For a monitor, I've chosen the BlackMagic Design Video Assist 5" LCD which also doubles as a ProRes Video Recorder. It's small, and I can simultaneously record RAW in camera while recording Prores to the BMVA. This is handy if you want a backup recording, or if you want to record proxy files in real time.
But adding a full frame Canon EF mount lens ends up being too big for the body, and so you'll need to add some height at the base of the camera. For this i've mounted the cage to a quick release baseplate with 15mm rails. This baseplate works with popular Manfrotto 501PL plates. So I can quickly detach the whole cage from the base if needed and go right to a monopod with a smaller setup, or with the 15mm rails I can add things like a Kamerar Follow Focus or MatteBox.
Just to make it easier for handheld work, i've run a single 15mm Rail horizontally over the cage. On the right side i've added a 15mm Handle, and on the left side of the rail i've mounted the Video Assist Monitor using 15mm Pico Plates in such a way that makes it easy to tilt forward and back. That's pretty much the basic setup, if you guys have any questions let me know.
If you're not a fan of the new BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera, this video is most likely going to bore you. So you may want to skip this post. But if you're currently shooting with the BMMCC (and as obsessed as I am), i'm pretty sure you'll find this post super helpful - especially the part where I share a little of my DIY Remote Handle setup.
First let's talk a little about 'Why this BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera?'. Simply put, it's under $1K and offers RAW video up to 60p. And it's incredibly tiny! No other camera offers this, and I love the color science. But it's not an easy camera to operate handheld as there is no screen and the menu is deep for changing small settings.
Originally frustrated with the handling and controls of this camera - my combination of parts and custom button mapping has allowed me to just grab this camera and shoot. It's now a camera I can enjoy shooting with. There's obviously no right way to rig a camera, and this is just how i've assembled it for my personal taste. For those asking, the 15mm rod above my BMMCC is held in place with a Pico Plate (below).
If you're looking to really run small, you can opt for using native Micro Four-Thirds lenses (instead of my Full Frame Rokinon Cinema lenses) or even the Veydra MFT Cinema Primes. You can also shrink your monitor down with something lighter, thinner, and smaller like the SmallHD 501. That would really make this BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera a super portable system.
Rigged BMMCC size compared to Panasonic DVX100a
There are some benefits to using the BlackMagic Design Video Assist as a monitor though. I can set the internal recording to RAW, but if I decide to shoot in a lower format like ProRes, I can do that from the BMVA (without having to change in camera). Or I can record simultaneously RAW (in camera) and ProRes LT (in BMVA) for some quick proxy files to share or have a backup.
By the way, the Video Assist monitor doesn't add any controls with it's touch screen. It simply works as a Monitor and an HDMI Recorder. You can't communicate with the BMMCC.
Obviously they wanted to use small batteries on this camera to minimize the weight for Drone use, but I'm very happy with my Sony to Canon LP-E6 mod. It's a great way to add extra run time without adding an external battery system like a V-Mount. And I would hate to have to use their breakout cable which is a mess, and then have to input a 12V source. With my mod, it feels like i'm just using a bigger Canon battery, and i'm still using 7V.
The battery mod also allows me to power both camera and one extra accessory at 7.4V using my SWIT battery. Instead of using the 12V input on the Video Assist monitor, i'm using a Canon LP-E6 dummy battery to use basic 7V. (I really did put a lot of thought into this setup).
Hopefully the video explained how i'm creating changes in the camera in a way you can understand. When you join the two wires together from the analog PWM input, it sends a signal to change a setting. This works on many of the options, but not everything. For some items (like iris, focus) you'll need true PWM. The other 'con' if you will is that you can't go backwards. Not really a big deal as it's still much easier than diving into the menu for every small change.
I really wish BlackMagic Design would expand these PWM options to include changing FrameRates and changing from RAW to ProRes. That would really complete this camera, and many companies can create simple remote handles to control almost every aspect. They allow the use of S.Bus which means you can expand even further from the 4 basic analog inputs and control up to 18 more settings through a single channel input.
In any case, i'll stop rambling and hopefully this post has been helpful to other BMMCC shooters. If you're thinking about picking one up, it would be great if you consider DVEStore.com as they were the ones who put this camera into my hands to study, spend countless hours on, and share this information with you guys.
Oh and BTW, i'm far from done. I'm already designing an entire rig around this camera based on my setup, including a remote handle to operate some of the settings i've show in this video. A complete rig that will allow other BMMCC shooters to just add a camera + monitor and start shooting with similar ergonomics as a camcorder. So if this is something you're interested in seeing, simply like or share this post. It will let me know if it's something I should spend some time on.
Just testing some different color grades using RAW footage from the new BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera. This was shot in compressed 3:1 RAW on a Sandisk Card in 60p and then conformed in FCPX. I originally thought you couldn't shoot RAW in 60p on this camera, but that was because I was trying Full RAW. If you set it to RAW 3:1 (compressed RAW), then you can definitely do 60p.
The camera is a bit quirky without an LCD screen or Grip, so you need to add a few things to it to make it functional. But in such a small package it's amazing to get 60fps 12-bit RAW Video for under $1K. No other camera offers this. I can only imagine the quality people will get flying this on Drones (as it was originally intended for). Or even just used for car mount projects as this camera is tiny but packs incredible quality.
The BMMCC is very sharp, but my images in the video (above) are soft because I forgot to bring a good ND Filter and needed to stop the Panasonic 20mm lens down to F/16 (max). This lens is typically sharp around F/2.2 or so, and stopping it down (from bright daylight) really makes the images soft (Most lenses will be softer when at it's widest aperture or stopped down). I'll have to go out and shoot again, this time with a better lens and ND filter.
Obviously the #BMMCC #Blackmagic #MicroCinema camera is not designed to be as sensitive in low light as the Sony A7s, but at ISO 1600 it's not too shabby. As long as you can get your exposure set properly and push everything down in post, noise shouldn't be too much of an issue. It's when you shoot underexposed and then decide on trying to push up the Shadows, Mids, or Highlights that you'll see a big problem. Instead you should be setting your exposure so that your know in post you will be pushing down your Highlights, Mids, and Shadows. If you can't set your exposure, you'll have to light your scene. Personally I think I would stick to ISO 800 as much as possible, but here's a test at ISO 1600 where I felt I was still shooting underexposed, and you can see some of that noise.
BTW, if you have a decent set of headphones or speakers listen to the Stereo Audio recorded by Azden's new SMX30 which is two microphones in one! So handy to be able to switch from a directional microphone for focused sound, or to Stereo to capture natural ambient sound. Unlike a mono audio track, you can actually hear the people walking from one side to the other, or cars driving by.