Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Just briefly, is it a good camera......?

I bought the pocket camera not that long ago, mostly because it shot RAW, which is great for grading. Beyond that though, I bought it because it makes really nice images and it's a very cheap camera.

So then why doesn't everyone own one?

You’re cropping my vibe baby

There's that saying, a 50mm lens is still a 50mm lens on any camera. (I won't go into the technical side of crop factors on camera's, mostly because there's better websites out there and more mostly because I don't know enough).

Here's the thing, the focal length of your 50mm lens will turn into a 144mm lens on a Black Magic pocket. Now that's pretty extreme,... in fact that's a 2.88x to your lens. If you’re thinking about getting this camera for shooting landscapes or small rooms, best to look somewhere else. If you can work with the focal shift, then this is an easy work around. At the beginning I didn't mind the crop factor, but as time went on I wanted wider shots and I just can't get them on this camera.

Of course there is a solution..., you can buy a Metabones speed booster for Nikon and Canon. They're great, but at just below $800, they're very pricey, almost as much as the camera.

Nikon lens using a Metabone speedbooster. 28mm lens. 

Pentax lens using a PK mount. 28mm lens. 

To the bone

So about that Metabones speed booster, simply put,... they're amazing! I was lucky enough to get one as a present from my girlfriend. It has changed the camera dramatically, making. it a lot easier to use, reducing camera shake when moving, allowing for wider shots and best of all letting me use my Nikon glass.

Highly recommend getting one if you can afford it. You also get a whole extra stop of light.

RAWWWWWW

Wow, what a lame heading.

Yes it shoots RAW and yes, that's amazing for grading. Like I said in the intro, this was the big selling point for me. I still don't understand camera's that sell for four times as much and deliver a compressed format (I could go on a four page rant about high price camera's with compressed footage). When shooting RAW it will only work with a fast SD card and only certain brands (I use ScanDisk, 64GB, Extreme Pro at 95mbs). You'll get about 24 minutes of footage when recording., otherwise you can record at, ProRes Proxy, LT, HQ and 422.

Ungraded

Natural look

Stylised look

 

Fixed pattern nightmare

This is a big problem to me. The fixed noise pattern is ugly and hard to get rid of. If you shoot this camera on low light, you will notice fixed pattern lines going down the screen. Where film has great noise, that’s easy to get out and the noise of other high- end camera's  is fixable in most cases,. this camera’s noise is just bad.

Best options? Shoot at 400 ISO, well lit areas or super fast lenses.  

Ungraded. Lots of fixed pattern noise. You'll notice the lines going down the screen.

Graded with a heavy amount of denoise. Fixed pattern lines are still showing.

This isn't a camera that can take a photo and also shoot video, it just does video. Then again, ARRI and RED only shoot video...but then again, GH4, Canon, Nikon can shoot photo's. Black Magic have obviously tried to make a cheap camera that can shoot RAW and maybe the ability to take photo's was traded-off. It's not really a huge deal to me, (I didn't buy it to take photo's)., plus you can of course take a still and use that. I've taken a lot of video, graded it and exported a still and it looks amazing.

16mm feel.

This camera has a 16mm film look to it.  It's got a certain gritty look about it, maybe   not as good as 16mm film, but it has the same feel. Canon, RED and Sony look digital to me,, with their skin tones, light and sharpness of the image. Of course you can use vintage lenses ect to try and compensate.  ARRI has nice skin tones, plus it looks more filmic than the others.

Frame it / Screen

The max that this camera will shoot at is 30 FPS, which is kind of lame really.

The screen is great on this camera if you're shooting indoors, with the lights off…... and there's no light coming in from the outside. Outdoors the screen is hopeless, you can barely see what you filming. Easy fix is to buy an EF mount for it, that will also help you with focusing.

Your skin looks great, have you been using BMPCC?

Another blog,  another skin tone talk.  

Skin tones look great,  very natural, full of life and no yellowish or green tint to it.  (unlike that weird Canon yellow or Nikon green skin).

Ungraded

Graded

Yeah, great…... but is it good?

Yes and no.

If you want a camera straight out of the box that's going to be taking amazing video and photos that anyone can use, best leave it in the box. If you want a camera that you can use to make amazing video but have to work a bit to get it, here's the camera for you.

The main selling point for me for this camera was the fact that Black Magic are an Australian company and also it’s amazing for grading. I wanted a camera that I could both practise grading on and really push to see what it can do.

If I knew what I knew now, I wouldn't buy this camera without the speedbooster. The speedbooster really has transformed it into a far better camera and I don't know if it's worth it without one.  

There's still lots more to say about this camera, but I'll save it for another post.

What's next?

I'm currently about to start work on grading a short documentary. I’ll have lots to talk about when it comes to grading things shot on the go.

Until my next post.

Drew

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