Saturday, July 27, 2013

Waiting for the new Blackmagic Cameras - a perspective

It's been interesting, and a little entertaining, to read the comment sections on posts and fora discussing the delay in the ship dates for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema and Production Cameras.  For those who missed it, here is the official statement from Blackmagic (via Andrew Reid at eoshd):

"Blackmagic Design is making significant progress in production of the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. Full production manufacturing is underway on the Pocket Cinema Camera with first production units in final testing. This is inline with our initial expectations of the end of July and means the camera will start to ship in quantity during August. There are several weeks of work to do on Production Camera 4K before this will enter full production manufacturing, however we expect to ship the first quantities of this model before the end of August."

Andrew added this update later:

"We do our best to show off new products at shows like NAB and provide realistic dates these products will come to market. But a lot goes into getting products such as the new cameras to the stage where we’re completely happy with them and can put them into full production. The good news is that we’re pretty much on the schedule we said we’d be on. We said July for both cameras and we’re really not far behind that."
  "The Pocket Cinema Camera is now in full production. We have the final units in test now and expect it to be a matter of days or, at worst, a week or two before we’re ready to shift the camera out to customers. We’re in full product manufacture with the camera and there are no issues with it whatsoever. We have a considerable number of orders for the camera so it will take a period of time to fulfill all these orders."
As someone who has a Pocket Cinema Camera on pre-order, this does not concern me in the least.  Compared to the gap between promised and actual delivery dates for the RED Scarlet, Digital Bolex, Panasonic G6 (promised last month and just now arriving in quantity in North America) - and my months long waits for the Panasonic GH2 and GH3 - a few days is nothing.

The wait for the Production Camera is a little more substantial, and if I had a paying 4K gig in August I'd planned to use the camera on, I would certainly be a little frustrated.

But let's keep things in perspective.  A few days' wait for the Pocket Camera and a month for the Production Camera is nothing compared to the gap between promised and actual delivery dates for many other camera manufacturers, most notably RED, Panasonic and Digital Bolex.

Panasonic's challenges in getting product to market in North America are legend.  And it's happening again with the new G6, which was promised in June, but is just now (late July) arriving in quantity in North America - at a $50 markup from list.  What's up with that?

And then there's RED.  Does anyone remember the promise of "3K for $3K"?  I do.  I also remember the year+ later rollout of the Scarlet, which is a great camera, but not a $3000 camera by any stretch of the imagination.

I won't pile on the Digital Bolex folks, whom I admire, but there is clearly a huge gap between promise and reality with this camera.

And outside of the camera world, has anyone tried to get a new iOS or Nexus phone or tablet on the rollout date?

All of that said, Blackmagic is a real company with real products and a track record of delivering them (eventually).  All the talk about "deception" and that a delay on the new cameras will "bring down the company" is a little over the top, in my view.

For those who can wait a few weeks, and still need to get on the pre-order list, you can get the $995 Pocket Cinema Camera here, and the Production Camera bundled with handles for $3995 here.

For those who need 2.5K RAW now, you can get the original EF mount Cinema Camera from Amazon - and the MFT mount BMCC with handles from Adorama for $2995.

And a little reminder of what the "old" 2.5K RAW camera can do (Trip to Mexico, from Andrew Julian on Vimeo):

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