DSLR is dead!

Headline grabbing for sure, but is it true?

Well not dead perhaps, but DSLR has had its day. The nail in the coffin came from the new Black Magic Cinema Camera released this week (RRP $3k USD from July). It captures 2.5K (2432 x 1366) 12bit RAW footage with a claimed 13 stops of dynamic range on a sensor that is, at 16.64 x 14.04mm. It has a Canon EF mount and the compact body includes a capacitive touchscreen and a Thunderbolt connection. Aside form the sub £1k DSLR cameras like the 550D, I can see no reason to invest in a DSLR like the Canon 5D MkIII today.

Key features include

  • High resolution 2.5K sensor allows improved anti aliasing and reframing shots.
  • Super wide 13 stops of dynamic range allows capture of increased details for feature film look.
  • Built in SSD allows high bandwidth recording of RAW video and long duration compressed video.
  • Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software such as CinemaDNG 12 bit RAW, Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. No custom file formats.
  • Includes no custom connections. Standard jack mic/line audio in, BNC 3 Gb/s SDI out, headphone, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, LANC remote control and standard DC 12-30V power connection.
  • Capacitive touch screen LCD for camera settings and slate metadata entry.
  • Compatible with extremely high quality Canon EF and Zeiss ZF lenses.
  • Supports 2.5K and 1080HD resolution capture in 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps.
  • Thunderbolt connection allows direct camera capture via included Media Express software and supports live waveform monitoring via the included Blackmagic UltraScope software.
  • Includes a full copy of DaVinci Resolve 9.0 color grading software.

So would I buy one the Black Magic cameras? No. Not unless I needed a camera for work, say for corporate jobs where the kit would be used regularly – essentially repaying the investment within a year. For me, it’s better to borrow or rent one in short bursts, choosing to invest (if I have the money) in good quality lenses. All that said, adding free powerful grading software to the mix is a stroke of genius for Black Magic.

I look forward to seeing some real world footage though, to see how it performs when used ‘in anger’.

Remember, don’t get sucked into the fetish of kit – cameras and technology are all cool, but great stories, great scripts, great performances – this is what REALLY launches careers and drives audiences to your work. Sure, make it look pretty, but make sure you have substance to back up the sizzle.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
My movies www.LivingSpiritGroup.com
My Facebook www.Facebook.com/ChrisJonesFilmmaker
My Twitter @LivingSpiritPix

10 Responses to DSLR is dead!

  1. lars April 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    please don’t forget about sensor size!

  2. Guy Ducker April 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Agreed, that sensor size is a real disappointment, even though everything else is pretty impressive for the price.

    BUT… Has anyone actually seen any images shot by this camera? All the impressive spec in the world is meaningless unless it produces attractive images. It certainly should do with all that, but we shouldn’t take the quality for granted.

  3. shadowfilm April 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Sorry but not convinced. Sure specs look great on paper but either the test footage has been graded horribly or it doesn’t record good tones. Pretty soft too, seems softer than 720p. On top of that, with that sensor size you’re screwed if you want ultra wide, especially at fast apertures. I’d take a 5DIII with it’s reduced moire, better ISO performance, full frame sensor and sharper image (especially in post) any day. Plus it’s a top end stills camera. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hugely impressive to have RAW and great dynamic range at this price point, and even more amazing that it comes with the software but it’s final picture quality that counts. Neither camera is perfect. I hope the competition takes note but until I see some stellar footage from this I’ll remain sceptical.

  4. Jon Mills April 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    Love the kit you’ve got rather than lusting over kit you haven’t…

    • Chris April 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

      Great point Jon, agree 100% – better still, love the kit your mate owns!

  5. Mark Morris April 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    active sensor size is 15.6mm Four thirds is 17.3mm so the difference will hardly be noticeable.

    This camera has a better spec than the C300 F3 or the new FS700 In fact its more like an alexa.

    This is the camera that changed everything!

    Chris, I’d still say film isn’t dead and still part of a DP’s toolchest.

    I don’t think the DSLR’s are dead either. I do think they might have to consider coming down in price to below a £1000

    Isn’t it a great time though to be a DP who wants to own their own equipment Although have to feel sorry for those who already do. I think quite a few with vey expensive C300’s for example might be kicking themselves right now. Actually I’m so pleased to be broke enough not to be able to afford the gold plated stuff. The joy of being poor eh.

  6. Nick G April 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    First off, I am amazed with this camera! More shocking is the price point. Actually, most shocked about the EF mount!!!

    But, I’m about to buy a 5Dmkiii without flinching. In today’s market (although rapidly changing), Anything above 1080p is impractical to purchase. I see this as camera for serious indie film makers. Those who expect their films will be played in local theaters. I think the new 5Dmkiii is much more run & gun friendly. Which is something very important for me. I can’t do anything with this camera, I’d need a new editing rig and extra storage to operate it.

    Since I need a camera Asap. I have a few options 5Dii 7D 5Diii or D800 are my preferences. I am not one to hold onto gear. Everything I buy is an investment. The current plan is to buy the Mark3 and it should be the last 1080 camera I buy. I’ll be able to flip it in maybe 12-18 months to a photographer (some people are forgetting that DSLRs hold their value because of this)

    Because 2.5K playback is not realistic, this is not a 5Dmkiii killer. Yet.

    • Mark Morris April 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm #


      It’s a 2.5k sensor but the camera is 1080
      You have compressed recording too with Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD in 1920×1080 10-bit .

  7. Chris Hocking April 20, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    This is what Hitler thinks…

  8. Mark Morris April 20, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    Chris Hilarious!

    Hitler should remember its a camera. Manufacturers and technology will always move on and he forget the money it’s a tool.

    He’s been tooled.


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