Jump to content


Photo

Review: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Landon D. Parks

Landon D. Parks
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1912 posts
  • Producer
  • West Chester Township, Ohio

Posted 03 February 2018 - 06:42 AM

So, I bit the bullet two weeks ago and purchased a used BMPCC from Amazon. My last experience with the camera was not great, but this time I approached it with a different hat. Right off the bat, I purchased the SmallRig NPF battery plate for the BMPCC, which when combined with a large NPF battery, gives about 3.5 hours of record time.


So, I got the package last week, unboxed it all, and played around a bit. I mounted my SmallHD 7” monitor to it, stuck the cheap knock-off speedbooster on the front, and topped it off with my Sigma 17-50 f/2.8. I then took it out and shot some test stuff.


Video Quality

As usual, it’s Blackmagic, and the image is very cinematic looking with great DR. Truth be told, it looks a lot better straight from the camera and with a basic grade than my GH4 vlog footage looks even after trying to tinker with it a bit. After all is said and done, the GH4 footage can look just as good - I'm just impressed with how quickly the pocket gave me the look.

5/5

 

Recording and battery time

This one was my chief complaint last time. However, with the $20 SmallHD NPF plate, I did indeed get about 3 hours of record time to a single, cheap NPF battery. That is on-par with my GH4 - so that is win.

5/5


Audio

Nothing to write home about here, it basically does not exist. So, I hooked my DR-60D up to my AT shotgun mic, and ran a reference cable out to the Blackmagic. Works fine for syncing sound in post.

3/5


Crop Factor

This was the one that scared me most. I like to be able to get wide angles when I want them. Even with the .71 speedbooster and the 17mm APS-C lens, the field of view was still very tight. However, at 17mm, and my actors 9 feet away, I was able to get a pretty good wide-angle shot. Still nothing like what my GH4 with the .64 speed booster can do - not even close - but it works.

3/5


Bottom Line

My opinion? Approaching it with fresh eyes, and with some new support equipment (battery plate and speed booster), I can say I’m very pleased. The footage plays well with Resolve (it should, after all), and the look is spot-on. I liked it so much, that I’m actually purchasing another one, and a couple of JTZ support cages and such so that I can have a couple of pockets for the series I’m shooting this summer for Amazon. I was going to use my GH4 for that, but after my experience, and the delivery medium, I changed my mind.


So, does this mean I’m now a Blackmagic fan? Time will tell. But I’m pretty impressed this time around.

4/5.


  • 2

#2 Samuel Berger

Samuel Berger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1135 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Seattle

Posted 03 February 2018 - 10:12 AM

 

So, I got the package last week, unboxed it all, and played around a bit. I mounted my SmallHD 7” monitor to it, stuck the cheap knock-off speedbooster on the front, and topped it off with my Sigma 17-50 f/2.8. I then took it out and shot some test stuff.

 

 

O_o

 

You need the real thing that's made for the BMPCC, not the generic M43 one. http://www.metabones..._spef-bmpcc-bm1


  • 0

#3 Stefano Stroppa

Stefano Stroppa
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 61 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London

Posted 03 February 2018 - 10:35 AM

Thanks Landon for sharing your feedback on the BPCC, I'm really that close to buy one, but still wondering between a Sony a6500 (what I like the most about it is the low-light sensibility and slow motion possibility) and the Pocket (what I like the most about it is video quality), and can't make up my mind haha!


  • 0

#4 Landon D. Parks

Landon D. Parks
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1912 posts
  • Producer
  • West Chester Township, Ohio

Posted 03 February 2018 - 06:54 PM

O_o

You need the real thing that's made for the BMPCC, not the generic M43 one. http://www.metabones..._spef-bmpcc-bm1

 

Actually, I own two speedboosters: The Metabones Nikon G/F to m4/3 XL and the Viltrox NF-M43 0.71x. The Viltrox I picked up for less than $100 from Amazon a little while back, because I heard good things about it. My Metabones is currently screwed into the support cage on my GH4, which makes it a pain to take it apart, so I stuck the Viltrox on the pocket.

 

The reality is, I shot several color and resolution test charts with both the Viltrox and the Metabones on the GH4 with a 24mm Cine DS lens, and my results showed that neither adapter showed any difference in color, moire, or any image warping effect. Resolution wise, the Viltrox was actually sharper than the Metabones in in all but the very outside corners of the image, whereas the Metabones maintained the same sharpness throughout, but was overall slightly softer. However, the Viltrox was sharper across the entire image on the GH4 in 4K video mode (smaller sensor area than m4/3), and as such I knew that the pocket would use even less of the adapters image area, would also be super-sharp.

 

In all honesty, if given the choice again, I'd purchase a Viltrox over the Metabones. Roughly the same build quality, and since both are dumb adapters, they don't really have a lot of moving parts or electronics to screw up (other than the iris-engage ring, which is identical in looks and build in both units). The glass in both is superb, as mentioned from my tests above.

 

Now, I might well decide to fork out the money for the Metabones Nikon GF to BMPCC speedbooster, since it does have a 0.58 factor, which means even wider and faster lenses, but that also means I'd have to shell out an additional $1,000 for them. From my tests, I don't really think its needed. The 16mm CineDS lens at f1.4 is plenty wide, and gives me probably f/0.95 or even less. Don't know if the 0.58 is really worth it at 4x the cost of the Viltrox.

 

I can't speak for the performance of the Canon EF versions of the Viltrox, which are auto focus and electronic Iris control... Those might well be slower than the equiv. Metabones. I only have F-mount lenses, so only use the dumb F-mount adapter.

 

 

Thanks Landon for sharing your feedback on the BPCC, I'm really that close to buy one, but still wondering between a Sony a6500 (what I like the most about it is the low-light sensibility and slow motion possibility) and the Pocket (what I like the most about it is video quality), and can't make up my mind haha!

Low-light performance is certainly one area to look at, and its one area I tested the BMPCC at, since the series I'm shooting will have a lot of nighttime woods/campfire scenes and such, I wanted to put through its paces... It's not a bad performer in low light. At all. While the sensor is smaller, it also has a lot less pixels than some DSLR's, meaning that the low light performance is not affected as much as one might think. Also combined with a speedbooster, you can easily get your lenses down to f1 or even less (The 24mm f1.4 DS I have becomes an f/.95, for example), which combined with the ISO 1600 of the camera, is perfectly usable in low light.

Even with cameras that are capable of going above 1600 ISO, it's never usually a good idea to do it. Unless there is some extreme reason why you can't bring in some light to scene to keep it at 1600 or less, you really should. Even in the best 'low light monsters', the higher the ISO, the more artifacts and digital grain you introduce.

 

I don't personally have any test footage uploaded yet. I might do that a little later if I have the time, but all you need to do is go to even YouTube and type in 'BMPCC Low Light', and you'll see that when combined with a speedbooster and an already fast lens, ISO 1600 is plenty. It's not going to shoot anything in the pitch dark, but then again no camera is going to perform well under those circumstances.

 

PS) I'd venture to say that the Pocket has better low light performance, when combined with the Viltrox and a fast lens, than even my GH4 with the same lens and adapter. I guess because while the GH4 sensor is bigger, it also has about 10x as many pixels, this negating the sensor size gain in terms of low light performance.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 03 February 2018 - 07:06 PM.

  • 0

#5 Landon D. Parks

Landon D. Parks
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1912 posts
  • Producer
  • West Chester Township, Ohio

Posted 03 February 2018 - 07:26 PM

I just wanted to add:

 

The reason the low-light performance of the pocket is not as bad as one might fear, comes down to pixel count vs sensor size. In this example, I'm going to use the new GH5s as a comparison point, since its the new 'light light' king on the block in the under FF category.

 

The BMPCC sensor is 87 square mm in size, in which they pack 2,000,000 pixels. The GH5s is standard micro 4/3, at 225 square mm in size, but in which they pack 10,000,000 pixels. This means the GH5s packs 44,000 pixels into each square mm of space, where the pocket packs 22,000 pixels into each square mm. This means that at ISO 1600, the pocket should actually give you double the low-light results as the GH5s at the same ISO.

 

Now of course the pocket only goes to 1600, and the GH5s can go way higher, but what that also means is that the pocket should, in theory, have the same low-light performance at 1600 ISO as the GH5s has a 3,200 ISO. And the GH5s appears to my eyes to start to break down above 3,200 ISO anyway.

 

Whats the take away here? The low light performance of the pocket is not bad at all. The above is a very clinical version of course, and assumes the same lenses, same internal processing, etc., which isn't always the case. However, it's apparent that on shear pixel density alone, the BMPCC at least holds its own against the GH5s.

 

PS) What the hell, we'll through a full-frame comparison in here too: Lets just take a generic FF sensor at 860 square mm, and take - say - the A7Riii, which has 42,000,000 active pixels. This means that the density of the A7Riii is 48,000 pixels per square mm., or more than double the density of the pocket camera.

 

So, from a pure pixel-density test alone, the pocket wins. Of course, there is more too it than that, but pixel density is a major player in the field of low-light, and the pocket actually wins against the full frame cameras in this area. Combine this with the potential RAW recording of the pocket for even more detail, it looks good to me.

 

PSS) This also doesn't take into account less light actually hitting the smaller sensor, which is also where some of the low light performance comes from... However, the Speedbooster and low f-stop lenses help to combat this somewhat. Of course, that also means that pixel count and density alone is not enough to give bad low light, and is probably why even with the higher pixel density, full-frame still has better low light results.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 03 February 2018 - 07:32 PM.

  • 0

#6 Landon D. Parks

Landon D. Parks
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1912 posts
  • Producer
  • West Chester Township, Ohio

Posted 03 February 2018 - 07:48 PM

Thanks Landon for sharing your feedback on the BPCC, I'm really that close to buy one, but still wondering between a Sony a6500 (what I like the most about it is the low-light sensibility and slow motion possibility) and the Pocket (what I like the most about it is video quality), and can't make up my mind haha!

 

Also, Stefano, if you need slow motion, you can look into the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. Same price as the pocket, but has 60fps and the same sensor. It doesn't have a built-on screen though, so you'll need an external monitor. Other than that though, the micro is actually built a lot better than the pocket it. Easier access the SD card, easier access to the larger batteries, full-sized HDMI port, etc.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 03 February 2018 - 07:48 PM.

  • 1

#7 David Peterson

David Peterson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 199 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand.

Posted 06 February 2018 - 03:41 AM

So, I bit the bullet two weeks ago and purchased a used BMPCC from Amazon. My last experience with the camera was not great, but this time I approached it with a different hat. Right off the bat, I purchased the SmallRig NPF battery plate for the BMPCC, which when combined with a large NPF battery, gives about 3.5 hours of record time.

Smart approach. Both the BMCC and BMPCC should only be treated as if the internal battery is a "bonus", which gives you the "feature" of hot swapping batteries! Yay!

External batteries are cheap.  Do it. 

Focal Reducers (such as the RJ Lens Turbo) are cheap. Do it! (cures low light complaints and not getting wide enough shots. On that topic... buy an UWA lens! Such as the Tokina 11-20mm f2.8, problem solved!)


For all the fame the BMPCC/BMCC MFT got, they are still under rated cameras because people brought up so many ridiculous objections about them which are easy and cheap to solve. 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, Stefano, if you need slow motion, you can look into the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. Same price as the pocket, but has 60fps and the same sensor. It doesn't have a built-on screen though, so you'll need an external monitor. Other than that though, the micro is actually built a lot better than the pocket it. Easier access the SD card, easier access to the larger batteries, full-sized HDMI port, etc.

 

I regard the BMMCC as the "BMPCC v2.0", basically the BMPCC but improved! (in a way I kinda think of the BMPCC as an "original BMCC v2.90")


Edited by David Peterson, 06 February 2018 - 03:45 AM.

  • 0

#8 Landon D. Parks

Landon D. Parks
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1912 posts
  • Producer
  • West Chester Township, Ohio

Posted 07 February 2018 - 08:54 PM

I regard the BMMCC as the "BMPCC v2.0", basically the BMPCC but improved! (in a way I kinda think of the BMPCC as an "original BMCC v2.90")

 

I agree with this. I have actually already sold the pocket and am going to be purchasing two micro cameras. The 60p is important to me, and the form-factor works better. I can see some people missing the screen, but that is really the only down-side; and it's not really a down-side. You get longer battery run-time without the screen, and I NEVER work with a camera when it doesn't have a 7" monitor attached anyway.

 

I have settled on 2 micros, 2 Metabones .58 speedboosters, and 2 SmallHD 701 monitors. I already have a Sigma 17-50 f2.8, and am going to buy another one - and dedicate those to the cameras. In cases where super low-light, or fine control of the focus is needed, I can throw my CineDS lens set on there. Also going to purchase a couple of JTZ-based rig (matte box and follow focus), and a smallrig bmmcc cage. I use a full JTZ rig on my GH4, and I have never been so impressed with camera support.


  • 0

#9 David Peterson

David Peterson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 199 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand.

Posted 09 February 2018 - 06:11 AM

 

I agree with this. I have actually already sold the pocket and am going to be purchasing two micro cameras. The 60p is important to me, and the form-factor works better. I can see some people missing the screen, but that is really the only down-side; and it's not really a down-side. 

Indeed, when you have such nifty little monitors as the SmallHD 502 or others at an even much lower price (such as say the Feelworld F6, if you're looking for a waaay lower priced option!) then a person really has no excuse against the BMMCC when it comes to lacking a monitor.

 

https://www.aliexpre...2841628214.html

 

 

You get longer battery run-time without the screen, and I NEVER work with a camera when it doesn't have a 7" monitor attached anyway.

I tend to think of 7"+ as more like an AC monitor or a portable director's monitor

While 5" ish and less is better for a camera op


  • 0

#10 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2059 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:27 PM

What about the Blackmagic Micro Studio 4k camera with one of their monitor recorders? Seems like it would be a great combination...right around $2k.


  • 0

#11 David Peterson

David Peterson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 199 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand.

Posted 09 February 2018 - 06:48 PM

Completely different design.

The hint is in their name: studio vs cinema

Wouldn't recommend
  • 0

#12 Landon D. Parks

Landon D. Parks
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1912 posts
  • Producer
  • West Chester Township, Ohio

Posted 10 February 2018 - 04:12 PM

I tend to think of 7"+ as more like an AC monitor or a portable director's monitor

While 5" ish and less is better for a camera op

With me, it's probably because I have never used smaller monitors. I started with a 7" Atomos recorder/monitor and have used them every since. When I went SmallHD, the 7" seemed like the go-to to me. For some reason, 5" monitors just seem tiny to me - they are only about an inch larger than the LCD screens on the back of the DSLR. While you can get framing on those, getting good focus is hard.

Then again, I am always camera oping and pulling focus and directing at the same time, so the bigger monitor helps me to keep framing, focus peaking, actor marks, etc. all in one go. If I was just oping/trying to get framing, I could probably work with a 5". But to me, the 7" is usually not more expensive than a 5" monitor. The bigger monitor allows me to pull myself away from the camera body, so I can still focus on the actors and not just the camera.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 10 February 2018 - 04:13 PM.

  • 0


Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Visual Products

CineLab

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

CineTape

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

FJS International, LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

CineLab

The Slider

CineTape

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

Paralinx LLC

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Technodolly