Black Magic is showing its Black Magic Pocket Cinema 4K camera to an audience of broadcasting professionals at Inter Bee 2018, and we took this opportunity to take a closer look.
The “Pocket” name might make you think that it is a small camera, but as you can see in the pictures, it’s not pocketable or even small. Black Magic probably wanted to keep using the name as a follow-up for their previous Pocket Cam, which is about half the volume of this DSLR-sized new one.
The 5” full HD display is the second most obvious feature, and it’s nice to have a high-resolution display when filming. When used indoors, it’s absolutely beautiful, but if you want to use it on a sunny day, you might want to come up with some way of having a little bit of shade.
The display is fixed and cannot be tilted up or down, and this might make things a little uncomfortable if you’re not filming at eye-level. This is something that should probably be improved in the next version.
There is no viewfinder as a backup, and the primary reason for this is the tactile user interface which would not be usable through a viewfinder anyway.
That user interface (UI) seems very intuitive and clear, which is better in my opinion than those you find in competing cameras from legacy DSLR vendors. Even my Sony NEX has a relatively clumsy UI, although it’s a consumer product. Black Magic has just done a wonderful job, and we hope that it will inspire the competition to up their game.
The storage options are interesting, with support for two types of memory cards, or even an external USB-C drive. As you can expect from a camera, there are good audio input options, even if the stereo microphone array is built-in on either side of the lens.
The trade show environment isn’t the best to test HDR recording etc. but there was a small studio, and the demo footage looked good. It will be interesting to see if expert reviews backup our initial impression of the video quality. It is possible to record in 4K/60FPS or 1080p/120FPS, but this latter mode only works in sensor crop mode, probably because there isn’t enough computational power to bin pixels or minify the 4K reading down to 1080p at that speed. Cropping the sensor is similar to zooming, so it reduces the field of view considerably.
Before considering purchasing one, we recommend checking the autofocus performance and the battery life as they were not strong points in the previous generation. This camera is very innovative and different, so it’s nice to have one more option for recording high-quality 4K video.