Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

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Melvin Chen

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Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostTue Apr 15, 2014 10:16 am

Just received our brand new Blackmagic Design Studio Camera today.

Here are some thoughts after 3 hours.

Image quality - Very similar to the BMPCC, colours appear slightly punchier than seen on video dynamic range in BMPCC. Detail not quite comparable to conventional broadcast cameras either in 1/2 or 2/3" formats.

Operations - PTT button is pure 'PTT' only, no latching. Camera body heats up rapidly near the base.

Build quality - Hood feels flimsy but okay once mounted. Would be better the top side would adjust or if its collapsible. Buttons too 'soft' and takes effort to press, may not withstand frequent use.

Gripes - Unable to do manual/auto white balance, lack of detail adjustment (it would have been okay if the default level is sharper), no iris control for some MFT lenses (using an Olympus 12-50)

Biggest advantage - cost, portability.
Biggest drawback - need more in-depth controls, higher/adjustable detail levels - its just far too soft compared to a conventional camera. I foresee this to pose a significant problem.

Menu Items:
Page 1 Camera - Video Format, Gain (0/6/12/18dB), White Balance (3200/4500/5000/5600/6500/7500K), Shutter Speed (1/50, 1/60...till 1/2000), Dynamic Range (Video/Film), Language

Page 2 Audio - Audio Input (Camera/External), Microphone Level (0-100%), Input Levels (Mic/Line), Ch1 Input (0-100%), Ch2 Input (0-100%), Phantom Power (On/Off)

Page 3 Monitoring - Brightness (0-100%), Zebra (On/off), Focus Peaking (Low/Medium/High), Tally Brightness (Low/Med/High)

Page 4 Studio - Camera Number (1-99), Reference Source (Int/Ext), Reference Timing (Line/Pixels), Headset Level (0-100%), Head Mic Level (0-100%), Program Mix (0-100%)
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Haakon Sundry

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostThu Apr 17, 2014 1:27 am

melvinchen wrote:Detail not quite comparable to conventional broadcast cameras either in 1/2 or 2/3" formats.

It's just far too soft compared to a conventional camera. I foresee this to pose a significant problem.

I figured this would be the case. You're really going to need the 4K version to get any good detail... but of course there are a million other drawbacks to that model too. If they were smart, they would've just made a 2/3" version with a B4 mount and called it a day. They could have still included the 10" monitor, the tally, and essentially everything else about the current form factor, but to have such bad lens/sensor options makes this totally unusable for most people.

The obvious reason they made it the way they did is simply because it's the same exact sensor as the pocket camera and they can save costs by using it in multiple models. They probably didn't make the 4K version super 35mm (a la the production camera or the URSA) because then you definitely wouldn't be able to slap a broadcast lens on it, though the irony is that this approach is exactly what RED and Canon are doing. I agree that 4K is probably overkill for most people for broadcast at this point, but the oversampling in the production camera is reportedly very good and at least you'd have your detail that way.

I don't know... I just feel like unless they redesign the sensor, this camera is going to have limited appeal. But maybe more people are still broadcasting static shots in standard def than I realize...
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Melvin Chen

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostThu Apr 17, 2014 3:10 am

The very difficult thing to accept after examining it carefully is this 'progressive shutter' look on the output.

The camera is marketed to support 1080/50i/60i, interlaced formats and TECHNICALLY outputs as such.

However, the sensor/processor seems to be natively progressive and there's no way to really output genuine interlaced video without the irritating shuttering.

Its really unacceptable for TV work.
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Robert Betzner

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostThu Apr 17, 2014 7:39 am

Hi,

the sensor size of the 4k version is only slightly bigger than the 2k version:

13.056mm x 7.344mm compared to 12.48mm x 7.02mm

The biggest drawback for me is that I heard it cannot do interlaced formats. Allthough you can set the menu to 1080i but the output has still a progressive look. That makes it absolutely unusable for standard broadcast work. Could you please test this with your camera?

It makes sense because the original sensor cannot work interlaced.

Cheers
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Chris Hocking

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostSun Apr 27, 2014 2:52 am

If possible, would you be able to provide some more information on the audio performance of the camera?

Does the Phantom Power actually work?

Are you able to record some dialogue and share your results? I specially want to see if the Studio Camera suffers from the same frequency response issues as the Production Camera.

How is the quality of the headphone output?

Thanks in advance!
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Peter Collis

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostSun Apr 27, 2014 10:50 am

I don't know... I just feel like unless they redesign the sensor, this camera is going to have limited appeal. But maybe more people are still broadcasting static shots in standard def than I realize...


From my recent observation of the broadcast world, they use PTZ "dome" cameras, DSLRs or GoPros for the locked off shots, assuming a spare "proper broadcast camera" isn't available or suitable.

At least these cameras have a second use other than being locked-offs, which is mare than be said for the BMD camera, unless you count using it as a full-HD viewfinder for an actual broadcast camera.
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Melvin Chen

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostSun Apr 27, 2014 6:36 pm

pro---studio wrote:
The biggest drawback for me is that I heard it cannot do interlaced formats. Allthough you can set the menu to 1080i but the output has still a progressive look. That makes it absolutely unusable for standard broadcast work. Could you please test this with your camera?

It makes sense because the original sensor cannot work interlaced.

Cheers


Yes, its exactly as described in my post in another thread. Its a huge disappointment and makes it difficult to trust the specifications of BMD products. Isn't it the same with Hyperdecks' claim of accepting SDI trigger for record/stop? It has never ever worked, but the specs and menu item still claims so.
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Melvin Chen

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostSun Apr 27, 2014 6:41 pm

Chris Hocking wrote:If possible, would you be able to provide some more information on the audio performance of the camera?

Does the Phantom Power actually work?

Are you able to record some dialogue and share your results? I specially want to see if the Studio Camera suffers from the same frequency response issues as the Production Camera.

How is the quality of the headphone output?

Thanks in advance!


- Yet to test the Phantom, will try
- recorded some dialogue, didn't notice anything peculiar with the freq response, could do an objective measurement later this week.
- yet to test the headphones out too, I'm not really sure if it outputs the external audio source, I always thought it was meant for the intercom.

new discoveries today:
- external audio can 'lose signal' randomly. Requires a reboot to get it back
- EXTREME aliasing/moire with certain textures (outta words to describe). I thought it was only on the monitor, but it appeared the same in the final recording. Totally destroyed an important shoot !



My conclusion thus far - unreliable and risky affair. Biggest regret purchase EVER in 16 years...
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Chris Hocking

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostSun Apr 27, 2014 9:57 pm

melvinchen wrote:external audio can 'lose signal' randomly. Requires a reboot to get it back


My GUESS is that it might be the overload protection kicking in.

If you have the camera set to Mic Level, the camera will automatically switch over to line if it receives a really hot signal. If the signal is still really hot once in Line Mode, it will automatically switch off the audio all together requiring a camera re-start. This has been an issue with all of the Blackmagic Cameras.
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Mike Squires

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostMon Apr 28, 2014 1:07 am

Looking at that screenshot, WOW!

Blackmagic products still not playing nice with interlaced video.
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Joshua Smith

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostMon Apr 28, 2014 2:45 am

:o :o :o :o :cry:
Never seen aliasing/moire like that before. I can't believe my own eyes right now. I know the BMPCC has some issues with moire that I have to deal with occasionally, but nothing quite like that.
Joshua Smith
Copasetic Films
copaseticfilms.com
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Melvin Chen

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostMon Apr 28, 2014 2:35 pm

Mike and Joshua,

You might want to know that the shirt wasn't even a fine striped shirt, just textured ! Just an ordinary textured shirt, its unbelievable...
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Melvin Chen

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostMon Apr 28, 2014 2:58 pm

Mike Squires wrote:Looking at that screenshot, WOW!

Blackmagic products still not playing nice with interlaced video.


This was shot progressive, 1080/29.97P, recorded on ProRes422 via HyperDeck Studio.
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Kristian Lam

Blackmagic Design

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostTue Apr 29, 2014 8:28 am

melvinchen wrote:The very difficult thing to accept after examining it carefully is this 'progressive shutter' look on the output.

The camera is marketed to support 1080/50i/60i, interlaced formats and TECHNICALLY outputs as such.

However, the sensor/processor seems to be natively progressive and there's no way to really output genuine interlaced video without the irritating shuttering.

Its really unacceptable for TV work.


Ok, we have found out what is wrong with the interlaced output and this will be addressed in an upcoming update.
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Melvin Chen

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostTue Apr 29, 2014 12:56 pm

Kristine, good to hear. I hope it won't take too long.

And please give us as much 'controls' as technically possible. Ability to turn off shutter and detail adjustment is important too, the default setting is too soft.

Appreciate your hard work and engagement on the forum.

Looks like I've become a successful 'beta tester'. :lol:
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Robert Niessner

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Re: Initial Review - Blackmagic Studio Camera

PostTue Apr 29, 2014 2:38 pm

melvinchen wrote:new discoveries today:
- EXTREME aliasing/moire with certain textures (outta words to describe). I thought it was only on the monitor, but it appeared the same in the final recording. Totally destroyed an important shoot !


melvinchen,

how important is that shot for you?
how long is it and how much movement is going on?
I might be able to completely get rid of the moire in post,
but if it takes a lot of roto work I can't do that for free.

If you are interested you can put the file online and pm me a download link.
Then I can have a look and estimate the amount of work.
Robert Niessner
LAUFBILDkommission
Graz / Austria
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