Hands On With The Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K

Hands On With The Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K

Today, I get a chance to play with the new Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K.

I have an admission to make. Prior to now, I had never used one of the pint-sized Blackmagic Design cinema cameras. I'd used the larger URSA bodies. Just not the smaller lines like the pocket or cinema cameras. Over the course of my career as a filmmaker, and side hustle as a tech reviewer, I've gotten to shoot with pretty much every brand and model of camera on the market. Due to the nature of my work, the bulk of my filmmaking is done on the Alexas, Venices, and REDs of the world, with the majority of my still work split between Nikons and medium format. For years, my post-production workflow has heavily centered around Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve Studio for both editing and color grading. But, despite how many times I'd read about them, I had never gotten a chance to play with one of the company's popular smaller-sized Cinema cameras with the DSLR-shaped bodies that promise to provide top-level image quality at a fraction of the costs of their competitors.

Fortunately, all that has changed as I’ve recently gotten a chance to test out the new Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K with a brand new full frame sensor and the Leica L mount. As I just mentioned, this is the first of the Blackmagic Design Cinema Cameras I've gotten to test. So, I won't approach this review as a comparison to other Blackmagic Design models. Nor will I be comparing it to other specific mirrorless or cinema cameras on the market. This is a camera intended to be considered on its own terms. So that's how I will go about my analysis.

I would be remiss if I didn't start this section by telling you that this particular review took quite a bit longer than I had planned. That's not a reflection on the product. Rather a case of the universe seeming determined to squelch my plans at all costs. When I do a review, I prefer to review a product in a real-world scenario rather than simply list the tech specs. Almost any camera made in the last decade has passable specs on paper. What I want to know is how it works tangibly in the field. So, my plan all along was to put it to use on a test project to simulate my usual workflow.

To that end, I first got my hands on the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K during the holiday season. I'd gotten a chance to do your basic brick wall tests, but shooting anything meaningful would be difficult during the days when family gatherings justifiably take precedence over dynamic range. So, while my first couple of weeks were spent fiddling with settings and doing baseline testing to make sure the camera actually functioned, the real testing, on an actual set, was planned for the beginning of the year. The second day of the year to be exact. I'd completed pre-production on a short film that I was all set to shoot. Found my locations and my cast. All set to rock and roll. And then… I got Covid. The date had to be moved. My male lead booked a TV show which would put him out of commission. And I was forced to spend the next two weeks confined to my living room until I could go out again and rejoin the general population.

While I was stuck staring at my bedroom walls, my original loaner version of the camera had to be returned. But, luckily, I was able to get a replacement from another source. With needing to go back to step one with the short film, I instead decided to bump up the shooting date for a fitness spec instead and use that for purposes of analysis. It was going to be a small shoot as I was in the midst of a handful of other larger shoots at the same time. But, luckily, this was the kind of concept I could execute easily at the public park and try out the camera with a live subject. I set the shoot for a 7 am call time and went to bed the night before ready to create. Then I woke up at 5 am on the shoot day to a rare torrential rainstorm hitting Los Angeles and turning that public park into a public lake. So, once again, the shoot had to be pushed.

Thankfully, I was able to reschedule and finally got to try out the camera in the real world rather than simply in hypotheticals. I'm glad I did. Because, using it gave me a pretty good idea of its strengths and weaknesses as well as the type of filmmaker this tool might be best suited for.

Who Is It For?

I think this is a great camera for filmmakers. Especially younger and/or independent filmmakers working within a limited budget. By "filmmakers," I mean traditional filmmakers who will be working in a team environment rather than solo shooters taking a more run-and-gun approach. Not that there's anything wrong with running and gunning. I do it all the time. But if your goal is infinite content creation where you are capturing life as it speeds by, versus a more methodical approach of working from a script, storyboards, and extensive preproduction, then logic suggests that you will likely want a camera with amazing autofocus. Since this camera has very limited autofocus options, this might not be the one for a run-and-gun shooter. Conversely, if you are the type of person who sees themselves growing your career within traditional filmmaking, autofocus is unlikely to be your primary consideration. You are generally going to be working within a team framework where someone else is pulling focus for you. So, your main criteria instead would be getting the most image quality for your dollar. This is where the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K really shines.

Image Quality and Record Formats

Right out of the box, without any planning other than telling my dog to go fetch, the image quality of the camera was apparent. At $2,595, you get a heck of a lot of image quality for your buck. More than enough in the hands of a filmmaker capable of using it.

Shooting initial tests, the very first thing that I noticed was how beautiful the image felt right out of the box. Now, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But, to my eyes, the 13 stops of dynamic range in this full-frame sensor resulted in a lovely image. The camera records in Blackmagic RAW (with H.264 proxies). As someone who is already in the DaVinci Resolve Studio post-production universe, this works well, as this is the only format I would likely choose to shoot in anyway. However, if you are used to recording ProRes or other formats, be aware that this camera might require adjustments to your workflow.

While I believe in getting things right in camera, I did make a point of intentionally pushing and pulling the image in post. Less to correct mistakes and more to see how far I could go. I shot in Blackmagic RAW at 5:1 compression at 400 ISO and found the native color rendition was very pleasing without needing to be manipulated. Still, I made a point to push it and pull it as many as three stops and didn't find the image breaking apart. Flipping and shifting color temperature was easily achieved. While I had set my temperature and exposure correctly on set, the camera did give me confidence that it would be able to support me in the event I had made a mistake.

Like most recent Blackmagic Cameras, you can shoot in either Constant Bitrate (from 3:1 to 12:1 compression) or Constant Quality (Q0, Q1, Q3, and Q5). One keeps your bitrate/file size consistent. The other varies bit rate to preserve quality as the contents of your frame change. I don't generally get this granular when talking about record formats, but, in this camera the file formats are especially important. Namely because, as I quickly found out, your ability to achieve the highest quality will depend on your using the highest speed media possible without dropping frames. This is true both when recording to the internal CFast Express B slot or via the USB port which allows you to record directly to an external drive like, for instance, one of the many small Samsung SSD drives I've accumulated over the years. The ability to record straight to an SSD has always been one of my favorite features on Blackmagic Design cameras. So, if I were to purchase this camera, the first thing I would consider is purchasing the fastest possible SSD drive to run along with it.

Open Gate

One big win for this camera is its ability to shoot in 6K Open Gate at 3:2. There are multiple formats to choose from, but shooting 6K Open Gate allows you to make the most of the full-frame sensor. Additionally, the benefit of shooting Open Gate, for content creators who might need to provide both widescreen and vertical video, means that you have more flexibility to shoot horizontally while still retaining enough vertical resolution to crop in post for TikTok or other social media platforms. I am really really not a fan of vertical video. But, it doesn't appear as though it is going anywhere anytime soon. So for jobs that demand a vertical component, having Open Gate available is a major win.

You can shoot up to 36 fps in 6K Open Gate (or 4K Anamorphic). That extends to 48 fps in 6K non-Open Gate. Then to 60 fps in 4K DCI or 120 fps in HD. This camera is not meant as a super slow-motion beast, but it has more than enough speed for traditional filmmakers who would only be using slow motion on a more limited basis. Also, 6K is quickly becoming one of my favorite resolutions as it provides a cushion for a traditional 4K delivery while not necessarily bloating your file size quite as much as something like 8K. It feels like a happy medium.

Still Photography

I know I'm not the only person who has mentioned this, but I really do wish I had this exact camera in box form. As this is more a camera for filmmakers, it's exactly the type of tool that you'll want to rig up. The DSLR body format makes a lot of sense for content creators who need to shoot stills and video with the same body. But, as this is a better fit for traditional filmmaking, the DSLR body format has less utility.

With that said, I did use the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera to shoot the thumbnail for my video and found a few benefits I hadn't previously considered. Mainly, while I was already going to use DaVinci Resolve Studio to finish the video image, I was now also able to use the same program to finish the thumbnail as well. Since the goal of the thumbnail was to make something representative of the video, being able to copy and paste the video adjustments onto the still frame as a baseline made tying the two assets together seamless.

Now, as I make a large amount of my living as a commercial still photographer, I'm not saying I'm trading in all my traditional still cameras next week. But, if your real aim is to produce video content and the stills themselves are there mainly to produce thumbnails to go with those videos, using the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera to shoot those thumbnails makes a lot of sense. Especially if your post process already centers around DaVinci Resolve.

Button Layout and Rear LCD

Despite being shaped like a hybrid camera, the Cinema 6K is decidedly built for filmmakers. This brings me to my next favorite aspect of the camera. The button layout.

If you're used to shooting with a mirrorless hybrid camera, you'll know that accessing video-centered tools quickly is usually a journey in remapping and memorizing multiple custom buttons then still having to dive into the menu half the time for even the most basic actions. The Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K puts everything you might need literally right at your fingertips. In my case, the three large and easily pressable custom buttons at the top of the camera are set to false color, focus peaking, and focus zoom. You can set them to whatever you want. But, for me, I found it incredibly quick to check exposure, focus, then double-check focus, as simple as 1-2-3. True, you can do these types of things with most cameras. But, I found the layout of the buttons here to be especially convenient and quick, reducing hassle on set.

And, even though I do prefer a box format, the current format does offer a real benefit. Specifically, the implementation of the large 5-inch LCD screen on the back of the camera. As someone who is not a big fan of mounting external monitors, it is great to have an LCD built into the camera that is large enough to manually pull focus with. Most DSLR bodies have tiny LCD screens, which is fine if you are relying on autofocus, but can be just a bit too small for my rather weak eyesight. So, I loved using the big LCD on the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K as I was pulling my own focus while shooting.

Exposure Tools

With either the optional EVF attached or via the generously large 5-inch tilting LCD screen at the back, the camera makes it easy to capture the image you intended. False color, zebras, frame guides, a 90% guide for those wishing to preserve safe outer edges for easier stabilization in post. Most monitoring tools are available at the press of a button or easily adjustable on the camera's touchscreen simply by pressing on the setting on the display. You can load your own premade LUTs. So if you are shooting to a premade show LUT or want to leave set knowing your exposure strategy conforms with your plans in post, the camera makes it easy to achieve peace of mind.

The menu system itself is also something other manufacturers could learn from. As someone who doesn't shoot with Blackmagic cameras all the time, I found the menu items to be exactly where you'd expect them to be. It was very easy to go through the pages one after another and have the camera set up the way I wanted without a hint of confusion.

L Mount

The camera comes with the L mount. This will either please or upset you depending on what lenses you currently have in your collection. I’ve got an unnecessarily wide collection of lenses spanning multiple mounts. What I don’t have, unfortunately, is any L mount glass. So, I needed to snatch an adapter to do my test with my personal collection of glass. No biggie. The loaner also came with a fantastic Sirui Saturn 34mm 2/9 1.6x Full Frame Anamorphic lens. This isn't a full lens review, but the lens' rendition complemented the body well. Moreover, the camera's ability to desqueeze in-body so that you can view the scene correctly makes using anamorphic glass with this body a cinch. If you are an L mount lens holder, you will find the camera to accept a large catalog of new and vintage lenses produced for the platform.

Ports and Connections

Connections include a full-size HDMI port, headphone and microphone jacks, two mini-XLR audio ports, USB-C connection, as well as a 12 V power supply for plugging the camera in while shooting rather than using the traditional Sony L Batteries internally. The review unit I got had the optional battery grip, which allows you to keep on board three L batteries at a time to extend battery life. Sadly, because of the production delays I mentioned earlier, by the time I got to actually do my shoot with the second loaner, I was working with just the single internal battery. I suspect, if I were to own this camera, I would want this grip and would also likely rig up the system to a V-mount power source. Otherwise, this camera will chew through power relatively quickly. When shooting my little film, I got about an hour and twenty minutes with start and stop recording before I had to replace the internal battery.

And though it is a good practice, regardless of the camera, to record audio separately when possible, it's nice that the camera offers onboard XLR audio. They are mini XLR, but still a nice feature in this price range. I would have liked an SDI port as well. But that's asking a lot at this budget level.

Pros and Cons

Here is all you need to know about the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K.


  • Excellent image quality
  • Great value at the price
  • Button placement
  • 6K resolution perfect for 4K deliverables
  • Open Gate
  • In-body anamorphic desqueeze
  • Seamless capture of Blackmagic RAW for DaVinci Resolve users
  • Wide range of built-in exposure tools
  • Menu system
  • Large tilting LCD screen
  • (Mini) XLR audio
  • Tally light


  • Battery life
  • No internal NDs
  • Be careful to invest in best cards possible to access highest recording formats
  • No internal ProRes
  • Limited autofocus
  • No IBIS


What makes this camera a solid tool for the independent filmmaker is that it offers all of these benefits at a very reasonable price. You can have several of these cameras for the price of many single higher-end cinema cameras. But, while you sacrifice a few bells and whistles, the very basic question, "Can this camera provide top image quality," is easily answered. Absolutely. I wouldn't hesitate at all to use this camera to shoot a short film or an independent film. It's got everything a skilled filmmaker needs to tell their story in the most efficient way possible at the right price. You can purchase the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K here.

Christopher Malcolm's picture

Christopher Malcolm is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle, fitness, and advertising photographer, director, and cinematographer shooting for clients such as Nike, lululemon, ASICS, and Verizon.

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I do like Blackmagic cameras as they make more dedicated cine camera technology available at reasonable prices. Agree the stills camera style body is disappointing if you want to rig up this camera. Personally, I don't see the lack of IBIS as a major problem because cheaper, mirrorless hybrid cameras have that covered and Blackmagic to me is the sort of camera you'd use with a gimbal anyway - why buy a Blackmagic and skimp on stabilisation? Blackmagic to me isn't for Youtube influencers but more serious filmmakers who will also invest in other production equipment like a gimbal, external battery packs and maybe even external monitors like Atomos.


No mention of rolling shutter, which is a major issue.

This is a bit long winded like most videos are but this video does explain a way to completely eliminate the rolling shutter effect using Davinci Resolve and it's a very quick and simple process as demonstrated.


Thanks for that. This "fix" costs you part of the image. It also relies on meticulous record-keeping of what your focal length was for every shot... if that's even knowable with enough precision.

It is certainly a valuable resource for shooters who have this info available, though. The question is whether you can specify the camera's readout speed in Resolve, so you can apply this correction to footage from different cameras (and yes you would have to acquire gyro data).

I honestly think I would switch to this camera if it had reliable continuous autofocus. I want a giant touch screen with usable touch features.