Amid the hustle and bustle that is inherent to the beginnings of a new school year there is much to look forward to.
One of my favorite parts of this season is the jubilation that comes in unboxing newly purchased video gear. This year, my program was fortunate to acquire new equipment from a variety of manufacturers for a plethora of purposes. Yet, my favorite new purchase was the new Pocket Cinema Camera 4K from Blackmagic Design.
The Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is a small, lightweight, cinematic camera that is perfect for student users and professionals alike. It is easy to hold, easy to operate, and easy to see why this is one of the most popular cameras on the market. Inexpensive at $1295, this camera fits nicely into new or existing workflows especially for users who want high-end cinematic style camera on a low-end budget.
The Pocket Cinema 4K features a mirror less, 4/3 CMOS sensor capable of resolutions of up to 4096 x 2160 in both raw, and a variety of Pro Res codecs. A 5-inch, high resolution (1920x1080), LCD touch screen on the rear of the camera allows for high quality monitoring and focus adjustment. The screen and corresponding ease of use is among the features and benefits of this camera that my student’s claim as their favorite.
The familiar and easy to use interface allows for manual, professional level customization of almost every conceivable feature such as: frame rate, shutter, timecode ISO, white balance, exposure, audio levels, etc. The user interface is intuitive and simple to navigate for these functions, for most, it is simply a touch of the item on the touchscreen and you are off to customizing and planning your fabulous looking shots.
A lens does not come included with the camera and there are many available on the market. We have chosen a Panasonic Lumix 20mm lens as well as a Rokinon 50mm prime lens for our current uses. The lenses need to be MFT lenses, this acronym stands for Micro Four Thirds and refers to the lens mounting style as well as the camera sensor.
We have also accessorized our camera with a SmallRig cage for additional mounting applications such as microphones and lights. Speaking of microphones, there are mini-XLR and 1/8th inch inputs as well as a 1/8th inch headphone output. The camera also includes a built in stereo microphone.
We purchased the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to test if it would be a good replacement for our aging Canon 60D fleet. So far, the students have really enjoyed using the Pocket Cinema and are impressed with the quality of images they are able to acquire with the camera.
Specifically students have mentioned that the following items about the camera:
“It’s easy to use, not difficult to setup like more traditional cameras”.
“This camera’s movies are so good! The quality is amazing”.
“I like how compact and portable it is, I can be operational so much faster as a result of size and touch screen”.
“The camera has professional features such as zebras, focus peaking, and focus assist that our old cameras just didn’t have”.
“This camera has the quality of our URSA but in much smaller package”.
One of my favorite features as an educator is the formatting function of the camera. There are multiple steps that as a user you have to undertake to format a media card that it makes it very difficult to accidently delete footage. This is especially helpful for students who sometimes don’t think before they hit buttons. In order to format a card on the Pocket Cinema, you have to hold specific part of the touch screen for three seconds, and that is after you have hit multiple buttons to get to that sub menu.
Every camera has its flaws and this one is no exception. My students and I have found that this camera is hungry for batteries, it eats them up, quickly. The camera takes Canon style DSLR batteries which are easy to find and purchase and fairly inexpensive. We are averaging between around 30 minutes of battery life, although there are steps you can take to prolong battery life including lowering the touch screen brightness. To mitigate this issue, Blackmagic Design has a battery grip that can be purchased which can double your battery life by holding two of the Canon style batteries instead of one.
Another area of improvement is the 4K Raw recording codec. The file sizes are HUGE, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. They operate on Blackmagic Design’s proprietary codec which is compatible with our version of Adobe Creative Cloud (CC 2019). We were able to open footage in Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X. Blackmagic Design includes a copy of their editing software with every camera. DaVinci Resolve was easy to install and operate and had us working in beautiful 4k cinematic magic in minutes. The software has an easy learning curve because it can be modeled to look and act like your favorite non-linear editing software from Adobe, Avid, and Apple.
I have long considered myself a Blackmagic Design fanboy, since my early adoption of the ATEM line of video switchers. I have many years of use on a variety of their products covering their wide portfolio. This camera is everything I wanted it to be and more. I encourage you to purchase one and enjoy the benefit of its high-quality, easy to use features.
Blackmagic Design has been an industry disruptor since 2002. With a focus on quality and affordability they have repeatedly won the hearts and minds of their target market. Due to the affordability of their products, Blackmagic Design has been a favorite brand of educational minded consumers such as schools and students.
For more information on this amazing product visit: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/techspecs/W-CIN-12
Josh Branch has a wide amount of experience in the video production industry including over 15+ years of freelance work for clients throughout the country and Josh spent the better part of a decade working for a big tire company in Akron as a Corporate Videgrapher. Josh also holds a Associates Degree in Communication (Axia), a Bachelors Degree in Organizational Management (Malone) and a Masters Degree in Career-Tech Education (Kent State).
Josh’s award winning video work has been seen on over 500 TV stations and networks across the country including History, Speed, ESPN, A&E, Discovery, Fox, Fox News & Telemundo. Josh has 100+ TV commercials to his credit and well over 1000 video projects completed.
Josh enjoys teaching because it is tangible and exciting to watch the next generation of America’s workforce discover their creativity and communication skills. Josh resides in North-East Ohio with his wife and four sons.