SmallRig is engaged in co-designing the first, to my knowledge, camera cage for Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K and it looks promising even at this early stage of the design process.
Under the terms of SmallRig’s Co-Design practice, customers are encouraged to “share with us if you have any ideas or suggestions” and “if your idea is adopted as a core concept, you will be a co-designer of this brand-new product and get one for free once it is officially released”, a unique approach to custom designing accessories for moviemakers and photographers and a potentially rewarding one.
Given the BMPCC 4K is predominantly a cinema camera with its low resolution stills function more likely to be applied to still-frames for publicity and NLE use, a cage for it needs to focus on documentary and narrative feature production needs.
Blackmagic Design may, however, have a surprise or two up its sleeve for the BMPCC 4K’s stills capabilities such as high resolution raw files approaching, say, Panasonic’s DC-Lumix GH5 in quality, so a second, stills-savvy, cage design or a more stills-oriented L-Bracket for hand and tripod use in portrait or landscape orientation may be called for.
Time will tell as Blackmagic Design is not sharing details about the BMPCC 4K’s stills features in any detail at the moment.
Meantime I have some thoughts below about what I would like to see in the final version of SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203, and for some future accessories for the camera.
SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203
Other SmallRig accessories to extend the BMPCC 4K 2203 cage’s usefulness
SmallRig makes a wide range of cages, L-Brackets and other accessories for many popular hybrid, video and cinema cameras and products originally designed for one can often be applied to use with others.
The SmallRig Mini Plate with Arri Locating Hole 2171, for example, is useful for attaching the SmallRig Arri Locating Handle 2165 onto cages lacking Arri locating holes, while two SmallRig Wooden Universal Side Handles 2093 look excellent for smooth steady movements with any camera.
Being an Arca-Swiss tripod plate aficionado, I particularly like the look of the SmallRig Universal 15mm Rail Support System Baseplate 2092 as I like having Arca-Swiss plates attached to all my cameras and Arca-Swiss type clamps to all my tripods.
I would like to see SmallRig continue integrating the Arca-Swiss system into its products.
My wishlist for SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203
- Arca-Swiss plate at base – built-in or screw-on.
- Arri locating holes – already provided on top of current cage design, with one on left and one of right side as well.
- Cable clamps – port-side.
- Cold shoes – do not need to be be built-in but can be attached to 1/4-20 screw holes.
- Ergonomic design – needs to feel good and well-balanced in the hand and with all parts easily accessible while tripod-mounted.
- Gimbal-mountable – especially on recently-released gimbals such as the DJI Ronin-S.
- Good balance between protection and functionality.
- Metabones lens adapter support – should also suitable for other adapter brands.
- NATO rails – top and sides for quick release accessories.
- Safe, secure below-camera mounting solution – for recorders and mixer recorders such as Tascam DR-70D and DR-701D, Sound Devices MixPre-3 and MixPre-6, and so on. Given the variability of cameras’ audio recording hardware and firmware, I prefer to rely on external audio recorders whenever possible.
- Side handles – a pair, with shutter aka release button on righthand handle, via Arri or Nato quick release mounts.
- SD drive mount or cage – for a range of drives including Samsung Portable SSD T5, G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE R-Series USB 3.1 Type-C mobile SSD and other USB-C SSDs. USB-C mounts are not the most reliant so this needs to be accounted for.
- Sunshade – although the BMPCC 4K’s monitor will be bright enough for viewing while shooting in sunlight, it will need to be shaded to enable easy viewing under all lighting conditions and especially to guard against glare.
Functionality and/or protection?
Over the years I have observed two trends in camera cage design, protection and functionality.
All cages are designed for both but emphasize one over the other.
The best balance between depends on your needs and is affected by whether you will be shooting handheld, tripod-mounted, gimbal-mounted or a combination of two or three.
Another factor is the camera itself with some cameras built of tougher materials than others, or with easier to handle shapes and sizes than others.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is anything but a pocketable camera, unlike its predecessor the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, being more of a cross between the latter and the many and various Blackmagic Design cinema and production cameras that have now been discontinued.
Unlike many potential buyers of the BMPCC 4K, I do not find its design ugly or unwieldy, but camera cages and accessories for it will need to take into account its non-standard shape and connection requirements.
Non-standard, that is, compared to popular mirrorless video or hybrid cameras likes those made by Panasonic and Sony.
SmallRig’s cage designs tend towards functionality and place less emphasis on protection compared to, say, cages by Seercam or Tilta.
Some examples to inspire?
Although SmallRig is unique amongst camera accessories makers in working directly with its customers in co-designing its products, there is much to be learned from and be inspired by in the products and approaches of other companies including those in the list below.
8Sinn has already shared the news that its has a design for a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K in the world and other makers are also likely to have begun the design process.
Competition will hot up when the BMPCC 4K is eventually released and it becomes obvious what sorts of cages and other accessories will benefit users.
Why not get your design requests in early and take part in the co-design process with SmallRig?
- Blackmagic Design – Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
- SmallRig – SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203
- Wooden Camera Professional Accessories
Quick and dirty dry dock image by Carmel D. Morris.
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- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera – B&H
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K – B&H
- DJI Ronin-S – B&H
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens – B&H
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO Lens – B&H
- Sound Devices MixPre audio recorders/mixers – B&H
- Tascam DR-70D 4-Channel Audio Recording Device for DSLR and Video Cameras – B&H
- Tascam DR-701D 6-Track Field Recorder for DSLR with SMPTE Timecode – B&H