October 9, 2013

Use Canon Batteries to Power the Blackmagic Pocket Camera with the Switronix PocketBase

If you've used or own a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (or you're still waiting for yours to be delivered), you might have noticed that battery life isn't all that great. Not too dissimilar from the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera, the most compact way to use the Pocket camera won't allow you to use it for very long unless you've got a stack of charged Nikon EN-EL20. Stated battery life from Blackmagic is about an hour per battery, but if you'd like a simpler way to use the camera and still keep it compact, Switronix has introduced the PocketBase (not to be confused with the PowerBase for the BMCC), which allows two Canon LP-E6 batteries to power the camera for 5 hours at a time.

Here's a description of the PocketBase:

PocketBase allows you to power the camera up to 5hrs with two LP-E6 type batteries, while simultaneously charging the removable internal battery. By keeping the internal battery inside the Pocket Camera during operation, you can then hotswap the attached LP-E6 batteries within the PocketBase for continuous camera operation.

The Pocketbase mounts easily under the camera with an included 1/4-20 thumbscrew which allows a seamless integration. By attaching the included grips, it allows for comfortable hold without need of a rig.

The PocketBase is an all-metal enclosure designed to last through all facets of production. The camera power cable tucks in nicely for camera mounted application, but will also extend up to 24" for rail mounting. With the ability to hotswap batteries you can continue production without interruptions. Weighing in at less than 1 lb, the PocketBase is an integral accessory for all your Pocket Camera powering needs.

Switronix PocketBase Battery Kit

While you might not have any use for this for a while (since the volume of shipments for the Pocket Cinema Camera is still low), this will be a good solution for people who don't want to deal with charging and organizing close to a dozen batteries for a full shoot. It's also good for those who want to keep the camera relatively small and compact. Since the Pocket has an input for 12V DC on the side, there are plenty of power options, but most of them will probably need some sort of mounting support above and beyond simply attaching to the camera on the bottom.

It certainly adds a little weight to the camera with batteries, but everything is still light enough to handhold, especially since the Pocket is so light to begin with. With the ability to power the camera for around 10 hours with 4 Canon batteries, keeping track of and carrying power with you will be a bit simpler. The other good thing about a setup that uses the Canon batteries also used in cameras like the Mark II, III, and 7D is that you may already have a bunch of them sitting around, and they will still be useful for other items you may have, like external monitors.

The standard kit without batteries is going to run $105, and the battery kit PowerBase which includes two batteries and a charger is going for $155. Both are available to order right now. We're going to be testing it out at NFS, so a full review should be up soon. In the meantime, head on over to the Switronix website to read more about it.

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34 Comments

Kinda cool but I wish they just made the camera slightly bigger so it could take canon batteries or even better ones such as sony's in the first place. This camera all rigged up starts to get pretty silly especially if you need good audio too. I for one don't really need it that small so I wouldn't mind. If I need a super small camera I have a phone.

October 9, 2013 at 5:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Why didn't they design it to fit the body properly, like a SLR battery grip? It could have actually improved the ergonomics of the camera. Never mind....

October 9, 2013 at 5:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob

that's a good idea, some after market battery grip that fits the camera perfectly is ideal

October 9, 2013 at 10:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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kuban

A longer cable would be nice. With a longer cable you can keep the batterypack in your pocket and the camera stealthy.

October 9, 2013 at 5:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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EricV

Has 24"

November 14, 2013 at 10:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ash Mills

I wonder if the pocket and regular bmcc have the same external power spec. Maybe we can use it with bmcc also. That would be cheep batery solution / affordable and light weight system. Question is how long bmcc will work on this. ;-)

October 9, 2013 at 6:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Bulat

Didn't read post well enough: cable extends to 24", may be enough for pocket battery use.

October 9, 2013 at 6:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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EricV

But it would be enough to attach to the back of a rig or something.

October 9, 2013 at 9:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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"Stated battery life from Blackmagic is about an hour per battery"...I wish, not even close

October 9, 2013 at 6:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anthony Marino

How much weight does this add (for handheld stabilizers) and can you also run it with a single battery inside the grip?

October 9, 2013 at 8:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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now you can put the camera in your pocket........

October 9, 2013 at 9:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Baremis

exactly what I thought, looks like you'd need more accessories then for the average DSLR to actually use it for filming...

October 9, 2013 at 11:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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except you'll need a hole in your pocket for a live mode ...

October 9, 2013 at 11:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

yup

October 9, 2013 at 9:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Better than redvolts, at 20 mins each. Come on, they are cheap as chips, buy a ton of batteries!
Why to people complain so much about technology? Dont like it? Dont use it. Simple. Also, smaller cameras have a big use. Dont diss them, you will need one some day. And it beats a gopro.

October 9, 2013 at 9:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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James

Exactly. I have currently have 10 batteries in my kit for this camera, that's about enough to get through a full day of shooting - and altogether, those still cost less than the SD cards.

I don't particularly care for this solution, although they did announce a cable that could connect the Pocket Cam to their BMCC powerbase which seems like a practical solution if I were going to use this on a shoulder rig.

October 9, 2013 at 10:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Keeping 10 batteries charged for each shoot sounds like a lot of fun too...

October 9, 2013 at 3:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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[shrug] it's a minor hassle I'm willing to deal with. Not that different from charging enough batteries to have three per camera on a multi camera shoot. As well as charging v-locks for lights. And keeping batteries stocked for sound.

What I'm saying is, I have a few power strips.

October 9, 2013 at 3:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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What a horrible "solution"

October 9, 2013 at 10:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tulio

Kinda defeats the object of it being 'pocket'.

I don't understand people buying this and buying cages, rigs, battery packs etc to go on it.
Get a normal BMCC for God's sake.

October 9, 2013 at 10:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Fresno Bob

If the BMCC had an ACTIVE micro 4/3rds mount they would.

October 9, 2013 at 1:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pdirt

There have been rumblings that an active mount MFT might be released in the future. But, IMO, what this needs is a battery shaped DC plug, so you can run the cam off another, much larger battery or an adopter.

October 9, 2013 at 3:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

I cant understand the "then its not a pocket camera any more"-argument. Yes it is. You can always take everything of, put a pancake on it and put it in your pocket. When you have done your stealthy shots you rig it up again.
But on the bmcc, 5dmkiii, gh3 you can never do that. Because they are not pocket cams.
And a fully rigged pocket cam is way smaller than a rigged dslr because the camera house is pocet sized.

October 9, 2013 at 3:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Lobbamobba

They do a pocket camera and it ends up with so much stuff and weight on top. Just not a good design.

October 9, 2013 at 11:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jimenez

It's not the perfect camera for ALL shooting circumstances, but it's a cinema camera and it's delivers a very good image (from what I've seen on the Internet). For decades filmmakers who are our examples, worked with camera's that needed a new 35mm film cassette every 10 minutes. What are we complaining about? ;-)
The Pocket Cams sensor is actively cooled. Read this, near the end of this post:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/camcorders/black_magic_pocket_...

October 9, 2013 at 12:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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EricV

Its in no way a cinema camera. Its only named cinema camera.

October 9, 2013 at 9:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Is that because it doesnt record good sound, is Super16, doesnt do timecode and is compact?

I wonder if you would discount S16 film cameras for cinema too? Aaton Minima anyone?

I appreciate that it has some vices, but It will be used for decent films.

November 14, 2013 at 10:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ash Mills

Industry gone mad. Actually it was industry gone mad the day it was announced when people rushed to place orders before they'd seen a single frame of vision...

October 9, 2013 at 7:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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or do what i did and buy the ikan battery sled for canon/sony batteries then call ikan and ask for the barrel adapter.
total cost $29 :-)
i get 5 hours from my sony np 970's ;-)

October 14, 2013 at 7:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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What is the point, the SD card only lasts 1 hour 14 minutes max anyway, and you can't change the card with this grip on. Bad design.

Am a proud BMPCC owner, the image you get is indeed fantastic despite the workarounds needed.

October 18, 2013 at 7:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chuck

I bought one of these last week and used it for a wedding today.

I will be returning it Monday. My camera was loose 50% of the time (even with the slip pads, which came off after the first 2 hours).

It's poorly designed and not suited for use on shoulder mounts or monopods, essentially, if you need to move it more than once or twice a shoot.

Looking for better alternatives for a small portable battery solution.

October 19, 2013 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Just wanted to chime in here - picked up this unit looking for something to supplement the slew of in-camera batteries I have for my pocket cam. But this thing is a piece of junk. It barely held my Canon batteries - they were so loose I'd be afraid of them sliding out while shooting. Also, the mounting options are limited give the thread pattern.

Probably just going to pony up and get an Anton Bauer power solution that will last...

October 20, 2013 at 4:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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In my opinion this pocket camera and the company are junk. the mystery about the batteries is this; the camera is not charging the batteries to their full state but the camera tells you that it is charged. for several weeks i would try to charge the camera, it goes dead if it sits too many days even if it's turned off. i bought an external charger and charged the battery but this time instead of it being fully charged in 20 or less minutes it took about 1.4 hours. this time the camera went close to an hour not 10 or less minutes like the build-in charger. i recharged it again with camera and took a voltage reading, drained the batteries and charged again with external charger, took a reading. the camera or built-in charger, one of them, is junk. the camera says 100% both ways though.
sent the camera back, said it would take 5-10 business days, yawn! after, i think, 15 days i called them and ask when this camera would e done, this is what they said. we just got the camera a couple of days ago, my receipt says two days after i sent it, and the "first round" of testing, how high tech huh, tells us there is nothing wrong with the camera. well, don't need to tell you guys what good news that was, right... so i ask him what voltage did you get after it was charged... daaaa, he had no idea what i was talking about. if the looked at the screen only, yes, it says 100% so if they just did that test that way of course it would appear charged. and then he told me there was another round of testing... wow, second round of testing! epilogue, the chinese are always right. these guys have o talent on this camera other than having it built by another country and no way of taking it apart to fix anything would be my guess. how in hell can you test a battery without a volt reading. what a joke. this whole mess is going to be close to a month and nothing having been accomplished, except frustrating all hell out of me. they will not return my money so i told them to keep the camera, they will not, so i'm calling australia and telling them the same thing, that they will be receiving this junk in the mail.. permanently! do not send this crap back or i will take you to court just for frustrating me.. if i can.. hee, hee. what a crappy company and a really crapy monitor, if you would even call it that.

February 19, 2014 at 11:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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skip

yes you can get close to an hour, it's just you can't if you use the built in charger because it's simply crap. buy an external charger and you can get close to an hour. my problem is this, they will not admit there is something wrong, thats a boat load of repairs and i feel it's wrong of them to pull this crap. oh, by the way, the monitor says the battery is 100% any way you choose to charge it but the voltage is much different. crap! cheeper in the end to just buy a scarlet and be done with it.

February 19, 2014 at 11:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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skip