Okay, I probably gonna get some flak for this, since this is more an opinion piece, than the usual tec-talk, so keep this in mind, when you break out your flame throwers.
So it’s that time of the year, when the whole industry looks at Vegas, eagerly awaiting the new game-changer collection. And this time, Blackmagic pretty much mopped the floor, with all the other new cameras that came out this year, by taking the GH5s (IMX294 or variant) sensor, building a better camera with it, and selling it for have of the price, while throwing in a full blown, Hollywood grade postproduction package on top of it.
Though the new Pocket is not exactly a game-changer, but the feature/price ratio is unheard off. There are not much cameras from other manufacturers, that can do internal raw and ProRes out of the box anyway, or you have to buy bulky external recorders, or even a bulky raw module plus a bulky recorder (Sony, here is looking at you). Some of those bulky externals are even more expensive, than the new Pocket. And seriously – this is 2018 after all – why would I want an external recorder anyway, when it can be done much more elegant internally in a much smaller package (did I mention, that you can even choose between SD, Cfast media and USB SSD drives – yeah, let that sink in for a moment)?
So yeah Frank, we know the price, we know the specs, what’s the point?
Good question, glad that you asked.
The Point is folks complaining all over the net, about not having a IBIS and a flip screen, in a DSLR sized raw/ProRes, internal LUT, phantom powered XLR audio, Bluetooth controlled, dual gain, 4k, 25600 ISO night sight device, (including a high end grading, editing, audio, compositing DCP program on top of it), that comes for 1,295 bucks.
Are you guys out of your fucking mind?
What’s next? That it doesn’t come in blue?
And don’t get me into complains about the battery “only” lasting one hour. In what universe, is dropping in a new battery every hour even a concern? Even if it lasts only 45 minutes in reality – a whole industry changed v-mount batteries every 30/45 minutes for decades, and it was never a deal breaker for anybody, and you are telling me, that you don’t have that 25 seconds of time once an hour to change a battery, cause it “slows you down”, and you may “miss a shot”? Seriously?
Now people are discussing up and down, about what external battery mambo-jambo they could possibly frankenstein on their new Pocket, just to get longer battery life. If you start rigging it up like a Christmas tree, what’s the point of having such a compact camera in the first place? You could use an Ursa Mini instead.
And the flip screen thing? Do I want a flip screen? No, I want a detachable, wireless screen, that I can put everywhere on or off the camera, and that doubles as a remote – but I probably not gonna get it for this price. You can’t have it all, so get over it. It’s the same amazing panel as in the 5″ Video Assist, and the touchscreen reacts like a frigging iPhone. What other camera at that price range comes with something like that?
When it comes to IBIS and continuous auto focus, the web is full of clips with ever hunting auto focus and jittery stabilization that doesn’t know if you are panning, or just waving the camera around. Personally I prefer having control over those things, cause I’m old school, and I learned how to hold a camera without shaking the shit out of it, and I trained to pull focus, cause – like in any other profession – for being a professional camera man, you need training, and it takes quite a while, till you get really good at those basic skills.
Today I see a breed of wannabe “filmmakers” that is so entitled, that they think they don’t need any training or skills, or learning curve, cause they want the camera doing it all for them, so they can be a “DP” without all the time, training, patience or hard work, ANY profession requires. That’s not how it works though, and no – there is no app for this.
Get real, there is no “Pocket” camera.
Nether the original Pocket. nor the new Pocket produce any useful material, when you wave it around -cellphone tourist style – with your bare hands (let alone with one hand). They are both called CINEMA cameras for a reason, so treat them as such. If you are a Vlogger (sic), that does Casey Neistat style ADHD shit, than a CINEMA camera is not for you – period.
If you want something out of those amazing CINEMA cameras, that doesn’t look like a drunken monkey shot it, you have to stabilize them somehow. So get a tripod, a one hand gimbal, and some suction mounts. That’s where those cameras shine. Put them in tight places – like a glove compartment in a car – where even a Alexa Mini can’t go, fly them with one hand gimbals for a day, without having your arms fall off after an hour. Climb a mountain, and put it on a lightweight tripod. Put a one hand gimbal on a tripod, and shoot a concert with it – whatever comes to your mind, but – even if the form factor suggests it – please don’t wave it around like an idiot, just because you can.
Taking about form factor. When you look at the new Pocket, it’s actually more a successor of the original BMCC, not so much of the super minimalist original Pocket.
With and thickness are almost the same as the original BMCC (but it’s not so high, which is a good thing on gimbals), the slant forward design, the big touch screen, balanced audio in, sensor size etc. all that is much more a hallmark of the BMCC.
And while at it, lets talk about the design for a moment.
When the first BMCC – with this blend of Apple & Ikea design – came out, I wrote in an article, that my girlfriend said, it looks like something out of a Disney shop, a camera that Mickey Mouse would own. And to be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the design ether, but after seeing the first material coming out of it, I couldn’t care less about the design. After a while, I even started to kinda like it.
With the new Pocket, I went through several stages.
- Ugh – 1980s Robocop cam
- …when more pics came out it changed to “yeah, that’s a camera, you could find in Batman’s (Tim Burton) glove compartment”
- It’s actually not bad – personally I still like the more tactical design of RED, but dayum it’s not bad at all.
Having said that, at the end of the day, the only thing that really maters, are the images you can get out of a camera, and if BM is really good at something, it’s the image quality. So yeah, design is pretty low on my list, when it comes to camera choices.
As I said, IMHO the new Pocket is more a successor of the BMCC, than the Pocket.
Does it matter? No, not at all. I still love my BMCCs, I have used the shit out of them, I still use them, and I still love the images. I got my first BMCC in 2012 – now it’s 2018 and it was time for a new version. I think the new Pocket is that version and I think BM did a really good job. So who cares how they name it?
It’s not as small and stealthy as the original Pocket, but it’s a pretty amazing camera, that still lets you steal shots, while looking like a tourist with a DSLR, if you have to (come on – we all did that at least a few times).
It’s a good size and weight to put it on a one hand gimbal and run all day with it. And if you don’t have the budget for an Ursa, it’s a great camera that you can rig up cine style with all the bells and whistles, and shoot commercials or even narrative.
For now, I can’t say anything on image quality. It’s a brand new sensor in the BM universe, but I trust BM, that they nailed the color science, so it intercuts well with the rest of the family. But I really need to shoot and color the raw myself, before I come up with a verdict – some ProRes material on YT doesn’t cut it. As soon as I get my hands on one, I let you guys know.