in filmmaking, videography, videos

Black Magic MFT Cinema Camera – Test Footage

Last night, I had the unique opportunity to try out the relatively new Black Magic Cinema Camera with Micro 4/3rds mount. Local /Filmcaster Sam Kelly was kind enough to offer me an in-person tutorial. We met at Hilliard’s Beer in Ballard, which was hosting one of their many motorcycle meetups and just shot a bunch of footage in ProRes HQ. This is the result.

This footage was shot using SLR Magic prime lenses, then graded using FilmConvert. My first reaction to this video is: WOW! Shooting in ProRes gives you SO much more flexibility in post than anything that comes out of my DLRs. Details that might have otherwise been lost in shadows and highlights can be easily “pushed.” The video just has a “filmic” look that I’ve occasionally struggled to achieve with my DSLR footage. And FilmConvert works spectacularly with the BMCC “Film” Picture Style, which is what I used.

All that being said, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is pretty clunky in a bunch of ways. The LCD screen makes it fairly challenging to focus, and the focus peaking overlay is sketchy at best, in terms of accuracy. The lens mount on the MFT version of this camera is passive, which is fine in theory but I didn’t like that there was no aperture reading on the screen that tracked with my adjustments. The lack of removable battery and the lack of charge in the existing battery means that an external battery solution is a must.

The firmware still has a lot of shortcomings. For instance, the inability to format your media or delete clips would probably drive me insane in the long term.

But in the end, when we’re talking about images of this quality for under $2000? I don’t think I will be able to resist purchasing one for much longer…

Big thanks to Sam for letting me play with this amazing camera, and to Hotels and Highways for the use of their song “People Have Spoken.”

  • Im surprised you didnt try shooting in RAW to test the work flow, but it still looked like you got plenty of dynamic range and detail. This would have been really helpful back on your shoot at the Kite festival I bet.

  • I'd also recommend you try shooting on a Panasonic GH2. It's half the cost of the Black Magic Cinema Camera, extremely hackable and capable of producing a "film" look. See here:

  • SmackChopG: I don't have enough hard drives to shoot in RAW at the moment. And yes, I really could've used this at the kite festival.

    Gerry: In general, I'd rather have a non-hacked device, even if the cost is significantly more. You never know what can go wrong with hacks….

  • Understandable. If you can, I'd recommend looking into the Technicolor Cinestyle Picturestyle for your DSLR. It's free and gives you more options in grading. No hacking, it's free and released by a major post facility.

  • Gerry: I use Flaat 10. Any reason you prefer CineStyle? I've heard it is not as good as Flaat for grading.

  • I actually haven't used Flaat. When I worked in VFX, our supervisor always shot his elements on Cinestyle since Technicolor was our post facility. I'll give Flaat 10 a try this weekend. Thanks for the tip!