Five years after the original Pocket Camera release, Blackmagic Design just unveiled a long awaited successor with insane specifications such as internal 4K 60 raw recording. Here is what we know.
Sensor, Crop, and Sensitivity
Unlike the original version, BMD ditched the super 16mm sensor (16:9 crop of a 1" sensor) to implement a larger HDR Micro Four Thirds sensor with a native resolution of 4096 x 2160 and 13 stops of dynamic range. Personally, I never really liked the Super 16 format due to the huge crop factor but the size of this new sensor (18.96mm x 10mm) is similar to the one of the Panasonic GH5s. The exact crop factor is not known but it should not crop significantly in 4K. However, the 120 fps is only available in “windowed HD,” understand a crop factor in 1080 recording. Most likely, the crop will be based on a 1:1 readout of the native sensor resolution. Another similarity with the GH5s camera is the dual ISO feature (400 and 3200) for improved low light performance which is a good point because the original Pocket Camera was not very good at high ISO.
Screen, Size, and Ergonomics
This inflation of features can be noticed on the size of the camera. The pocket factor is not obvious anymore unless you wear large cargo pants. This new camera is larger than a GH5. The reason? A large 1920 x 1080 five inches touchscreen on the back of the camera to help with focusing and exposure duties. URSA users will feel at home since BMD recycled this interface on the Pocket 4K camera. Thermal management is probably another reason behind this size increase.
The camera is based on the Micro Four Thirds mount and optional lens adapter will allow the installation of a great variety of lenses like the PL, C, and Canon EF mounts.
There are little things I hate more than external devices dragging my camera down with additional weight and an unnecessary cluster of cables always prompt to get entangled with the outside world. Yesterday, we saw that the “new” Sony FS5 II is only capable of recording internally in 8 bits with a maximum frame rate of 4k/30p. Nothing like that on the new Pocket Camera 4K. Basically, all the resolutions and frame rates can be recorded internally to one of the two cards slots. The camera supports the standard SD UHS-II cards and the CFast 2.0 format for the most demanding data-flow such as raw 4K/60.
One of the greatest feature is the possibility to use the USB-C connector to record the raw footage on an external media like a portable SSD or flash drive. No need to buy absurdly expensive proprietary SSD. Please RED, take note.
Codecs, Storage Rates, and Resolutions
The recording formats includes the 12 bits CinemaDNG raw with several compression ratios (None, 3:1, 4:1), as well as the more manageable ProRes modes (422 in HQ, LT, and Proxy). The camera can handles all the traditional resolutions and frame rates all the way to 4k60 in UHD and DCI.
BlackMagic Design released some figures regarding the storage rates in 30 fps:
- 4096 x 2160
- CinemaDNG RAW - 270 MB/s
- CinemaDNG RAW 3:1 - 128 MB/s
- CinemaDNG RAW 4:1 - 96 MB/s
- 3840 x 2160
- Apple ProRes 422 HQ - 110 MB/s
- Apple ProRes 422 - 73.6 MB/s
- Apple ProRes 422 LT - 51 MB/s
- Apple ProRes Proxy - 22.4 MB/s
- 1920 x 1080
- Apple ProRes 422 HQ - 27.5 MB/s
- Apple ProRes 422 - 18.4 MB/s
- Apple ProRes 422 LT - 12.75 MB/s
- Apple ProRes Proxy - 5.6 MB/s
Expect these rates to increase in 60 fps modes.
Connectivity and Power
The Pocket 4k comes with all the connectors associated to professional cameras: mini audio XLR with phantom power for professional microphones as well as regular 3.5mm in and out ports, full-size HDMI, and a two pins DC power socket. The internal power source relies on a standard Canon LP-E6 battery with an expected (optimistic?) autonomy of 60 minutes. Last but not least, the camera can be controlled wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Price and Availability
The Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is available for pre-order and should start to ship in September 2018 for $1,295 along with a full Blackmagic Resolve Studio license in the box.
Once again, Blackmagic pushes the envelope and set a new standard for entry-level video cameras. Some of the features packed in this camcorder are usually reserved for high-end professional products with a much bigger price tag. For $1,295, the Pocket 4K is positioned very aggressively but little is known of its true capabilities. How does the auto-focus perform? Is there some recording limitations and unadvertised crop factors? How does it handle the high ISO? And finally, will the Pocket 4K be free of glitches and software issues? Let’s wait for the first reviews with our fingers crossed.