While the creators of this “Black Betty” device maintain that it’s not a camera at all, you’ll find shooting, editing, and uploading video on it to be included, all in the same amalgamation of plastic, metal, and glass. This is the first Black Betty custom camera housing, and it works with an Apple Mac Mini inside and a Silicon Imaging SI-2K Mini Camera Head to create a single beast capable of creating high-quality video ready to upload to the web. And it does it all with just two physical buttons.
Of course there’s a 7-inch Xenarc 720P HDMI touchscreen attached to this setup so you can do more than just turn it off or on and start or stop filming. This machine uses the SI-2K Mini to roll with a filmic 2/3″ CMOS Imager, capable of clicking in at 11 stops of dynamic range. This device will shoot 2K Cineform RAW Quicktime video, and you’ll be doing it all with a possible ISO range of between 160-500 ASA.
You’ll be storing data on removable 2.5-inch SSDs – and the whole construction appears relatively easy to take apart and put back together. This is the sort of setup you’ll want if you’re all about customization, that is to say. With only the bare minimum (stripped), you’ll find this “Betty” to be 9.8 pounds and 8.5-inches tall by a foot long.
Adding on the monitor, battery, a solid state drive, prime lens up front, and a lovely Arri hand grip, this machine is just 16.4 pounds. The whole setup – including the monitor – works with “an average” of 40 watts of power – so you’ll be fine heading out without a dedicated wall plug (as one might expect).
While you’re welcome to use the physical start/stop button to record, you’ve also got a Fischer 3Pin RS stop/start port for remote on/off control – or you can use a Bluetooth mouse as a remote switch. Options continue to open up with compatibility with a PS Technik IMS interchangeable lens mount ready for PL, B4, Nikon, C, PV, and BNCR (amongst others) and the whole system works with quick release plates from O’Connor, Sachtler, and Manfrotto in large, medium, and small sizes.
This camera has built-in wi-fi connectivity and it’s all working with a Core 2 Duo Mac Mini. According to a NoFilmSchool interview with the creators of this camera casing, they’ll be able to toss in a new Core i7 Mac Mini in future iterations, but for this first edition, they wanted only to “butcher” something a bit older as a test.
Black Betty is currently available for rent, aiming for distribution with Rule (Boston Camera) immediately if not soon. At the moment there’s no word on if this camera setup will ever be for sale to the public, but if the company continues to use a Mac Mini for its innards, we’re guessing that’ll be a straight up “never.”