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Blackmagic Cinema Camera Digital Camera Review$1,999.00
By The Numbers
We ran the Blackmagic Cinema Camera through most of the tests that we use on every camera that graces our offices. Even though we decided to not assign it a numbered score since it's so different than anything else we tested, we still gleaned some very useful data from the process.
Color and White Balance
There are no color modes on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, so there's only one option—the default. Standard output looks flat, because you're not supposed to be using the files straight from the camera in your finished product. Blackmagic bundles the Cinema Camera with its DaVinci Resolve software, normally a $1,000 purchase on its own. Of course, you could choose to do color grading in whatever software you already use, or even post process in After Effects or Final Cut Pro.
We didn’t test the Cinema Camera against our standard White Balance tests. There’s a good reason why—it doesn’t have any white balance features. Instead, it has a preset number of color temperatures that can be dialed in. You’re simply expected to shoot in the closest K preset and clean it up in post.
One area where the Cinema Camera didn’t do as well as expected was in our low-light test. The Cinema Camera required 15 lux to hit 50 IRE, which, for a video camera, is quite a bit of light. That said, you’re probably going to be shooting in a carefully-lit, controlled environment and not a kid’s birthday party, so this figure isn’t as important as it might be for a consumer camcorder.
Blackmagic’s claimed 13 stops of dynamic range are all present and accounted for. While you’ll only get that full gamut if you’re shooting in the hefty CinemaDNG format, that DR means that even if a scene is slightly under- or overexposed, there’s a more than a bit of wiggle room to pull the image back into shape. Using our DSC Labs Xyla-21 chart and Imatest, we measured 12.9 stops of detectable dynamic range.
The Cinema Camera comes with four ISO sensitivities (as rated in the older ASA standard)— 200, 400, 800, and 1600. Surprisingly, all four are very usable, with little detail lost as you go up the scale. Noise was kept at a minimum, and detail stayed intact even at ISO 1600. Although you aren’t afforded as much leeway as a DSLR might grant you, it’s still a decent range of sensitivity. Even the Panasonic GH3 will let you shoot at ISO 6400, but you’re not guaranteed good-looking video.