Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Review
A Journey in Time
Cameras especially hybrid cameras have come a long way in performance. Take a look at Panasonic’s GH5 or GH5s or now outdated Sony A7s ii, you will see that they are breaking new ground in recording capabilities in a 4K capture. Now, you can surf videos on Youtube seeing side-by-side comparisons of Arri and Red cameras with these hybrid beasts.
I am very much fond of these highly capable cameras but I find that there is an element of color and “look” that can’t be duplicated or match with these cheaper cameras. Yes, Arri is far more expensive and may not be in the budget of film students but is there a real difference and if so what is that difference that no one has yet been able to point out in their side-by-side comparisons.
Dynamic Range & Color Depth
That is the game, dynamic range and color depth, that is what is not offered in cheaper cameras. You will get 10 bit but not 16 bit and if you are talking about the beauty of images that is why you are paying twenty times the price for an Arri. Then there is the dynamic range how well the camera handles light, how much detail can it resolve that is where Red shines. But you won’t see any of these in side-by-side comparisons. You will see ISO but not dynamic range, and these are very significant differences.
Years ago, I purchased a BMPC 4K. Why? Because it had a particular look that resembled an Arri but different, a difference that I found to be very cinematic. This is why for me Blackmagic stood apart from all other cameras. I liked the way the images had a “feel” that was unique like a signature of an artist that had his own particular style.
While Panasonic and Sony continued to put out cameras year after year with incremental improvements to their earlier cameras, Blackmagic held steadfast to a design that appealed to a small niche market. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera was one special camera, for example, but it was limited to HD quality recording which made Youtubers and bloggers to migrate to higher res., simpler to operate cameras. We are talking 2013, now, five years later Blackmagic is back on the scene again with a new Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.
This time we have a micro four-thirds sensor that is vastly larger than the Super 16 sensor with a host of improvements that makes the new Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K perhaps the best camera in the market.
Upgraded & Supercharged
Large monitor size screen on the back of the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is revolutionary, so is the direct recording to an SSD hard drive via an output port. The new camera comes with DCI 4K (4096×2160) which means it is intended as a cinema camera and not Youtube-me UHD.
The performance is baffling with the up to 60 fps of 4K recording in either 10-bit ProRes or 12-bit RAW. Speaking of RAW, that is higher image quality than any other hybrid camera out there. Yes, for those who love slow-mo you even got 120 fps to make your girlfriend look like a supermodel.
Plus, you got “Davinci resolve”, perhaps one of the best editing software in the business.
The features of the new Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is a long one. Of course, there is much to learn and discover about this new camera. For example, how well will it perform in autofocus and subject tracking? Then there are improvements that can be made for the future models like in-body stabilization. These are important considerations for anyone who is looking at the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K as an investment.
The real criteria for choosing a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K comes down to the unique image quality that has been the signature look associated with the brand. This is about to change.
What would happen if Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K image looked no different than a Panasonic GH5? What is the difference between these two cameras if they are identical in many ways?
These are questions that just about every review has missed out on. What is the image difference, if both Panasonic GH5 and Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K have the same micro four-thirds sensors produced by Sony. Yes, you heard it right. They are identical. So, should you be excited?
The truth is the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K may have traded its signature look for a competitive advantage or maybe their algorithms have resulted in a stellar achievement of color from a long history of codec engineering that has gained them the look that is referred as the “Blackmagic look” in the industry.
Do you prefer in-body stabilization or RAW recording capabilities? Does larger monitor appeal more to you than Leica lenses that are designed to match the Panasonic GH5 camera? In the end, the technical specs will be the determining factor for the new buyers. If so, Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K will triumph in the battle of delivering better performance at a lower cost. But, the other most important factor for camera buyers in their decision to purchase the new camera Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K should be the “look” which will be in continuation of that legendary Blackmagic “look”.
Today, Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is the best hybrid camera out there. Period. You will get higher image quality and better performance with this new camera than other competitors like Sony and Panasonic.
As a blogging camera, not having to drag around Atomos monitors is perfect for Youtuber. Filmmakers will also be pleased to have all the functionality of a well-designed camera with 4K capabilities.
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Blackmagic Design Announces Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
Next generation 4K camera features dual native ISO, full 4/3 HDR sensor, 13 stops of dynamic range, and ProRes or RAW recording to internal SD/UHS-II and CFast cards, or even external USB‑C drives!
NAB 2018, Las Vegas, USA – April 9, 2018 – Blackmagic Design today announced the all new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, a handheld digital film camera with full 4/3 HDR sensor, dual native ISO with up to 25600 ISO for incredible low light performance as well as 13 stops of dynamic range. It also eliminates expensive external recorders, as it features a unique new USB-C Expansion Port, which allows customers to record using the internal SD/UHS-II and CFast recorders or directly to the same external disks they will use for editing and color correction. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K will be available from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide later this year for only US$1,295.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K will be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design NAB 2018 booth at #SL216.
The revolutionary new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is the handheld digital film camera that customers have been asking for. It packs incredibly high end imaging and professional features into a portable and affordable design that can be used anywhere. The compact body style is perfect for shooting independent films and documentaries, fashion shows, travel blogs, web videos, weddings, corporate video, sports and much more.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K features a full size 4/3 HDR sensor with native 4096 x 2160 resolution and 13 stops of dynamic range for true digital film quality. The full size of the 4/3 sensor is designed to perfectly match MFT lenses so the crop factor is greatly reduced, giving customers a wider field of view. It also features dual native ISO with up to 25600 ISO for incredible low light performance.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is packed with features such as a MFT lens mount, large 5 inch touchscreen monitor, 10-bit ProRes and 12-bit RAW recording, 3D LUTs, 4 built in microphones, mini XLR audio input with phantom power, Bluetooth wireless camera control, HDMI on set monitoring output and more. The latest Blackmagic Design color science lets customers shoot images that are far better than DSLR cameras and even better than professional digital film cameras costing tens of thousands more.
Designed using a space age carbon fiber polycarbonate composite, the body of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is extremely strong and light. The carbon composite material consists of a high strength polymer that’s reinforced with carbon fibers. This gives the camera body incredible strength and rigidity to help protect it from accidental knocks and drops which can often result in damage. The handheld design features a multi function grip which has logically placed buttons and dials that allow super fast access to essential shooting functions such as recording start/stop, still photos, ISO, shutter, aperture, white balance, power and more.
Fourth generation Blackmagic Design color science lets customers shoot HDR images in film, video and new extended video modes. The new extended mode combines the latitude of digital film with an optimized video file. This gives customers working on fast turnaround projects an ideal solution for shooting great looking images that don’t need a lot of color correction or post production work.
Images can be recorded onto standard SD cards, faster UHS-II cards or CFast 2.0 cards in either ProRes or RAW formats. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K can record 4K images at up to 60 frames per second and windowed HD at up to 120 frames per second. It’s also the first camera that lets customers record directly onto the same exact external USB-C media drives they use for editing and color correction. That means customers can turn projects around much more quickly because they don’t have to transfer files. All they need to do is unplug the USB-C drive and then connect it to their computer to start editing.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K uses the same MFT (Micro Four Thirds) lens mount as the original Pocket Cinema Camera so customers can use the investment in lenses they already own. The MFT mount is extremely flexible and allows for different lens adapters so customers can also use PL, C, EF and other types of lenses from manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Leica and even Panavision.
The rear of the camera features a large bright 5 inch touchscreen that makes it easy to frame shots and accurately focus. It also uses the same Blackmagic OS as URSA Mini so customers can use simple tap and swipe gestures to adjust settings, add metadata and view recording status. On screen overlays make it easy to see recording parameters, status, histogram, focus and peaking indicators, and playback controls. In addition, 3D LUTs can be applied for both monitoring and recording.
For audio, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K features multiple built in microphones with an extremely low noise floor, a mini XLR input with 48 volts of phantom power to connect professional lapel and boom mics, and a 3.5mm stereo audio jack for connecting different types of video camera microphones. The high quality built in audio recording means customers don’t have to carry around a separate recorder.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K also includes a full size HDMI connector which can output HDR video as well as a clean 10-bit video feed with optional on screen overlays. There’s also an innovative high speed USB-C Expansion Port for adding external accessories such as flash drives and an SSD for external recording. The camera uses standard LP-E6 batteries and can be charged via USB-C or the locking DC power connector, which protects the camera from being accidentally unplugged during a shoot.
“Customers love the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and have been asking us for a 4K version,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “We’ve listened and built a camera that combines all of our newest ideas and customer feedback from the previous model! The new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is exciting because it packs so much technology into an incredibly small design. We feel it will go well beyond what customers expected. It’s perfect for anyone that needs a truly professional ultra compact digital film camera. This is not a consumer camera that’s trying to do high end work, it’s a true high end camera designed for high end work.”
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Features
Full size 4/3 sized sensor with native 4096 x 2160 resolution sized sensor.
Compatible with extremely high quality Micro Four Thirds lenses.
Super wide 13 stops of dynamic range allows capture for high end feature film look.
Up to 25600 ISO for incredible low light performance.
Carbon fiber polycarbonate composite body which makes it lightweight, portable and durable.
Multi function grip for quick access to recording start/stop, still photos, ISO, shutter, aperture,white balance, power and more.
Built in SD, UHS-II and CFast card recorders.
USB-C expansion port allows longer duration recording directly to an external SSD or flash disk.
Standard open file formats compatible with popular NLE software such as 10-bit ProRes and 12 bit RAW.
Features full size HDMI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay.
Professional mini XLR input with 48 volts of phantom power for connecting to pro microphones.
3.5mm audio jack, headphone jack, and locking DC 12 volt power connection.
Built in 5” LCD touchscreen allows accurate focus when shooting 4K.
LCD supports on screen overlays including status, histogram, focus peaking, and transport controls.
Records 4K images at up to 60 frames per second and windowed HD at up to 120 frames per second.
3D LUTs can be applied for both monitoring and recording.
Blackmagic OS as used in URSA Mini and URSA Broadcast cameras.
4th generation Blackmagic color science.
Supports remote camera control via Bluetooth.
Includes full license for DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, color, visual effects and audio post production.
Availability and Price
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K will be available later this year for US$1,295 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.