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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.

Shooting in Low Light

Another thing I found this camera struggles a bit with is low-light sensitivity. The sensor is a first-generation 4K sensor and I found, through conversations with Blackmagic and my own experience using it in a low-light environment, that I had to crank the gain up to 18dB and open the lens as wide as possible to get a usable image.

The way that I know this camera was struggling a bit with that low light was because I had two Sony CineAlta cameras sitting right next to it that the church I tested in uses every week for their services under similar lighting conditions that we were using at the time. The Sonys did not need any gain and they were open to a wider aperture, but the Micro Studio Camera required the largest aperture that I had which was only about 4-4.5, and 18dB of gain.

You shouldn't really need that normally but these 4K sensors, according to Blackmagic, do need more light than a 1080p sensor does today.

Pairing the Micro Studio Camera with an ATEM Switcher

Using this camera in a broadcast environment is going to have best results when you pair it with a Blackmagic ATEM switcher with it. Blackmagic supplied an ATEM Studio Switcher 4K with this camera for me to use and test with. That switcher has a lot of great capabilities. Using it in conjunction with this camera, I was able to manage all the remote controls with it. Lens, settings on the camera, and recording were all going through the ATEM via in-and-out SDI.

Note that if you plan to use this camera with an ATEM switcher--which is the recommended configuration--you’ll be working with both SDI and an out, so you're going to need two of those mini DIN connectors for your SDI to be able to work this camera to its full capabilities.

Along with the ATEM switcher, Blackmagic offers software that runs on Mac or PC and is available as a free download that allows you to control the camera from the switcher. The software has an interface that looks just like a switcher except it's on a computer (Figure 7, below). You can select your camera inputs with your mouse and you can control your camera settings, zoom, focus iris, and more remotely through the application.


Figure 7. Operating the ATEM Software Control

The Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K (body only) has an MSRP of $1,295. While it isn't going to be perfect for everyone, you won't be able to find another camera with these features at this size anywhere on the market right now.


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