Creating a Christmas Card with a Cinema Camera

A few years ago our good friends asked us if we could take their Christmas card photo for them. We said, “Sure, of course, as long as you know we don’t have an actual stills camera.” They said yeah and agreed to the idea of taking their photo with a Blackmagic Cinema Camera. If you didn’t know this camera only shoots video, but it does it very well.

So how did I get a photo from a video camera? Well, what I thought I’d do with this camera is shoot in RAW, 30FPS, with a high shutter angle. Then I’d be able grab a still and call it a photo! The Blackmagic Cinema Camera shoots at a 2.5k resolution when shooting in RAW so it just has enough resolution to print on your normal sized card. I put an older 35mm Canon FD lens on a Metabones speedbooster and got to work.

The shoot itself was quick and pretty simple. With the time dictated by the risk of frostbite and a quick sunset I found the location, setup my camera, grabbed the family and put them in front of my camera.

From there it’s much like taking photos, you only hit record once instead of clicking the shutter button multiple times. We got them all together to smile a few times and worked to get reactions and cute smirks from their son. If I remember it lasted all of two minutes before the little guy said he was cold so we scurried back to a car full of heat.

Once done you process the images like normal photo files. When you hit record on this camera it records individual still frames in the Cinema DNG format that I then processed in Lightroom. The older Canon FD lense has its quirks that gives the photos most of their character. It’s low in sharpness, contrast, and has an interesting haze when shot facing into the sun.

I did some simple post processing and before you knew it there was a batch of photos ready for their Christmas card. I love that this kind of technology is relatively accessible to most people. Not even 5 years ago could you get a camera with these high end features at such a low price. I hope I get another chance to make a Christmas card with a cinema camera, but maybe this time with a Red?


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