BMPC-4K: Thankful for “small” improvements
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! UPDATE 10/14: Subsequent firmware update 1.9.7 brings all these UI features to the BMCC, BMPCC, and BMPC-4K.]
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!
Behind-the-scenes photo by Sam Locklin.
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