The Blackmagic Design Camera experience. Part 1: Unboxing & hopes/ expectations…

EDIT: I have not been paid to review this camera, it is purely in my hands to evaluate and shoot with. I have never been paid and will never be paid by a manufacturer to do a camera review. Please read more on my ethics statement here. 

I am fortunate enough to get an early camera from BlackMagic Design. This is a pre-release version and I have it for evaluation purposes and BETA testing. I can’t do a formal review of it until it’s finalised for release. In the meantime, I will be sharing my experiences of using the camera and how I deal with the footage. My friend and shooting partner James Miller has already done a post about working with the DNG files in photoshop and you can read that here…

Currently I am in LA having just finished a film shoot. I almost got the camera shipped here but it wouldn’t have made it in time, so I got it sent home as I will be back there in a couple of days. As soon as I get the camera I will start shooting with it. If I can, I will share some files but that won’t be until next weekend at the earliest, as I go to Finland the day after I get back!

The lovely Sarah Estela has taken lots of nice photos of the unboxing of the camera for me which we did over Skype. Very sad I know, but there is so much excitement over this camera understandably, and I was desperate to check it out myself and couldn’t wait until I got home! 🙂

The packaging is really nice as you will see below.

So what are the things I am most excited about?


Dynamic Range


What are the things I am most curious to examine?

Form factor (I already have a rig for it from Shape and battery solution from Switronix due to the frustrating thing of using an internal battery)

Choice of lens mount and ability to get wide shots

Sensitivity of sensor

Rolling shutter and artifacts

Running costs…extra batteries are expected as the internal one is to be honest just there as an emergency backup. How many SSDs will you need to buy for a decent days’s shoot? These things are not cheap. Also Cinema DNG raw is super cool but just how much time is used up going through resolve then into editing? Is pro res that much worse, obviously it’s not raw but how much do we lose using it?

How good is it on a professional shoot. Is it reliable?

Can you use a mini display port to HDMI output to run a Zacuto EVF? I have an Alphatron with SDI so am covered there but what about everyone who just has an HDMI EVF?

So many questiona!!

So what is in the box?

The Camera obviously.

A fixed canon EF mount

Davinci Resolve 9

Power Plug

Camera Strap

LCD Hood

So, for now enjoy the stacks of photos of what’s in the box and some photos of the menus.

I will share footage as soon as I can!


But if you do please use my CVP link or B&H photo video link below, as the small percentage I get helps me do things like this and costs you nothing!


B&H Photo Video Link Below

































        1. While most s35 lenses like the latest Zeiss, Leica, Coooke, Red lenses can’t be adapted to Canon EF because they are too wide and bulky at the mount side, some lenses can. Most notably the Angenieux PL zooms. This means that at least some s16 (Angenieux likely) lenses will probably be mountable on this camera through a PL-to-EF adapter. It is possible that some vignetting shows up, but still worth trying.

      1. Hi, Philip.
        On the market there are several EF to PL-mount adapters and on auction sites and You can buy used,
        beautiful Super16 film zoom lens like Zeiss, Cooke or Angenieux (PL-mount) for a few thousand dollars. Expensive? IMO If someone are planning a budget, 1/3 should be the camera and the rest of the lens and accessories. Besides, they are universal CINE zooms 😉

        For the widest angle range lenses will be vignetting for sensor in 2.5k mod but if You crop middle 2K image circle should be enough! Standard 16mm & 2/3″ lens will work only for telephoto range of the zoom or in low res crops…

        1. The widest prime for EF is probably the Sigma 4.5mm f2.8, while the widest zooms are a toss between the Canon 8-15 L and the Sigma 8-16. The Canon’s a fisheye, but the effect might not be as pronounced with the 2.3x crop factor.

    1. I think they updated the sensor active size, now the crop is 2.27, not that it’s that much different but still. I’d say the 11-16mm tokina would be the widest lens you can use on this camera. Is the EF mount fixed? If so, no way we can use 16mm glass because of the flange distance. Too bad they went with a fixed EF mount, an IMS system would have been perfect, but no such thing as a perfect camera I guess. Interested to see some rolling shutter tests as this is a CMOS sensor… Waiting on mine, can;t wait to shoot with it. Thanks for posting the unboxing pics Philip!

    2. Videomac – Do you mean use 16mm lenses so you can get wider angles (field of view)?

      The way I understand it, a 16mm lens is only different in it’s physical size (to cover sensor).

      With 35mm film a 50mm lens will give same field of view as a 25mm lens (made for 16mm cameras) on a 16mm camera.

      Am I right?

      While I’m on this. Does a 50mm film lens (PL mount) on a 35mm film camera have a 1.4 crop factor? So essentially a what you’d see with a 70mm lens on a 5D? Philip?

      I predict a lens is a lens is a lens answer here.

      1. Many PL zooms work with EF mount adapters, but primes do not since they usually project more not the throat of the EF mount. The Optima zom does work nicely with a adapter. Which I could afford it. Will try a rental of it when our team shoots a seven hour series this winter. Brawley has used PL zooms with great result. Check they all do not work,

      2. You seem to be confusing the size of the lens with the size of the imaging device. 16mm film is in reference to the size of the negative. As a result it requires much wider lenses in order to get a wider look – very similar to the effect of the BMC except a bit smaller even.

        Most people would prefer a PL or C mount because there is a lot of great wide glass made with this purpose, unlike EF where the primary market is full frame or APSC. And yes S35 has a crop factor in comparison to Full Frame.

        1. Not confusing lens with imagining device. This always happens when I talk about crop! 🙂

          All I meant was, a 50mm lens on a 35mm cinema film camera would give the same angle of view as approximately an 85mm on a 5D full frame.

          So when people shoot on film cameras, they think of a 50mm lens differently. That’s all I meant. I was just checking I was correct.

    3. With the recent change in RAW pixel dedimensions to accommodate a cleaner down res to 1080 the crop factor is now 2.277 compared to 135 format angles of view.

      for the most part 16mm lenses do not work, but some do. Check GH2 forums to see which ones cover more than 16mm.

      I had to type this toalky blind as the Title bar scrolls over the write window when onan iPad.

  1. I want to see pics of it mounted on a rig, it seems like you would have to always have it mounted to something to shoot with due to lack of hand grips or anything of that nature.

    1. Alternatively, I’d like to see a good compact hand grip attachment. Preferably one that could be mounted (perhaps with the addition of a cage of some sort) without blocking the media/SSD opening.

  2. Enjoy your work immensely – thanks for sharing!
    One thing that intrigues me with the BMCC is the difference in exposure control using shutter angles / aperture rather than shutter speed / aperture that many DSLR filmmakers will be used to and how this affects the look & feel of the finished product. Once you have had a chance to get the measure of the BMCC, perhaps you could give us noobs some pointers for the use of shutter angles compared to what we might be used on, say, a 5DMK2?

  3. I just edited n Graded Raw DNG’s courtesy of john Brawley .. Its awesome , i Badly want to buy this camera but its cost almost twice in my country INDIA , its 5700$ here 🙁 .. B/w please watch my attempt of Grading to those Raw DNG’s , Thanks 🙂 ..

  4. I can’t wait to see the review and to see some Bloom made pictures from the camera.

    The 3 points that are omportant to me are :
    – can we bypass the onboard battery and plug-in anything else via the AC Port ?
    – can we really record RAW and ProRes at the same time ? (someone told me we can but I doubt it)
    – is it reliable ?…

    Well… Can’t wait to see the review !

    1. Hopefully Philip and others with BMCC review units will confirm this, but I believe the following is correct:

      If a 12-30VDC power source is connected to the BMCC that supplies enough current to operate the camera (reported to be 18w, but not confirmed), the camera will operate from the external source.

      If the external power source has enough current to operate the camera and charge the internal battery, it will do that.

      All BMCC power & charging operations occur seamlessly, even if the camera is in record mode. Similar to the way a modern laptop or smartphone works with external power adapters; it just works.

      As for your question about recording RAW & ProRes simultaneously: The BMCC can record one format at a time. In other words, the camera can record to the internal SSD drive in one format at a time (RAW DNG, ProRes, or DNxHD).

      In addition, the camera’s HD-SDI connector can output “clean” 1080p video without text overlays, so an external HD-SDI recorder can be connected and record in whatever format the ext. recorder is capable of.

    2. 1. You can plug-in any battery you like through the AC port, and it recharges the internal battery. Think of the built-in battery as a backup battery that lasts for 90 minutes.
      2. You can’t record both formats at once using the camera, but you can (apparently) use the SDI port and an external recorder to record in a second format.
      3. No idea. 🙂

  5. A lot is riding on your impression of this lovely little box…ahh..ok, angled thing. I don’t know about anyone else, but I haven’t seen anything REALLY…Ok, I’ll be nice, interesting shot with this camera yet. I can’t wait till you rev it up and give us your thumbs up, or down, or whatever you think. I’ll be waiting patiently, right here, with my mouse over the refresh icon!

  6. Only when I came to this blog post for the second time, I fully realised what was going. You are/were in LA, and you asked a friend at home to unbox this camera, broadcasting the process live on Skype so that you could enjoy it back in LA. Then you posted the pictures on your blog, for us to watch.
    Mindbending, kind of reminds me of William Gibson’s Neuromancer novel… Not sad, but visionary, just like Gibson’s novel!

    Like so many, I think this Black Magic Cinema Camera is going to break the mould and change the videocamera market in a revolutionary way.

  7. Question for the mathematicians! What sort of crop factor would an EF-S lens give you on the BMCC? Or a 4/3rds lens if you could get the correct adapter?

  8. It would be AMAZING if a thunderbolt to HDMI cable would allow monitoring with a HDMI monitor. It’s a feature probably 9/10 converting DSLR shooters want, but it sounds like the thunderbolt is for recording to a macbook only. In an interview somewhere Blackmagic said the thunderbolt was not for data transfer and not for monitoring, only for recording and scope monitoring. I’m sure there are lots of us hoping this will be changed in the final firmware.

  9. Really wish they had a mount option for Micro 4/3 lenses. Voigtlander f/0.95 25mm would rock on this camera. Anybody knows if there is similar lens for Canon mount? Adapter?

  10. Regarding PL glass. As far as I understand it a lens will only work (focus to infinity) on a different mount if its intended flange focal distance is greater than the mount’s. Arri PL has a FFD of 52mm (source wikipedia) and Canon EF is 44mm. Therefore the limiting factor will be how far the lens rear element protrudes past the lens mount so if the PL lens can be mounted safely (with an adaptor) then it should be possible.

    Obviously correct me if I’m wrong Philip or anyone else who knows better.


  11. Oly and Panasonic 4/3rd lenses have deeper back focus.

    I have the 9-18mm Olympus and use it with an adapter on my 4/3rd GH2.

    I wonder if a special adapter might be possible for the 4/3rd lenses on the EOS mount.

  12. People complaining about the built-in battery. How many of them own a iPhone or iPod? There are tons of options for power even your cars battery, plug it up and shoot all week 24/7. Can’t wait to hear more from you Philip on this camera.

  13. Hi Philip,

    Sorry to post this question here:

    Any suggestion on the wide angle lens for D800? Now 14-24 f2.8, 17-35 f2.8, 16-35 f4 are on the list, but 14-24 cannot take filters (not good for film production? when a fader ND is needed).

    Your precious comments is very much appreciated!

    Thank you!


  14. Hello Philip

    Thank you for existing.

    Just downloaded the manual for the camera and noticed that there´s no audiometer anywere. not in the menu or on screen. Please check if that is true.

    Could you also check if the LANC-connection actually works with Canon EF. If so, this is a great way to get manual focuspulling on to the handle of a rig when working ENG.

  15. Hi there,

    I’m very interested in that camera, but when i read all the comments for now, i can’t help but be surprised that no one here is thinking about post-production (perhaps because my job is a post-production assistant 🙂 and also because BM is known for all their post-production products and they are very good it’s a pleasure to work with each of them 🙂

    I’m worried about post-production because the main interest of that camera is of course the ability to shoot in RAW (once you’ve tasted RAW….well you’ve tasted RAW.. ) but with the price range of the camera it seems that they are addressing to the masses, but you need a strong post-production facility to handle the amount of data you will have if you shoot in RAW (data storage i don’t say you need a red rocket but a good data storage like a 6 To RAID thunderbolt hard drive) and average people can’t have that……I mean, if we buy camera it’s also to make a living, it’s always a investment ..a passionate job

    But wait and see after all.


  16. I am thinking this camera might be perfect for a 2 year b-roll project. I would normally think of a 5D Mark 2 or the D800 but as a film/video shooter I like that this camera is set up more for the way I work. The one caveat is that I am more of a Nikon guy and have tons of beautiful Nikon lenses and if they don’t work on this camera it is a deal breaker for me. I am worried that an EF to Nikon mount may not work. Anyone have experience with this?

  17. I was in two minds about how useful this would be but I have been playing around with the DNG files from Photoshop to Premier and it is a simple enough workflow to retain the 2K quality. I might wait for a 2nd generation where they add batteries from the 5d and a HDMI out and I get a computer with Thunderbolt and I sell enough kidneys to buy some SSD drives…. 🙂

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