How to Protect Your Camera’s SDI Output and Not Blow It Up

Apparently there is a huge risk to a camera’s SDI output by doing something that is a normal operation during a film shoot. That is plugging or unplugging the camera’s AC power for a long shoot. Considering the importance of the SDI port to proper filmmaking workflows (and the cost of replacing this component both in price and time) understanding the problem so you can avoid damaging your camera is something you must do.

A good and quick way to see it is in this video from The Obsessive DP where he demonstrates what to do with his RED KOMODO 6K.

The problem is that you can cause issues just by turning on your camera. That’s bad. The advice is simple: Remove all SDI cables before plugging/unplugging power. There is a sequence of steps you should follow to ensure safety.

By keeping your cables disconnected when you plug in the power and get the juice flowing, you shouldn’t have any issues. This means making sure that the power is actually going into the camera. It isn’t safe until actual electricity hits your camera system and is running properly. 

RED komodo 6k 4k SDI back Canon BP Batteries

Images by RED/Jarred Land

Once you have the camera configured properly with power and ready to go, you can then plug in your SDI cables. It actually has an issue with accessories you might connect via SDI as well. Monitors or transmitters should also follow this advice.

When you want to power down, you should do the same and remove your SDI cables first. It’s a simple thing but you should keep it in mind to be extra safe.

This happens because if the power isn’t perfect at the start and the circuit isn’t complete then it might jump over to the SDI port which isn’t designed for power and could then fail because it gets this jolt of electricity.

The takeaway is just to connect your SDI cables after you have power running to the camera and accessories and then to disconnect before you cut power to your devices.

[source: The Obsessive DP]

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