Turning the Blackmagic Cinema Camera into a Movie Making Machine

You all know that I have been conducting many camera tests during prep on Need for Speed. I have been testing all of the different digital emulsions to see where they will fit into my toolbox. Blackmagic graciously supplied a camera for some of these tests. We pushed and pulled this baby to see when it would break as well as where it excelled.

“Just Shoot with the Baby”

My philosophy is to shoot first, then test. That sounds counter-intuitive, but putting the camera in real life shooting situations educates you on what you need to test. Go in not really knowing what the camera can do or what it can’t do. JUST SHOOT!!!!

“The Screen Test”

We arranged a screen test to shoot a scene with the camera. You will not hear any audio because it is restricted. We put it in conditions in which many DSLRs would falter. Late afternoon light, hot skies and all handheld on a shoulder rig.

BMCC tests - wide shot

BMCC tests - profile

BMCC tests - blonde

BMCC tests

I love that this camera fell into a nice color palette and delivered pretty good skin tones, as well as holding the sky. Some of it felt a little clippy in the over exposure, but again, I was going to eye and trying to figure it out. I would say that I exposed a little hot. Many people told me not to starve this camera of light, but I think I went a little too far. With that said, the image holds up for a $3K camera. We color graded the scene with Davinci Resolve, which is included when you purchase the camera.

Davinci Resolve Interface for Color Correction

Davinci Resolve Interface for Color Correction

“What is my Secret Sauce for the BMCC?”

On the internet, I quickly witnessed that the images looked incredibly sharp and had a very large depth of field. The camera’s sensor is a 4/3 chip, which matches super 16mm film pretty closely. I was immediately transported back to my music video days. I remembered all of those Super 16mm Zooms that I used along with my Zeiss prime set. I went on a search and found my go to Zooms that lensed Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and the Rolling Stones, which were the Canon 8-64mm zoom, the Zeiss 10-1 and the Canon 11.5-138mm zoom. These babies vignetted a little but the glass looked creamy, which I did not see on the internet. It looked filmic. GOLD!!!!

Sensor comparison

Sensor comparison

Black Magic with Canon 8-64mm Zoom

Black Magic with Canon 8-64mm Zoom

Canon 8-64mm Zoom

Canon 8-64mm Zoom

Canon 11.5-138mm Zoom

Canon 11.5-138mm Zoom

The Screen Test was not shot with these zooms. The light bulb in my head had not gone off yet, but what I did do was to use my favorite old lenses to kind of do the same thing. The Kowas were pulled out of the closet and slapped on this baby, and the proof is in the pudding; they looked off the chain. They are 35mm lenses, so with this cropped 4/3 chip, your 50mm is like a 100mm. The widest lens I have in my Kowa kit is a 15mm and that would feel like a 30mm, so getting wide with this glass was a challenge. I think the test works well with them.

Kowa on the BMCC

BMCC tests

Blackmagic camera ready for testing

Blackmagic camera ready for testing



“Give Me Shallow”

The other thing I knew I had to do was shoot around a 2.0 on all my day exteriors so that I could keep a shallow depth of field (DOF) and make it look more like the DOF you get with 35mm. If I was going to shoot my day exteriors in between a 2.8 or a 4, I would shoot at a 2.0 on the BMCC. If you want your stuff looking awesome, this will be absolutely essential. The quickest way to show your hand of cards with a 4/3 chip camera is to have endless DOF.

To address this, Letus and the Master Cinema Series has developed a cage system and a 35mm adapter ring that snaps onto the lens port. This will give you the perfect look and feel of 35mm and the creamy filmic quality I have been talking about, and it fits right into the MCS 2.0 rig system.

Blackmagic in the MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam configuration with Alphatron EVF

Blackmagic in the MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam configuration with Alphatron EVF

MCS ShoulderCam

The new Blackmagic Letus cage with 35mm adaptor

The new Blackmagic Letus cage with 35mm adaptor

The new Blackmagic Letus cage with 35mm adaptor

Letus 35 Ultimate lens adaptor

Letus 35 Ultimate lens adaptor


“Bring in the IR NDs”

We also noticed that you will need to use IR NDs with this camera above a ND 1.2. After the ND 1.2, the image got very brown in the blacks and felt very muddy. To keep this shallow DOF outside, you will need Tiffen IR NDs so that you can minimize this problem. Unfortunately, you cannot get rid of it with color correction. You can make it less, but it is baked in there.

Tiffen IR ND HV sets

“BIT Depth”

The camera seemed to have a good amount of BIT depth, but we felt with the flat RAW file, we needed to infuse a ton of color into the image to bring it to a normal looking image, which is cool, but it did not fall right in quickly. So plan on a little more color correction time. You won’t have to do as many power windows to fix all the blown out highlights and deep shadows because of this camera’s 13 stops of latitude, which is great.



Color Corrected

Color Corrected


“The Camera Needs a Cage and Weight”

The BMCC is a very light camera, very much like all the DSLRs. Please remember what I have said in the past — you will need to weight this baby appropriately. The MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam will get you all dialed in with the right weight and ergonomics to be able to shoot.

MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam

MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam

Director Scott Waugh and Shane Hurlbut, ASC using the MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam

Director Scott Waugh and Shane Hurlbut, ASC using the MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam

Because the camera’s output is only SDI, the MCS 2.0 EVF adapters have been made to accommodate the AlphaTron, which is SDI in and out. These EVFs are sweet with this system.

MCS 2.0 EVF adapter for the Alphatron

MCS 2.0 EVF adapter for the Alphatron

Alphatron EVF

Alphatron EVF

This is part one of a three part series on the BMCC. In the following weeks we will release more tests that show its latitude, light sensitivity at night, noise level, etc. Stay Tuned!!!!


Equipment used for this test:

Blackmagic Cinema Camera with Panavision Mount

Kowa: 20, 25, 32, 50mm for Screen Test
Canon: 8-64mm Zoom for IR Test

Tiffen WW IR ND and Tiffen WW ND

Dionic 90 Anton Bauer

Small HD DP-6 Monitor


MSC 2.0 ShoulderCam

O’Connor 20-60 Head
O’Connor Standard and Baby Sticks

Editing Tool:
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6

Licensed through The Music Bed
Please Help Me. Band: A. M. Architect & Through the Eye: Les Enfants

Supplied by Paskal Lighting

Watch the videos on Vimeo in 1080p

  1. mike 3 years ago

    Brilliant coverage. Gives all us starters an idea of what is possible.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Mike. Thanks for the comment and support.

  2. mike 3 years ago

    at such a low cost would you say us low budgeters have a new hero?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Mike. Definitely, the ability to shoot raw and have Davinici Resolve at this price point is a powerful tool for filmmakers.

  3. Aram K 3 years ago

    Thank you Shane for your awesome blogs !!! Waiting on our camera right now. As far as I have done my research I think it’s pretty good competition for Red Scarlet.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Aram K. Thanks for the kind words and support.

  4. Laurence Zankowski 3 years ago

    It looks so small in your hands. Was that an issue? Do you wish for a wider hand grip stance?

    Be well

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Laurence Zankowski, once we caged that baby up in the MCS 2.0 shoulder cam it worked perfectly.

  5. N.K.Osborne 3 years ago

    Been waiting for this Shane. Thank you so much! This camera is simply amazing and I think its pros outweigh its cons. Can’t wait to see what you do on NFS.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      N.K.Osborne, I agree, used in the right situations you will shine with this baby.

  6. Ron Toussaint 3 years ago


    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Ron Toussaint, thanks for the support

  7. Daniel Longworth 3 years ago

    Awesome that you’re doing this. Looking forward to more. BMCC seems like a winner already, despite its quirks & shortcomings.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Daniel Longworth, just like what we have had to do with DSLR’s you have to learn how to showcase the Pros and hide the cons. Thanks for your kind words

  8. Mark Pommett 3 years ago


    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Mark Pommett, thanks for your support

  9. HDSLRnow 3 years ago

    Shane, very informative. I can see where you might have opened it up a bit too much as you say … and it looks like the last pair, the color corrected sample had a bit too much green?

    Thanks for the post — didn’t know you had a Stones video on your resume!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      HDSLRnow, yep, I corrected it to have some cyan in the skin tones. We were testing for Need for Speed with this look. Thanks for your kind words

  10. Sid Levin 3 years ago

    Perfect timing. BMCC arrived yesterday. Thank you for sharing and for all your hard work.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Sid Levin, you are very welcome. Thanks for your support

  11. Allen 3 years ago

    Shane, as always, thanks for all you share on this site. It would take years to cobble together the things you post for free!
    I have a quick question. I am a former news photog moving towards doing docs. My partner has a 5D MKII which is great for controlled situations, but harder to use while on the move. What do you recommend as a run and gun camera? Our doc will take us into nightclubs, in cars and on the road. I use a Sony EX-1 at the school I work at, and it looks okay, but not cinematic.
    I will be headed to NAB in April and I an trying to narrow down my prospective booth visits.

    Thanks again, this site has become my film school! Allen

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Allen, I think your best doc camera is the C300 then chase with your 5D MK III. The C300 is very good in low light.

  12. Aram K 3 years ago

    I forgot to ask you ! Have you heard of new Chinese camera called KineRaw. It has super 35 mm sensor and they claim gives quality like Alexa. As far as specs goes its very similar to black magic camera !

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Aram K, I saw it at NAB last year. Not convinced yet.

  13. Mragendra Singh 3 years ago

    Thanks Shane for BMCC review, I just got my BMCC this week as well. Just wondering what are you thoughts about the workflow in terms of from production to post production?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Mragendra Singh. The BMCC comes with Davinci Resolve which works great for coloring and creating dailies on set or in post. It all depends on the needs of the production, but resolve is very flexible to meet those needs. Thanks for the comment and support.

  14. Sabyasachi Patra 3 years ago

    Hi Shane,
    Nice test. Good to see your impressions about BMC. Will it cut well with C300 footage? I am planning to use it as a second body along with C300.

    What would be the minimum cost to get a BMC working for the entire day.


  15. Clayton Arnall 3 years ago

    Appreciate the info! Curious about using an IR filter on the end of each lens with regular Tiffen NDs in the matte box and how it would compare to the IR NDs? Is that a bad idea?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Clayton Arnall, basically what I found out that you should use a Straight Tiffen WW 1.2 ND, then if you need to go above that add .3 WWIRND, or .6WWIRND all the way up to your desired stop. Unfortunately you have to by pack the filters. I hope this helps.

      • Michael Robertson 2 years ago

        Yes, awesome info indeed! I am curious about the IR filtration options as well. I have an Eclipse Variable ND and I do notice the muddy colors at stronger ND levels. Can I purchase some strength of IR to put in my 4×4 matte box to use in conjunction with my screw-on variable ND that I already own? Thanks

  16. k. wasley 3 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    Thanks again for a great post. Could you say a little about the Alphatron EVF? How does it compare to the Zacuto EVF. I own the Zacuto but find it blows out highlights earlier than what is actually recorded, and the color is not accurate, at least with the 5D. Do you also use the Alphatron with the 5D?


    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      k. wasley, Yes, we use the AlphaTron on all formats. C300, C500, 1DC, 5D, etc. It seems to have a cleaner image. I am still lighting off of the back LCD or a Small HD AC-7 OLED SDI with the C-Log preset.

  17. John Raadgeep 3 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    Many thanks for this in-depth review. It shows that our EVF is a perfect match with the BMCC.
    Looking forward to part 2 and 3.
    Hope to see you at NAB for more exiting news on our EVF and more.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      John Raadgeep, it worked beautifully. Love many of the functions of the EVF. Love to talk in depth about the use on Need for Speed. Have a great NAB, I will be shooting.

  18. adam 3 years ago

    what are the best

    micro 4/3 lenses

    for those who want to buy the camera in the micro 4/3 mount/version?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      adam, I will do some research on that, I wanted to go with what was familiar to me and know it would deliver the desired filmic look. I think Leica R’s would be a great lens set for this camera as well as the old Nikon AI and AIS’s

  19. Rodrigo Prata 3 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    Do you really think using a 35mm adaptor is the best idea with this camera? Won`t this reduce MTF too much?

    For shallow DOF I`m much more exited about the metabones speed booster, wich will not only improve the MTF of any len but also make then brighter and wider!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Rodrigo Prata, I showed it as an option. I prefer to keep the stop down around a 1.4-2.0 and use 35mm lenses as well as Leica R mounts.

  20. Erik 3 years ago

    Hi Shane,
    Thanks for this great post. You say you ‘needed to infuse a ton of color correction’ with the raw footage. I’ve played with some of the ‘in the wild’ BMCC DNG’s and I’ve had the same experience. But since this camera shoots every individual frame as a (DNG) raw photo the frames can be treated as such. Professional photographers have been dealing for quite some time with raw and are familiar with the need for a camera specific profile to render colors correctly. Adobe offers a free DNG Profile Editor: http://tinyurl.com/by3unnw
    Adobe states that the profiles this software exports can be used with ‘any DNG-compatible raw conversion software’ (so that should include Davinci Resolve). I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks promising.
    Would it be possible to make some DNG files of your test-footage available for download?

    • Note S. 3 years ago

      Check out bmcuser.com for dng files

  21. Daniel Lowe 3 years ago

    Loving these posts! Looking forward to getting the camera in my hands so I can try out some of these techniques.

    Good tip on the IR ND filters.. that’s not something I would have figured out on my own, most likely.

    • Daniel Lowe 3 years ago

      I’m also happy, reading about the DOF, that I’ve spent my money on some super-fast, prime vintage lenses lately. I think vintage 50mm Nikkor f/1.4 & 85mm f/2 manual aperture primes would look great on the BMCC.

  22. ergin ozturk 3 years ago

    i love this blog. All information is very useful. but..
    i really don get the point this time.
    I know blackmagic camera is cheap, raw and lightweight. But after all additional equipment (especially old school 35mm adapters- please don’t remind me these days:) ) what will be the advantage? only raw?.
    Then buy red scarlet or (sony F55)

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      ergin ozturk, thank you so much for your comment. People don’t have to roll out with all this shit to get an image, so 3000.00 bucks and Davinci Resolve is not so bad. The Scarlet is a great option as well. I am here to show you how I would roll out with this camera if I was asked. Simple RIGHT!!!!

  23. Iain Trimble 3 years ago

    Great post! Really looking forward to NFS on the big screen. Which camera gets the job for the POV car collisions? Haha.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Iain Trimble. We will use the Canon 1DC as well as the C500 for slow mo collisions.

      • Iain Trimble 3 years ago

        I remember reading you guys dropped a mark ii into the ocean, frying the cam but the memory card was fine. On NFS will you hook up an off board recorder in a protected location when you know the camera is going to be destroyed in a stunt?

  24. Ted Ramasola 3 years ago

    Love your informative posts as usual Shane. Thanks for sharing these tests. I love the potential of shooting raw cheaply and I’m waiting on the fence for this cam. I have to ask you if you had issues with the highlights, like the the black spot on the brightest point like the sun and the pinkish cast I see on some samples in the highlight areas as well, it seem to be similar in character to the ikonoskop issues.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Ted Ramasola. Thank you for the kind words and support. After testing the BMCC I found that it is hungry a stop of light, so rating it at 250 ISO instead of 400 ISO works well. Haven’t run into any of those highlight issues so far.

  25. Mark Morris 3 years ago

    Do you only need one IR filter? For example could I buy a single IR ND 0.3 to stack with normal ND’s or do I need every ND after ND 1.2 To be IR ND’s?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Mark Morris. I would buy an ND set up to 1.2, and then I would get a .3, .6, and .9 IR ND.

  26. J-dog 3 years ago

    Word of the day … Latitude (also your favorite word, Shane). If you could go back in time, with an arsenal of these bad boys … which music video would you use them on and why?

    All the best my friend,


    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      J-Dog. I wouldn’t, I had plenty latitude shooting on film back in the day. 13 Stops haha. Thanks for the comment and support.

  27. Johnny 3 years ago

    I want to know if the any of those zoom you mentioned, Canon 8-64 and 11.5-138 zoom work for the BMCC MFT? Also what adapter would you recommend? I am thinking about getting either of the lens but I want to know how bad are the vignettes? Thanks!

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Johnny. Both of those lenses should work great with the MFT model. I used them with the EOS MOdel and added an adapter. Using that adapter I had vignetting at 12mm on the 8-64, and 20mm on the 11.5-138. The MFT would bring the lenses closer to the sensor and you will have less vignetting. Thanks for the comment and support.

  28. A1 3 years ago

    Any rolling shutter issues? This is what has stopped me buying this camera.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      A1. Yes it does exhibit some rolling shutter with quick pans.

  29. Augusto Silva 3 years ago

    Hi Shane:

    I was very excited at first when they first announced the BMCC and pre-ordered one. After that and because I didn´t get any news about the actual delivery (and work kept pouring in) I bought the C100 and 1DC to pair with my range of Canons (5DMKIII, 7D) and the GH3. Now I am at the point and due to the terrible delivery dates and because I also had plenty of time to think it over I wonder if it would still be worth getting the BMCC? What are your thoughts? Apart from RAW will it give me any other advantage?

    Thank you Shane and congratulatios on your work.

  30. John Sprung 3 years ago

    Hi, Shane —

    Another blogger suggested that the BMCC might not have a strong enough OLPF. Have you tested it for moire patterns?

  31. Josh 3 years ago

    hi shane

    when i open the dng file in the raw reader ,first of all it comes in a rec 709 color file.

    why will the rec 709 color come at first?

    thanx for your answer.

    greets from switzerland, josh

  32. tom 3 years ago

    You crossed the 180.

  33. sinan mert bakır 3 years ago

    hi shane, first thanks for comments.
    i will take the bmcc or 5D mark III. can u compare them please. meanwhile i am documantary director.and i want to learn another thing that, bmcc’s lens and sensor is different equality. what can you say that issue? what kind notebook must i use with DaVinci Raw.
    if you informate , i will be happy.
    sincerely yours

  34. John 3 years ago

    Sorry if this was answered already, but did you use an EF or MFT?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      John. I used the EF Black Magic Cinema Camera.

  35. Aaron 3 years ago

    Amazing Review! Since the new Black Magic Cinema Camera 4K with EF mount and 35mm super sensor was announced. Do you think this same set-up would work for it? What kind of PL zoom lenses do you recommend?

  36. Wilmot Kidd 3 years ago

    Great article Shane! & great blog & great rental house! I used a 5dmkii package with Leica r primes from you guys! Great results for our iamaiko video.

    When metabones focal length reducer comes out for micro four thirds, it’ll be awesome to try with this camera, no?

  37. Paul Abrahams 2 years ago

    Shot my first Live band over the weekend with the BMCC, I was stuck 20 feet from stage and used a Samyang 35mm locked off while I shot with a canon 60D and a Sigma 70-200 (2.8) on another borrowed tripod, trying to zoom and pull focus bare hand with a VF stuck to my face for an hour was an experience. Had both cameras at about f/3.5. Not sure how well the Canon footage will cut in with the BM but having a zoom at that range was really useful. Picked up a used Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 that will be superb on the BM. I got a few other EF-S lenses to off load in favour of more Zeiss. Teaching myself Davinci, will come back with a link to the final grade/edit if I’m not too embarrassed. lol

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Paul Abrahams, that all sounds great. Thank you so much for sharing.

  38. Manu 2 years ago

    gonna starting my new film with bmcc2.5k
    can i get more tricks res,

  39. Sabrina 2 years ago

    Hi. Im planning on buying the BMCC and i wanna ask what lenses you could recommend for me since I’m planning on using the camera just for school films and stuff. I dont need the complex stuff just the basic needs so I could produce a decent looking short film. Thanks!

  40. Joe 2 years ago

    Hey Thanks for the information, I wanted to ask. I’m considering buying a Black Magic to shoot short films with, which would you say is the best lens for the Black Magic?

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Joe, the BMCC is a weird bird of a camera with the 4/3 sensor size. I am waiting for the 4K BMCC which will have a Super 35mm sensor size, where we can use all the lenses that we are accustom to.

  41. Anthony 2 years ago

    Is the BMCC that your using 4K? Also what would you prefer to use BMCC over a film camera? Lets say a Panaflex Millennium XL? Just out of curiosity are you a anamorphic person?

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Anthony, the BMCC has been the 2.5K camera, I would choose film over the BMCC. Would love to shoot anamorphic but have not.

  42. John 2 years ago

    Hey Shane,

    Now that Need For Speed is out, would you mind putting up some more your BMCC footage from the camera test?

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      John, yes we can do that. Will work on it, thanks for the support

  43. Sportengr 1 year ago

    Hello sir,

    I’d like to buy this camera, but one thing I need to confirm, is this camera HD or SD.

    and also please send the features about this item, it will be very helpful for me to buy this camera.


  44. Jon 1 year ago

    Hi Shane

    Thank you for all the info here. I especially like your post about using those 90s 16mm film lenses on the BBCC. How about the Blackmagic Production Camera, would you recommend any 35mm lenses from the same period?


  45. Mechelin 11 months ago

    Am interested in buying black magic for my production, l based in Lagos Nigeria. Thanks

    • Author
      Shane 11 months ago

      You’re welcome Mechelin, I am glad to help!

  46. Amit Kharbanda 8 months ago

    Hi Shane, I would like to shoot one of my film on this camera because of budget restrain, mostly its an outdoor shoot in the hills of Himalayas and may be on the beaches of GOA in India, the sole purpose of the film is to release in the theater not on TV…do you recommend this camrea for this film.. your views are very valuable for me…and if yes which Black Magic camera I should go for…

    • Author
      Shane 5 months ago

      Yes, I think that camera would deliver amazing images.

  47. Elle 7 months ago

    So i know this is really late, but I was wondering, what else should i buy, besides the camera itself.
    should i buy lenses and filters as well? and whatever else i need? (newbie)

  48. Dante 4 months ago

    Hello Shane,

    I have a question regarding DaVinci Resolve. Currently my computer is a 2010 MBA with 4gb ram. I realize that it is not up to snuff to run Resolve. What I want to know is can I ingest prores 422 straight into FCPX? Although it would be great to run 12 bit, I feel as a film student it might be overkill.

    Dante John Fekete

    • Author
      Shane 4 months ago

      Yes, ProRes 422 works natively with FCPX.

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