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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera status 1/9

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Lots of shots have been made so far, few practical and technical issues came up.

I'll try to make an overview so far.

 

Pro's:

  • Great metal body and good stainless steel lens mount. Although the base to attach the camera is very small, there are a couple of extra cases / riggs for sale that mount top and bottom, giving it a solid position. Good move from BM to included the thread on top.
  • Image quality looks pretty good. Bit noisy in the blacks but not terrible and might get a little better with some firmware updates, As always proper exposing and grading is the key.
  • The camera has a true 800ISO (native) sensitivity in both daylight and tungsten.
  • The 13 stops exposure lattitude seems about right too. It's no mach to the newer pro camera's but for the price and size it is a great achievement.
  • Great option to shoot ProRes in LOG, making it great for grading. 
  • Quick startup and shutdown times. Press the ON button and it is almost instantly working.
  • MFT mount. Reasonable cheap lenses and easy to mount PL adapter. Seems a very good and versatile choice.
  • Skewing and strobing are not too bad for a camera without global shutter. Wise operating will help. Like panning with a moving subject will look far better than without.

 

Issues:

  • The so called 'black sun' popped up Like the RED camera had several times, it is something that can be fixed with a firmware update. What happens is that the reading goes off the scale of 0-1023 (where white is the 1023) then zero's the pixels that are overexposed, making it look black. It is annoying but can be fixed and will only pop up in uncontrolled situations with highlights.
  • Highlight blooming: With highlights in frame the camera also overexposes the surrounding area. Serious issue to fix.
  • The camera gets very warm. This is always an issue and more so in a small and compact body. I haven't had it warning me like the Canon does so lets hope it is 'by design'. I also know, this is the reason it cannot run higher speeds. Of course heat = power use so it drains batteries very fast. See them more as a way to keep running while you switch external batteries or adapter. It might improve a little bit with firmware optimization but it is small battery so expect 20-30 min run time on each one. Lucky they are light and cheap so easy to have a bunch in your pocket. Switch the camera of between shots and you get a lot more shooting time.
  • No audio meter: There is no way to monitor the audio signal which makes it usesless for audio recording. Might be possible with a firmware update but BM did not release a roadmap. I will ask them at the IBC show in two weeks.
  • Tiny tiny text display. First camera I have a hard time to read the camera speed of the display. Would love to have an 'info button' where all the data gets full size over the screen for checks.
  • Monitor is not very bright or sharp. It makes focusssing not easy. The peaking function works but I would love to have an electronic 'zoom' button for checks.
  • Backfocus issues? I haven't had time to test the camera back focus or my MFT lenses, but for sure something is pretty off on the one I test. I will investigate this later this week too.Didn't read anything about the possibility to adjust it either.
  • Internal light meter: Can't get my head around how it is working. Did some test and for sure I get crazy results on my test charts. Another point to discuss @IBC soon.
  • No RAW shooting yet. Not a showstopper with the ProRes in log working so well but something great when it comes. Don't expect real RAW shooting though....
  • The BM supplied LUT in Resolve to go from LOG to VIDEO is a very bad one. Be warned and create your own. Shoot a reference clip in the video mode, before you start shooting on a location in LOG.
  • Delivery times: no one seems to know when their camera will arrive. We see some trickling in but in Holland we got only 5 so far (and I have 2 on order).

 

My Blackmagic team questions:

  • Roadmap, whats coming up on features
  • Backfocus of the mount: adjustable by a skilled technician?
  • Internal light meter: how does it work.

 

On my test list:

  • IR polution test
  • Backfocus test
  • Greenscreen shots @200ISO

 

 

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