Yes, the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is worth it.
For only $500 USD over the (already superb) Pocket 6K model you get everything you could have ever wanted. ND filters. Tiltable LCD. Optional EVF. And more.
These are best of times and worst of times for videographers and indie filmmakers.
On the one hand if you’re looking for (relatively) low-cost, high performance options there’s plenty of options: Canon C70; Sony a7S III; Sony FX3; Panasonic S5/S1/SH; Canon EOS R5; among several others.
On the other: COVID. I know many wedding shooters have been hit hard. Same too with those who shoot live events, docs and corporate stuff.
In any case things are looking up so far in 2021 and business will come back. In fact, I think there will be a wedding boom, a travel boom, a baby boom, and several other booms. So if you can you may want to prep your business to handle the demand and revenue. I hope I’m right.
Meantime, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (Pocket 6K Pro) ticks all the right boxes. If you’re in the market for a new camera or perhaps to upgrade an old DSLR and are focused on video then this camera definitely is worth a look.
Key Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Feature Additions
Here’s what Blackmagic says the Pocket 6K Pro adds over the standard 6K model (itself no slouch to be sure):
- Brighter 1,500 nit, adjustable touchscreen
- Built-in ND mechanical filters (clear, 2, 4, 6)
- Larger Sony battery standard (NP-F570)
- Support for optional electronic viewfinder
- Generation 5 color science (also coming to all Blackmagic 4K/6K cameras via firmware update)
Different features matter more or less to different users.
For me, the ND is a godsend. I have two small bags of step up rings so that I can use an ND filter on various lenses. It’s a drag. Having built-in ND saves time and money. For wedding filmmakers and others who spend a lot of time outdoors (or will spend a lot of time outdoors!) this is the feature you’ve always wanted from a Blackmagic camera. And it’s finally here. Tip your hat and gracefully accept this good fortune.
The screen upgrades — tilting and brighter — are also welcome. You can now much more easily grab high and low shots and, again, work outdoors without squinting at a dim screen. This alone possibly means you no longer will need to use an external monitor. Yet another win.
Don’t forget. Like all Blackmagics you also get a license for DaVinci Resolve — an outstanding color grading and editing system. The value here thanks to our Australian mates is unbeatable.
I always thought the Pockets were great. But this new Pocket 6K Pro is really something. Those in the $2,000-$4,000-ish market for a dedicated cinema camera should definitely short list it. If you do need to take photos then you’ll probably want to look at a true hybrid mirrorless like the A7S III or R5 or S1/S5/S1H.
Pocket 6K Pro: Definitely Worth a Look for Wedding and Live Event Shooters
For wedding shooters, I think this 6K Pro is worth the extra $500 over the standard model. You get a brighter screen which is important when working outdoors. Built-in, motorized ND filters are a life saver and save so much hassles working with step-up rings. And the larger NP-F570 battery standard (we all have a bunch of them lying around anyways!) means longer run-times and, again, less hassle and more ability to focus on capturing the action with minimal down time. Plus let’s not forget about the tilting screen. Yes, it’s not fully articulating so the Pocket 6K Pro is likely not a YouTuber or Vlogger camera. But for capturing low or high shots at a wedding or live event the tilt should give us what we need.
As I mentioned I know the wedding film industry has been hit hard this last year due to coronavirus and the resulting postponement of ceremonies. But if the vaccine roll out happens as we all hope it will through 2021 there could be a major Q4 industry boom. Video production companies on a budget would do well to consider the 6K Pro if they’re gearing up to take advantage of incoming business.
Pocket 6K Pro vs RED
Okay, here we go again.
Every time a new camera hits the market you can be assured of two things:
- Instant YouTuber review uploads
- Comparisons to RED (and also to a lesser extent, Arri)
Sure these can be helpful. But they’re not really that important when it comes to your particular needs and projects.
Everything else matters more than a camera (a tool): cinematography, lighting, sound, story, location, costume, music, set design, craft services, and on and on. Any number of these can tank your effort. The camera? Not so much. Yes, you’ll want the right features at the right price point. Beyond that, though, put your energy into the really important stuff. But who am I to say? If you’re already running a successful video production house you already know this so please ignore this mini-rant.
As for the Pocket 6K (or any other Pocket) vs RED comparison here’s my quick two cents. (Notice how every new sports car is always tagged as a Porsche 911 killer?!)
RED is better. The image is better. Redcode is better. The industry acceptance and familiarity is better. Is it tens of thousands of dollars better? Only you can decide. There’s a reason why many Netflix shows are shot on RED as are many Hollywood films along with high end commercial work.
Regardless, Blackmagic in my experience is right up there. With the relatively new Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) you get something close to Redcode (R3D) in allowing post-production color work that allows you to bend and shape the image to taste (i.e. color grading).
So if you can afford to buy or rent RED then consider that.
If you’re on a budget (or maybe you’re a wedding or live events shooter and will need to invest in several bodies) I’d say go with Blackmagic. After all, as I said — and we all agree! — these are just tools. You bring the artistry.
Pocket 6K Pro — Another great camera from Blackmagic
Especially in this day and age Blackmagic’s CEO and founder Grant Petty is a breath of fresh air. The YouTube video announcement for the Pocket 6K Pro is the typically low-key, geeky, kind of charming thing I’ve come to expect from him and his team. On a scale of 1-10 the hype meter is floating somewhere around a 1 or 2. Rather, the products themselves tend to do the talking. How refreshing:
WATCH: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Announcement
If you’re the “Man, the Blackmagic looks great, but I wish it just had … [insert desired feature]…” type then your wish has likely been granted with the Pro. Longer battery life (Sony NP-F570s are inexpensive and readily available). ND filters. Dual XLR. Brighter and tilting screen. CFast and SD slots (nice). Dual native ISO (400, 3200). USB-C support. BRAW.
Also nice: optional EVF and battery grip that extends power with two additional NP-F570s.
I mean, come on now. That’s pretty amazing — even more so considering this camera was released amidst a pandemic.
I will say it would’ve been nice to have 4K/120fps at 6K, or 5K, or even 4K. You can get it, but you need to step down to — holy gawd! — windowed HD. If you shoot variable frame rate at high speeds all the time look for another camera. This is where RED DSMC2 bodies perform exceptionally well. If not, then use the windowed HD as needed and I think you’ll be fine (but of course do some tests first before heading to a paid shoot).
Another consideration: auto-focus. It’s not great on the Blackmagics. Never a strong suit. AF has always been the calling card for Canon (Dual Pixel Auto Focus is the stuff of legends). So if that’s critical to your work perhaps look there, or to Sony.
No doubt on some forum somewhere on the internet people will be complaining. This is the internet in 2021 after all.
Ignore all that noise.
Get to work. Be it this Pocket 6K Pro or just the smartphone in your pocket or purse, time is ticking. Digging through forums to find flaws or missing features? There’s a correlation I suspect between that and creativity.
As for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro obviously I’m a fan.
At $2,495 USD including a DaVinci Resolve license you really can’t do much better at this price point.
If you need higher frame rates spend more for the A7S III or R5 or S5/S1/S1H or even consider a jump to a dedicated cinema camera like the C70.
For just about everyone else involved in the world of video the Pocket 6K Pro is a pretty phenomenal camera.
Personally I will be replacing my Canon Cinema EOS C100 II (awesome!) and Panasonic Lumix GH5 (awesome!) with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (awesome!).
Parting thought: RIP Fry’s Electronics. Fun memories of a bygone era here in Silicon Valley. You will be missed.