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Review: Blackmagic Design Micro Studio Camera 4K

The Micro Studio Camera 4K is a Micro Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design designed specifically for use in a studio environment or in a broadcast setting, preferably paired with an ATEM 4K switcher. It features all of the stuff you'd want to have in a broadcast camera in a remarkably compact configuration.

In this review we’ll look at the Micro Studio Camera 4K, one in a series of Micro Cinema Cameras recently introduced by Blackmagic Design. The Micro Cinema line also includes a non-studio version that has onboard recording and is designed mainly for field production, not for a broadcast environment. This Micro Studio camera (Figure 1, below) is designed specifically for use in a studio environment or in a broadcast setting. It features SDI out, remote controls, and tally lighting--all of the stuff you’d want to have in a broadcast camera.


Figure 1. The Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K. Click the image to see it at full size.

The Micro Studio Camera is very small without a lens--only about the size of maybe a tennis ball (Figure 2, below). Even with the battery on it, it's still tiny and it doesn't weigh very much. It can go almost anywhere. It’s not quite GoPro-small, but it's still very compact. When you compare it to most broadcast studio cameras, it is microscopic.


Figure 2. The Micro Studio Camera body only.


The Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera has a wide variety of ports (Figure 3, below); most of them come out of the DB-HD15 expansion port on the side.


Figure 3. Micro Studio Camera I/O. Click the image to see it at full size.

The expansion port uses a cable that comes with your camera. Figure 4 (below) shows the “squid” at the other end of the cable, which does a variety of things. It provides 12V power to the camera; it can provide PTZ control to a tripod head; it can provide LANC for operating the lens from a tripod-mounted control. It's a very innovative way to keep the camera small but still provide all the connections you need especially in a broadcast environment.


Figure 4. The Blackmagic Squid expansion cable

The other thing that's a bit unusual and small about this is the SDI connector. SDI is the only output option of this camera for recording. The HDMI port, which is on the same side as the expansion port, is a standard-size HDMI but it is used only for local monitoring. You can’t use it to control the frame rate or frame size or anything like that. It's only for mounting an on-camera monitor because there's no built-in LCD on this. Where you’d normally find an LCD, you've got a battery. There is also a mini-DIN connector. It adapts to the standard BNC, and it's a snap-on connector with a collar. It clicks on and it locks on so it won't pull out. It still has the locking ability that most people swear by for BNC but it's a lot smaller than your standard SDI.

That allows Blackmagic to get two 1/8" diameter ports instead of having to have a very large opening for a full-size BNC. The other thing you'll find is support for intercom. There’s a microphone and a headset and a listening port that you can plug into your headset for your operator who is out in the field using the camera.

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