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Old November 1st, 2013, 01:14 AM   #1
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Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Hi Everyone,

I hate to start another one of those "Which camera should I buy?" threads... so I hope you all can manage to forgive me. I am wading into somewhat unknown territory here and would love to hear the opinions of you who are a bit more familiar with the BMPCC and similar cameras.

My background is in television. Mostly ENG style work. For ten years I worked in television news. Now I run my own video production business full time. Most of my single camera work is still ENG style shooting, usually as a freelancer on some network show. I also do live multi-camera work. For my single camera ENG style shooting I use the JVC HM700. Its controls are very familiar to me as a grew up on full size ENG cameras. For my multi-camera live work I use multiple Sony FX1's and switch them live.

I am looking to move into doing more work that has a more cinematic look to it. I have started to do some stuff that is more film style shooting then ENG. Though I am still using my JVC HM700 for this, having a camera with a larger sensor and less compressed recording format would be nice. There isn't much grading you can do with the JVC video before it starts to fall apart.

When I heard about the pocket cinema camera it seemed perfect for me. Everything I'm doing is only being delivered in 1080p, if that. I have no need for 2k or 4k at this point. A super 16 sized sensor, though maybe not as nice as a super 35 sensor, still offers plenty of DOF control. I also don't mind the lack of pro audio connectors as for a lot of my work I shoot dual system anyway.

So, why am I not running out and buying the camera? Well, the answer is that I've been reading online reviews. The general consensus I'm getting from the reviews I've seen is that it is a nice little camera, but its not quite ready for professional use. However, the reviews aren't terribly clear on why its not ready for pro use.

I have been pouring over footage from the BMPCC and other cameras, and the BMPCC seems to by my favorite so far. The highlight handling in the BMPCC seems far more film like to me. Even more expensive cameras I've been checking out, like the Sony FS100, the highlights seem more harsh and video-ish than the BMPCC.

So, my questions for all of you are-

If you are of the opinion that the BMPCC is not suitable for pro use, why not?

What other cameras in this price range should I be looking at? Why are they better than the BMPCC?

Any other things I should be aware of or consider before I make a purchase?
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Old November 1st, 2013, 04:46 PM   #2
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

I will do my best not to trash the BMPCC with respect to the people who own it and like it. I'll say just this:
I bought two of them and sold them within a week of trying them out.
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Old November 1st, 2013, 05:57 PM   #3
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylan Couper View Post
I will do my best not to trash the BMPCC with respect to the people who own it and like it. I'll say just this:
I bought two of them and sold them within a week of trying them out.
Hi Dylan! Thanks for your thoughts.

What you said mirrors what I have been finding a lot about the camera. People try it out, but for whatever reason decide its not for them or that it isn't up to the task they need for.

However, it is odd, because I can't seem to find anyone who can explain why. Was it the ergonomics that pushed you away? The image quality? Camera operation? Why did you decide to sell them after only a week? What better camera is out there for the job?
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Old November 1st, 2013, 06:48 PM   #4
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
Hi Dylan! Thanks for your thoughts.

What you said mirrors what I have been finding a lot about the camera. People try it out, but for whatever reason decide its not for them or that it isn't up to the task they need for.
It's a minimalist camera, to be sure - you cannot adjust the color beyond film or video mode, the frame rates are very limited for a new camera in 2013, white balance is essentially a handful of presets, and the ergonomics are practically non-existent (don't even think about hand holding it without some type of support - but if you have seen a photo of it, you were probably expecting that already). The built-in screen is not very good (it would be 10x better if it just tilted). Lens selection is tricky too. The sensor is slightly larger than super 16, which means that a lot of C-mount lenses will vignette. Micro four thirds lenses mostly work, but the auto iris and autofocus functions are weird at best. Plus, you only have about 3 or 4 choices in MFT that qualify as wide angle. There are definitely options out there, but they come from odd places, and are likely more expensive than you thought they would be.

It is most certainly not a camera for everyone! Think of it as a component in a larger system, and understand that you will probably spend another $1,500+ to build a full rig, and you may appreciate it. Also realize that you will never use video straight out of the camera - you *have* to edit in post, if only to get the color right. All of this seemed obvious to me before I bought it, but I did a lot of homework, and it is mostly what I expected. No, it's not perfect - far from it. But it's very close to what I expected and what I currently want.

For whatever it's worth, I'm keeping mine :)
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Old November 1st, 2013, 09:57 PM   #5
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

We sold ours after turning on the screen, deciding it was useless for critical color or focusing, and if we had to use a full rig and external monitor then go with the larger Balckmagic or some other camera. there was zero way to use it as a pocket portable. At least for us.
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Old November 1st, 2013, 10:53 PM   #6
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Hi Adam - why not rent the camera from Borrowlenses for a few days and see if you like it?

You won't need an expensive rig and EVF to make the camera usable. I put a $21.50 P&C pistol grip on mine and use a $50 loupe and an $8 3.5" adapter I wear around my neck so I can focus with the LCD.

I use the BMPCC like a Super 8 camera or a Bolex, and, with a little practice, can now routinely shoot steady, focused and properly exposed images.

I've been shooting Super 8, 16mm, tape and digital for about 45 years, and I've seen worse ergonomics, but I've never seen a better image. Not bad for a $995 camera.

That said, if you don't like the BMPCC's ergonomics, the GH3 produces the second best large-sensor video image quality in this price class.

Good luck with your decision!

Bill
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 12:13 AM   #7
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Wow!

Some really good information everyone.

I already did figure that if I get the BMPCC I will be investing in some kind of rig for it, in addition to lenses. I figured I would need some kind of external EVF. Also, I would like a power solution that lets me use my V mount batteries that I use on my JVC. The budget I am thinking of for this is about $3500 - $4500 total, including a lens and rig.

I was not under the impression that I would just be able to take this camera and start shooting handheld. For run-and-gun work I still plan on using my JVC. What I am looking for is a camera for shoots where I am going to be carefully planning all the shots, taking my time, and color grading later.

Already I have downloaded some of the straight-from-camera pro-res files and played around with different workflows. I have been very happy with how the footage the camera produces holds up when pushing it around in SpeedGrade.

Still, I am not totally sold on the BMPCC. I have no special brand-love for Blackmagic. I just want the best tool for the job at a price that is within my reach. As far as I can tell, there are no other cameras that produce footage suitable for color grading in this price range without buying an external recorder.

Reading all the reviews of people saying this camera isn't yet ready for professional use, and hearing about all the people who have returned the camera or sold it scare me. It does me no good to buy a camera that I can't use on shoots for paying clients.
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 01:12 AM   #8
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Adam, as you've already tried the Sony FS100 I can say here it's a far better choice for what you are planning to do. Though somewhat awkward in the form factor and overall handling, at least in my view it's not pretending to be a Pocketable Unusable the way I think the BMPCC is. Yes, you got it right, the highlight handling may not be pretty (a little harsh and yellowish at the threshold of clipping) but not much different or worse than many good video cameras out there. The strengths are plenty and using it in the field normally doesn't require much supporting equipment. You know the specs and feel, I guess. The BMPCC, on the other hand, I can only say the specs look as impressive as it's impractical in real shooting environments.
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 04:46 AM   #9
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

If you go with the FS100, our team had one, use Frank 's profiles as it has harsh highlights and more limited DR without it. This means that most of the online samples are shot with under performing settings.
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 09:27 AM   #10
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
...It does me no good to buy a camera that I can't use on shoots for paying clients.
These guys shot this real estate gig with a RED Scarlet and the BMPCC, and used the BMPCC footage. All shots here with the BMPCC:


In the hands of pros, this is a pro camera. Again, it won't cost that much to rent one from Borrowlenses and find out for yourself.

Cheers,

Bill
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Last edited by Bill Bruner; November 3rd, 2013 at 07:32 AM.
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 01:14 PM   #11
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Sure, if you do not need in camera sound
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 01:46 PM   #12
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Hi - I have sort of the same questions/concerns as Adam so hope it's OK to tag on here. In my case I'm looking for something that would be static/locked down for a couple of hours (I know about needing power and memory) under unchanging lighting, and small and light enough to hang on a light stand for use as a couple of close-in cameras for classical orchestra recording with minimal digital zooming/panning in post. Just looking for close ups of sections/soloists etc to cut to from the main (720p) camera in the back balcony. Obviously for this application I'd only be using camera audio as a sync aid.

Thoughts? And I will look into the rental idea.
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Old November 2nd, 2013, 10:59 PM   #13
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

Unless you use an external recorder the camera will likely not record long enough for some symphonic pieces.
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 01:56 AM   #14
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

I thought that would be a function of the size of the memory card, but I don't think I've seen anything to tell me how long it will record per GB.

Edit - I found somewhere online that a 256GB card should be good for 155 min. True or not I don't know.
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 01:07 AM   #15
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Re: Should I get the BMPCC or something else?

I locked down the BM Cinema Camera in similar fashion. I know we could only get about a little over an hour on 120 gig card, so if it is same ProRes codec as on the BMCC, then you can figure about 2 gigs per minute. Do they make a 240 SD card yet ?
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