Five years ago the words “RED camera” would only mean one thing to most people: a red-coloured camera. Nowadays you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody in the film industry who hadn’t heard of the camera manufacturer RED Digital Cinema or the RED camera itself.
It’s clear RED (and other digital cinema camera manufacturers) have had a profound impact on the industry over the past decade. I still remember the day I came across RED’s website and read the announcement that they had created a camera that could record in 4K (4096×2304) resolution. Back then 1080p and Blu-ray were still high-tech buzzwords and only the cinephiles had actually adopted the technology. But here RED was proposing they were going to capture almost 4x that resolution.
Even in the past two years the landscape of digital camera technology has changed drastically. First it was 35mm lens adapters and old still lenses, then came the discovery of DSLRs and the video mode that Canon originally released for photographic journalists to use when out in the field and needing to record video. Canon started a digital revolution, with DSLRs almost stealing RED’s thunder. Sure, a Canon 5D is no RED camera, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper and can still produce fantastic images. After all, it’s been proven that this is the most important recipe to the average shooter; what gets me the best bang for the buck.
But now it seems the tables have turned once again. Blackmagic Design, a company which normally specializes in hardware boxes for video encoding and processing, recently unveiled a digital cinema camera of their own. The announcement came at this year’s NAB back in April.
So what makes this camera so special?
Well for starters it’s got as much dynamic range as the latest RED Epic (excluding HDRx). With a whopping 13 stops, the Blackmagic Cinema camera has the same dynamic range as traditional film. I mean look at some of this footage. On top of that, and similar to RED, the camera records in a 12-bit RAW format, allowing maximum leverage in colour correction and post-production. Sure, it only has 2.5K in resolution, but with 4K taking much slower to catch on in all theatres across the world, it’s nothing to hold against it. What’s most exciting about this camera is what I was mentioning earlier regarding the perfect recipe for the average shooter. That’s right, the price tag of this baby is only $2995 USD!!
This means that for what it used to cost to buy a 5D Mk. II (and not even what it costs to buy a Mk. III), you could afford a camera that allows you to shoot 12-bit RAW video with the same dynamic range as film, at a resolution high enough to project in any theatre.
If you can’t tell, we are really excited for this camera and to see what effect it will have on the industry. The day has finally arrived where filmmakers can shoot footage with the same dynamic range as film, as well as have as much – if not more – room for correction in post, for under $5000.