July 24, 2019

What Is the Real Price of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?

Some cameras seem ridiculously affordable...until you add up all of the accessories and extras you'd need to make it viable on a film set.

At $1295, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is an amazing bargain. Shooters are amazed by the high-performance 4K image the BMPCC4K provides, even if it still suffers from lackluster battery life. But at that price point, can you just take out the camera and start shooting? Or is there more to it than that? Well, of course there is. 

YouTuber Lewis McGregor, a.k.a. Ugly McGregor, kicked off a conversation in his latest video by breaking down the many add-ons that filmmakers might need to add to make their camera kits workable on a film project. So, here's the minimum you'll need to spend in order to shoot your first video on a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

RED Users are well versed in the notion that a camera's minimum price is actually a starting point that usually gives you the image sensor and processor. Generally, the brain of the whole operation. But from there, you have to keep investing.

Now, granted, the BMPCC4K isn't going to set you back $60,000 or more, but it will likely still cost you twice as much as the $1295 price tag. That's because you have to add a few things like media cards, extra batteries, a lens, and maybe even a cage. 

Lenses

Some of those extras you can save on if you have them already on hand. Whether you're a previous Pocket camera users, or even a Panasonic GH user looking to take the next step, you will likely already have the micro 4/3s lenses, so you can save there.

But if you're getting into the BMPCC4K for the very first time, a basic Lumix 12-35mm kit lens is going to set you back about $1000.  Or, you can pick up a Metabones Speedbooster for around $700 and use those EF mount lenses.

Media

Then comes the media card itself. The beauty of the BMPCC4K is that it can record with a variety of media, including a CFast card ($400 for 256GB), Higher quality SD cards, and my personal favorite, an SSD drive. The Samsung T5 500 GB SSD is very popular with BMPCC shooters, as it can connect to the camera via USB-C, and record 4K directly. It'll set you back another $100. 

Cages

However, that SSD can't just dangle from the camera itself, which means you'll want to get a camera cage to mount it, as well as an SSD mount to attach your SSD to the cage itself. Prices of cages vary, but you can get into one for as low as $80. And the SSD mount, to hold your SSD drive, will cost another $20. If you're buying the camera new, then think about picking up a bundle that includes all of this stuff right from the get-go. This one costs $1370 and comes with the cage, SSD drive mount, and USB-C cable clamp. You'll save a few bucks that way.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Bundle
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Bundle

Handles

You'll also want to get a top handle to carry it, when you're wanting to inject a little movement. That'll run you another $50 or more, depending on the model. These handles will also do double duty, as they also generally have 1/4-20 or 3/8-16 attachment points as well. But even at $110, that SSD mount and cage is still cheaper than a CFAST card. Even if you double up and swap them out.

Batteries

Next comes the batteries. The BMPCC4K is a vampire when it comes to battery power. It sucks it up. So it's not uncommon for users of the camera to bring along at least four batteries and swap them out. The BMPCC 4K uses the Canon LP-E6 battery, which many people have laying in a drawer. Get 'em out and save.

But for the newbie, you're talking about $61 apiece, so that's just shy of $250 with tax and shipping. Now, you can pay less and get third party batteries. They're out there. But your mileage may vary as far as how long they last between charges. The conventional wisdom is that they will have a shorter battery life than the Canon brand.

Blackmagic Design Battery Grip for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
Blackmagic Design Battery Grip for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

I would like to point out here that Blackmagic is working on this problem, and at NAB this year they announced the BMPCC4K Battery Grip. The Grip is $245 (preorder) and will house two batteries. But what's strange is that Blackmagic opted for Sony L series batteries, instead of the LP-E6 that the camera supports. I'm guessing that since the L-Series has a higher mAh rating, the goal is to have the batteries swap out less frequently.

So if you're going this route, you'll want to buy a second set of L-series batteries in order to swap them out.  A two-pack will set you back around $220. Another option is the bundle, which comes with the camera, grip, 2 batteries and a charger for $1570.

VMount Batteries are another option, at about $230 apiece, then you'll need the Anton Bauer VMount Battery Brack, at another $100

Wrapping Up

That's the bare minimum, that doesn't include a field monitor, tripod, or even gimbal. So at the end of it all, you're looking about $3000 before you even roll a minute of video. You can probably cut that price by a few hundred, picking up used equipment, and I would, but even at a price of $3000, you're going to have a hell of a solid camera.     

Your Comment

20 Comments

so for me, it was (all brand new BTW)
-body 1400$
-Tilta cage 200$ (half body, sunhood, T5 SSD holder, HDMI thingy, USB C cable thingy)
-2 x 512GB Samsung T5 SSD 220$
-2 LP E6 batteries (that I already owned) but let's say 120$ (official canon)
-Olympus 12-40 F2.8 500$ (got a nice price on that one, thanks hong kong)

total : 2340$ for now. I think it's still pretty cheap, but yeah, since the Cfast are way too expensive you need to buy a cage for your SSD, and yeah you need to buy batteries too.
But the body is cheap, the SSD are cheap, the lense was also cheap, so all in all, a set up like this for a Canon/nikon/sony camera would have cost me at least 2000 or 2500$ more.

I still have to shell out some more bucks for that nasty battery problem though, next week !

July 24, 2019 at 12:17PM, Edited July 24, 12:25PM

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I am surprised no one talked about the need for an external monitor.

I know it has an internal 5" but not having any swivel basically makes it a must have as it is not likely that the operator will ever be looking at it dead on. (especially on a tripod or gimbal) Luckily that really only adds $200-$400 depending on what is needed.

July 24, 2019 at 12:47PM

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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
1122

And don't forget a compliment of filters. Have to have a Variable ND or a set, plus UV and a polarizer....and that's just 1 lens. Unless you go the mattebox route with slip-ins.

Can't stress a proper monitor with Waveform and/or false color. Zebras are only partly useful and a Histogram is mostly useless for video.

July 24, 2019 at 1:52PM, Edited July 24, 1:54PM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
943

The pocket 4k has false color. No wave form though. That would be nice.

July 24, 2019 at 2:31PM

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Kent Broadbent
VFX, Editor, DP
52

Not sure why they didn't add Waveform considering it's a standard in metering on many cameras/monitors. Histogram, Zebras and False Color are fine but my go-to is absolutely a Waveform monitor.

When I first used one, I was surprised that the Ursa doesn't have Waveform either.

July 24, 2019 at 9:01PM

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Hey, so I thought I would add that someone could buy the slightly less expensive lens Lumix G Vario 14-140mm if they had to get a single lens for every job.

The problem with the Lumix G X Vario line, is even though it has great video support for smooth aperture changes... It might only work on select Panasonic Lumix cameras. So while you might get it later in a update with an extra third party adapter, I don't know if BM will ever directly support that feature.

So it would be better to save $400 and get a lens that covers the whole spectrum, if you are running around on a limited budget.

July 24, 2019 at 3:40PM

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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
1122

Thing is that's left out is it includes Resolve Studio, so if you don't already own a license that's a $300 throw-in. Also most of these things are needed for all cameras. Media, lenses, tripods, gimbals, batteries...

July 24, 2019 at 4:00PM

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You don't "need" all the items you've listed "before you even roll a minute of video". The entire last paragraph made me roll my eyes so hard, I saw my brain.

Camera, lens, sd card and battery is the bare minimum. You could spend twice as much for a DSLR, and still need a lens, battery, external monitor and still not get the same cinematic picture style.

How about, what's the real cost of a RED?

July 24, 2019 at 4:04PM

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Pete Yagmin
Writer/Director
87

In India, just body cost is roughly $1900.

July 24, 2019 at 4:38PM

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Mahmad Iliyas Bijapur
Writer/Director
8

You’re acting as if other cameras come with lenses and batteries etc

July 24, 2019 at 6:36PM

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Exactly.

July 24, 2019 at 8:59PM

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Lens, no brainer. You need it no matter what so it shouldn't even be factored in.

The Cage + Clamp you don't "need". You can double-sided tape the SSD to the bottom of the camera if needed. You don't even "need" the SSD to shoot RAW since you can change the compression settings.

July 24, 2019 at 8:59PM

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You need to buy a lens for any camera that doesn't have a fixed lens, and the fact that lenses can often cost more than a camera just tells you how cheap cameras have become. Also, worth remembering that an A7sii will chew through a battery quicker than a pocket 4K shooting raw.

The problem, as it was for the mki bmpcc, is that you tubers, travel vloggers and wedding shooters are trying to fit a professional cinema camera (albeit a small and cheap one) to their needs, when there are lots of other cameras that would probably serve them better.

July 25, 2019 at 5:45AM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
1137

I sold my GH5 for 1200 so that mostly paid for the body. Then I spent another 800 on a half tilta cage, sun hood, ssd drive, ssd holder, hdmi guard, cables, sony tough cards (2) and the F970 Battery Grip (which extends the battery life by a couple of hours). I already had lenses and an external monitor. 2000 bucks for an image of this caliber seems like a small price to pay in this market. I can shoot Raw or pro res so I technically have a broadcast ready camera for that cost. It's also great in low light and the menus are a dream to use so there is a lot I like about this camera.

July 25, 2019 at 12:10PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
645

le sigh ....... unless you are taking pix with your iPhone...all cameras need lots of extras ..just depends on what you are trying to shoot .. if fact you can add a couple of thousand worth of stuff to your iPhone of you are not careful!

July 25, 2019 at 12:30PM

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Real filmmakers manual focus right? Here are some cheap quality Micro 4/3 lenses. The 12-35mm f2.8 Panasonic is not a kit lens. The kit lens is a 12-32 f3.5-5.6 for less than 200 dollars. Its better to use primes for low light and sharpness. If the cinematagrapher has a script and storyboards, they plan per shot. A zoom is unnecessary.

25mm f1.8 Meike Manual Focus lens - 75 bucks

50mm f2 Meike Manual Focus lens - 80 bucks

SSDd - 100 bucks
Cage 80 bucks

Handle - You dont NEED a handle. The camera will be attached to your tripod.

Batteries- 250
Tripod- 70 bucks
SteadyCam 70 bucks

725 bucks more.
Total cost 2kish or less

July 25, 2019 at 3:33PM

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Well ... al true but for some ppl is just an.. evolution.

Olympus 12-40 , insanely good lens already have for old bmpcc...
External power bank till 24 v output 8 hrs on old pocket plus monitor and mic... already have.
B+W IR cut filter + Tiffen variND combo .... already have.
Rig....
External monitor... same.

For me all ended with just external hdd and a cheap cage and ready to go...

July 25, 2019 at 5:12PM

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Nicolò
Vfx supervisor / cgi generalist
6

what kind of power bank do you use, and what is the shooting time you get out of it? Thank you

July 29, 2019 at 11:09AM

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Are you joking? For less than $1,300 you get a RAW capable 4K 60p cinema camera not to mention the $200 software!?! Why not talk about the real prices of a $2,000-3,000 Canon, Nikon, Sony (not to mention RED)? They too need a bunch of accessories to get them to record 4K 60P RAW... and in the end, those would run you closer to $5,000 ($15,000 for RED)...
In other words, we should be talking about what Canon, Nikon, Sony (and possibly even RED) and not distorting what BlackMagic Design is doing right...

July 25, 2019 at 8:29PM

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Alberto G. Faccon
Producer
9

You can't deny one problem that most small cameras don't have though. The battery. Maybe other cameras don't have great battery, but I remember being able to record 1h30 of footage with a single battery with the 5D mark II and III, and the camera being able to go into standby and last half a day because of this.
With the BMPCC, I have 35 min at best. I turn it on, and then I have to race to do my settings and everything. This part is just ridiculous. And the camera is barely usable without an external solution.
So yes, I would add that to the cost of the body. The rest are just standard things to buy when you buy a camera body.

July 29, 2019 at 11:14AM

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