Today I went to Blackmagic's big product demo event in Los Angeles to get my hands on the new 4K and pocket cameras. As many readers of this blog already know, the release of both cameras was announced in July. By the end of the month, I felt Blackmagic might have an announcement or two up its sleeve. There was no such announcement, but that was fine as I was really just looking forward to testing the new cameras.
So first – my thoughts on the pocket camera.
In its current state, the pocket camera feels ready and ready to be released. The structure is solid, the menus and other functions work exactly as you imagine. If you are from a BMCC EF or MFT model, you are generally VERY familiar with it. Although I knew that the menu and functionality of the camera were almost identical to the BMCC, it was really fun to tinker them side by side because the pocket camera feels like a baby BMCC. It would be nice if it also had a touchscreen since navigation isn't quite as fast as the larger models, but I'm sure that you can get used to it quickly.
Blackmagic had equipped it with a Lumix 7-14 mm lens because they probably wanted to show that the camera can actually take a nice wide angle. And it did! As you can see in these photos, there was actually a model in the demo area that you could film with the cameras. A nice addition as it felt less clinical than most camera demos. In the photo below, the lens was 14mm in size.
What I liked most about the pocket camera in general was the fact that it clearly felt like a camera to run and shoot with. The small form factor in connection with the active MFT holder and the amazing codecs are of course the most important selling points. A nice addition for me was the rear LCD. Although it wasn't quite matte, it seemed a lot less reflective than the BMCC screen. It's pretty spicy too. Granted, I saw it inside, but I tried to wash it out with extra light and it seemed to hold up well. Ultimately, that's exactly what I want from this camera. Work instantly in inconspicuous situations where you don't want to have it on a rig. The second you set it up, it's probably better to work with the BMCC or 4K model because you have the extra resolution you may need. However, feature films were recorded with cameras of a much lower quality than these. So if you don't mind upgrading such a small camera, it can easily act as an A-camera on indie sets.
Next up is the 4K model.
Again exactly what I expected. The body is of course identical to the original BMCC, with the exception of the 4K emblem on the front. The picture of it looked absolutely fantastic. It was connected to a high-definition broadcast monitor and looked really stunning. On the other hand also the pocket camera and the original BMCC, so that the other cameras were not blown out of the water. It suited the looks of the other two better than I would have imagined, considering that it uses a completely different sensor, which I was very happy about. The image felt a little more punchy, but that could easily be due to the settings on the monitor. In addition, the "Peaking" focus has a greenish color, which I liked because it is more functional than the current peaking function of the original BMCC. I'm not sure if this will change with firmware updates on the older cameras.
The only negative thing about the camera was that the firmware felt a little incomplete. This will of course change over time, but for some reason I had in mind that they may be presenting new firmware today.
After a while playing with the cameras, I asked two different employees about the shipment. Ultimately, I was told that the pocket camera was physically ready for shipment (as in the bodies), but it is not yet being shipped to retailers. The reason for this is that there still seem to be some problems with the firmware, and that has stopped them. I have also been told that they hope to resolve this in the coming days and that they will likely ship in small numbers in the next few weeks. And then in larger quantities.
In terms of the 4K camera, it sounded like it was about a month behind the pocket camera schedule. Apparently the 4K model may be shipped in smaller quantities in early September or so.
Remember, this is not Blackmagic inside information. I'm just starting from what I've been told about the repetitions. They could be finished sooner or later, but I've heard that before.
Although I had in mind that today's event could coincide with the release of new firmware or the announcement that the first delivery had been made, I am now more eager than ever to get my cameras. Especially the pocket cam. Hopefully, the wait this year is not nearly as long as it has been in recent years, and I very much doubt it will, although things are a little behind schedule. I only know that it is worth waiting for the cameras and that the pocket camera will cause a sensation! You can find more information about the new cameras in my article Why the pocket camera will be more annoying than the 4K production camera.
Noam Kroll is an award-winning filmmaker from Los Angeles and founder of the boutique production house Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television and in various publications around the world. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!