I recently had the chance to spend some time with the Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel and in the following post I’ll share my experience.
Announced back in March alongside the more advanced and bigger Blackmagic Resolve Mini Panel, the Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is the most affordable, and compact dedicated Resolve panel that Blackmagic Design have ever made. Constructed mainly out of die-cast aluminium, the Resolve Micro Panel weights in at about 3.5 kgs or just under 8 pounds and measures at 2.95 inches tall, 10 inches wide x 16.8 inches long.
With those dimensions in mind, it does take quite a bit of real estate on a small desk such as mine, and the you can definitely feel the weight if you are planning on transporting this from location to location in case you are doing some on-set grading.
I had to move my keyboard to the side in order to fit it on my desk, but in hindsight that’s whole point of the Micro Panel – to give you dedicated functional keys, knobs and track wheels so you can better control your image and make finer adjustments that you can make by using a mouse and or table.
The construction is quite solid, and probably the best part about the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is that it is powered via USB thanks to the included USB type C to USB 3.0 cable, so no AC power adapter required.
This feature was very handy, as I was kind of running out of power outlets beneath my desk; plus if you are planning on doing any grading on set you don’t have to worry about powering the unit as long as you have a spare USB 3.0 port on your machine. On the other hand, the next level-up – the Mini Panel, does require AC power, however it also does offer more functionality.
The Resolve Micro panel features plenty of basic, but vital controls to get you started grading your footage – you get 12 dedicated knobs for refined control over your Lift, Gamma and Gain in the Luminance channel, Contrast, Pivot and Mid Detail, Colour Boost, Contrast, Saturation and more. The knobs have a smooth feel and also can be reset by pushing them down.
The right hand side of the panel features 18 operation control buttons including transport controls so you can play back , stop and rewind your footage, go to next or previous frame, next clip , reset and other basic functions that you’d otherwise need a mouse to access.
Just beneath the knobs you get three more operational buttons which are for LOG, OFFSET and also full screen. In LOG mode you can make individual adjustments to the shadows, mid tones and highlights, while in OFFSET the left two trackballs allow you to control the White Balance and Tint, while the Third becomes your Offset.
The Micro Panel is super easy to setup, as a matter of fact, all I had to do was plug it into a USB port, fire up Resolve and the software automatically detected it. It works on both Windows and Mac, and it is very easy to get around the controls.
I am by no means an experienced colourist, so it took me a few tries to get familiar with the button layout, but after grading a few clips, the control layout became very intuitive, and I rarely found myself looking down at the surface to see where I was.
The main positives of this unit are the intuitive nature of the controls, the solid build quality, the fact that it is USB powered and it costs $995 US or around £800 + VAT in the UK. Sure it is a bit on the heavy side, so if you are going mobile with it , you might want to consider the weight and that it takes some space, but the overall build quality is super nice. The knobs can be reset with a simple push, and the buttons and trackballs feel solid, and not flimsy.
The functionality is limited, but after all this is a basic grading panel that is meant to give you a solid starting point for your grade, not to enable you to do power windows, secondaries and other more advanced grading functions – all of of which you can still access with your mouse of course. For those who want more functionality with shortcuts right from the control surface for such advanced functionality, you need to look into the Blackmagic Mini Resolve ($2,995) or the top of the range $28K Advanced Resolve Panel.
Another thing about the Micro Panel is that there are no assignable buttons and the unit works only with Resolve. However, that can be also a good thing if you are not planning on using any other grading software, as after all Resolve is pretty awesome. All in all for a thousands bucks you get a proper, professional resolve panel that not only speeds up your colour grading workflow, but also makes the process more enjoyable and less of a burden.
In summary, here is what I liked:
Good for basic grade, starting point
Easy to use, intuitive controls
Solid Build Quality
Speeds-up your colour workflow
Really affordable price – $995
A bit on the heavy side
Works only with Resolve
No assignable buttons
A bit limited as to functions
For basic grades only
As someone, who has recently started his DaVinci Resolve learning journey, the new Resolve Micro Panel from Blackmagic easily makes the top of my shopping list for tools needed for my colour workflow station.
Many thanks to Blackmagic Design UK for providing me with this review unit for the purposes of this review. Use the links below to buy it, if you think the Resolve Micro Panel will fit your colour workflow needs.