The Pocket Cinema Camera line from Blackmagic has long been the pioneer of cinematic quality on a budget. Many filmmakers cut their teeth on the Pocket 4K. Now, there’s not only a 6K, but earlier this year, Blackmagic added the 6K Pro.
I love new gear. But as you can see from the truck I drive in the test footage, I also think if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
So where does the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro fit in?
On a Friday morning (the day before I had to return the camera) I went on a literal joy ride with my faithful Ford Ranger to see if new features of the Pocket 6K Pro are worth the extra $500. Check out how we did below!
What the 6K Pro really does in the Pocket space is it makes the Cinema Camera usable without another $1,500+ in rig and accessories.
Let’s break it down.
- Record 6K 6144 x 3456 up to 50 fps
- Built in 2, 4 and 6 stop ND filters
- Adjustable tilt HDR LCD with a bright 1500 nits thatfs ideal for use in bright sunlight
- Two mini XLR audio inputs
- Larger NP-F570 style battery
- Super35 HDR Sensor, Gen 5 Color Science
- CFast 2.0 & SD/UHS-II Card Slots
- Dual Native 400 & 3200 ISO to 25,600
The Pocket 6K Pro has the same Super 35 size 6144 x 3456 image sensor, color science, and recording specs as the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. What’s different? Everything else! Namely, the touchscreen, the ND filters, the audio inputs, the option to add a viewfinder, the batteries, and the footprint.
So you want to be able to see what you’re shooting?
The Pocket 6K Pro comes with a brighter 1,500-nit adjustable HDR touchscreen screen.
Meaning? It’s easier to see, and it swivels.
The great thing about a small cinema camera like the Pocket line is how easy it is to get cinematic shots. Want a low-angle dolly move that lands on your truck’s bumper sticker? Easy! Pop the
Pocket on a Slypod Pro, push the slide button on your app. And there you have it, instant cinema.
The only problem is, you have to actually be able to see the frame. On Pocket 4K and 6K, you’d have to crouch, contort, or otherwise get a ladder to get those more extreme angles.
The new 6K Pro touchscreen is not full-blown articulation like the third-party Tilta conversion kit ($500+) but it will let you tilt up and down about 90 degrees. And those 1,500 nits don't hurt in direct sunlight.
Do your lens a favor and ND
The age-old dilemma: have a fast lens, want shallow depth of field, but too bright. Damn!
One of the other great additions to the 6K Pro is the built-in ND filters with 2, 4, and 6 stops of ND. (They filter out both optical and IR wavelengths.)
If you’re used to the built-in ND filters on say, any of the Ursa line, this one is different. It’s not a knob that you turn to physically rotate the ND, it’s a button that triggers a digital control.
You can select the filter setting to display either an ND stop number, stop reduction, or fraction on the display.
Adding the electronic viewfinder
Huge win from me: the Pocket 6K Pro comes with the ability to add a viewfinder!
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Pro EVF has a built-in proximity sensor, 4 element glass diopter, built-in status information, and a digital focus chart. You unscrew the top to add the EVF. Like other Blackmagic camera bodies, this makes you feel like you’re building the thing like a camera engineer.
I know many of you do insist that you don’t need an eyepiece because you have a director’s monitor or blah blah blah. I respect that there are many instances where you won’t need one.
But I love viewfinders, and will never change my mind!
Take my test footage from the back of the truck where I focus on my dog's face. The EVF was the only way I could really see. Yes, you could mount a bigger monitor, hire a focus puller, c-clamp a scrim, even find a different road to drive down that’s shady. Or you could jump in the back of the truck, peep through the viewfinder, and just shoot the damn thing!
I’d also like to say, popping behind the eyepiece has many benefits in addition to helping me compose and focus. For example, it also allows me to hide from my subjects. In an interview or where you are following someone around, this can mean the difference between not just good cinematography, but also better conversations and interviews with less social anxiety! (On both sides of the camera...)
I wish the EVF were included with the 6K Pro, but alas, it costs extra. (Probably because of all you naysayers claiming you don’t need it!) At $495, it’s a big addition to the base price. But in my opinion, it’s worth it.
One point lost, however, for the fact that my eyepiece cup kept popping off. (The viewfinder comes with three swappable options.) I’d probably need to choose one, and gaff tape or contact cement it on to avoid losing it altogether.
Holding on for dear battery life
If you’re shooting 4-6K and Blackmagic RAW, you’re using up juice pretty fast. Thankfully, BMPCC 6K Pro goes a different route with battery than the Pocket 6K or 4K, with a larger NP-F570 battery. If you're shooting 6K RAW at 24FPS, it will last about 60 minutes.
In comparison, the LP-E6 batteries on the other Pockets will last you 45 minutes on a good day. (If you are swapping out from an assortment of name-brand and over-used or cheap knock-offs left over from DSLR days, you’ll get half that.)
What about V-Mount? In the past with other Pockets, having worry-free battery power has meant getting a V-mount system. I have had great luck pairing V-mount batteries with Blackmagic, but it can add one other layer of clunkiness to the camera, and takes up your 2-pin power connector. If you don’t have the V-mount kit already, it’ll cost you at least $170 for a battery and $150 for the mount plate at the minimum.
Instead, with the 6K Pro, if you want extended battery insurance, you can add on the Blackmagic Pocket Camera Battery Pro Grip, which is a lot cheaper than V-Mount, at $145 and $55 per NP-F570 battery. And it has the nice feature of being a grip.
Two audio inputs are better than one
The 6K Pro has two audio inputs, which is great for any production where you do not have a sound mixer to mix and record separate from the camera.
Hot tip: if you're on a run-and-gun shoot, having two inputs is super helpful for keeping an onboard shotgun on the camera in addition to a wireless lav'ed subject. Then you can keep usable ambient sound and can be ready for unexpected reactions of non-mic’ed people.
The two inputs are Mini XLR, and if you want to connect your full-size XLR gear, you can grab an adapter cable for $39 from Blackmagic.
Different footprint, same feel
The look and feel of the 6K Pro are slightly different (and slightly bigger) than the Pocket 4K and 6K. It didn’t honestly make much difference to me while shooting, even at handheld with the battery grip, and it was still sized right to fit in my compact Moment bag. It's also emblazoned with "6K" on the body unlike the others, so you can nonchalantly show off to all your friends.
For $500, you get better batteries, a better monitor that swivels, more audio options, and built-in ND filters.
Economically, it’s a no-brainer, because you will actually be saving money on accessories. Unless you already invested in a ton of accessories from your 4K, there’s no reason not to spring for the 6K Pro over the 4K or 6K.
At $2,495, the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro will get you a solid image rivaling almost any cinema camera without a huge additional investment.
What do you think of the new features on the 6K Pro? What features do you want to see in the next iteration?