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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.

Power

For power the Micro Studio Camera uses the Canon LP-E6 batteries which you'll find on most of the newer Canon cameras, such as the 1Ds and the smaller Prosumer models like the 60D that I used to shoot the video that accompanies this review.

There's also a USB port on the bottom that you'll use for updating the firmware of the camera, which is done through an application that Blackmagic provides as a download from their website.

The camera also has three standard tripod-mount female threads here on the bottom and one on the top. If you're going to add a remote monitor for operating on the camera to see what's going on, you can thread it right into that. It's nice because then you can flip the camera however you'd like. Image flip is available for shooting in an inverted mode.

Menu Control

The menu is controlled with small buttons on the side. You've got menu, up, down, set and power on the bottom there. The menu's pretty straightforward. You can control all the camera settings for exposure, the frame rate and that sort of thing (Figure 5, below).

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Figure 5. Menu controls for the Micro Studio Camera. Click the image to see it at full size.

Cooling

The fins on the side allow ventilation for the fan inside the unit. Blackmagic probably included it due to the camera’s use of a first-generation 4K sensor, which produces a lot of heat. You can hear the fan when it kicks on, kind of like when you first boot up a computer. The fan goes to 100% speed right away then come back down.

Tally Lights

The tally light on the top of the Micro Studio Camera is white normally and it turns red when you switch to it from your switcher. It's getting all that through the BNC connection or the SDI connection.

Lens Selection

The Micro Studio Camera uses a Micro Four Thirds lens mount. Blackmagic is involved in the Micro Four Thirds consortium and this is the option they went with.

The advantage is that the camera uses a very small lens that allows Blackmagic to get a smaller diameter here and it gives them a good selection of lenses that are already available by other manufacturers (Figure 6, below).

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Figure 6. Micro Four Thirds lenses

However, there are not a lot of professional-grade Micro Four Thirds lenses available for video. The first lens I tried on this was a Panasonic Lumix lens which was a pretty long, telephoto zoom. It has a power zoom because I wanted to be able to use the remote capabilities of that lens. The Panasonic lens wouldn't work because even if I could zoom to a certain point and focus it, it wouldn't even focus throughout its entire range. If I zoomed all the way in or all the way out, I could not get the lens to focus at all. It was completely blurry. I had to remain in the center of the zoom range to get a clear image.

I ended up picking up a little Olympus lens. It's a 12-50mm and it does have power zoom although it's a bit noisy. Much more noisy than the camera itself and it worked great. It's a parfocal lens so I can focus all the way through the range.

It's actually a pretty good focal length for this camera. I found it's really nice and wide, and it's got a decent portrait length at the 50mm.

If you’re used to shooting with 35mm lenses, the other thing you're going to deal with when using Micro Four Thirds is that the lenses are going to have a different focal length conversion than 35mm. A 50mm on this camera is not going to be a 50mm in 35mm.

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