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GEAR TALK: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

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The Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMDPCC 4K) has started shipping, although in relatively small numbers. I managed to get our hands a set for a day; courtesy of our friends from Blackmagic Design Asia. This review is my initial impression of Blackmagic Design’s latest camera. The above video was shot in UHD ProRes 422HQ, Cinema DNG 3:1, with a mix of 25, 50fps and 100fps (off speed – HD windowed), slightly graded in DaVinci Resolve. The ISO levels ranged from 400 to 6400 (12800 and 25600 for the last two samples).

When I first opened the box I thought to myself: “This is a lot bigger than I thought it would be”. But after I picked it up, it felt surprisingly light, comfortable and well balanced. Costing SGD1,845; being able to acquire 4K Cinema DNG Raw, ProRes, 60P with such great colour science and image quality is amazing. This camera matches the specs of other similar priced cameras on the market but when you add Blackmagic’s well-designed user interface it puts the BMPCC 4K above its competition.

I was quite surprised by the low light performance, especially compared to the other Blackmagic cameras. I would say that you can get pretty clean images even up to 3200 thanks to the Dual ISO capabilities. I would perhaps use it up to 6400 if needed and you would still get a decent image. The native dual ISO on the camera is 400 and 3200.

 

 

The screen was bright enough in most conditions. I never once felt like I couldn’t see what I was capturing which is a big improvement for Blackmagic compared to its predecessor. Furthermore, it is also very responsive. The biggest strengths of this camera are the image quality, being able to record 4K 60P with very strong codecs, great low light performance, together with its price point. I like that I can record high-quality content without having people looking at the camera that would normally be much larger. This allows me to get shots that I wouldn’t be able to get with a large rig which is good for times when we want to be discreet and not let your gear scream “I am filming here!”.

There were a few glitches though such as the camera hanging, but that was easily solved with a simple restart. The camera in my opinion, can get quite hot during operation. Battery life could be better too; I got around 45 minutes on the LP-E6 so I would recommend to power the camera with an external battery to minimise disruption. The LP-E6 in this case could be used when a lean setup is required. The fixed screen does pose a challenge when framing awkward angles. The good news is as we all know, Blackmagic Design does firmware updates rather often to improve the usability of their products. Blackmagic Raw, is also in the pipeline for this camera.

In my opinion, when it comes to a camera at this price point and offering that much, you can’t really expect to get a perfect camera. The new BMPCC 4K sets the bar very high for the rest of the competitors offering similar products at this price range. As always, it really depends on what you do want to do with it. I can’t stress enough on how the right tools should be deployed for different project requirements. This camera would be good for travel, run and gun gimbal work and priced well for people who are starting out to venture into filmmaking or already own a DSLR and are looking to upgrade.

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