Review: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic-Pocket-Cinema-Camera-Review-Overview-RAW-Footage

Blackmagic has taken the world by storm the past few years with some of the most affordably priced high-resolution cinema cameras on the market. At the end of last year, they released their Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, a camera the size of an iPhone capable of RAW recording for under $1,000. Check out our review and videos below to see the pros and cons of this little image making machine.

In case you aren’t familiar with the Pocket Camera’s specs, here’s the run down:

  • Super 16mm Sensor
  • 13 Stops of Dynamic Range
  • Lossless CinemaDNG RAW Recording & Apple ProRes 4:2:2 Recording At 1920×1080
  • Micro 4/3 Mount
  • Records To SD Cards

Not bad for a camera that costs only $995!

We sent one of our shooters, Chris Sheffield, out with the Blackmagic Pocket Camera for a day of shooting. He came back to us with the two videos below:

We asked Chris to write a little about is experience with the Blackmagic, including what he liked or didn’t like about it. Here’s what he had to say:

Pros:

  • 13 stops of exposure latitude was great to play with. It allowed the freedom to shoot an actor against a brightly lit window in a dimly lit room and still have a well exposed image both in and out.  The range allows for a much more filmic look.
  • Shooting raw footage and color correcting with the free downloadable “Davinci Lite” was a ton of fun, and allowed you to really perfect the colors to your visual needs.
  • I shot on large Canon lenses (24-70) (70-200) with the added size of the adapter, and even with the small build of the camera, movement and handling was not awkward, as many would assume.  The camera body itself is much heavier than you would assume for the size, so both handheld and tripod movement felt similar to using a DSLR.
  • The simplicity of the camera itself, both in menu and design, although at times may feel limiting, was ultimately refreshing.
  • Despite how fast the batteries burn, as apposed to the more costly BMCC, this camera does allow for external interchangeable batteries. So even though they burn quickly, proper preparation can prevent that from becoming an issue on your set.
  • The price. You can’t beat the quality of the image for the price this camera runs!

Cons:

  • Without a smart lens adapter, A micro 4/3rds lens, or a lens with a manual ring, you’ll have to use a separate camera to change your F-stop. This not only wastes a lot of time on set but also undermines the supposed convenience of the size of the camera if you need a second camera to use it. Preparing yourself with the most applicable lenses or renting a smart adapter would easily circumvent this issue.
  • Stuck using SD cards due to the size of the camera, and when shooting RAW even with two 64 gig sd cards to swap, I was filling those cards extremely fast. Even if you decided to shoot apple pro res, you’ll still burn through cards.
  • Just like the BMCC, you aren’t able to manage your cards. No formatting in camera, no indication as to how much space is left on the card. All you have is a play and a skip button.  This makes a DIT absolutely essential in your shoot, with the rate that the cards fill and the fact that you can’t manage them, even on the smallest shoot you’ll need to add a crew member to handle the footage.
  • Battery life is terrible. For a half-day shoot I burned through three batteries and had to cycle them on the charger just to make sure I was able to continue shooting the rest of the day. The battery drops 5 percent just from the camera turning on.

If you’re interested in renting the Blackmagic Pocket Camera, we have them available here at Stray Angel Films.

If you’re interested in buying the Blackmagic Pocket Cam, they are currently in stock at B&H.

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