Today the first Blackmagic Design Studio Cameras landed in Dubai. Here’s some pros and cons, and why I think there is method to the madness.

In my research leading up to this day, and the inevitable need to support and answer a ton of pre-sales questions about this new animal, I’ve discovered a few important “limitations” with the much anticipated Blackmagic Studio Camera.

Whether these “limitations” are perceived or real is the question that is really on my mind. I believe Blackmagic are breaking new ground here and that will always be met with resistance from the guardians and defenders of the established norms.

This is a camera that is not likely to please everyone in the professional broadcast and studio establishment, but may appeal to new and open-minded low budget users crossing over that are willing to overlook a few things, or more likely than not won’t miss them in the first place.

1. The only way to mount a proper ENG zoom lens is with a dumb MFT to B4 adaptor. That means no remote lens control is possible through the camera. Full stop.

Due to the sensor size being larger than that of a 2/3” broadcast camera sensor, only ENG zoom lenses with a 2x extender engaged can be used. This has always been the case, as with the Cinema Camera and a MFT to B4 adaptor, but I don’t consider this a problem necessarily, it’s just a fact.

Remote color balancing and adjustment is of course still possible through the ATEM, just no remote iris / zoom / focus control with a ENG lens.

For many established studios wishing to use a Blackmagic Studio Camera / ATEM combination with professional ENG zoom lenses to replace their current setup, this lack of remote lens control will be a complete deal breaker.

2. So it seems that if full remote lens control is desired, only an active MFT lens with servo zoom will work. That’s basically only one lens. The Panasonic LUMIX® G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm / F4.0-5.6 ASPH. However I don’t think it is a perfectly parfocal lens (able to maintain focus throughout zoom range) although if you know better, please correct me if I’m wrong, and it is not constant aperture. http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/H-PS45175K

The hardened old-school professionals who haven’t switched off at point 1, will have left the room whispering (or shouting) four letter expletives at point 2.

I just don’t think those people are the intended target market.

3. Apparently the “interlaced” outputs are not really interlaced but somehow pseudo interlaced from an internally progressive source. Now I haven’t had a chance to look into this yet and am happy to be wrong, but it would make sense seeing as the read-out from the sensor is most likely progressive as with all the other Blackmagic cameras. I anticipate this may be problematic for some expecting a true interlaced output. I don’t know whether this is technically then PsF (Progressive Segmented Frame) or what.

4. The software color and camera control will not be familiar for anyone used to hardware CCU controls. God forbid anyone try anything new.

My initial thoughts are that this was never intended to be a replacement solution for the established broadcast market. It’s a new system, a new way of running a multi-cam live production and a extremely cost effective entry point for a brand new market.

Some accuse Blackmagic of completely ignoring the established existing requirements of studio production, arguing that if they hadn’t they would have made a Studio Camera with a 2/3” sensor, B4 mount and lens control… which they did… the URSA Broadcast Camera. However I don’t believe this is the case. I see a lot of innovation here and in my opinion they are going after a less experienced, new market of crossover DSLR shooters and cinematographers that are happy to control their own lens at the camera, and were simply wishing for a way to feed multiple sources to a switcher and color balance multiple cameras centrally. That makes sense to me and for that Blackmagic have provided a excellent beginning to end solution at a ridiculously affordable price.

I’m not sure they ever intended to make the ENG purists happy with the Studio Camera… Blackmagic are doing something new here, and I see a deepening blend between EFP / Cinema and ENG / live production.

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