Blackmagic Cinema Camera delayed after sensor glitch

Blackmagic Design's innovative Cinema Camera has been hamstrung by flaws in the sensor glass, forcing the company to freeze preorder shipments and re-manufacture them with new, fixed components. Initial supplies of the Cinema Camera had been ready to ship a month ago, but failed production testing after blemishes on the sensor marred the final video. After some investigative digging, CEO Grant Petty says, a series of problems were identified at the sensor supplier.

According to Petty's lengthy explanation over at the Blackmagic forums, the issue was a combination of blemished glass – which is fused to the sensors as a protective layer, before they're shipped to Blackmagic for inclusion into the Cinema Camera as a whole – and bugs in testing software designed to check quality. The flaws in the glass itself was apparently traced to contaminated packing materials used by the original glass supplier:

"Over a month ago now, we completed the testing of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and started production. Very quickly we started to see cameras failing our production testing as they suffered from blemishes on the sensor. These are high end cameras so need to be built to a very high specification.

We started testing to discover the cause of the problem and discovered that the problems were from our second shipment of sensors. The first shipment of sensors were fine. All the cameras you currently see people using had been built from this first batch of sensors and that is why we did not see any issues until we started to build cameras in volume.

While investigating the problem our engineers found the blemishes were in the glass that covers the sensor, and not the sensor itself. This is good because the glass might just be dirty so we saw this as a quick fix, but wondered how a supplier could deliver us sensors that had blemishes, as they are supposed to pre test them ... When talking with the supplier, it turned out they had a bug in their test software that tested sensors after the glass had been applied. That's why they shipped us bad sensors and did not notice. They fixed that problem and could then see the problems we saw and stopped production as about 95% of sensors were suffering this problem with the glass" Blackmagic Design

The end result is that Blackmagic must rework its existing stock – which it has been sitting on for a month – with new sensors. They won't begin production until later this week, however, when the sensor manufacturer receives new, hopefully problem-free glass; Petty says that Blackmagic will be able to ship out cameras the day the company gets new sensors in.

Meanwhile, there's a new software update for the Cinema Camera, v1.1, which will arrive in a few days time. It adds DNxHD support, as well as support for lens stabilizers  and a number of other minor tweaks.

The Cinema Camera is a $3,000 re-visioning of the professional video camera, offering 13 stops of dynamic range and a high-resolution 2.5K sensor that records directly to an internal SSD. The difference from existing video cameras, Blackmagic says, is that the broadened dynamic range preserves more highlight and shadow detail, resulting in a film-like picture despite the convenience of digital.

[via DSLR News Shooter]