Important Quirks and Features of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K for Video Shooters

Exclusive Bonus: Download 4 cinematic LUTs for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and 4K, for free.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (Amazon, B&H) is a ground-breaking camera in many ways:

  • 6K at up to 50 fps RAW.
  • Blackmagic RAW and Prores.
  • Super 35mm sensor with a dynamic range of 13 stops.
  • Free DaVinci Resolve Studio with the camera.
  • All for just $2,495!

This article will look at some of the important quirks and features of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K you should be aware of.

Video Record Modes

There’s a lot of confusion about the codecs, data rates and compression levels. Here’s the complete table (all data rates for 30 fps, lower frame rates will have lower rates):

Blackmagic RAW

ResolutionFrame Rates*Data Rate 3:1Data Rate 12:1
6144 x 3456 (16:9)24 to 50 fps323 MB/s81 MB/s
6144 x 2560 (2.4:1)24 to 60 fps240 MB/s60 MB/s
5744 x 3024 (17:9)24 to 60 fps264 MB/s67 MB/s
3728 x 3104 (6:5 anamorphic)24 to 60 fps176 MB/s45 MB/s
2868 x 1512 (17:9)24 to 120 fps67 MB/s17 MB/s

Apple Prores

ResolutionFrame Rates*HQLT
4096 x 2160 (4K DCI)24 to 60 fps117.9 MB/s54.6 MB/s
3840 x 2160 (UHD)24 to 60 fps110 MB/s51 MB/s
1920 x 108024 to 120 fps27.5 MB/s12.75 MB/s

*Frame rates are 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94 and 60 fps

Key takeaways

  • 6K file sizes are going to be huge, unless you use a low compression ratio.
  • 4K DCI and UHD is not available in Blackmagic RAW, only Prores.
  • For Prores, the best setting in terms of data rate is HQ.
  • For zero color correction, Prores LT will be the best and fastest workflow for straight to the web content.
  • 2868 x 1512 (almost 3K) at 120 fps is a great feature, and you can slightly crop or scale up to 4K.

Is it really Super 35mm?

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (Amazon, B&H) has a sensor size of 23.10mm x 12.99mm. Super 35mm film has a size of 24.89mm x 18.66.

The BMPCC 6K has a crop factor of 1.07 horizontally, when compared to Super 35mm. This isn’t a significant disadvantage, except when you’re shooting in lower resolutions. Lower resolutions are cropped, so you get a smaller sensor.

E.g.,:

With 6:5 anamorphic, you have a crop factor of 1.6 compared to true anamorphic, which is 21.95 mm x 18.6mm. That’s significant.

With 4K DCI and UHD, you have a crop factor of 1.5x compared to Super 35mm, so you really get slightly worse than a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H)!

None of these things are deal breakers, but you need to be aware of what you’re getting.

Memory cards

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (Amazon, B&H) supports three kinds of memory cards:

  1. SDXC
  2. CFast 2.0
  3. SSD via USB-C

There is no recording limit and the file format is exFAT for Windows/Mac and HFS+ for Mac. This needs to be formatted in a computer, and not on camera.

All cards cannot record Blackmagic RAW, especially at the higher data rates.

For a full list of cards supported, check out the Blackmagic Design Support page. At the time of this writing, no supported media card exists to record 6K in 3:1 compression. The best you can do is 5:1 in 6K.

You cannot record to two kinds of media at the same time (a shame!), though it would be a great option to use SSDs and a UHS/U3 SD card as backup/proxy.

It might be a good idea to format all cards in exFAT, which is what I’ve been doing for many years – unless you are sure you’re going to be restricted to a Mac ecosystem entirely. There is no recording time limit on any media.

Important: At this time, you can’t copy data from SD/CFast to SSD via USB-C.

RAW or Prores?

I will be shooting Blackmagic RAW, for the following reasons:

  1. I have a workstation that can easily handle it. I’ve been able to get multiple streams of 4K DCI BRAW in full resolution, no problem.
  2. You can tweak white balance and ISOs in Resolve, with no penalty in image quality.
  3. You can change the color space and gamma in Resolve, with no penalty in image quality.

Watch this for more information:

External monitor options

Notes:

  • The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K has a full-sized HDMI A port.
  • It is 1080p 10-bit only. No RAW or 4K.
  • The camera has time code, though I need to test in the real world to see how useful it is. Some reports say you can input timecode, but no timecode via HDMI. Need to test!
  • There is no control from monitor to camera.

Which one to get? The Atomos Ninja V (Amazon, B&H) is the best bang for the buck. Ideally, it can be used to record 1080p proxies for editing if your machine isn’t powerful enough.

The biggest advantage though, is the ability to swivel the screen to see it at any angle. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (Amazon, B&H) has a fixed 5″ LCD touchscreen.

The downside of an external monitor is that you no longer have a Pocket camera, but the Pocket Cinema 6K camera is not a pocket camera anyway, unless you’re talking giant pockets.

What is “Dynamic Range”?

Blackmagic design has its own definition of dynamic range as it pertains to their cameras. It’s basically gamma. In fact, DaVinci Resolve calls it gamma.

Here are your options:

  1. Film – This is a log profile, and is best if you are going to grade or use 3D LUTs
  2. Extended Video – I use this LUT to shoot, while the footage is being recorded in Film gamma.
  3. Video – I don’t recommend this. It doesn’t look good and is not Rec. 709 compliant either.

Which gamma to pick?

I shoot in Film dynamic range, in Blackmagic RAW at 3:1. If that’s not possible, then scoot down to 5:1. But I don’t use lower settings and I don’t use Q0 or Q5.

Many who shoot straight for YouTube might find baking in LUTs interesting. I prefer to do this in post, it’s a simple thing anyway to slap on a LUT in Resolve, and you have the added benefit of being able to tweak it in case something gets messed up.

The camera does give the ability to output different LUTs each to the LCD and via HDMI. You can load up to 10 custom LUTs. You don’t have to bake it in if you don’t want to. That’s excellent!

What format should I choose for the best image quality on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K?

Watch this for more information:

This is how I shoot:

  • 6K 16:9 – 25p. Whatever cropping you want to do can be done later in post.
  • Constant Bit Rate 3:1 or 5:1 Blackmagic RAW, as the media card allows.
  • Film gamma, with Extended Video LUT for monitoring.
  • Record to SSDs via USB-C, like the Samsung T5 (AmazonB&H).
  • Edit and grade in Davinci Resolve, using my Threadripper workstation. Here’s a video about it:

Rolling Shutter

The Pocket Cinema Camera 6K has a rolling shutter. Performance is okay, unless you’re stupid enough to shake the camera around like a maniac.

It might be a problem with helicopter blades and passing trains, but what are your options?

What’s this dual native ISO thing?

Traditionally, and on most cameras, when you bump up the ISO you get more noise. The “native” ISO is the ISO which gives the maximum dynamic range. Anything below or above this has reduced dynamic range.

A “dual-native” ISO is marketing speak under the promise that you get the best dynamic range at two ISOs instead of just one. This isn’t possible completely. Even the Panasonic Varicam (the first camera in modern times to introduce this) has differences in the two ISOs.

If the tests with the original BMPCC 4K are any indication, I wouldn’t put too much trust into the dual native ability of the BMPCC 6K. Just shoot normally, and you can bump up the ISO in Resolve up to 1000 ISO (when you shoot below it), and that is an acceptable look with low noise.

If you want to go higher, be prepared to use noise reduction.

Moire and IR pollution

The camera has no optical low-pass filter (OLF), so we’ll have to see how it performs with moire.

The camera has some IR filtering, though BMD still recommends you use an external IR-cut or IRND filter.

This also applies to any sensor aliasing issues.

Image Stabilization

There is no internal image stabilization. You’re restricted to what the lenses are capable of doing, if they are supplied the adequate power.

Lens information and metadata

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (Amazon, B&H) has an active EF mount.

It’s “active” because you get f-stop and focal length information to the camera, and that is recorded in the metadata. You can also manually populate metadata with slate data such as project, scene number, take and special notes.

You can control the iris (aperture) and zoom if the lens is electronic. Click here to learn more about the best lenses for the BMPCC 6K.

Control via Gimbals

There’s no control port for gimbals. That’s a serious drawback. You can balance the camera on a gimbal. Here’s a video I made:

Can I autofocus?

Yes, but only single touch AF. There is no continuous AF, so forget about all the goodness of Canon’s dual pixel AF.

The camera does have a focus peaking function for manual focus.

Frame guides

Blackmagic OS has frame guides. These are the options available:

  • 4:3
  • 2.39:1
  • 2.35:1
  • 2.4:1
  • 1.85:1

You can toggle the opacity as well. I wish they had custom frame guides.

Notes on the LCD display

The 5″ LCD is a touchscreen, and it’s hard to use touchscreens in tough outdoor productions.

It’s about 500 nits, which is not bad but not very practical in the sun.

If you’re looking for a loupe, the GRID Viewfinder 5.0 might work. It is currently about $241 with free worldwide shipping. Here’s a DIY solution.

The biggest drawback that I mentioned earlier as well, is that it is fixed and can’t be tilted. I really don’t know how low or high angles will work. It’s just a silly oversight on their part – a serious disadvantage for run and gun shooters.

On the other hand, the menu is the simplest possible, and you can save up to 12 custom presets for fast shooting. You can decide what parameters are displayed on the LCD and which ones are transmitted via HDMI.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (Amazon, B&H) has the best camera menu of any video camera in any class, period.

Audio

The camera has the following audio jacks:

  1. 1 x mini XLR analog switchable between mic with phantom power support and line level (up to +14dBu). 48V.
  2. 1 x 3.5mm stereo jack. Can also be used for Timecode input (LTC).
  3. 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack.
  4. The camera also has dual onboard microphones for scratch audio.

You can buy mini XLR to XLR adapters here.

You can switch between the two input options and monitor volume via the LCD. You can also record from both jacks to separate channels.

There are audio levels and you can adjust the volume. No other controls exist.

Battery and power

There is a 12V port for DC input and a 2-pin locking connector for AC power. That’s great, because the battery life sucks with the included battery. You only get about 30 minutes in the real world, if no USB-C device is connected.

The camera uses Canon LP-E6 compatible batteries, and you can get cheap ones that work fine as well. The downside is they don’t ship chargers with the camera!

You can also power the camera (and charge a battery) with a powerbank via USB-C. Typical power banks deliver up to 5V (around 5A). Don’t just buy without reading the specs – because the camera needs between 12-20V. There are power banks that give you the choice between 5/12/20V, etc., like these ones.

I use the LEMO connection and power it with large bricks. Otherwise it’s intolerable.

Finally, ergonomics

The camera has the following buttons for quick access:

  1. Iris
  2. Focus
  3. High Frame Rate
  4. Zoom
  5. Menu
  6. Playback
  7. Stills
  8. Record – top and front
  9. White Balance
  10. Shutter
  11. ISO
  12. Function buttons – I, II and III – three customizable buttons. Nice!

They all work great. Usability is simple and streamlined. I’ve had no issues whatsoever.

There are two 1/4″ threads – one on top and one at the bottom. That should provide a stable platform for cages, though I really don’t see the need for one with this camera.

If you need a cage, I would highly recommend a universal cage. This one (AmazonB&H) is great:

To purchase the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema 6K camera please use¬†these links – (Amazon, B&H). In the next article, we’ll look at lenses.

Exclusive Bonus: Download 4 cinematic LUTs for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and 4K, for free.

2 replies on “Important Quirks and Features of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K for Video Shooters”

  1. Hi Wolfcrow, thanks for your review! I’m testing a bmpcc 6k but I’m noticing too much motion jitter within the frame on horizontal and diagonal moves. Is it due to the higher pixel readout?

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