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Existential Camera Crisis

C100 Blackmagic Canon BMPCC

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#1 Nicholas Lorini

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 06:31 PM

I've been working with video as an amateur now for 5 years. After I graduated college last year I decided it was time to move from a DSLR to a more cinema oriented body. I went with the Canon C100 and thanks to a grant I won in my last semester, I was able to purchase the Atomos Ninja Blade 2 as well. 

 

Right now, I am working as a DP on a small-budget horror feature. After this is through, I have my projects I'd like to embark on, BUT I may lose the Ninja Blade (because the grant was through the school and they want to/have the right to keep it). I understand this severely limits the recording capability of the C100.

 

I read a thread the other night on this forum discussing the Blackmagic Pocket Cam. Now, I am wondering if I've made a mistake choosing the C100. Or if maybe the BMPCC would make my projects cheaper to achieve as I'm yet to purchase any of my own glass or rigging for the C100.

 

My problem, I suppose, is this: 

 

Do I press on with the C100 and buy rigging and some glass for it (and unfortunately a new Ninja Blade) or do I liquidate and invest in the BMPCC and some glass for it? Or do I just sit tight with what I have and rent until I have enough money for something substantially better than either?


Edited by Nicholas Lorini, 02 January 2017 - 06:34 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 06:48 PM

If you can sit tight, always sit tight.

 

Trouble with the Pocket camera is the small sensor, you'd have to decide if you want that look.  If you stick with 35mm sensor cameras and buy lenses for it, you can always use those lenses later on another 35mm sensor camera.


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#3 Nicholas Lorini

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 07:03 PM

That's kinda what I was leaning toward, as I enjoy the 35mm sensor over 16. Good glass is just so pricey.

 

Thanks!


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#4 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 10:24 PM

How much does 4k matter to you?


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 01:44 AM

Yea know, it really depends on what you're shooting. I love my pocket cameras and I bought them to make content for the internet and I eventually did light commercial work with them, including some long-form documentary work. For me, they're the absolute perfect camera. The backpack I keep my cameras, lenses, audio kit, batteries, cards and filters in, wouldn't even hold a C100, it's THAT small. So I can go anywhere and shoot anything without anyone even knowing I have a video camera. They are literally the most incredible eye-opening cameras ever made from that perspective.

However, if you're shooting a lot of narrative projects and need a physically "bigger" camera to get your clients excited, then you've gotta own something bigger. Showing up to a shoot with my backpack is kind of a joke, it really makes me look bad. But when you show up with a C100 in a pelican case, now you're talking!

Now I shot with the C100 and C300MKII in 2016 on different projects. I'm ok with the C300MKII, it kinda does everything good enough and with decent glass, doesn't look half bad. The C100 in my opinion, doesn't look like it at all. Sure it has the "big imager" look, but the image falls apart when you work it in post, even with the external recorder because the image processor isn't anywhere near as good as the C300MKII. So even if you kept the C100, would it deliver better images then the pocket camera? Not really... you can't beat 12 bit full-raster Cinema DNG capture, with native real-time playback in Premiere or DaVinci. You also can't beat the form factor, the C100 is a horrible hand-holding camera, where the pocket just needs a monopod and a viewfinder adaptor and you're all set, perfectly stable images.

So I'm personally torn... I can't quite recommend ANOTHER 1080p camera to someone who already has one. As David says, maybe you should wait. I do think there will be some amazing announcements at CES and NAB in 2017, we may see some entry level products that may work great. At the same time, if you sold your C100, you could take the extra cash you get and buy lots of accessories for the pocket, including better lenses. So that's another side of the decision making process.

I have to lean towards David's comment however, I think he's right for many reasons and I also think the Pocket camera is long in the tooth. Not because it's a Super 16 sized imager, but because you really don't want to invest in 4 year old technology.
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#6 Nicholas Lorini

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 10:57 AM

Thanks for the thoughts Tyler. I'm in this jam mostly because I may be going to northern Iceland soon for a residency in the summer. I'll be making experimental and documentary shorts. And I will be there for one month and also spending at least two weeks in Europe. This is a long time to be renting so I figure I need purchase new equipment. The more I think about it the more I am realizing the logistical nightmare of bringing over the c100 plus recorder plus rigging. Hence my considering the pocket cam. I also see what you mean about the inadequecy of the c100 sensor. We've done a couple day-for-night shoots with it and the image is severely muddied in post. I'm wondering if maybe a shift to the Blackmagic Ursa may be a good move. I noticed BH has one for sale at 2,995. This would accomodate my super 35 preference and get rid of the necessity for an external recorder. If I could just get a decent piece of glass for it I think it would travel significantly easier than the c100 though still not as smooth as the BMPCC.

Also as far as clients go, I've got one feature lined up for the fall and they've already told me a camera rental is in the budget.

Edited by Nicholas Lorini, 03 January 2017 - 11:03 AM.

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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 11:20 AM

Bear in mind for an Ursa of any sort you need CFast cards to record, which are expensive.

 

Personally I'd find a recorder for the C100, you don't need anything particularly clever. Some sort of used Atomos recorder shouldn't break the bank.

 

P


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 03:10 PM

If you're shooting documentary and experimental work, you'd be fine with the pocket camera.

The 4k URSA is a boat anchor, giant turd of a camera that isn't worth discussing, hence the low price. The URSA Mini 4.6k is a great "start" but as Phil points out, it gets very expensive, very fast. You can get into a complete package for around $8500 USD, but without an Optical low pass filter, I'm afraid it's kinda not ready for prime time. When a 3rd party comes out with one, (which will happen) the URSA Mini 4.6k will be probably the best "used" deal on the market, as people are dumping them left and right due to the lack of OLPF.

The Pocket will make you look like a still photographer, rather then a videographer. So you can go places and do things you'd never be able to do with a big camera. Plus, with the low-cost of Super 16 lenses today, you can pickup some sweet glass for peanuts. I got my S16 12-120 Zeiss zoom for $1000 bux on ebay! It's fast, it's pretty and it's perfect for the pocket. The PL or B mount adaptor for the pocket is cheap enough and has it's own tripod mount. So you literally put the mount on your tripod or monopod (which I prefer) and stick the lens and body right on. For me, having a really great zoom lens, is super important for documentary work. That's nearly impossible to get for decent money in a S35mm coverage.

So field of view... I work with S35 and S16 cameras on a regular basis. Honestly, the field of view situation is only pertinent when you're on the wide side of things. So if all you do is shoot 8mm on S16 or 16mm on S35 imagers, then you've got a point. However, once you get past around 16mm on S16 and 30mm on S35, the benefit of the wider field of view starts to go away. The longer the lens, the less you see it. Plus, as a cinematographer, there are ways you can achieve a more shallow depth of field on S16 sized imager, you've just gotta be smart about it. Longer lenses, wider aperture, placing things between the camera and the subject that are out of focus. These are little tricks and honestly, they work great and keep you on your toes.

Here is a little sample of the pocket camera with the Zeiss 12 - 120.

https://www.dropbox....12-120.mov?dl=0
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#9 John E Clark

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 12:50 PM

I participated in a shoot with the C100 a couple of years ago. I was impressed with the low light capability as we were shooting in a famous and vintage hotel with dark wood paneling, and because we were there 'gratis', we could use only very minimal lights.

 

On the other hand I'm also impressed with my BMPCC and I have seen the results projected on a theater screen for a fest, and I was not embarrassed when comparing with the other fest contributors, who used a variety of cameras including various versions of the Canon CXX series.

 

As for lenses I have a Panasonic Lumix 14-140 f/3.5 and a very old 16mm 25mm f/1.9 lens. One can find 'cheap' 16mm lenses, but under 25mm often the coverage vignettes. One can also rent... buy... Super 16mm cine lenses that have the correct coverage... but they are expensive.

 

The camera standard firmware does provide for a reasonable Pro Res 'lite' compression, or RAW. And so one could do more on the color work, or even 'save the day' with exposures that need work due to circumstances beyond one's control.


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#10 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 01:13 PM

I read a thread the other night on this forum discussing the Blackmagic Pocket Cam. Now, I am wondering if I've made a mistake choosing the C100. Or if maybe the BMPCC would make my projects cheaper to achieve as I'm yet to purchase any of my own glass or rigging for the C100.

 

Please don't buy a BMPCC.  I know a lot of people think they are good cameras but the reality is that they are simply cheap mirrorless cameras with a better CODEC.  They suffer horrible alias/moire unless you buy an OLPF for it, intolerable rolling shutter, are incredibly hard to handle unless you buy a rigging system and it's very hard to get natural color out of them unless you love spending hours grading your video to reference photos taken by a reference still cam.  My advice; keep and use the C100 and tack on an external recorder.  Money is better spent on glass and lighting equipment any way.


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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 11:08 PM

Well, I've bee shooting with the pocket cameras for 3 years. I've never had moire or aliasing issues. I stopped using a rig because it just wasn't necessary, a monopod works just as well. Also, if you adjust the shutter angle properly the rolling shutter issues is not as prominent. All of the mirrorless and DSLRs have way worse rolling shutter.

In terms of color... the camera does not work on rec 709 mode at all. It's not designed to work with that mode. Also, it records exactly what's on the display so, it's pretty easy to dial in the skin tones via lighting prior to shooting and use log (fim) mode.

Like most cameras, it's all about learning the camera and figuring out that works. If you get angry at it and stop using it, yea you'll never figure it out. But I shoot with a lot of top cameras and outside of crispness and field of view, I'd say the pocket stays with them in most situations. Some cameras have better low light, other cameras have bigger imagers, higher resolution and cost more money. Yet nothing does exactly what the pocket does for the form factor and size.
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#12 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 02:26 PM

Well, I've bee shooting with the pocket cameras for 3 years. I've never had moire or aliasing issues.

 

It's pretty obvious to me.  Bricks, fabric, fences, even non-patterned stuff like concrete.

mtest01.jpgThat alone makes the BMPCC useless IMO.  I've seen a couple with after-market OLPF and they fare much better, less IR pollution too.

As far as I can tell, no changes to shutter or whatever reduces the rolling shutter to something tolerable.  You're right though, all mirrorless/DSLRs are terrible!  That's one of many reasons I still think the best cameras for video are video cameras.  They generally have better OLPFs, less rolling shutter, better form factor.

 

 

Like most cameras, it's all about learning the camera and figuring out that works. If you get angry at it and stop using it, yea you'll never figure it out. But I shoot with a lot of top cameras and outside of crispness and field of view, I'd say the pocket stays with them in most situations. Some cameras have better low light, other cameras have bigger imagers, higher resolution and cost more money. Yet nothing does exactly what the pocket does for the form factor and size.

 

It's certainly the least compression at the lowest price, but there's too many things that annoy me about BM cameras in general.  I got my start with 3-CCD cameras and film though, so perhaps I've been spoiled.  Problems that didn't exist in pro/semi-pro cameras 20 years ago are commonplace now and most people don't seem to care.


Edited by Stephen Baldassarre, 10 January 2017 - 02:34 PM.

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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:05 PM

Problems that didn't exist in pro/semi-pro cameras 20 years ago are commonplace now and most people don't seem to care.

 

I care. Couldn't agree more.


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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 10:55 PM

It's pretty obvious to me.  Bricks, fabric, fences, even non-patterned stuff like concrete.


I don't know what to say. I've been shooting with the pocket cameras for years, literally hundreds of hours on each camera and never once seen the issue. I do believe a big part of that is the glass, I use Rokinon primes and they tend to be soft and nice looking. I have never once tried a DSLR lens on my camera because it's not a DSLR. I have used Super 16 primes and zoom's, again with no problem.

Personally, I think it's a non-issue.
 

I've seen a couple with after-market OLPF and they fare much better, less IR pollution too.


The IR pollution issue is an issue, but it's fixable in DaVinci, it just takes a few more seconds of work.
 

As far as I can tell, no changes to shutter or whatever reduces the rolling shutter to something tolerable.


I think this is tolerable... (this is an older video, so mind the color and highlight clipping, this is before I had my ND filter kit)


 

That's one of many reasons I still think the best cameras for video are video cameras.  They generally have better OLPFs, less rolling shutter, better form factor.


Absolutely and if you have $10k in your pocket, by all means buy a "real" cinema camera. My entire kit, two cameras, lenses, audio, batteries, support, everything cost $3k NEW. You can't even buy a tripod to hold a real cinema camera for much less then $3k NEW.
 

It's certainly the least compression at the lowest price, but there's too many things that annoy me about BM cameras in general.


They aren't perfect, they all have problems, but so do RED and Alexa's! Honestly every camera has issues and it's deciding which issues you're willing to live with that make the purchasing decisions. For me, I wanted something small and cheap that would allow me to shoot little things for fun. Honestly, that's the market for the pocket camera and anyone trying to do more with it, is just fooling themselves.
 

I got my start with 3-CCD cameras and film though, so perhaps I've been spoiled.  Problems that didn't exist in pro/semi-pro cameras 20 years ago are commonplace now and most people don't seem to care.


I got my start with film, moved into 3CCD ENG cameras and eventually into CMOS digital cinema. I've worked with Super 8, 16, 35, portable 3/4" and 3 tube cameras, Betacam SP, Digibeta, HDCAM, DVCAM, DVCPRO, Mini-DV, HDV camcorders so yea... pretty much all the formats over a 25 year period. I honestly like the look of the pocket camera. I've shot with all the alternatives and hated them all. I also wanted 10 bit 422 pro res capture because all of my editing software uses that codec natively. I REFUSE to own a camera that shoots MPEG.

But please, enlighten me to ANY OTHER older camera that is anywhere near quality/feature set of the pocket, for anywhere near the price.
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#15 John E Clark

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 12:53 PM

 

It's pretty obvious to me.  Bricks, fabric, fences, even non-patterned stuff like concrete.

 

...

 

It's certainly the least compression at the lowest price, but there's too many things that annoy me about BM cameras in general.  I got my start with 3-CCD cameras and film though, so perhaps I've been spoiled.  Problems that didn't exist in pro/semi-pro cameras 20 years ago are commonplace now and most people don't seem to care.

 

I care, but my budget isn't such that I can, and still shoot something... anything...

 

I have seen my material on a theater size screen for a fest last year... and I was not embarrassed relative to the other contributors, who shot on a variety of cameras, especially the ever popular Canon series.

 

But then, I also don't shoot a lot of people in hound's tooth suits, or roof tops.

 

As for the olden days, there were a number of conditions put on 'video' to eliminate visual problems. From 'not using white white', not using wardrobe with potential moire patterns, and for Black and White back in the real olden days, using different colors than 'natural' to give better B&W presentation. My favorite was Superman, in color dressed in blue body suit with red trunks... for the TV show, the outfit was grey body suit with dingy brown trunks.

 

The point being every age has required compromise with what is available, and of course, if one has the budget, certain solutions are 'more available'.


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#16 Akos Baranya

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 09:19 AM

I'm sure I have less experience than most people posting here, but here are my 2 cents:

 

I own a pocket camera and use it on a lot of projects. I love the picture that the camera makes, but it is a really inconvenient camera to use. The large files, the small body, the useless internal battery, the useless onboard sound make it a very challenging camera to use on one man band jobs. I've spent way more than the initial cost of the camera on rig components, battery solutions, audio and a monitor and in the end I use little of it because it's a hassle to assemble/take apart the full rig every time. Plus, it has none of the bells and whistles that people nowadays are more and more expecting, like slomo and 4K. IMO the C100 is a camera much more suited for a solo operator, you can get proper sound with it, it is easy to use handheld and the batteries are usable. I've used the C100 and C300 on a couple of jobs and I was always blown away by the out of camera picture of the C300, it's sad the C100 has that crippled codec. A used or discounted gen1 C300 could also be an option for you, or you could just buy another recorder.

 

I think the only situation where a rigged-out BMPCC is going to be better than the C100+external recorder is when you are doing a proper shoot and have the time and the staff to help with assembly, data management, audio and all that. In that case, you can just rent a pocket for the job, they go very cheap on the rental market.


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#17 charles g clark

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 04:33 PM

I have a c100m2, a blackmagic pocket, an ursa and an ursa mini 4.6.

All have their pluses and their minuses.

I would say that with an external recorder (I have a blackmagic video assist) the c100 holds up very well.

Add in the stunning low light, exceptional auto focusing, the production ease, image stabilisation and I would find it hard to beat- unless you need greater than 1080 and a better highlight rolloff (which the blackmagics are hard to beat at this price range).

I stress that's a "need"-most tv is shot 1080 and most films are still finished at 2k- and it's a great format.

So from a self proclaimed gear chaser- I'd sit tight- the c100 is a great camera- I love mine and when recorded externally it's my weapon of choice.

Just my 2 cents
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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 06:08 PM

The large files


Umm in 23.98 it's 175Mbps 10 bit 4:2:2. That's SMALL for an iFrame format. Remember, it's recording each individual frame as it's own piece of media and then wrapping them into a start stop single file.

Lower bit rate formats like 50Mbps Long GOP MPEG, don't record ALL frames! It captures one "key" frame and then only captures the data that moves for the next 24 or so. This means you're actually not capturing all of the data within each shot.

Remember, those lower bit rate formats like 50Mbps, are 8 bit 4:2:0 codec's. You can get 8 bit out of the pocket camera if you want, it's called Pro Res "lite" and it's part of the software. If you want crap quality like 50Mbps, then you can get it no problem.

the useless onboard sound make it a very challenging camera to use on one man band jobs.


If you use one mic and you set one channel higher then the other, it's not a problem. You don't have to ride the gain, which solves all of the pre-amp issues. It just takes time to get use to that workflow.

I've spent way more than the initial cost of the camera on rig components, battery solutions, audio and a monitor.


Not me... you don't need a battery adaptor or a monitor. Just a viewfinder adaptor and GOOD aftermarket batteries. I also run the display at a lower brightness to help the battery. I get 41 minutes off each battery, same as a 64gb card.

and in the end I use little of it because it's a hassle to assemble/take apart the full rig every time.


LOL!!! Have you ever used a film camera? How about a Red or Alexa? It takes 10 minutes easily to build a Red or Alexa package. Takes me 60 seconds to setup my pocket camera and shoot. It's actually the easiest cinema camera to startup and run that I've ever used.

I have a shoulder rig that stays assembled and all I have to do is screw the camera onto it and I'm done. Just throw it into a pelican case and you're done.

Plus, it has none of the bells and whistles that people nowadays are more and more expecting, like slomo and 4K.


If you want 410Mbps or larger files (so more then double the pocket camera) then yes... 4k is great!

Most of us can't afford to shoot 4k thanks to the storage, let alone the expensive camera.

Slow mo? yea... 60fps would be nice for sure. But I understand why they didn't do it, standard SD cards aren't fast enough to do it with 175Mbps Pro Res capture.

I've used the C100 and C300 on a couple of jobs and I was always blown away by the out of camera picture of the C300, it's sad the C100 has that crippled codec. A used or discounted gen1 C300 could also be an option for you, or you could just buy another recorder.


C300MKII looks great! But it's 10x the money and still needs all the accessories! EEK!!!!
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#19 Akos Baranya

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 05:05 AM

I don't disagree with most of the points you bring up, Tyler, but there are use cases where ease of use of the C100/300 compared to the pocket will be an important factor. I'm not saying the pocket isn't a great camera. It is. It's just more of a hassle sometimes. Yeah you can get around it, sure. Yes, it will reward you with a better image. I would still argue that for an owner op who works solo, the canons are more convenient.

 

I feel that while bitrate is important, the mode of compression is also important and Canon and Sony have good 50Mbps codecs whereas the lowest bitrate (proxy) on the pocket isn't usable.


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#20 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 06:20 AM

"Umm in 23.98 it's 175Mbps 10 bit 4:2:2. That's SMALL for an iFrame format."  

 

Not really ..Arri prores 10 bit 422 is 126.. or there abouts..  and Sony F5/55 XAVC I is 100 Mbps..  175 seems pretty high to me for 422 HD..


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