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BMPC-4K vs. BMCC-MFT: No really, which one?

April 11, 2013



BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

Update 2/28/14: I received my BMPC-4K, and I love it. Sample footage below.

UPDATE 2/10/14: The BMPC-4K is now shipping, and has a new lower price of $2,995 US.

UPDATE 5/2/13: More thoughts on the BMPC-4K

Updated 4/13/13:

I’ve decided which Blackmagic Design camera to buy. I had a BMCC-MFT ($1,995 US) on pre-order for months, and I also pre-ordered their new, top-of-the-line BMPC-4K ($2,995) camera the day after it was announced at this week’s NAB 2013 expo. However, I’m only going to buy one of them.

I canceled my BMCC-MFT pre-order, and I’m keeping the BMPC-4K pre-order (it’s a no-deposit, no-obligation pre-order).

My favorite BMPC-4K features: Aside from the BMPC-4K camera’s sensor being 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels), I really like that it has a global shutter — no more rolling shutter “jello” or flash-band artifacts! — and its APS-C (~S35) size sensor is wider than the BMCC (~1.6 vs. ~2.3 crop factor). And that it shoots 10-bit 4:2:2 “ProRes 422 HQ” (at up to 884 megabits/sec in 4K mode, or up to 220 mb/s in 1080p), or 12-bit RAW “visually lossless compressed” CinemaDNG 4K (data rates TBA). And its 12-stop dynamic range. Oh, and that the BMPC-4K sells for only $3K; much less than “comparable” video camcorders!

My least-favorite BMPC-4K features: I wish the BMPC-4K had a Sony “E” lens mount instead of Canon “EF”, because E mount can be adapted to a wider range of other lens mounts, including F, PL, EF, and so forth, and for compatibility with adapters such as the magical Metabones Speed Booster. And, the BMPC-4K has a “missing” feature: No 60p for slow motion (its maximum frame rate is 30p; although 30p slowed-down to 24p can look quite nice).

I assume BMD chose to use the same EF mount as the original BMCC camera to speed the BMPC-4K to market and keep its cost down. I can live with that. I plan to get RedRock Nikon-to-EF lens adapters for my set of old manual Nikkor prime lenses, and I’ll probably buy a wide-ish f2.8 EF zoom.

As long as the BMPC-4K’s video quality proves to be generally very good, it’s OK with me if it ends up having slightly less dynamic range & sensitivity than the BMCC. This is mostly a moot point for well-lit scenes. For dimly-lit scenes, I own & rent lights, and I know how to use them. Alternatively, fast lenses such as the new, well-reviewed Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 zoom and Sigma 35mm f1.4 prime (on my wish-list, if they’re compatible with the new camera; see: EF lens compatibility with the BMCC) are plenty sharp & fast enough for most dimly-lit locations.

I actually like the form factor & other features shared by BMCC and BMPC-4K cameras, such as their 5″ touchscreen, built-in battery, balanced audio inputs, HD-SDI output, headphone & external power connectors, machined metal housing with multiple 1/4″-20 mounting points, etc. I’d prefer that the touchscreen LCD was external & articulated instead of built-in, but it is what it is. If the LCD is glossy/reflective I’ll apply an inexpensive piece of 3M matte anti-glare film, and attach a sun shade/monitor loupe that’s deeper than the one Blackmagic includes with the camera.

Although the BMCC-MFT’s lens mount is adaptable to more lens mount types, and is a tad lighter & smaller than the BMCC-EF or BMPC-4K, the latter camera’s other attributes are well-worth the extra $1K US to me.

Links to BMPC-4K sample footage and downloadable, camera-original files.

Having decided on the BMPC-4K, I thought it’d be a good idea to play around a bit with some 4K ProRes HQ files to see if my computer & software can handle it:

For most projects I’ll use the camera’s compressed 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes HQ video more than its visually lossless compressed 12-bit RAW CinemaDNG files, and the BMPC-4K may not even ship with CinemaDNG enabled at first. 4K ProRes HQ is awesome, and will do me just fine.

I have a 3 year old MacBook Pro 17″ w. 2.66 GHz i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, nVidia GeForce GT 330M gpu; w. eSATA-3 ExpressCard I/O, 9TB of external 7200rpm SATA-3 HDD storage, but no Thunderbolt. I currently use FCP7 for editing, and I have a free copy of Davinci Resolve Lite 9.1.

I did a simple test using Resolve & FCP7 to up-convert several of John Brawley’s 24p BMCC 2.5K uncompressed RAW CinemaDNG sample files to 4K ProRes HQ Quicktime files. The resulting 4K files have a data rate of about 650 megabits/sec, which is about right, since the target data rate for 4K ProRes HQ @ 24p is 707 mb/s. At its maximum frame rate of 30p, the BMPC-4K will record about 72 minutes of 4K ProRes HQ footage on a 480GB SSD. For storage, note that 4TB SATA-3 hard drives now cost less than $185 each.

I imported these 4K ProRes HQ files into FCP7, and they edit smoothly in real-time, with no dropped frames. I did some basic editing & color correcting with them, including 4 composited layers, and that all edits fine, too. I wasn’t really surprised since Macs usually have no trouble playing ProRes files, but this was the first time I’ve used 4K ProRes HQ files. Sweet!

Since I tend to “hold onto” gear for a relatively long time, I think the BMPC-4K camera will make sense for me. I’ll use it near-term primarily for creating 1080p projects, and over time use its 4K capability more and more as projects are able to benefit from it or require it. As is commonly the case today with footage from existing 4K cams, I’ll sometimes use 4K footage to crop or scale to high-quality 1080p, and acquire 4K footage for 4K distribution as opportunities arise. If the camera’s 4K ProRes HQ acquisition looks good (using the cam’s “Film”/log and “Video”/Rec.709 recording modes) compared to the compressed RAW CinemaDNG (which may require more & faster storage, and a faster computer to edit), I’ll shoot 4K ProRes HQ most of the time, even for 1080p delivery. Depending on the project, I may use the BMPC-4K to shoot 1080p ProRes HQ fairly often, too. We’ll see.

As always, there’s no 1 perfect camera ideally suited to every production, budget, schedule, and shooting style.

The BMPC-4K will be a good match for most of the video I anticipate shooting for the next few years. For productions that may require other capabilities (such as 60p slow-motion, etc.), there are suitable rental cams readily available in my town. In a pinch, even 60p HD footage from a Panasonic GH3 can look quite good. (My thoughts about the GH3 vs. the new BMPCC pocket camera are here.)

So, for me, the BMPC-4K will be it for now …

More thoughts on the BMPC-4K

BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

I received my BMPC-4K on 2/28/14 and I love it. I used it to shoot this video (details on the Video page):

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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