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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.