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Will the Blackmagic Pocket Camera be better than Canon DSLRs


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#1 Alex Birrell

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 12:27 PM

Hey guys,

 

like many people I am considering using buying the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera when it comes out. 

 

In everyone's professional opinion, will it be better than cameras such as the 7d and 5d mark 2 in terms of perceived resolution, noise, image smoothness in motion, dynamic range etc.

 

I know these will all only be opinions until the camera comes out but I'm hoping someone here will have more information. As for the famous/infamous super 16mm sensor, I would love to use the Hawk 1.3x anamorphics on this. I am right in thinking that a 9.5mm super 16 lens will still give me the exact same field of view on the pocket as on a super 16mm film camera aren't I? There is so much misinformation online at the moment about what this super 16 sensor will mean for crop factor.

 

Thanks!


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 12:55 PM

If the sensor is the same size as Super-16 then of course the field of views will be the same. Trouble with the Hawk 1.3x anamorphics is that the shortest focal length is 20mm, which with a 1.3x squeeze gets you the horizontal view of a 15.4mm... I hope that is wide enough for you. Also, what's the point of a pocket sized camera if you stick a huge lens on it?
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#3 Alex Birrell

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 04:11 PM

To be 100% honest, the price is the most attractive thing but I am really attracted to the flexibility of the body being so tiny even with a large lens on it. I have just finished working on a shoot with the Alexa and was amazed at how bulky and annoying it can be with all the cables hanging of it for the viewfinder, monitor etc. It made me long to be working with a super 16 Aaton again!


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 04:24 PM

All those attachments aren't necessary, they are just how modern AC's and operators like to work -- remote focus, onboard monitors, etc.  A film camera today is similarly burdened with cables.

 

You could strip an Alexa down to an ENG-style set-up.

 

The question is really if the pocket Blackmagic really is more "flexible" simply by being small.  Most people define flexibility by the ability to attach all those accessories, so the question is how you are going to attach a Preston, Cinetape, focus monitor, wireless transmitter, etc. to that Pocket camera, let alone, build a handheld rig for it or put it on a Steadicam.  At some point, smaller isn't necessarily more flexible, it's just... smaller.


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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 04:28 PM

Personally, I think the pocket will be better than the canons simply by providence of it not recording to a very compressed codec which is a PITA. Also, given that you can pretty easily throw some cine-optics on it will make my life a little easier.

Now, it will be a major pain in the rear end trying to get it to interface with all the gear you commonly use-- follow focus, you will need an EVF, you'll probably need monitors for clients/directors, that will double the price just in bits to connect to bits you may or may not already have and it'll slowly turn into a spaghetti monster just like most cameras have become these days. That said, however, the price is hard to beat. Here is hoping it's at least marginally reliable. And who knows, maybe you can perminately mount it in some kind of cage thing to make it slightly more ergonomically friendly.

 

Also don't get so wrapped up in crop factors. The sensor is S16mm in sized, and you will quickly get a feel for what lenses you'll want on it. On my own S16mm camera, I tend towards a 12 and 16mm a good deal. 9.5 is very nice as a wide; but in my own case so wide i often see the end of the rails!


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#6 Alex Birrell

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 03:46 PM

Thanks David and Adrian for the replies but here is my dilemma. I am soon to start work on my graduation film from film school. I have been spoiled shooting 16mm, 35mm and the Alexa during my time at school. I love shooting film and I always believed I would shoot my graduation film on film. However, I will have a very limited budget, no less than £4000 but maybe not much more. My plan is to buy a camera with my own money to shoot with so I don't have to spend any of the budget hiring a camera body. I want to have all the money possible to hire good lenses, the right lights, the right grip equipment, get good locations etc. As I have become accustomed to film shooting I plan to light to get what I want on the set and not rely on shooting RAW and fixing up everything after.

 

As a poor student at the moment I could afford the upcoming Blackmagic Pocket camera or something like a 7D. My big query is, am I better going with the BMPCC for the ProRes codec and less compression or will I get more mileage out of a 7D because I will have access to any and all 35mm format cine lenses that I might want to rent. (By the way, I would be getting a PL mount adapter for both cameras to use either super16 format or 35 format cine lenses). To complicate it more I know I will definitely be composing and cropping for 2.40 scope ratio. I'm looking for as many opinions as I can get. I'm much less worried about colour space and figures that no-one can see than in how to get the most options creatively for the best images.

 

Thanks in advance.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 04:45 PM

You'd get the most dynamic range shooting RAW, after that, Log... So if you shoot ProRes in Log gamma on the Blackmagic, then that would give you more film-like dynamic range than Rec.709 in the Canon, but you are implying that you want to shoot in Rec.709 either way to bake in the look in camera and not deal with color-correcting in post. Personally, I don't see why that is more artistic than working with raw or log in post. A scan of a film negative after all is usually log and has to be color-corrected. You have to light for the look you want even in a raw camera.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 04:50 PM

If you are asking what is easier to shoot on, probably the Canon since there are a lot more accessories to make it work for production.
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#9 Alex Birrell

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 04:52 PM

I know, I wasn't meaning to imply that there was a less artistic side to RAW shooting, it's just that it adds so much expense to a budget to do it properly and I would feel more in my comfort zone spending that money on lenses, camera filters, lights and gels etc to get a physical on set look rather than spending it on a grading session. 

 

The reason I am thinking that a DSLR with a Super 35 sized sensor might be better is because I really like wide angle lenses and find using them appropriate for my idea.


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 05:03 PM

They make wide-angle 16mm lenses but probably you'll find it easier to buy them for a DSLR. Though if the Pocket camera has a M4/3 mount, there are wide-angles lenses for that format too.
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#11 Chris Burke

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 05:20 PM

Hawk makes a 14mm V-lite 16 and a 18mm V-lite 16 on up. They come in both 2x and 1.3x. Plenty wide for most applications. They should cover this sensor with no problems, but we will all wait and see.


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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 06:07 PM

How long will you be shooting this short for? A few days?

 

Rent something. If you're going to go through the hassle of renting anyway, the additional hassle and cost will be reasonably small.

 

I wrote an entirely article about this over at Red Shark News, which I'd encourage you to read. The BMD pocket camera is a big deal now, maybe the Alexa is or the F65, but in a short while there'll always be something else.

 

Yes rental fees are dead money but you will always have the latest toy, and cameras go out of date so fast it can be money that's just as dead if you buy. In my view you have it exactly backwards. Lenses, lighting and grip equipment are (to some extent) eternal. Cameras change. Buy lights, buy lenses. Rent the body.

 

Also, I agree entirely about the way that cameras end up being excessively accessorised on bigger productions. Obviously all the accessories are designed to save time but at some point - especially with 3D - the whole thing just becomes such a hideous medusa that adding further stuff ends up taking more time than it saves. I like stripped-down cameras.


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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 07:35 PM

Yes, I think modern cameras are over-accessorized, but if you are going to shoot cinema, you need some basic things, like an image that you can judge focus and composition with, and a way to pull focus on the lens.  Plus the ability to put filters in front and stick the camera onto a tripod and/or go handheld with it.  The Pocket BlackMagic is so new that I wonder about some of that, whereas there is a big market for DSLR filmmaking accessories.

 

I agree that if you can borrow or rent, try that first, unless your shoot is long-term over scattered days and weekends rather than over a specific fixed period of time.

 

A good filmmakers could pull off a film with any of those cameras, I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over it, you can make a Canon work, or a GH2, or a BlackMagic camera, etc.  I just saw part of a Sci-Fi Channel low-budget movie shot on the Canon 5D and it looked pretty good broadcast in HD.  I mean, I could see the weak spots of the Canon - lack of dynamic range, the wide shots were a bit soft, there was some missed focus due to working with a full-frame sensor, but overall, it looked like a professional movie.


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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 05:32 AM

A quick google for images indicates there's a 1/4" thread in the top, and I assume one in the bottom. It'd be crazy for them to do anything else, anyway. On the basis that this is exactly what most DSLRs (and lower end prosumer video cameras) have, I would be reasonably secure in the idea that most DSLR accessories will fit a pocket cinema camera fine and there really shouldn't be an issue with camera support. I'm not a huge fan of DSLR-shaped things with the user interface - the display and buttons - on the back and all the connections sticking out the side, which is exactly back to front to me, but again that's identical to DSLR practice and we seem to make that work. As far as I can see the pocket camera will effectively be a very good DSLR.

 

Couldn't agree more about not obsessing about this stuff, though. The quality of low-cost cameras is so incredibly high at the moment that the mental energy is far better spent considering other things. The difference between a GH2 and a 7D and a pocket cinema camera is probably not enough, on a tiny independent shoot, that it will make the difference between a production looking professional or not.

 

P


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#15 Hector Ariel Diaz

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 04:48 PM

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera has an edge with dynamic range, options of raw/prores, compactness, and color science. The sensor size can be an advantage when purchasing s16 or 1" lenses over the more expensive cine lenses available for S35 sensors. The edge that the Canons will have is the fact that they are bigger cameras, clients are already familiar with the brand (no offense to BlackMagic Design but they are the new kids in town so people can be skeptical), APS-C sized sensor for 35mm lenses, and the ability to record highly compressed images in REC 709 in an 8bit space at a low bit rate below 50mbps. Sometimes the cons can be the pluses in certain situations and both are tools used for different situations but I think if you want to get the most out of your camera and don't mind the high bit rates that come with higher specs in the BMPCC then that camera is your friend. If I'm shooting a wedding that requires a same day edit then I'm going with Canon. If I'm shooting a narrative film that requires grading and VFX then I'm going with the BMPCC.      


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