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Black Magic Cinema Camera FAQ


Because all workflow oriented QnA are on separate page - Workflow QnA

Nope. Camera is still in beta unreleased stage. So, even DNG samples are top secret for now. It is looking strange, but this is how it is.


It looks to be Fairshild sCMOS sensor ( ) designed to scientific tasks. Hence very good DR and noise performance.
Sensor is not large. Actually it is even smaller than original m43 sensor.
Crop is about 2.3x, m43 crop is 2x, and GH2 crop is about 1.86x.

Active area is 15.6 x 8.8mm.

  • Panasonic GH2 has 18.7 x 10.5mm area
  • Panasonic AF100 has 17.8 x 10.0mm area
  • “Paper camera” Digital Bolex could have 12.85 x 9.64mm
  • Ikonoskop A-Cam dII has 10.6 x 6.0mm area

Sensor resolution is 2592 x 2192. Active area is 2432 x 1366.

It is certainly CMOS sensor, and while BM do not disclose manufacturer it can be either Fairchild sCMOS or new Panasonic produced sensor.
According to people at NAB rolling shutter is quite good, but nothing spectacular.

More information abotu sCMOS sensor can be found at:

Note that BM camera do not use potential of the sensor, such as global shutter mode or up to 100fps modes.

Yes, it can. We have quite a clutter inside the camera. LCD screen, battery can be charged at the moment you shooting or still hot after charging.
All such things degrade camera performance.
BM is using peltier element for sensor cooling. With ventilation located in the bottom of the camera.
While peltier can keep sensor cool, even in the hot surrounding, it must be noted, that, it is quite ineffective device and produce a lot of heat by itself.
So, let's hope that BM designers took all this into account.

Yep, they have only 23.98fps, 24fps, 25fps, 29.97fps and 30fps only for now.
30fps seems to be barrier for low noise in this sensor. May be they also have some other hardware restrictions.
Sensor seems capable of much higher rates, and even has global shutter option.
Some signs appeared that camera could allow up to about 48p with future firmware updates.

This is quite muddy topic for now. Primary opinion being that ISO 800 will be native one.
And only two other options will be available - 400 and 1600.

As far as I am aware it is not planned. They got many requests, but I never saw positive answer here.

(John) Not in this version of the camera, but they are aware of the advantages and may change this in future models.

Lenses and lens mounts

No, you can use any manual lenses that have converter to Canon EF mount (like Pentax and Nikon).
Camera is mostly made with Canon EF in mind. As BM oriented to people who used Canon bodies mostly and hence have big amount of Canon glass.
They still did not manage to implement anything other than iris control, unfortunately. Hope in release time they'll support IS, and may be even AF.

(John) They plan to support IS, and maybe AF.

It is hard to tell now. Most probably in first camera version you'll be stuck with one, Canon EF option only.

(John) Other mounts are being considered, such as m4/3 and PL.

Yes, you can. You need Canon EF to Nikon F adapter.

Considering Nikon lenses recommendations.
Check this comparisons :

You can get this manual lenses at KEH or Ebay.

Black Magic clearly knows about high demand from people to have m43 mount. It is becoming clear that m43 mount could be much better both from practical and business standpoints.
But they do not plan to make any changes, as design and hardware are finished. May be it'll be present in second version or some other company come with cheaper competitive product long before it.


Nope, no XLRs. Just two balanced audio inputs without any phantom power option.
According to preliminary data you can switch each one between three modes - line, mic and digital audio input.
Some state that inputs do not have AES/EBU digital option and this was just misinformation. Hard to tell for sure.

Right now camera has audio meters. They plan to have them working before final release.
But if this will be on screen meters only or they'll be also present in HD-SDI, so you could see them on external monitor, remains unknown.


HD-SDI will output full color 1080p 4:2:2 image. In camera adjustments will be minimal - only two LUT options (contrasty video one and flat cinema oriented).

Nope, it won't work because of hardware limitations. It is fun, but currently Cinema Camera will not work with BM produced ATEM line of switchers. Isn't it weird?

Reasons for it is also shady. Most probably Apple played here vital role. Other consideration is that USB 3.0 real speed is below 400MB/s, and most probably even below 300MB/s.
As for Apple only thing. You can use some high end desktop motherboards that have Thunderbolt ports. Some new Intel based notebooks also have such ports, so no need to use Apple.
But having Apple notebook has some advantage, see next QA.

You can use it to capture footage directly to computer, also you can use freely included UltraScope software to see waveform/vectorscope/ect. As far as I am aware Ultrascope is working only on Mac computers for now.

I do not know about any such plans. As this is Mac centric solution I suppose Thunderbolt had been requirement set by Apple during early design stages.
Plus this port has clear advantages over USB. Unfortunately to most PC owners. So, you must remember to include computer upgrade price into whole ownership price calculations.

Nope, no plans, except idea to buy their own external converters. BM is positioned like “professional” camera and, according to original idea, must have only professional video interface.
Of course, it means that if you have new and fancy external monitor or viewfinder with HDMI input only you must sell it and buy another one with HD-SDI, with much higher price point. Or use converters, but it is quite flimsy solution.

Video formats

Nope, only uncompressed CinemaDNG. It is very hungry format requiring fast SSD drives, good RAID HDDs in your computer.
Two other formats that consume less resources are not raw, they are just 10-bit debayer data.
Black Magic insist on using purely uncompressed approach. I absolutely do not share their opinion, and hope that next generation of similar cameras will have other options.

It is very strange, but if you do not have extra software installed, answer will be no.
You need CinemaDNG importer for After Effects CS5, Premiere Pro CS5, and Premiere Pro CS5.5
Download it from

Do not worry. I looked into this and they mean 8bits debayered result, not 8bit raw files.
You could get source 12bit linear raw and convert to 8bit (with all adjustment specific to this conversion).

No. Right now camera stores individual frames in individual files. For each new take it creates separate folder.

Power solutions

According to preliminary reports camera consumes about 18W. It is important information to choose proper external battery solution.

Yes, it will charge internal battery. Do not think it is important in most situations, but in studio it can be very useful.

I think it is design based decision. And overall it is quite bad for users. It is not very large battery (best you can get is 90 minutes of turned on camera) and long to recharge.
Impossible to replace by end user.
You'll be required to pay $80 and shipping+insurance and ship your precious camera for them for replacement in cause of any troubles. Not good.

It seems so. Generally you need any 12V DC solution. Numerous ones are available from our partners in TrusMT, Lanparte, Tilta. They are quite cheap and very reliable.


No, it is not very reliable. SATA connectors are not designed for frequent removal/insertion. They are fragile and easy to damage.
I think main idea of BM camera design is to use Thunderbolt for footage downloading and do not touch SSD much.

Monitors and viewfinders

Most certainly you do need them, as camera feature just fixed LCD screen with resolution common for very cheap LCD panels.
Main problem being sole SDI port connection option. No cheap HDMI monitors/viewfinders will work.
While you can purchase quite constly converters it'll make your rig really flimsy with many unsecure connections.
So, try to use HD-SDI enabled solutions.

Other features

Camera is using active cooling approach with small fan residing inside, it is very quiet, so not need to worry. And can be replaced by user.

No. BM made few quite fuzzy claims that they'll think on it and may be propose something. But it is all uncertain.

Also very very fuzzy.
They are considering using audio ports sensing some spikes and sync to them, also consider usage of Thunderbolt and computer for syncing (so you'll need computer with multiple thunderbolt ports).
But all of this could never happen in reality.

(John) At present there is no way to sync cameras.

In the current, beta state, not very much. If you look at the interface settings screens, no way you can set any parameters of output rather then Video/Film LUTs setting. Most of the time you prefer to have more picture adjustment instruments, as well as some approach allowing you to match settings among multiple cameras.
Manufacturer aims this camera to be used mostly on narrative applications to fully use advantage of raw format for editing and grading.


Yep, zebra is already working. Zebra is selectable from 75-100% in 5% increments and is in white only.
Some time after release they plan to make fully functioning historgam. In RAW camera it must be RGB histogram, but I am not sure if they are up to the task here.
Waveform could be never implemented as in camera feature. It is really sad.

You can check yourself.





No, at this time you can't. Of course, it is huge interface flaw. As I know Black Magic are working on some fixes, but no onw knows how they'l looks like and if they'll be available before release.

Yes, camera plays footage that you shot from it's SSD.

No, you can't. Camera interface just does not have necessary functions. It is another big flaw, in long row of BM camera flaws.

Yes, but in a very limiting way. Only choices available are 3200K, 5600K and 6500K.

As I understand company position, it is uber raw camera. With extremely restricted interface. If you look at the interface settings above you won't see any parameters of output rather then Video/Film LUTs setting.
So, no any picture profiles, normal WB settings, nothing. And while camera could shoot in non-raw formats, they are same half baked thing requiring heavy postprocessing.
If you look at interface and feature decisions made by BM you'll see error after error, typical for first beta type products.

In current beta cameras only shutter angles are 360, 180, 172.8 and 90.
Some hopes exist that 45 and 15 degrees will be added.

Why they use degrees only, any problem to have choice?
They want be “proper cinema camera”. Yep, insane, I know.


Yes, you can. Camera has standard Lanc connector. So, you can get some controller with Lanc interface produced by numerious manufacturers and have complete control of many camera functions.

blackmagic-cinema-camera/blackmagic-cinema-camera-faq.txt · Last modified: 2012/07/15 15:56 by vitaliy_kiselev