Since video and film production took the leap and adopted DSLR's as a valued camera option, the many glaring pitfalls of using a still photography camera to shoot video have annoyed and challenged videographers across the realm. With the release of Black Magic's Cinema Camera, the future of our industry has a new focus.
Lets start with why we use DSLR's in the first place. Big image sensors, (relative to what comes in most common 1/3 and 2/3 inch video cameras), give DSLR's the filmic depth of field and image feel that we drool over. Combined with high quality still lenses produced by Canon, Nikon, Sony, the list goes on, we have a great piece of dual purpose production equipment. In order to compete with the look of these cameras, we have all allowed the dark forces to impede our sanity.
Complications with audio inputs and the need for seperate recording devices. Sychronizing footage and audio on every clip of every project. File conversion. Monitor Issues. No timecode. The list of hardships to be endured goes on.
The first rays of light are just appearing. The Cinema Camera shoots to file formats excepted by the major editing platforms. This is huge. We do not need to spend countless hours converting footage before we can review or edit it. Instead, the CC's video files offer various compression options while retaining thirteen stops of color correctable gradient! This Dynamic Range or exposure latitude, gives this camera a clear edge over the vast majority of its current competition. Also included with your purchase is the DaVinci Resolve software, valued at over a thousand dollars, to grade your footage with.
The Cinema Camera provides an HDSDI connection for the monitoring of video and playback allowing for the use of standard video monitors and letting lose the dreaded blank screen dropouts and SD image quality offered by the DSLR variants.
Allowing for the direct use of proprietary DSLR lens' also adds to the usability and functionality of the CC for a great deal of shooters who have invested in high quality glass. Many times this investment is what ties shooters to their equipment, but a sub 3k body with all of these substantial upgrades should allow many DSLR enthusiasts to make their foray into the world of cinema without loosing their shirts.
In closing, as a cinematographer who works with multiple camera formats from project to project, it's great to see that someone is looking to create a camera that solves a wide range of problems while keeping cost down and providing us with a useful tool. It has still to be proven in combat and will be vying against some great adversaries. An unfamiliar sub APS-C sensor size and 1/8 inch audio inputs are still left to question. Options, or a lack thereof, like a touchscreen operated menu and a lack of manipulatable surfaces, requiring a rig for even simple shooting may prove problematic. Lets see if a little "Black Magic" is just what we need to bring some new hope to our tiresome world of DSLR trials and tribulations. Either way, keep watching for a test drive review on a project in the near future!
- Matthew Matossian
Director of Photography