15 Jun 2014

Five great accessories for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

  • Written by 
Hoodman Finder and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Hoodman Finder and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Hoodman/Blackmagic Design

Index

Here are some pretty essential accessories for your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is finding its way into all sorts of production workflows. Its small size, coupled with the high latitude recording into RAW or 10bit ProResHQ, make it a highly versatile piece of gear. However, when you pack a camera into this form factor and price, there are things that you have to compromise on. In addition to a lens of course, there are some additional things you have to purchase in order to make this camera production ready. Below is a list of five essential pieces of kit you’re going to need for your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

1. External Audio Recorder and Microphones

 The lackluster audio circuitry and internal microphone, coupled with extremely limited audio controls make the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera cry out for a more professional audio solution. While its always been preferred to shoot with a dedicated audio recorder and external microphones with any camera, the questionable audio on the BMPCC pretty much demands that you do this. There are several options depending on your needs from the low end Zoom H6, Tascam DR-60D, to the higher end Sound Devices Recorders. External microphones are a must too, with shotgun mics, or wireless lavs being the leading candidates for field production. Even the lowest end dedicated audio gear will still give you a magnitude better audio than the internal system does. The down side is that you will easily spend more than the price of the Pocket Cinema Camera on good audio gear. The up side is that a great piece of audio gear can be a decades long investment, that will easily outlast the next three digital cameras that you buy.
So what can you use the built in audio on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera for, surely it’s not a total loss? The internal microphone is probably adequate for a scratch track, that allows you to automatically sync audio from your external recorder in post, or you can use the mic input to record time-code to one audio track for the same purpose. That’s about all you should use them for, or in case of a dire emergency where the choice is between bad audio and no audio.

2. LCD Shade, Viewfinder or External Monitor

The LCD monitor on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, is not very bright compared to most LCD panels. Increasing the brightness in the menu settings will also drain the internal battery faster as well. When you bring the camera outdoors, the lack of brightness really becomes a problem. The dimness makes it very hard to see what you’re shooting, check the focus and to see the menus. To get the most out of the built in LCD that you have, you can set the display to output “video” levels instead of “film” levels. It will give you more contrast in the LCD screen, and will not affect the recorded image, or zebra settings in any way.
In order to fix this issue at the lower end, a simple sun-shade accessory will make the screen much easier to see. At the midrange you can use a magnifying finder, to use the LCD as a large viewfinder. Zacuto’s Z-finder, and Hoodman’s Blackmagic Finder Kit are both viewfinder options made specifically for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. The highest quality solution is a separate external monitor. An external monitor has the downside of requiring additional space, batteries, and cabling, but the picture quality will be far better than anything that relies on the camera’s built in LCD.

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John Burkhart

John Burkhart has been working in the TV and Film industry for 20 years in a series of varied and curious roles. Enthralled with film and video technology from the beginning, he hopes to share some insight from his experiences from no-budget student shoots, to multi-million dollar Hollywood productions, to filmmaking in Southeast Asia.

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