Being a tech YouTube channel we are constantly exposed to all the latest and greatest equipment, at the same time it can be overwhelming when looking for equipment that is suitable for us and more importantly our workflow. Ever since we started this channel we have been recording on FujiFilm cameras. The quality is great and overall we’ve been happy, but as time went on and our needs changed. The current camera started to show its age so we decided to check out the potential upgrade. In this article we have a closer look on Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and see if it can be a good option for us moving forward.
If we were to really simplify our workflow, it consists of two main elements – A-roll clips (”talking-head”) and B-roll clips (when we are showing off the product). This brings us to the first problem – our Fuji XH1 camera can only record in 4k at 24 frames per second in 8 bit colour. This is pretty standard for a camera that can record video and take photos but is also limiting. Especially when it comes to post-processing work and more specifically colour correction. The footage quality falls apart when we push it a bit more than usual and it does not record enough information to do more advanced colour corrections.
The second and probably the bigger issue we have is high frame rate recording which is limited to 120 FPS in 1080p. We have been publishing our videos exclusively in 4k for almost a year now and therefore any slow-mo footage has to be upscaled from 1080p. This seriously exaggerates any imperfections and is something we really need fixing.
We did a bit of research on the latest iteration of the Fuji camera and it now has 10bit recording, as well as up to 240FPS slow motion recording which is pretty cool, but alas it is limited to 1080p only.
This led us to realisation that we will need to check out other brands, so we set our eyes on Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6k. On paper it has much higher video quality going all the way to… well – 6k at 50 FPS in 12Bit RAW. It also can do 2.8K at 120FPS slow motion while still recording in RAW. As we have already been using Black Magic Davinci software to edit our videos this seems like the perfect camera to move to.
Let’s quickly talk about the camera and the things we really like.
By the way – this is not a full scientific review of the camera, this is a more selective review of our personal workflow and how it fits in.
First of all, we love the ability to shoot in 6k, it lets us shoot wider than needed and reframe if necessary. This is especially useful when we are recording somewhere unfamiliar, and it also allows the flexibility to create a movement in post by zooming in and creating nice digital pans.
The second point is recording in Black Magic Raw. This to us is a game changer. It lets us adjust things like ISO, white balance and other settings in post, without negatively impacting the footage. Also the 12 bit recording enables unreal flexibility when it comes to post processing. The synergy between this camera and Davinci Resolve is just amazing. When recording a standard talking-head RAW footage and importing it into Resolve, 9 times out of 10 it takes just pressing the auto button and colour correction is done. It is truly astonishing!
A really impressive thing when comparing to our existing cameras is dynamic range together with dual ISO. It takes low light recording to yet another level. While this is not something we normally use as we have a very controlled lighting environment, it is still a great tool to have in the arsenal.
We really like the button layout as they have thought of most things you would need, including a few buttons that can be customised. The grip itself feels very comfortable, on the left hand side behind the flaps you get a full range of different connections, both microphone and headphones ports, a very welcome full size HDMI connection, power and USB type-C port plus mini XLR.
This camera supports recording directly to an external SSD through that USB type-C port and to be honest that is the proper way to record because when recording at 6K resolution in RAW the file sizes are huge even when having them heavily compressed.
When it comes to usability, it is clearly designed by a team that understands filmmaking – the settings are in the right order and easy to understand. Going through the menu once was enough to memorize where things are. I like that it allows me to save presets which can affect every setting in the camera. We use two different ones – 6k at 24 FPS for A roll and 2.8k at 120 FPS for B roll.
Being a touch screen display it is especially easy to navigate and change things on the fly. One big downside of this screen is lack of tilting adjustment, it is fixed and that can be frustrating.
This works as a great segue to the limitations of this camera. First one is battery life and this is a big deal. When recording a longer A roll, the battery dies before we manage to finish it. There are three solutions to this problem:
If recording is done indoors – we just simply leave it plugged into the wall power.
If we are out and about – we can keep a few extra batteries or better still mount a battery grip, it does make the camera heavier and bigger though.
The last and most cumbersome option is to rig it up and install something like a V mount battery. Then you can easily record for hours but it will no longer be a run and gun set-up.
Next is video file size. We already mentioned recording to SSD – it is because we tried to record 6k at 24FPS RAW with 8 to 1 compression to the 128GB SD card and it only lasts about 21minute. To be fair this is something that is expected as we are getting a whole lot of data but at this rate we would need to call Linus for a petabyte NAS box upgrade ASAP.
Alternative is to compress it further or maybe even turn down the resolution, but then what’s the point of getting a high quality camera.
The other limitation is lack of stabilisation and auto focusing. This camera has no in-built stabilisation but can utilise lens image stabilisation unfortunately only on selected few lenses. As to focusing – it is limited to single focus rather than continuous. Both of these are serious limitations when we are shooting B roll of the product. To help with the shakiness we tend to use our monopod even though it limits the angles that we can do. To help with focusing… well – practicing on manually pulling focus is one way and another is to buy a follow focus system and have a second person take care of that.
Another thing about this camera that has caused us issues is the crop factor when using modes other than 6k. For example when we record in 2.8K in slow motion we have 3.3 times crop so the shot is way more zoomed in than in 6k. That can be an issue in situations where we need to record something in slow motion and use a wide field of view.
Last and probably one of the main ones for us, is the size. While the camera straight out of the box is actually reasonably light and small – it really does benefit from rigging it out to deal with the aforementioned issues such as storage, battery life as well as focusing. You can throw in a monopod and we are looking at already a considerable rig to lug around.
I have definitely highlighted a lot of limitations when it comes to this camera, but does it mean it is a bad camera? Actually not at all! This is an amazing camera, especially when you look at its price, the problem here is our workflow and our requirements are not what this camera is built for. It delivers incredible footage and once rigged up you can do some serious cinema work. At the moment our production team is too small for the camera like this but we will definitely keep our eye on it for the future.