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Hands-on with the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

There's been a lot written about the forthcoming Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera--mostly by those in forums who haven't handled it. As of May, there were just three models in the U.S. I got my hands on one to see how it works.

Handling the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera for the first time was quite an interesting experience. Looking at its small shape sitting on the table (Figure 1 top, below), you don't think there's much of a camera there, but when you hold it in your hand with a decent-caliber lens (usually that means some heavy glass), it definitely feels solid--like a purpose-built tool for cinema-quality image recording (Figure 1 bottom, below).\

Figure 1. The Pocket Cinema Camera doesn’t look like much sitting on a table, but it feels solid with a lens on it.

Handling

While holding the Pocket Cinema Camera in my hand, it felt almost instinctual to bring it up to my eye like a tiny point-and-shoot still camera. I wanted to look through an eyepiece, but there wasn't one there (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. The Pocket Cinema Camera feels like a point-and-shoot still camera.

I was not allowed to shoot video with the BMPCC and take the footage with me. I was, however, allowed to shoot video of the camera while it was operating. I used a camera in my other hand to do this.

One of the very nice features in the Pocket Cinema Camera is focus peaking (Figure 3, below). Focus peaking is essential to nailing your focus with any manual lens, and even when you're manually focusing a micro four-thirds lens, especially considering the camera's small built-in screen. The screen is not super high resolution, but with focus peaking, I found the resolution of the BMPCC to be irrelevant. Finding focus was super easy.

Figure 3. Focus peaking on the Pocket Cinema Camera

For the demo model I had my hands on, autofocus was not operating. The camera also has iris control for Micro43 lenses, but that was not operating at this at this time. The focus peaking can be turned On or Off in the menu. You can choose the color of the peaking as well.

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The new Blackmagic Camera 1.5 software update adds CinemaDNG RAW file recording so customers can now capture super wide dynamic range in a single file
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If you're currently dealing with a two-piece system with an external recorder, or looking at a DSLR solution but find long-GoP MPEG recording to be too heavy-handed with the compression, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K deserves your attention.