens mount.
From the looks of it, it’s built solidly and is very customisable. It takes bits of technology from many different manufacturers to build one complete unit.
It features a Super 16mm sensor, which is approximately about a third smaller than a conventional Micro Four Thirds sensor. This sensor is still significantly larger than other comparable action cameras on the market. More over, it offers interchangeable lenses, a very welcome addition to this segment. From the spec sheet and intended use, it definitely sits above the major players in this segment – GoPro and Sony action cam.
It can output Raw video or Apple ProRes with a claimed 13-stops of dynamic range.
Interestingly the camera offers the ability of using both a rolling and a global shutter. This is a very welcome feature as the global shutter helps in eliminating the “jello effect” commonly found when using a rolling shutter for fast action shots in cameras like this. However recording is limited to 1080p 30fps when using the global shutter; when using the rolling shutter though, shooters can capture 1080p 60fps in 12-bit Raw or ProRes.
The camera is a bit weighted, at 300 grams if you compare it to other offerings by Contour, Sony, GoPro etc.
BMD however claim that it is still light enough to take flight in a DJI Phantom 2 drone.
The camera runs of Canon’s LP-E6 battery, which is very commonly found on most Pro level DSLRs. This is a nice move considering it’s a very robust battery and most pro users already have plenty of devices (not just DSLRs) that run on these batteries.
Blackmagic have eschewed from their previous design features such as the touch screen LCD and have instead gone with button controls on this camera. There are only 6 such buttons for record start-stop, playback, rewind, forward, menu and the on and off switch. These are conveniently sandwiched between the lens mount ant the Rec tally light.
Located on the same side is an HDMI output (very convenient) and a port labelled “Expansion” . This port can be used for a number of things, such as wirelessly controlling the camera or linking to a wireless video transmitter. Read more about the expansion port, and its possibilities here.
Conveniently located on the other side of the lens mount is an SDXC and SDHC compatible card slot and a 3.5mm audio input is need be. The unit can be used as a regular camera if need be with the help of the appropriate rig. The unit sports standard 1/4″ thread mounts on the top and bottom of the camera body for mounting. This is an excellent unit considering the purpose for which it is built, action and sports use, and to be used on drones, rigs, dollies and jibs.
The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera has an international price of US$ 995/- (no word on India availability and pricing pricing yet).
Moving on to the next major announcement – The URSA Mini
This announcement from BMD created the most buzz. The URSA Mini, is a compact and lightweight Super 35 digital camera meant for handheld and over the shoulder use. It features a new 4.6K image sensor. This sensor is available for upgrade for the full size URSA too.
The camera features, switchable global or rolling shutter, and claims to have up to 15 stops of dynamic range, and can record RAW and Apple ProRes to CFast 2.0 card in two record slots.
The URSA Mini is available in 4 customisations of either EF or PL lens mounts and 4K or 4.6K image sensors. It is to be noted that the 4k sensor has a claimed dynamic range of 12 stops.
BMD are positioning this camera as for “one man band” shooters and smaller documentary style crews with its “over the shoulder” design and form factor. BMD is also supplying and optional shoulder Kit, which features a quick release mounting plate so that it is easier to shift from handheld to shoulder or to a tripod use quickly. Blackmagic also released the URSA Viewfinder, which makes the URSA Mini perfect for run and gun shooting situations. The view finder does not come supplied with the camera.
The viewfinder is high spec-ed and features a high resolution 1920 x 1080 colour OLED display and glass based optics. This is a very welcome step!
The Camera is expected to be available in July starting from US$2,995 for the URSA Mini 4K EF mount, US$3,495 for the URSA Mini 4K PL mount, US$4,995 and for the URSA Mini 4.6K EF mount and US$5,495 for the URSA Mini 4.6K PL mount models. No word on Pricing and Availability in India yet.
Another nifty piece of equipment that was announced was the – Blackmagic Video Assist
It is a portable, all in one professional monitor and video recorder that can be used with any camera outputting clean signals over SDI or HDMI.
It is a small and compact device featuring a full HD 1920×1080 5inch monitor screen for recording and monitoring. The screen is a touchscreen and has an over lay user interface.
Shooters can record broadcast quality 10-bit 4:2:2 video onto SD cards in Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD formats.
The Video Assist runs on a standard Canon LP-E6 battery and features 2 slots for allowing swapping of dead batteries while in use.
More over it has on board down conversion, and would probably be the monitor of choice for the Micro Cinema Camera. All in all, a very high quality monitor-recorder combo.
Priced at Rupees 43,000/- approx. and soon to be available soon in July, its a compelling product considering all its features. This is the monitor- recorder you should be looking at if you are a serious HDSLR video shooter or even as a larger monitor for your other shooting applications.
Blackmagic also released a major upgrade to its colour grading and editing software- DaVinci Resolve
BMD gave its biggest ever upgrade to the hugely popular Resolve software. Version 12 now has over 80 new features for professional editing and colour grading.
“Over the years, we have worked hard to build in improvements in each release,” Blackmagic founder and CEO Grant Petty said in an email announcement to customers delivered before NAB opened. “This year, I feel we have added more new features to DaVinci Resolve than we have in the last five years combined.”
Blackmagic are now pushing it as a major Pro Non Liner Editing platform, and rightly so. The update includes a new modern interface, multi-cam editing, new media management tools, a new professional audio engine , shot matching, 3D keying, new 3D perspective tracker and enhanced curve editing.
DaVinci resolve lite remains a free download, the software version with stereoscopic workflow, real-time power mastering capabilities, and GPU-accelerated noise-reduction capabilities, is priced at approx. 65,000/- Rupees tentatively.