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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K review

Cinema-quality video at an affordable price

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K is an affordable cinema camera that delivers excellent 4K video

For

  • 4K resolution and 120fps in 2.6K
  • Excellent footage quality
  • DaVinci Resolve Software
  • Fantastic port selection
  • Affordable

Against

  • Poor battery life
  • Rudimentary autofocus
  • 1 x 9 crop
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K specs

Price: $1,295
Sensor: 18.96mm x 10mm (Four Thirds)

Dynamic range: 13 stops

Resolution: (Blackmagic RAW) 4096 x 2160 (4K DCI) up to 60 fps, 4096 x 1720 (4K 2.4:1) up to 75 fps, 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD) up to 60 fps, 2880 x 2160 (2.8K Anamorphic) up to 80 fps, 2688 x 1512 (2.6K 16:9) up to 120 fps, 1920 x 1080 (HD) up to 120 fps

Supporter Codecs: Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 3:1, Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 5:1, Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 8:1, Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 12:1, 

Blackmagic RAW Constant Quality Q0, Blackmagic RAW Constant Quality Q5, ProRes 422 HQ QuickTime, ProRes 422 QuickTime, ProRes 422 LT QuickTime, ProRes 422 Proxy QuickTime.

Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds (MFT)

Display: 5-inch1920 x 1080 LCD touch screen

Storage: Dual SD/CFast cards, records RAW internally, external recording to USB-C drive

Construction: Polycarbonate/carbon fibre composite

Battery: LP‑E6 Battery with USB-C charging

Power: Lockable DC port  Weipu 2-pin connector

Size:  7.01 x 3.37 x 3.78 inches

Weight: 1.53 pounds

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K was the first of Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema series. A certified game-changer, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K spun the industry around as it brought 4K cinema-level filming capability into the hands of anyone with a script idea and a dream for an affordable $1,295. And while it looks a lot like a black DSLR camera, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is a Micro 4/3 4K camera designed specifically for video.

However, lackluster battery life and rudimentary autofocus might give videographers looking for a field camera pause. 

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K pricing and configurations

There’s only one configuration of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160). It costs $1,295 and comes with a 5-inch touch-capacitive 1920 x 1080-pixel HD display, a 4/3 image sensor, 13 stops of dynamic range, a Micro 4/3 (MFT) lens mount, and dual native ISO up to 25,600 for HDR images and low light performance.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K design

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K has a similar form factor to many popular DSLR cameras on the market, but it is thicker. It has a right-handed grip that fits nicely in your hands and is made of a black polycarbonate/carbon fiber composite, which keeps the weight down. There are two tripod mounts, one at the top and the other on the bottom, to provide users with mounting options for things like an audio recorder, an SSD, or a tripod. The camera comes with built-in stereo microphones that do a solid job but are best for syncing video with an external recorder. 

On the top right-hand side of the camera, you’ll find the record start and stop button with the still photo button next to it. There are buttons for ISO, shutter speed, and white balance behind the previously mentioned buttons. There are also three customizable function buttons, which you can program to toggle zebra, grid lines, or LUT previews so you can see what your photos could look like after you grade them with DaVinci Resolve, which comes free with the camera.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k

(Image credit: Future)

On the right side of the camera is a door covering the SDcard and CFast 2.0 card slots. The left side of the camera is where all of the ports reside. The port covers are made of a solid rubber material and pop on or off easily while remaining attached to the camera. Along the camera’s bottom is a battery door, a tripod mount, and the fan’s vent, which keeps the camera nice and cool. 

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

(Image credit: Future)

Measuring 7 x 3.4 x 3.8 inches and weighing 1.5 pounds, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K is like a DSLR’s huskier cousin that everyone chides during the holidays. Still, it’s relatively lightweight and has a grab-and-go design that gives users a lot of freedom and won’t weigh down your backpack.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ports 

All the ports on the BMPC4K are on the left side of the camera. There’s a 3.5mm stereo mic jack, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a full-sized HDMI-out, a locking 12-volt power supply, a USB-C port, and a mini XLR-in with phantom power support for high-quality audio.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

(Image credit: Future)

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k Storage options

When filming at 4K at 12 bits RAW, you’re eating up memory faster than I go through a box of warm Krispy Kreme donuts. With the BMPC4K, you have several storage options starting with an SD slot and the CFast cards. But my favorite and the most efficient is to connect an SSD via the USB-Type C port of the camera.  

Today, SSDs are affordable, so you can purchase them for less money than many CFast cards, and you won’t need a card reader to upload your footage afterward. Just plug it into your computer’s USB-Type C port, and off to work, you go.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

(Image credit: Future)

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K display

The BMPC4k comes with a large 5-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel touch-capacitive LCD screen to set up your shots and review your footage. The screen helps focus your shots. It gives you a red outline (or green) when your shot is in focus. It’s a huge help because the Blackmagic 4K doesn’t have the extensive autofocus features found on Nikon or Canon cameras. Again, this is a cinema camera, and even most amateurs will use manual focus while shooting video. 

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

(Image credit: Future)

A common issue you may have with the BMPC4K is that, when shooting outdoors in bright conditions, the screen can be challenging to view. I found myself using my hand to shade the screen from time to time. However, you can purchase a sun hood on Amazon for less than $30 to resolve that issue.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K AutoFocus and IBIS

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K doesn’t have the autofocus system found in most cameras you can purchase today. However, the autofocus it does have is easy to use — just tap on your subject via the touchscreen. However, it won’t follow your subject and adjust focus automatically. That might be a significant issue for some as most shooters prefer setting up shots and using manual focus anyway.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K

(Image credit: Future)

  

But with the crisp clarity you get right out of the box with the BMPC4K, you’ll seldom notice the lack of smarter autofocus. I often shoot vlog style and was never out of focus, although it would be easier to see yourself if the BMPC4K had a flip-out screen. 

There is no in-body stabilization (IBIS), but many Micro Four Thirds lenses provide solid image stabilization. The lack of IBIS may be a turn-off for some. however, you can stabilize your image due to all the extra pixel information when you’re editing your footage in the included DaVinci Resolve software.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K performance

The BMPC4K’s Micro Four Thirds sensor offers a 1.9xcrop factor. The smaller sensor is a compromise made in the name of affordability, so videographers looking for a larger sensor will likely pass on this shooter. However, with the right lenses, there isn’t much loss caused by the smaller sensor size. Take this into consideration: MFT lenses will set you back about half of what you would pay for a similar full-frame lens. But Blackmagic is giving you an option that can get the quality and look you want and stay within a budget that won’t wipe out your bank account. 

With the BMPC4K, you get 13 stops of dynamic range and dual native ISOs. It’s also fine-tuned to handle image noise while retaining tonal detail in situations notoriously hard for video. This also means it can capture HDR content. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K films natively in a 16:9 ratio, unlike most traditional 3:2 aspect ratios found on multi-functional photography cameras. The BMPC4K also has built-in fans to keep things cool while you’re filming, something many multi-function DSLRs and mirrorless cameras lack. 

When you’re shooting 4K video with 12-bit colors, the BMPC4K produces very flexible footage, which helps when color grading in post. The dynamic range produces flat-looking footage straight out of the camera. Don’t worry or be fooled by this flatness of color –– you want it, trust me. Shooting in Blackmagic RAW provides a ton of data stored in those files that let you push and pull the colors, allowing you to achieve all kinds of different looks. 

The color science of the flat footage is super usable. All that image information grants the user a large amount of range to work with. I shot some footage and went for a washed-out amber aesthetic used in ‘70s films. I then shot some footage with that cool pale bluish look from the 2014 movie Birdman, and it was lovely. In post, I had complete control over the entire color spectrum.

The first thing you notice in post is the image quality. The Blackmagic picks up every tiny detail with a crispness that allowed me to pull high-quality still images from my videos. It made something relatively mundane look extraordinary. 

The great advantage of shooting in 4K is the ability to downsample the footage when you’re done editing to 1080p or full HD. When you compress that 4K footage down, the oversampling will give you a nice boost in quality that others will notice.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K  audio

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K comes with built-in stereo microphones that do a great job of capturing audio, especially if you’re in a quiet setting. However, If you’re serious about recording high-quality audio, invest in a boom mic and some lavalier mics. The microphones are suitable for syncing up audio with an external recorder.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

(Image credit: Future)

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K  battery life

The BMPC4K uses underpowered Canon LP-E6 batteries (2,000mAh lithium-ion battery). Their limitations become apparent when you’re trying to shoot for more than 25 minutes. I noticed a few battery performance fluctuations but got 30 to 35 mins of filming when I would remember to shut the camera off between shots. I highly recommend purchasing extra batteries or the Battery Grip for Blackmagic, which will extend recording time for a few hours.

You also can power the camera on an external battery, which is probably a better idea. The Juicebox is one option and claims to offer three hours of battery life. If you’re shooting indoors, the final choice is to plug the unit plugged directly into a power source using its supplied power cord.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K software and warranty

Blackmagic cameras are known for their user-friendly interface, and the same holds here. It took minutes to figure out how to adjust my settings while using the UI via the rear touchscreen. Every option you want to change is as simple as a finger tap or slide. You can control the Iris, ISO, or select the codec you want to shoot in. If you slide through the menus, you can manage your audio levels or turn the built-in mics off. I also liked the ability to adjust the levels for my plugged-in external audio sources. 

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

(Image credit: Future)

DaVinci Resolve Studio 17 is Blackmagic’s proprietary software. It’s a fantastic video editing suite that is considered industry-wide as the best software for color grading your footage, and it comes free with your camera. Resolve takes full advantage of the Blackmagic RAW codec. I shot some footage in a 5:1 constant bitrate setting, which produced incredible footage. If you want to try to get a little more color info, you can go to the 3:1 compression, but only pros can see the difference. 

DaVinci Resolve’s UI is very familiar to anyone who has used Adobe Premiere or Premiere Elements. It makes editing the Blackmagic RAW files a cakewalk. You can also choose from many different video effects, transitions, titles, and audio transitions. 

Resolve also includes Fairlight audio editing software built right into the suite as well, and it’s easily accessible. There’s also Fusion, which allows you to let your imagination go wild and create cinematic visual effects and motion graphics. It features a node-based workflow with hundreds of 2D and 3D tools. 

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K comes with a 12-month Limited Manufacturer's Warranty.

Bottom line

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Line of cameras gives videographers the ability to shoot cinema-quality footage at a reasonable price. It has a lot to offer, like 4K resolution, native Dual ISO, 13 stops of dynamic range, strong low light performance, and plenty of ports. It’s capable of producing cinema-quality and can even out-shoot some more expensive cameras. You get all that in a lightweight form factor you won’t get tired of carrying around. With the DaVinci Resolve software suit and the $1,295 price tag, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K gets you a lot of bang for your buck.

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.