Review: Blackmagic's Pocket Cinema Camera

Published on in Equipment / Tech Reviews

Portability meets performance with this itty bitty camera. Videographer, Bradford Hill took the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera for a test run, here are his thoughts on the camera's usability.

Pros:

- Price of $995 for the brains of the camera

- The camera boasts 13 stops of dynamic range, for under $1000.  This feature in technology is a major component to high-end cinema cameras. It preserves more detail in your image highlights and gives you a flatter less contrast image. Which is great for color correction, allowing the colorist more room to achieve different looks in post.  

- Lossless CinemaDNG RAW or ProRes 422 files recorded to fast SD Cards.

- Lightweight but solid body design made of magnesium alloy.

- Choice of Shutter angles.

- Customizable Metadata entry.

- Film or Video dynamic range recording modes for two different stylistic ways of shooting. Film gives you the flatter, wide dynamic look and video gives you an HD video essentially.

- Supports a variety of lens mount adapters, which are cheap and give you a broad range of cheap & acceptable lenses. 
- 2.5mm LANC Remote jack is cool to have with this camera if you are doing shoots that require this device.

- Includes Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve Lite, their entry-level color correction program.




Cons:

- 2.88X crop factor.

- Short battery life (about 1 hour) and you can only charge them in the camera (Batteries cost $15 but again you must plan ahead as you can’t be charging a battery & using camera simultaneously.)

- Four ASA (ISO) settings 200/400/800/1600 (not horrible but something to consider for varying shooting conditions.)

- Lacking frame rates- Covers ranges of 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29,97p, up to 30p (if BMD put a 60p frame rate in this camera, it would be one of the top competing cameras on the market.)

- The lightweight & compact body is only good for saving space, the small design makes it near impossible to hold a steady shot handheld over a longer focal length.

- Formatting cards only on computer (I didn’t find that be a huge problem, it just requires more planning and consideration on the users end.)

- Recording formats will give you huge file sizes, which will require more cards and probably a faster computer.  (Must use Extreme Pro SanDisk 64GB)

- Input connections are not protected/covered – which over time could easily build up dust & dirt collection.

- I didn't rely on the internal microphone at all; the resulting sound was very low & thin. Preferably it is best to not use the internal microphone and to use an external recorder.  

- Shooting handheld is near impossible, use a tripod or get a cage if you want to keep a steady shot and/or be able to pull focus at the same time. 

- No PL or EF Mount options so you must get lens adapters.

- As an entry-level camera, you can expect to spend at least an additional $1,000 on lenses, memory, batteries, external audio recording, tripod/shoulder support.

Bottom line:

I could see this camera catering to the educational market, because it’s price is so low and the amount you can learn about film & video from the camera is huge. Despite having to own Micro Four Thirds lenses, essentially every student in a class could have a camera & the powerful Davinci Resolve Lite color correction software installed on their own computers, which happens to be a free download.

Mac OS X : http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/detail?sid=3948&pid=11735&leg=false&os=mac
Windows : http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/detail?sid=3948&pid=11735&leg=false&os=win


At its core, the BMPCC is a powerful cinema camera and requires the user to know the basics for best control. It is best suited in a professional cinematographers hand, but not a good choice for an amateur. 

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