With all of the rampant excitement around the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k (BMPCC4k as if that’s easier). The one question on everyone’s mind is: Can the BMPCC4K replace cinema cameras? Can it REALLY be compared to an Arri Alexa or cameras of that caliber?
To which the answer is obviously: No.
However, it’s not that simple, there are so many complex questions and answers which put this (not really pocket-sized) tiny cinema camera back on the table for discussion. Especially when talking about high-end/cinema productions.
Like with any camera, there are trade-offs. Every camera has its ups and downs. After having avidly using the BMPCC4k for the past two months, I am quite certain. Multiple features of this camera make it a serious competitor in the field.
I think of when the 5D Mark II introduced full frame video to the DSLR world. People were blown away. A camera costing “only” $3,000 was suddenly capable of delivering a very high end “cinema-style” look with no real investment beyond the camera.
When you consider the cost of operating cinematic equipment, it’s often forgotten that around your $50,000 camera, you might need a couple more gizmos. To list a few that you would see on a set:
- Terradeck Bolt 500 XT
- SmallHD 702 Bright
- Atomos Sumo 19
- Angenieux EZ-1 and EZ-2 (that’s $20K right there)
- 3x Red Mini Mag 480GB
Other people may have other lists, but you get the idea.
This list alone puts you at $30,000 and we didn’t even buy a battery for the camera yet. This is all to show you that the cost of cinema making is an expensive venture. Anyone who has even rented equipment knows this. Where does the BMPCC fall in this conversation then?
Affordable cinema for all!
The same way the Canon 5D Mark II revolutionized the Video industry, the BMPC4k is revolutionizing the cinema industry. Bringing affordable solutions to the cinematic world is long overdue. We’ve been getting increasingly better codecs in smaller packages: XAVC-S for the sony line up, Panasonic’s 4:2:2 10 mp4 internally with their GH5/s, to name two. But, we had yet to reach the cinematic standards of “Raw” in a camera that cost less than $6,000.
Finally, someone stepped up to the challenge. Using BlackMagic’s new firmware and BlackMagic RAW, you can now record Raw footage on a camera that ONLY costs $1,200.
Don’t believe that it can hold up to the incredible rigorous standards of cinema take a look at this test that shows the BMPCC4k up against the all mighty Arri (which is notably famous for its handling of skin tones).
The astute amongst you might have been able to tell, but the real win here isn’t to say, you CAN see a difference. The real win is that it’s not instantly apparent. I remember when Apple released the first iteration of simulated bokeh, people were either amazed or jumped at the opportunity to say it messed up here or there.
Peter Mckinnon put it best in a video he did comparing his 1dx Mark II to a Samsung 10+
Similarly, the BMPCC4k has become a viable option for filmmakers and creators to step up their game for a fairly low introductory price. Even with all the caveats that everyone is talking about like, buying all the battery solutions, and monitoring solutions and rig solutions. You would still have a huge advantage over many cameras in its price point.
Anyone who has used the camera will tell you that the outcome of the camera is nothing short of amazing, and it’s great to see the film industry take a turn for the better (and for cheaper!).
About the Author
Adam Frimer is a Guinness World Record holder, producer, and DoP based in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Adam owns a production company that specializes in corporate marketing and brand strategy. His work has been commissioned by Adobe, Microsoft, Nike, Samsung, Dell, AVS, Starbucks, Viber, and WeWork. His Videos have ten of millions of views, have been extensively published by news outlets, and has even received recognition from a few film festivals, such as International Ocean Festival