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  • Is this the BMC sensor?

    This just appeared at EOSHD.com... very interesting.

    http://www.eoshd.com/content/7969/bl...by-bae-systems
    Randy Walters
    boundlessinformant.com

  • #2
    Yes, interesting, if true. Even though many of the specs match, BlackMagic Design has not acknowledged it is the sensor. But if it is, it's capable of global-shutter operation, although dynamic range may be reduced in that mode.
    Last edited by Tzedekh; 04-24-2012, 10:38 AM.

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    • #3
      Total speculation. BlackMagic hasn't said who is making their sensor.

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      • #4
        Not a bad guess, though!

        - Dimensions fit
        - Blackmagic talk about "refrigerated sensor" (which this has)
        - It was mentioned the sensor can do 4:3... though likely not enabled on this model

        The specs of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera align perfectly with this cam in its "least-noisy" mode:

        Read noise: < 2 e- rms @ 30 frames/s; < 3 e- rms @ 100 frames/s
        EG 30fps makes sense, then.

        In addition global shutter also increases the RMS read noise by a factor of 1.41 over rolling shutter readout.
        So my guesses are that they just decided that the >100fps and global shutter modes were too noisy.
        Plus they used too much processing power and required too much storage?

        Sweet spot for now is 30fps rolling shutter for $3K. You know it'll only get better in the future though

        Bruce Allen
        www.boacinema.com

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        • #5
          Interesting. Its specs say it has a contrast ratio of 16,000:1, and according to my math, that is 14 stops Of course this could be just an eerily similar sensor.

          My math:

          20 x log10(16000) = 84.08 dB of dynamic range

          or

          log2(16000) = 13.96 stops of dynamic range

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          • #6
            Lets get one of these into A1ex's hands and see what the Magic Lantern team can do with it.

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            • #7
              In one of the interviews, a black magic design rep mentions (in response to where the sensor came from) that it was designed for use in aerospace.
              And that is one of the potential uses listed for the Fairchild chip.
              He was very guarded to not provide any more specific info.

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              • #8
                Wow, what an exciting sensor! (if it is the sensor)

                Rolling or Global - that's very interesting, I never knew it was possible.

                Pretty cool to know all that power is under the hood. They must have some awesome Franken versions at Blackmagic....
                director reel

                11 Blocks, debut feature on Netflix

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                • #9
                  Well, first one to take delivery can open her up and let us know whats inside.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Matthew Bennett View Post
                    Pretty cool to know all that power is under the hood.
                    Well, see, that's the point though -- we DON'T "know" that all that power is under the hood, because we don't know if that's the sensor or not. BlackMagic hasn't confirmed it, and that sensor sounds a lot more powerful than what we've heard about (100fps, global shutter, etc).

                    I would think it far more likely that if it is even from the same family, that BlackMagic negotiated a big buy on a budget version of the sensor. Just like Red is using rejected Epic sensors to make the Scarlet, wouldn't it seem more reasonable that BlackMagic had them design a lower-powered sensor that only goes up to 30fps, etc., rather than thinking they've put some overly powerful, overly-expensive sensor in there, and are just not taking advantage of it? I mean, they're not dumb, why would they pay too much to give you too little? Doesn't it seem more likely that they're using a lesser version of the sensor, and that they're actually taking full advantage of what the real sensor they're using is capable of?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Barry Green View Post
                      Well, see, that's the point though -- we DON'T "know" that all that power is under the hood, because we don't know if that's the sensor or not. BlackMagic hasn't confirmed it, and that sensor sounds a lot more powerful than what we've heard about (100fps, global shutter, etc).

                      I would think it far more likely that if it is even from the same family, that BlackMagic negotiated a big buy on a budget version of the sensor. Just like Red is using rejected Epic sensors to make the Scarlet, wouldn't it seem more reasonable that BlackMagic had them design a lower-powered sensor that only goes up to 30fps, etc., rather than thinking they've put some overly powerful, overly-expensive sensor in there, and are just not taking advantage of it? I mean, they're not dumb, why would they pay too much to give you too little? Doesn't it seem more likely that they're using a lesser version of the sensor, and that they're actually taking full advantage of what the real sensor they're using is capable of?
                      No offense, but I don't think you know how these cameras work. RED is not using rejected sensors, they are using rejected ASICs (The CPU if you will). The sensor is the same. So, while you may be right in that they are using a lesser custom designed sensor.. I doubt it. One of the only things that they say consistently is that they "found" this sensor. Implying that it is not custom designed for them. So, even if it is the sensor they are using, there is a lot more that goes into getting an image out of a sensor. It comes down to the ASIC after that. I think they chose not to chase all those other features in this camera because they wanted to keep the cost down. Unlike RED who wanted to squeeze every last drop out of the sensor, and as a consequence made the prices go up.
                      -Michael Beck

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mbeck View Post
                        No offense, but I don't think you know how these cameras work.
                        Well, no offense taken, but yeah, I kind of do know how they work. I was giving a simplified explanation that hopefully people would be able to connect with.

                        The underlying vibe is likely to turn out "boy oh boy, we can unlock all this potential with just a firmware hack because it can do everything that that PDF says!!!" and what I'm trying to say is "hold your horses, a) we don't even know that that is the sensor, and b) there's likely lots of hardware differences (whether you want to attribute it to being a lower-spec'd sensor, or a different ASIC, or just general lower processing power and smaller memory buffers and whatever else throughout).

                        Point being -- I'm sure the BMC has been engineered to perform the best that they could get it to, at the price point that they're charging. If (and it's a big if) that truly is the sensor they're using, and if it is capable of 100fps, I really doubt that capability would be "unlocked" with a simple firmware update. I would instead expect that it would require some hardware re-engineering to make it perform like that.

                        But, again, it's all speculation, we don't know whether that is the sensor or not.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Barry Green View Post
                          Well, no offense taken, but yeah, I kind of do know how they work. I was giving a simplified explanation that hopefully people would be able to connect with.
                          O.K. sorry, your simplification confused me. So we agree.. except I think that they are in fact using this sensor. And yes, your are correct, it's all speculation at this point!
                          -Michael Beck

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Barry Green View Post
                            Well, see, that's the point though -- we DON'T "know" that all that power is under the hood, because we don't know if that's the sensor or not. BlackMagic hasn't confirmed it, and that sensor sounds a lot more powerful than what we've heard about (100fps, global shutter, etc).

                            I would think it far more likely that if it is even from the same family, that BlackMagic negotiated a big buy on a budget version of the sensor. Just like Red is using rejected Epic sensors to make the Scarlet, wouldn't it seem more reasonable that BlackMagic had them design a lower-powered sensor that only goes up to 30fps, etc., rather than thinking they've put some overly powerful, overly-expensive sensor in there, and are just not taking advantage of it? I mean, they're not dumb, why would they pay too much to give you too little? Doesn't it seem more likely that they're using a lesser version of the sensor, and that they're actually taking full advantage of what the real sensor they're using is capable of?
                            Yeah that's way more realistic - same company, custom sensor at affordable specs, big buy to keep the costs down. Not that I know anything about sensors.
                            director reel

                            11 Blocks, debut feature on Netflix

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Barry Green View Post
                              I would think it far more likely that if it is even from the same family, that BlackMagic negotiated a big buy on a budget version of the sensor. Just like Red is using rejected Epic sensors to make the Scarlet, wouldn't it seem more reasonable that BlackMagic had them design a lower-powered sensor that only goes up to 30fps, etc., rather than thinking they've put some overly powerful, overly-expensive sensor in there, and are just not taking advantage of it? I mean, they're not dumb, why would they pay too much to give you too little? Doesn't it seem more likely that they're using a lesser version of the sensor, and that they're actually taking full advantage of what the real sensor they're using is capable of?
                              My 2c: - as I posted earlier, the Fairchild sensor off-the-shelf is, according to their brochure:
                              - really noisy in global shutter mode
                              - medium noisy 100fps rolling shutter mode
                              - not-that-noisy in 30fps mode rolling shutter mode

                              So, if noise is a criterion, yes Blackmagic are taking full advantage of what the sensor is capable of.

                              I suspect that there is zero "custom sensor" stuff going on beyond Blackmagic saying:
                              "Hey Fairchild, ship us all of your sensors that are within specs for 30fps rolling shutter mode. If they're out of spec at 100fps mode or in global shutter mode, ship 'em to us too."
                              I think that there is very, very little reason to customize beyond that, right?

                              I think that the 30fps max is a limit of the processing chip plus maybe the ability to write uncompressed RAW to SSDs, so agree 100% with:

                              Originally posted by Barry Green View Post
                              The underlying vibe is likely to turn out "boy oh boy, we can unlock all this potential with just a firmware hack because it can do everything that that PDF says!!!" and what I'm trying to say is "hold your horses, a) we don't even know that that is the sensor, and b) there's likely lots of hardware differences (whether you want to attribute it to being a lower-spec'd sensor, or a different ASIC, or just general lower processing power and smaller memory buffers and whatever else throughout).

                              Point being -- I'm sure the BMC has been engineered to perform the best that they could get it to, at the price point that they're charging. If (and it's a big if) that truly is the sensor they're using, and if it is capable of 100fps, I really doubt that capability would be "unlocked" with a simple firmware update. I would instead expect that it would require some hardware re-engineering to make it perform like that.

                              But, again, it's all speculation, we don't know whether that is the sensor or not.
                              Right!

                              Maybe they can squeeze a little higher framerates out... but not 100fps. Maybe if you overclocked the whole thing in a tub of liquid nitrogen

                              "Yeah, we're saving money using the Blackmagic Cinema Cam instead of an Epic for slow-mo BUT DO NOT TOUCH THE COOLER WITH YOUR BARE HANDS!"

                              Personally, I think it would be awesome if for their next camera, Blackmagic considered compressing the RAW slightly (if Apertus open-source cam can do it, they can... and even Sony F65 does 3:1 compression) and upping the frame rate, but I already stuck that in Feature Requests!

                              Bruce Allen
                              www.boacinema.com
                              Last edited by Bruce Allen; 04-26-2012, 06:51 PM.

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