Blackmagic Design Camera Review
Blackmagic Design makes tons of cameras of all types for both the layperson and professionals so regardless of what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it. These are top-notch cameras with the features you’ll need regardless of the reasons why you bought them in the first place. Their cameras are divided into digital film cameras and live production cameras but they offer tons of other equipment as well, including products for editing, post-production work, and recording and monitoring.
If you’re curious about which camera is for you, the best thing to do is read our Blackmagic Design camera review and learn the different features of each one so you can enjoy the features you consider most important. Let’s start this review by taking a look at the digital film cameras that Blackmagic Design has available.
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DIGITAL FILM CAMERAS
Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K
If you’re looking for a super-advanced digital film camera, the URSA Mini Pro is for you. A very versatile digital film camera offering a 12,288 x 6480 12K Super 35 sensor and 14 stops of incredible range, this camera provides tons of features that people who need this type of camera consider important. You get 180 megapixels per frame, Blackmagic RAW flexibility that makes working with 12K possible, and the ability to shoot at 60 FPS in 12K, 110 FPS in 8K, and up to 220 FPS in 4K Super 16.
When you consider these and other factors, not to mention the compact but versatile body that this camera has, you won’t wonder why it is such a popular camera for people looking for the perfect digital film camera. You get 80 megapixels per frame and great color science that results in the perfect picture every time. Working with 12K is no longer difficult, thanks to this camera, and oversampling from that 12K provides you with perfect 8K and 4K images that come with perks such as subtle skin tones and very detailed images that are only high-end still cameras used to provide.
With the URSA Mini Pro, you also get an interchangeable PL mount, built-in ND filters, a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port, a dual CFast, and UHS-II SD card recorders, and a whole lot more. The company even includes DaVinci Resolve Studio so that you can enjoy a lot more creative control through post-editing to color, VFX, and a lot more.
With the URSA Mini Pro, you can enjoy the benefits of shooting with film, which includes deep color, excellent detail, and a wide dynamic range. If you’re involved in making feature films, episodic television, or even large-format IMAX, the definition you get with the URSA Mini Pro will make the task simple for you. Because of the great definition this camera provides, working with green screen and VFX, including compositing CGI and live-action, is never out of reach.
The URSA Mini Pro 12K sells for roughly $10,000. There is another URSA Mini Pro version that offers 4.6K capability that sells for around $6000. The 4.6K model offers 15 stops of range up to 120 FPS or 2K at 300 FPS. It also offers an interchangeable lens mount that comes with EF as standard, although optional PL, F, and B4 mounts are available to you. Other features include three ND filters, Blackmagic RAW or ProRes recording to dual CFast or SD cards, USB-C external disk recording, HD-SDI monitoring, and XLR audio, timecode, or reference.
Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera
If you’re interested in having the world’s smallest digital film camera that comes with remote control, the Micro Cinema Camera is it. Fairly new to the Blackmagic world, this is a miniature Super 16mm professional camera that can be operated remotely, which means that you can capture the action you’re trying to record anywhere. It even has an expansion port with PWM and S.Bus inputs that allow you to use a model airplane remote control if you want to!
With this camera, you can adjust the focus, iris, and zoom wirelessly every time. This is a true digital film camera with features that include built-in RAW and ProRes recording, an MFT lens mount, and a total of 13 stops of dynamic range. Because of this and its other capabilities, this camera will go where no other camera can. Despite its incredibly small size, you still get the professional quality that is great for any situation where action camera shots need to be taken.
This means that the camera is perfect for use as a crash cam, on quadcopters, or even in a reality TV setting where the camera has to be hidden somewhere to get the right effect. You can even mount it on a hang glider, skateboard, helmet, or drone with ease. In other words, when the film you shoot with this camera is shown to the public, their first reaction will be “How in the world did they get that shot?”
This camera provides some great features that include:
- Great management by remote control. This means that you can run and monitor the camera from a safe distance to start and stop recording, change the iris, adjust the focus, and anything else that you need to do at the moment.
- A design that can be customized. You can create personalized rigs for remote monitoring and operation, and its small but sturdy body means that you can shoot anywhere from the ocean floor to the stratosphere or beyond!
- Interchangeable lenses. The camera’s Four Thirds lens mount means that you can use high-performance photographic lenses of all types including primes, standard zooms, wide-angle, and telephoto lenses, giving you a lot of choices when it comes to getting the perfect shot.
- Easy camera settings. With the Micro Cinema Camera, you can use a row of buttons located on the front of the camera to adjust all of your settings. This makes the button easily accessible regardless of where the camera is located. The settings are displayed on the screen using the composite video output or HDMI so that you can see them clearly at all times.
- High-tech, professional sound. The camera has a built-in stereo microphone that is omni-directional and has a mechanical design that reduces unwanted wind noise, meaning that you get a perfectly clear recording every time. The built-in 3.5mm input connector also allows you to plug in wireless or directional clips on your microphones.
- Built-in RAW and ProRes recorder. Because of this, the camera can capture true 12-bit log digital film images without the problems associated with DSLR and other types of cameras. You can even save your files in either ProRe4s or Cinema DNG RAW, the latter allowing you to change things like exposure and white balance even when the camera is no longer rolling.
This is a super-high quality camera that starts at a reasonable price of only $995, which makes it affordable even for newer studios that are just getting started in the business.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
If you’re interested in getting that “Hollywood look” without spending a fortune on equipment, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is the one for you. This is a great camera for television programming, documentaries, and feature films but you can also use it for YouTube content, blog videos, and much more. You get a lot of the features that very expensive digital film cameras have and they are beneficial when you need excellent image detail, deep colors, and wide dynamic ranges between the deepest shadows and the brightest highlights.
If you’re on a budget but need high-quality music videos, weddings, independent films, documentaries, or corporate videos, the Pocket Cinema Camera is a great option. It is a lightweight but very powerful camera that offers features such as carbon fiber polycarbonate composite materials for sturdiness, a handgrip that allows for all types of functions right at your fingertips, and a sensor that is designed to reduce thermal noise, which means higher ISO and cleaner shadows.
In addition, the five-inch LCD makes it easy to get perfect focus even at 4K and 6K resolutions, and the perks of a removable battery door, heavy-duty lens mount, built-in speaker, and four shock-proof microphones are even better incentives to choose this digital camera.
Of course, the overall quality of the camera is its biggest and most important advantage. You get a native sensor resolution of 4096 x 2160 on the 4K model and a resolution of 6144 x 3456 on the 6K model. You can shoot in bright sunlight or in almost no light at all, thanks to the 13 stops of dynamic range and dual native ISO up to 25,600 that gives you low-noise images in any type of lighting condition that you’re working in.
One of this camera’s biggest advantages is the capacity to capture excellent shots even in very low-lighting situations. As a general rule, the higher the ISO number on the camera, the more sensitive it is to light; therefore, it can shoot even at night if the number is right. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera features dual gain ISO up to 25,600, which means that both models will minimize grain or noise in your images while still providing you with the full dynamic range of the sensor.
What this means in practical terms is that the native ISO of 400 is great for scenes that use any type of on-set lighting while the secondary high-base ISO of 3200 accommodates your shots when you’re in a dimly lit environment. Even better, the dual gain changes automatically, making it easy to capture great images even when dim and light scenes are shot one after another.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera starts at around $1300 and is, therefore, an affordable option for anyone in this industry.
LIVE PRODUCTION CAMERAS
Blackmagic URSA Broadcast Camera
If you’re looking for a versatile but affordable professional broadcast camera for both HD and Ultra-HD use, the URSA Broadcast Camera is one you need to check out. It is essentially two cameras in one, including a great field camera for ENG and programming work as well as a professional studio camera. It is also perfect for traditional broadcasters because it offers perks that include:
- It can use lenses and batteries that you already own.
- It eliminates weird media cards and file formats often found on traditional cameras.
- It records onto regular SD cards.
- It uses the same common file formats found on broadcast media management systems and most NLE software.
In addition, if you’re a web broadcaster, you get the capability to work with both older after-market HD lenses and inexpensive photo lenses, making this a very flexible and versatile camera indeed.
The Blackmagic URSA Broadcast Camera offers features that include:
- The ability to easily and quickly switch from field shooting to live work
- The ability to work faster because you can eliminate expensive media and video transcodes
- High-quality neutral-density (ND) filters that allow you to reduce the amount of light entering the camera quickly and easily
- A great design, thanks to tough yet lightweight magnesium metal materials
- Familiar broadcast control that allows you to change the settings without taking the camera off of your shoulders
- A high-visibility LCD screen that allows you to view critical shooting information even in very bright daylight
Another one of the many advantages of the URSA Broadcast Camera is its ability to shoot super-smooth slow-motion video that is crystal clear. The camera accomplishes this by recording at higher frame rates and playing back at standard video frame rates. You can even set up your preferred high-speed frame rate using the camera’s convenient on-screen menus and then you can switch between a standard sync speed and off-speed frame rate. Best of all, you do this by using the touch of a button, which is conveniently located on the side of the camera.
With this camera, you also get an advanced operating system and user interface that allow you to access all camera settings quickly; the ability to support 11 different languages including English, Dutch, Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Italian, among others; and compatibility with industry-standard power and batteries. The camera includes a four-pin XLR power connector that accommodates from 12V to 20V for both external power supplies and battery packs. In other words, you can use all of your existing power supplies and batteries and therefore won’t have to worry about using the camera for different functions.
If you like, you can also use numerous battery plates from companies such as Anton Bauer, Blueshape, IDX, and others. To make installation easy, you can simply add optional components such as the V-Lock battery plate or the gold battery plate for using popular V-Mount or Gold Mount batteries. This is because these include a power plug specifically designed to plug directly into the URSA Broadcast Camera.
This camera sells for roughly $6000 and is therefore affordable for small broadcasting stations and start-up stations.
Blackmagic Studio Camera
This is a small studio camera with a large viewfinder, making it perfect for any type of live production. Its features include a lightweight but sturdy body, a 10” viewfinder, remote camera control, talkback, phantom-powered microphone connections, tally indicators, and much more. You can even enjoy SDI or user-installable optical fiber connections to connect to your switcher with a single cable. It is available in both HD and Ultra-HD models; also, despite its size, it offers numerous advanced features that are often found only in cameras with much higher prices.
Perfect for sitcoms, talk shows, broadcast news in the studio, and even sporting events and live concerts, the Blackmagic Studio Camera is compact and has a foldable sunshade and interchangeable lenses that allow you to pack an entire multi-camera live production rig into one single road case. It is super easy to set up and to use, which makes it perfect for houses of worship, schools, corporate AV departments, and much more.
You should also not let this camera’s compactness fool you because it is made out of a magnesium alloy body that is both rugged and portable. You also get a flexible MFT mount for more lens options than most other studio cameras as well as professional broadcast connections and multiple mounting points. It is a super-advanced camera that is made with the latest miniaturization technology and features and is specifically designed for multiple-camera live productions of any type.
You also get both HD and Ultra-HD options, which means that you can enjoy over four times the size of 1080HD if you choose the latter. It also means that you can use it to make material for websites such as Vimeo and YouTube, thanks to its massive 3840 x 2160 pixels. In addition, because of the illuminated tally feature, you know automatically when you’re on the air. The tally illuminates automatically every time that your camera is live and stays that way during multiple camera transitions. You also get a light on the front for talent and above the viewfinder for the operator, cast, and crew for convenience.
The camera sells for roughly $1500 and provides a simple way to enjoy the realism and beauty of Ultra-HD 4K whether you want to capture a theatrical event or a live sporting event.
Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K
This is a super-small ultra-HD live studio camera that offers not only great resolution but also the ability to be controlled from the switcher via the SDI control protocol. It also offers features such as a built-in color corrector, tally indicator, PTZ control output, talkback, backup battery, built-in microphones, and an adaptable MFT lens mount and B4 lens control output. In practical terms, this means that it is a very high-quality camera that is just as good as many of the very expensive studio cameras in use today.
Small enough to be used anywhere, the Micro Studio Camera 4K has an open design and is perfect for any live multi-camera production. Since it is virtually invisible, it can be hidden almost anywhere on the set, which means that getting access to different camera angles is easier than ever before and it will also make for a very interesting program in the end.
You can even hide the Micro Studio Camera almost anywhere on the stage in order to get great shots of live performances and you can safely hang them overhead for sporting events without most people even noticing that they’re there. And if you’re interested in monitoring in the studio, you can rig it with a professional broadcast lens and a Blackmagic Video Assist to get great results.
And if all that weren’t enough, the Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K has more rigging options than nearly any other camera on the market. You can choose to use high-performance MFT lenses, which are very affordable, or you can add a B4 adapter in order to work with traditional broadcast lenses. The camera’s SDI program input accepts commands via the SDI connection that comes from any ATEM, which allows you to get remote control of things such as color balancing, camera settings, gamma, black level, lens focus, zoom control, iris, and much more.
Some of the best features of the Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K include:
- Broadcast-grade Ultra-HD sensor for extra-fine textures and superb clarity
- A 6G-SDI connection that accommodates up to 30 frames per second in Ultra-HD and can be switched to HD-SDI or 3G-SDI when needed
- The ability to handle both HD and Ultra-HD easily
- Full bandwidth RGB HD color and excellent sub-pixel anti-aliasing for extra-fine details in your images
One of the most interesting features of the Micro Studio Camera is its ability to control cameras from your ATEM switcher. You can use the camera with any standard SDI camera control protocol, which means that you can connect the program feed from any model of ATEM Switcher to that camera’s SDI input. Then you can control any setting in the camera remotely as well as functions such as color correction, focus changes, zoom, and iris whenever you’re using supported lenses.
With other broadcast cameras, you typically get basic CCU color balance controls but the Micro Studio Camera 4K includes a full DaVinci primary color corrector, allowing you to get much more than simple CCU controls. This is because you can also do a full-color grade in the camera, which means that the technical director can now fine-tune the settings and match the different cameras’ looks quickly.
The Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K sells for roughly $1300 and is perfect for people who need high-tech cameras but are on a budget.
Thank you for reading our Blackmagic Design camera review.