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The iris control on these cameras is very hit and miss, in my experience. I've even returned one camera to the repair centre and they replaced it with another camera. I mainly use the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7 mm to 14 mm f4 on the camera. The only exposure control is by pressing the 'IRIS' button on the back of the camera. This sets an entirely random aperture setting on the lens that relies on the exposure metering system built into the camera body. Getting the exposure correct is very much a 'hit or miss' experience. The viewing screen cannot be relied on as a tool with which to judge the exposure as the brightness can be adjusted to suit the ambient lighting conditions.

 

Focussing is also problematic with this (and other auto) lenses. Pressing the 'FOCUS' button is very 'hit or miss'.

 

I've been so disenchanted by this camera that it will have to go in the bin soon - after waiting 7 months for it to arrive after ordering it on the first day it was announced. Image quality may be good - but only if you can set-up the camera correctly! Everything is just guess work with this camera.

 

Apart from using fully manual lenses (I don't know of any that are as wide as the 7 mm of this lens), how does everyone else get round these two problems?

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Apart from using fully manual lenses (I don't know of any that are as wide as the 7 mm of this lens), how does everyone else get round these two problems?

 

Have you tried a nikon fit 10mm lens with the metabones adapter and manual focus? Sigma do a 10 - 20 f4-5.6

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Use the up and down buttons to  change the aperture. Use the manual focus on the lens and the peaking feature + 1:1 magnification to focus. I never use the IRIS or FOCUS buttons for setting either of these parameters. Plenty of info out there about how to use this camera inc instruction manual. For better control use a separate EVF which has scopes and profiles to help with exposure. It would be nice if they introduced  scopes / histogram with a firmware upgrade...........................

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Many thanks for your kind assistance. I have the BM manual that comes with the camera, but this is very poor - and certainly not instructive.

 

Thanks for the explanation about using the up and down buttons, however, I still have no way of knowing if the exposure is correct, and the built in screen is not an accurate indicator. I don't want to buy a separate EVF or monitor as this destroys the objective of having a 'pocket' size camera.

 

The 10 mm lens mentioned by SleepyWill is not wide enough - that's why I went to the expense of buying the 7 mm to 14 mm.

 

I have a redrock micro adapter to fit my Canon 'L' series lenses to the BMPCC, so can control the aperture of those lenses using the adaptor. However, I don't use these lenses very often as the 7 - 14 is my most useful focal length - and, again, all these other bits of equipment destroy the portability of the camera.

 

I have used the focus peaking indicator, but it tends to slow things down hugely instead of being able to rely on an autofocus facility.

 

Many thanks to you both for your kind suggestions.

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Forget auto focus on anything that costs this little - it will be absolute shit.

Show me a camera with this image quality, in this price range that has it working flawlessly?

If you didn't know, you can double tap the OK button to zoom in & can leave it there whilst recording - not ideal obviously.

Also, if you're trying to keep something in focus then a shallow depth of field will make it that much harder.

This cam really does need an additional Monitor/EVF to film with - I still haven't got one, but its on my list.

 

Basically they lied about what this camera is & especially, who its for - don't be fooled this isn't a DSLR by any means.

Its cheap because it needs extras, not loads, but enough to mean that even if you spend the same again on the extras, you've saved money.

 

There is a sticky (frequently asked questions) on the BM forum that has links to the best answers for some of the important questions.

New camera, new learning curve.

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I think that Auto focus / iris work depending on the lens used.

For my experience:

Working normal = Panasonic 14-45 OIS

Working well = Panasonic 14mm 2.5

Working very good = Olympus 25mm 1.8

 

I think I have always to close iris, if auto puts f3.5 I adjust to f4 for example.

With the pancake 14mm always open iris too much in auto.

 

It´s a matter of practice and testing the lens, the problem is when you lose a great scene for wrong settings.

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The 10 mm lens mentioned by SleepyWill is not wide enough - that's why I went to the expense of buying the 7 mm to 14 mm.

 

10mm x2 crop = equivalent view as 20mm

 

7mm x3 crop = equivalent view as 21mm 

 

The 10mm with the effects of the speed booster will give you a wider pov! Add into the bargain an f stop boost of, I believe 1 1/3 of a stop, over twice the amount of light let in and you've got the pov you want with a faster (effective) lens!

 

It will be manual focus, but you'll not get autofocus working to any desirable level on any camera, the autofocus can't possibly read your mind and understand where you want the focus, where you want it shifted to and how fast. No camera will offer you this.

 

Check out this for a better written guide to your camera: http://wolfcrow.com/blog/the-blackmagic-pocket-camera-guide-part-one-ergonomics-and-specifications/ - This is a link to part 1

 

I think you've got a wonderful opportunity here to ditch your reliance on automatic systems, no computer is as quick as your brain at complex, subjective tasks such as pulling focus or exposing a scene to your liking and after a couple of weeks of practice you will be better than the automatic systems on any camera in the world.

 

Good luck, have fun and always remember, you don't need faster, lighter, wider, longer, automatic anything - get creative, move your camera smoothly and never stop learning!

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@Alan, the camera isn't easy, but the quality of the image is spectacular when you have it set up right.  I believe you'll get over these issues.  Just press iris until you see the zebras disappear in the part of the image you want.  That lens doesn't have OIS, but even at that wide angle, there is still shake noticeable because the images are THAT good.  Also, those lenses are made to be corrected, in camera, but not by the BMPCC. My pains are similar to yours

 

1. Focus is very difficult to see.

2. camera is very susceptible to moire in bright light and stopped down.

 

It's frustrating, but think before you return it.  The image is truly cinematic and film-like.  I bought a 14-45mm with OIS for about $170.  Is a good inexpensive lens.  I also have the 14mm like you (but wanted the OIS). 

 

HANG IN THERE! :)  

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Made interviews in an "impossible" place, narrow, dark, with bright sunlight in broad rays through the windows. ProRes with 95% zebra, filmlog and iso 800. Never could have used a GH2 or G6 for it. Expected the worst whilst filming, because the display is so shitty. Everything worked out fine. Missed the focus in about 5% of takes, had no viewfinder yet.
Surprisingly, the Zacuto Pocket viewfinder does help for stabilization, but not so much for focussing. I recommend to work with hyperfocal distances and a DoF calculator (i.e. phone app).

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Thanks for all your encouragement and kind assistance. The instruction book mentioned by SleepyWill is sure to be invaluable. I've been seriously into photography/cine/video for over 55 years and never found a camera so problematic as this has proved to be - or as frustrating. I have no knowledge at all of the aforementioned Metabones 'speed booster', so that's something else to find out about. However, now I've spent the money I have on the Panasonic 7 to 14 mm, I want to get the best out of it rather than try something else and spend even more money. The Zacuto EVF is also very expensive (some models as much as the camera!), so will have to live without that - and it reduces the portability of the BMPCC to a certain extent. 

 

On the topic of lenses, My most commonly needed lens is the aformentioned Panasonic. For other focal lengths, I have a range of Canon 'L' series from 17 mm to 200 mm that I can use with the Redockmicro adaptor, so I really don't need any more glass.

 

Just as a follow up on what has happened already, this is the second body - the first being exchanged by the BM authorised repair centre in the UK, (Holdan Limited | Unit 1-2 Waterside Business Park | Hadfield | Glossop | Derbyshire | SK13 1BE | United Kingdom.) who gave me superb service. I was most impressed by their efforts to assist me. 

 

I've also found that the DaVinci Resolve won't work with my computer, so I'm assuming it has an incompatible graphics card, so I'm using Adobe PremierePro for everything in post. Even with that I've experienced problems with the software importing the video clips but only playing the sound, not the video in post (not even showing the thumbnails). That seems to have been resolved with the second camera seeming to work ok. Has anyone else had this problem?

 

Much to my annoyance, the HDMI signal from the camera won't play on my recently purchased Panasonic Viera Smart full HD TV - I assume the CODEC is incompatible, although it plays perfectly on one of my friends old TVs. Just not my day!

 

Altogether, buying and trying to operate with this camera has been entirely unsatisfactory. I'll keep trying for a while longer, mainly because I don't have much choice! If it doesn't function during my trip to the far east, it will definitely be going in the bin on my return - if not before.

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What I am really surprised by is the fact that no one has mentioned buying a hand-held exposure meter - remember those? I'd buy the Sekonic L-478D or DR if they weren't so expensive. Unfortunately, my Gossen meter is in store many miles away in a different country, or I'd use that. Are there any cheaper alternatives that work well for video?

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What I am really surprised by is the fact that no one has mentioned buying a hand-held exposure meter - remember those? I'd buy the Sekonic L-478D or DR if they weren't so expensive. Unfortunately, my Gossen meter is in store many miles away in a different country, or I'd use that. Are there any cheaper alternatives that work well for video?

 

Do you have a smart phone with a good camera? I use an app called pocket light meter - others are surely avaliable - which while not as precise, gets you to within 95% of a baseline exposure.

 

If you're literally going to put it in the bin, give me a shout - I'll happily swap it for a canon xa10 in almost pristine, but dusty condition!

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Altogether, buying and trying to operate with this camera has been entirely unsatisfactory. I'll keep trying for a while longer, mainly because I don't have much choice! If it doesn't function during my trip to the far east, it will definitely be going in the bin on my return - if not before.

 

I can understand that. For anyone, who is used to *shoot video* with a classic camcorder, it's terribly unpractical. The same was true, back then, for shooting with a bulky 35mm adapter or later with a DSLR. But as the bible knows, you love the prodigal son the most.

 

Imho it can best be compared to ancient mechanical 16mm cameras, with which people also had their trouble. To achieve good results, you had to know them by heart, to a point, where knowledge about stock sensitivity (and characteristics) in correlation with aperture and the (mostly fixed) shutter angle turned into intuition.

 

What I am really surprised by is the fact that no one has mentioned buying a hand-held exposure meter - remember those? I'd buy the Sekonic L-478D or DR if they weren't so expensive. Unfortunately, my Gossen meter is in store many miles away in a different country, or I'd use that. Are there any cheaper alternatives that work well for video?

 

I don't use a light meter, and according to some comments in other places, only few still do, even in professional cinema. You can learn to judge correct exposure with the Pocket by doing a lot of tests and comparing them to what you saw during recording. Here are my rules of thumb:

 

1. ISO 800 offers the best possible DR for ProRes. To have a fixed ISO also facilitates things, less factors to be calculated on the fly by your CNS.

2. ETTR is also - partly - valid for ProRes. Fill the well, avoid the noise floor. It's 10-bit, so you are not simplifying skin tones by slightly overexposing, like with 8-bit codecs. Use 95% zebra then.

3. For RAW, use 100% zebra. If the image appears too bright on the display, lower the ISO (has no influence in RAW). 

4. When I still had a MFT system lens that set exposure automatically when I pressed IRIS, I realized that I always was in the same ballpark manually. No wonder: The automation uses ETTR as well.

 

My suggestion regarding your trip to far east:

 

1. Make at least ten test shots every day, document them, evaluate them, you will improve your intuitive skills. 

2. Buy a used GH2 or G6 (ridiculously easy cameras compared to the Pocket). They can use the same lenses. Compare, as I did, these cameras in the same situations. At first, the results with these Lumixs will be three times better. But not for long. 

3. Learn when to use RAW (seldom) and when ProRes (almost always).

4. Learn how to use Speedgrade. Not just in an afternoon. Watch whole video trainings by Lynda or the like, and delve into CC.

 

As I wrote before: The Zacuto Pocket finder (quite affordable) makes you see every single pixel on the muddy display and helps only a little bit as far as focussing is concerned. But you need it anyway when you shoot in daylight. And it adds a comfortable stabilization point. What you also need is some kind of additional support. Mine weighs below 100g and cost 14 € (new!).

Ewa.jpgZ-finder2.jpg

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2. Buy a used GH2 or G6 (ridiculously easy cameras compared to the Pocket). They can use the same lenses. Compare, as I did, these cameras in the same situations. At first, the results with these Lumixs will be three times better. But not for long. 

 

I wish I could go back too.  No I don't ;)

 

On the viewfinder, I made an interesting discovery from a mistake I made.  I'm 52, so need reading glasses now.  I ordered a viewfinder http://www.amazon.com/Neewer%C2%AE-Screen-Viewfinder-Extender-Canon/dp/B0084LFED0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397073209&sr=8-1&keywords=view+finder+lcd-v3 for my EOS-M.  When it came, the eyepiece was a third of the inch away from the screen.  That actually worked well because it was enough for me not to buy an expensive one with a diopter.  I use it on the BMPCC too.  $20.  

 

On Resolve, you want to make sure you have the latest drivers for your card.  If Windows, the latest DirectX. That's what it took for me.  Resolve is overwhelming.  Though once you get the basic hang of it pretty easy to do simple grading.

 

The 7-14mm lens is perfect.  You don't need a focal reducer.  You might want to try shooting short clips inside.  Axel's 16mm camera analogy is spot on.  If you love film, the effort is worth it, and once you get into a workflow you won't go back.

 

Here is an embarrassing video I did this past weekend.  Like you, I'm not ready, but I'm forcing myself to start making videos ready or not.  Lots of comparison to other video cameras.  You'll see that when I got it set up right, the BMPCC just blows past the other cameras.

 

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Many thanks for your suggestions and kind support. I'll go on my trip and shoot as much as I can and hope for the best. I've set the camera to Pro-Res and the dynamic range to video at 800 ISO (which I'll reduce to 400 ISO if it becomes too overexposed in the sunshine). The shutter angle is set at 180 degrees. I'll work in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 to increase the colour saturation  in post. I don't doubt the image quality - only my ability to make it happen.

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I'll probably have enough depth of field for most things to be in focus! That said, I find focussing on moving objects / people, especially when coming towards me, just about impossible using the little screen on the camera.

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To Maxotics. I have ordered the viewfinder you suggested from the Amazon UK website, so hope it arrives before I go on my trip. Does it cover all of the BMPCC screen? It looks a fairly good fit in your video. Many thanks for the information and idea.

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Many thanks for your suggestions and kind support. I'll go on my trip and shoot as much as I can and hope for the best. I've set the camera to Pro-Res and the dynamic range to video at 800 ISO (which I'll reduce to 400 ISO if it becomes too overexposed in the sunshine). The shutter angle is set at 180 degrees. I'll work in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 to increase the colour saturation in post. I don't doubt the image quality - only my ability to make it happen.

May I comment?
You can set the display to VIDEO, but in Recording Mode you should choose FILM. Why? Because the limited values are baked into the file with VIDEO, and you have no chance to recover highlights asf. in post. To get rid of the ugly flat looking FILM image, it's better to use a Rec709 LUT for BM in Premiere. Can't tell you exactly how, in FCP X I use LUTutility, I think it may be LUTbuddy or so. Apply the LUT to an adjustment layer over the whole timeline, underneath you have access to the values that are hidden by the LUT.
Also, in bright daylight you usually have big contrasts, and using ISO 400 or 200 will lower the DR (despite what the BM manual says, you just have a dramatically decreased range, as instantly seen in a waveform), so better buy an ND fader to control exposure. But you can use ISO 1600 for night shots.

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