Updated August 2019
- Can record in pro video formats
- XLR audio inputs
- Big, easy-to-use touchscreen
- Dual native ISO
- Short battery life (around 40 minutes)
- No electronic viewfinder
- Very large file sizes
- No in-body stabilisation
The 4K BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera looks really useful for creative filmmakers who want high quality images at an affordable price. At $1295 body only (around £1200) it’s significantly cheaper than the Panasonic GH5S, its nearest competitor.
It can record 4K at up to 60fps in high-quality RAW and ProRes video formats. (These formats capture more information than consumer video formats so they’re easier to correct and ‘grade’.) It uses the same MFT lens mount as Panasonic and Olympus. It’s better in low light than the older Cinema Cameras, with a maximum ISO of 25600 and a Dual ISO option. Dynamic range is a claimed 13 stops.
You can use a choice of SD, UHS II and CFast 2.0 cards. Usefully (as 4K RAW files are huge) you can also output direct to an external USB-C SSD drive.There’s a mini-XLR input for pro microphones, a full sized HDMI output, and a big fixed 5 inch touchscreen with user-friendly menus. You can power it from standard Canon LP-E6 format batteries, portable battery packs or a mains adapter. It doesn’t have in-body image stabilisation.
The camera also comes bundled with the Studio version of BlackMagic’s DaVinci Resolve editing and colour correction software, which normally retails at $300/£229.
There’s now a 6K version of the Pocket Cinema Camera. It has a larger Super 35 Sensor (like the Canon C series) and a more useful EF lens mount. It can shoot 6K at up to 50fps, and cropped 2.8K or HD at 120fps. But it’s almost twice the price of the 4K version.
BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K compared to the Panasonic GH5S
Both cameras can shoot dual native ISO for better low light performance, though the GH5s has a higher maximum iso (51200 rather than 25600). But the relatively small MFT sensor means neither camera will be great in low light compared to APS-C, Super 35 or ‘full frame’ cameras.
The BlackMagic has more connectivity, a bigger screen, and is much more affordable than the Panasonic. The mini-XLR input is useful: you need a $400/£300 audio module to connect pro mics to the Panasonic.
The Panasonic has a swivelling 3.2 inch screen and an eye-level electronic viewfinder, while the BlackMagic’s larger 5 inch screen is fixed.
The 4K Pocket looks to be great value for filmmakers looking for very high image quality in controlled conditions. But the Panasonic will probably be more usable and durable in the field.