Up until now our weapon of choice for underwater filming was the RX100. It is a great little camera and shoots 1080p in 50/60fps. The main downside is the codec which limits the amount of post and color correction you can and the manual white balance feature is pretty cumbersome underwater. When Blackmagic announced the BMCC in 2012 it instantly got my attention for it’s capability to shoot raw. I pre-ordered a few months after the announcement but cancelled the order later as the wait got to long and frustrating. I decided to only get the camera when it was available off shelf.
In December 2013 Nauticam announced the NA-BMCC , a housing for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, for almost immediate availability. Not wanting to be the a first adopter I decided to wait a bit longer for example footage and reviews of how the camera works underwater. Things would come different.
A little later we booked a trip for February to the southern part of Maldives with MV Sheena, a German run dive vessel. I had the best intentions to shoot with the RX100 but with the camera being available off shelf and the housing announcement I had to rethink.
Tiffany was very helpful with the decision making so I went ahead and ordered the housing. I really just couldn’t wait to get my hands on the BMCC, having seen so much beautiful footage online. The power of raw in an small and affordable package – amazing.
While the camera is cheaper than some semi-professional DSLRs, its raw workflow is expensive especially when on a budget. As my aim was to shoot underwater I knew only raw would do. You can’t custom white balance and the presets are lacking to say the least. Shooting in Prores was out of question because I wanted every inch of flexibility in post I could get and not having to white-balance every 5 meters is actually quite nice.
David and Sanah from Scubacam, the local Nauticam distributor were very helpful in this matter. Since this was such a new housing things got messy as no one really knew what was needed to have a working setup. When the housing arrived we discovered there was no zoom and focus ring support for my lens (Canon 8-15L) and Nauticams battery pack was not yet available. David managed to come up with a DIY focus/zoom gear for us and also a solution for the battery. Luck was on our side as Nauticam managed to deliver the correct zoom/focus gear for the Canon lens just in time for the trip.
To be able to carry the rig comfortably I got some rope from a local outdoor/climbing shop and made a handle out of it.
I couldn’t get my hands on Nauticams battery solution in time, so I opted for two of these Tekkeon MP3450i batteries which nicely fit into the housing on top of the camera. The output can be set between 5-19V. For the BMCC I set them to 14V
Only the plug needed to be modded a bit so that it could fit.
To balance out the colors before grading I wanted to test shooting with a red filter. The 8-15mm fisheye allows you to add filters on the rear element of the lens. It only takes thin gelatin filters though. I got mine from Magic Filters