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BMPC-4K: Like planes & rockets?

This past weekend I visited the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, home of Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose and many other flying machines. I shot home movies with my BMPC-4K camera. Video isn’t ready to show yet, but attached are 3840 x 2160 frames grabbed from the 4K “ProRes 422” 24p video (“Film” mode). Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 zoom lens. Shot handheld without a rig or tripod because the museum doesn’t allow it without prior arrangement. I did basic color correction on these frames using Mac Preview and compressed them to JPEG @ 50% for display here. There was something great to shoot anywhere I pointed my camera!





©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: Like trains? (Updated)

Every winter, Portland’s Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation runs a “Holiday Express” train pulled by a steam locomotive.

It’s great to watch the train as it r-o-a-r-s by, billowing smoke and steam in the near-freezing cold air. If you make a reservation you can buy a ticket and ride the train for a few miles.

I shot the video footage above for fun last weekend with my BMPC-4K camera. It’s 4K ProRes 422 footage shot at 23.98fps, Film, ISO400, with a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens @ f8.

Scaled to 1080p in FCP7 and exported as 1080p @ 10 megabits/sec H264 for Vimeo.

In previous years I’ve shot footage of these trains using a CMOS sensor camera with a rolling shutter. When positioned near the big heavy locomotive as it passes, it makes the ground (and tripod) shake, resulting in RS jello city. One more reason I love the BMPC-4K’s global shutter — no jello!

For the extreme wide shot I used 2 microphones and my SoundDevices MixPre to record stereo audio into my BMPC-4K camera. The last 30-seconds sound especially great. I also used a graduated ND filter to darken the sky slightly. The zoom and pan was created in FCP by scaling 4K video from 50% to 90% in a 1080p timeline.

Below is a 2.39:1 cropped (3840 x 1608) frame grabbed from the video:


UPDATE 12/13/14: The still image below is a 3840 x 1608 frame (2.39:1 cropped) from “4K” video I shot handheld at Portland’s Alpenrose Dairy today. (The video itself isn’t ready to show yet.) The dairy is a unique & complex location; check out their website! Every December Alpenrose has nice displays of holiday lights, farm animals, and model trains. They have 2 big toy train models set up. Really nicely done, and maintained by employees & volunteers. The guys running the train exhibit say I’m welcome to come back again with my camera & tripod — I’ll definitely try to take them up on their generous offer!


©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: Shooting indoors, in lowlight, with a long lens.

I shot footage for a documentary this week using my “Blackmagic Production Camera 4K” camera, including using a rented Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II zoom lens. The photo below shows the two positions where my BMPC-4K was located this past Sunday during two morning religious services, one after the other. Note the multiple sources of dim, very different color-temperature ambient light: Daylight through windows, and incandescent & florescent ceiling lights.

church interior

Below are frames grabbed from the “ProRes 422” 1080p29.97 video. Shot @ f2.8, ISO 800, with shutter angle at 270 to increase exposure. “Video” (Rec.709) mode per client request. The medium shot is from the position in the back pews @ 200mm. The close-up is from the front row @ 200mm. The lens was fitted with a 77mm Hoya IR-UV cut filter. Camera is running firmware 1.9.7. These frames have basic color correction applied in post, but more and better correction is possible working with the 10-bit 4:2:2 “ProRes 422” files.

rev brooks andrews 2 ms

rev brooks andrews 3 cu

Below are some cutaway b-roll shots of the congregation (same settings as above):

hearing aid

woman 01


During a breakout session between services, the featured speakers were seated with their backs against a bright window. Lighting is a mix of ambient daylight and ceiling incandescents. The wide shot is @ 70mm, and the close-up is @ 200mm. F2.8, ISO 800, shutter angle 180, “Video” (Rec.709) mode.

yosh and herb 3 ws

yosh and herb 2 cu

Below are frames from interviews I shot yesterday using the lens set at about 100mm, f2.8, ISO 800, shutter angle 180, “Video” mode, WB 3600K, hot tungsten lights (650w key, 250w backlight), Hoya IR-UV cut filter.

yosh int cu

interview 03

I also shot a lecture in a classroom setting using my Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens, again under mixed lighting. Here’s a cutaway shot of some of the students @ f1.8 ISO800 4800K:


I really like the results I get with my BMPC-4K and this rented lens. Perfect for event work and  interviews. Here’s a photo of the rig I used. Related info here and here.


Century/Vocas matte box, Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens, Hoya IR-UV cut filter 77mm, Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic, Rycote Softie, MixPre, EW100 wireless, Monoprice XLR-to-1/4″-TRS-balanced-mono cables, custom top plate, Wooden Camera baseplate, Ikan rods & AB battery plate, AB Dionic 90 batt., AB Multitap, and Hoodman HRT5.

See also:

BMPC-4K: Shooting tips from early users

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: Shooting tips from early users

jb BMPC-4K zeiss wooden alphatron

Based on reports from Blackmagic Production Camera 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. Some cams have shipped with an older version firmware, so even a “new” cam may require installing the current FW. See also my recent blog posts (such as here and here) 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 updates have added and improved in-camera media formatting (see #17 below), 4K RAW recording, additional ProRes recording modes (see #16 below), momentary Auto-Focus, histogram display, record time remaining display, audio meters, additional shutter angle settings (see #18 below), additional white balance settings, etc. 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 progressive only, not interlaced. Concerning its live SDI video output, there’s an error in the user manual on page 11: The BMPC-4K does not feature interlaced “1920 x 1080i50 output“, and, “1920 x 1080i59.94 output“. The BMPC-4K’s SDI output is progressive only, not interlaced. Refer to Gary Adams’ post on Blackmagic Designs’ forum.

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.

17. To use the new firmware’s in-camera formatting feature to format a SSD disk as HFS+, the camera’s “Reel” metadata field must contain at least one character (can’t be blank). The exFAT format option doesn’t appear to have the same requirement (“Reel” can be blank.) UPDATE 10/14: Firmware update 1.9.7 fixes this issue, and subsequent updates have further improved the reliability of in-camera SSD formatting.

18. Firmware 1.9.5 adds additional shutter angles. Here’s a table showing all the shutter angles, together with their shutter speed equivalents (PDF).

19. New blog post: Resolve 11: DIY Windows PC build for 4K video

20. SSD drives tested and recommended by Blackmagic Design for use as blank media in BMPC-4K cameras.

BMPC-4K videos 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”.

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.

Lenses: About “parfocal” lenses [Updated]

jb bmcc angeniuex 45-120mm

[See update below.]

Unfortunately, most DSLR-type zoom lenses are not parfocal. In fully-manual mode a non-parfocal lens tends to go out of focus as you adjust focal length (zoom in and out).

A parfocal lens enables you, for example, to zoom-in to a CU to allow you to easily adjust for sharp focus, and then zoom-out to a wide shot — without affecting focus. Using a parfocal lens enables the scene to stay in-focus despite focal-length changes, as long as the distance between the camera and subject remains constant. It makes for a very fast and accurate way to shoot.

This can be very important especially when shooting video. For example, a non-parfocal zoom lens such as a typical DSLR lens isn’t particularly efficient for following continuous, fast-changing action during a live event or performance. After every focal-length adjustment the operator must also re-focus the lens. Not impossible, but can be very difficult to do quickly and accurately, even if you use a high-resolution monitor or EVF with focus “peaking” or magnify focus aids.

I recently called B&H to ask them if they sell any parfocal DSLR-type lenses, and the person I spoke with said, “No”. He double-checked with other people in the photo dept there, and the answer was the same. So, if there is such a thing as a parfocal DSLR lens, it’s not a common item.

UPDATE: This video by “Raitank” show that the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 EX DC OS HSM zoom lens and Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 zoom lens “hold focus” while zooming. I’ve read conflicting reports as to whether they are actually parfocal or not. Because the 17-50 also has IS, I may buy one for use with the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. The very sharp and fast Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 zoom lens may be an even better choice (not parfocal, but very very good). Note: YMMV. (Ignore the confusing title of the video; these lenses do not appear to have an infinity focus issue on the BMCC):

Some cameras have very fast continuous auto-focus systems such that when used with a DSLR-type lens featuring very fast auto-focus, the hardware automatically “tracks” focus as the lens is zoomed in & out. So, even if the DSLR lens isn’t parfocal, the result looks mostly in-focus, most of the time. However, it’s not uncommon for the lens to periodically “hunt” for focus during a take, and audiences may find this very objectionable. Canon claims their new 70D DSLR is capable of very fast auto-focus without “focus hunting” in video mode.

Professional ENG-type servo-zoom lenses designed for use with broadcast video cameras with 2/3″ sensors are typically parfocal. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why ENG cameras are so popular for shooting run ‘n gun and b-roll footage. Note: 2/3″ B4-mount lenses will vignette severely if used with cams with larger sensors unless used with a built-in or add-on focal length extender/doubler (and B4 lens mount adapter). For best results, B4 lenses are designed for use with cameras with buit-in prism optics, or with an appropriate add-on prism adapter (for example). FYI: Marco Solorio has configured his BMCC-MFT with a 2/3″ B4 ENG zoom lens via an adapter and appears to love it.

Most cine zoom lenses are parfocal.

I recently spoke with Canon tech support, and they confirmed that the Canon cinema zoom lenses (>$24K) designed for use with S35 size sensors are parfocal. The Canon cinema lenses are available with EF or PL mounts, so the EF version should work great with the S35 size sensor in the new Blackmagic BMPC-4K camera.

Fujinon sells their wonderful “Cabrio” PL-mount servo-zoom lenses designed for S35 sensors (~$40K). Fujinon tech support recently confirmed to me that Cabrio zoom lenses are parfocal.

Note: The PL-mount Fujinon lenses aren’t a solution for the BMPC-4K unless BMD releases a version of the camera with a PL mount, which BMD has not promised to do (yet).

Various cine zoom PL-mount lenses can be used with the BMCC-MFT model camera via a PL-to-MFT lens mount adapter such as available from Hot Rod Cameras, jinfinance, and others. Because the sensor in the BMCC-MFT is smaller than S35, most PL mount lenses designed for the S35 format are compatible. The photo at the top of this blog post shows a Angeniuex 45-120mm PL zoom lens mounted on a BMCC-MFT via a HRC adapter.

Cine zoom lenses designed for use with S16 film cameras can be adapted for use on the BMPCC Pocket Cinema Camera, which has a S16-size sensor. Most of these lenses are fully manual and parfocal.

Speaking of long cinema lenses, including long zoom lenses, Cinematographer John Brawley wrote a detailed post about the advantages of shooting with them.

See also ProLost’s sensor size diagram and AbelCine’s FOV Comparator and Comparison Chart for related information concerning sensor sizes and lens field of view at various focal lengths.

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

Photo credit: John Brawley

For my words only: ©2013 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.

Lenses: Info links for old Nikkors

ai5512b lens

My >45 year old Nikkor (Nikon) “F” lenses that I use with modern video cameras were originally designed for use with full-frame 135-format still photography SLR cameras. Because these lenses were designed to “cover” the relatively large size of 135-format stills film, they can be used with pretty much any size digital video camera sensor.

I currently use Fotodiox “Pro” lens mount adapters to mount my old Nikkor lenses on various video cameras, each of which have different lens mounts, including Micro Four Thirds (Panasonic), E (Sony), and EF (Canon & Blackmagic). I’ve heard good things about RedRock EF adapters, which might be stronger than the Fotodiox version, so I hope to try one soon. There are a wide variety of lens mount adapters available from many manufacturers.

My old Nikkors are fully manual and don’t feature any modern conveniences. Everything about these lenses is manual: Focus and aperture are adjusted using purely mechanical rings on the lens barrel, and my lenses are fixed focal length “primes”, not variable focal length “zooms”. These lenses have no electrical connections to communicate with a camera. Most modern video cameras include focus and exposure aids (such as focus magnify or peaking, and exposure zebra display), so it’s relatively easy to adjust these lenses quickly and accurately.

Old Nikkors generally aren’t as sharp or contrasty as modern lenses, but I’ve learned to appreciate their look. They add a slight glow to highlights, and their slight softness is especially pleasing when shooting close-ups of people’s faces. Their softness may also slightly reduce the aliasing and moire artifacts that some modern digital cameras suffer from.

I currently own Nikkor primes with the following focal lengths: 24mm, 35mm, 55mm and 85mm, all f2.8 or faster.

Setting the lens aperture wide-open or nearly so results in relatively shallow depth of field. For example, I can keep the subject in sharp focus while causing the foreground or background to be out of focus. Or, I can also stop-down the aperture to yield deep DOF with more of the scene in sharp focus from front to back. In general, zoom lenses with maximum apertures of f2.8 or faster are more expensive than old, used prime lenses.

Some newer Nikkor lenses don’t have an aperture ring on the lens barrel itself. There are Nikkor “G”-type lens mount adapters which have a built-in lever/control to enable adjusting aperture on these lenses.

One odd feature of all Nikkor/Nikon lenses is that their focus ring spins in the opposite direction compared to lenses made by other manufacturers. Not usually a big deal, but something to be aware of.

You might find the following sites helpful for researching classic Nikkor lenses:

I usually buy used lenses from because they have an enormous inventory, a very useful “grading” (condition) rating system, reasonable prices, excellent customer service, and a no-questions-asked inspection period and return policy.

Info resources for old Nikkor lenses:

Note: The field of view obtained with a lens will vary depending on a camera’s sensor size. For example, a 24mm lens on a GH3 (MFT) will have the FOV of a 48mm lens on a 135-format camera such as a Canon 5DM3. Refer to ProLost’s sensor size diagram and Abel’s FOV Comparator.

Video examples:

The video below was shot using my old Nikkor prime lenses mounted on a Panasonic GH2 MFT DSLR camera:

The video below was shot using my old Nikkor prime lenses mounted on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera-EF:

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

For my words & videos only: ©2013 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.