Wedding shot with the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera

I shoot and edit mainly HDSLR footage and think they are great!  The issues I always have is shooting in a compressed 4:2:0 format.  Color grading is difficult at times and lacks colors on DSLR.  When I first heard that Black Magic Design was releasing a cinema camera I got super excited until I realized that I had to wait nearly a year to get one.  By that time I had lost interest and used up my budget to purchase a 5DMK 3.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mark 3 but I still had that RAW itch.  So I hacked my 5D MK3 to shoot RAW video and was floored!  Problem was that to shoot RAW, you needed tons of fast and expense cards, not to mention the workflow and storage space needed to handle these files.  Then I heard that Black Magic was releasing a Pocket Camera.  For a while I had forgot about it until I saw it available at Adorama.  It was hard to resist and had to give it a try.  The image quality is all I expected it to be.  I mean it’s not RAW (ProRes HQ) but it was good enough…10 bit color baby!  The next step was to try it in a real life scenario.  I normally don’t like shooting birds or static objects, I like live test subject with a story so what better place to try it out than a wedding?  I mainly shot DSLR for this wedding but I set aside a few beauty shots to work with the tiny black magic camera.  First I’ll start with what I loved about the camera, It’s small and easy to carry.  With the right lens you can get some nice stealthy shots.  The image quality after grading was beyond my expectation!  You can easily interchange batteries and they are dirt cheap! Like 10 bucks per battery.  It also takes SDHC sim cards which aren’t that expensive.  I was able to get roughly 45 min of Pro Res footage off of a 64 gig card.  The fact that it recorded to Pro Res allowed me to simply drop the files into my FCPX timeline with zero issues.  I was easily able to mount it on my monopod with no problem.  My preferred lens was the 24-105 from canon.  It gave me enough range so that I could get those spontaneous shot while being able to go wide. I’m looking to pickup the Lumix 12-35 2.8 hoping that will satisfy getting those wide shots. I love the focus peaking option.  It allowed me to get sharp focus when needed. It’s Sad to say I didn’t know about focus peaking till half with through the wedding.  Some of the shots are a bit soft because of it.  The camera cost $1,000 bucks!Great price for a camera with this image quality. I love the color gradation!  There is certainly more color in the image not to mention high dynamic range.  All the detail is there where in DSLR most of that detail is lost. It has decent sound in the right setting, not that you should rely on it but as a reference it works fine.  The audio from the wedding film was all straight from the camera.  I had loads of fun shooting editing/color grading with this camera. Now what I disliked, the battery life was by far the biggest drawback.  I got roughly 30 min or recording before it went dead and had to replace the battery.  The camera will not except a slow card; It has to be 32 gig 45 mbps or above.  The screen was hard to read and was very hazy; the focus peaking certainly did help during situations like this.  I’m not a fan of the menu system; every time I wanted to change my Kelvin or ISO, I’d have to go into that menu.  Thanks to the high-bit rate and 10 bit color, I didn’t have to go in the menu as much as a DSLR.  The camera is cropped by 2.88 which can get pretty tight.  Having a really wide lens would help but you will lose depth of field when going to wide.  I actually don’t mind it as much and feel that having things more in focus helps you focus on getting beautiful backdrops instead of a blurred background adding to the story.

With the drawbacks aside I love this little camera.  I’m hoping that I can have an all Black Magic Wedding rig.    Let’s see?  I think my clients deserve the best possible quality available, although DSLR is great, in the right hands, this camera can be deadly and will give your film a higher production value. When the 4K comes out at Super 35mm that may be possible.  As of right now I’m still shooting DSLR for wedding but will keep this camera to get those nice well lit closeups.  Remember, it’s all about lighting!!  For the price it’s a worthy investment but wouldn’t dump my 5D just yet.

-Marvin Suarez

 

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