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

Links

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SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203 Goes Where No One Has Yet Gone Before

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. 

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SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203 with SmallRig Arri Locating Handle 2165, SmallRig Universal 15mm Rail Support System Baseplate 2092, SmallRig Wooden Universal Side Handle 2093, SmallRig Cold Shoe Extension 2044 and rods.
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Blackmagic Design has not yet shared any fine details about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s photography features. Will it be capable of high resolution stills with a choice of traditional photography aspect ratios?

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

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3 Legged Thing QR7-EQ Quick Release Plate, Arca-Swiss compatible, with provision for attaching Peak Design Anchors for Peak Design camera straps. I would like to see all Arca-Swiss plates have this provision.

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

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The BMPCC 4K accepts audio input via mini-XLR to XLR cables, and a cage will need to account for these and other audio requirements.
  • 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?

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Cages for the BMPCC 4K will require a cable clamp solution able to handle a range of cable types for all these ports.

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?

Links

Image Credits

Quick and dirty dry dock image by Carmel D. Morris.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens with manual clutch focus, great for manual focussing. I like the longer image-stabilized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro zoom for available light daily walkabout needs for video and stills.

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  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Sound Devices MixPre audio recorders/mixersB&H
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