The emergence of the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera is bringing in a philosophy that we as filmmakers have entered into a golden age of filmmaking. With cameras like the GH5 offering internal 10bit 4:2:2 colour, and Sony offering a smaller-than-DSLR sized full frame camera with incredible low light capabilities - in this blog we'll take a look at what Blackmagic is bringing to the table with their new (and much needed) mirrorless, compact cinema camera.
The crazy looking, but powerful new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
Let's talk specifications and get it out the way early shall we? - brace yourself.
Directly from the Blackmagic Website:
- The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K features 4/3 size sensor.
- Shoots Cinema 4K at up-to 60fps, Full HD at 120fps - in Cinema DNG or Prores 4:2:2
- 13 stops of dynamic range and dual native ISO up to 25,600 (400 and 3200).
- 5 inch touchscreen - 1920 x 1080.
- Built in SD/UHS-II or CFast 2.0 recorders for RAW or ProRes recoding.
- USB-C expansion port for recording externally to disks.
- MFT lens mount.
- XLR input, full sized HDMI.
- 3D LUT support, Bluetooth.
- Uses Canon LP-E6N batteries.
Already in this very small spec list, we know that it has RAW and Prores recording - which is super impressive - along with LUT support for referencing, and interestingly 1 x SD card slot and 1 x Cfast slot.
As a filmmaker, I've been over the moon with my GH5 - the internal 10-bit 4:2:2 has been incredible and the image has been gorgeous. So for now a camera to come along and not only offer 4:2:2 in prores, but also RAW has gotten my attention, and it should have yours too. This camera will give you maximum fidelity over your image over any other camera internally in this price range - and even then, the next camera up from this is the URSA mini 4.6k - then you're onto your RED. We're talking potentially 12-bit images without the use of a recorder, meaning that there are billions upon billions of colours that this camera can push out, which is always a win in my book.
With all that resolution and fidelity however, comes at a price - a small caveat of the camera - I believe - is that it has really one card slot - SD or CFast. Which are both great - V90 cards offer crazy speeds for that kind of data rate and CFast will definitely be able to keep up with the raw footage - but only having one card slot means you'll be spending a hell of a lot of money on storage if you want to keep everything internal.
"But there's a USB-C connection for external memory " - this is a better option I believe for this camera - You could get this for half the price and double the storage - which don't get me wrong isn't a bad thing - it's just the idea of using an SSD for this camera makes me believe that this is definitely a camera that is 100% intended to be rigged. I mean with a shoulder mount and whichever accessories or cages around the thing to make it usable as what it says it is - a cinema camera.
Still though, people are finding great, affordable ways to rig the GH5 & A7 series of cameras, so I don't believe that rigging will be too much of an issue. I'm sure Smallrig will come out with a snug fit exo-skeleton for this in due time.
The left-hand side of the device - spotting a 3.5mm jack for audio and headphones, a full sized HDMI, that USB-c we talked about, 12v power via lemo, and a mini-XLR jack.
This side of the body gets interesting, a full size HDMI is always welcome, and to be honest it sports everything you need to professionally expand the device. I'd still bring an external recorder for easier dual-inputs for audio, but having an industry standard connection is brilliant - same with the lemo.
I think Blackmagic have really looked at this device and said to themselves 'what's imperative to make this the best cinema camera of this size it can be?' - a simple D-TAP to Lemo and there's your power sorted from Vlocks - no need for any messy adapters or third party solutions, it's all built in. Still, the inclusion of Canon batteries is probably very welcome for those with Canon bodies already. Not me, sadly.
A very colourful image of the camera 'n action.
I'm enjoying the love for the micro 4/3rds sensors and mounts. Can I just point out the Olympus Pro lens? It's a great lens, and if you don't have it, definitely take a look at it. I was once speaking to Jim Marks - a Panasonic ambassador, and he made a very good point, he said:
"The Micro 4/3rd mount / sensor is the most adaptable system, as you can put almost any lens on there - Native, EF, PL, spherical, anamorphic - all the image circles covers the sensor"
He said something along those lines, couldn't tell you what it was exactly - but I think I agree with him here - I think this is a seriously clever move to delve into the M4/3 system - as something as simple as a Metabones Speedbooster will connect a whole new family of lenses.
It's not as though that the camera will be terrible in low-light - the new trend of Dual-Native ISO's have really created something quite beautiful in smaller camera packages - the GH5s gives out a great image at 6400, so being able to push the boundaries with these two new cameras is solving the issue of having a smaller sensor.
There's no actual footage from the camera yet, but hopefully there'll be some out soon, and i'm very excited to see it.
Birds eye view of the new BMPCC
It's a very quirky looking camera. I like it. Not many people do. It's like one of those underdog stories where the 'ugly' character overcomes all the odds and becomes the star of the show. It certainly has the capacity to do that. It's just a waiting game.
I like how Blackmagic do their menu's too. It's not too complicated and everythings a very easy touch away - the URSA mini 4.6k is a brilliant example of this - it's very simple and easy to understand. Maybe we're not used to it because cameras such as the GH5 / A7(x) are built as stills cameras too.
I'm excited to see the camera. I don't think it's perfect, there's no IBIS, no mention of autofocus (if it's there or good / bad), one slot for media, no flip-out screen. But then again come on, you can't have everything. I believe this will be the go-to cameras of small-budget filmmakers come 2019.
Hopefully we'll be able to get some footage from it very soon.
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And as always, happy shooting!