Finally! Today, Blackmagic Design announced the release of firmware update 1.9 for the Production Camera 4K, delivering long-awaited features such as audio meters, SSD record time remaining and a histogram - all in a semi-transparent "heads up display" at the bottom of the screen.
This update was important enough to Blackmagic Design that CEO Grant Petty shot a hands-on video to showcase the new features: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/video/1446
Sadly, this update is not yet available for long-suffering Blackmagic Cinema Camera owners or for the entry-level Pocket Cinema Camera, but Blackmagic assures us that this upgrade will roll out for the other cameras in the Blackmagic line over the next few weeks.
Here's the press release:
Blackmagic Design announces new “heads up display” for Blackmagic Production Camera 4K
Fremont, CA - July 24, 2014 - Blackmagic Design today announced the immediate availability of Camera 1.9 software which includes new “heads up display” on screen metering that provides customers with histogram, peak audio meters and recording time remaining for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.
Camera 1.9 update is available now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.
Using these additional displays for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K means that customers can easily and quickly check important camera settings such as exposure, audio level and the remaining space on their recording disk.
Using the histogram scope, customers can now easily and rapidly set exposure in a shot as the histogram shows the the distribution of luminance in their images and if highlights or shadows are being clipped. Images with clipped highlights or shadows make it much harder to color grade the shots in post production, so having the histogram feature helps DOP’s shoot with confidence. The histogram scope is real time so highlights and shadows can be adjusted interactively with the lens setting, ensuring images are not clipped and maximum detail in tonal ranges is preserved, critically important for allowing colorists to create amazing grading effects in post production using the full contrast range of the camera.
Camera 1.9 software update also includes a new audio metering with peak hold feature to allow setting audio levels for Channels 1 and 2 when using the built in microphone as well as externally connected audio sources. The audio meters make it fast to view audio levels and adjust camera audio gain so that audio is not clipped or distorted.
The new heads up display also includes a recording time remaining indicator that shows remaining space on the recording disk. The time remaining indicator is automatically re-calibrated to ensure an accurate time remaining value if the either the frame rate or codec are changed, and displays red when the disk is getting full.
This update is available to our Blackmagic Production Camera 4K customers free of charge. Customers can download this update now and install it onto their camera from either Mac or Windows computers using a simple USB cable connection to the camera. Once the update is complete, customers can view the new on screen menus by simply swiping their finger up from the bottom of the capacitative touch screen.
This new heads up display will be released for other models of Blackmagic Design cameras over the coming weeks, so an even wider range of Blackmagic Design camera customers can get the benefits of this new display.
“We are extremely excited that we have been able to provide yet another release for our camera customers ,” said Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design. “Having this new heads up display with on screen scopes will enable film makers to shoot the most amazing images with confidence that they will get incredible results in post production!”
Another hat tip to Blackmagic Design for making these amazingly capable and affordable cameras more usable - but it would have been nice to have these basic features built-in when they were shipped.
That said, with these new updates, it may be time to take a fresh look at Blackmagic Cameras. The $2995 Production Camera 4K is still the least expensive UHD Super 35mm RAW camera on the market with a "no-jello" global shutter and the Pocket Cinema Camera is now an unbelievable bargain at $495