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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Review

Saturday, February 01, 2014



The Pocket Blackmagic was released at the end of 2013 and is the second camera by the company Blackmagic Design which, earlier in the year, took the market by storm when it released the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, the first camera able to shoot RAW for under $3000. If that wasn’t enough, now they are offering RAW for about $1000, which is the cost of the Pocket Blackmagic body.

If you are planning to try out Blackmagic Design’s new little gem, there’s a few things you need to take into consideration so that you’ll be able to select the right project for it and whether it’s going to be your main camera or “B” camera.

Here’s some considerations you need to look at if you’re curious about this camera:

1) It has a super 16 sensor and a Micro Four Thirds “active” mount. This means you’ll be able to use Lumix series lenses as well as any MFT mount lenses such as the Voigtlander lenses or even Canon lenses with the MFT adapter.

2) Recording formats are Cinema DNG RAW with 12-bit depth or ProRes 1920x1080 at 220Mbit/s, 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. 1 minute of ProRes is roughly 1.3GB big.

3) It shoots on SD cards, but not just any SD cards. You’ll need SanDisk 95MB/s SD cards with a capacity of at least 32GB but 64GB is recommended.

3) It has peaking focus assist as well as magnifying, which can be used at the same time, and also zebras.

4) It has an insane dynamic range for the price, 13 stops.

5) Amazing camera to shoot time-lapse videos. You can select the frame rate for your time-lapse and then you can play back the video in the camera. Pretty cool.

However, before you get too excited about shooting your next project with this camera, we have to point out some of the shortcomings of this camera, which won’t make it ideal for some shoots:

1) The batteries drain very fast. EN-EL20 batteries, however, are cheap, and we’ll give you plenty of them.

2) Many functions need to be set in the menu so it’s not super user friendly. If you have one of those shoots where you need to move fast and need to change the settings with one click, this camera would not be ideal.

3) It has a 2.8 crop factor. This means that medium range lenses become telephotos and it will be hard to get very wide shots.

4) The audio in the camera is bad. It can be used only as reference. Even if you attach a mic, the preamps are just not powerful enough. You’ll need to record audio separately, if getting good audio is important for your project.

5) You can’t format cards in the camera. You’ll need a computer...

So, shall you use the Pocket Blackmagic Cinema Camera for your next project? First off let’s point out the type of shoots where you should NOT use this camera: documentaries where you go out all day and have no access to power. Reality shows where you need to move fast and get good audio. Events, red carpets, etc, etc.

Here’s some types of projects this camera would be great for:

1) Feature films, commercials,music videos shooting on high end cameras such as the Arri Alexa, Red Epic, or any other high end camera that shoots RAW. With little cost, you could use the Pocket Blackmagic as a “B” or “C” camera. It will be easier to get long shots with it so if you put it on a rig or tripod, you could have extra coverage for any scene where you could use an extra camera but don’t have the budget for a second or third Arri Alexa or Red Camera. And the footage from your “C” camera won’t be in H.264 or AVCHD. It will be in RAW with 13 stops of latitude.

2) Any project where audio is not important and only need to get B-roll. Fashion shoots for example.

3) Any project in a very controlled environment where you can charge batteries easily, you can put the camera on a tripod and can dowload and format cards in your computer. Green screen shoots for example, where you can also use that extra color information and higher bit rate.