You just got your hands on your brand new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K Pro. What else do you need to start shooting right away?
One of the first things we look forward to with every new camera is having the right equipment for whatever projects we have to face. One of the most exciting things about equipping the 6K Pro is how much raw flexibility is available from the smallest camera that enabled internal RAW and the first camera that enabled direct-to-hard drive recording on off-the-shelf SSDs.
This has opened up a whole accessory market that allows for a variety of fascinating configurations that customize the camera for your production.
The first topic we need to cover is the camera cage and whether you even need one.
The purpose of a camera cage is twofold. First, it provides extra protection by wrapping your camera in another layer (generally) of aluminum that prevents dents and nicks from damaging your camera. More importantly, however, it offers a variety of flexible mounting points around your camera body, and certain custom cages give you a level of flexibility that will take your camera’s performance to new levels. Between sound receivers, video transmitters, storage options and even viewfinders, the range of accessories for a fully equipped camera is endless.
A good place to start when looking for cages for the Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro is this SmallRig Full Camera Cage and NATO Top Handle Kit for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K & 6K.
The outstanding feature is the integrated Samsung SSD holder, which nestles tightly around the camera housing. As we’ll discuss about storage below, one of the best features of these cameras is that they record directly onto SSDs like the Samsung T5 units, and a cage designed to mount these cameras directly is a huge plus.
Tilta tactical camera cage
One step up is that Tilta tactical camera cage. It’s more than twice as expensive as the Smallrig, but the functionality it offers is well worth it for demanding job applications.
You can split it in half and only use the left side if you want to hold the handle directly without interference from the cage. It works with the extended battery handle and allows 15mm rods to be mounted even when this handle is used.
With 90 ° HDMI and USB-C adapters for easier and cleaner cable routing, attachment points for flat-head and Allen keys and ARCA-Swiss compatibility for direct mounting on the DJI RS2, the Tilta feels like the cage that attaches to everything thought.
Best of all is the viewfinder extension system, which allows the viewfinder to be mounted in a variety of different positions. For setting up a handheld rig with a traditional viewfinder position, this is an important, absolutely wonderful feature, and it really shows the benefit of a robust third-party ecosystem making accessories to aid manufacturers.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this Camera cage by Fathom, who takes a different approach to cage design. The Fathom is big enough not to hug your camera directly, but leaves space for your hand to slide the handle with the attachment points on the outside so that you can mount additional accessories without compromising the original camera ergonomics.
The next problem most users want to address is finding the most efficient power solution when working with the Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro. It’s a camera that offers hefty performance (6K recording with dual native ISO and RAW) in a small form factor, and that means more and more battery changes that you might have when working with a larger system.
The 6K Pro mounts a Sony NP-F570 internal, and some users just buy lots of NP-F570 batteries, a 4x charger and keep swapping. This works for some workflows, but if you want longer runtimes there are a multitude of ways to get more juice to your camera.
Blackmagic itself makes the first eligible accessory, the Blackmagic Battery Pro handle.
This enables two additional Sony L-series batteries to be mounted on the bottom of the camera for longer runtime and gives you a new handle for vertical shots. Most importantly, at the end of the day you have the option to swap the batteries on the fly in order to keep taking photos for ultra-long runtimes. However, you are getting more vertical height out of the camera, which may not work with certain camera settings.
Battery grip on top
If you don’t want to take up the extra space under the camera, you can also do something like a Power handlethat can be attached to the side or top of the camera.
In combination with a D-Tap to Blackmagic power cable, you get longer runtimes for your Pocket 6K and at the same time get the functionality of an additional handle. These devices generally have multiple power outlets so you can power multiple accessories at the same time.
If you already have a good supply of V-mount batteries from previous camera setups or want to work with your LED lighting units, you should also consider using your Pocket 6K V-mount.
Generally mounted on rods and led directly from the plate into the power connector of the camera body, this allows longer runtimes when working with a very common, robust professional battery standard that will serve you in future productions.
The last important decision most people make at this point in terms of how their 6K Pro is equipped is external storage options.
You can record RAW internally on CFast cards mounted in the camera, but these are relatively expensive and you can save a lot of money by recording externally on something else.
There are two popular options to consider, Samsung T5 to T7 SSDs or M.2 storage in a special case.
Samsung T5 / T7 drives
These are wonderfully affordable (1TB for about $ 150, sometimes 2TB for less than $ 250) Storage options for recording RAW directly to a drive via USB-C. Since they are SSD units, they don’t require a special suspension system like HDDs used to be, and you can shoot straight at them all day.
Different manufacturers make Mounting options, and these are by far the most common drives you’ll see in a Blackmagic Pocket. You will also see some popular setups for similar drives from Angelbird.
If the Samsung T5 is so wonderful, then why would you consider M.2, which requires an additional case? Speed.
While you may not get any extra speed out of the camera itself (the 6K Pro’s maximum file size is at 30 fps 6144 x 3456 (6K) Blackmagic RAW 3: 1 is only 323 MB / s, well below the T5’s 515MB / s write speed), you’ll see in the downloads after you’re done recording and backing up.
With a read speed four times faster than the T5 (540 vs. 2000), your downloads could potentially be four times as fast, which can save a huge amount of time on set and in the post.
However, you buy M.2 drives raw and have to pack them in a container, and while there are many available, so far only Tilta has made a setup designed for use with movie sets, with added layers of physical security and mounting points. With prices of 1 TB M2 similar to the T5 (about $ 150) and the Tilta M2 accessories for just $ 50. If you shoot a lot at high frame rates and need to make sure you don’t end up with a backlog of files to download, the M2 solution is one solution to keep in mind for affordable, ultra-fast storage.
What do you think of our proposals? Let us know in the comments.