POCKET CINEMA CAMERA

I’ve always hated the gimmicky và mostly meaningless tech-jargony term “disruptor,” but that really is the role Blackmagic plays in the film industry. It makes cameras that shoot footage with a unique that approaches giants like RED và ARRI but at a fraction of the cost. The Pocket Cinema Camera line has become a favorite among indie producers, studios, and DPs, & the latest iteration shoots at a staggering 6K resolution và starts at just $2,500 instead of the tens of thousands of dollars those other cameras command. It’s incredible, but it’s certainly not for everybody, và it isn’t designed to lớn be.

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On the đứng đầu right-hand side of the camera is the record start / stop button with the still photo button next to lớn it. Behind that are buttons for ISO, shutter speed, and white balance, and hitting one of those buttons will let you control those settings with the single scroll-wheel by your index finger. There are also three customizable Function buttons, which you can program to toggle zebra, grid lines, or LUT previews so you can what you’re shooting might look like after you grade it. The camera does have a built-in mic, but its unique is garbage. You might use it for syncing video clip with an external recorder, but that’s about it.

The right side of the camera has a door that covers the SD & CFast 2.0 thẻ slots. The left side of the camera is where all of the ports are. You’ve got a standard 3.5mm stereo mic jack, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a full-sized HDMI out (very handy!), a locking 12-volt power supply, a USB-C port, và a mini XLR in with phantom power tư vấn for high-quality audio. I really don’t lượt thích the port covers on that side. They’re extremely fiddly, awkward, & hard khổng lồ put back on. The bottom of the camera has the battery door, the tripod mount, & a large opening so the built-in tín đồ can keep the thing from overheating, which is a problem that mirrorless cameras often encounter when shooting long video clips.

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The biggest difference between the BMPCC6K và last year’s 4K is the 6K has a larger image sensor. The 4K had a 4/3 sensor, while the 6K has been bumped up khổng lồ a Super 35 sensor (similar in size to an APS-C sensor). This has several advantages. For starters, the sensor being roughly 58 percent larger can gather a good giảm giá more light, though the advantage is someone mitigated by the higher-resolution sensor, so it’s only a modest boost in low-light situations. The larger boon is that you can use Canon EF-mount lenses, which are widely available and have excellent optics. Further, the Super 35 sensor only crops the field of view 1.5x compared to lớn a full-frame sensor, whereas the 4/3 sensor cropped 2x. The net effect is that you can get a cleaner, wider field of view.


The largest (dare I say, only) reason to get this camera is the image quality, and wow, it does not disappoint. Shooting 6K video with 12-bit colors produces footage that is unbelievably flexible, especially in the colors. Selecting Film mode in the dynamic range nets you some very flat, gray-looking footage straight out of the camera. But don’t be fooled: there is a ton of data stored in those files that lets you push và pull the colors in any direction you please. This means you can achieve all kinds of dramatically different looks. Want it khổng lồ look lượt thích some washed-out 1970s filmstock? Easy. Or make it look lượt thích an early-2000s Busta Rhymes video? Not a problem. Take a look at my test footage, and you’ll see what I mean.


While the colors are incredibly malleable, you don’t get quite as much flexibility in the shadows. Blackmagic claims 13 stops of dynamic range, but I think that may be a bit exaggerated. It’s pretty easy to blow out highlights if you aren’t careful, so then you stop down. But you can only bring the shadows up so far before you start seeing a lot of noise in them, và that noise tends lớn be purple & ugly. The camera’s sensor has a dual native ISO of 400 & 3200, & both look really good. Things started getting pretty noisy at ISO 6400, but it was still usable. At ISO 12,800 that digital noise is far more prominent, và I’d definitely avoid the camera’s maximum of 25,600. My Sony A7Riii has better dynamic range, is less likely khổng lồ blow out highlights, & detail in shadows is better-preserved (as you’d expect from a full-frame camera). But because it’s only 8-bit video, the colors aren’t nearly as flexible. It’s honestly not even close in the màu sắc department.


There are a lot of advantages khổng lồ shooting in 6K. Most likely, you’ll be mixing down to 4K for your finished product, right? Well, when you shrink a 6K frame down to lớn 4K, that over-sampling gives it a nice little boost in quality. You can also crop in by about one-third, & you won’t have any loss in quality. Or say you’ve got some shaky footage. You’ll probably want lớn apply a stabilization effect (such as Warp Stabilizer in Adobe Premiere), but that crops the edges of your đoạn phim a bit. If you were shooting in 4K & finishing in 4K, that crop would mean that you have khổng lồ stretch the video to get it back to lớn a 4K frame, which causes pixel-stretching & a noticeable drop in sharpness & quality. When you’re shooting 6K, you can stabilize a very shaky clip (which would require even more edge cropping) and still not have any pixels get stretched. You can see some examples of that in my video clip above. It’s pretty amazing. There’s also a built-in 6K time-lapse mode, if that’s your thing.

Part of the BMPCC6K’s special sauce is that it leverages the proprietary Blackmagic RAW codec. It’s some Pied Piper-level compression. I shot the above đoạn clip using the 5:1 constant bitrate setting, which produced fantastic footage. If you want to lớn try lớn eke out a little more màu sắc info, you can even go lớn 3:1 compression, but that’s a difference only a professional colorist would see while using a very expensive monitor. Even with that impressive compression, though, files are very large. If you’re shooting 6K24 in Blackmagic RAW 5:1, you’re looking at 1.5GB for a 10-second clip, và you can double that if you’re shooting 6K50. That’s significant, và it will eat through your cards very quickly. The 256GB thẻ I was testing the camera with filled up in just over 28 minutes of shooting when I was shooting exclusively at 4K24, Blackmagic RAW 5:1.


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Blackmagic RAW files are increasingly easy to work with. Up until recently, you had lớn use Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve editing software lớn edit it. Now, Blackmagic has released software that lets both macOS and Windows computers use the files with relative ease, which meant I could cut the above clip in Adobe Premiere. DaVinci Resolve 16 is a fully functional post-production suite now, và it has best-in-class tools for color grading (especially if you’re shooting Blackmagic RAW). But there is a learning curve, and I didn’t have time lớn teach myself an entirely new editing platform in time for this review.

The maximum tốc độ when shooting 6K is 50 frames per second, but if you know your project timeline will be 24 fps (which gives a more cinematic look than the standard-for-video 30 fps), then you can shoot in the High Frame Rate mode. This will shoot at 6K50 but save the tệp tin as 24 fps, slowed down lớn half-speed. The half-speed footage it produces looks really good, and if you know for sure that you want that đoạn clip to be slo-mo, then it’s an easy option. It does record audio, but the audio is real time, so it isn’t synced to the half-speed footage và will run out halfway through the clip. Still, it’s better than not having audio at all, & you can stretch it in audio editing programs if you want.

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The camera looks friendly enough, with its reasonable price, its big, bulbous shape, và its extremely intuitive touchscreen menu (seriously, the thực đơn is fantastic), but don’t be fooled. This isn’t the type of camera that a beginner can grab & just start busting out beautiful clips. For starters, it doesn’t have the tự động hóa features you would expect on a consumer or prosumer camera. It doesn’t have things like auto ISO, which would be nice for times when you want lớn lock in your shutter speed và iris. It also doesn’t have any in-body stabilization (which we’re now seeing in mirrorless cameras from Sony & Nikon), so handheld shots are really shaky. You’re going to want a tripod or a gimbal for basically every shot. Also, the body isn’t weather-sealed, so using it in the rain or in dusty areas would be a significant gamble.

The worst part is the autofocus. For starters, there is no continuous autofocus option, so it can’t track a subject if it moves in the frame, which basically all mirrorless shooters can do, & do well. (Sony’s Eye-AF is the current leader in this arms race.) If you want to lớn use autofocus, you press the button in the back, & then it typically takes a few seconds of wild hunting until it locks in on the focal point, which makes it effectively unusable during a shot. You also can’t tap khổng lồ focus or move the focal point away from the center of the frame, which means you may have to lớn move your shot to lớn focus on something, và then move it back, và even then, the autofocus isn’t super accurate.


All of this is to say that you need to lớn have a good eye & a practiced hand for manually pulling focus, and that’s a skill that can take years lớn develop. But even if you are a skilled DP, the screen’s lack of brightness is going lớn make it really difficult for you khổng lồ see what you’re doing if you’re shooting outdoors, so you may find yourself spending more money on an external monitor. This is less of a big giảm giá for professional DPs, though, & that’s really who this camera is for.

“It’s got a consumer price but it’s really a pro camera,” Blackmagic’s director of sales operations – Americas, Bob Caniglia, told me. “The consumer price helps us reach people who are new to lớn it but want to be serious about it. It’s not really something the weekend dad is going to get, unless he already really knows what he’s doing.” That’s about my read on it, too. If you’ve got some filmmaking skills already và have reached the limits of what a prosumer mirrorless camera can do, this thing is incredibly powerful. But even so, it would be nice to lớn see some of these modern convenience features added.


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Viewing the large LCD can be very challenging in direct sunlight.
The camera chomps through batteries & memory cards lượt thích a T. Rex coming off a juice cleanse. It uses the puny Canon LP-E6 battery, a kiến thiết that’s been around for as long as digital SLRs have. Blackmagic claims it will get you 45 minutes of 6K24 recording khổng lồ a CFast 2.0 card with the screen at 50-percent brightness. Realistically, you’re going lớn need the screen at full brightness if you’re outside (and even that’s not bright enough). I tested it with an external SSD và only got 30.5 minutes of record time. Either way, that’s pretty bad. Blackmagic has a new grip coming out that uses two of the Sony L-series batteries which are a lot bigger. Blackmagic will get you two hours of recording time. It will be released next month for $245, plus the cost of batteries at roughly $125 a pop.

As far as storage goes, Blackmagic has a danh sách of memory solutions that the BMPCC6K has been tested lớn work with without dropping frames or otherwise glitching. For 6K video, you’re going khổng lồ have to lớn use a CFast 2.0 card. The problem is that CFast 2.0 is still pretty new, so it’s not widely available, and it’s wildly expensive. I picked up a SanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB thẻ for this review, & it mix me back a knee-wobbling $420 before tax. That’s absurd.


The better solution would be lớn use the USB-C port and shoot to an SSD, right? Well, the above các mục only has two drives approved for shooting at speeds of 6K50. That’s not a lot of options. However, I tested it with a Samsung Portable T5 as well as a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, both of which are light & compact (so they can just dangle off the camera), và they both performed flawlessly. That’s a great option lớn have, và you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck than you would with a CFast 2.0 card.

When it comes to lớn editing 6K footage, you’re going to lớn want a computer with some serious graphics processing power, especially since you’re going lớn be editing color and applying filters, which take even more horsepower. You’re also going to lớn want to use the fastest SSD you can get your hands on. For my edit, I used my late-2018 HP Spectre x360 15-inch laptop and a Samsung Portable SSD X5, which utilizes Thunderbolt 3 và the very fast NVMe interface. That hard drive gave me no bottlenecks at all, which was a relief. The computer did well, too. The only thing that kept falling on its face was Adobe Premiere CC. While coloring footage Premiere would crash roughly every five minutes. I spoke with some other producers, & they all confirmed that Premiere CC has been having tons of issues lately, & it made me wish I already knew how to use DaVinci Resolve. This camera comes with the Studio version of Resolve, which is the more fully featured version, and it includes everything from assembly to lớn sound mixing & motion graphics.


The camera is really all about the incredible colors. They’re realistic, vibrant, & amazingly malleable. This was the first time I’d ever been able to lớn shoot in 6K, và I absolutely loved it. It gives you a ton of flexibility for cropping & stabilizing in post, and Blackmagic RAW didn’t make my computer burst into flames. I really wish it had better autofocus, a little less noise in the shadows, in-body stabilization, an EVF, và weather-sealing, but to lớn get footage of this quality at this price, there are bound lớn be some trade-offs.

In the last year, a ton of the DPs I’ve worked with have used the BMPCC4K as their B-camera, and the results they get with it are gorgeous (even though they, too, have a lot of focus issues with the camera). I know a couple have already preordered the 6K và will be switching to lớn it as soon as it arrives. It’s easy khổng lồ see why. A lot of small studios và independent DPs will pick these up in the months to come, & I wouldn’t be surprised to see your next favorite indie flick shot with one of these. You’ve got to know what you’re doing, but if you do, you’ll be capable of producing pure eye candy.

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Photography by Brent Rose for The Verge

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