Since I haven’t received my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) yet at the time of this writing most of this guide is conjecture – the result of relying on information provided by BMD, educated guesses and my personal experience and analysis based on the work I’ve done with earlier cameras. 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.
Since this is a huge article I’ve made a menu:
What is a “native” lens?
A “native” lens is one specifically designed for the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system, and which allow the following:
- Electronic metadata like iris, focal length, etc.
- Single-point autofocus (the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) doesn’t support continuous autofocus on any lens).
The four major brands that make electronic native lenses are:
There are others, but only these four make lenses that autofocus for video.
Do you get continuous autofocus for video?
No. Not with any lenses.
You only get Single-point autofocus. To be honest I would just stick to manual focus.
Best prime lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
When should you pick prime lenses?
The single greatest advantage prime lenses have in general is they can open wider than zooms. You can go down to f/0.95 if you wanted to!
This makes it a great option for low light cinematography. And there’s really no excuse for not having at least one prime because they also tend to be cheap without sacrificing quality. Another advantage of prime lenses is they are usually lighter than zoom lenses (comparing the same price range).
You might want to get a 50mm (35mm equivalent) as your first general purpose lens, so you’re looking at something in the 25mm range. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) has a crop factor of 2 in 4K mode and 4 in 120p HD windowed mode. We’ll look at the windowed mode in another article.
If you only had $300 or so for one lens, which would should you get?
If you only had $600 or so for one lens, which would should you get?
What are the best wide angle lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
One of the great disadvantages of the MFT format is its sensor size, and because of it you really can’t have ultra-wide lenses that aren’t cost-prohibitive.
One way to circumvent this problem is to use a Speed Booster or focal reducer, though you are limited by how wide you can go. To know what a Speedbooster or focal reducer is, and to learn about the Aputure LensRegain, watch this:
Here are my suggestions, in order of preference:
- Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2 (Amazon, B&H)
- Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
So you’re at a 24mm equivalent at best. That’s just wide, not ultra-wide. For ultra-wide options look at zooms.
What are the best normal lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
For a little longer, you have:
- Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. Power OIS (Amazon, B&H)
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO (Amazon, B&H)
This would give you an 85mm equivalent. By now you’ll have guessed, anything with a Leica on it (for Panasonic), or PRO (for Olympus) is top-notch.
What are the best telephoto lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
This is where you say bye-bye to Panasonic and embrace Olympus. For telephoto lenses though, you really don’t have any options in Panasonic. These are your picks:
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 (delivers a 150mm equivalent) (Amazon, B&H)
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO (600mm equivalent) (Amazon, B&H)
What about macro lenses?
In order of preference:
- Panasonic LUMIX G MACRO 30mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H) – This is a general purpose macro, for larger objects.
- Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H)
When should you pick zoom lenses?
Zoom lenses are all about convenience. You pick a zoom when you want that flexibility in creating wide shots and close ups. You simply don’t have the time to swap lenses often, or can’t afford more than one or two general lenses.
If you are sticking to zoom lenses, get the most expensive you can afford. You typically get what you pay for.
If you could only get one zoom lens, which would should you get?
Get the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Asph. (Amazon, B&H). Please note, this is the Mark I version. A newer Mark II version has been released, but it’s $999, so pick the latter if you can afford it.
This lens will give you a 24-70mm 35mm equivalent, more than enough for most general purpose video work.
What are the best wide angle zoom lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
Luckily the MFT system has two great wide-angle zooms, in order of preference:
- Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO (Amazon, B&H)
- Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
This would give you a 14-28mm 35mm equivalent, more than enough for most wide-angle work. The Olympus is more rugged and more suited to outdoor use (it’s also weatherproof), and for ultra-wides AF isn’t that big of a deal. The only major drawback of these zoom lenses are that you can’t put standard screw-in filters on them. You’ll need something like the Formatt Hitech 165mm Lucroit Filter Holder Kit (Amazon, B&H).
What are the best normal zoom lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
You might be asking, why not a variable aperture zoom (something like an f/4-5.6 or whatever). The problem is once you set exposure and then zoom in, you’ll have to compensate by raising the ISO. In low light situations, you’ll have a cleaner wider shot and a noisier close up. In the editing room side by side, the differences will be more pronounced. Try to avoid variable zooms whenever possible for video.
What are the best telephoto zoom lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
If wide angles are the bane of MFT, then telephoto lenses are its rockstars. Try to get a lens with internal image stabilization, like the Panasonic OIS telephoto lenses.
Get the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II POWER O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H). It will give you a 70-200mm equivalent, great for any kind of telephoto work. Olympus also has a stellar ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens, but there’s no image stabilization. You could still pair it with a gimbal, but the there’s no way to control any function in the camera via a gimbal.
When should you pick prime lenses with manual focus?
When you can and want to control the focus, that’s when. This applies to corporate videos, fictional work of any kind, documentaries, etc.
The key factor is the kind of manual focus you want. The professionals use follow focus systems, but even if that’s overkill for you, you need to ensure the focus ring on the lens is solid, smooth and reliable enough to consistently nail focus. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) has focus peaking, so you can nail focus by looking at the back LCD.
The one big gotcha is the focus-by-wire mechanism of many of the native lenses. This means you don’t get the same amount of focus for an equivalent amount of turn. You can’t get any kind of muscle memory going, and you’re totally dependent on the lens for the job. What’s worse, each lens will behave a bit differently! For this reason, I only recommend lenses for manual focus where the focus ring is good enough for professional use.
What are the best wide angle lenses for manual focus?
Here are my suggestions, budget-wise:
- Low budget: Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS (Amazon, B&H)
- Great mid-range option: Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 (Amazon, B&H) – It doesn’t get much better than this!
- For cinema work: Veydra 12mm T2.2 (Amazon, B&H)
What are the best normal lenses for manual focus?
Here are my suggestions:
Best value for money:
- Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 (Amazon, B&H)
- Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Type II (Amazon, B&H)
- Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 (Amazon, B&H)
Seriously, you can’t beat this combo. Some complain that the Voigtlander is a bit soft. But a bit soft with 4K doesn’t really matter. In fact, it’ll make skin tones look much creamier. I can’t think of a better system, especially because you need an excellent focusing mechanism at f/0.95.
What are the best telephoto lenses for manual focus?
With telephoto lenses accurate focus is critical. Here are my suggestions:
- Samyang/Rokinon 50mm f/1.2 (Amazon, B&H)
- Samyang/Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical IF (Amazon, B&H)
- Samyang/Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 ED UMC Macro (Amazon, B&H)
- Samyang/Rokinon 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC (Amazon, B&H)
Overall though, I’m not too sure about getting telephoto lenses with manual focus unless you’re on a tripod and have a solid focusing strategy. If you’re going to run and gun it choose Panasonic lenses that also offer OIS.
Why Voigtlander over Veydra Primes?
The Veydra primes (Amazon, B&H) seem like a great option if you want a set of color-matched cine lenses that have standard front diameters and focus rings. But they have three disadvantages I can’t reconcile:
- They’re slow, at T2.2 for primes (a T2.2 would roughly be an f/2) that cost $1,000 a pop.
- They only go as wide as 12mm and there are no real super telephoto options.
This is just me, I’m not saying these lenses are bad or anything. They offer decent image quality and construction, but still, I don’t see the value. Most people will be using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) for run and gun or low budget film work.
Adapters and third-party lenses
How do you know if a lens can be used or not? First, you need to know what the flange focal distance is.
Here’s information on each mount, in increasing order of the focal flange distance:
|Mount||Focal Flange Distance in mm|
|E Sony E-mount||18|
|MFT Micro Four Thirds mount||19.25|
|M Leica M mount||27.8|
|FT Four Thirds mount||38.67|
|FD Canon Manual FD mount||42|
|EF Canon EOS EF mount||44|
|EF-S Canon EOS EF-S mount||44|
|A Minolta/Sony A-mount||44.5|
|K Pentax K-mount||45.46|
|F Nikon F-mount||46.5|
|R Leica R-mount||47|
|PL Arri PL mount||52|
I have highlighted the MFT flange focal distance in blue. Any lens designed for a camera system that has a greater flange focal distance can be used on the GH5. From the table above, anything below can be adapted. On the other hand, Sony E lenses cannot be adapted.
So you can use Canon FD, Canon EF, Nikon F, Arri PL, Leica M and R, Pentax K and even older Four Thirds lenses on the GH5. And a lot more.
How do you use third-party lenses on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
Third-party lenses come in their own lens mounts. So you need some sort of adapter that comes between the lens and the camera. This adapter does two things:
- It connects two mounts that naturally don’t fit together, and
- It makes up for the flange focal distance.
The typical lens adapter does only these two things, so there’s nothing in the adapter, no lens or optics. It’s just hollow inside.
Important information regarding lens adapters:
- Some lenses have protruding elements at the back that might not interface correctly with the adapter. Look for certain wide angle lenses that have this problem.
- Modern lenses don’t have aperture rings. You change the aperture via the camera body. If you take away the camera body and replace it with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, you need some way for the camera to talk to this alien lens. So for lenses without aperture rings you need adapters with gold contacts that allow you to manipulate aperture:
- However, not all adapters let you talk to the lens. E.g., with Nikon G lenses, you get adapters with physical aperture rings that you must adjust manually:
- Some adapters allow you to autofocus with third-party lenses, though they never work as well as using native lenses.
- You might want to turn off image stabilization in the lens, and sometimes it won’t work as well because it might not be getting the necessary power from the camera body/adapter. Don’t buy lenses on assumptions. Look for real-world reviews and tests.
- Adding an adapter adds one more point of contact for the lens, which is also one more point of failure. If the adapter is not well made the lens might fit too tight or have play, both of which are undesirable.
- Cheap adapters are not machined precisely, so they don’t make up the flange focal distance accurately. E.g., they might be off by a few millimeters, and this will affect infinity focus on the lens. Expensive adapters come with shimming kits that you add between the adapter and camera body to make up for any manufacturing defects. Cheap adapters are a crap shoot.
- Also, cheaply machined adapters don’t have the mechanics to support heavier metal lenses.
- If the internals aren’t done well, beware of light leaks and internal reflections.
- Lastly, adapters add bulk to your camera setup, and need to be supported underneath. Third-party lenses are typically made for large-sensor cameras, so the lenses are heavier and bulkier. Overall, your system will be more front heavy. That’s why you see some adapters with their own ‘bases’ which help support the lens.
Which is the best lens adapter for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
There are a few brands making adapters, and I’ve found one brand that consistently performs well is Metabones (Amazon, B&H). Other brands I’ve heard good things of are Novoflex (Amazon, B&H) and Voigtlander (Amazon, B&H). The consistent thing about these brands are the price. They know they’re good, and they are priced accordingly.
A lot of people think the cheaper brands are good enough, and spending more for one of the top three are a waste of money. I don’t agree. It’s like eating a fat-fueled diet all your life. It feels fine when you’re young, but once the problems start they’ll never go away. Cheap adapters walk and talk like the real thing, but they’re ruining your experience in ways you won’t know until it’s too late.
Having said that, there’s no reason why a cheaper adapter can’t exist. So if you find one that works for you, no problem. More power to you.
What’s this Speed Booster thing everyone keeps raving about?
The Speed Booster is a lens adapter, expect it has an optical element inside it. So if there’s a lens in it it stands to reason it must accomplish something specific.
The name “Speed Booster” is from Metabones. There are other companies making similar designs, and this optical design is called a focal reducer. However, because Metabones was the first one out, and the one with the best pedigree, I recommend only Metabones (Amazon, B&H) – unless you are short of cash. In which case look at other options.
What does a Speed Booster do differently?
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K has a crop factor of about 1.9x. So, e.g., if you use a Canon 50mm lens on it, you’ll get an equivalent of 95mm. If you want a wider angle of view, you need wider lenses. The problem is, let’s say you buy a 14mm wide angle lens (which is pretty wide for full frame) and adapt it to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. On this camera, you’ll only get an angle of view equivalent to about 27mm, which is not that wide.
As we’ve seen in the previous chapter, there are wide angle lenses available for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, but not many.
This is where the Speed Booster shines. It does two things, both seemingly miraculous:
- It re-widens a lens (not completely, but not bad either)
- And the miracle part: It increases the light taking ability of the lens! This is possible because it compresses more light into a tiny area. These two things are essentially what a focal reducer does.
What numbers to look for in a Speed Booster or focal reducer
When you look at the specs of a Speed Booster or similar focal reducer, you’ll see some numbers like this:
- 0.64x or 0.7x or similar
- 1-stop or 1.3 stop increase, etc.
The former tells you how much wider your lens will get. E.g., with the same 50mm lens, with the 1.9x crop factor you get 95mm. Now with a 0.64x focal reducer, say, you get 0.64 x 95 or 61mm. Not as wide as 50mm, but still good.
The latter tells you how much of a light increase you get. This increase happens as an aperture increase. E.g., if the 50mm lens is an f/2, and you get a 1 stop increase, now the lens is effectively an f/1.4. With a 1.3 stop increase it’s effectively an f/1.2.
So does this mean you can widen any lens and increase the aperture to zero?
No to both.
Ultimately, the insides of the adapter will limit the final angle of view. So there are lenses that will vignette on the Speed Booster. Wide angle lenses have this problem, depending on how the focal reducer is designed. You’ll see an example of this in the next section.
Secondly, if you use a lens with an aperture of f/0.95, you’ll get about f/0.7, but that’s about it. If you use a lens with a native aperture of f/0.7, you won’t get f/0.5. They physics has a limit. Each focal reducer has its own aperture limit. Some are f/0.9, some are f/0.7. Know this before you invest.
Lastly, adding an optical element between the lens and the sensor will degrade image quality. It’s not a question of if, but by how much. And more importantly, how much image quality are you willing to sacrifice for the benefits? For most web-based work I don’t think it’s a big problem, but for high-end productions the quality loss might be an issue.
Which Speed Booster should I get for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
There are two Speed Booster versions available for the GH5 (not in all mounts):
- 0.71x ULTRA (APS-C lenses) or
- 0.64x XL (full frame lenses)
Is the Speed Booster worth it?
Only if you already have Nikon/Canon or other lenses that can be adapted. Here are some ideas for you to ponder over:
- Speed Boosters are not cheap, so if you only have one or two lenses from a third-party it’s better to spend that money on a decent Panasonic native lens.
- Don’t buy Speed Boosters for shallow depth of field alone. You can achieve the same with the Voigtlander lenses I referenced above. Even if you need autofocus, it’s not going to work very well for video.
- Don’t buy Speed Boosters just for the wide angle. There’s a limit to how wide you can go anyway, so the native lenses mentioned in the last article might be a better option overall.
The bottom line is, you only buy the Speed Booster to adapt existing lenses that would otherwise go to waste. With it you get a close angle of view and good aperture performance, so it’s worth it. For the rest, forget focal reducers.
Best third-party lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
There’s no such thing. Any lens is good if it meets your purpose. Even the best lenses are crap if it doesn’t get you the image you want. So, if you have to ask this question, then the problem is you. The best advice I can give is, if you don’t know which lens is good for you, then it’s not time to buy any lens yet. Get some experience, shoot a lot and slowly the right lenses will be made evident to you. And guess what? At that time, the money you didn’t spend will still be available. But this time for the right lenses.
Which lenses do I prefer?
Nikon F/G is the only mount that ticks all boxes:
- You want aperture ring and image stabilization? No problem.
- You want to use cheaper lenses or more expensive ones? No problem.
- It has a flange focal distance that makes it adaptable to even Canon cameras if the need ever arises in the future.
- Great prime lenses are available for cheap. Thankfully, Nikon has hardly changed their SLR mount, and you’ll never have a shortage of lenses.
- Not only do Nikon primes come in all focal lengths, you have various choices of year (like wine!) and model. Lots of new and used options going back decades.
- Adapters are a dime a dozen, though beware of the cheap ones.
There are three kinds of adapters for the Nikon mount:
- Nikon F to MFT – F lenses have an aperture ring and are mostly manual focus only.
- Nikon G to MFT – G lenses don’t have aperture rings so the adapter has one instead. You’ll need to use that to set aperture.
- Nikon G to MFT Speed Booster XL 0.64x
I recommend the G to MFT adapter. Even if you’re using F lenses, like I am, you can set the adapter aperture to wide open and just use your lens instead. But you have the option of G lenses if you ever need it. The price difference isn’t that great so it’s not an issue.
Recommended Nikon prime lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
Here are recommended prime lenses from the Nikon stable:
The lenses marked in bold are my favorites. The ones in green are what I own. Don’t forget, you can buy many of these Nikon lenses used in great condition. I’ve only listed new prices.
Best third party zoom lenses
Zoom lenses are all about convenience. The one major gotcha with zoom lenses is that most low end zoom lenses are not parfocal. But this is all you have.
So to really get the benefit of manual focus and zooms, you’ll find you’re always pining for the most expensive options.
Sigma is the best brand to get, if you’re going third-party. They have two classy zooms:
Remember, you’ll need an adapter for these lenses. Should you go third-party or native (as mentioned in the last article)? I recommend native, really. Third-party zooms are usually made for full frame cameras, so are heavier. Plus you need to add an adapter as well. Not worth it, unless you have the lenses already.
What are “C-mount” lenses?
The C-mount is a mount type (like Micro Four Thirds, EF, PL, etc.) that was popular for Super 16mm film and other CCTV/machine camera systems. They were made for multiple sensor sizes.
Super 16mm vs Micro Four Thirds
The original pocket camera had a sensor similar to Super16mm film, so you could use those lenses. The new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) has a larger Micro-Four Third-type sensor, so if you use Super 16mm lenses, it will vignette. Even though the new sensor is slightly wider than Micro Four Thirds, the height is smaller, and the image circle (in bold, in the middle of each box) is similar.
Therefore, any lens that works for Micro Four Thirds will work on the new Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. But not Super 16mm lenses, or lenses made for 1/2″ video sensors.
There might be exceptions to this, but they will so few and in the higher telephoto range, that it’s pointless to go after them unless you’re really after that. Like I mentioned in my article on cine and manual lenses, there are much cheaper and more robust options out there. Good C-mount lenses are not exactly cheap!
Can you use C-mount lenses on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
That’s the million-dollar question. Yes, and no.
If you want to shoot 4K, then no, unfortunately. You can only use Super 16mm lenses if you’re happy with 1080p. There might be some Super 16mm lenses that cover the sensor (especially if they are made for a 1″ sensor), but these are rare, and are specialty items that are only useful if you already have lenses but are looking for something different.
As of this writing there’s no information on what the “window-size” will be for 1080p120, but scaling the sensor as it is right now gives us a guesstimated size of about 8.85mm x 5mm, or an image circle of about 10mm. So any 16mm lenses will work. 1/2″ lenses will also work.
Maybe, some 8mm lenses might work as well. But seriously, I don’t get the point of this, when there are cheap full frame or APS-C lenses available that will work great for roughly the same price.
The C-mount adapter
They basically screw on to the lens. Try to buy a couple because they are a pain to remove and screw on. Some cheap lenses even come with free adapters.
Here’s a video I shot with such an adapter with a Fujian 25mm f/1.4 lens:
Even though you can get good results, it’s not for everyday use. Here are some issues with cheap C-mount lenses:
- The corners vignette badly when open or sometimes even stopped down.
- There’s hardly any edge sharpness to speak off.
- Some lenses, especially zoom lenses, have protruding back elements that are designed for a larger flange focal distance. You will need to shave/saw them off (seriously, why bother?) for it to work.
- These lenses were made to resolve 16mm film or small video sensors. They were not designed for 4K work.
- The adapter might be finicky and might not let proper infinity focus.
A few prime lenses to look out for:
- Fujian 25mm f/1.4 (They come in many brand names, Fotasy, Pixco, whatever – they’re all the same thing).
- 35mm f/1.6
- 50mm f/1.4
But last word, seriously, a Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 lens is only $147 or so.
Can you use Super 16mm PL-mount lenses on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?
Yes. I have reviewed these as part of my Panasonic GH5 review:
The same problems apply though. Since these cine lenses were made for Super 16mm only the medium to telephoto range will completely cover the Micro Four Thirds sensor. For wide angle work you’re out of luck.
A couple of cine zoom lens to look out for:
- KOWA MACRO 12.5-75mm f/1.8
- Angenieux 17.5-70mm f/2.2
You can also adapt Bolex Super 16mm lenses. Due to the popularity of the Micro Four Thirds format, and 16mm film shooting in general, the prices of these vintage lenses have shot up in the last few years.
If you ask me, they’re not worth it.
If you already have these lenses lying around, there’s no harm in trying them. But native Micro Four Thirds lenses have modern designs and are specifically made for the sensor. They will perform adequately well.
What would I do if I had a very low budget?
Get Samyang/Rokinon lenses:
- 8mm fisheye (Amazon, B&H) (this won’t be so bad for the small sensor as they were designed for full frame. I have a friend who uses this as a rectilinear wide angle lens)
- 12mm f/2 (Amazon, B&H) (made for APS-C, will easily cover the sensor of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H).
- 24mm f/1.4 (Amazon, B&H)
- 50mm f/1.4 (Amazon, B&H)
- 85mm f/1.4 (Amazon, B&H)
If I could only have three lenses…
What if I could only have three lenses for everything? This is what I would get:
- Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
- Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Type II (Amazon, B&H) – Manual focus only (If you need AF replace with the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH)
- Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II POWER O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H)
If I could only have one lens…
That’s it for lenses! Whew!