This is the news that a lot of Blackmagic Camera users have been waiting for. It's what amounts to a complete rewrite of the code base for the Blackmagic cameras
The need to do this has held up several new and improved features. Not all the cameras were running the same base software and now it seems that it has all been brought to the same point, which means that new features - where appropriate, given the physical capabilities of the cameras - can be rolled out across all of them.
Nevertheless, there have been some very specific fixes and improvements in this version 1.8, as it is being called.
There's a long and detailed press release from Blackmagic that explains all of this, and we've reproduced it on the next page, but here's a summary:
The update, known as Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8, is available now for download free of charge, from the Support page on the Blackmagic website.
It's a completely new code base and runs across all the cameras, including the very earliest ones.
It improves performance across the board and brings a new, more modern-looking interface.
The look of the new interface is similar to the new URSA 4K camera, which is not yet available.
The new software supports enchanced lens control for EF Lenses, on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the Blackmagic Production Camera. What this means is that customers can now autofocus by pressing the focus button on Active EF lenses. As Blackmagic says, this is essential when working in in 4K. With this change, focus peaking is enabled by double pressing the focus button.
Focus peaking itself is improved and is now an easier to see green colour.
For the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera, there are major improvements including better audio and a rewritten de-bayer processor, which, Blackmagic claims, will give ProRes and DnxHD recordings sharper and cleaner results. Some of this has been possible by borrowing DaVinci Resolve's technology.
The new software has even extended the dynamic range of the original Cinema Camera.
The improvements extend to the Pocket Cinema Camera. You'll see changes in de-bayer quality, focus peaking and active MFT lens support, including those by Sigma and Lumix.
There's a lot to take in here so we've reproduced the entire Blackmagic Press Release below, followed by a video with Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO, talking about the new software update.
Blackmagic Design Announces Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8
Fremont, CA - 24 June, 2014 - Blackmagic Design today announced the release of Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8 software which includes updated features for all Blackmagic Design cameras. Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8 is available now for download free of charge for all existing Blackmagic Camera customers from the Blackmagic Design support page on the website.
The new Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8 software features a completely new code base for all Blackmagic digital film cameras so provides a foundation for new features. This update supports the original wide dynamic range 2.5K Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.
This all new code base also improves performance and includes a new modern user interface similar in design to the new URSA camera announced at NAB. This new user interface is included in all models of cameras available from Blackmagic Design, allowing a nice clean fresh look.
Blackmagic Camera 1.8 adds compressed RAW DNG support for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K model, and this allows RAW recording in real time so all sensor data can be captured allowing more range and much higher image quality when doing post production and color grading. DaVinci Resolve 11, also available today, fully supports RAW grading and rendering to final output direct from the RAW camera original files. This means customers get incredible first generation masters, with a solution that edits RAW files as easily and as responsively as a normal video file.
New features in this update include enhanced lens control support for EF lens mount cameras such as the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF and the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K models. This means customers can now get auto focus when pushing the focus button on active EF based lenses and the cameras will mathematically analyze the center of the image and optimize the focus for maximum sharpness.
This is important with high resolution 4K cameras where images are so sharp that accurate focus is critical for the best results. Because this update uses the focus button for auto focus, the focus peaking feature is now enabled by double pressing the focus button.
This release also improves the focus peaking display allowing incredibly accurate and super sharp manual focus, critical when using cine lenses. The focus peaking is now green in color so it’s much easer to see, and the filters generating the edge peaking have been optimized allowing for better detection and display for maximum sharpness. In addition, the iris control has been changed, due to customer request, to hold its setting between record and playback.
This new Blackmagic Camera 1.8 also includes major improvements for the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera models including improved audio performance and a completely rewritten new higher quality de-bayer processor. This new de-bayer means when customers record to normal video files such as ProRes or DNxHD they will get sharper and cleaner looking images. This new de-bayer processing features algorithms that have been incorporated from DaVinci Resolve, which means that Blackmagic camera customers get the benefit of DaVinci Resolve’s research and development in image processing and its partnership with major Hollywood studios.
Other benefits for the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes enhancements to the cameras dynamic range when sooting at 1600 ISO. This means, with this new software update, customers will get even more dynamic range and image quality, free of charge, even if they purchased their camera 2 years ago.
Improvements for the Pocket Cinema Camera are also included in this update, including the modern updated interface, new focus peaking and improved de-bayer quality, plus additional active MFT lens support for lenses including Sigma and Lumix.
“We have been working very hard to incorporate camera feature requests that customers have been sending us” said Grant Petty CEO Blackmagic Design “There are major changes and improvements in this update and we are very excited to see the wonderful creative work done with the benefit of this software. Of course, we are working very hard on more features we want to add into our cameras and you will see more and more of what we have been working on in updates that will be release over the upcoming months.”
1.8 adds compressed RAW DNG support to the Blackmagic Production Camera, which is the 4K model, which allows raw recording in real time.