Review: the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

Super16mm cameras

Image quality

The real verdict on any camera, though, depends on its image quality. It is here that the Pocket Cinema Camera comes into its own, provided it is used in a way that takes advantage of its abilities.

The additional dynamic range, over a camcorder, is a real plus – but it is not without its limits. In ProRes at least, bright lighting did cause highlights to burn out; a lack of ND filters makes it hard to control depth of field and exposure, and the built-in screen is not a perfect exposure aid.

Although Super16mm chips are less light sensitive than larger-format sensors, they are still more sensitive than camcorder chips. A variable ND would open up more creative possibilities.

For documentary work – or in our example, recording a musician’s performance – the Pocket Cinema Camera punches above its weight

With grading, though, Log footage looked good. Under controlled lighting conditions, the results are better still. The Pocket Cinema Camera might not be an obvious choice for studio work, but the ability to record footage with little compression, and a wide dynamic range, at low cost, opens up interesting possibilities.

For documentary work – or in our example, recording a musician’s performance – the Pocket Cinema Camera punches above its weight. But making the most of the possibilities of the camera takes a degree of patience, care and practice that belies its price. It is, ultimately, not a point and shoot camera, nor really one for “run and gun” work.

Next: A camera for video journalism?