The new 4K BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera, out in Autumn 2018, looks really useful for creative filmmakers who want high quality images at an affordable price. it’s around half the price of the Panasonic GH5S, its only direct competitor.
It can record 4K at up to 60fps in high-quality RAW and ProRes video formats. (These formats capture more information than consumer video formats so they’re easier to correct and ‘grade’.) It uses the same MFT sensor and lens mount as Panasonic and Olympus. The new camera should be better in low light than the older Cinema Cameras, with a maximum ISO of 25600 and a Dual ISO option. Dynamic range is a claimed 13 stops.
4/3" Sized HDR Sensor
Record DCI 4K 4096 x 2160 up to 60 fps
Dual Native ISO to 25,600
5" Touchscreen Display
Active Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount
Record up to 120 fps Windowed HD
CFast 2.0 & SD/UHS-II Card Slots
External Recording via USB Type-C
13-Stop Dynamic Range, 3D LUT Support
Includes DaVinci Resolve Studio License
You can use SD, UHS II and CFast 2.0 cards. Usefully (as 4K RAW files are huge) you can also output direct to an external USB-C SSD drive.There’s a mini-XLR input for pro microphones, a full sized HDMI output, and a big fixed 5 inch touchscreen. You can power it from standard Canon LP-E6 format batteries, portable battery packs or a mains adapter. It doesn’t have in-body image stabilisation.
Compared to the Panasonic GH5S
Both cameras can shoot dual native ISO for better low light performance, though the GH5s has a higher maximum iso (51200 rather than 25600). But the relatively small MFT sensor means neither camera will be great in low light compared to APS-C, Super 35 or ‘full frame’ cameras.
The BlackMagic has more connectivity, a bigger screen, and is much more affordable than the Panasonic. The mini-XLR input is useful: you need a audio module to connect pro mics to the Panasonic.
The Panasonic has a swivelling 3.2 inch screen and an eye-level electronic viewfinder, while the BlackMagic’s larger 5 inch screen is fixed.
If it lives up to expectations, the 4K Pocket looks to be great value for filmmakers looking for very high image quality in controlled conditions. But I think the Panasonic will be more usable and durable in the field.