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Blackmagic Studio Camera
by Mark Stopher
B lackmagic Design recently released
their new Studio Camera - it’s a small,
portable broadcast camera, intended
for live studio productions. There’s an HD
version that you can pick up for £1,289 and a
4K version is said to be shipping soon. At tv-bay we were
shooting some product demonstration videos in our studio -
so we put it to the test!
The main feature that grabs you on this camera is the
huge viewfinder on the back. It’s 10 inches and attached
completely to the body - so it is fixed on the same axis as the
lens. Now, Blackmagic wanted this to feel ergonomic - so
you don’t have to look higher up, or to the side to see what
you’re shooting. I get that, it feels pretty natural. However
– it offers no way of tilting the screen - it’s rock solid. For a
vertically challenged (cough) operator like myself, it makes it
a bit difficult when the camera needs to be higher up. There
is a significant hood covering the screen.
The camera is very light, and seriously small - which makes
it great for a portable kit. The body itself is magnesium alloy
- damn strong and it looks nice. I felt like the menu controls
would have been nicer as touch-screen, but apparently
Blackmagic didn’t want to add that kind of coating to the
monitor - to reduce glare. The actual menu is nice - it gives
you plenty of options like zebra and focus peaking, but can
be challenging to navigate as the buttons themselves feel a
little soft, and need to be pushed quite hard, a longer term
test would be interesting to see how they would serve being
used every day.
There is no inbuilt recording on the camera, it is intended
specifically for live use - Blackmagic suggest using their
HyperDeck Shuttle for capture. This would also allow
playback of what you just recorded, through their PGM input.
That’s cool. You could also display your program feed during
a live show via the SDI in. You just hit the PGM button, and it
pops up! In our case we used an Atomos Samurai Blade to
capture our footage - and it still worked well.
In terms of connectivity, it has SDI in/out, optical in/out and
LANC for remote controlling some lenses. I really liked the
fact that it has 2 phantom powered XLR inputs - we had a
radio lapel mic on one, and a shotgun mic on the other. The
camera also has built in talkback - embedded in the SDI
or optical connection - so you don’t have to run separate
cables. It has a general aviation headset connection on the
side - useful. It also has a nice illuminated tally on the front,
and back. However, tally is done via the SDI return link - this
is a non-configurable signal which the ATEM sends - so you
can’t integrate the tally functionality with any other switcher
which is a bit of a shame.
I believe you then need the Blackmagic Studio Converter
if you actually want to use the optical fiber or SDI to add
talk-back functionality with multiple Studio Cameras. You
could also use it for a single camera. The Studio Converter
66 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 92 AUGUST 2014