News Shooter: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Review (lite)

https://www.newsshooter.com/2019/08/22/blackmagic-design-pocket-cinema-camera-6k-review-lite/

“This is a ‘lite’ review of the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC) 6K. I say lite because there is no way anyone can do a proper, in-depth review of a camera in a few days or even a few weeks. To properly review a camera you need to spend a lot more time with the camera than I have so far….”

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Heavily-rigged Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (EF).

Commentary

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Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K rig ready for shooing a feature movie. Paul says that “
The new Blackmagic Pocket 6K is a game changer. This truly is the realisation of 6K for $6K 😮 Lens aside, this setup cost less than $6K, and for that you have a full Super35, RAW 6K shooting package with batteries, rigging, timecode sync, follow focus, monitor/recorder and more. Just nuts!”

Australian cinematographer Matthew Allard ACS of video industry bible News Shooter has just published a lengthy, in-depth though “lite” hands-on practical review of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and it makes for useful reading especially for those who own a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and are considering replacing it with its Super 35 sibling.

Blackmagic Design has pulled one out of the hat with both cameras, making them the currently most affordable cinema cameras, but not without a number of compromises.

Mr Allard has the longterm experience as an on-location news and documentary cinematographer working around the globe to write well-qualified reviews like this one and I look forward to the non-lite version of this review for even more invaluable insights.

Meanwhile Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming has obtained his own BMPCC 6K and as a seasoned BMPCC 4K owner is even better qualified to opine on both cameras.

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Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro in footage from his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. NOTE: this is an uncompressed still frame from the BMPCC 6K and so will take a little while to download on some Internet connections.

These are some of Paul’s initial thoughts on the BMPCC 6K:

Let me say right off the bat, this camera is going to be my A cam simply for the fact that there’s no Speed Booster glass to degrade your lens!!! No matter how good the Speed Boosters are from Metabones (and the new BMPCC4K one is quite good), it just can’t hold a candle to the quality of the lens on a native mount. Not to mention that the 6K is smooth and sharp across the entire frame, and downscaling that to 4K is going to give incredibly clean images. Look into the very corners of this frame and you can clearly see the benefits.

This still only has my Blackmagic V4 1.5 LUT applied, plus a small amount (25%) chroma noise reduction done in Resolve to get rid of some of the tiny BRAW fringe issues that that format seems to have. Hopefully, being their own format, they will eventually figure out how to do that better without NR being required. The clip was shot 6K at Q5 quality.

Some out of the box things I like – the screen is more neutral (second gen I’m guessing, same as the later 4K’s) and I like the locking body cap which I haven’t seen anyone mention before anywhere.

Paul shared some notes on the rig illustrated above:

  • [Blackmagic] Pocket [Cinema Camera] 6K
  • 8Sinn Pocket 4K cage, rod riser and handle
  • Shoot35 Cine Follow Focus
  • Ultrasync One timecode generator/receiver
  • Atomos Ninja V 4K monitor/recorder
  • Smallrig arm for Ninja V
  • Hawk-Woods Mini V-Lok 98Whr battery and plate
  • Sigma FF Cine 50mm T1.5 prime lens (EF mount)
  • Samsung T5 SSD 1TB

Links

  • Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.”
  • News ShooterBlackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Review (lite)

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Blackmagic Design Shares Downloadable Movies and Camera Original Files from Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and 4K

Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty continues to make good on his promise for professional-quality moviemaking to become accessible and affordable for all who want it and has raised the bar even higher with his surprise announcement of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and its Super 35 sensor and even more firmware and hardware features than its older sibling the Super 16 sensor-equipped Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. 

The affordability and cinematic feature-film quality achievable with the raw-shooting BMPCC 6K and BMPCC 4K and their associated editing and colour grading software package DaVinci Resolve have bumped high-quality moviemaking out of the longtime death-grip of the rich WASP boys’ club into the hands of self-funded independent documentarians like myself and I am beyond chuffed at this excellent development. 

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K comes with Canon EF-mount for the vast array of Canon and other brand cinema and stills photography lenses out there and supplements the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s Micro Four Thirds mount that accepts M43 and adapted larger sensor format lenses.

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Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K with Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens.
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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera rigged for heavy-duty moviemaking.

In order to demonstrate the high quality, similarities and differences between the two cameras’ output, Blackmagic Design is sharing a number of movies in various genres at its Workflow and Gallery pages, with the files viewable in-page or downloadable as camera original files and finished products.

Blackmagic Design’s absence from the recent SMPTE Australia METexpo conference and trade show in Sydney was disappointing but the announcement and imminent release of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K takes some of the edge off that.

Priced at US$2,495.00 compared to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s US$1,295.00, the BMPCC 6K is the most affordable cinema camera in its class with both BMPCC models usable stripped-down and handheld as well as heavily rigged and tripod or gimbal-mounted for Hollywood quality feature film production of documentary and narrative movies.

What next for Blackmagic Design and its noble quest to make high-end moviemaking accessible to the rest of us?

Perhaps Grant Petty might consider creating a second version of the BMPCC 6K with a shorter lens flange depth and a set of adapters permitting attaching a broader range of lenses such as those made by Fujifilm, Nikon and more.

Fujifilm’s Fujinon lenses are of particular interest given that Fujifilm’s X-mount cameras use APS-C/Super 35 sensors, the same size as the one in the BMPCC 6K.

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Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens. Imagine a possible variable-mount adapter version of the BMPCC 6K allowing for use of other mount lenses such as X-mount cinema lenses like this and the very affordable X-mount MicroPrime cinema lenses made by SLR Magic.

Fujifilm’s Fujinon MK 18-55mm T2.9 and MK 50-135mm T2.9 cinema zoom lenses would be terrific to use natively with the BMPCC 6K as would SLR Magic’s X-mount MicroPrimes which now come in 12mm, 15mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 75mm focal lengths.

Imagine ever-increasing numbers of hybrid photography and video shooters relying on Fujifilm XF cameras and X-mount lenses for stills work then being able to use the same lenses on a possible future variable-mount BMPCC 6K camera.

It seems unlikely that Fujifilm would provide raw video capability on its cameras any time soon, whether via Apple ProRes Raw or Blackmagic Design’s BRAW, but Fujifilm and Blackmagic Design cameras would complement each other nicely if the latter takes up this suggestion.

Adapted lenses have their pros and cons given the variable feature sets and quality of currently available third-party adapters, but the BMPCC 6K now makes Sigma’s Canon EF-mount 18-55mm and 50-100mm zoom lenses even more appealing in their stills and cinema versions.

Pity Metabones has not seen fit to make an EF-to-X-mount Smart Adapter and a Speed Booster given the proven quality of their other adapter offerings, and the reason remains a mystery given the high potential market for them.

The same thoughts above apply to the short flange distance L-mount lenses made by Sigma, Panasonic and Leica – imagine being able to use them on a possible BMPCC 6K variant as well as L-mount cameras.

Links

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Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens for APS-C sensors and for adapting to M43 with Metabones SpeedBoosters, lens available in Canon EF or Nikon mounts. This Super 35 lens may be a great choice for the Super 35 BMPCC 6K unadapted, and for use on the BMPCC 4K adapted with the recently-released Metabones SpeedBooster for BMPCC 4K.

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Gerald Undone: Exposure Tips for the BMPCC4K & Why I Don’t Use ProRes

Discussing Blackmagic Pocket 4K exposure complications, ETTR vs middle grey, what Highlight Recovery does, and why ProRes isn’t good for low ISOs.

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Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K.

Commentary

With Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K being a reasonably recent release in short supply in many parts of the world, high-value information on how to get the best out of it also remains in short supply so Gerald Undone’s data on the two best ISOs is particularly welcome.

Instead of the more commonly used base dual native ISOs of 400 and 3200, Mr Undone recommends ISOs of 400 and 4000 and supports those numbers with a thorough set of tests.

Using these preferred ISOs on your BMPCC 4K in conjunction with the expose-to-the-right aka ETTR principles espoused by Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro will provide optimum exposure and the most suitable footage for grading.

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Brian Durkee: The Ultimate BMPCC 4K Handheld Rig ft. Physics | Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

I wanted to share my handheld rig for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) with the world. If you have any questions about anything let me know below and I will get back to you as soon as possible! Enjoy. Blog Post containing slightly more information: https://bit.ly/2vQLzot

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

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Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Design Adds Blackmagic RAW to Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/release/20190305-02

Blackmagic Design Adds Blackmagic RAW to Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

New Blackmagic Camera 6.2 update adds Blackmagic RAW to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K!

Fremont, California, USA – March 5, 2019 – Blackmagic Design today announced Blackmagic Camera 6.2 update which adds support for Blackmagic RAW to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

Blackmagic Camera 6.2 update is available as a free download from the Blackmagic Design website.

Blackmagic RAW, a revolutionary next generation codec that combines the quality and benefits of RAW with the ease of use, speed and file sizes of traditional video formats. Blackmagic RAW is a more intelligent format that gives customers stunning images, incredible performance, cross platform support and a free developer SDK.

With Blackmagic Camera 6.2 update, customers using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K now have the ability record images using Blackmagic RAW for the first time. This allows them to capture the highest possible quality images in smaller files, giving them much longer recording times with the media they already own. For example, customers can record over 2 hours of full cinematic quality Blackmagic RAW footage in 4K on a single 256GB SD UHS-II card. With Blackmagic RAW 12:1 you can even record 4K DCI images to an SD card, giving you stunning cinematic quality images on incredibly small, inexpensive cards. In addition, Blackmagic RAW gives customers an even faster, more fluid and higher quality editing and color correction workflow in DaVinci Resolve than ever before.

Once the camera has been updated, customers can choose between 3:1, 5:1, 8:1 and 12:1 constant bit-rate recording or between constant quality Q0 and Q5 recording. This lets them prioritize image quality or file size. The constant bit-rate encoding options give customers incredible images at predictable and consistent file sizes. Constant quality Q0 and Q5 use variable bitrate encoding so complex frames are encoded at higher data rates, preserving the maximum amount of detail and quality possible. Blackmagic Design Generation 4 Color Science is used for superior imaging that results in extremely accurate skin tones and gorgeous, lifelike colors. Blackmagic RAW images are encoded using a custom non-linear 12-bit space designed to provide the maximum amount of color data and dynamic range.

In addition, Blackmagic RAW features extensive metadata support, highly optimized GPU and CPU accelerated processing on the desktop and more.

Traditional RAW codecs have large file sizes and are processor intensive, making them hard to work with. Video file formats are faster, but suffer quality problems due to the use of 4:2:2 video filters that reduce color resolution. Blackmagic RAW solves these problems, giving customers the same quality, bit depth, dynamic range and controls as RAW, but with much better performance and smaller file sizes than most popular video codecs. Once files are brought into DaVinci Resolve, additional GPU and CPU acceleration make decoding of frames incredibly fast, so customers get extremely smooth performance for editing and grading.

When the Blackmagic RAW settings are changed in DaVinci Resolve, a .sidecar file can be generated or updated if one already exists. When opened in other software applications that support Blackmagic RAW, the .sidecar file, which contains the Blackmagic RAW settings made in DaVinci Resolve, will be automatically used to display the image. If the .sidecar file is removed then the file will be displayed using the embedded metadata instead. This innovative new workflow gives customers a non-destructive way to change Blackmagic RAW settings while working between different applications.

Blackmagic RAW is much more than a simple RAW container format. Its intelligent design actually understands the camera and the sensor. This means the image data, along with the unique characteristics of the image sensor, are encoded and saved into the Blackmagic RAW file, giving customers much better image quality, even at higher compression settings, as well as total control over features such as ISO, white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation and more.

In addition, Blackmagic RAW uses Blackmagic Design Generation 4 Color Science for superior imaging that results in reproducing extremely accurate skin tones and gorgeous, lifelike colors that rival those of cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars more. Images are encoded using a custom non-linear 12-bit space designed to provide the maximum amount of color data and dynamic range.

Blackmagic RAW also makes it easy for any software developer to access all this technology. The free developer SDK lets any third party software application add Blackmagic RAW support on Mac, Windows and Linux. The Blackmagic RAW developer SDK automatically handles the embedded sensor profile metadata, along with Blackmagic Design color science, for predictable and accurate image rendering that yields consistent color throughout the entire pipeline.

Blackmagic RAW features two types of file compression. Customers can choose either constant quality or constant bitrate encoding options, depending on the kind of work they are doing. This lets them prioritize image quality or file size. Constant quality uses variable bitrate encoding so complex frames are encoded at higher data rates to preserve detail and maintain the highest possible quality. Blackmagic RAW Q0 has minimum quantization and yields the highest quality, while Blackmagic RAW Q5 uses moderate quantization for more efficient encoding and a smaller file size. Blackmagic RAW 3:1, 5:1, 8:1 and 12:1 use constant bitrate encoding to give customers the best possible images with predictable and consistent file sizes. The ratios are based on the unprocessed file size of a single frame from the camera’s sensor, making it easy to understand the relative amount of compression being used.

The pristine camera native quality of Blackmagic RAW Q0 and 3:1 are perfect for effects heavy feature film and commercial work. Blackmagic RAW Q5 and 5:1 are extremely high quality making them great for episodic television and independent films. Blackmagic RAW 8:1 and 12:1 offer high quality and speed, making it suitable for productions that wouldn’t normally consider shooting RAW. Now, more customers than ever will be able to use high quality Blackmagic RAW images in an incredibly efficient way that was impossible before.

Featuring a fully scalable design and completely modern CPU and GPU acceleration, Blackmagic RAW is optimized for AVX, AVX2 and SSE4.1 enabled processors, multi-threaded, works across multiple CPU cores and is GPU accelerated with support for Apple Metal, CUDA and OpenCL. Frame decoding and image processing is extremely fast, making it super smooth for editing, color correction and visual effects in DaVinci Resolve. Another benefit of media being stored as single files, and not image sequences, is it makes media management easier and file copying much faster.

The free Blackmagic RAW Developer SDK is available on Mac OS, Windows and Linux. This SDK takes care of all the work for developers, so adding support for Blackmagic RAW to third party software applications is easy and fast. Developers get access to GPU and CPU accelerated algorithms for decoding files, along with unique information about the camera’s image sensor so their applications can accurately decode and display the files. The SDK features highly descriptive and flexible metadata options designed to support today’s modern workflows. Metadata is embedded directly in the .braw file or it can be stored in a .sidecar file. Metadata is important because it contains the Blackmagic RAW settings along with information for the slate, iris, focus, focal length, white balance and a lot more. The metadata in .sidecar files can be used on top of the embedded metadata without overwriting it. Blackmagic RAW also supports frame based metadata so customers can access values, such as focus distance, that often change on a frame by frame basis.

“Blackmagic RAW has been incredibly successful since we introduced it last fall on URSA Mini Pro,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “The new Blackmagic Camera 6.2 update is exciting because it makes this incredible new technology available to Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K customers absolutely free! They get the visually lossless image quality of RAW with the speed of traditional video workflows!”

Availability

Blackmagic Camera 6.2 update is available today as a free download from the Blackmagic Design website http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support

Press Photography

Product photos of Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, and all other Blackmagic Design products, are available at http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/images

About Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to http://www.blackmagicdesign.com

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Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K.

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Cinematographer/Director Paul Leeming Shoots Fujifilm X-T3 and X-Pro2 Footage for Custom Leeming LUT Pro in Our Home Studio

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Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming with his Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, 8Sinn cage and Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art zoom lens attached with Metabones Speed Booster EF-to-MFT adapter.

Australian cinematographer cum director cum LUTmaker Paul Leeming took advantage of a break away from the Australian bushfires, torrential rains and floods to drop by our Sydney home studio and shoot some footage on our Fujifilm X-Pro2 and a loaner Fujifilm X-T3, courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Mr Leeming was on his annual Australian jaunt after completing photography for a feature film set in Osaka, to eventually return to his domicile in the Netherlands where he will get back to working on Leeming LUT Pro custom look-up tables for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Fujifilm X-T3, Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Panasonic cameras including the GH5 and GH5S, amongst others.

He shot the feature on two fundamentally different cameras, Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5S and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, and Leeming LUT Pro will play a crucial role in ensuring easy editing and colour grading of HLG and raw video footage.

According to Mr Leeming:

Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.

Multi-camera shoots are now much easier, because you are starting with a common, colour-matched baseline, meaning much less time trying to match cameras in post before starting your creative grading.

Once all your cameras have been corrected, you can optionally use the specially matched Leeming LUT Pro Quickies™ for a one-touch creative grade designed to work seamlessly with the common baseline of Leeming LUT Pro™ corrected footage.

Save hours of frustration and give your footage the best possible quality right out the gate. It’s as easy as Shoot – Apply Leeming LUT Pro™ – Done!

Leeming LUT Pro custom LUTs coming for Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T3

Mr Leeming shot colour chart footage using the ProNeg Standard film simulation on the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera, and in the Eterna, F-log and HLG picture profiles on the X-T3.

His preferred profile when shooting with Panasonic cameras is HLG and it is likely that Fujifilm’s HLG will prove to have the same benefits when shooting for high dynamic range aka HDR and standard dynamic range aka SDR output.

I recently shot some HLG footage on the X-T3 in available darkness and the results were impressive to say the least.

Always carry a grey card for white balancing video

Mr Leeming showed me this Struan Grey paint sample card made by Taubmans and told me it is the most accurate grey card for white balancing that he has found available for free.

I have been guilty of forgetting to carry a grey card when out with my camera each day due to the ones I have being a little too large for my daily carry camera bag, so it is good to know there are smaller and cheaper – free! – alternatives available at your local hardware store so long as it stocks Taubmans paint.

Paul Leeming Shooting Footage for Leeming LUT Pro for Fujifilm X-T3 and X-Pro2

Mr Leeming travelled light, carrying a stripped-down Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K rig in this Think Tank Photo backpack.
This stripped-down rig for the BMPCC 4K includes the 8Sinn full cage and once of Mr Leeming’s favourite lenses, the legendary Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM  Art lens for Canon EF-mount. He has preferred 8Sinn cages and accessories since buying one for his Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5. He also relies on Xume filter adapters and Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra fixed neutral density filters.
Shooting color checker footage at our home studio. The camera is mounted on a 3 Legged Thing tripod.
Mr Leeming relies on DSC Labs ChromaDuMonde CamAlign Chip charts for their high colour accuracy.
Photographing the Fujifilm X-T3’s monitor for use in writing the manual on the best settings for the camera and how to use Leeming LUT Pro.

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  • 3 Legged Thing tripods and accessoriesB&H
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  • DSC Labs chartsB&H
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Tilta Announces “Tactical Assault Armor” Professional Camera Cage System for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

In an intriguing departure from the more customary minimalist approach to creating cages for hybrid and cinema cameras, Tilta has announced a complete professional cage and accessories system for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and it looks amazing. 

The system appears to be named BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor, thus taking on a rather unfortunate military note, but it impresses with the attention to detail Tilta’s design and engineering team has paid to the BMPCC 4K’s accessories needs for use in demanding productions. 

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Tilta cage system for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Blackmagic Design’s latest pocket camera is anything but a fit-in-the-pocket cinema camera, and from feedback from early pre-order customers it appears to be as capable of run-and-gun documentary work as it is of feature-style documentary or narrative moviemaking.

Tilta’s BMPCC 4K cage design philosophy appears based on making the cost of entry low with the half cage priced at US$69.00, full cage at US$99 with the top handle priced at US$79.00, making the most basic cage combo US$148.00 with an extra US$30.00 for full cage instead of half cage.

Other products in the system tackle BMPCC 4K weak points such as cabling, external SSDs, sun-shading and external power as well as the need for a fast and easy focus-pulling solution for solo operators.

At such a low price for entry into the system, independent documentary moviemakers are able to get a foot in then add to it as bigger productions demand.

Tilta BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor Cage for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

So far Tilta has not revealed the BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor cage system’s release date but interested potential customers are invited to sign up for updates.

I will be keeping an eye out for hands-on reviews of the system in all its forms.

One thing that appears to be missing from the system so far is provision for easily, safely attaching a tilting and swivelling monitor such as the recently-released  Atomos Ninja V but perhaps that solution is still in design stage and will be illustrated in use in a future version of the Tilta BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor cage system web page.

Some other Tilta camera cages

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Thinking about the The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7

Contemporary computer-aided lens design has done wonders for zoom lenses since I first tried some out in my Leica rangefinder days on the lovely but lonely Nikon F3 I kept for the times I needed to rent focal lengths outside my core set of Leica M-System prime lenses.

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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens on Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Micro Four Thirds camera. Photograph by Joshua Waller of ePHOTOzine.
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The 3-zoom lens kit has long been a staple of photojournalists and especially newspaper photographers for some years. Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS and Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lenses.

By the time a backpack containing the standard newspaper photographer’s zoom lens trio was handed to me when I signed up to shoot freelance for one of the large publishers, zoom lenses were considerably improved although I am ashamed to admit that I continued to mostly rely on my own 35mm and 120 roll film rangefinder cameras and 4”x5” view cameras with which I had shaped my way of seeing and photographing over so many years before.

Now that I am no longer answerable to employers and do not have to take on up to three to five editorial portrait assignments per day, delivering stylistically and technically predictable results day in, day out, I can try out other ways and means and develop in new directions.

That includes zoom lenses after relying solely on sets of matched primes for so long.

The first two Micro Four Thirds lenses that I tried out…

The very first lens I tried when considering buying into the Micro Four Thirds camera system was a Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Aspheric Power OIS and the second was an Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro.

I chose the Olympus for several reasons including its brilliant manual clutch focus mechanism, weather-resistant all-metal construction, handy L-Fn button on the camera-left side of the barrel, great feel and balance on a GH4 or a GX8 as I would discover later, and the clincher was its beautiful optical performance all across its longer focal length range wide open and stopped down.

The lens’ only downside is a small amount of moustache-shaped optical distortion that can easily be corrected via firmware for in-camera JPEgs and raw processing software for raw files, with distortion barely noticeable when shooting video.

I did not know that Panasonic’s then soon-to-come DFD autofocus system would apply only to Panasonic lenses and that firmware updates would not add support for the L-Fn button to all Panasonic cameras, and on balance I remain glad I chose the 12-40mm because my bacon has been saved many times due to its swift and sure manual clutch focusing.

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro, an excellent choice for travel and daily walkabout requiring a longer focal length range than kit and other zoom lenses.

The one thing that might have tipped me towards the 12-35mm is its optical image stabilization, but then Olympus later came out with the OIS-equipped M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro, and although it does not activate Dual IS 2 when attached to a GH5, its image stabilization works well enough for my needs.

The difference between an f/2.8 and an f/4.0 maximum aperture is not huge when shooting outdoors in good light and I would always pack a wide maximum aperture prime lens to accompany either zoom.

And then with Panasonic’s pre-photokina 2018 in-development announcement of the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7, the game changed.

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7

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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 wide angle zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras.

With the lens currently undergoing development and possibly far from release sometime in 2019, the 10-25mm apparently includes some features I have long been hoping for in a Panasonic zoom lens for photography and video.

Here is what we know so far and what I also want to see in this lens:

  • f/1.7 right across the focal length range.
  • An aperture ring that is clickless for accurate exposure under constantly changing light but I would also like it clicked for stills photography without having to look at the lens.
  • 77mm filter diameter for 77mm neutral density filters or a lightweight brass 77mm-to-82mm step-up ring by Breakthrough Photography for 82mm filters.
  • Prime quality performance at all focal lengths.
  • Leica optical and mechanical quality.
  • Some of my favourite and most-needed focal lengths for documentary stills and video – 10.5mm, 14mm, 17.5mm, 20mm and, less often, 25mm. In 35mm sensor terms that equates to 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and, less often, 50mm.
  • Alas, no optical image stabilization so when stabilization is a necessity it will need to be used with IBIS camera bodies.
  • Hopefully, improved depth-from-defocus aka DFD in all G, GX and GH cameras’ firmware, DFD being Panasonic’s alternative to the more common PDAF aka phase detection autofocus.

I very much hope that the Panasonic Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 will feature manual clutch focus to support easy focus pulling for video and fast, accurate snapping into sharp focus for photography.

I wonder if a longer companion zoom lens might be in the offing after the release of the 10-25mm?

If so, I would love to see an equally great zoom lens include at least 25mm, 37.5mm, 42.5mm, 45mm and 52.5mm, which in 35mm sensor terms equates to 50mm, 75mm, 85mm, 90mm and 105mm.

A zoom lens pair that goes all the way from 10mm through to 52.5mm, in 35mm equivalent terms 20mm through to 105mm, would fill almost my documentary moviemaking and photography needs.

While I do use longer focal lengths than 105mm in 35mm from time to time, the vast majority of my work is done between 21mm and 85mm with the occasional jump to 100mm or thereabouts.

Leica showed the way with a full set of well-spaced focal lengths…

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Leica worked out the best prime lens focal length line-up for documentary photography and photojournalism in 35mm years ago and it remains the benchmark and role model for other lens makers to this very day. The only focal length missing from this lens collection is 40mm, which Leica made for the Leica CL rangefinder camera which was later taken over by Minolta as the Minolta CLE with 40mm standard lens as well as a 28mm and 90mm lens. Too many contemporary lens makers leave out 28mm and 75mm lenses and their equivalents for other sensor formats. Why? Both these focal lengths are the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism.

Although I remain dedicated to the idea of having a well-spaced set of pro-quality fast matched prime lenses with manual clutch focus, the reality is that the makers of both M43 systems that I rely on these days, Fujifilm and Panasonic for cameras and Olympus for lenses, may take years to assemble such a lens collection, if ever.

Far better to offer us top-quality zoom lenses that can do almost everything, such as the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7, so we can get to work without having to pine for prime lenses that may be far off on the horizon or zoom lenses that cover far more focal lengths than we actually need at the cost of undue expense and weight.

I look forward to learning more about Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 as its development progresses and hope it really will be the zoom lens I was hoping for when I first got into the Micro Four Thirds system for moviemaking and photography.

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 would, of course, be a terrific lens for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K provided you have a gimbal handy for those times when stabilization is a must.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Leica M Series lensesB&H
  • Olympus mirrorless lensesB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic mirrorless system lensesB&H

HPRC: PKT2400-01 HPRC2400 for Blackmagic Pocket [Cinema Camera] 4K

http://www.hprc.it/en/hprc2400-for-blackmagic-pocket-4k_pkt2400-01.html

“This watertight and waterproof hard case – based on the HPRC2400 series – is specifically designed to easily transport and protect the Blackmagic Pocket [Cinema] Camera 4K.

It features a pre-cut high-density foam interior that holds:

  • Camera
  • Batteries
  • Wise Portable 512 GB
  • HPRC1100 Memory card holder
  • 30W Power Supply with international adapters
  • International adapters
  • Lens: Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F28 Pro.

Thanks to the lightweight and to the ergonomic handle, as well as resistant, the case is also very handy. Carry-on approved size….”

hprc_pkt2400-01_blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_04_1024px_80pc
PKT2400-01 HPRC2400 for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K.

PKT2400-01 HPRC2400 for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Commentary

HPRC HPRCGH52460-01 case for Panasonic Lumix GH5 and GH5S cameras.

Italian resin case maker HPRC has a welcome history of producing ready-cut foam interiors for popular movie and photographic equipment and the most commonly used accessories under its Tuning program and also provides a custom case insert cutting service under the Foamlab moniker.

HRPC’s custom case for the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 and GH5S recognizes their users’ tendency to cage both cameras and carry several lenses while this case fo the BMPCC 4K leans more towards the camera’s users to rig it up on location with gimbals such as the DJI Ronin-S.

HPRC also offers the option of three different custom cases for DJI’s Ronin-S gimbal stabilizer, a popular option for use with the BMPCC 4K given its lack of internal stabilization as a cinema camera.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

8sinn_samsung_t5_holder_bmpcc4k_01_1024px_80pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K mounted in an 8Sinn cage with included cable clamp, improved lens support and Scorpio too handle, with the new 8Sinn holder for the popular Samsung Portable T5 SSD available in capacities from 250GB through to 2TB.

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • 8SinnB&H
  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • DJI Ronin-SB&H
  • HPRC casesB&H
  • LockCircleB&H
  • SmallRigB&H