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Andrew Reid

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Review - Part 1 - Worth the hype?

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"when it reaches 1% there’s usually much more left in the battery than the camera implies, usually as much as 10 minutes."
1) you're NOT supposed to deplete lion batteries lower than 10% as it shortens battery lifespan
2) All batts, even lions, are subject to bounceback so it's normal for them to over-deliver Beyond the meter when left to rest (camera off).

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I really appreciated this review. A couple questions though:

 

How is the audio? I imagine thes things about the size of 3 Iphones glued together, so the idea of a pocket camera that needs a pocket recorder or a big giants breakout box, with conversion jacks all tethered together, strikes me as beyond awkward.

 

How is the handling without the weight? Can you make adustments on the fly and keep the camera steady?

 

 

 

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Hi, I'm based in the US. Does anybody know where it's best to order this camera from? Adorama, BH, Samy's, etc. where will I be likely to receive the camera sooner? Thanks

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Hey Andrew,

 

The BMPCC is nearly my dream camera. I think having dozens of batteries keeps it a pocket camera in operation but as collective pieces of equipment in a bag/case they can start to take up much more area.

 

E.g. GH3 with one or two batteries versus BMPCC with enough batteries to last a day. The GH3 then becomes smaller.

Could they have made the camera use Sony NP-F770 batteries (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/348070-REG/Sony_NPF770_NP_F770_Info_Lithium_Battery_Pack.html).

I doubt people would complain if the hand grip part was slightly bigger (depthwise, to accommodate a np-f770) – it’s the one place on the camera they could afford to make larger.

 

What do you think?

 

Roberto

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Next one : in body stabilization and 60 fps and I buy it. 

 

Neither are likely to happen very soon. The sensor of the Pocket is already capable of outputting 60p but would overheat in the camera. You would need to build a camera with a more powerful cooling system, a camera that would need to be bigger and that would suck batteries dry even faster. The Pocket form factor wouldn't be viable anymore, and you'd likely end up with something that would resemble the larger Blackmagic cinema cameras. 60p are only likely to happen if CMOSIS, the manufacturer of the sensors used by Blackmagic, develops some next-generation chip with smaller structures and less heat dissipation/power consumption.

 

In-body stabilization isn't very likely for near-future generations of the Pocket either. This is currently very advanced technology, mastered by only a few companies (Olympus, now also Panasonic with the GX7, Sony only with small sensor compacts). It's patented and nowhere near mainstream, and probably not achievable unless you develop sensor and camera body together.

 

The reason why the Blackmagic cameras are affordable is that they're built on fairly standard off-the-shelf components (third-party industrial camera sensors) and technology/intellectual property that Blackmagic had already developed for older products, its field video recorders and DaVinci Resolve. The Blackmagic cameras are, in fact, little more than Hyperdeck Shuttles with sensors and lens mounts.

 

There is AFAIK no professional cinema or video camera yet that offers in-body stabilization, a typical example that consumer technology can be more advanced in certain areas. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the next years, we'll see large scale dramatic improvement of in-camera stabilization on the consumer market, very likely a switch to 4K/UltraHD on all fronts, but a persistence of highly compressed 8bit codecs.

 

Just like the Canon C-series and Sony FS series has divided the first generation of DSLR shooters, Blackmagic's cameras might divide the mirrorless video shooters. 

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I think having dozens of batteries keeps it a pocket camera in operation but as collective pieces of equipment in a bag/case they can start to take up much more area.

 

One dozen of batteries would only be needed if you shoot more than 8 hours nonstop without a power source. Even in such a case (let's say 12 batteries - I personally find having 6 more than enough), their total weight would be 500 grams, not that much.

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Thanks cantsin - good to know.

 

Obviously it would be better if the batteries lasted longer. For example, shooting a piece in a jungle/desert/remote area etc. for a week would require many more batteries (even if the physical area/weight is smaller than the equivalent of powering a DSLR/FS100/whatever). As a ratio, like Andrew said, it seems like the pocket camera batteries perform well.

 

A Sony NP-F770 battery is about the same height as the pocket camera. It would only need to be deeper to accommodate the battery, making it look more like the letter 'L' from a bird's-eye view. This could also provide a better hand grip.

 

But at this point beggars can't be choosers. Still interesting to talk about.

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Obviously it would be better if the batteries lasted longer. For example, shooting a piece in a jungle/desert/remote area etc. for a week would require many more batteries (even if the physical area/weight is smaller than the equivalent of powering a DSLR/FS100/whatever). 

 

For such shooting conditions, it's always possible to power the camera with a larger external battery. I'm pretty sure that we'll see third party external battery grips for the Pocket very soon. Likely as expensive pro equipment first, and a few months later as cheap China knock-offs on Ebay.

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Dear Andrew,

thanks for one of the best resources on the internet for camera and video enthusiasts.  I've appreciated your blog since the GH2 heydays, it has always been an insipiration to me as well as a driving force to improve my skills and equipment.  As Maxotics rightly pointed out, the Pocket Cinema Camera is much cheaper then the Canon MkIII, also factoring in the expense of multiple fast CF cards, so they're definitely not in the same league price wise.  However, I would appreciate your opinion on how the BMPCC compares to the Canon 50D, a camera you've championed on your blog in the past.  Consider that the 50D is also a good 15mp photo-camera (which the Pocket camera is not), offers better autofocus and has a wider selection of stabilized lenses, and of course features 14bit raw video through Magic Lantern.  Would you consider it as a better alternative to the Pocket Camera?  Of course taking into account both the longer workflow for the 50D, and the fact (as you've mentioned in your review) that raw video can end up giving you too much flexibility making editing harder.  The total lack of audio is not much of a concern, as it seems the Pocket Camera's sound is barely usueable, except as a scratch track to help synching.

 

All the best, and thanks again for the well written review!

Tull*Power

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However, I would appreciate your opinion on how the BMPCC compares to the Canon 50D, a camera you've championed on your blog in the past.  Consider that the 50D is also a good 15mp photo-camera (which the Pocket camera is not), offers better autofocus and has a wider selection of stabilized lenses, and of course features 14bit raw video through Magic Lantern.  Would you consider it as a better alternative to the Pocket Camera?  

 

My 50 cents: Because of the scaling artefacts of the 50D, the Pocket produces a much cleaner video image, even in ProRes - unless you shoot your 50D video at 1:1 sensor crop/5x digital zoom or build a third-party anti-aliasing filter into the camera. For a comparison, see here (and click on the images to view them in full 1920x1080 resolution). Besides, the 50D can't record sound, and the MagicLantern version needed for shooting raw video is still experimental, complex (although the EOSHD guide helps), and (in conjunction with maxing out the write speeds of not-so-reliable CF Cards like the Komputerbays) less reliable for critical work.

 

I sold my own 50D after obtaining the Pocket and frankly don't see much of a niche for it anymore aside for people on very tight budgets, very constrained needs of shooting (since a 128GB CF card for about 30 minutes of footage costs you 140 Euro), greater investments into Canon lenses, and generally a love for technical experimenting and tinkering - it's great as a hacker cam, since Magic Lantern makes it fully programmable. Magic Lantern raw video really shines on the 5D Mark III though.

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Chrisso,

 

I think I saw it here that the latest firmware fixes the black spots and blooms. I haven't update yet so I can't confirm/deny yet but I'll do it in a few days and post my result.

 

cheers

calin

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The firmware update fixes the black spots, but the blooms can only be fixed by sending in the camera to one of Blackmagic's service centers and having it serviced with sensor hardware recalibration.

 

I don't want to be rude, but BMPC-related web forums currently abound with misinformation, hearsay and hysteria (probably because so many people are still waiting for the cameras they've prepaid) although Blackmagic's information concerning the white orbs, black spots and their respective fixes has been very clear. Please don't spread more false rumors.

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Thanks for your detailed reply, you have managed to answer all my concerns clearly.  The fact that a knowledgeable user such as yourself sold his 50D in favour of the Pocket Cinema Camera convinced me to go for it.  I've also followed the link you've included and was quite surprised with your results from the Nikon.  I wonder why they haven't released a video 'hybrid' camera yet, since they do have the technology and marketing means to blow everyone out of the water.  If they could get around implementing continous raw shooting that is.

 

Would appreciate your feedback on which lenses work best with the BMPCC for handheld shooting, although I assume the Lumix 12-35 is the one to go for.  Thanks again for your help cantsin, looking forward to watch the work with your new camera!

 

Tull*Power

My 50 cents: Because of the scaling artefacts of the 50D, the Pocket produces a much cleaner video image, even in ProRes - unless you shoot your 50D video at 1:1 sensor crop/5x digital zoom or build a third-party anti-aliasing filter into the camera. For a comparison, see here (and click on the images to view them in full 1920x1080 resolution). Besides, the 50D can't record sound, and the MagicLantern version needed for shooting raw video is still experimental, complex (although the EOSHD guide helps), and (in conjunction with maxing out the write speeds of not-so-reliable CF Cards like the Komputerbays) less reliable for critical work.

 

I sold my own 50D after obtaining the Pocket and frankly don't see much of a niche for it anymore aside for people on very tight budgets, very constrained needs of shooting (since a 128GB CF card for about 30 minutes of footage costs you 140 Euro), greater investments into Canon lenses, and generally a love for technical experimenting and tinkering - it's great as a hacker cam, since Magic Lantern makes it fully programmable. Magic Lantern raw video really shines on the 5D Mark III though.

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I got to play with all 3 Blackmagic cameras at WFX conference in dallas this morning. I was surprised at how light the pocket cam was. The amount of Bokeh I was able to get out of the panasoinc 45-200. Even at 5.6, depth of field seemed plentiful. Really does seem like the perfect video camera to always have with you, excluding the battery issues. The menu is also a bit fiddly...

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I'm currently editing a music video with the BMPCC. I had some major concerns about the camera when using it on the shoot, but the image quality really is pretty fantastic. I shot another music video then with the BMCC, again, fantastic image. Very similar. 

 

Went back to my GH3 after the shoot, and although the image off the BMPCC is much more lovely, It didnt stop me liking my GH3 any less. Its just great to have the options for the right shoot. 

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@Cantsin, thank for you comparison of the 50D and BMPCC.   Size is a big deal for me.   You've confirmed what I suspected.  @Zach,  don't they know who you are?!  They should have given you one! :)  While I wait for the BMPCC I've been working on the EOS-M.  I think it will end up a very decent 720p 14bit RAW camera.  I plan to post new stuff this weekend.

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The fact that a knowledgeable user such as yourself sold his 50D in favour of the Pocket Cinema Camera convinced me to go for it. 

 

Small note: I'm not sure whether I'm a knowledgeable user, rather an enthusiast. Better make up your own opinion, perhaps borrow the camera to make an informed choice that works for you. Criteria and workflows are always personal and subjective, and hence also people's priorities. 

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