Tag Archives: production

Blackmagic 4K tests: battery life, data and record time

Updated July 20, 2014 to reflect the addition of more ProRes codecs in firmware update 1.8.2

I wanted to share my recent little study with other 4K Blackmagic Production Camera users (and potential Blackmagic users), so that we can better understand the battery drain of this camera. Here are some of the questions I have asked:

  • How long will the Blackmagic 4K camera record on the internal battery?
  • How big of an impact does screen brightness have on battery life?
  • Does 4K resolution drain the Blackmagic camera’s battery more quickly than 1080p resolution?

I performed a series of tests where I charged the camera to 100% battery, unplugged it, hit record, and let the camera record until the battery died. I then removed the SSD and mounted it on my computer to see the clip’s duration and file size. Here are the results:

Blackmagic 4K Production Camera Battery life

All tests at 400 ASA, 180 degree shutter angle, 23.976 fps
CodecResolutionBrightnessRecord Duration
ProRes HQ1080p065 minutes
ProRes HQ1080p10055 minutes
ProRes HQ2160p067 minutes
ProRes HQ2160p10059 minutes
It’s fascinating to me to see the following:
  • 4K resolution drains the battery more slowly than 1080p resolution
  • 100% screen brightness only drains the battery 12-15% more quickly than 0% screen brightness

My guess is that the sensor is natively 4K, so the in-camera processor needs to work less than when scaling/debayering the image down to 1080p, therefore drawing less from the battery due to the decreased processor activity.

Also, here are the stats that my tests demonstrated regarding how large a 4K or 1080p clip can be expected to be, as well as how much time I can expect to fit on a 480 GB SSD drive:

Blackmagic 4K Production Camera file sizes and data rates

Note: All codecs with variable bit rate (VBR) will yield slightly different results depending on picture content and how it is compressed. Footage with more detail or movement will take up slightly more disk space.
 CodecResolutionFile size (GB/min)Data rate (mbits/sec)Minutes on 480 GB
1ProRes Proxy1080p0.2738.601778
2ProRes Proxy2160p1.03148.63466
3ProRes LT1080p0.5984.11813
4ProRes LT2160p2.31331.39208
5ProRes 4221080p0.83120.22578
6ProRes 4222160p3.31474.85145
7ProRes 422 HQ1080p1.25178.29384
8ProRes 422 HQ2160p4.95709.1197
9CInemaDNG2160p12.19167039

I hope this is helpful to someone out there! Please leave a comment if you have any questions or anything to add to the discussion!


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Walking through Machu Picchu

I was fortunate enough to visit Machu Picchu with my wife last September, where we took photos and filmed video footage for Destination Peru a travel agency and tour service based in nearby Cusco, Peru. You can view some of the photos from Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in this gallery.
Guard Tower Machu Picchu

I filmed a ton of steadicam footage while I was there, walking through the ruins and trails, and I thought that the nearly-raw footage might be useful to future travelers who are trying to get an idea of what the terrain is like and what they can expect. Here is a piece I put together with composer Richard Williams:

Also, here’s the walkthrough of Machu Picchu:

Here’s a walkthrough of the hike from Machu Picchu to the top of Huayna Picchu (the peak that we see so prominently behind the ruins):

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The 500 LED workhorse location light

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite lights: The 500 LED non-dimmable video light, sold in various places by ePhotoInc, CowboyStudio, and Fancier Photography.

I have been using a number of these lights alongside the 1000 LED dimmable lights, some tungsten DP lights, tota lamps, and others. These 500 LED lights (with four banks of switches) are some of my favorite workhorse lights. They’re built like tanks, they work every time, they don’t flicker, they don’t short out, they don’t have bulbs burn out, they don’t have weird proprietary power adapters that get lost and break easily (it’s powered by the same type of cable as a computer monitor), and they don’t have knobs that wear out and break off. Everything is controlled through on-off switches that feel like they will last longer than civilization itself.

There’s a handy handle on the top that’s overbuilt and gives room to carry them easily when wearing gloves. They can swap between portrait and landscape orientation by unscrewing the little mount and moving it to another part of the frame. The light mounts using a standard light stand mount.

Compared to the square-arranged 1000 LED light, this gives off about as much light (unexpectedly), and the quality of light is softer and more flattering for portraits (also unexpectedly). The color fidelity is higher in this light than the dimmable 1000 LED, and I’ve had to use fewer gels (if any) to get this light to look great for people.

The 5600K color fidelity isn’t 100% pefect daylight, so if you mix them with daylight and you need fidelity, throw a 1/4 magenta (minus green) gel on the front, tape it well, and just leave it on there.

These 500 LED lights draw relatively little power, so I plug them into a Black & Decker VEC026BD Electromate 400 (about $100) and I can power one of these lights on that battery pack for about 90 minutes to two hours, depending on outdoor temperature (which affects the Elecromate 400’s battery output, as with all batteries). Throw on a grounded plug and you can power a two or three of these on location, out in the middle of nowhere, for 30-60 minutes without using gas, emitting fumes, bothering neighbors, or warranting city permits. That utility is worth more than gold to me.

I used one of these 500 LED lights (powered by a Black & Decker Electromate 400) to light the Moverz web trailer a few months ago:

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