blackmagic

NAB Day One: Will it ship and other pressing questions.

Continuing on Sony’s strategy of announcing products before NAB even starts, last night saw the announcement of the DJI Ronin, the Atomos Shogun, the AJA CION, and another Black Magic Camera that will ship sometime in 2016. I honestly have no idea why Black Magic announced another camera. Just like a lot of folks, I was totally blown away when Black Magic announced the Cinema Camera two years ago. It had crazy specs for it’s price and more importantly marked the start of companies that don’t make cameras buying off the shelf products and cobbling together their own camera. Everybody knows it never shipped in volume – they had cut the price before the preorder list was even filled. When they announced the Production camera and the Pocket Camera, it seemed like BMD was doubling down and really trying to get a foothold in the production market. The Production Camera still hasn’t shipped in volume and by the time both the Pocket Camera and the Cinema Camera, BMD had earned itself a reputation of announcing products it couldn’t deliver. So, I find it hard to believe anybody really expects to pick up one of these Studio cameras in the next six months.

As much as I love the disruptive nature of a company like Black Magic entering the camera market and offering the full potential of their sensors their including in their cameras at a lower price point, the reality is a company like BMD and their suppliers don’t have the infrastructure or corporate experience to ship these things in bulk. Both the Cinema Camera and the Production Camera have been plagued with manufacturing issues. Companies like Canon don’t have that problem because they’ve figured out their supply chain management. They sell millions of Rebels every year and that means when they announce a camera it’s going to ship because they’re not also figuring out to mass produce at the same time their designing it.

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This brings me to the AJA CION. Specs wise it looks great. Form factor looks right. I’m interested, but honestly I’m skeptical that’ll be able to ship in large numbers for exactly the same reasons Black Magic hasn’t been able to. It’s great more companies are getting into the camera game, Canon needs to be prodded into innovation, but I wish they’d include their manufacturing plan in addition the specs when they announce these cameras because it’s one thing to make 15 cameras custom order and something entirely different to ship thousands in bulk with high quality control.

These announcements can be exciting, especially to give consumers insight to what is technologically possible for a camera. But, they’re just words on a page. They’re not a shipped product and before you get super pumped about shooting everything with a camera that’s just been announced it’s probably wise to consider the cameras manufacturing history and ask yourself: will this ship?

Just as I’m finishing up this post Black Magic has announced the Black Magic Ursa, an obvious replacement to the Production Camera – a camera that still hasn’t shipped.