17
Apr
15

Blackmagic cameras stuck / dead pixels problem: no solution offered!

Blackmagic Design has launched and promotes it’s 4K “Production Camera” as a professional camera for professional cinema production. That you can’t expect the world from a 3K US$ camera; i totally agree, but selling a camera under that flag, with an inferior image sensor is – at the least –  an insult to professional filmmakers and everyone else who has spent his or her savings on the “BMPC”.

What is the problem here? It’s simple… Every BMPC has clusters of dead or stuck pixels, that show up as specks on the image. Some cameras have a few, but EVERY camera i personally tested had dozens of stuck pixels.The pixels can have any shade of gray or appear colored. The intensity of stuck pixels can be anything from black to full 100% IRE.

All BMPCs i’ve either owned, rented or lent had a few defective pixels with an intensity that made them show up in the picture, even if well exposed – e.g. full daylight and at the standard 400ISO. Stuck pixels like that will be visible in lower-mid ranges of the image. Because those pixels have a fixed position: the larger the screen, the more obvious they become in moving images.

I have recently screened a test DCP at a local cinema, where the stuck pixels showed up as little holes in the projection screen. Around four of the stuck pixels in my BMPC show up in low-mid skintones (approx. 30-50% gray) and are easily recognizable on any monitor or TV set.

Is the BMPC the only camera that has a sensor behaving like this? No! Even the Alexa and the Red Epic Dragon have many stuck or dead pixels. Why don’t we see them? Because these cameras use a technique called Black Shading or Defective Pixel Mapping, where a dark image is analyzed and misbehaving pixels are marked as “don’t show this one, copy it’s values from a neighbor”. Blackmagic Design cameras are lacking this option, or – at least – it’s not working well.

Blackmagic Design is not very supportive, does not recognize the problem and is very secretive about the whole subject.

Claims are denied, questions are not answered. If you inquire about pixel mapping in their cameras, or ask when such pixel mapping will be incorporated in an upcoming firmware release, you’ll get either ignored or receive a standard answer, along the lines of “send us the camera and we will investigate” – conveniently avoiding a decent answer.

People who have sent their cameras in, did either got their camera returned in the exact same condition or received a new camera that had the same problem, only with the same kind of stuck pixels in different places.

Some people report that the stuck pixels get worse or less worse over time, when the sensor heats up during use. That makes things even worse and makes the sensor totally deserves the title “loose canon“.

I was planning to shoot a documentary feature with the BMPC. I bought the camera in november 2014. Since then there was not a single firmware update that addressed the BMPC. So there is no solution offered by Blackmagic Design and i find that extremely disappointing AND has made me decide NOT to use the BMPC. Period.

Black Magic has a whole range of automatic answer emails present if you complain about this issue. One of their standard defenses is claiming that the have told you that the BMPC is not a low-light camera. First of all, nobody told me, (on the contrary: during IBC 2014 the BMPC was hyped to me as a true Scarlet replacement – LOL) but this has nothing to do with it. Defective pixels appear in well lit 400ISO pictures. ALWAYS. Each picture – even with minimal contrast – has gradients from dark to light, right? So does Black Magic Design mean that i should only shoot bright scenes and objects? Don’t be ridiculous!

Dear Black Magic Design, you sold me a “production camera” that is lacking basic pixel mapping in it’s software. Even low budget and outdated cameras such as the Panasonic GH2 have this functionality.
Please, either refund my camera or fix the issue. Stop hiding behind default excuses and requesting investigation, because we all already know what the problem is.

If you Google on the subject, or browse Youtube, Vimeo or their own BM forum, you will find A LOT of unhappy BMPC owners with the same problem or worse (even though Black Magic Design claims the problem doesn’t exist).

DO NOT believe any article that claims to have a method of removing the stuck pixels! Some people claim that rolling back and re-installing firmware versions fix the problem. It’s nonsense and probably has to do with the heating up of the sensor during the “fixing ” process.

Before you all go out buying the new Blackmagic Design Ursa camera (4K sensor), you will encounter the same problem. The 4k version of the camera (the only one you can probably afford) has the same sensor and the same problem. Ursa users are equally flabbergasted that their cameras have stuck pixels and no decent pixel mapping; and that for a camera that sells for double the price of a BMPC!

To conclude… I am a cameraman for around thirty years now and i have never been more disappointed about a camera, and i have owned quite a few! It’s the arrogance and total lack of support from the manufacturer that pisses me off. Calling this device a Production Camera is absolutely bollocks

I hope Blackmagic Design comes up with a solution between now and a month or two max, and restore my faith in their product(s). I was informed about the new upcoming Ursa models long before anyone else, but i still decided to give the BMPC a change last november, because i have a job to do! I was planning on buying an Ursa later this year, but the experience with the BMPC has changed my mind – for now…

Martin.

Tags: #bmpc #bmc4k #blackmagic #ursa @BlackMagic_BMD #pixels

(Ps. this is a general example of the stuck pixels problem in the BMPC. Footage is not my own. I have lost the energy and appetite to do more tests and publish my own findings here for now.)

General example of stuck pixels General example of stuck pixels


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