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BM Pocket Camera vs. standard DSLR's?

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Mike Nielsen
BM Pocket Camera vs. standard DSLR's?
on Aug 6, 2013 at 7:34:37 am

Hi Folks

I work as a motion graphics designer, and recently started adding video-shooting to my skills. So - my knowledge on cameras is somewhat limited - hoping that a few video pro's here can help me out:

I own the Canon T2i (550D) and a few decent lenses. I've now come across the new Pocket camera from Blackmagic Design, and the specs look VERY interesting. Questions are: This camera is $1000! With 13 stops of dynamic range and footage recorded in raw (or prores), it sounds like a serious competitor to video coming from the flagship DSLR's...the Canon 5D for example. Other than the BM camera not being able to shoot stills: What's the catch, if any? BTW: Can I use my canon lenses with an adaptor on this Pocket camera?

Thanks!
Mike


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Charles Wren
Re: BM Pocket Camera vs. standard DSLR's?
on Aug 14, 2013 at 8:38:04 am

I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on this too...

More RAM, for the love of god we need more RAM.


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Rick Lang
Re: BM Pocket Camera vs. standard DSLR's?
on Aug 14, 2013 at 6:49:20 pm

Mike, do you have an hour to read the response to your query? Seriously, I'll be brief. Please let me start with the downside of the BMPCC.

First, you do not get the full (dongle) version of DaVinci Resolve with the pocket camera so when the $995 BMPCC is compared to the $1,995 and you add in the $995 cost of Resolve, you see that the pocket camera is costing you the same money as the BMCC.

Second, the resolution is 1920x1080. That's it. There's no larger active sensor area that can be used to downscale to a HD deliverable. This means that the BMPCC image may be a little softer looking than an HD image downscaled from the BMCC.

Third, the sensor is very close to Super16. Some people like that, the depth of field is greater, the lenses can be smaller, but it can be a challenge if you need a very wide angle of view. The crop factor is 2.88x compared to the Canon 5D full-frame sensor.

Fourth, although this camera looks like a real micro four thirds camera from Panasonic or Olympus, it is not. Within the camera body, there is no image stabilization and no adjustments for distortion (barrel/pincushion) when using poorly designed lenses from Panasonic or Olympus. The distortion could be corrected in post and is often not a problem unless you are shooting architecture because the sensor is smaller than a normal micro four thirds camera.

Fifth, media is not cheap. The camera currently records 10bit ProRes 4:2:2 HQ 1080p but a firmware update expected in a month or so will include 12bit raw recording. Currently there are only a few SDXC/SDHC cards approved such as the Sandisk Extreme Pro. Most of these cards are 64 GB with larger sizes coming available. So recording times are fairly short, taking you back to the days of real film spools.

Sixth, the audio is unbalanced, not balanced like the BMCC. That isn't likely an issue if your audio devices are in close proximity to the camera. Like the BMCC, there is no phantom power supplied so you may need a pre-amp like the new Juiced Link BMC366 or external recorder like the Zoom H6 to power your microphones.

Seventh, there is no optical low-pass filter in front of the sensor. The downside can be more moiré and aliasing, and the upside is a sharper image. There are techniques to reduce the downside when you shoot (such as having your talent wear natural fibres like cotton rather than rayon if possible) and in post although that is not easy. A third-party supplier is apparently working on providing an OLPF but no guarantee. And you may not experience the problem as there are sample videos that look fine. The camera is only in limited distribution now but will ramp up later this month and in September. The BMCC and BMPC4K also do not have OLPFs and that is a conscious design feature of BMD cameras to maximize the image sharpness.

Eighth, there is no genlock support on any BMD camera.

On the positive size:
It has 13 stops of dynamic range for under $1k!

It shoots 10bit ProRes HQ log or rec.709 and soon 12bit raw; not AVCHD, h.264, whatever, highly compressed 8bit grading headaches that you may have seen from a DSLR or camcorder. The raw will be using an estimated 1.5x lossless compression to reduce file sizes.

It has an active MFT mount which can accept a horde of manual and automatic lenses with some caveats such as the lack of in-camera stabilization for Olympus lenses. So you can add a PL lens if you want. Or go stealth mode with a modest pancake.

You can today add the Metabones Speed Booster for Nikon F/G adapter and pick up a full stop of speed and an effective focal length of 0.71x what the lens would look like without the MSB. The MSB can make a f/1.4 lens into f/1.0!

And a MSB for EF is coming in about a month and that will be an active adapter with the electronics to make Canon lenses work and of course will support any EF lens from other suppliers.

As you may know, many very high speed lenses are available in MFT such as the f/0.95 hyperprimes from SLR Magic and Voitländer or other mounts such as C mounts for S16.

It has a readily availble Nikon rechargeable removable battery, just buy a few to get you through your shoot.

The camera can be very small or very big if you want it to be. Many suppliers are jumping on board to provide cages and gear adapted for the BMPCC.

The media and battery are not proprietary to BMD and are available from third-party vendors. BMD tries to use standard interfaces and avoid proprietary connections or other gear.

It is very light and will work with less expensive stabilizers for handheld work and cheaper tripods/heads if desired compared to the BMCC. You can mount it anywhere except underwater.

At $995, it makes a great HD crash cam if you are so inclined.

Okay, I'll show some mercy and let you decide!

Edit: added lack of genlock.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Mike Nielsen
Re: BM Pocket Camera vs. standard DSLR's?
on Aug 14, 2013 at 8:06:56 pm

Rick. Thanks very much for posting that - excellent info and it'll help me decide what to do.

I'm very aware of some - but not all - of the shortcomings of the Pocket cam, but for my intended use, it probably won't cause me a lot of problems. I usually shoot very small clips; 10-20 sec, a minute or two at the most, and spend weeks motion tracking, keying, adding graphics etc. I rarely use audio.

Point taken on the BMCC-included Resolve software. But I'd rather be able to afford a functioning good-quality 1080p setup (have a couple of stabilizers for small weight cams etc). I should of cause add this: I work professionally in motion graphics,- not shooting video per ce. So we're talking about a semi-hobbyist budget here. I'm sure the BMCC is a killer camera, but the BMPCC might just ne perfect for me. I'll try to be patient and see what kind of response emerges in the coming weeks.

Again: Valuable info, so thanks a lot!

Best,
Mike


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Rick Lang
Re: BM Pocket Camera vs. standard DSLR's?
on Aug 15, 2013 at 3:03:22 am

Even Grant Petty says the BMPCC is the camera he will keep with him. With the right lens, it truly can give the iPhone a run for its money! It seems smart phone cameras are displacing far better cameras that people own just because it is always with them and they snap a pic and post it on the web in a moment. So the BMPCC certainly is a wonderful family camera in addition to all its other possibilities.

The bulk of cameras that Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and so on sell are designed to produce a good looking image easily and they can do it well within their limitations. But there a lot of people who enjoy editing and colouring their home movies and those codecs don't let you have much fun before they break. The BMPCC is the first truly affordable camera that puts real quality in your hands and can produce beautiful video if you want to be creative. Bessie would like that, right?

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Kevin Duffey
Re: BM Pocket Camera vs. standard DSLR's?
on Aug 15, 2013 at 3:26:47 pm

I think Rick summed it up perfectly.. I will only add one thought as to why the BMCC may be better.. given what you get with it and all that Rick covered.. the 2.5K image size gives you a little wiggle room with a 1080p output format. Not sure you'd need that, but if you needed to stabilize a video, or perhaps it wasn't framed perfectly, having that extra resolution could make the difference in having to reshoot or not.

I was leaning hard for the pocket camera.. and still want one, but with Resolve and the SSD drive and higher res of the BMCC, I am now considering that option. If I can find a way to save 4K though, having the 4K res AND a global shutter to me is the far better deal.


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