Blackmagic cameras haven't always had an easy ride to market. Blackmagic Design (BMD) has had a tough time getting its cameras on sale in a timely fashion once it's announced them. Until now.
The previous release, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, took months to get into the hands of all who wanted one and, although it's a hugely popular camera, people still bemoaned the delays. This 6K model appeared out of nowhere, being announced as it was available, a move that shocked and pleased people and for good reason.
An EF mount makes this model more attractive to some users who shoot on Canon DSLR systems who want to boost their movie output without investing in new glass. That alone would have made this a worthy product, but BMD hasn't stopped there. The chip in this release is bigger, at similar specs to Super 35, allowing for 6K images to be captured. But will this model become one of our best cameras?
6K might feel like an odd choice of resolution, in these days of impending 8K, but in reality it's a good figure. Cropping in to reframe for a 4K (or, shocker, HD) timeline now offers even more leeway, and many 4K Blu-ray releases are still based on a 2K or 2.7K print, so don't get too caught up in the numbers.
Blackmagic 6K camera: Design and build
BMD's strength in cameras has always been its colour science and pure image quality. We can spout specifications all day long, but that kind of misses the point. The Pocket Cinema Cameras have always enthused shooters and this is no different, capturing gorgeous images.
Partner this with the included DaVinci Resolve and you have a full-on VFX movie studio in a box. Resolve ships with the compositor, motion graphics and VFX tool built in, so you don't even need to round-trip your shots any more. If you are considering this as a purchase to boost your abilities as a VFX indie studio, then there isn't much, if anything, that competes for this price.
The body is solidly built, with rubber bungs protecting dual card slots (SD and CF2 cards) although you'll more likely want to use SSD storage via the USB-C port, allowing you to plug the footage direct to your editing machine, a joy in its own right!
Blackmagic 6K camera: Battery life
Much has been said about the overall form factor of these cameras, but to criticise it for this is kind of missing the point. It's a cinema camera and that implies that it fits part of a bigger setup, of cage, power supply, focus pulling etc. The fact that it has a nice grip and commonly found internal battery slot just makes it more versatile.
Yes, the battery will only last about 40 minutes and the screen doesn't articulate, however that is all just fine. BMD has a pretty handy battery pack to extend shooting life and you could always use a V-mount setup attached to your cage, as most cinema camera users expect to do.
Blackmagic 6K camera: Screen and audio
Back to the screen, then. It may not move (there is an HDMI out, for field monitors) but it is glorious to use. It's bright and clear as well as touch sensitive, for controlling BMD's famed UI, which only takes just a quick look to master. It's an intuitive setup, easily manipulated by a simple press of a finger, with each panel logically laid out for specific tasks, like audio setup and monitoring.
Shortcut keys can be set how you like, from applying a LUT to viewing peaking, to accessing any number of functions.
Returning briefly to audio, the BMPCC6K has built-in mics for scratch audio, a 3.5mm line in and a mini XLR, which has switchable phantom power, another nod to this camera being rigged up for full production, while retaining tools for run and gun.
All in all the Pocket range from BMD are fantastic cameras. The only real choice is which flavour to get. , with its MFT lens mount and huge array of glass, or this 6K, with increased chip size and resolution and an EF mount.
This article originally appeared in 3D World. Subscribe here.
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