The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is a major overhaul that slips under the radar in a familiar housing style and opens up completely different photography possibilities for independent creators.
And we wanted to do a shoot to explore the possibilities. This article gives an overview of the technical side of the shoot – keep an eye out for the video release later!
The newest Blackmagic Pocket, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro, looks so similar to the original 6K and even the 4K that it’s easy to miss that it’s actually a pretty big upgrade from the original RAW in your pocket camera. While it still has all of the features that made the camera a hit, like a small form factor, direct SSD recording, and internal RAW recording, the improvements are big too.
In a slightly larger package, they’ve also managed to bring three major improvements – internal ND filters, dual native ISO, and an external viewfinder.
The biggest feature we wanted to test out was the new higher ISO setting for the camera, as 3200 ISO is incredibly useful for one of the most common challenges we encountered – the long night stroll and the conversation. It shows up in so many scripts, long emotional strolls and conversations on a city or country road at night, but it has its whole world of challenges.
In general, there is a mix of light sources from a variety of street and location lights where the RAW really shines. The basic strength of the light is low. Even if you have all of the firepower you need to light your subject, you still need to keep the lights low to match your background, be it in the woods or in the city. And you want to stabilize the camera.
For more money this means a steadicam, but for a small project you want a gimbal, ideally something small like the DJI RS2. Since there is literally no other camera that allows this combination, low light sensitivity from a high ISO, internal RAW, stabilized, all at an affordable price, this was the perfect test for the camera.
Of course, camera tests aren’t usually the most fun just watching people walk and talk, so we found a few instead People on Instagram who do great wheelies and make them a topic because it’s just more fun.
Assembling the camera
While we usually carried the stabilizer in hand for walking and talking (in this case an RS2 which is small and affordable and works great with the 6K Pro) thinking it would be more fun to photograph bikers, we are at the end assembly of the RS2 on a bike with the Tilta Hydra.
Our setup was based on a great video by. inspired Bestboy Adam that we strongly recommend looking for additional thoughts on bike mounts.
In general, the biggest challenge with Night Walk and Talk is matching your lighting with the background of the base.
Whether you’re down a suburban street at night or walking around town, there are all sorts of sources in the world with a certain level of basic lighting that there isn’t much you can do about.
My favorite technique even on low budget shoots is to find a way to raise a scissor lift or condor in the background of the scene with a harsh light pointed at the camera to give some back light for the breakup, and then to bring in a gentle frontal filling with a ball of light on an arm that is carried with the camera.
Since we were out on a bike we did things a little differently by attaching a front light in a soft bag with the camera on the bike and a hard taillight to a follower bike to make sure we got the right ratio of fill and Have backlight.
Of course, one of the lenses we wanted to explore the most was the new T1 from Zhongyi, as the combination of a super-fast aperture with a dual native ISO-RAW machine was too much to be without.
For a budget of $ 3,500, you have a camera that could shoot in previously unimaginable lighting situations. But we also wanted to take photos with a different lens, the Irix 11mm, which only opens for a T4.
We wanted this not only to create a field of view (useful for action and tight spaces) but also because sometimes you can’t get lenses that are open to a T1. Maybe you are shooting a show with anamorphic, or you are shooting with older zooms, or otherwise want the deeper depth of field that is created by a smaller aperture. For all of these reasons, we wanted to make sure we weren’t just testing a T1 because that seemed like an unfair comparison.
We also wanted to test the Irix 11mm as it would give us an amazing field of view and it seemed like a good challenge for the night scenes as it only opens up to a T4.
This is very common with ultra-wide angle lenses, and frankly, being able to work with a T4 is a fair goal, even for outdoor scenes at night, to give the first AC a chance to fight to get it into focus. For this reason, the majority of the footage is on the 11mm Irix.
Our location, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is one of my favorites in all of New York City.
Even though it was a place that was officially owned by the city, I count at least three different colors of street lighting mixed with a variety of colors of light in the different buildings.
Here, the advantages of RAW recording stand out in particular, as the non-standard colors of the background lighting were captured without leaving the color space and could be graduated more effectively.
The video has a noise correction; this is very typical of practically every night scene you’ve seen in a movie for the past 40 years.
Even before software noise correction was used, there were hardware noise correction boxes to ensure that we could defuse noisy footage.
The noise correction settings we ended up using were very low, and you can see a quick comparison here showing the footage with and without the noise.
I never really expect a noise-free night picture. When shooting at higher ISO in low light, the noise will be part of the shot. I’m looking for manageable noise that can be eliminated in post-processing without great effort and yet reveals a lot of useful image information in the captured image.
This seems to be one of the places where the tight integration of the Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro as a recording device with Resolve as the software device really comes into play. The slight noise of the 3200 ISO images goes well with the software noise correction in Resolve to produce very clean final images.
So there you have it, one of the more common but challenging situations a low budget DP faces is much more doable now than it was before. A shot that five years ago would have required a much larger lighting package, physically larger camera, and full-size stabilizer can now be effectively captured with equipment and a crew size that is within an indie budget. Exciting times.
We’ll be releasing the video from this shoot soon! Dont miss it.