NAB 2015 Impressions: Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera


The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera at NAB 2015

Blackmagic Design introduced a pair of cameras at NAB this year aptly named the Micro Cinema Camera.  While both cameras share the same form factor and name, they vary in features and intended use so much that it’s difficult to discuss them both at the same time.  Both the “Standard” and “Studio” versions of the Micro Cinema Camera share a Micro Four-Thirds (MFT) lens mount and a rugged magnesium camera housing that’s hardly larger then the lens mount.  The MFT mount is is a good choice, because it’s easy adaptable to Canon EF, Nikon F, or even PL mount with off the shelf mount adapters.

Screen shot 2015-04-17 at 5.02.11 PMThe Standard model seems to be geared toward usage on drones or in tight spaces like an A-pillar mount in a car.  It’s also well suited for external suction cup mounting on vehicles with 1/4-20 mount points on the top and bottom of camera.  The Micro Cinema Camera Standard supports 12-bit log Cinema DNG RAW or ProRes (LT/Standard/HQ) recording 1080P at up to 60fps to SD cards.  At 60fps the camera uses a rolling shutter, however, all framerates 30fps or slower utilize a global shutter to prevent the dreaded “Jello Shot” that is all too common among action cams.  The global shutter will go a long way to produce top quality footage in high vibration environments such as car rigs and drones.  There is an HDMI port for monitoring and the camera is powered by industry standard Canon E6 batteries.  Perhaps the coolest thing Blackmagic thought of was this industry-first method of remote controlling your camera on a drone.  They added a clunky 15-pin connector that looks rather familiar…that’s because it’s the same VGA cable you would use to connect a computer monitor.  But this is no monitor port, instead its a custom control interface meant to connect to Futaba 18 channel S.Bus controller (or other compatible controllers) which will allow you to map camera controls to your Futaba RC controller.  Things like iris, exposure, roll/stop, and even focus on certain lenses can be mapped to the switches knobs and buttons on your controller.  The Standard model is priced around $1000 and will ship in July.
Screen shot 2015-04-17 at 5.00.00 PMThe Studio 4K model is a different animal altogether.  The  SD card bay goes away on this model and an HD-SDI port is added.  There is not an internal recording option available, instead it has 6G HD-SDI port that can output 4K at up to 30fps or 1080P HD at up to 60fps.  The camera can be remote controlled via an ATEM switcher using CCU protocols.  Additionally, a B4 mount broadcast lens can be powered and controlled from the camera.  The Studio model is definitely geared towards unmanned mounting of camera positions such as sporting events, live performances, or corporate conferences where a discrete ceiling mounted camera is ideal.  Amazing versatility in such a small package!  The Studio model is priced around $1300 and will ship in July.