IMPORTANT: This complete guide, updated, is now available as a free ebook to subscribers. Click here to subscribe.Disclaimer:Since the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera (Blackmagic Pocket Camera for short) isn’t out yet at the time of this writing most of this guide is conjecture – the result of relying on information provided by Blackmagic Design, educated guesses and my personal experience and analysis. It is only a starting point, from which you will hopefully continue to research and find what best suits your workflow. The information provided here might not be accurate or relevant. You are solely responsible for your decisions and actions.
This guide covers everything from how to select the right lenses and accessories for the Blackmagic Pocket Camera, to workflows in production and post production to get the best out of your footage. It is divided in six parts. The main menu which links to all sections can be found here.
I have one bit of important advice: Buy only what you need. If you can’t judge rationally, get somebody with experience to assist you. A complete camera system is a constantly evolving thing, and you’re better off starting with the bare minimum and adding stuff later, than spending all your money on a setup that will evolve anyway.
In this part we’ll cover:
- The ergonomics and controls of the Blackmagic Pocket Camera.
- Camera specifications, and what you can expect.
Who is the Blackmagic Pocket Camera for?
In Blackmagic Design’s own words:
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera lets you shoot digital film quality images in virtually any location and for any kind of production.
If you want to make a documentary in a remote location then one of the major challenges is taking heavy equipment with you. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera’s compact size means you’re agile enough to follow the story wherever it maytake you!
Passionate independent film makers can now shoot digital film quality and get the beauty that comes from wide dynamic range and color correction…
Bigger cameras can create barriers for journalists, whereas the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is perfect when you’re fighting your way through a crowd to find the perfect angle to shoot from, sometimes without being noticed!
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera’s affordable price, size and image quality make it perfect for use as a crash cam.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera has a 12.5 ounce design with a smaller surface area than many new smartphones, as well as a 2.5mm jack connection for LANC remote control. This is great in situations where you are able to position a camera but not someone to operate it!
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is a fantastic camera for personal use, especially when you want to achieve quality beyond the level of traditional video camcorders.
Students learning the craft of filmmaking can now get to use a digital film camera rather than only learning the theory behind the art.
In short, Blackmagic Design has created a product so revolutionary, that they themselves don’t really know which market it will ultimately end up serving the most. To be fair though, if the Blackmagic Pocket Camera can deliver anything like the quality of its bigger brother (the BMCC) , it is a winner and somebody will buy it! Here is a video from the camera, courtesy John Brawley:
Ergonomics, Dimensions and Weight
It’s funny how, when the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) came out, the technical specifications page was severely lacking in information about dimensions of the camera. At the time, I used what information was available, and reverse-engineered my own specs. I’m glad to see they have followed my system of marking the dimensions of the camera in a clear manner:
Here is the Blackmagic Pocket Camera in comparison to an iPhone 5, so you know what size we are talking about here:
Size-wise, they are very similar. The Pocket Camera is exactly 5x thicker.
An iPhone 5 weighs about 112 grams, so the Blackmagic Pocket Camera is about 3x heavier at 355 grams, without the battery, lens and the memory card. The weight of a typical SDXC card is about 20g, and the weight of a typical EN-EL20 battery is around 40g. Therefore, the total weight of the camera with one card and battery is about 415 grams.
For my philosophy on camera ergonomics and rig design, please read the Chapter on Ergonomics in the Comprehensive Guide to Rigging Any Camera.
The Blackmagic Pocket Camera is a seriously front-heavy camera. All you have to do to tip the balance is add a lens in front, which you must. The greatest problem is going to be steadying it during handheld use.
The camera offers two mounting screws – one at the top and one at the bottom – in line with the vertical center of the lens. These are 1/4″ -20 UNC screw threads. The bottom is obviously for the tripod, while the top is for who-knows-what? I don’t see how the Blackmagic Pocket Camera is strong enough to support an external monitor or an audio recorder, or in the need of a handle or top cheese plate. In any case, it’s there, if you find the need to attach something. This mount will also accept BSW screws of a similar gauge without causing much pain.
Curiously, I see many cages that will come out of the woodwork to make the camera ‘bulkier’, so it can actually take all the accessories that are important for a consistent professional video career.
The camera chassis is magnesium alloy which is both light and strong. The grip makes it slightly easy to hold, but will never be as comfortable as a DSLR for long periods, simply because it’s too small.
Connectors and Buttons
Here are the connections available on the Blackmagic Pocket Camera:
We’ll get into details in subsequent chapters. The specification also mentions a USB 2.0 Mini-B port, which is at the bottom:
At the back are the 3.5″ LCD screen with a resolution of 800 x 480 (about 250 ppi), and the IRIS, Focus and Menu controls. I’m so glad we have buttons – I just hope the power button isn’t very sensitive to palm-pressure:
At the top are the Playback controls (Rewind, Play and Forward) and the record button. Nothing overly complex or unnecessary.
Specifications and what you can expect from the Blackmagic Pocket Camera
The important specifications of the camera are as follows:
|Blackmagic Pocket Camera Specifications|
|Sensor Size (Super 16mm)||12.48mm x 7.02mm|
|Horizontal Crop Factor based on FF 35mm||2.88|
|Lens Mount Options||Active MFT|
|Maximum Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Frame rates at max. resolution||23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p|
|Claimed Dynamic Range||13 stops|
|Recording Format/Codec||Lossless CinemaDNG RAW and Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) at 1920 x 1080|
|HDMI Connectors||Type D|
|3.5mm TRS headphone jack||1|
|Microphone inputs||3.5mm TRS analog stereo|
|LANC inputs||2.5mm LANC for Rec Start/Stop, Iris Control and Focus|
|LCD Monitor||3.5″ and 800 x 480|
|Audio Specs||2 channels 48 kHz and 24 bit|
|Included Accessories||Wrist strap, Turret Dust Cap, 12V AC Adapter, EN-EL20 Lithium Ion Removable /Rechargeable Battery|
|Included Software||DaVinci Resolve Lite|
The greatest negative is the lack of professional audio ports. The camera seriously misses a 1/4″ or XLR connector, as well as SDI for timecode. This is keeping with the size of the camera, of course. It would have had to be bigger to accommodate any of the professional connectors.
The second big negative is the lack of a Thunderbolt port, which tells us this camera has limited options, and must be used within its means.
To see how the Blackmagic Pocket Camera compares to the other two cameras in their lineup, read my Comparison of Blackmagic Design Cinema Cameras.
The BMCC ships with a wrist strap, a turret dust cap, an EN-EL20 Nikon battery and a 12V AC adapter.
These are the basics. In Part Two we’ll look at the lens options for the Blackmagic Pocket camera, as well as filters, matte boxes and follow focus systems.