The First and Most Important Purchase

As I begin my journey back into filmmaking and visual effects, the first and most important item I need to purchase is a camera\camcorder. Camera technology has completely changed since I last purchased a camera. It can easily get overwhelming for a newcomer but after much time and research I was able to break the various cameras into three categories. You have the traditional camcorders like the Canon Vixia HF G10 and XA10. Then you have DSLRs which included the Canon 5D Mark 3, T3i, and Panasonic GH3. Finally you have cameras that are labeled as cinema cameras, this include the Red Scarlet and the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera. There is no doubt in my mind that any of these cameras can create a beautiful image but the million dollar question is, which camera is right for me? Since I only plan to buy one camera, I need something that can grow with me as I learn new techniques. So after much thought, I have narrowed down my list of requirements to three items:

1.     Since color grading, color correcting, chroma keying are on my short list of things to learn, I need the ability to record raw or uncompressed video (either internally or externally). Since I’m shooting for the sky, preferably something with color information higher than 8bit.

2.     Shallow depth of field! SDofF can control how you tell your story, so this is a must.

3.     Since I’m not made of money, I had to set a limit on how much I can spend. I do have a kid and wife to feed after all. With that said I’m sticking within a budget of three to four thousand dollars.

After weeks of going back and forth I have decided to purchase the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, specifically the MFT model.




Two things really stood out as to why the BMCC was the best camera for me. One, the camera shoots 2.5K 12bit RAW! Two, thirteen stops of dynamic range. These two items alone exceed my highest expectations. Most of the work I will be doing will be for the Internet with a resolution of 1080p. 2.5K is more than what I need but it gives me some flexibility to play with the image more. One of biggest selling points for traditional film cameras was the amount of dynamic range, which sits around 13 to 14 stops from what I have been told. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is stated to have 11 to 13 stops. That’s HUGE for a three thousand dollar camera! With that kind of range, the camera should capture a great amount of information in the shadows and highlights. The reason I chose the MFT model versus the EF model is because I wanted the fastest and widest glass I could find. From what I have seen there is not a lot of wide angled lenses for a crop sensor with EF glass. Plus the MFT model would be a better fit for using different types of lens adapter mounts. Since I don’t own any EF glass and I wanted all manual lenses, this just seemed like the perfect fit. While some areas of the camera are all roses, a lot of areas are not. Some of the challenging issues are the TRS audio input and all the I/O ports being located on the left side of the camera. At the time of this post, my single biggest issue with the camera is the lack of audio meters. I’m really hoping that will change with the next firmware update. With that being said, none of this stuff is a deal breaker. One area that I had to concede on was the budget. I know this camera is only three thousand dollars, which is within my budget but the problem is it will need a lot of accessories to make it a functional cinema camera. When it’s all said and done that can end up costing me more than four thousand dollars. The only saving grace is I don’t have to buy it all at once. I can piece it together as needed. Now, with all the formalities out of the way, I'm happy to announce that I have preordered the Blackmagic cinema camera and my first lens. O Happy Day! Late last year Blackmagic announced that they were delaying the release of the MFT model until they can fulfill most of the preorders of the EF model. Fast forward to the middle of March and there is still no sign of the MFT model shipping any time soon. This is going to be a LONG brutal wait!