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Facts check on Cinema Camera

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Jim Cunningham
Facts check on Cinema Camera
on Jul 3, 2012 at 2:52:03 pm

I saw (or tried to see above the crowds) the Cinema Camera out at the NAB, and have been trying to garner hard info re: the camera ever since. There are many things to like about the camera, however, there seems to be some issues that really make it a deal breaker for me, and I want to check my facts before making a final decision.

If I wanted to use this camera in an ENG style, I would need to get a rig for it – external battery (on board only 90min), EVF (shoulder mount, can’t see on board monitor), Lanc control to start and stop. Also, there may or may not be audio levels visible, so I may need to guess on mic levels, and there is no phantom power so all mics need their own power supply.

Although using SSD drives seems like a great idea, many fear that the pins on those drives were not really meant for frequent mounting and un-mounting.

The active imager is just shy of 16mm (.6 inch) making it just a bit larger than an EX1 camera, so not real shallow DOF.

Is this an accurate assessment of the downsides of the Cinema camera; is there anything that I might have over-looked?

Thanks as always for your collective insights.



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Marco Solorio
Re: Facts check on Cinema Camera
on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:51:47 pm

Hi Jim,

As soon as I read you wanted to use the Cinema Camera as an ENG camera and that was at the top of your list of it being a deal breaker, I literally almost stopped reading there. The Cinema Camera (key word, "Cinema") is in no way shape or form (literally speaking) an ENG camera, nor is it pretending to be. It is however on target as a cinema camera (indoor or outdoor) and studio camera. The Cinema Camera is just as much of an ENG camera as an HDSLR camera... in other words, it's not. At least it's not without building an appropriate rig for it. Yes, you'd need a shoulder rig, grips, an EVF, battery plate, a phantom power box, a mattebox/sunshade to keep the sun out, a rocker switch for zoom control, etc., etc., etc. If you want a dog, don't buy a cat... if you want an ENG camera, buy an ENG camera.

Personally, I've never seen a cinema style camera (think Arri with film mag) to have ever been a good ENG camera. They aren't, and they weren't meant to be.

The size of the sensor has been talked to death and in my opinion is not a huge factor when it really comes down to it when used in the right hands. Yes, it's smallish (still larger than 16mm, and check your facts because it's MUCH larger than a 1/2" EX1 sensor). No, it's not a low-light contender against a 5D. But anyone that has shot with ENG cameras will know how to get narrow DOF. This camera will be much easier to attain that though, as it's much larger than any 1/3", 1/2", or 2/3" imager.



If you haven't read it, please check out my two articles that cover this and more:

http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/is-the-new-blackmagic-cinema-camera...

http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/blackmagic-cinema-camera-can-it-run...

ENG cameras are so cheap now that getting a Panasonic is probably your best bet. Great camera, great quality, great prices. It'll do everything you want in an ENG camera without having to buy extra stuff to turn it into one.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Marco Solorio | CreativeCow Host | OneRiver Media | ORM Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Media Batch


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Jim Cunningham
Re: Facts check on Cinema Camera
on Jul 4, 2012 at 1:27:26 pm

Thanks for the clarification on the imager size. So, I should assume that when Sony says ½ inch they are talking about the diagonal size (or 12.7mm) which would make the chip approximately 11mm x 6mm (ish)?

Perhaps I should have used both ENG & EFP -- probably 80% of my shoots are sit-down interviews w/ sticks & lights. And I am shooting w/ both HPX 250 & EX1R and am able to approximate a shallow DOF, but my client base is starting to ask for a much shallower DOF esthetic which is not practical w/ the above smaller chip cameras. So, the Canon DSLRs, Nex 7, Sony 700 & BM are now being considered for certain applications. They all have their assets and drawback, finding the sweet spot that I can live w/ is a challenge. Re the BM camera, the lack of on board VU (though I’ve read that might change), phantom power, the long term durability of SSD drives, non removable battery etc. makes me think of this camera as very much a work in progress. And although buying equipment is much like throwing darts at an ever growing/spinning wheel, timing is still important. I’d like to have as much info as possible before investing. So, thanks again for your research and insights.

Cheers,



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Marco Solorio
Re: Facts check on Cinema Camera
on Jul 4, 2012 at 7:39:12 pm

Glad to help. The usable sensor size of the Sony EX1 is smaller than your estimation at about 6.97mm x 3.92mm. The Cinema Camera is much larger than the EX1 sensor, and much closer in size to Micro 4/3 (but still just a little bit smaller than it).

Any small sensor camera can shoot narrow DOF, including the ones you list. The easiest way to accomplish this is to throw a long lens on the camera (or zoom in as much as you can), sit the camera as far back as needed until your focal length meets the framing you need, and instant narrow DOF. Ideal? No. Accomplishable? Yes.

If you want the quickest, easiest, most ridiculous razor-thin DOF, then nothing is better than a 5D. But after you “get over” the narrow DOF fixation, you’ll soon realize you’re stopping down the aperture a lot so that everything in the background isn’t a muddy mess.

I see the internal battery as more of a bonus than a negative. To me it acts more like a backup battery than a main battery. All cameras use an external battery source, albeit they are mountable to the camera body in some way. But if you look at many cinema style rigs to date, many of them have V-mount or Anton Bauer mount. I use V-mount plates for just about every camera rig we use. Our Cinema Camera will be no different. It’s nice powering everything from one source that keeps a healthy charge. And in many cases, makes for a nice counter weight to boot.

But again, this is a cinema/studio camera, not an ENG style camera. Any product on the market is a work in progress. Look at the Sony F35; it would have been nice if it originally was what the F65 is today, but technology evolves and must have a starting point. I have no doubt there will be a Cinema Camera version 2 in the future, probably with a larger sensor, maybe even a different body design altogether. Who knows. But where the Cinema Camera sits now is very well poised if you ask me.

As I keep saying, once the camera finally gets into everyone’s hands, people will realize the camera is much more usable than they would have assumed. But of course, for every 100 people that are silently thrilled with it, there will always been one or two people that will be vocal about what they don’t like about it.

Marco Solorio | CreativeCow Host | OneRiver Media | ORM Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Media Batch


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Eric Santiago
Re: Facts check on Cinema Camera
on Jul 26, 2012 at 6:25:21 pm

If you guys dont mind I would like to ask a few questions using this topic.
Mine is about the SSD and peripherals.
For now just the SSD, what is required or rated highly by BMD?
I guess we dont get one with the order so I have to start making a shopping list :)


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