Home Technology Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

I’ve all the time hated the gimmicky and principally meaningless tech-jargony time period “disruptor,” however that basically is the position Blackmagic performs within the movie business. It makes cameras that shoot footage with a top quality that approaches giants like RED and ARRI however at a fraction of the price. The Pocket Cinema Camera line has turn into a favourite amongst indie producers, studios, and DPs, and the most recent iteration shoots at a staggering 6K decision and begins at simply $2,500 as an alternative of the tens of hundreds of {dollars} these different cameras command. It’s unbelievable, nevertheless it’s actually not for everyone, and it isn’t designed to be.

Blackmagic made waves final yr with the 4K model of its Pocket Cinema Camera. “Pocket” is a misnomer, because the 6K’s physique is 7 inches broad, 3.Eight inches tall, and Four inches deep, so that will require a fairly large pocket. It’s lots fatter and wider than your trendy DSLRs and full-frame mirrorless cameras from Sony, Nikon, or Canon, nevertheless it retains that very same kind of form. That’s curious as a result of whereas it can shoot nonetheless images, that’s actually not what this digital camera is made for. This digital camera is made for video, pure and easy. Compared to these aforementioned RED and Arri cameras, it’s certainly a lot smaller.

Physically, the digital camera is similar to the 4K model. The bottom is dominated by an enormous 5-inch touchscreen. It seems nice indoors, however sadly, it’s actually arduous to see something once you’re exterior in daylight. This is the place you’ll actually want it had an digital viewfinder like a mirrorless digital camera, because it’s practically unattainable to drag focus or choose correct publicity. Next to the display are six buttons for autoexposure, autofocus, HFR (excessive body charge), focus help, menu, and playback.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

On the highest right-hand facet of the digital camera is the file begin / cease button with the nonetheless picture button subsequent to it. Behind which can be buttons for ISO, shutter pace, and white steadiness, and hitting a type of buttons will allow you to management these settings with the one scroll-wheel by your index finger. There are additionally three customizable Function buttons, which you’ll program to toggle zebra, grid traces, or LUT previews so you may what you’re capturing would possibly seem like after you grade it. The digital camera does have a built-in mic, however its high quality is rubbish. You would possibly use it for syncing video with an exterior recorder, however that’s about it.

The proper facet of the digital camera has a door that covers the SD and CFast 2.zero card slots. The left facet of the digital camera is the place all the ports are. You’ve received a typical 3.5mm stereo mic jack, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a full-sized HDMI out (very useful!), a locking 12-volt energy provide, a USB-C port, and a mini XLR in with phantom energy help for high-quality audio. I actually don’t just like the port covers on that facet. They’re extraordinarily fiddly, awkward, and arduous to place again on. The backside of the digital camera has the battery door, the tripod mount, and a big opening so the built-in fan can preserve the factor from overheating, which is an issue that mirrorless cameras typically encounter when capturing lengthy video clips.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

The greatest distinction between the BMPCC6K and final yr’s 4K is the 6K has a bigger picture sensor. The 4K had a 4/Three sensor, whereas the 6K has been bumped as much as a Super 35 sensor (related in dimension to an APS-C sensor). This has a number of benefits. For starters, the sensor being roughly 58 % bigger can collect deal extra gentle, although the benefit is somebody mitigated by the higher-resolution sensor, so it’s solely a modest increase in low-light conditions. The bigger boon is that you should use Canon EF-mount lenses, that are extensively obtainable and have wonderful optics. Further, the Super 35 sensor solely crops the sector of view 1.5x in comparison with a full-frame sensor, whereas the 4/Three sensor cropped 2x. The internet impact is you could get a cleaner, wider area of view.

The largest (dare I say, solely) cause to get this digital camera is the picture high quality, and wow, it doesn’t disappoint. Shooting 6K video with 12-bit colours produces footage that’s unbelievably versatile, particularly within the colours. Selecting Film mode within the dynamic vary nets you some very flat, gray-looking footage straight out of the digital camera. But don’t be fooled: there’s a ton of knowledge saved in these recordsdata that allows you to push and pull the colours in any route you please. This means you may obtain every kind of dramatically totally different seems. Want it to seem like some washed-out 1970s filmstock? Easy. Or make it seem like an early-2000s Busta Rhymes video? Not an issue. Take a take a look at my take a look at footage, and also you’ll see what I imply.

While the colours are extremely malleable, you don’t get fairly as a lot flexibility within the shadows. Blackmagic claims 13 stops of dynamic vary, however I believe which may be a bit exaggerated. It’s fairly straightforward to blow out highlights if you happen to aren’t cautious, so then you definately cease down. But you may solely convey the shadows up to date earlier than you begin seeing quite a lot of noise in them, and that noise tends to be purple and ugly. The digital camera’s sensor has a twin native ISO of 400 and 3200, and each look actually good. Things began getting fairly noisy at ISO 6400, nevertheless it was nonetheless usable. At ISO 12,800 that digital noise is much extra distinguished, and I’d positively keep away from the digital camera’s most of 25,600. My Sony A7Riii has higher dynamic vary, is much less more likely to blow out highlights, and element in shadows is better-preserved (as you’d anticipate from a full-frame digital camera). But as a result of it’s solely 8-bit video, the colours aren’t practically as versatile. It’s truthfully not even shut within the coloration division.

There are quite a lot of benefits to capturing in 6K. Most possible, you’ll be mixing right down to 4K in your completed product, proper? Well, once you shrink a 6K body right down to 4K, that over-sampling provides it a pleasant little increase in high quality. You may also crop in by about one-third, and also you received’t have any loss in high quality. Or say you’ve received some shaky footage. You’ll most likely need to apply a stabilization impact (corresponding to Warp Stabilizer in Adobe Premiere), however that crops the perimeters of your video a bit. If you had been capturing in 4K and ending in 4K, that crop would imply that you need to stretch the video to get it again to a 4K body, which causes pixel-stretching and a noticeable drop in sharpness and high quality. When you’re capturing 6K, you may stabilize a very shaky video (which might require much more edge cropping) and nonetheless not have any pixels get stretched. You can see some examples of that in my video above. It’s fairly wonderful. There’s additionally a built-in 6K time-lapse mode, if that’s your factor.

Part of the BMPCC6K’s particular sauce is that it leverages the proprietary Blackmagic RAW codec. It’s some Pied Piper-level compression. I shot the above video utilizing the 5:1 fixed bitrate setting, which produced incredible footage. If you need to attempt to eke out somewhat extra coloration information, you may even go to three:1 compression, however that’s a distinction solely knowledgeable colorist would see whereas utilizing a really costly monitor. Even with that spectacular compression, although, recordsdata are very massive. If you’re capturing 6K24 in Blackmagic RAW 5:1, you’re 1.5GB for a 10-second clip, and you’ll double that if you happen to’re capturing 6K50. That’s important, and it’ll eat by means of your playing cards in a short time. The 256GB card I used to be testing the digital camera with crammed up in simply over 28 minutes of capturing once I was capturing solely at 4K24, Blackmagic RAW 5:1.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

Blackmagic RAW recordsdata are more and more straightforward to work with. Up till lately, you had to make use of Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve enhancing software program to edit it. Now, Blackmagic has launched software program that lets each macOS and Windows computer systems use the recordsdata with relative ease, which meant I may minimize the above video in Adobe Premiere. DaVinci Resolve 16 is a completely practical post-production suite now, and it has best-in-class instruments for coloration grading (particularly if you happen to’re capturing Blackmagic RAW). But there’s a studying curve, and I didn’t have time to show myself a completely new enhancing platform in time for this evaluate.

The most pace when capturing 6K is 50 frames per second, but when you understand your venture timeline might be 24 fps (which supplies a extra cinematic look than the standard-for-video 30 fps), then you may shoot within the High Frame Rate mode. This will shoot at 6K50 however save the file as 24 fps, slowed right down to half-speed. The half-speed footage it produces seems actually good, and if you understand for positive that you really want that clip to be slo-mo, then it’s a straightforward choice. It does file audio, however the audio is actual time, so it isn’t synced to the half-speed footage and can run out midway by means of the clip. Still, it’s higher than not having audio in any respect, and you’ll stretch it in audio enhancing packages if you would like.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

The digital camera seems pleasant sufficient, with its affordable worth, its massive, bulbous form, and its extraordinarily intuitive touchscreen menu (critically, the menu is incredible), however don’t be fooled. This isn’t the kind of digital camera {that a} newbie can seize and simply begin busting out stunning clips. For starters, it doesn’t have the auto options you’d anticipate on a client or prosumer digital camera. It doesn’t have issues like auto ISO, which might be good for occasions once you need to lock in your shutter pace and iris. It additionally doesn’t have any in-body stabilization (which we’re now seeing in mirrorless cameras from Sony and Nikon), so handheld photographs are actually shaky. You’re going to need a tripod or a gimbal for mainly each shot. Also, the physique isn’t weather-sealed, so utilizing it within the rain or in dusty areas can be a major gamble.

The worst half is the autofocus. For starters, there isn’t a steady autofocus choice, so it could’t monitor a topic if it strikes within the body, which mainly all mirrorless shooters can do, and do properly. (Sony’s Eye-AF is the present chief on this arms race.) If you need to use autofocus, you press the button within the again, after which it sometimes takes just a few seconds of untamed searching till it locks in on the point of interest, which makes it successfully unusable throughout a shot. You can also’t faucet to focus or transfer the point of interest away from the middle of the body, which implies you’ll have to maneuver your shot to deal with one thing, after which transfer it again, and even then, the autofocus isn’t tremendous correct.

All of that is to say that it’s good to have eye and a practiced hand for manually pulling focus, and that’s a talent that may take years to develop. But even if you’re a talented DP, the display’s lack of brightness goes to make it actually tough so that you can see what you’re doing if you happen to’re capturing outside, so chances are you’ll end up spending extra money on an exterior monitor. This is much less of a giant deal for skilled DPs, although, and that’s actually who this digital camera is for.

“It’s got a consumer price but it’s really a pro camera,” Blackmagic’s director of gross sales operations – Americas, Bob Caniglia, informed me. “The consumer price helps us reach people who are new to 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 learn on it, too. If you’ve received some filmmaking expertise already and have reached the bounds of what a prosumer mirrorless digital camera can do, this factor is extremely highly effective. But even so, it will be good to see a few of these trendy comfort options added.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

The digital camera chomps by means of batteries and reminiscence playing cards like a T. rex coming off a juice cleanse. It makes use of the puny Canon LP-E6 battery, a design that’s been round for so long as digital SLRs have. Blackmagic claims it should get you 45 minutes of 6K24 recording to a CFast 2.zero card with the display at 50-percent brightness. Realistically, you’re going to wish the display at full brightness if you happen to’re exterior (and even that’s not shiny sufficient). I examined it with an exterior SSD and solely received 30.5 minutes of file time. Either method, that’s fairly dangerous. Blackmagic has a new grip coming out that makes use of two of the Sony L-series batteries that are lots greater. Blackmagic will get you two hours of recording time. It might be launched subsequent month for $245, plus the price of batteries at roughly $125 a pop.

As far as storage goes, Blackmagic has a list of reminiscence options that the BMPCC6K has been examined to work with with out dropping frames or in any other case glitching. For 6K video, you’re going to have to make use of a CFast 2.zero card. The drawback is that CFast 2.zero remains to be fairly new, so it’s not extensively obtainable, and it’s wildly costly. I picked up a SanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB card for this evaluate, and it set me again a knee-wobbling $420 earlier than tax. That’s absurd.

The higher answer can be to make use of the USB-C port and shoot to an SSD, proper? Well, the above checklist solely has two drives accredited for capturing at speeds of 6K50. That’s not quite a lot of choices. However, I examined it with a Samsung Portable T5 in addition to a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, each of that are gentle and compact (to allow them to simply dangle off the digital camera), and so they each carried out flawlessly. That’s a terrific choice to have, and also you’ll get much more bang in your buck than you’d with a CFast 2.zero card.

When it involves enhancing 6K footage, you’re going to need a pc with some critical graphics processing energy, particularly because you’re going to be enhancing coloration and making use of filters, which take much more horsepower. You’re additionally going to need to use the quickest SSD you may get your palms on. For my edit, I used my late-2018 HP Spectre x360 15-inch laptop computer and a Samsung Portable SSD X5, which makes use of Thunderbolt Three and the very quick NVMe interface. That arduous drive gave me no bottlenecks in any respect, which was a aid. The laptop did properly, too. The solely factor that saved falling on its face was Adobe Premiere CC. While coloring footage Premiere would crash roughly each 5 minutes. I spoke with another producers, and so they all confirmed that Premiere CC has been having tons of points recently, and it made me want I already knew the way to use DaVinci Resolve. This digital camera comes with the Studio model of Resolve, which is the extra absolutely featured model, and it consists of all the pieces from meeting to sound mixing and movement graphics.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review: DP starter kit

The digital camera is actually all concerning the unbelievable colours. They’re lifelike, vibrant, and amazingly malleable. This was the primary time I’d ever been capable of shoot in 6K, and I completely liked it. It provides you a ton of flexibility for cropping and stabilizing in publish, and Blackmagic RAW didn’t make my laptop burst into flames. I actually want it had higher autofocus, rather less noise within the shadows, in-body stabilization, an EVF, and weather-sealing, however to get footage of this high quality at this worth, there are sure to be some trade-offs.

In the final yr, a ton of the DPs I’ve labored with have used the BMPCC4K as their B-camera, and the outcomes they get with it are beautiful (although they, too, have quite a lot of focus points with the digital camera). I do know a pair have already preordered the 6K and might be switching to it as quickly because it arrives. It’s straightforward to see why. A number of small studios and impartial DPs will choose these up within the months to return, and I wouldn’t be stunned to see your subsequent favourite indie flick shot with certainly one of these. You’ve received to know what you’re doing, however if you happen to do, you’ll be able to producing pure eye sweet.

Photography by Brent Rose for The Verge

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