After three years of my video shooting experience it’s time to upgrade my filmmaking gear with the purchase of Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Until recently priced at $995 body only, Blackmagic Design are running a worldwide 50% off summer deal and we’ve already seen the street price drop to $495 or around 480 EUR in Europe. Great deal for a camera that shoots RAW, 10 bit ProRes and has a dynamic range of 13 stops if you ask me. I ordered mine at Fotoshop in Slovenia and I’m looking forward to getting it in late August.
This time around I wanted to be prepared and do all the research before the camera arrives, as well as order all the necessary accessories on Amazon and Ebay, especially because BMPCC is obviously not a consumer camera and we need to consider many things before being able to shoot great video with it.
The main pros that made me choose this camera:
- Excellent image quality
- High dynamic range of 13 stops
- High-quality codec, this camera shoots directly in ProRes, and since their recent firmware update it’s now possible to shoot in all flavours of ProRes in case you wish to prolong your SD card’s recording time (422, 422 LT, 422 HQ, 422 Proxy). What’s even more exciting is Blackmagic’s announcement yesterday that they’re adding histograms, waveforms and remaining time indicator with the next firmware update in a few weeks! Wow, finally.
- Exchangable batteries, yes they don’t last that long but they are inexpensive
- Impressive focus assist
- Small size
- Micro Four Thirds lens mount, allowing you to use basically any glass on the planet
Reviews on BMPCC
The reviews you definitely need to check when considering buying this camera (on a side note: I’m just amazed at how great all these video gear reviews have become):
Black Magic Pocket Camera Review Compared To DSLR and Red Epic by Dave Dugdale
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera First Thoughts and Comparision by Matthew Pearce
Buyer Beware – An Honest Blackmagic Pocket Camera Review by Time Olsen
The Pocket Rocket by John Brawley
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 64 GB (you absolutely need a fast card in order to shoot RAW)
- Two extra batteries and a charger
- EF – MFT lens adapter / I might order a Mitakon Lens Turbo as well to recude the focal length and an extra stop of light.
- Fujian 25mm F1.4 CCTV lens (despite its low price of $24 with an adapter, I loved the look of some videos shot with this lens.
I’m still on the lookout for one or two micro four thirds lenses on Ebay, we’ll see.
Field of view on BMPCC with your existing lenses
Color correcting and LUTs
Shooting with BMPCC in log mode will allow you to take advantage of this camera’s high dynamic range, but will make your job harder in the post production.
LUT or “Look Up Table” will help you with the proccess, applying the correct color space and contrast to your flat looking video. Although LUT can be applied directly in Final Cut Pro X since version 10.1.2 (by clicking on the Settings view and selecting the right option in the Log Processing pop-up menu), a better way (as Peter Prevec writes in his blog post) is probably to install the $29 LUT Utility by Color Grading Central and drag the desired LUT into an Adjustment layer (a free FCPX plugin by Alex4d). The Blackmagic LUT is included in LUT Utility, but you can still experiment by adding some further LUTs:
- Tom Majerski’s free Vision T LUT based on the Kodak Vision 3 500T film stock
- Color Grading Central’s OSIRIS collection, priced at $69
Also, definitely learn the craft of color grading, a good place to start are the Final Cut Pro X color grading tutorials by Color Grading Central – Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9 / Part 10 / Part 11 / Part 12 / Part 13 / Part 14 / Part 15.