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Author Topic: the first week with BMD Pocket Cinema C for a stills photographer  (Read 6040 times)
paulmcmurrick
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« on: September 22, 2013, 12:01:42 AM »
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The web is awash now with reviews of this camera by videographers. For me however, much of the language they speak is indecipherable. I was fortunate to secure my pocket camera one week ago, and thought I would make a few statements about the camera from the point of of view of a stills photographer with a hobby interest in video

To put things in perspective, I am not a professional photographer, but spend many hours each week with my small stable of stills cameras, 5dmk2, Fuji xe1, and OM-D. I am reasonably experienced in lightroom, and probably spend 15 hours per week using the program

Video however, is a vaguely familiar beast for me. I have tuted up now on FCPx with Ripple training's excellent videos, and I can 'get by' OK with the program. Up to this time I have just about given away using the (excellent) Sony HC3 tape based HD camcorder I bought 5 odd years ago, and used with the 5D2, or one of the CSCs for walk around video, some work projects, interviews etc. It is all nice, but the Canon is just to big a camera for walk around video, especially when I travel, and the video from the CSCs is fair, but not optimal. I still use the Canon 5D2 when diving. Underwater with the fisheye, it is still my weapon of choice.

The BMDPCC however was just too interesting to ignore, so I plonked down a deposit months ago, and mine was delivered last week. I wont repeat the many opinions that the videographers have expressed, but would say from my point of view, the following.

  • the picture quality is fabulous. I love it, even at prores HQ codec.
    I am using the Olympus MFT 12 mm f2.0 lens most of the time. It is excellent, but I would love to have IS available so I can hand hold without the current level of shake that appears
    the complaints about the autofocus are not justified. With peaking turned on, and the option of 100% zoom, it works just fine
    the battery life is woeful. I am flat out getting 30 minutes of recording, but it can be used with the AC adaptor plugged in
    the top and bottom 1.4 inch screwholes are great, and I can easily fix to a tripod and firmly seat with a light or Rode microphone on top
    the biggest issue for me is going to be learning post processing the very flat images that the camera produces

In short, it is one of the most exciting pieces of new technology I have bought in years. I love using it. I still cant find a small, wide, good quality prime that has IS yet (any suggestions ?). I certainly hope that Michael R's interest in the camera leads to more meaningful input about educating stills photographers to an appropriate level of competence in colour grading. The LuLa videos on cinemtography from a couple of years back were great, and I am hoping that this camera will lead to a renewal of interest.

I certainly cant decide at this time whether I need to learn DV resolve from scratch, or whether I can get by using FCPx with a few plugins to correct white balance, push contrast, and get colour to a level that is satisfactory for demanding amateur use

Paul
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2013, 03:23:26 AM »
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Hi Paul,

Thanks for the heads up. Good to have some impressions from a different (stills based) angle.

Cheers,
Bart
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bcooter
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2013, 07:34:47 AM »
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Paul,

Panasonic makes a 12 to 35 constant 2.8 with I.S., but your not going to get steadicam smooth, just a little less shake and sometimes I dunno, it does some strange things on motion imagery, can't explain it until you see it.

With the bit depth of the BM your probably better shooting a little wider and then dropping stabilization into your clip on the osx timeline.  Not a perfect solution, but it's inexpensive and usually works.

IMO

BC
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2013, 02:18:05 PM »
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Tiny sensor I guess needs the panny 7-xx lens?

S
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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paulmcmurrick
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2013, 04:05:12 PM »
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Tiny sensor I guess needs the panny 7-xx lens?

S

Yeah, but that lens is very slow, max f4, has no image stab, and has a very curved front element hence wont accept filters (really need an ND filter with this camera if you want to be able to open up the aperture in daylight)

That lens just wont fit the bill for my needs.

Have considered the 12-35, but a few issues there as well. I am currently (mostly) using the oly 12 mm f 2. Given that lens ends up being about 34mm effective length, I would not often shoot 'longer' than that, and hence a change to that lens would :
1  give me IS
but
2 drop one stop of speed
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bcooter
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2013, 06:43:24 PM »
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If your serious there are more options than you probably think.

Zeiss will soon offer anamorphic lenses for micro four thirds (at a hefty price) but on the cheap you can always find old 16mm cine lense at f 1.9 at around 9 and 10 mm.

Century Optics can make a mount for you, or even switch mounts on a lot of lenses, usually to Nikon mount which will call for an adapter.  I had Century change some of my Nikon lenses to 16mm angeniux and they worked great to infinity.  Also talk into Able Cinetech.

Then of course there is that speed booster thing that changes the mm of each lens to a wider version and also changes the f stop to a wider apaeture.

Also Olympus or Panasonic has an add on wide adapter that works, though it probably bends some in the corners.  Not sure, but I know they one of them has it on their website and some of these original equipment add of wides are of excellent quality.

In the world on cine the world of lenses is huge and old lenses are just as sought after as new.

The film Rush was mostly shot with ancient Duclos lenses for their character and those things are hard to find, but really are beautiful in look, if your not a pixel peeping cat.

In regards to an ND, your just going to have to bite the bullet and load up your pockets with  a few.

Good filters are expensive, but well worth it.

IMO

BC
« Last Edit: September 23, 2013, 09:03:21 AM by bcooter » Logged

paulmcmurrick
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2013, 11:16:01 PM »
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agree on all counts. There are a pile of compatible lenses around, but few of them are small, and have compatible image stabilisation. Given the very small size of the unit, using it as a walk around is an obvious aim. The current crop of MFT lenses include some great kit, but none quite fit the bill. The older lenses you mention are often large, and certainly none have IS

I also think that the capacity to autofocus is important with this unit. It has nice focus peaking, and a 100% magnification function, but the screen is bloody hard to see in daylight
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2013, 02:50:36 AM »
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You say you are a stills photographer - how much motion have you done?

I say this because IMO 'motion' technology is basically a mess. The manufactuer and advert brochure may think/make you think it will work as a 'pocket' camera - but those marketeers live on a different planet.

For example the screen - those guys adding huge costly monitors and the like (guys like me) - we dont want to be hanging all that crap off our cameras - but have found that it is a compromise we must make in order for those cameras to actually be usable.

Same with lenses, they are too slow, too narrow FOV, not enough zoom, or have issues with filtration - again I never thought I would buy a matte box, stupid heavy overpriced junk, but in the end I did it, because it was the least bad of a bunch of bad options for filtering my lenses.

I think you might need to start accepting some compromises?

Personally that 7-14 looks to be the only sensible lens for the pocket - yep you probably have to saw the front off and get some unpleasant filtration method - but at least you get a reasonable FOV

And stability - you will end up with a rig or a tripod!

S
« Last Edit: September 23, 2013, 02:53:30 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2013, 08:18:59 AM »
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Morgan is laying out truth.

You didn't buy a pocket camera, you bought a 16mm digital film holder with a screen.

If you think of it that way, then it's fine, but if you want to shoot undercover video, then the BMPC isn't the thing because your going to carry 12 batteries for a days shooting, or stick a v-lock on your belt and look like a member of your local SWAT team.

Really the BMPC does one thing well, it shoots a 444 prorezz file and that's good, though to really get anything that looks like 16mm film your going to need a shoulder mount, some type of external battery, a pocket full of SD cards, a matte box for ND's or a pocket full of glass ND's and a stop watch, cause your not going to know how much time you have left on a card.

I'm not knocking the BM, might even buy one once the dust settles, but if you want to shoot wide you have to either put a huge piece of glass on the front like a Zeiss 15mm with a metabones which will get you to around 10mm f2 and when it's all said and done your going to have 4 times the cost into parts and a few lenses than you are in camera.

Now I'm not a shoot on the street type of guy, but we've just added a new space in London's Shoreditch and last night went to dinner and wanted some street scenes for a website opening and took two GH3's and two zooms and shoot a ton of footage.  Nobody noticed, nobody said a word, including the Police because they either thought I was a wacked out tourist or a PJ, so my suggestion is if you want a small video camera, then a gx7 or one of those two dozen sony's will do the job.

But if you want tight and accurate autofocus, cheap wide angles, then the BMPC isn't going to be the thing.



IMO

BC
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paulmcmurrick
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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2013, 01:21:51 AM »
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Morgan is laying out truth.

You didn't buy a pocket camera, you bought a 16mm digital film holder with a screen.

If you think of it that way, then it's fine, but if you want to shoot undercover video, then the BMPC isn't the thing because your going to carry 12 batteries for a days shooting, or stick a v-lock on your belt and look like a member of your local SWAT team.

Really the BMPC does one thing well, it shoots a 444 prorezz file and that's good, though to really get anything that looks like 16mm film your going to need a shoulder mount, some type of external battery, a pocket full of SD cards, a matte box for ND's or a pocket full of glass ND's and a stop watch, cause your not going to know how much time you have left on a card.

I'm not knocking the BM, might even buy one once the dust settles, but if you want to shoot wide you have to either put a huge piece of glass on the front like a Zeiss 15mm with a metabones which will get you to around 10mm f2 and when it's all said and done your going to have 4 times the cost into parts and a few lenses than you are in camera.

Now I'm not a shoot on the street type of guy, but we've just added a new space in London's Shoreditch and last night went to dinner and wanted some street scenes for a website opening and took two GH3's and two zooms and shoot a ton of footage.  Nobody noticed, nobody said a word, including the Police because they either thought I was a wacked out tourist or a PJ, so my suggestion is if you want a small video camera, then a gx7 or one of those two dozen sony's will do the job.

But if you want tight and accurate autofocus, cheap wide angles, then the BMPC isn't going to be the thing.



IMO

BC

Not sure quite what to make of the last two posts !

Wasnt really asking for tight autofocus, or cheap wide angles, and I do understand the limitations of the camera, having used it now for at least a little while. What the OP was about was: 1 reporting on my initial impressions, 2  seeking advice about a wide lens with IS and 3  discussing a path for learning colour correction

It is more than a 16mm digital film holder : it is contained in a much smaller package than any of its predecessors, hence discussion and consideration of how best to use this as a discrete walkaround is certainly justified. It will capture 45 odd minutes on a 64 GB card at prores HQ, so I personally wont need a pocket full of cards, and there are other options for downloading while using a second card. I have not yet had to extend to a third battery during a walk around session

Happy to consider your thoughts, but you may have a more clear picture yourself when you have had a chance to handle the camera

Best Wishes

Paul
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2013, 02:33:52 AM »
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You are presenting a double bind -

1) its is amazing
2) it doesnt do what I want

Considering (2) how can (1) be true?

I think we all get that the file is awesome considering the package size/cost.

The trouble I guess is that the whole package is not really there.

I have thought about lenses for this and think the zoom I suggested is the best.. of a bad bunch of options - sure Id want faster and maybe IS and dont know an elegant ND solution

For stabilisation/vision in the sun/better focus the number one thing has to be an eye loupe - google LCDVF - 'attaching' the camera to your head will be the best stability aid for the package 'costs' (financial size mass)

Beyond that you are going down the rig road and will end up with a package similar in size to a DSLR

Ultimately a camera gets stable as its inertia increases which is a function of size and mass - a direct 'spec' which runs against a small package!

I put a 'stick' on my nex5n which really improves stability, but the nex5n has a huge bonus in a rotating screen so you can press it into the the gut (if you have one Smiley ) like a '60s hasselblad


A couple of vids with that setup https://vimeo.com/52802266 https://vimeo.com/47903668

-------

You mentioned in passing learning DResolve - IMO it is the best package, cheap! and easy once you get going .. http://www.sammorganmoore.com/backlot/davinci-resolve-for-newbs-and-photoshop-ers more at http://www.sammorganmoore.com/backlot

« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 03:04:53 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2013, 06:12:14 AM »
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I put a 'stick' on my nex5n which really improves stability, but the nex5n has a huge bonus in a rotating screen so you can press it into the the gut (if you have one Smiley ) like a '60s hasselblad


A couple of vids with that setup https://vimeo.com/52802266 https://vimeo.com/47903668
Took me a moment or two to spot the actual camera!  Cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2013, 08:25:35 AM »
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Not sure quite what to make of the last two posts !




Paul, not knocking you camera.    I've just been down this road and have the shelves of c--p to prove it.

The BMPC is kind of wondrous, but also one of this things that no matter how you cut it, it becomes modular once you want to shoot wide, pan, tilt, do a dutch angle, go high, focus with accuracy, smooth out the jerkiness, throw focus, run sound.

Nothing wrong with a 16mm digital film holder with a screen.   It's just after some point of shooting exactly eye level, you'll want to get more interesting and then . . . the add ons go on.

Like I said I'll probably buy one, but there is a long wait and I know that every digital camera, still or motion comes with a beta testing period before the kinks are worked out.  That's not a diss on BM, that's just the way all digital works.

But you and I see it different.  If you blow a shot your disappointed, if I blow I shot I write a check.  

If you spin and pan and the viewfinder hits the sun and goes whack, then you just don't spin and pan, but if I've gotta get that shot, I've gotta find a way to get past it.

But that's not bad on you or good for me, because I'd much rather just bypass a difficult shot and have lunch, but I can't.

Actually, only still photographers and guys making movies on lunch money worry about this stuff.    Commercial production companies, dps, even large video houses don't own everything, if they own anything and that frees them up to rent what is needed for the shot.  Few DP's are going to strap on a steadicam rig or buy a Movi.  They'll just hire the guys to do it.

Though I'll bet a lot of dp's do buy the Black Magic, just because it's kind of fun and you'll see a whole lot of stuff coming out for this camera until it's the size of a Arriflex.  

That's just what happens.

IMO

BC
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paulmcmurrick
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« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2013, 08:44:48 PM »
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Thanks, appreciate your input, fully appreciate the pressure differences between a person shooting for a living vs hobby, but that just aint what I was talking about in any of my posts

The camera does work for me. Never said it didn't

We all appreciate that it can be used as part of an ever increasing modular set up. I have myself had it attached to ext Rode mic, multiple LED light sources and mounted on a tripod, with the body hidden in a mass of wires and equipment.

My posts were just about seeking input for an IS wide lens for 'cut down' use, and a path forward for post processing

Has anyone used the 12-35 lumix lens on this body ? I wonder what the lens is like without the inbody distortion correction, and how the IS works in this setting. Expensive lens, more than the body, and I dont really want to buy it unless I had heard some positive feedback
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2013, 02:28:48 AM »
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http://www.bmcuser.com/forumdisplay.php?9-Lens-Discussion
http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.php?5553-Anyone-with-the-Pocket-and-12-35
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 02:30:51 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2013, 06:06:25 AM »
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Hi,

I've just picked up my Pocket Cinema Camera today from a dealer in the UK. I was surprised to find out that CinemaDNG RAW is not actually an option in the menu system at the moment but only ProRes. According to the (very helpful) dealer (Jigsaw24 in the UK) they were not aware of this but after speaking to Blackmagic they confirmed that support for CinemaDNG RAW will be in a future firmware update.

Anyway, off to try out my BMPCC now!

Mark.
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paulmcmurrick
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« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2013, 12:24:50 AM »
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Have effectively answered my own problem now
I bought the lumix 12-35f2.8. The IS is good, not outstanding, not in the same league as the incamera IS of the OM-D, but far better than nothing. Over all I am very happy with the lens despite its cost.

I can now wander around with the camera with this lens attached and use it as a 'discreet' street camera

In relation to grading, I took Reichmanns advice and bought Filmconvert. It is fabulous. One pass, and it essentially 'corrects' the flat colourless files from the camera, and even with Prores HQ there is still plenty of latitude to push the files around further

I take on board Michael's review of the unit, but once one learns to work with the relative shortcomings of the camera, it is fantastic. Once the ridiculous issues such as remaining card space, and delete/format in camera are sorted, it will be even better.
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« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2013, 12:43:46 PM »
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My BMPCC arrived a few days ago. So far I've just played around with it to get a feel for how it operates and handles. Think I'll take up Michael's Filmconvert recommendation before I do any post/grading work. I'm jumping in over my head with this stuff--which is fun!--but I don't wanna go in too deep initially. As for lenses...so far just a pair of Y/C mount Zeisses, 18 & 25mm, via Metabones Speedbooster (which converts them to approx. 13 & 18mm respectively). I intend to keep this rig simple despite whatever urges I may get later on to complexify it.   Cheesy  A useful adjunct gizmo to start with, along with six or so additional batteries, would be a BMPCC version of the Steadicam Smoothee (or something similar). Run & gun is what I'm aiming at.

-Dave-
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2013, 12:03:38 AM »
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A steadicam merlin is the smoothie for cams of the pocket size.

Is such a tool appropriate for RnG? Well only you can decide, but the challenge of holding static shots, especially at eyeline height, the inability to pull focus and screen viewing issues in the sun may persuade you fast that a steadicam is a challenging tool for RnG. Most RnG seems to be done "on the shoulder"
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2013, 06:56:05 AM »
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A steadicam merlin is the smoothie for cams of the pocket size.

Is such a tool appropriate for RnG? Well only you can decide, but the challenge of holding static shots, especially at eyeline height, the inability to pull focus and screen viewing issues in the sun may persuade you fast that a steadicam is a challenging tool for RnG. Most RnG seems to be done "on the shoulder"

I'll second Morgan on this. Steadicam is best for considered shooting, not run and gun.
And if you were to do less choreographed steadicam work then you need to work at f22 or have a very skilled focus puller working remotely with something like this.
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