Pocket Cinema Camera: first look at RAW

Here are some early tests on the CinemaDNG option that will be in the next firmware update voor de Pocket camera. 
Please note that these tests are done with beta software and might not be the same on the final version. Still it is nice to see the progress made.

Blackmagic calls this mode RAW although striclty speaking it is not. It is a Cinema DNG format with a light compression. This way it fits on the SDcards.
Since it is pretty demanding it currently seems to work only the fastest cards available like the Sandisk Extreme Pro 95mb/s.. I have tested it on the 64GB versions.

Switching RAW has to be done in the menu and takes a few seconds for the camera to switch , after that you can keep working as before. The preview on the screen can still be set to Film or Video mode.
You don't need to switch cards but the playback is limited (in the beta version) to the format selected. It simply does not see the previous recorded ProRes files if you are in RAW mode.
Raw will take more space so a 64gb card will roughly be about 15 minutes of recording but it should give you a bit more room to play in post. Color correction and keying should be a bit easier since you move up from 10 bit to a 12 bit file format.

Although the camera is natively 800 ISO I have done my tests also on 200 to see if it helps the noise. In theory it should not make a difference but in the real world it does. Still have to do some extended tests to see if you loose in the highlights. For the moment I see less noise at 200 ISO but more artifacts coming up than in the 800 ISO version.

For Keying the RAW seems a little bit better but in general it is not easy to pull a good key from this camera. 

I believe most people should judge tests on their own so I have made some exports from Resolve to TIFF. That way you can open it in Photoshop and zoom in as fas as you want to go. The RAW material is a bit darker but I left it original. 

For keyshots: DNG at 200 and 800 ISO and ProRes 422 at 200 and 800 ISO. Greycard to judge the (color) noise, my messy hair to compair keying. (Special request from a posthouse. :-)

Klik on the picture to download a ZIP file with the TIFF files.

thumb BMKey DNG800LUT

For the less technical minded a small example why you would like to shoot LOG or RAW:

Simple test in the garden, shot with ProRes LOG and ProRes Rec709 (called video in the BMPCC) and of course DNG (called RAW in the camera)

I have loaded them in Resolve and here are three examples without correction, only a LUT to get the LOG to LIN conversion: (click on the thumbnail to see the full size)

Garden 1.1.1Garden 1.2.1Garden 1.3.1

Already you see how different they react in the shadows, highlights and saturation.
With some correction you can get them pretty close but to demonstrate the strength I have pulled down the highlights to show what was still left in the sky:

Garden 1.1.2Garden 1.2.2Garden 1.3.2

The weather did change a little bit in between the shots but it clearly shows why you should use LOG and maybe RAW. It also nicely shows the 13 stop range the camera has, detail in the shadow as well in the sky on a sunny day.

I come from Alexa, Sony, RED and Film camera's and I always correct my material. For me it is a natural workflows but this might not count for all Pocket Camera users.

It is always nice to have more options, even if they make only a small difference. Per production you will have to make the judgement if it is worth to shoot RAW (and pay the price for more cards and post storage).

Blackmagic is still working on improving the RAW mode and many more things. It is great it all comes in such a reasonable priced little camera.