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4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions

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Andrew Akada
4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Apr 29, 2013 at 3:08:30 am

I pre-ordered my BMCC M43 (literally) a day before the NAB '13 announcements went up. That said, after months of planning, research, price comparisons and forum-hopping I was pretty confident that I'd made the right decision regarding my order.

Now we have the 4K Cinema Camera and the Pocket CC...

After giving myself a little time to cool down, I realized that I'm probably still best starting off with the passive mount M43. Even so, a little reassurance from the community couldn't hurt.

Given my level of experience, I don't think I'd be able to handle a 4K workflow right now even if I wanted to. But the pricing is such a huge thing for me that an extra thousand bucks for that extra 1.5K seems (plus the removable SSD) seems like a bargain I simply can't ignore.

On top of that, the active MFT mount on the BMPCC is a very attractive feature that I can't put out of my head - especially since the classic BMCC is only a passive. My entire purchasing ethos has, up until now, centered around the pricing bracket offered by the M43 mount when it comes to lenses. Plus, I've heard that the difference in quality between the two versions isn't all that different...

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/04/first-blackmagic-pocket-camera-footage-rele...

Any thoughts or advice from people who have their hands on an MFT mount?

Should I renege on my pre-order and hold out for the PCC instead? Or is the 4K too good an opportunity to pass up? Again, my concerns are budget and adaptability. I run with a more guerilla crowd and flexibility is my chief concern (after price).


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Bill Bruner
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Apr 29, 2013 at 10:47:22 am

Andrew - I think it comes down to your distribution channel. If it's theatrical, I say go for the 4K Super 35 Blackmagic Production Camera. As you say, for $1000 more, it is probably a bargain you can't ignore. For projects that don't require RAW, you can always shoot ProRes to reduce file size and simplify your work flow.

If you're not going to project the image, 2.5K (or even 1.9K/1080p) is good enough. I pre-ordered the $995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera for that reason. I want the film-like dynamic range demonstrated by the BM cameras, but my distribution channel is Vimeo/YouTube - so I don't need ultra high 4K (or even 2.5K) resolution. I am a micro 4/3 shooter, so the active m4/3 mount is a real advantage as well.

In either case, I would cancel the BMCC MFT order - and either step up to the Production Camera for theatrical distribution - or down to the Pocket Camera for affordability and the active m4/3 mount.

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution


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Nikolas Bäurle
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Apr 29, 2013 at 1:39:04 pm

The 4k BMCC records in 4K APPLE PRO RES HQ 10bit and 1080p Pro Res 10bit , the 2k BMCC records 1080p Pro Res 10bit , but 2,5 K only in RAW 12bit as far as I can tell. 4k Apple Pro Res should generate smaller files (?)

I had my previous 2K BMCC EF order cancelled last week. The S-35mm sensor on the 4k makes more sense since I own a Canon EF-S lens anyway. I'll be using it mostly in 1080p.

I'm also planning on getting a PCC...and it has a removable battery...:-)

"Always look on the bright side of life" - Monty Python



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Andrew Akada
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on May 1, 2013 at 6:22:02 am

@Nikolas Baurle

I don't have my own solid collection of lenses at the moment so I'm sort of starting "tabula rasa" here.

I have a couple of old Soligors that my mom used during her time as a photographer in the early '70s but short of that, I'm in-the-market (which is probably the reason I was so open to the MFT in the first place).

Honestly, at this rate, if BMD keeps churning out products like this every year - I might be better off just ponying up for both the passive MFT and the PCC and call it even.

As long as the accessible 4K technology doesn't go anywhere - I think my anxieties can be put to rest :-)

PS: Great movie. If I'm having a down day, that song always cheers me right up!


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neil soory
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:26:00 pm

whats a pcc...


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Andrew Akada
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on May 1, 2013 at 6:15:58 am

My ultimate ambition is to aim for a theatrical release but as far as budget and resources (camera notwithstanding) I'm probably not ready for that yet.

I made my first short film last year with a rag-tag cast and crew of about 20 folks and this year I've been working mostly as a producer. But my hope is that by mid-to-late Summer I can have a camera in my hands and continue work on a couple more projects slated for Winter.

That said, distribution will probably lean more towards an online demographic but the plan is to start aiming for competitions and festivals in a year or so.

As per your advice, what kind of advantages/disadvantages could I plan to expect when using the PCC?

Image quality aside, what it be sturdy or durable enough to handle more extreme conditions? Would I be able to modify/accessorize it as extensively compared to the full BMCC rig?

The light weight and simplicity almost seem too good to be true. But as long as versatility of lenses carries over then I can see your point.

In the words of the great John McClane, "Thanks for the advice!"


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Andrew Akada
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on May 1, 2013 at 6:17:17 am

@ Bill Bruner:

My ultimate ambition is to aim for a theatrical release but as far as budget and resources (camera notwithstanding) I'm probably not ready for that yet.

I made my first short film last year with a rag-tag cast and crew of about 20 folks and this year I've been working mostly as a producer. But my hope is that by mid-to-late Summer I can have a camera in my hands and continue work on a couple more projects slated for Winter.

That said, distribution will probably lean more towards an online demographic but the plan is to start aiming for competitions and festivals in a year or so.

As per your advice, what kind of advantages/disadvantages could I plan to expect when using the PCC?

Image quality aside, what it be sturdy or durable enough to handle more extreme conditions? Would I be able to modify/accessorize it as extensively compared to the full BMCC rig?

The light weight and simplicity almost seem too good to be true. But as long as versatility of lenses carries over then I can see your point.

In the words of the great John McClane, "Thanks for the advice!"


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Bill Bruner
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on May 1, 2013 at 11:55:05 am

Hi Andrew - on your first question - the list of advantages and disadvantages will differ for each shooter based on their individual needs. For me, the main advantages of the BPCC over alternatives in its class will be price, size, dynamic range, and ability to shoot 10 bit ProRes (and eventually 12 bit CinemaDNG RAW) to SDXC cards. I am also very glad the camera has a headphone jack and is compatible with lenses I already own.

The disadvantages for me will be lack of a viewfinder, 1080/60p and still camera capability.

On your second question, I like the top and bottom mounting screw holes - but there is no way to know how robust the camera is until we get our hands on it. But for $995, I will worry less about it than I would a $5500 non-RAW shooting 8 bit Canon C100 :)

Cheers,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Apr 29, 2013 at 5:23:44 pm

Hi Andrew: I had an original BMCC on pre-order since April 2012, and then a couple of months before NAB 2013 I switched my pre-order to the BMCC-MFT. Immediately after the new BMPC-4K was announced at NAB a few weeks ago I switched my pre-order again.

One of the many reasons I switched my pre-order from BMCC-EF to BMCC-MFT was to buy myself some time just in case BMD announced a new camera at NAB 2013. Of course it was only a hunch on my part that BMD might do so, but it proved to be a good guess.

If the new BMPC-4K camera looks like it will ship much later than its "July" timeframe, I may get a BMCC-MFT instead. In the meantime, I'll continue shooting with other cameras.

BMD has said that the BMPC-4K camera will initially ship with 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes HQ 4K and 1080p recording capability, and that its lossless compressed 4K 12-bit RAW recording feature might not be ready when the cam first ships. If the lossless compressed RAW feature becomes available after first ship, it'll be part of a free firmware update.

Since the BMPC-4K camera isn't finished yet, BMD and people close to its development (such as John Brawley) haven't announced definitive performance info about it yet, although BMD's published specs say the BMPC-4K has 12 stops of DR. JB has said the BMPC-4K may be less sensitive (have a lower native ISO) than the original BMCC, but also that it's too early to say for sure. BMD is still tweaking the new camera, so stay tuned.

Personally I'm OK with the BMPC-4K having slightly less DR & sensitivity than the BMCC. For me, the BMPC-4K's new features (4K & 1080p ProRes HQ, global shutter, plus 4K compressed RAW when available) are worth the extra $1K and the additional wait for delivery compared to the now-shipping BMCC.

Because 4K ProRes HQ will be recorded at up to 884 megabits/sec, the quality will likely be quite good (fantastic) compared to 98% of other camcorders. In my tests, my 3 yr. old MacBook Pro 17" can easily edit & composite >4 concurrent ProRes HQ 4K streams from a single 7200 rpm SATA-3 hard drive via eSATA-3. Users with newer hardware & faster I/O (such as USB-3 & Thunderbolt) will obviously have no issues handling these files, too.

Why shoot 4K? For me, it's mostly to get a high-quality 1080p finish, and while doing so, have the flexibility to crop & scale shots. I'll probably shoot 4K ProRes HQ most of the time, and only shoot 1080p ProRes HQ (up to 220 megabits/sec) if a client requires it. The extra resolution and the camera's global shutter (no jello!) will also be helpful when doing IS in post, and noise grain will be smaller after down-scaling from 4K to 1080p. The 4K ProRes HQ files don't take up much room on a 3TB hard drive. And, 4K files might have a longer useful life, maybe, in the "4K future" which appears to be headed our way.

None of the above negates the fact that the original BMCC has better DR, probably better sensitivity, uncompressed RAW, and costs $1K less than the new BMPC-4K camera. And, the BMCC's 2.5K RAW files can be up-scaled quite nicely to 4K if needed. Whether they'll always look as good or better than native 4K video from a BMPC-4K, it's too soon to say.

There's related info on my blog:
http://herefortheweather.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/bmpc-4k-vs-bmcc-mft-no-re...

Cheers.


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Andrew Akada
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on May 1, 2013 at 7:31:45 am

@ Peter:

Appreciate the input! I feel like I'm making a more informed purchase already! As far as the pre-order goes, I still have time to cancel so I'll talk it over with the rep I arranged it with @ the shop later this week when I have some time off of work.

Thanks again, Peter! You've been bearing with my questions for some time now and I can assure you that you're definitely enabling my inquisitive side!

As far as my level of experience goes, if I had the passion to stick to the learning curve, would I be 'biting off more than I could chew' if I went 4K right out of the starting gate?

I'm quite familiar with DSLR filmmaking and I think I'm ready to graduate to something more dedicated like the BMCC. But I still keep feeling like I won't have the know-how to keep up with the workflow and that might actually be more of a hindrance for me. Figure cutting my teeth on something a little simpler might actually do me good. Or am I just being too wussy about this?


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on May 1, 2013 at 1:17:03 pm

[Andrew Akada] "... would I be 'biting off more than I could chew' if I went 4K right out of the starting gate?

I'm quite familiar with DSLR filmmaking and I think I'm ready to graduate to something more dedicated like the BMCC. But I still keep feeling like I won't have the know-how to keep up with the workflow and that might actually be more of a hindrance for me. Figure cutting my teeth on something a little simpler might actually do me good. Or am I just being too wussy about this?"


Funny thing is, in many ways BMD's cameras are very "simple" machines. They have just a few buttons, easy touchscreen menus on big LCDs, and their very high-quality video codecs make it easier to get the final result you want compared to using less-flexible codecs in other cams.

As I mentioned in my previous post, BMD has said there's a good chance the BMPC-4K will initially ship with 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes HQ 4K & 1080p recording only, with its lossless compressed 4K 12-bit RAW CinemaDNG enabled via a "ASAP" free firmware update.

So, whether one uses a Mac or Windows machine for editing, that's all good news. ProRes HQ is easy to edit on modern machines (even on older laptops like mine), and the quality is fantastic, especially BMD's ProRes HQ "Film" log mode. Vastly better than DSLR video, and better than the codecs most pro video camcorders use.

Also, the BMPC-4K's global shutter sensor is a huge deal: Not having rolling shutter artifacts (jello, skew, partial exposure "flash bands", etc.) in scenes containing camera/subject motion is an enormous advantage. Plus the global shutter means image stabilization done in post will look 1000% better.

Although I'm comfortable shooting with relatively "small" size sensors such as 2/3" and Micro Four Thirds -- and the one in the original BMCC which is between those two -- I'm happy the sensor in the BMPC-4K is a larger S35 (APS-C) size. Makes it a bit easier to get wider shots in smaller locations, when you can't "step back".

I think shooting 4K "all the time" makes a huge amount of sense, unless you need to immediately hand-off 1080p footage to a client who requires it. That's cool; the BMPC-4K will also shoot 1080p, too.

Since 4K ProRes HQ is so easy to edit, and multi-TB storage is so inexpensive, the advantages of shooting 4K for a 1080p (or lower) res finish is tremendously useful. For example: You can easily crop & reframe 4K shots in post without a noticeable quality hit, any noise in 4K video becomes smaller/tighter (less noticeable) when scaled down to 1080p, chromakeying 4K footage scaled down to 1080p will look fabulous, as will 4K compositing & 3D special effects.

Because technology continuously changes & improves, "future proofing" is perhaps over-sold. In a sense, one's always behind, even if you try to stay a step ahead. However, several years from now I suspect it'll be an easier "sell" to use 4K footage shot today than to use 1080p or 2K footage. Even though well-shot 1080p, 2K, or 2.5K footage can be up-scaled to 4K -- and can look really good if handled properly -- well-shot 4K footage will look better, and it'll be easier to convince others that old 4K footage is not "out-of-date".

As for shooting RAW video, I'd say go for it if you have the hardware & software capable of handling it. Myself, I'll primarily use RAW for especially challenging shots that might otherwise tax the industrial-strength capabilities of ProRes HQ. In a year or two, when I have a new, faster computer and dirt-cheap, super-mega-terabyte storage I might shoot RAW all the time. For most things I shoot now, RAW isn't necessary, but it's great that BMD's cameras can do it whenever needed.

I don't know if I've answered your question, but the above are some of the reasons why I've decided to get a BMPC-4K instead of any other ~$4K camcorder.

---

http://www.peterdv.com
Blog: http://herefortheweather.wordpress.com


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Julian Smith
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on May 27, 2013 at 9:53:42 pm

I'm looking at possibly getting a 4K BM camera next year.. But at this mo, I think the Pocket Camera looks wonderful enough for me at the moment.


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Pedro Ricardo
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:46:24 am

I think go for the pocket camera or the 4K. The global shutter is a big plus if you are going to have a lot of movement in your films, as are the options for distribution later. It also will look like a more professional camera, and oddly that counts on set. People tend to lift their game a bit more when the gear looks more pro. I know that sounds weird, but I've always found it to be true.

But if starting out, getting the PCC will allow you to work faster (assuming you don't have to spend time de-jelloing), will leave you with a lot more budget for lights/props/effects/editing gear/storage etc. and if you don't like it, the resale value will be high in the first 12 months anyway. If you do like it and get better at your craft and think that distribution deals may be in your future, you can always hock it and get the 4K. You will probably only lose $100 on it, and that is pretty cheap camera rental really!


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Garrett Gibbons
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Aug 2, 2013 at 3:59:44 pm

Just a bump on this thread. I'm sure you've all seen it by now, but Blackmagic just dropped the price of the 2.5k camera by $1000, so it's $1995. That's going to make this decision a bit more interesting for some of you! Exciting times to be behind a camera!

http://www.garrettgibbons.com


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Andrew Akada
Re: 4K versus 2.5K versus PCC - Decisions, Decisions
on Feb 13, 2014 at 12:09:31 am

Indeed. I also heard that the 4K is getting reduced to $3,000 - which makes my decision to buy the 2.5K at that same price last April something of a pain. I really wish they'd offer a kind of trade-in program or something. I literally pulled the trigger on my deal a day prior to their announcement at NAB. FML...


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