Lenses and Accessories for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera
By Jeff Lee, Updated Monday, 28 October 2013
A great deal of interest was generated at NAB by the announcement of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, a 2.5k-capable (2432×1366) camera that records directly to SSDs. Recording 2.5k content as CinemaDNGs or 1080 HD content as ProRes or DNxHD, the Cinema Camera certainly offers some unique possibilities at an affordable price point. In this article, we present the various accessories and lens options that can be used with the camera.
Lens Adapters | Lenses | Support Systems | Viewfinders & On-board Monitors | Batteries & Power Options | Additional Accessories
Nikon F to Canon EF
The Blackmagic Cinema Camera uses the Canon EF mount, and adapters are available from NovoFlex that allow Nikon lenses to be mounted to the camera. These adapters are strictly mechanical, so all control functions are handled directly on the lens. The NovoFlex adapter for Nikon lenses features an iris control ring for Nikon “G” series lenses that does not include aperture control.
Canon EF Cinema Prime Lenses
Canon has announced that they will be releasing three EF mount Cinema Prime Lenses. Available as a 24mm T1.5, 50mm T1.3, and 85mm T1.3, these newly designed primes will provide coverage for a full-frame 4K sensor with an 11-blade aperture design and a 114mm front diameter for consistency. The new EF Cinema Prime lenses are compatible with all Canon EOS HDSLRs, as well as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Pricing and availability will be announced soon.
Canon EOS Lenses
The ever-expanding line of Canon EOS lenses are all supported on the Cinema Camera. From specialty lenses like the various tilt-shift options, to fast f/1.2 primes, there are over 60 Canon EF lenses to choose from. For versatility, our perennial favorites include the 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70m f/2.8, and the 70-200mm f/2.8. Of course, as the Cinema Camera’s body only weighs 3.75 pounds, the 17-40mm f/4, 24-105mm f/4, and 70-200 f/4 lenses are great lightweight options for the run-and-gun shooter.
Available in Nikon F or Canon EF mount, the popular Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 is one of the widest zoom lenses available on the market. As constant aperture lenses, the 11-16 f/2.8 and the complimentary 16-28 f/2.8 are great choices for the versatility they offer.
Zeiss Compact Zoom CZ.2
Introduced at NAB 2012, the new Zeiss Compact Zoom family is designed to complement the CP.2 range. The first lens in the series is the 70-200 T2.9, an 18-blade aperture lens with interchangeable mounts (including Canon EF). The CZ.2 will cover full frame cameras (24mmx36mm), which makes it a versatile option for those shooting with multiple cameras, including full frame HDSLRs.
Zeiss ZE or ZF.2 Lenses
Zeiss designed these high quality lenses for the still photography world, but they also work very well for video and are available in Nikon F (ZF.2) or Canon EF (ZE) mount. If using the Nikon mount ZF.2 lenses, you’ll need to use the Novoflex EF to Nikon adaptor. The ZF.2 lenses have manual aperture rings and both the ZF.2 and ZE lenses have focus rings with hard stops, which makes pulling focus much easier. There are many ZF.2 different lenses to choose from, including 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 50mm macro, 85mm, and 100mm. Zeiss ZE lenses are available in 18mm, 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 50mm macro, and 100mm macro. The lenses vary in size and speed, but they all match in terms of color and contrast.
Because of its rather unique design, the Cinema Camera cannot be hand-held in the traditional manner. Wooden Camera is one of the first to develop a system that incorporates a cage that can be used as handles suitable for hand-held work. The Wooden Camera Cage integrates with their new lightweight baseplate and various top handle options, which makes for a nice complete package.
Shape WLB expands on the cage idea with several shoulder mount kits centered around their new Blackmagic Handheld Cage. The Blackmagic Shoulder Mount and Shoulder Mount Offset both utilize the popular Quick Handle system, providing a convenient and easy-to-adjust shoulder mount option. The Shape Handheld cage comes with 15mm rod mounts, which make attaching matteboxes and follow focus units a breeze.
OConnor’s Universal Baseplate is a versatile baseplate solution that fits the Cinema Camera perfectly. In addition to the standard center tripod mounting points, the universal baseplate was designed with offset bridgeplates in mind – if you plan on using larger lenses that require 19mm support, the universal baseplate is a great starting point.
If you’re looking for a low-profile cage, the Contineo Cage from View Factor offers a streamlined solution that doesn’t add any width to the camera profile. Consisting of multiple 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 mounting points all around, the Contineo also includes a 15mm rod mount bracket for top or bottom iris rods.
There are several support kits made specifically for the Cinema Camera, but the Universal Baseplate and Mini Baseplate will also provide the platform you need for matteboxes and follow focus units. Because the camera is wider than it is long, the Mini Baseplate tends to be a better match. However, if you are interested in a pre-packaged support system, Zacuto has several kits available like the Striker Gunstock Kit, Stinger Shoulder Mounted Kit, and the simpler Tripod Kit. Many of the kits include the new Blackmagic Top Handle; the Ultra Lite Kit builds on the Top Handle and adds top iris rods. The new Horizontal Zwiss plate allows for additional battery mounting options and is included with the Tripod Kit.
Blackmagic has optional low-profile handles for basic handheld work.
Viewfinders & On-Board Monitors
If you’re using the Cinema Camera on an offset shoulder rig, a nice alternative to the built-in LCD screen is the Alphatron EVF-035W-3G. The Alphatron utilizes a high resolution, 3.5″ 960×640 screen and can be mounted to the various 1/4-20 mounting points on the body with a Noga arm or Zacuto Zamerican Arms and Zacuto ZicroMounts. The Alphatron EVF utilizes Sony “L” batteries and can accept an SDI input, as well as an HDMI input.
With a high-resolution 1280×800 screen, the TVLogic VFM-056WP 5.6″ monitor is a great tool for anyone using the Cinema Camera. Other features include a waveform monitor, vectorscope, peaking and false color.
Batteries & Power Options
The Cinema Camera relies on a non-removable internal battery that will provide power for 90 minutes before requiring a recharge. Switronix’s PowerBase is an inexpensive 70Wh battery with a regulator module that can attach to the bottom of the camera or any female 1/4-20 mount. In addition to powering the camera, the PowerBase also provides two P-Tap ports for additional on-board accessories. If you prefer to use standard VLock style batteries, the GP-S-BMCC battery plate provides two P-Tap outputs in addition to the Cinema Camera DC connector.
View Factor has a battery plate with integrated power cable for the Cinema Camera available in Anton Bauer gold mount or IDX V-mount configurations. Both of these battery plates can mount to various systems, including the Zacuto Zwiss Plate or horizontal Zwiss plate, and the Anton Bauer Matrix plate.
The Cinema Camera has two 1/4″ balanced audio input jacks, so to use XLR microphones you’ll need an adapter of some sort. While there are various adapters and XLR to 1/4″ cable options, Wooden Camera has a sleek solution called the A-Box, which mounts to any 19mm rod. The A-Box includes a 19mm bolt-on rod that you can attach to any mounting point via a 1/4-20 screw. Note that neither the camera or A-Box provide phantom power.
If you’re looking for a straightforward follow focus, the Genus Superior and Zacuto Z-Focus follow focus units have been very popular. If you’d like to have some additional controls, the Arri MFF-2 is certainly worth considering. As an evolution to the MFF-1, the MFF-2 has inherited all its features but adds a few new ones as well. The MFF-2 is still reversible for use on lenses that may rotate “backwards,” but now gives you the ability to switch between three different focus knobs. The OConnor O-Focus Photo Set is a versatile solution with interchangeable knobs and the option for double sided operation. Both the Arri MFF-2 and OConnor O-Focus offer friction gear wheel options for photo lenses without gears.
If you’re using Canon “L” series lenses and want additional light control, having a lightweight mattebox like the Genus Wide Angle mattebox can be invaluable. With two 4×4 trays (single stage rotating), the Genus can be used on rods or clipped on with the various threaded adapter rings. Arri’s popular MMB-2 is available as a 4×4 and 4×4/4×5.65 or as a slightly heavier double 4×5.65 system and can accommodate 114mm lenses directly. For larger lenses, or if you’re looking for a heavy duty solution, OConnor’s popular O-Box will accommodate lenses up to a 150mm clamping diameter and includes two 4×4 and two 4×5.65 trays.
The Cinema Camera utilizes a standard LANC remote port, so there are several remote trigger options available on the market. While any LANC controller will allow for remote start & stop functionality, there are several LANC controllers that also allow for remote focus and iris control as well. The Bebob ZOE-DVXL and the Manfrotto MVR901EPLA have both been tested by Blackmagic.