Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

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 Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

Review Manufacturer: Blackmagic Design

Price when reviewed

£1879

$2495 Check current price

Our Verdict

The Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema 6K Pro is something of an oddity. It’s a full-blown cinema camera that offers filmmakers the Hollywood experience in a small and relatively inexpensive body.

When it comes to looks and handling, the BMPCC 6K Pro is more mirrorless than camcorder, but this is no stills camera as the quality of footage it captures is staggeringly good.

In use, the ergonomics of the body makes sense and makes for comfortable handling even if I can’t get on with the futuristic design.

When you get into filming, the camera comes into its own, and you can see why these cameras have created such a buzz in the independent filmmaker’s community.

The camera has everything you need, and as you rummage through the menu’s the camera opens up a whole world of filmmaking potential.

Buttons are kept to a minimum, but there is plenty of scope for customising their use, which is well worth doing for the time it saves.

Filming with the BMPCC 6K Pro is smooth and fluid, and once you familiarise yourself with the balance of control, the results obtained are exceptional.

Aside from the odd design, there’s little to fault with this outstanding camera; I wish for the same camera with a box design and flip-out screen, which would make this perfect.

For

Packed with features Incredible quality video Unbelievable price

Against

Love or hate design

What is Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro?

The rise of mirrorless and DSLR cameras has somewhat overtaken that of dedicated camcorders. However, as good as the footage is, the design and features of the likes of the Sony A7S III are still limited when it comes to what filmmakers need. Features such as built-in ND’s, more extensive file format options and cooling are all essential and often excluded from mirrorless and DSLR cameras.


 Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

Blackmagic Design has plenty of experience manufacturing affordable broadcast and filmmaking kit, and its answer to the rise of the mirrorless is the Pocket Cinema Camera.

The latest version is the BMPCC 6K Pro, a hybrid of the video and stills world. At present, there are three versions of the camera the 4K, an MFT compatible body, and the 6K and now the 6K Pro, both EF compatible.

The Pocket Cinema cameras have little competition, with only Sony’s FX3 offering a similar feature set, although even that offering falls short when it comes to resolution and features.

Blackmagic Design’s approach is interesting as it offers filmmaker tools at affordable prices. DaVinci Resolve, for instance, is free, and the BMPCC 6K Pro puts a professional quality cinema camera into the hands of the masses for a fraction of the price of the competition.

OK, it still costs £2000, but that’s nothing in the video world. I mean, that’s roughly the same price as the extension back for my camera.

There are, of course, limits with the BMPCC 6K Pro. For instance, you need a rig if you’re handholding the thing for any length of time. Then there’s the tilt screen, AF speed and a few other small niggles that jump out at you when you first look over the camera. But in real terms, the limits are perfectly balanced by the price.

What’s more, like any good camcorder system, the BMPCC 6K Pro’s design enables camera-specific accessories to be added, extending the features and use. There’s a battery base that can boost filming to a maximum of 3 hours, and the optional EVF.

I’ve been lucky enough to get both the battery base and EVF in this test, which certainly boosts the camera’s usability.

Specs-wise, the camera looks ideal, there are plenty of features, and full compatibility with the Canon EF lens range, giving plenty of optics choices.

But how will this small BMPCC 6K fare in our test? Is this a camera that you can use professionally as a jobbing videographer, or is it a camera that’s better suited to filmmakers and enthusiasts who have a little more time to focus on the settings?

I’ve put the camera to the test in various settings, from corporate interviews to being used to film stock, a short ongoing film project and just for fun.

Specification

Effective Sensor Size: 23.10mm x 12.99mm (Super 35) Lens Mount: Active EF mount. Lens Control: Iris, focus and zoom on supported lenses. Dynamic Range: 13 Stops Dual Native ISO: 400 and 3200 Shooting Resolutions: 6144 x 3456 (6K) up to 50 fps, 6144 x 2560 (6K 2.4:1) up to 60 fps, 5744 x 3024 (5.7K 17:9) up to 60 fps, 4096 x 2160 (4K DCI) up to 60 fps, 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD) up to 60 fps, 3728 x 3104 (3.7K 6:5 anamorphic) up to 60 fps, 2868 x 1512 (2.8K 17:9) up to 120 fps, 1920 x 1080 (HD) up to 120 fps Built in ND Filters: Four position ND filter with clear, 2‑stop, 4‑stop and 6‑stop IR ND filters. Focus: Auto focus available using compatible lenses. Screen Dimensions: 5-inch 1920 x 1080. Screen Brightness: 1500nits Total Video Outputs: 1 x HDMI up to 1080p60 Analog Audio Inputs: 2 x mini XLR analog switchable between mic with phantom power support and line level (up to +14dBu). 1 x 3.5mm Stereo Input. Can also be used for Timecode input. Media: 1 x CFast card slot, 1 x SD UHS‑II card slot, 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 expansion port for external media for Blackmagic RAW and ProRes Recording.


 Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

Build and Handling

The build quality of the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is slightly odd. There’s nothing outwardly wrong with the build, but at the same time, there’s something that doesn’t feel quite right. 

The outer shell is made from carbon fibre, which means that it’s ultra-tough and lightweight, and the surface finish is a nice matt black. Checking over the camera, and everything is well finished; it’s just something about the aesthetics.


 Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

OK, the buttons and dials feel a little cheaper in quality compared with those you would find on the Sony FXW-FS7 or Canon C100 MK II, but still, they’re not bad. 

Maybe it’s the body’s design that is slightly futuristic and has that marmite effect of being loved and hated equally?

However, in the hand, it all feels very functional with a large grip, a big 5-inch tilt touch screen and cooling vents on either side.

Out in the field, the camera is very tactile; from handheld to mounted on a gimbal or tripod, the BMPCC 6K Pro always looks primed and ready for action. 

Featuring an EF lens mount, it gives you plenty of options for using the long-running Canon optics range, and of course, countless other manufacturers produce EF mount lenses. 

In the past, the Pocket Cinema Cameras have had an issue with shooting times and this all comes down to the battery type. Inside is a swappable NP-F550 battery, a 3500mAh battery should last for an hour. 

Memory card-wise the BMPCC 6K Pro can take either an SD UHS-II or CFast card. A Cfast card is required for higher resolution filming. 

You can also export out raw footage via HDMI and the body features two mini XLR ports for stereo audio recording. 

Really the BBMPCC 6K Pro is a run and gun camera designed to be used in all scenarios with ease. The bulked-up mirrorless style design makes sense in this respect and it’s surprising just how adaptable the camera is.

The design and build all make sense once the BMPCC 6K is put to work.

Handheld, the BBMPCC 6K Pro seems just like a standard stills camera, and despite the size, that carbon shell keeps the weight in check. 

The large handgrip and design of the body start to make sense when filming, and there’s no doubt that the compact size makes it far easier to capture handheld footage than the likes of the Sony PXW-FS7.

As you film, the button layout also starts to make perfect sense. Its buttons are all in the right position, and the three function buttons across the top of the body come into play, with zebras, focus assist and LUT assigned. 

Mounted with a Canon 24-70mm, and before long, the camera starts to feel natural to use, both handheld with the screen tilted out or with the viewfinder attached to the top. 

The tilt screen is one of the biggest issues when it comes to handling. A decent flip-out screen would have greatly enhanced the usability of the camera. However, the 5-inch touch screen is incredibly clear and easy to use. 

The screen’s 1920 x 1080 resolution and 1500nits brightness make it ideal for use out in the field. We are however just coming into spring and while the screen is viewable at present, we’ll wait to see how it performs in the glaring summer sun.

With the camera in hand ready to film, the lens’s focus ring is easily in reach for adjustment, making manual focusing with the focus assist switched on intuitive and natural.  

After a couple of days of shooting, any questions I had about the build quality are gone; it’s just the way the camera feels. Handheld the large grip enables a decent purchase on the camera, and like the smaller Blackmagic 4K, it quickly becomes a joy to use. 

It’s relatively small and light, so that you can use any tripod.

One of the big issues with traditional cinema and camcorders is the size. Look at most of the offerings, and non are that small aside from the Sony FX3 and A7S III. 

This means that if you want to pop the likes of the Sony PXW-FS7 MK II or Canon C300 MK III onto a standard tripod, then you’re going to have to think again. 

The great thing about the BMPCC 6K Pro and other small run and gun style cameras is that you can use stills equipment such as compact travel tripods. 

Travel tripods might not be 100% ideal, but if you’re filming in difficult to reach locations, then having a camera that will happily and steadily sit on top of a lightweight support is a real benefit.

BMPCC 6K Pro Vs Sony A7S III and FX3

Look at the market now, and you essentially have three true run and gun cameras, the BMPCC 6K Pro, the Sony FX3, and Sony A7S III. 

All are very nice, and it’s good to see that Sony is starting to push the boundaries with the FX3. 

However, when you look at the specs, the obvious advantage that the BMPCC 6K has over both the Sony models is the increased resolution. 

But, more than that, when it comes to ease of use and handling, the BMPCC 6K Pro features ND filters built-in. For any videographer, this is essential so why Sony decided not to include such a vital feature has to be questioned. 

When it comes to the build and handling, the build is good, it’s just the design is not to my taste; the handling, on the other hand, is excellent, far exceeding the smaller Sony equivalents.


 Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

Performance

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have adapted to shooting video well. But the video feature has been added with photographers in mind and as such, the adjustment of exposure settings for video reflect those for stills.

Switch over to a dedicated video camera, and most photographers will hit a brief brick wall; ISO is replaced by gain, then switch to raw and ISO as you know it goes to pot. 

Likewise, the shutter speed can be switched to 180º or another angle, and everything then becomes decidedly complex until you unravel it. 

The BMPCC 6K sits somewhere in the middle of the camcorder’s complexity and simplicity of a DSLR or mirrorless camera for shooting video. 

There are plenty of options for shooting in Blackmagic RAW and ProRes, but to access the greatest and range of settings, you need to select Blackmagic RAW via the touch screen. 

The main menu screen is split into bands, with the top row being the codec, either Blackmagic RAW or ProRes and below that you have the choice of bitrate. 

At the bottom is the resolution-sensor window which gives you options from 6K 6144×3456 to 2.8k 17:9 2868x 1512 in Blackmagic RAW or 4K DCI 4096 x 2160 to 1920 x 1080 HD.

Flipping through the screens and everything initially seems quite intuitive.

However, it quickly becomes apparent there’s a little more to it and a while needs to be spent with the camera getting to know what Codecs, resolutions, and framerates sit together.

For instance, to shoot at 120fps, you need to shoot in Blackmagic RAW and select 2.8k 17:9, switch on the Off Speed Recording and then increase the Off Speed Frame Rate to 120fps. 

If you want to shoot 120fps in 1080p, you need to set the Codec to ProRes, then the resolution to 1080p, Sensor Area to 2.8k and then the framerate 120fps. 

The best approach is to set the options as you want them and then save them as a preset. 

As with the shooting options, setting up the function buttons on top of the camera should be part of the initial set-up process. You’ll thank yourself for the time it takes when you’re out shooting.

I also loaded in some of the Bounce Color LUTs in the .cube format, which could be accessed directly from the LUTs menu. This is great for previewing how your footage will look once it’s graded. 


 Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K Pro set-up

Heading out with the camera for the first time, the kit seemed nice and lightweight, OK heavier than a stills camera, but not by much. 

Handheld the large grip of the BMPCC 6K Pro comes into its own and the flip-out screen with the 1500nits of brightness works well. I’ll admit that I did boost the screen brightness to 100% while filming.

Our review sample also arrived with the viewfinder and the additional battery grip, both of which made a huge difference to the use of the camera. 

The viewfinder bolts directly to the top of the camera and, once in place, enables you to isolate the scene well. While the screen on the back of the camera is excellent, reverting to the viewfinder does feel more natural. 

Once in place, the camera feels well balanced, especially with either the 24-70mm or 100-400mm locked on.

Any misgivings about the design quickly fall away, as this camera instantly feels natural and easy to use. 


 Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

Power that lasts

One of the issues I had, when I use the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, was the battery life or lack of it. I think the first time I used the camera I had two 2200mAh batteries and they had roughly 15 minutes of power. 

Testing the 6K Pro and I’m using an NP-F550/F570 7.4V 3500mAh battery which gives between 40-50 minutes of use. Adding the battery base and that time rises to roughly two and a half hours, although it states up to 3 hours of battery with the battery base on the box.

Filming with the BMPCC 6K Pro is an absolute joy, sitting somewhere between a mirrorless and camcorder with the best bits from both thrown into one extraordinary body. 

After using the camera as a B camera on a couple of shots and then, out and about just for fun, the camera’s design made sense and adapts well to all sorts of filming.

The design is intuitive once you have those presents set up, and navigating the menus and options all comes together once you have delved into all the possibilities. 

The one area that does let the camera down is the autofocus. This is slow, but I’m quite used to manual focus for video as I use a Sony FS7 and Canon C100 MKII. 

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro video quality

Getting to grips with the different looks made possible by the BMPCC 6K Pro does take a while. You have quite a choice, Blackmagic Raw or ProRes, then you have dynamic range options with Video, Extended Video and Film

On the first venture out, I switched on focus assist and zebras and adjusted the exposure to what I thought was correct, unfortunately underexposing all footage by about two stops. 

For the second venture out, I was more familiar with the options and look of the footage on the screen so everything balanced well. 

The clip below shows the footage from the first trip out – first, the Blackmagic RAW, opened in DaVinci Resolve and exported. 

The second outing shows off what the camera is capable of, and it has to be said that the quality is outstanding. 

I’ve been impressed in the past with the quality of the footage from the Blackmagic cameras, and the 6K Pro does not disappoint. 

The larger Super 35mm enables a greater depth of field than the smaller sensor used on the 4K. You also have the added advantage of 13 stops of dynamic range. 

This additional range is really obvious during the post-production process as you can see just how much data you have to play with as you adjust the curves.

The detail level is superb, but it’s the level of data captured and the dynamic range that sets this footage apart. Blackmagic states on its website that this camera puts professional Hollywood style film colour and detail in your hands, and I have to say I agree. The potential of this sub £2000 camera is massive.

The grading scope is huge with plenty of dynamic range, capturing detail in both the shadows and highlights. 

While you may think of the BMPCC 6k Pro as a B Camera, the quality is more than sufficient to be used as the main camera. 

From independent filmmaking to general videography there really is little to fault with the visual quality of the footage. 

If you use a Sony A7 III, Nikon Z7 or Canon R and swap to the quality of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro the difference is immeasurable. 

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro sample video

Verdict

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is a formidable piece of kit, although it’s not quite as accessible as you would at first think.

Starting with a few of the issues, the screen really should be a flip-out vari-angle type rather than a simple tilting unit, and I’m still not sold on the aesthetics.

It can take a while to work out how to navigate the menus before you fall into a rhythm with the options, and filming in different environments.

The battery life at just less than an hour is short, so either buying additional batties or the base is definitely advised.

Likewise, the viewfinder is not essential, but I would highly recommend it to boost the overall feel of the camera.

At the end of the test, it has to be said that the Blackmagic 6k Pro is superb.

It may have taken a while to figure out all of the options and settings, but with the touch screen interface, it has to be said that it was far easier to navigate and film with than the Sony FS7.

Using the camera in a variety of situations I was truly blown away by the visual quality of the footage.

There are some quirks, such as only being able to shoot up to 4K in ProRes, but with Blackmagic RAW, you soon learn to love the data format and realise that it isn’t too scary.

At the start of the test, the question was, could this camera be used as the main camera for professional videographers? Easily, the answer is yes; you might not have some of the direct dial controls that you have on a dedicated camcorder, but the options are there and the customisable buttons are easy to program.

The EF mount that enables the mounting of full-frame EF lenses means that you have a huge lens choice – either still or video, and you can find the lenses that suit your budget, you don’t need to go for the Cine option.

If you’re a professional videographer and you’re looking for a run and gun or B camera, the BMPCC 6K Pro is an ideal choice; however, if you want to use it as your A camera, then why not? The potential and quality are here in abundance.

If you’re an independent filmmaker, then don’t mess around; the BMPCC 6K Pro is for you, this camera will unlock your success.

I might not have been sold on the camera’s aesthetics initially, and I still have my doubts, but this camera is, in all other ways, bar the AF, outstanding.

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