Will Delays in Blackmagic 4K Prompt Going to Next Model?

Site says BMD should just upgrade the sensor now

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When Blackmagic announced the 4K capable Black Magic Cinema Camera on the eve of NAB last Spring, shooters were abuzz at the prospect.  The camera was dubbed as “4K for $4K” and it looked to show promise as the one rig that could force competing 4K platforms to come down in price. But as time has dragged on, delays have made those same fans wonder if the camera is ever going to come out. And if it does, should they just upgrade the sensor now, rather than later.

We already know the current sensor in the Blackmagic Product Camera 4K is limited to 30 fps (as is the Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera), but if it is indeed using the previous version of this CMV12000 sensor, it is capable of much, much more. – Joe Marine, NFS

The suggestion comes from NoFilmSchool’s Joe Marine, who points out that an update of the CMOSIS CMV12000 4K Sensor is about to come out and it can image at 300 frames per second.  Marine says that the problem is that even the current model of the CMV12000 is capable of 150 frames per second, five times more powerful than the how it’s being used in the announced Blackmagic 4K Cinema Camera.

Marine also warns that 4K is going to come out with a vengeance in 2014 and the low cost UHD category will become crowded pretty quickly. But because the 4K BMCC will have a global shutter and those new competitors likely won’t, Blackmagic can still have the edge if they can let the CMV12000 to run free.

But like the BMCC and Pocket Cinema Camera before it, the 4K Camera is delayed, and that’s closing the window between it and competitors.

“We are most happy to have finally achieved the outstanding performance of the CMV12000 in terms of its exceptionally high frame rate of 300 fps,” said Lou Hermans, Chief Operating Officer, CMOSIS. “Our strong technology focus and dedication to this development enables us to continue to offer new or improved CMOS sensor products on a regular basis.”

Switching to the new 300fps CMV12000 could make up for and widen that advantage, according to Marine at a time when BMD seems to struggling with delays (although my contacts at Blackmagic assure me that the 4K BMCC is on track to be released by the end of the year).

“Firmware upgrades are fine,” writes Marine, “but I actually think higher frame rates would put this camera in another league entirely, something that literally no one would be able to match for the price.”

He posits that even if it added another six months to the development schedule and produced another black eye of a delay, that it may be worth it to get a higher performing camera. But my question is, would the more recent CMOSIS sensor mean raising the cost of the camera?

If Marine is right that BMD’s delays may be due to ironing out the design while keeping it in line with its price point, then how will going with a newer, more powerful sensor six months later aid in keeping production costs low? I don’t think it would.

At best, it could perhaps future proof the 4K BMCC and widen the advantage it would have over competitors like the Apertus 4K.  I think, though, that BMD would more likely continue to fine-tune the firmware while they are ramping up for the 4K BMCC’s release (much like they did with the original Cinema Camera) that give it a performance boost sooner, rather than later.”

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.