The Blackmagic pocket cinema camera. A little marvel that has positive features like:
-Good dynamic range
-Film-like picture quality
-ProRes and (soon) RAW recording ability
-Really small size and is easy to handle
-Most important, good value for money!

But, is ‘good for the price’, really good?

In the above “minute review” you can watch my concerns.

Music: The music bed, Beautiful Day – Instrumental by Joshua Radin

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US: $ 495

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Bart van der Horst September 29, 2013

Well battery and viewfinder… in other words focussing and continuity… Wish it was twice as big and having none of those issues.

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Miha September 30, 2013

I belive that is the Black magic Cinema Camera you are talking about :) except the battery…

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What Haveyou October 8, 2013

wish it WERE twice as big…

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marklondon September 30, 2013

The answer to your question is actually ‘yes’ I think.
All cameras are only ‘good for the money’. I can think of issues (some quite serious) with a fully rigged Alexa.
I think the Pocket is the best interpretation of old S16 filmmaking with digital tech we’ve ever seen. Can it be improved – of course!
But right now I think its one of the most incredible tools a young (and young at heart) filmmaker can have access to.

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Johnnie Behiri September 30, 2013

Hi marklondon, johnnievienna here…:)

The output from this little camera is truly amazing. The size, perfect!. With a bit more attention it could have been a real pleasure tool to work with (for the young and young in heart with old eyes)…For now this is not the case. If you have a chance to pick one I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thank you!.

Johnnie

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EricV October 5, 2013

Does the pocket camera take the same external battery input plug as it’s bigger brother, the BMCC?
I’ve got some Switronix battery packs lying around that I would like to use with it. The Switronix battery could be a ‘pocket battery’ while powering the pocket camera ‘on a leash’. What do you think?

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Johnnie Behiri October 7, 2013

Hi EricV

I don’t have the original BMCC in house anymore but the pocket camera also has 12V input and the plug does look identical.

The idea with the pocket camera is to shoot high quality video in almost “stealth mode”. If you intend to shoot in a way that needs a rig anyway, then external powering can work well.

Thanks

Johnnie

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Dre HUD October 8, 2013

I tell you, the raw look is scary if you’re coming off a 5D. What happened to carrying battery packs? I bet a couple of packs the size of the camera on your belt would solve the battery issue. The video here doesn’t cover much…but the problems with the rear display keep me away from this. Also, piling on the video assist, rack and matte box to this little guy starts to seem absurd. I can’t see how a checking out in a camera shop would ever be sufficient for a purchase. ( I hate that, by the way, I need to see results on a 27 inch monitor first)

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Johnnie Behiri October 9, 2013

Hi Dre,

Solutions for batteries are already in the market (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1007269-REG/switronix_pkt_base_pocketbase_battery_holder_for.html)
Rear display is indeed a problem!.

I must say that I made a small rig for it and it does not look absurd at all

Thanks!

Johnnie

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Carlos October 9, 2013

It’s interesting how those “concerns” or “limitations”, valid for the Pocket and other HDSLRs are not part of the problem if you come from film.

1) Poor autofocus. Film cameras never had autofocus. Autofocus is not really reliable when you are rolling. Any movement of the subject will impair the image, and I always leave it off when shooting. Autofocus is just good for the initial setup.

2) Poor audio quality. ALL HDSLR cameras have that limitation. You do need an external recorder, like the Tascam D60. We talking double-system audio, like it’s used in professional productions. What could be done is record a time-code track on the HDSLR, as well as on the external recorder for post-production resync.

3) Low capacity batteries. That’s a problem as serious as low capacity memory cards. In film you also have that limitation and get used to live with it. Maybe external battery and external recorder are a must here.

4) Low quality display. Well, you do need an external LCD screen on EVERY HDSLR, don’t you? Or you still want to put your eye on a viewfinder when shooting with a moving camera?

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Johnnie Behiri October 9, 2013

Hi Carlos.

Thank you for taking the time watching the video and commenting.

Well said, but I’m far from agreeing with you. It is a “pocket camera” which translate to my understanding as a run&gun tool. As such, many of your (valid) solutions are not useful is those situations. Btw, I hope you had a chance to play a bit with it. If yes, I’m sure your solutions are based on your findings.

Thanks again!

Johnnie

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Richard October 17, 2013

I am a little confused about the output of this camera it says in the description on the web site that it will shoot lossless CinemaDNG RAW. I had always taken this to mean it was an actual raw video file. Is that not the case? Being able to shoot in raw was its big selling point for me, perhaps I was hoping more then anything.

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Benjamin Klose October 28, 2013

RAW-recording comes with the next firmware update. You are only able to shoot in ProRes at the moment.

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Rhodes November 2, 2013

I’ve been shooting with this camera for a little over a month now. For the first day or two it was difficult to get familiar with the monitor and to find solutions for batteries and in-camera audio. After a week I was very comfortable with every aspect of this camera. For anyone coming from a t3i, 7d, 5d… you can easily make this camera work for you. I’ve switched to the blackmagic cameras entirely now (BMCC & BMPC) and would highly recommend either as you graduate from a DSLR

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Johnnie Behiri November 3, 2013

Hi Rhodes.

Thanks for sharing your experience shooting with the camera. Appreciated!.

Unfortunately mine is different. The camera is now packed and ready to go back to B&H.

I hope that second generation will be a more mature product one which is suit closer my personal needs.

Thank you!

Johnnie

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Brucie Boomstick November 3, 2013

Those criticisms seem fair – particularly the audio as a camera this size is ideal for ‘run & gun’ documentary-esque shooting. That said, I think this camera has tremendous potential and I look forward to seeing what future iterations will bring. More advanced autofocus, in-body stabilisation, improved screen (higher resolution, touch-enabled), etc.?

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Johnnie Behiri November 3, 2013

Hi Brucie

For me it is the LCD screen.

I’ve tried attaching my Cineroid retina to the camera and while it does work (and in a very nice way) I felt it is a bit defeating the purpose of this little camera. Attaching a VF loupe on a good clear LCD screen would have been a dream. Unfortunately it is not the case with this camera as far as I am concern.

Thanks!

Johnnie

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Federico November 19, 2013

I just got the camera and tested it over the weekend. I agree with you about its limitations but I found more pros, at that price range, than cons. Yes, those batteries die quick, you can’t format cards in the camera and the LCD is not so good…but I see using this camera as a B camera when shooting a feature, a camera that you can use to shoot a different angle, maybe only insert shots but still gives you an amazing dynamic range and good color information at 4:2:2. Maybe a camera to “steal” shots when you’re having trouble with permits. At that price range what you get is good enough for me!

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berniepfeiffer January 3, 2014

I’m going to buy one.

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Johnnie Behiri January 3, 2014

Enjoy your new camera!

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mal meehan January 7, 2014

I took the Pocket Cinema Camera to Israel before Christmas and it performed very well (In the freak snow!).

I made my own external SONY F970 battery plate which connects to the camera’s external DC in and it runs for 4 hours on one F970 battery.

I shot RAW to Extreme 64GB cards… you get about 18 minutes to a card – the footage is amazing, I’m grading it now.

The downside… the screen is terrible, unusable in any sun light. I just pre-ordered the Zacuto Z-Finder which will help tremendously.

There are no onscreen countdowns of battery or recording time but I found that with my 4 hours of battery, that wasn’t a problem, although audio levels would be useful as the internal microphone is not usable (other then for scratch sync to an external audio recorder) so you have to at the very least use a rode video mic or similar… which did clip. So, use an external XLR box where you can monitor the inputs and output line level to the camera, and double up with a zoom.

With Panasonic Lenses the autofocus function isn’t really useful unless you are on a tripod… I found it much better to focus manually with my collection of older FD lenses.

So, the only real issue for me for a days worth of shooting was the short battery time, which I fixed and the short recording times, which are inevitable when shooting RAW. In the field my Nexto DI box worked a treat.

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dio March 5, 2014

does this camera have an output for zacuto evf pro??

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