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BMCC-MFT vs. BMPC-4K: Which one & when?

April 9, 2013

pc4k_front_sensor   pcc_top_hand_crop


BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

My take on the BMPC-4K.

Here’s my current thinking in reaction to the new Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K and the Pocket Cinema Camera (1080p) cameras announced at this week’s NAB Expo:

I currently have on pre-order both an original BMD Cinema Camera 2.5K (the Micro Four Thirds version), and the new Production Camera 4K. As of today neither is actually shipping. I’ll only buy one or the other, but I haven’t decide which yet. As for the little PCC, I may consider getting one of those, too. More on all that in a later post.

Cinematographer John Brawley has written an excellent article about the new cameras, illustrated with many photos.

Meanwhile …

Look at BMD’s entire product line, not just their cameras. My observation is that BMD appears to think in terms of 12-month product cycles, plus or minus a few months. They’ve been doing this for years.

About every year, BMD replaces existing products with new versions. Not every product, every year, because the starting dates for each are different. But on average, BMD seems to replace products with new versions every year or so.

BMD loves announcing new products and projected availability dates months before they’re ready to ship. Both of these seem intuitively crazy to me — because of the confusion it causes for their current customers, and the effect it has on sales of their existing products (some of which are in short supply or late) — but perhaps there’s a method to their madness. For better or worse, marketing and publicity are different now than before the internet, and “buzz” carries more weight than ever. Obviously it’s mostly working for BMD since they appear to be a very profitable business.

If any of the above is correct, and it might not be, then looking ahead one can assume the pattern will continue, more or less.

In the case of video cameras, specifically the PC-4K model, it’s inevitable that within ~12 months BMD will announce a similar ~4K-ish, s35-ish size sensor version that records RAW-ish video but increase the frame rates to >60 FPS for ~$4K. All these numbers might be somewhat high or low, but seem in the ballpark considering current trends. The “headline” incremental change will be the higher frame rate — the current PC-4K tops out at 30fps — and possibly the price.

In a similar time frame, BMD will probably also announce new Pocket Cinema Camera(s), probably 2 versions: One with higher specs than today’s model, for ~$1K, and another with specs similar to today’s version for <$1K.

One question is whether the similar models they announced yesterday at NAB will actually be readily available by the time of next year’s announcements. If they are, that’s welcome, rapid change, but if not maybe BMD will need to evaluate the wisdom of their approach. We’ll see.

I don’t think any of the above are reasons not to buy a camera from BMD today if you actually have a reason to own one. If you get paid to use a camera, it’ll pay for itself relatively quickly. If you’re using it primarily for one “big” short film or whatever, even the price of the BMPC-4K is the definition of low-budget. And, if you can rent instead buy, depending on your shooting schedule your cost may or may not be less than buying a cam.

And, if you already own a BMD or other camera, it’s not “obsolete” if you’re able to get good use out of it, or if your clients are still throwing money in your direction for using it. Be happy! Work that thing!

The only thing unique about any of this is how rapidly BMD “turns-over” their products, how relatively inexpensive their products are, and how long they take to bring them to market after publicly announcing them — especially compared to “traditional” camera manufacturers. This combination is unusual, and not necessarily a good thing. But there it is.

However, this could be the new normal for video cameras. Or, it may turn out to be the beginning of the end of BMD. It may or may not be sustainable, but it’s far too early to say.

“4K” is the buzzword this year, but in a short few years it’ll seem like old hat, as SD (and to a much lesser extent, HD) does today. The merry-go-round ain’t going to stay stuck spinning at 4K or 3D “speed” for long, and some manufacturers will decide which and how frequently they bring products to market accordingly.

Bottom line: Get used to buying a new camera every year or two, if you’re not already doing it.

There’s no guarantee of success; it’s all a risk. Same as it ever was.

But wait: There’s more.

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

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.


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