Is the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera better than 4K-apocalypse?

Just like vinyl what's old is new again.

Shooting 3 DAYS IN SONOMA on the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera.
Shooting 3 DAYS IN SONOMA on the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera.

When I’m scoping ideas to write about on Stark Insider I often like looking for trends; especially things that are happening in markets that I like covering. Things like tech, home automation, mobile, wearables. In recent years that also means the camera market.

Of course, the big news in mirrorless and cinema cameras of late is the shift to 4K, and in 2020 well beyond — to 6K, 8K, and even 12K. (sort of silly if you ask me).

Last night a link caught my eye on Twitter. It led to a YouTube video by Florent Piovesan (Of Two Lands) titled “Why I Bought the Original BMPCC (again) in 2020” which you can see here:

Why I Bought the Original BMPCC (again) in 2020

A couple of things struck me. First, for us camera nerds this is a reasoned and worthwhile watch. There’s so much hyper energy on YouTube these days (and I guess in the world too to some extent) it was refreshing to watch an articulate, intelligent and passionate love letter to the OG tiny Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

After watching — well, actually even while watching the video — I wondered how the secondary market for the BMPCC was doing. Since there didn’t seem to be any more new stock in places like B&H Photo, Amazon, Adorama and other online retailers I checked out eBay. I expected to find dozens available. Not… the case. At all. It seems this innovative camera that camera that came out over five years ago is seeing a resurgence in interest.

Others too have jumped on the BMPCC bandwagon. Noam Kroll wrote about why he’s revisiting the OG Blackmagic and 1080p in this post on his blog.

Checking out some of the BMPCC footage I was reminded why this camera stoked so much interest, then, and again now in 2020. There’s just something magical about the Super 16 images produced by this sensor. A quick visit to the BMPCC sub-reddit reveals plenty of activity even today in a world of 4K Super 35 full frame cameras (note: many of the posts are related to the newer Pocket 4K and 6K models).

One Upon A Time the Blackmagic Pocket Sold for Only $495

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is big again in 2020
Some might recall when the BMPCC went on sale for a short time for only $495 USD. But why on earth did I return mine? Sigh.

One of my regrets is scoring a BMPCC back in the day on sale at half price, for only $495. And then… returning it unopened. Why?! Why?! Why…?! Eventually I did buy a Micro Cinema Camera and used that for some of the 3 Days in Sonoma shoot and some other scenes for our videos here on Stark Insider. But the Micro was designed foremost as an action cam so the ergonomics are less than ideal for using it as a standard, compact cinema camera. Battery life aside (that’s an easy fix anyways), however, the BMPCC is just about perfect in that regard.

And now I too am looking to buy one again.

Angenieux 12-120mm on Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera
Angenieux 12-120mm on Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera.

I have a vintage Angenieux zoom lens from the 1960’s that I bought off eBay a few years ago (photo above). This is the kind of lens I think that works perfectly in tandem with the Blackmagic. With a small MFT (micro four thirds) to c-mount adapter I’m off to the races capturing lovely, organic footage that is a counterpoint to today’s razor sharp, video-ish footage that seems to be in vogue.

Shooting 3 DAYS IN SONOMA on the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera.
Shooting 3 DAYS IN SONOMA on the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. Beautiful image, wonky ergonomics. Still, I regret selling both the BMPCC and the BMMCC. Could the OG Blackmagic and its 1080p be making a vinyl-like comeback?

The only other camera that came close to the Blackmagic footage I shot in terms of being “filmic” is the RED Dragon. Gorgeous stuff. And Redcode really is the knees bees. You can push and pull that thing in post to extremes. In the end, though, like the Blackmagic footage, I like grain. I like the dirtiness. That too me is cinema. Think Godfather or Rosemary’s Baby. Classics wouldn’t look right with Neat noise reduction.

So when it comes to trends in video and filmmaking could it be that there is renewed interest in Super 16 and good old organic 1080p/HD imagery?

Seems to be the case. Just as a new generation of fans have discovered vinyl, and old school amps, I suspect we’re going to see an increasing number of us resisting in-camera sharpening and noise reduction. Instead, beautiful color, composition, lighting and motivated editing and storytelling may hopefully become of more importance.

In any case: anyone have a BMPCC for sale? (must have original box)