Blackmagic Design’s (BMD) philosophy when it comes to creating tools for broadcast and cinema is all about loyalty. According to Grant Petty himself, the idea is to support creatives in their early years so that when they succeed, they will keep coming back to BMD for their tools.
But this loyalty goes both ways. Petty not only wants loyal customers, but he also wants his company to be loyal to them.
Which is what brings us to this Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 review, or BMPCC 6K G2 for short. I had the pleasure of using one for a few weeks, and I have some thoughts. So is it a good camera? Should you buy one? And why?
10-Year-Old Cinema Camera
Before we jump in, let’s chat about my approach to this review. I’m a filmmaker, which means I don’t shoot weddings, corporate, or digital content. There are better people out there that do a better job. I also haven’t purchased a cinema camera in five years, and I still shoot on the original BMPCC. The one with a Super 16 sensor, which is now a decade old.
The last cinema camera I bought was the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. I still think it’s the best camera out there. It’s about the size of two GoPros and gives me a gorgeous HD image in CDNG or ProRes.
Original BMPCC and BMMCCCredit: NFS
So, this review won’t be too technical, and I’ll only briefly touch on the specs of this camera. Why? Because cameras are so good now that specs don’t matter. If you’re choosing a cinema camera based on what resolution or codec it shoots, you might as well just roll some dice.
Practically any prosumer camera from Sony, Canon, BMD, Panasonic, or RED will give you an incredible image. Sure, some have features that are better depending on your needs, but we’re leaving the pixel peeping at the door.
For this camera, we’re going to look at usability, inspiration, and creativity. Does the BMPCC 6K G2 get in your way? Does it help you be a better creative? And does it inspire you to create movies?
Judging a Book By Its Cover
Right off the bat, I was floored by how big this camera was. Compared to my OG BMPCC, the 6K G2 is a behemoth. When you put on the battery grip, it reminds me of the old Canon 1D, but just a little heftier.
I’m not sure how I feel about the design. It seems to be inspired by DSLRs and fits well in the hand, but something about the ergonomics just feels a bit too bulky. It kind of feels like I’m holding a large tablet at times. Especially when you start rigging it out with cages, battery grips, and lens accessories. The width of the 6K G2 is almost the length of an URSA Mini Pro.
BMPCC 6K G2 vs URSA Mini ProCredit: NFS
That is until I started working with it and got a feel for the button layout. This is where the 6K G2 really shines for me. As an operator, I really appreciate the easy access to the ISO, Shutter Angle, and White Balance buttons. They sit right on the top of the camera, where my index and middle finger naturally lay.
The three function buttons right below are also a dream. I had mine set to False Color, Peaking, and Toggle LUT, but there are options for Zebras, frame guides, and more. With just my two fingers, I had access to most of my tools, and I didn’t have to jump into any clunky menus or take my eye off my composition.
ISO, Shutter Angle, White Balance, and Function ButtonsCredit: NFS
On that note, I also have to mention how brilliant the BMD menu UI is.
After recently testing a few mirrorless cameras from Fuji and Sony, the menu on the 6K G2 felt like a breath of fresh air. Also, playing back clips felt like I was using a tablet or smartphone (funnily enough) instead of a camera. Whatever software is at work under the hood, it made previewing clips on the camera a lot more fun.
This touchscreen UI needs an awardCredit: NFS
On the back, my thumb lay right on the Iris and Focus button, which was a nice touch.
Unfortunately, all my lenses were manual focus, so I really didn’t have a need for these. But the dedicated High Frame Rate and Zoom button were really nice to have, right next to the rear screen, especially when I was trying to nail my focus.
Tilting screens are great, but don't always feels sturdy. This one is rock solid.Credit: NFS
Speaking of the screen—I really enjoyed the large size. It may look a little silly compared to other cameras on the market, being so big and all, but having all that surface area to examine my composition allowed me to catch little nuances that a smaller screen would have kept hidden. While it may now have the tilting feature of the 6K Pro model, it’s not as bright as its more expensive sibling. However, it gets the job done. Unless you’re blasting the sun into it, you’ll be able to preview your image without issues.
Despite its awkward form factor, the 6K G2 is anything but boring. It’s a fun camera to use. When you’re able to use it, that is.
The battery drain on this camera is pretty extreme, especially compared to a few other cameras I’ve been testing. I opted to use the optional battery grip, which allowed for two additional batteries. But even then, I saw the percentage drop quite drastically. It wasn’t a huge issue for me as my shoots were quick and only lasted a few hours a day. But for creatives using this camera for an eight- or 12-hour shoot, battery anxiety is a real thing.
While there are some pretty attractive third-party options, like Tilta’s Power Handle, it’s a small annoyance that pulls you away from creativity.
Advanced Kit for BMPCC 6K Pro/G2 w/ Power HandleCredit: Tilta
Secondly, I had an issue with lens clearance. I shoot most of my work on a set of all manual Zeiss ZF.2s, which come in a Nikon mount. Like most vintage F-mount lenses, they have a tab at the back to control the iris. While all of the lenses were mounted via an adapter without any issues, when I tried to open the aperture all the way, I could feel the rear tab hitting the camera body on the inside. This could have been an adapter issue or a QC issue, but it was worrisome, and I didn’t have access to the last stop and a half on some of my lenses.
Oddly enough, a handful of lenses like the 15mm from Zeiss and an older Nikon E-series pancake lens didn’t have any issues at all. I’ll chalk this up to user error, but it was the first time I had such a problem.
The Beauty on the Inside
I touched a bit on the menu UI already, but that’s not all there was to love (and get annoyed by).
Firstly, let’s touch on the codec. BRAW is absolutely amazing to use, especially if you’re working in DaVinci Resolve (which I am). If you start pixel peeping, I’m sure you’ll find some difference between BRAW, R3D, and whatever Sony and Canon are bringing to the market, but I found BRAW to be a breeze to work with. It looks fantastic and doesn’t bog me down in post, either in editing or color grading. The ProRes in the camera is also pretty solid, even if you’re shooting a television show (more on that later).
Shot on BMPCC 6K G2 with Zeiss ZF.2 50mm f/2.0 Makro PlanarCredit: NFS
Because I almost exclusively shoot narrative, the high frame rate options weren’t a big selling point for me. The most I’ve ever done was shoot 60p on my Canon 7D back in 2009 for a music video. But seeing my footage in 120fps was a completely different experience. There aren’t too many use cases for high frame rates for my type of content, but I got a bunch of ideas on how to use it.
Think about slowing down heartfelt love scenes or fast-paced action moments that need a punchy break in the chaos. It’s not all about slowing down your crash crashes!
Looking through a Hasselblad 500C with the 50mm Macro.Credit: NFS
Another update that the BMPCC 6K G2 brought to the pocket family is gyro-stabilization. This feature is actually now available in all modern pocket cameras. I used it on several handheld walking shots, and the results were surprisingly a lot better than the built-in Resolve stabilizer.
However, it's not a magic bullet. Because of the rolling shutter, if you’re trying to salvage a shaky shot, you’re going to see warping, and all you’re going to salvage is bupkis. I only see myself using this feature for planned shots that may need to be extra smooth, like getting rid of smaller jitters when using cheap dollies.
Finally, having custom LUT support is such a nice feature to have. It might seem like a no-brainer, but even some of the big companies are still only just releasing that feature. For everything I shot, I created a custom display LUT in Resolve, which also acted as my baseline when I got into color grading. But, here’s where a big issue sucked all the air out of me for a few hours.
Shot on BMPCC 6K G2 with ZF.2 85mm f/1.4Credit: NFS
For the life of me, I couldn’t get my batch of custom LUTs to load into the camera.
But wait, before you go off and start posting mean comments on all the camera forums, this was my bad. Again.
The BMPCC 6K G2 can only support LUTs in 17grid and 33grid. At least at the time I tested the camera. My issue? All of my LUTs were in 65grid. You see, all of my external monitors support 65grid LUTs. Even the 7-inch BMD Video Assist 4K. I assumed the 6K G2 would do the same. Sadly, this was not the case.
Thankfully, the fix for this was easy, as all I had to do was re-export my custom LUT in 33grid using Resolve. While I find myself fairly technically inclined, I fail to see why 65grid support isn’t standard on the camera. Maybe we’ll see it in a future update, or maybe someone in the comments will mansplain it to me.
Generating 3D LUT in DaVinci ResolveCredit: NFS
As for BRAW, I can wax poetic about it until I’m blue in the face. Unfortunately, I had a major problem getting it to even show up in Resolve. In the end, I had to download a beta version of the editing/color-grading suite for my files to actually appear. While this was only a minor annoyance, if I saw this during my testing for a big project, I might have skipped the 6K G2. When time and money are on the line, small issues like that really get in the way.
Also, having to rely on a beta build of Resolve to even work on my footage really makes my anxiety itch.
Here’s where we get a bit philosophical. The BMPCC 6K G2, as well as the other pocket cameras in the lineup, feel like the embodiment of Grant Petty’s statement about loyalty. It’s a scrappy camera that has its problems, but like a loyal friend, it always seems to be there for you.
I recently interviewed director of photography, David A. Harp, about his work during Season 2 of All Rise. Shot in the middle of the COVID pandemic, Harp used up to 17 first-generation BMPCC 6K cameras to capture the show. Not only was he impressed by the quality (they shot on ProRes), he loved the versatility of it.
Even though the show has moved back to shooting on an ARRI Alexa package, Harp still keeps a few pocket cameras in his kit to supplement the much more expensive Alexa.
Over 10 BMPCC 6Ks on set of 'All Rise'Credit: David Harp & CBS Entertainment
When All Rise needed a camera to save their show, the BMPCC was there. The combination of affordability, usability, and image makes this a camera that every cinematographer should have on their shortlist or even in their back pocket. While it does take some time to set up when you pull it out of the box, once it gets going, the 6K G2 is a powerhouse.
Despite its problems, every time I see an image from this camera, all I want to do is sit down, write another film, and go shoot it.
Is This Camera for You?
As we mentioned in our announcement of the BMPCC 6K G2, it’s basically a 6K Pro with a few missing features for less money. And does one thing really well—it gives you a gorgeous image that is worthy of being on the big screen. If you need internal NDs and a brighter screen, the 6K Pro is a better option. If you need something more affordable, the BMPCC 4K is also still available. The BMPCC 6K G2 is a perfect middle ground. These are some of the cheapest proper cinema cameras on the market, and they're already being used on productions big and small.
- Super 35 HDR Sensor, Gen 5 Color Science
- Canon Active EF Mount, Dual XLR Inputs
- 5" Tilting LCD Touchscreen
- Does Not Have Internal ND Filters
- Record 6K 6144 x 3456 up to 50 fps
- Record up to 120 fps Windowed 2.8K/1080p
- CFast 2.0 & SD/UHS-II Card Slots
- Dual Native 400 & 3200 ISO
- Supports Optional Pro EVF
- Supports Optional Pro Battery Grip
If you’re a filmmaker that’s just starting or looking for an affordable camera for your next film, it doesn’t get any better than the BMPCC 6K G2 or its siblings. Sure, there are a few quirks to get around, but when your film is playing in festivals, and people are laughing at your jokes and crying during the tragic moments, you won’t care. You’ll just want to go back home, put in a fresh battery, and keep on shooting.
It’s not a perfect camera, but the BMPCC 6K G2 really does make me want to keep coming back to Blackmagic Design.