Blackmagic offers many cameras under the “Pocket” name, but which one is right for you?
Blackmagic first announced a camera called “Pocket” at NAB 2013, and back then it was really a camera that fit in your pocket, with the right lens, of course. A really tiny little camera built around the MFT mount that recorded 2.5K. She was really amazing for her ability to shoot ProRes and eventually even RAW at 2.5K resolution in a camera that fits anywhere.
It was popular with independent filmmakers, of course, but was also used in big films like the Spider-Man franchise, where it was used to use actors to create POV shots while “flying through the air” as it was in was able to cut as well with the larger, more rugged A-camera.
In 2018, Blackmagic launched its newer Pocket range, which, while physically larger (the smallest fit in a larger parking pocket with the right lens), offered enough image capture improvements to be worth the tradeoffs.
First of all, the new devices record at least 4K, which is becoming an absolute minimum when it comes to image recording. Additionally, they all work with timecode, which means that they are able to sync timecode with each other to make multi-camera workflows a breeze. Combine it with the automated timecode sync in Resolve and you have one of the fastest ways to record and edit multi-camera footage in a tidy little package.
The newer Pocket range also came with the inclusion of Blackmagic Raw, Blackmagic’s proprietary RAW capture format (now fully supported in Final Cut Pro, Avid, Premiere, and Resolve) that enables RAW image capture within the camera.
While you could record RAW in the original Pocket, it was Cinema DNG, a very heavy codec that consumed a lot of disk space and was slow to process in post-production. Blackmagic Raw eats up a lot less media space, but it’s also a lot easier to edit the equation in the post.
12K .BRAW files can even be edited on the smaller 13 “Macbook Pro, which was inconceivable even with 2.5K Cinema DNG files.
The newer Pocket series has also fully exploited the possibilities of USB-C. The connection can be used to supply the camera with power (via the separate 12 V power input), to charge the internal batteries or to shoot on external USB media. With the incredible prices of items like M.2 drives and Samsung T5 drives, shooting large RAW files suddenly became infinitely more affordable and available for independent and low budget productions.
The new line-up has that in common, but what are the differences?
Weighing only 1.5 lbs, the 4K bag is still an excellent choice for photographers who need a really lightweight camera body but want an internal RAW shot. The 4K is based on the Micro 4/3 lens mount and the sensor (often abbreviated to MFT or M43) and can also use the smaller, cheaper lens options offered in this format. If you’re looking for a RAW camera that really fits in a pocket (with a pancake lens, which MFT has many wonderful options of), the 4K camera is the one.
Many have wondered why Blackmagic offered the 6K and 6K Pro that kept 4K in production, but between weight and lens mount options, there are still many compelling reasons why the 4K camera could be the right camera for an upcoming production .
Poke up to 1.98 lbs that is 6Kwhich also comes with a larger sensor size of around Super 35mm and an EF lens mount.
You get a lot of variety with hundreds of lenses available with EF mounts around the world, but they will be a bit more expensive and larger than the MFT options, making the overall package an overall larger investment in size and cost than the really tiny ones Pocket 4K.
Of the 6K, you come across the 6K Pro at a still light 2.73 lbs, which has some really compelling features compared to the 6K. You still have the EF bayonet, but the super 35mm sensor now offers dual native ISO with a separate 3200 ISO signal path that offers less noise in low light. In addition, you get internal ND filters to make working outdoors easier. And most interestingly, you have an optional viewfinder.
While the viewfinder may not seem that interesting to filmmakers at first, it comes with a tether cable that you can use to place it anywhere with accessory arms. This means you can mount it on an arm for a more traditional, over-the-shoulder operating position, which many users will appreciate.
You get all of that and a tilting viewfinder to work with a wide variety of angles.
So there you have it. The latest Blackmagic Pocket Camera no longer fits in most pockets, but you can think of it as the camera that you can always have in your metaphorical pocket.
Because of the unbelievable price, RAW recordings at high ISO values are possible for a whole range of filmmakers who otherwise would not have access. So you have it in your pocket as a tool, even if it doesn’t fit in your pocket like the original.