The Blackmagic Pocket Camera Guide (Part Four): Tripods, Rigs, Accessories and Data Management

In Part Three we looked at viewfinders, external monitors, audio and power supplies and batteries. In this part we’ll look at tripods, rigs, accessories and data management.

Rigs and Tripods

This draws on the principles and ideas outlined in the following articles:

 
By rigging the Blackmagic Pocket Camera you will lose its size advantage. I will not recommend you use the top UNC thread to mount any device that is heavier than the camera itself. If you really want to surround the pocket camera with accessories, the ideal tool might be a cage. Here’s an example of a cage from Wooden Camera that I don’t completely recommend (cages should be rigid on all sides), but you get the idea:

Unfortunately, there aren’t many custom cages for the Blackmagic Pocket Camera. A few recent additions are the Movcam and LPT cages:

I suggest you read the chapters in the links provided, for information on how to plan, design and execute the perfect rig for your camera. Look at the following image:

BMDPCC Shoulder Rig

It looks cool, until you start asking some questions:

  • Where will the viewfinder and external monitor fit?
  • Is there room for an external recorder?
  • With the camera no longer poviding any counter weight, isn’t the rig too front-heavy?

 
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with mounting the Blackmagic Pocket Camera on a shoulder rig, but it would take some serious tinkering – unless someone comes up with a handy cage solution.

The Blackmagic Pocket Camera will almost vanish from sight when paired with a tripod and a fluid head. I won’t be going into detail about tripods in this article because I’ve already covered this extensively here.

Accessories

There are two additional ports on the Blackmagic Pocket Camera:

  • LANC 2.5mm
  • USB 2.0 mini-B

 
The USB port is hidden from view, and it’s for firmware updates and camera configuration.

The LANC port can be used to control these functions:

  • Start and stop recording
  • Focus
  • Iris (aperture) control

 
This makes it an excellent B-cam or crash camera. For a strong LANC controller, look at

Manfrotto MVR901EPLA Pan Bar Remote for LANC

For other accessories, read the links provided earlier. Here’s my favorite bag for the Blackmagic Pocket Camera:

Thinktank Retrospective 10

Thinktank Retrospective 10

 

Data Management

The Blackmagic Pocket Camera records to SDXC and SDHC cards. Here’s how they are different:

Max size Max speed* Range*
SDXC 2 TB 95 MB/s 8-32 GB
SDHC 32 GB 80 MB/s 64-128 GB

*Sandisk data only. I also recommend Transcend.

The cards can be formatted for exFAT (Mac, Windows and Linux) or HFS+ (Mac only, but can be used on PCs with third-party software).

The camera records to the following formats in 1080p:

  • 10-bit ProRes 422 (HQ) – 220 Mbps (27.5 MB/s) – about 40 minutes on a 64 GB card.
  • Compressed ‘lossless’ 12-bit CinemaDNG – about 60-80 MB/s (1.2:1 to 1.5:1 compression ratio – I don’t think this is ‘visually lossless’, but just lossless RAW – which is damn cool) – about 13 minutes on a 64 GB card.

 
An uncompressed 1080p 12-bit RAW frame will be around 3 MB. At 30 fps, the data rate is about 90 MB/s. It is theoretically possible to write uncompressed CinemaDNG to SDXC cards, so I hope Blackmagic Design can make this happen. If you’re stocking up on SDXC cards, I strongly recommend you go for Sandisk SDXC Extreme Pro cards.

I also suspect metadata will be written as *.pp3 sidecar files (as it is on the current BMCC).

It is clear that the data rate for the Blackmagic Pocket Camera is about half of what the BMCC can record. But then again, the BMCC records 2.5K, so that counts. Lossless RAW is fine and it won’t destroy the 12-bit dynamic range advantage of the camera.

How many cards should you get? Follow the principles I’ve outlined in Chapter on Data Management in the Comprehensive Guide to Rigging Any Camera.

That’s it for what a typical Blackmagic Pocket Camera kit will contain.  In Part Five we’ll look at how much all this is going to cost.

 

One reply on “The Blackmagic Pocket Camera Guide (Part Four): Tripods, Rigs, Accessories and Data Management”

  1. Hi Sareesh,

    Great info about the BMPCC here! What do you think about the Flyfilms BMPCC rig?
    http://www.amazon.in/Filmcity-Shoulder-FC-BMPC-KIT-V-remote-Blackmagic/dp/B00YHC7SG6/ref=sr_1_12?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1481612807&sr=1-12&keywords=bmpcc+rig
    it has counterweights for balancing and, I think, can be used with a non-electronic viewfinder(like the Zacuto Z-finder). The external recording might be little problem. Would love to hear your inputs

    Cheers,
    Devansh

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