As you may have seen, this new US$995 video/digital film camera was announced this week at the NAB show. Blackmagic has been making waves for a while with some interesting cameras that seem more budget conscious than even Red.
The Pocket Cinema Camera is about the size of micro Four-Thirds models like the Olympus E-PL5 or the Panasonic GF6 (also announced this week), but it doesn't do still photography.
It does 1080p video in a way that it's a film maker's tool. It's easy to imagine two of these mounted to the front of a car to give easy interior shots. The thing that's confusing to most people so far is that it is a video/digital film device. I've seen several people want to buy it simply because it's small and light and will use their lenses. Then, they learn that it's very different, and they seem almost betrayed. :D The Super 16mm format of the sensor is the main problem for those people because it's smaller than the current Four-Thirds format. What's good for cinema isn't so good for still photography.
This would be a perfect tool for me because, having had an Olympus E-5 since November 2011 and having had a Panasonic GH3 for a month or two, I haven't touched video at all. Obviously, I should waste US$995 on something I may never use, simply because of its excellence. Of course, I need to learn to use the video to augment my photography but it's not high on my list.
I know that film makers were using the GH2 for video and the GH3 came along to make things better and easier but how does this new camera body change things for Panasonic? It's about US$300 cheaper than the GH3 and doesn't have anything to do with still photography. (Not that the GH3 is a great stills camera body, but it is more than just serviceable.) Panasonic has been grooming the GH3 to supplant the Canon 5DMkIII and it does similar functionality for less.
The Pocket Cinema Camera is important for other reasons. It gives Carl Zeiss another product with which its cine lenses can be used. Schneider may at some time produce the 3 promised lenses and they'll be welcomed by the industry, moreso than the casual photographers who generally use micro Four-Thirds equipment. As much as I'd love to use US$20,000 zoom lenses on my equipment, I have so far drawn the line at US$2500, although I might go somewhat higher for greater focal length, namely the ZD 90-250mm f/2.8.
If micro Four-Thirds has not become everyone's darling format, it's because of the casual photographer who would rather buy equipment than learn to use equipment to its fullest. Yes, there are times when you can't walk closer to your subject, but when you can't get a decent photo out of any of your lenses, your equipment isn't the problem. I've been know to be inflexible and I have struggled with a point-and-shoot. However, I started with a box camera, a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, and I know how to walk, and sometimes, I know how to imagine what I want.
I'm guessing that this new camera will feed the imagination of young film makers who will rush to buy inexpensive bits and pieces and make quality films with (relatively) very little money. It's exciting!