What a Beast. Simply Awesome. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro – Part 1

We all aspire to owning something special. Or at least getting an extended hands-on “feel” to what it would be like to own something nice. You know, REALLY nice.

It might be a Lamborghini Gallardo, a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes (whatever they are), a Breitling watch or perhaps a Louis Vuitton handbag.

Whilst I’d love the Gallardo I admit (in burnt orange and black highlights please) or better, a Bugatti Veyron in deep crimson and black interior, keeping it real, I have wanted a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera for years.

Everyone even remotely interested in the film and video industry knows – or should know – about Blackmagic Design. From a small start by founder and CEO Grant Petty in Melbourne, to becoming an industry standard, Blackmagic Design (BMD to its friends) has rocked the filmmaking industry with innovation after innovation over the years, not the least giving access packages like DaVinci Resolve and Fusion to the level of us mere humans.

The company also makes a large range of stuff for the broadcast industry slightly outside my ken, including switchers, converters, encoders, distribution and other devices – and I have waxed lyrical over the last year or so over the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro.

Dreams do come true, and the nice folk at BMD recently sent me a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K for a play, and even made sure it was the EF mount version so I could use my own set (albeit small) of Canon EF lenses on it.

Here are my first impressions – and I’ll add to them in later missives as I learn more…

BTW, the history of Blackmagic Design is well documented, and well worth an interesting read. You can find it here and here at Australian Videocamera we interviewed CEO and founder Grant Petty here.

Initial Thoughts

I remember reviewing one of the first of the Pocket Cinema cameras, and if memory serves me, it did fit in a pocket. So will this as long as you have pockets that equally accommodate something like, oh I don’t know, a small moon.

Yes, I am exaggerating a tad, but really, the BMD Pocket camera 6K is not small, being roughly the same dimensions as a Canon EOS 1 (my 5D is about ¾ the size of the PC 6K by way of further comparison). But due to the carbon fibre composite used in the body, the PCC 6K Pro is far lighter thankfully, although with my 70-210 lens on it, I wouldn’t like to be hand holding it for too long in shooting.

One factor involved in the physical size is the rear mounted swing-up-and- out LCD monitor which is a massive 5” unit with 1500 nits lamination and simply brilliant. More on that in a sec as it caused me a little grief when I first took the PC 6K out of the box.

To get the 6K moniker in its name, the PCC 6K Pro utilizes a 6144 x 3456 “super” 35 sensor and incorporates built in 2, 4 and 6 stop ND filters.

A multi-function handgrip is built into the ergonomic design giving easy access to ISO, shutter speed and WB and a thumb wheel allows instant aperture adjustment. Function keys allow one finger access to high frame rate, focus zoom, false colour and other functions, and there are separate buttons for record and still shutter options as well as an extra record button on the front body of the camera for VLOGGING ease of use.

More buttons are on the rear of the body of the PCC 6K Pro to the right of the LCD for such things as image zoom, playback and setup.

There are slots for two SD cards as well as a single C-Fast slot, plus a USB-C port lets you plug in an external SSD drive for longer recordings.

Finally, no less than 4 microphones are possible via a dual built in pair and a 3.5mm and XLR socket for externals plus a headphone port.

To Be Aware!

If you are upgrading to the BMD Pocket Cinema Camera 6K from something like a 4/3rds unit from Panny, Olympus etc (yes there is a version of the BMD PC that takes MFT lenses so you can use the ones you have), from my limited experience, the SD cards you use now may not be fast enough.

All of mine weren’t without dropping the res / shutter speed down to a minimum and using ProRes as the format. BMD RAW which would be preferred just wasn’t an option. In my case I tried a SanDisk Extreme Gold 64GB Class 10 card and nope. No go in BMD RAW. Nor did a Verbatim Class 10 128GB

I then tried a SanDisk Extreme 1TB SSD nor would that work which REALLY surprised me, so there was nothing for it but to toddle down to my local Camera House store here in Bunbury (it’s the only specialist camera shop so no, I am not currying any favour here) to (gulp), see about buying one of the recommended cards. Thankfully they had no stock, as the prices are terrifying!

The list of recommended cards is here.

But we did try a Samsung T5 external SSD and that worked which made it more of a mystery as to why my SanDisk didn’t.

Back at home, I tried a second SanDisk extreme 1TB I had, and that failed too, only recording 5 seconds before giving the dreaded warning.

A quick call to Aussie BMD distribs New Magic seemed to answer the problem – format the SSD first using the camera’s firmware, not a computer, in my case Windows 10.

This showed the first SanDisk SSD had a flaw as after 20 hours it was still trying, whereas the second formatted within 20 seconds and then I was away even using BMD RAW at the highest level.

Out Of The Box

The second – well the first really – thing that flummoxed me was that carefully following the 157 page instruction manual, I was informed that after turning on the PCC 6K Pro (after charging the NP-F570 battery), among other information, you should be able to see on screen the representation of the SD cards showing which are in use and what capacity is left.

Except in my case, there was nothing on the LCD screen.

After a little experimentation and button pressing, it turned out for some unknown reason, the unit I had received, which was brand new, had come out of the factory with the “clean HDMI feed” turned on. Disabling that and all was well.

First Overall Impressions

This is not a camera that you pull out of the box, charge the battery, bolt the lens on and then go happy snapping. No way.

It is like a fine wine, and needs to be studied, learned about, and appreciated before partaking. There is such a depth to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, that it will take time to understand and master all its nuances.

Not that it is a hard camera to learn, not at all, just that there is a hell of a lot to learn! If you want to have a pre-look at the manual (in a number of different languages), you can download the PDF here.

And that is half the fun.

And that process, will lead me on to Part 2 of this piece in due course. Suffice the small amount of footage I have shot in earning the camera is so far, breathtaking.


Postscript: Having just also had a play with the new Fujinon MK lens adaptors allowing you the option of putting RF or MFT lenses on non-Fujifilm camera bodies, using the Fujinon Cine 50-135mm lens that I have here on a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K would, I suspect, give awesome results!

 

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