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BMPC-4K: Thankful for “small” improvements

histogram and meters

In the past few weeks, Blackmagic Design released multiple free firmware updates for their Production Camera 4K and other cameras. Some of these additions are more significant than others, depending on how one uses the cameras.

Firmware update “Camera v1.9” is specific to the BMPC-4K, and adds on-screen histogram, record time remaining, and audio meter displays (as shown above). This display can be toggled on/off with a swipe on the camera’s touch-screen, and does not output to an external monitor via SDI. Version 1.9 also improves the BMPC-4K cam’s video S/N performance (reduces fixed pattern noise “FPN”). Supposedly these features will be coming to their other cameras “soon”.

[UPDATE 8/21/14: "Camera 1.9.3" is now available. It adds the histogram, record time remaining, and audio meter features to the original BMCC cinema and BMPCC pocket cameras -- plus additional shutter angle and white balance settings. I hope the new shutter & WB features will soon be available for my BMPC-4K camera, too!] 

These changes are in addition to previous recent updates which added 4K RAW recording, momentary Auto-Focus, several additional 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes recording modes for 4K and 1080p (ProRes 422, ProRes LT, and ProRes Proxy), improved audio sound quality, and more. All improvements are rolled-into the latest update; you only have to install the most current software to get all the new capabilities and the latest BMD Camera User Manual.

I’m a big fan of ProRes. The BMPC-4K’s original ProRes HQ mode is wonderful, and now I have more options for situations when long recording times are required, or when media space is running low. For info about ProRes recording modes, data rates, and file sizes, see Apple’s ProRes White Paper (PDF).

So, after a l-o-n-g wait, great progress is being made. I hope BMD is able to quickly address other issues, such as the BMPC-4K cam’s “black/red” extreme highlight artifacts, and add the ability to format an SSD in-camera without a computer.

Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy shooting with my BMPC-4K, now even more with BMD’s recent firmware updates.

Below: Last week I used my BMPC-4K to shoot “corporate” B-roll footage outdoors all day in 102F heat. Firmware v1.8 (not v1.9), ProRes HQ 1080p24, Film mode, ISO 400, WB 5600K, Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens, Hoya IR-UV cut filter, Tiffen ND .9 filter. Nice results!

27 cmp

red berries xcu


Behind-the-scenes photo by Sam Locklin.

For my words and photos only ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.

URSA: 3 monitors? Seriously? [Updated]


In an online discussion about Blackmagic Design’s new URSA camera, a forum member posted:

“On that kind of a shoot an [Assistant Cameraman] is going to have their own monitor on an Israeli arm or ultralight arm … Most ACs have a preference as to which on board monitors they like to pull [focus] off of and trust. And a monitor built flat into the side of the camera that doesn’t allow them to to have eyes on the action AND the monitor at the same time is going to be something they won’t want.”

I agree.

And I replied:

“I know I’m alone on this, and I know lots of people will buy the URSA as-is anyway (that’s cool), but IMHO it would be a “better” camera if it included no monitors at all.

Instead of not one but three (3!) monitors, the URSA should have 2-4 monitor output connectors that users can connect to monitor(s) & EVF of their choosing — including the new monitors & EVF that BMD will inevitably start selling soon after the URSA starts shipping. (You know that’s gonna happen!)

Mount & connect your monitor(s)/EVF on the cam wherever/whenever you need them. Don’t pay for or weigh-down your rig with monitor(s)/EVF you don’t want or need.

As cool as the URSA is, kinda, it’s actually a very retro design in terms of its on-board monitoring. Instead of including 1 monitor/EVF in the (sometimes) “wrong” place like most cams, it includes 3 monitors in the sometimes wrong place! That’s not progress.

Now, instead of the URSA design, add a user-replacable lens mount and sensor assembly to my dream camera design, and use SSDs rather than stupid-expensive CFast cards, and I’d be much more interested.

As I said, I’m alone on this, so carry on.”    :-)

But wait, there’s more!

Another reason I don’t want the built-in URSA monitors: Just like BMD’s original BMCC and the BMPC-4K cameras, the new URSA screens are highly reflective (shiny), as seen in the image below. As I know, users can address this issue (somewhat) by applying 3M anti-reflective film and a sunshade onto the screen(s), but I’m gobsmacked that BMD has done it again, and not once, but 3 times in one camera! Brain dead!

URSA shiny LCDs

So, OK, obviously the URSA design bugs the cr*p out of me.

Here’s more to chew on (from my recent post on BMCuser):

“All the more reason why I think my sensor-in-a-box camera “design” makes more sense than BMD’s URSA.

Since at least last year, if not 2-3 years ago, building monitoring and recording into a pro camera is, um, … unnecessary.

I prefer RED Epic style modularity, but because RED uses such proprietary accessory/components, they’re stupid-expensive. Again, mostly unnecessary, at least from a customer perspective.

There are so many excellent monitor, EVF and recording solutions already in existence — and new ones being released fairly frequently — so in most cases it no longer makes sense to design them into cameras.

For some users the traditional “all-in-one” cam design is totally appropriate. But given the ready availability of superior separate components (now and in the future), the traditional approach more and more becomes the “special” case. YMMV.

I understand that having redundant hardware can sometimes be a good thing in a pro on-set workflow, but adding a 4th or 5th monitor and/or EVF to an URSA just to make it usable is clearly a stupid waste of money and resources, period.

BMD’s reported reason for using CFast because it’s small is also stupid. SSDs aren’t much bigger, SSDs will always be significantly more cost effective, just as fast or faster, highly-reliable … and there’d be plenty of room for them in an URSA if the cam didn’t include _3_ f*cking monitors.  :-)

I strongly disagree that this situation is anything like the BMCC/BMPC-4K cam’s built-in battery … as if people like me simply aren’t getting the brilliance of the URSA design. I’m a huge fan of the BMCC/BMPC-4K built-in uninterruptible power supply battery feature. The URSA’s triple monitor design isn’t anything like that. The URSA’s 3 monitors don’t add “invisible” convenience and security with little or no downside or cost.

Oddly enough, if URSA didn’t have built-in monitors and recording, there’d be room for a built-in uninterruptible power supply battery. Funny that.

The only thing I like about the URSA cam better than my design is that the URSA features a user-upgradable sensor and mount assembly. This is a really great feature! But BMD should jettison at least 2 of the built-in monitors (or all 3) and the CFast recorder, too.

One last point:

I totally “get” the value of pumping-up the price of a camera as a way of pricing-out wanna-be whiners like me (grin), and just as importantly, as a way of financing a very necessary pre-sale and after-sale support network for pros. I get that. However, pumping-up a cam’s price by adding stuff that often no longer makes sense these days (let alone a couple of years ago) does no one any good.”


My take on the BMPC-4K.

BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

More BMPC-4K footage samples here, and a list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.


For my words only ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.

BMPC-4K: Loving it!


I’m very happy with the results I’m getting from my Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.

I understand that some people are not at all happy with the cameras they’ve received, and I hope BMD will address those situations promptly.

The attached full-resolution, lightly “color corrected” frame is from a 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) ProRes HQ shoot I did yesterday (Note: It’s compressed to JPEG @ 50% quality). No post sharpening or noise reduction.

Lighting was mostly natural daylight (overcast, rainy day) coming through a window, plus a daylight flo light for fill aimed off to camera right. There’s also a backlight above her head (a quartz-tungsten fresnel with a full CTB gel.) I used the camera’s “Video” (Rec.709 like) gamma mode. This was shot at ISO 400 at about f5.6, frame rate 29.97 @ 180-degree shutter. Lens was a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 zoom at about 25mm. The cam’s white balance was set at 5600K, but next time I’ll use 5000K or 4500K to see the result.

After I’ve had a chance to work on the color correction more I’ll put the video up online.

My take on the BMPC-4K.

BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

More BMPC-4K footage samples here, and a list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.


Words and image ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.

BMPC-4K & BMCC: My custom Hoodman LCD shade solution (Updated)

Now that I have my own Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, I’ve revised my previous post:

How to securely and inexpensively mount a Hoodman HRT5 5″ LCD shade on the BMPC-4K or BMCC. Complete with new photo illustrations.

I used the Hoodman LCD shade on my BMPC-4K to shoot this video (details on the Vimeo page):

BMPC-4K: Shooting tips from early users

jb BMPC-4K zeiss wooden alphatron

UPDATED: Revised #1, etc.: Recent firmware updates.

UPDATED: Revised #10: Audio quality improvements & meters.

UPDATED: Added #11: IR cut and IRND filter info.

UPDATED: Added #12: The “black/red sun” issue.

UPDATED: Added #13: Battery status & cooling.

UPDATED: Added BMPC-4K / ARRI Alexa video link to #3.

UPDATE: Added #15: Captain Hook’s custom LUTs.


The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K ($2,995 US) has been shipping for a few months. BMPC-4K videos now appear every day on TV broadcasts, websites, Vimeo, YouTube, and elsewhere. There are examples of quite a variety of shooting scenarios. Click here to see some of the best of the early BMPC-4K video examples. To find more, do separate searches on for “blackmagic 4k”, and “bmpc4k”, and “bmpc-4k”.

​Based on reports from BMPC-4K users in the field, here are some shooting tips:

1. First thing to do when you get a BMPC-4K is to make sure it’s running the most current firmware, available on BMD’s support website. See also my recent blog post and previous announcements by BMD. New firmware includes the latest ReadMe text and User Manual documentation; be sure to read it for important information. Recent firmware has added 4K RAW recording, additional ProRes recording modes, momentary Auto-Fous, histogram display, record time remaining display, audio meters, etc. Some cams have shipped with an older version firmware, so even a “new” cam may require installing the current FW. Periodically check the BMD support site for possible future camera firmware updates, too.

2. Use the cam’s ISO 200 and ISO 400 settings for lower video noise compared to ISO 800. The cam’s native ISO is 400 (best balance of dynamic range and noise). Adjust lighting levels and lens aperture accordingly. Firmware v1.9 improves BMPC-4K sensor calibration, resulting in less noise compared to previous firmwares. Subject to your testing, vertical banding, noise and fixed pattern noise (FPN) may sometimes appear in underexposed areas or when exposure is boosted in post. BMD cameras do not feature internal noise reduction. If necessary, you can apply NR to footage in post using Davinci Resolve, Neat Video, or other popular software. As always, conduct your own careful tests with the BMPC-4K (or any camera) before start of production to determine your preferred settings.

3. Here’s a BMPC-4K and RED EPIC comparison test video shot outdoors by a small professional crew. Because the far more capable and expense EPIC is a “known” camera and its footage was shot at the same time, this video can serve as a useful guide to how the BMPC-4K compares to another professional filming “format”. Likewise, here’s a comparison between a BMPC-4K and an ARRI Alexa, and James Miller compares a BMPC-4K and Canon 1DC side-by-side. The BMPC-4K holds its own against the far more expensive Alexa and 1DC.

4. Many videos on Vimeo amply demonstrate the BMPC-4K’s wonderful and uncommon CMOS global shutter feature, and thus the cam’s complete lack of rolling shutter artifacts such as skew, jello, partial frame exposure (“flash band”), and so forth. As a result, movement looks better and more natural on the BMPC-4K compared to most other CMOS cameras, the vast majority of which have a rolling shutter.

5. There’s a lag of about 3-4 frames on the built-in LCD & SDI video output (less on the built-in screen than the SDI). There’s also a lag in the headphone audio. But its recorded audio and video appear to be in sync relative to each other.

6. As expected, because the BMPC-4K has a relatively high-resolution sensor, it’s less prone to aliasing & moire compared to Blackmagic Design’s otherwise excellent and less-expensive BMCC & BMPCC cameras. Aliasing/moire can still occur with the BMPC-4K, but is relatively rare.

7. BMPC-4K “Film” mode is less “flat” (less log like) than “Film” mode on the BMCC & BMPCC, and it’s easy and fast to get a nice grade in post (see #15 below). The camera’s “Video” mode (similar to Rec. 709) appears to be improved compared to previous BMD camera firmwares. Most people agree that BMPC-4K Film mode yields best results. BMPC-4K 1080p recordings are more detailed than BMCC & BMPCC 1080p recordings, and BMPC-4K “4K” (10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes HQ and 12-bit RAW) recordings contain the greatest amount of natural detail overall.

8. As expected the BMPC-4K ProRes HQ recordings have somewhat less dynamic range & sensitivity compared to BMCC and BMPCC cams. Approx. a stop less or so, subject to your testing. The other two BMD cams have a native ISO of approx. 800. BMPC-4K’s losslessly-compressed 12-bit RAW CinemaDNG feature is included in recent firmware updates. Subject to your testing, you may find the camera’s DR improved slightly in RAW recordings compared to ProRes.

9. As with the BMCC & BMPCC, the LCD on the BMPC-4K is highly reflective and very difficult to read in bright environments. This can be somewhat alleviated by applying inexpensive, matte-finish 3M anti-glare protective film for touch screens and a LCD hood or loupe, or preferably use a professional external HD-SDI EVF or high-brightness monitor.

10. Recent firmware updates improve BMPC-4K audio recording quality (from external mic and line sources) well-enough that it’s now arguably “professional quality”, as was long-promised on their website. Firmware v1.9 finally adds audio meters. Note: BMPC-4K audio can be adequate for certain pro shoots, but for best results, record sound externally on a pro audio recorder, or at least use an external preamp/mixer connected to the BMPC-4K. If desired, external timecode can be input to a BMD camera audio track and Davinci Resolve can use it for sync (refer to Davinci Resolve docs for info).

11. For information about cost-effective IR cut (infrared cut) and combination IRND optical filters appropriate for use with the BMPC-4K, refer to this detailed thread on BMCuser, especially the first few posts. “Infrared pollution” affects most modern video cams to a varying degree, and can cause video to look muddy brownish red/magenta. Selection of an IR cut filter tends to be sensor-specific, so the results and recommendations described in this thread are invaluable.

12. As shown at the 1:10 point in the BMPC-4K and RED Epic video discussed in #3 above, the BMPC-4K will sometimes record an extreme highlight (such as from direct sunlight) as black or red pixels instead of white. Initially the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera had a “black sun” problem (different sensor), too. BMD fixed the issue on the pocket cam via a free firmware update, so perhaps they’ll be able do the same with the BMPC-4K. TBD. In some cases one can “fix it in post” using software such as the included Davinci Resolve. (Apparently the ARRI Alexa camera rev.7 has a similar issue.) Kristian Lam, the BMPC-4K product manager discusses this here, but a firmware fix for this issue is not promised.

13. Battery status indicator & the camera’s cooling system: The battery level indicator on the BMPC-4K LCD monitor may fluctuate quite a lot during operation, more so than with other BMD cameras. This is normal. The BMPC-4K’s larger sensor and increased internal data handling generates more heat, causing the camera’s cooling system to vary its power consumption, and consumes more power overall. All BMD cameras use active Peltier-type cooling systems. The cooling system transfers heat from the sensor & electronics to the cameras’ heavy metal chassis, which acts as a heat sink. BMPC-4K & BMCC cameras also use a relatively quiet, constant-speed fan. For proper operation, insure that the air vents on the base of BMPC-4K & BMCC are not blocked. The BMPC-4K & BMCC base is designed with a raised ridge so that mounting the cam on a hard, flat surface won’t block airflow. When powered-on, avoid placing these cams on a soft surface such as upholstery, carpet, fabric, etc. which could block air flow. As expected, during operation in warm environments the camera’s body may get quite warm — almost hot to touch. This is normal. The camera will run somewhat cooler if, when operating the cam from an external power source, its internal battery is fully charged before use so the internal battery isn’t charging while shooting. You may find that mounting the camera in a metal camera rig or cage helps keep the camera cooler because the extra metal essentially adds another heat sink, and the rig/cage may be cooler/more comfortable to hand hold. Some users put a gaffer tape “tab” on the SSD media because it normally gets very warm, too, and the tab gives you something cool to grab when pulling the SSD out of the cam. For info about Peltier cooling, refer to this Wikipedia article.

14. BMPC-4K internal SSD recordings are always strictly progressive. Refer to the user manual page 32 “Connecting to Video Switchers”. The BMPC-4K tech specs page on the BMD website is confusing. In the user manual on page 11 they spell it out more clearly: “1920 x 1080i50 output“, and, “1920 x 1080i59.94 output“. If you wish, you can use popular NLE or other software to slow BMPC-4K 30p footage down to 24p or 25p for a nice-looking, but subtle slo-mo effect.

15. “CaptainHook” has created impressive custom Lookup Tables (LUTs) for the BMPC-4K (and other BMD cameras), for use in the Davinci Resolve software included with the camera. See his detailed post on BMD’s forum for more information.


Several BMPC-4K footage samples are linked here.

Here’s my take on the BMPC-4K.

Note: I received my BMPC-4K in late Feb. 2014 from Pro Video and Tape.

My list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.


My words only: ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

Photo of rigged BMPC-4K by John Brawley.

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.

BMPC-4K: B-cam with EPIC, Alexa, 1DC?

I think this video is very impressive! The German company that produced it wanted to learn if a Blackmagic Production Camera 4K could be a viable “B-camera” for use in productions alongside their RED EPIC.

IMHO the answer is a resounding, “Yes”. The EPIC has slightly more dynamic range, and the BMPC-4K doesn’t have slo-mo capability (other than 30p slowed to 24p or 25p, which actually looks quite nice), but otherwise the cameras look great together, especially considering their price difference!

Other recent BMPC-4K videos:

Download the higher quality versions if available; click the “Download” button on the Vimeo page. For more information about these videos, refer to the details on the Vimeo pages!

BMPC 4K / ARRI-ALEXA-Comparison
from Scott Bryant ($3K BMPC-4K compared to >$50K ARRI Alexa!)

4k Blackmagic Production Camera – London, Side by Side 1DC
from James Miller ($3K BMPC-4K on the left, $12K Canon 1DC on the right; note the horrible rolling shutter skew in the 1DC footage as the busses drive by!)

BlackMagic 4K Flying
from Tim Joy

Review Part 2: Blackmagic Production Camera 4K in the field
from Johnnie Behiri

4k Blackmagic Production Camera – Brighton
from James Miller

‘Leaving Hope’ Blackmagic Production Camera
from hangman (James Tonkin); Note: This is an excellent example of the value of the BMPC-4K’s global shutter!

Ten Tenths – Teaser #1 (Blackmagic 4K)
from OneRiver Media (Marco Solorio)

Lizzie Marvelly – Generation Young – BM4K, Pocket Cam, and BMCC from A Couple Of Night Owls (“CaptainHook”)

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K – Beta Footage from A Couple Of Night Owls

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K quick review from Adam Myhill (Read Adams informative written review, too!)

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K – first quick test
from Bruno Jubin (Includes nice use of 4K UHD scaled & cropped in a 1080p edit).

Planes of Fame 4K from Christopher Mayer

Sample footage – Blackmagic 4k from We Are Films

4K BMPC at the Performance Technic Open House
from OneRiver Media (Marco Solorio)

BMPC-4K scale & crop example from Grant Petty (edited by Peter J. DeCrescenzo)

Now that the new $2,995 Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is shipping, more and more BMPC-4K shot videos are appearing on Vimeo. There are “test video” examples of quite a few shooting scenarios. To find them, do separate searches on for “blackmagic 4k”, or “bmpc4k”, or “bmpc-4k”.


I received my BMPC-4K  from Pro Video & Tape on 2/28/14, and I love it. I used it to shoot this video, Oregon Coast scenes (details on the Vimeo page). And another.

BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

My take on the BMPC-4K.


My list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.


My words only: ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.

BMPC-4K: James Tonkin short, “Leaving Hope”


James Tonkin is a very talented filmmaker and videographer. He shot his short film, “Leaving Hope” (shown above), using the new Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. For details about his film, refer to his Vimeo page.

If you have time, click the “Download” button and download the “Original .MOV file” @ 759 megabytes! It’s a big file, but the quality is worth seeing (even though it’s still compressed-down to a small fraction of the camera-original >700 megabits/sec 4K ProRes HQ file).

Note when the camera shakes from the train’s vibration, there’s no rolling shutter “jello” artifacts, and no skew/slanting of vertical lines as objects fly across the frame — just a nice, natural-looking blur the way our eyes see. That’s the magic of the BMPC-4K’s global shutter sensor. It’ll be a great day when all cams (especially smartphone cams) feature GS sensors!

(Makes me a bit nostalgic for older video cameras and their CCD sensors which also had GS!)

One of the things that’s really nice with all Blackmagic cameras is that they do zero sharpening in-camera. Most cams record sharpening artifacts because you can’t completely turn off their sharpening. In particular the BMPC-4K records so much natural detail that sharpening in post often isn’t needed, but you can always add some when necessary with minimal artifacts.

The BMPC-4K is now shipping and has a new, lower price. Additional examples of BMPC-4K footage are linked elsewhere on my blog (scroll down).


BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

My take on the BMPC-4K.

My list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.


My words only: ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.


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