In a year that is set to be crammed full of huge releases in the video world, we’ve been given the opportunity to review one of the standout cinema cameras of last year, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K, a camera that defies beliefs as to what is possible in a small formed and lower budget camera.
For those that don’t know, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras are, as the name suggests, a range of miniaturised cinema cameras. The name is far more than purely a gimmick here as the capabilities & end results are, truly cinematic.
BMPCC 6K SPECIFICATIONS
The BMPCC 6K features a Super 35 sensor & EF lens mount. So if you’re like us and already use a lot of EF glass, you’re in luck! The capability of that sensor and it’s processor are in truth what you’re buying into with this camera. As, as with any cine camera, the body is really just the brains of a much larger camera rig.
The super 35 sensor enables this camera to capture an incredible 6k image, using the Blackmagic RAW codec, internally onto UHS2 SD or CF express cards. You can also record onto external SSD’s for a more cost effective, larger storage solution. And that’s an important point as the BRAW codec, at 6k is obviously going to be data hungry, averaging at around 400MB/s.
Beyond that huge frame size you can of course, go for a more lightweight middle ground, by using the super versatile ProRes 422HQ codec, or in fact any of the PRO Res options that are available. However this is only an option if you’re willing to shoot in 4K or below, but it does offer you a really great balance between quality & workflow efficiency.
The 13 stops of dynamic range & dual native ISO system are incredible features to have here, and at this price point almost seem to good to be true. All things considered it makes this camera far more akin to fully formed video cameras from the likes of the Vari-Cam or Canon C range, than anything else of this tiny form factor.
The original BMPCC was known as the brains of a camera, the central point in which you would have to build a camera rig around. However the 6k is a little more fully formed than that. For sure it certainly not a run n gun affair like some of the high end mirrorless cameras we’re seeing on the market now, but it’s definitely not as limited as the original pocket cine camera, sitting somewhere comfortably in the middle ground.
That said battery life is always going to be an issue on a camera that is processing this much data and with a screen this big. The body on it’s own takes the LP-E6N batteries, which will probably give around 45 mins at best. So the addition of the dual battery grip is almost a mandatory accessory. The grip takes the NPF-570 batteries offering you a lot more useable running time.
The host of connectivity options this camera has, does suggest that Blackmagic both want it to be future proofed and also have the potential to being the central point, to a much bigger camera rig. There’s the welcome addition of a mini XLR-Pre amp, alongside a 3.5mm mic pre & headphone jack. USB-C, 12v power and full sized HDMI all hint at the versatility of this miniature body and it’s long term capabilities.
The 5” 1080p LCD touchscreen on the rear of the camera is incredible in it’s own right. Bright & big, it does make the camera really easy to use with it’s lovely menu systems. However, some will be disappointed at it’s lack of articulation. I can only assume that again, this hints at this camera being intended as smaller part of a bigger rig.
When it comes to actually using this camera there is very little to be disappointed with. In fact I’d say it’s one of those rare bread of camera tools, that offer you so much joy to work with they kind of inspire you to do more.
And really that inspiration happens when you first get to see your footage… because it is incredible. The 6K BRAW files are huge, data hungry beasts, but it is totally worth it. The depth, colour and dynamics defy belief from a camera that only costs around 2 grand.
When you step down a little to that ProRess 422 HQ in 4k, for me is where the camera really comes into it’s own. Now I know this isn’t using that bleeding of edge of the technology available. But the balance between workflow and quality are always important and for me, this is the cameras sweet spot.
Of course there’s also the high frame rate options, for you buttery smooth B-Roll shooters, and shooting up to a maximum 120FPS in 1080, this camera doesn’t disappoint here either.
In short the camera is just a joy to shoot with, I never struggled or stumbled with it and unlike a lot of new cameras, there was barely any learning curve at all. As I said earlier, truly it’s that rare breed of filmmaking tool that inspires and pushes you to do more with your craft.
Like any camera or piece of gear I’ve used, there’s always compromises to have and the Blackmagic Pocket 6k isn’t immune from that observation.
Firstly shooters stepping up from DSLR’s or Mirrorless cameras will notice the lack of continuous AF. It’s not abnormal for cinema cameras, as AF tends to be more of hindrance than a help in film, but that will take a little getting used to for some.
Also, for me, I was surprised at the lack of internal ND filters, which are often a mainstay in video cameras of any sort. Obviously you can just place a good VND on your lens, but it does feel missing from this camera.
Truly this is a camera that has defied my expectations, let alone it’s form factor and price point. To get an image that good, at this budget just seems to good to be true. Of course it is a more technical camera to use than some will be comfortable with and for others will require you to buy many additional accessories to fully rig it out. But in it’s own right, its a camera that will stand the test of time and that all owners will fall in love with.
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