on July 17, 2014

Make your summer blockbuster for $500 with the BMPCC

Today, Blackmagic announced a price drop on their very portable Pocket Cinema Camera. It normally runs at 995.00, but until August 31, or until supplies run out- and at this price, I doubt these will still be available in the later half of August.
What does this mean to you? Should you run out right now and grab one before they’re gone? The answer to that depends on what you want to do with it. With a price under $500, this is going to be a very attractive camera for newbies. While I have heard some say that this is the “consumer version” of Blackmagic’s lineup, it might not be a great first camera.
We recently posted an article about making your own “$300 DIgital Bolex”, and the BMPCC would be a perfect candidate for that project. In fact, it sports the same Super 16 size sensor that the actual Digital Bolex has. It also outputs to 220 mbps ProRes HQ or 12 bit RAW CinemaDNG. That kind of file output at this price point is unheard of- but it only means something if you know what to do with it in post. File sizes this robust hold up to heavier color grading- a deficiency found in many DSLR codecs. That’s also the downside. This camera requires very high quality, fast SD cards, and it eats through them like candy.

Getting the most out of these files requires a more than rudimentary knowledge of Davinci- or Final Cut and some coloring knowledge. You certainly don’t NEED to shoot in RAW, but it would be a shame if you didn’t. It’s also not necessarily great as a first camera because of the Siper 16 sensor size. A sensor this small has the advantage of being able to use more lenses (and it is active MFT to boot, so you can control aperture on your Panasonic lenses), but it also has the disadvantage of a smaller field of view and a broader depth of field.
The first thing any DSLR noob will tell you is that they fell in love with the bokeh. It is the gorgeous advantage of a large sensor, and in fact the reason why 4k video on cameraphones will never replace real cameras. Sensor size dictates how shallow your DOF is, and a super 16 sensor will have a harder time rendering that look that intoxicates so many new shooters- and in fact ends up becoming the hallmark of new shooters. Super 16 also has a crop factor that is significant- if you are going to be adapting any of your current glass. Getting those wide sweeping establishing shots becomes more difficult without something like the metabones Speed booster- and at that point- you’ve doubled the price of the camera.
It also doesn’t take stills, which, as I’ve mentioned before, is perhaps the best way to start training your eye. You need to start framing as many “shots” as possible, and playing with the different aspects of composition in order to get a sense of how to wield the camera.
So who IS this camera for?
Easy: the short narrative shooter.

Ideally, someone five feet and under.

But in seriousness- this camera is purpose built to make short films. For budding filmmakers looking to get a b-cam, or to shoot a short film this summer and take advantage of all the extended hours of natural daylight, this camera is a godsend. If you have a little experience with RAW files, this will give you the opportunity to start working with footage that has a little more heft to it, and you can start to push what you can do creatively with your films. The footage coming out of their camera is absoolutely spectacular- especially at $500. It doesn’t have audio levels in camera, so you will be commiting to dual system audio, but if you have had some experienc shooting already, this is a step that you should be prepared for. The in camera audio is sufficient enough for a scratch track, but that’s about it.

So should you get this camera? If you have a camera already, and are looking for something special to add to your arsenal, then you need to act fast, because there are a lot of people just itching to get their hands on this camera. If you are a first time shooter, and want to get in the game- trust me, there is no hurry. A T3i will hold you in good stead, and in a few years, when you are ready to upgrade, either this camera will be going for peanuts, or there will be a 4K camera this size just waiting to get in your hands.

Whatever you decide, this story has already gone viral overnight. The link below will take you to Amazon for the BMPCC.