Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K
Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

The latest model in Blackmagic Design’s lineup of cinema cameras, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, makes a lot of bold promises. It promises to deliver full-frame, 6K glory, all the while keeping the familiar Pocket Cinema Camera form factor users have come to know. But does it truly measure up to the expectations set by its predecessors? Let’s dissect its technical specifications and assess its true potential.

Getting to know the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K

Priced at around $2,600, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K offers up to 12-bit 6K video recording in Blackmagic RAW. The camera can shoot up to 36 frames per second (fps) at its full open gate resolution of 6048 x 4032. Or it can record at up to 120 fps in 1080 when windowed. It also records up to 60 fps in DCI 4K.

The deep bit depth, high-resolution sensor, Blackmagic RAW and Blackmagic Generation 5 Color Science combine to deliver a stunningly cinematic image with excellent detail, color and lots of flexibility in post-production.

Going deeper

Now that we have a high-level overview of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, let’s dive a little deeper into what these specs get you in terms of image quality and functionality.

The sensor

Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K side view
Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

Inside the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K’s familiar form factor is a powerful full-frame 6K HDR CMOS sensor. With 24.6 megapixels, this new sensor boasts a native resolution of 6048 x 4032.

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K’s full-frame sensor supports dual native ISO and a maximum ISO of up to 25600. Dual native ISOs of 400 and 3200 promise improved low-light performance with less noise and more dynamic range. Speaking of which, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K captures up to 13 stops of dynamic range, ensuring smooth transitions from bright to dark areas of the image.

With dual native ISOs, the camera has two different base levels of light sensitivity, meaning less noise needs to be introduced at high ISO levels. In theory, this should provide better low-light performance. However, our experience didn’t match this expectation. More on that later.

The camera also comes equipped with a built-in optical low pass filter (OLPF) that’s custom-designed to match the sensor. An OLPF is a type of anti-aliasing filter designed to reduce moiré patterns and false colors. These artifacts are usually seen when fine details or patterns can’t be fully captured by the resolution of the image sensor. An OLPF blurs the image as it passes through to the sensor. This makes the image less sharp, but it also prevents potentially distracting video effects.

Stand-out formats and frame rates

Blackmagic Design cameras have developed a loyal following in part because of the Blackmagic RAW file format. This optimized RAW video format gives you access to the raw sensor data, allowing you to manipulate things like exposure and white balance in post-production.

Recording in a RAW format gives you more control over your final image but it’s also more demanding on your editing system — especially in ultra-high resolutions. That’s why we were happy to see that the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K can record both deep bit depth Blackmagic RAW and HD H.264 proxies simultaneously. That means you can capture small, easy-to-share files without missing out on the quality of full-resolution 12-bit Blackmagic RAW. Blackmagic Cloud support is coming to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K camera soon as well.

As for frame rates, in addition to capturing 6048 x 2520 video at up to 60 frames per second, the camera also records DCI 4K60 and can capture up to 100 frames per second in 2112 x 1184 Super 16. For those looking for some cinematic slow-motion action, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K also supports 120 fps recording in 1080 HD.

Open gate and anamorphic shooting

The camera can also record open gate 3:2 at up to 36 fps. That means you can take full advantage of the sensor’s entire 6048 x 4032 resolution — top to bottom. This larger image gives you more flexibility in post-production. You can reframe your shot or get multiple different camera angles from a single take. For example, you could use the classic Super-35-sized window on the sensor to create an instant ‘close-up’ version of your shot that fits seamlessly with open gate footage. The extra resolution also gives visual effects artists more to work with.

With its open gate functionality, you can also more easily produce vertical video content for social media. Since you have access to the full height of this high-resolution sensor, vertical video can even be shot at the same time as horizontal content. All you have to do in post-production is crop the portion of the shot you want to use according to the desired aspect ratio.

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K also supports 4.8K anamorphic shooting for that uniquely cinematic aesthetic. In this mode, the camera captures 4832 x 4032 (Anamorphic 6:5) up to 36 fps. The option to work in true 6:5 anamorphic without cropping makes widescreen cinematic images more detailed and in higher resolution than is possible with other cameras. If you love those iconic horizontal lens flares, this will be welcome news.

The lens mount

Moving to the exterior of the camera, it’s outfitted with the versatile Leica L-mount, which supports a wide variety of lenses from different manufacturers. The L-Mount is also a good option if you want to shoot with vintage lenses. Adding to the camera’s flexibility, the short 20 mm flange distance lets you easily use adapters to support an even wider variety of lenses without having to worry about a loss in image quality. This is great if you need to use a lens with a different lens mount.

The monitor

On the other side of the camera, we find the 5-inch tilting LCD touchscreen. This allows you to easily navigate Blackmagic Design’s famously intuitive menu system, Blackmagic OS. It’s an industry-leading menu system that provides the same experience you’ll find with other Blackmagic Design cameras. In addition, the camera’s heads-up display gives you access to the most important camera settings and makes adjusting things like white balance and audio levels much quicker. Blackmagic Design cameras might be ugly, but their interface is anything but. It’s easy to use, it’s not hard to find menu options and it’s touch-controlled.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K menu system
Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

For those who prefer to shoot with a viewfinder, Blackmagic Design does offer an optional attachment. However, it’s not included in the base package. We see the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K more likely being used in the studio on a tripod, so the viewfinder won’t be necessary for most people.

Recording options

To record, the camera uses a CFexpress Type-B card. Or, you can connect an SSD to the camera’s USB-C expansion port for direct recording to an external drive. Blackmagic Design touts CFexpress as an ideal medium for recording 12-bit Blackmagic RAW files. Indeed, the CFexpress cards have a high enough transfer speed that you can edit video directly from the recording media.

However, many video producers will likely prefer the flexibility that external disk recording offers. With the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K’s USB-C expansion port, you can capture footage directly to an external flash media disk or SSD. This could be a good option if you need to capture a lot of footage without swapping out media cards.

In either case, the option to edit directly from the recording media could drastically speed up the post-production workflow. There would be no need to wait on long transfers when moving media from card to computer.

Bluetooth Camera Remote Control

The Blackmagic Camera Control is an app that allows you to wirelessly control various settings and functions. That includes things like white balance, iris, focus, shutter angle and ISO. You can also start and stop recording, trigger autofocus and even enter shot metadata. It’s a useful tool that can also help you avoid touching the camera to prevent unwanted bumps in your footage. This can also help you maintain control over the camera when it’s mounted out of reach, or when you need to start recording from in front of the camera as a solo producer.

Image quality

No matter how many cool features a camera has, if the image quality is lacking, it’s likely to be a flop. Luckily, this has never been the case for Blackmagic Design cameras. Indie filmmakers have been willing to put up with some inconvenience to get that film-like image quality.

As for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, it delivers the same rich and cinematic image quality that we have come to expect. Shooting in a controlled environment with plenty of light, the camera delivers outstanding footage. This camera is truly at home on set.

Is it a potato?

The form factor for this camera should look familiar. It’s the same as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro and 6K G2, but with a new full-frame sensor. Blackmagic Design says they wanted to get the sensor on the market, so they used the form factor they already had.

We’ve said it before — although the image is beautiful, the camera itself looks like a potato. We wish that Blackmagic Design would try to make their camera more usable or abandon a camera body that looks like it’s designed for handheld shooting. On the contrary, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, like other Blackmagic Design cameras, is best kept on a tripod.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K with lens
Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

Other weaknesses

Along with the camera’s awkward form factor, there are a few other flaws that keep us from falling fully in love with this camera.

No ProRes

First, the camera does not support ProRes recording. For many cinema cameras shooting at the higher end of the resolution spectrum, an option for ProRes recording is a must. Naturally, you can see why this would come in handy when shooting 6K RAW footage with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K. It not supporting ProRes means you have to use up more storage space for 6K RAW files or shoot with a crop factor in 4K to get more manageable files. It’s a disappointment for sure. If you’re going to use this camera, you need to make sure you have a capable editing system, as well as an adequate amount of storage, because if you want to take full advantage of the camera’s 6K recording, your video files are going to eat up storage fast.

No ND filters

Our next complaint: The camera lacks built-in ND filters. This is because they are using the same body as the previous camera but fitting a larger sensor into the same space leaving no room for NDs. These are extremely useful for controlling exposure and depth of field in bright conditions. If you don’t have an ND filter, you’ll need to stop down the aperture to compensate for excess light. That means you’ll be missing out on any soft-focus backgrounds or bokeh effects.

Not for handheld shooting

We would have loved to see Blackmagic Design include ND filters on this camera. However, at the same time, other factors hold the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K back from being a great run-and-gun camera. For example, the camera does not have in-body image stabilization (IBIS). This has been an ongoing gripe we’ve had with past Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, and it’s really unfortunate to see Blackmagic Design continuing to leave out the feature. For anyone doing handheld camera work, IBIS is a must. In-body image stabilization helps handheld cameras compensate for a lot of movement and camera shake. For a camera like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, designed to be a cinema camera that can be held like a mirrorless camera. And while it’s a big letdown that it doesn’t have IBIS, what makes the camera’s stabilization even weaker is its lack of autofocus tracking. At this point, autofocus tracking is all but standard for other camera manufacturers. We would expect the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K to have it. With the lack of IBIS and the absence of autofocus tracking, it makes handheld shooting much more challenging with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t capture smooth footage with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K. You can, but you need the help of a gimbal, which is more money out of your pocket. Alternatively, you can stabilize your footage in post-production using Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, which offers the ability to stabilize footage using AI and camera gyroscope metadata. However, for a camera with one of its main key features being built with a handheld design, we wish that it would be better for handheld shooting with IBIS and autofocus tracking.

The NP-F570 battery

As prolific as NP-F batteries are, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K uses the smallest option: the NP-F570. Because it’s so small, you aren’t likely to have extra of these batteries already on-hand. So, be prepared to buy them. As the smallest of the NP-F batteries, they are not the common choice when larger options are available. However, it seems that Blackmagic Design was aware that the battery life could be an issue for some videographers. So, thankfully, it offers an optional battery grip for those that need the extra battery life and aren’t working in a studio with an outlet. The battery does a good job at adding additional battery life to the camera. With the Blackmagic Pocket Camera Battery Pro Grip you can use two extra batteries at the same time, and this extends the battery life to about three hours. One downside to the grip, aside from having to buy an additional $150 accessory to extend the camera’s lower battery life, is that it will make the camera much larger. And when we say larger, we mean much larger. And it adds additional weight to the rig. And naturally, it makes the whole camera configuration less portable than it would be without the additional grip. Though, if you need additional shooting time and you’re set on using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, we recommend getting the battery grip. It will make your life a whole lot easier.

Low-res slow-mo

Next up, we were disappointed that the camera can only shoot 120 fps slow-motion footage in 1080p resolution. This is lower than the 4K option available on the 6K Pro model. If high-resolution slow-mo is important to you, you might consider going for the upgrade.

Poor low-light performance

Our biggest disappointment in this camera was the low-light performance. The low-light performance of this camera is simply not good. Even with dual native ISO — which is supposed to prevent noise at higher ISO settings — the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K has significant noise when shooting above ISO 800. In response to our tests, Blackmagic Design said the camera’s dual gain sensor “doesn’t prevent noise” but rather “performs better in low light at higher ISO levels because of the second gain circuit.” Blackmagic further explained, “It’s a dual gain sensor; the first range is ISO 100 to 1000, and the second range starts at ISO 1250. There will be less noise at ISO 1250 than 800.”

Still, after our time with the camera, we do not recommend relying on this camera in low-light shooting situations.

Mini XLR inputs

Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K connections
Image courtesy: Blackmagic Design

Coming to our last gripe with the camera is its mini XLR inputs. The camera comes with two mini-XLR inputs with phantom +48V power. With these two inputs, the camera can record two separate audio tracks. While the mini XLR inputs do help make the camera smaller and lighter in weight, it also makes for some headaches. Why? Because you’ll almost always need an adapter. That’s just another thing to forget or break during a shoot. We think there are better options to consider for cameras in this niche. However, the camera does feature one 3.5 mm stereo input that doesn’t require an adapter.

Other options

To see where the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K falls within the rest of the marketplace, let’s talk about a few other cameras, all of which are available for around $2,500.

First up, let’s take a look at the Panasonic LUMIX S5IIX. This full-frame mirrorless camera offers 10-bit 6K video capture at up to 30 fps. It comes with a 24.2 MP full-frame CMOS sensor and is the first LUMIX camera to feature Phase Hybrid AF. Compared to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, the LUMIX S5IIX is better suited for handheld shooting thanks to its Phase Hybrid AF support, as well as its autofocusing performance and its Active I.S. system. Another benefit the LUMIX S5IIX has over the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K is that it offers ProRes RAW recording over HDMI. Additionally, the S5IIX offers more stops of dynamic range, offering 14+ stops compared to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K’s 13 stops. Comparing prices, the LUMIX S5IIX also comes out on top. You can get the camera for just under $2,200. That’s nearly a $400 difference. However, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K does come with DaVinci Resolve Studio free of charge and a full-frame 6K HR sensor that can shoot 6K in a higher frame rate of 36 fps open gate, as well as shoot 4K anamorphic footage.

For another 6K option, look to the Fujifilm X-H2S. This APS-C mirrorless camera captures 6.2K at up to 30 fps. Yes, this camera has a smaller sensor, but with it, it can capture 4K at up to 120 fps and full-HD at up to 240 fps. A fair trade-off for some. Additionally, the X-H2S shaves off nearly $200 off of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K’s $2,595 price tag.

If you don’t care too much about 6K video options, you could consider the Sony a7 IV. While not technically 6K, this full-frame mirrorless camera shoots oversampled 4K at up to 60 fps with excellent image quality and autofocus. Likewise, the Canon EOS R6 II is a full-frame mirrorless camera that shoots oversampled 4K at up to 60 fps. It offers good video capabilities and a DSLR-like body that some handheld shooters might prefer.

Is the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K worth the purchase?

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K’s full-frame sensor, impressive frame rates, and versatile recording options cater to filmmakers seeking uncompromised image quality at an affordable price. However, its ergonomic quirks and missing features like ProRes and IBIS might deter some users. Ultimately, the 6K is a camera for those who prioritize image quality and creative flexibility above all else. If you’re willing to embrace its technical demands, you’ll be rewarded with the outstanding image quality of full-resolution 12-bit 6K Blackmagic RAW.

Whether the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K is the perfect spud for your cinematic garden depends on your filmmaking style and budget. But one thing’s for sure: the 6K’s image quality does not disappoint. Overall, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K is a powerful and versatile camera that is well-suited for filmmaking. It is a great option for those who are looking for a camera that can capture high-quality cinematic footage. However, if you need something that performs well handheld or in low light, look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Full-frame 6K HDR sensor
  • 6K 36 fps open gate support
  • 4K anamorphic video shooting

Cons

  • No ProRes support
  • Lacks built-in ND filters
  • Only can shoot 120 fps in 1080p
  • No in-body image stabilization
  • Bad low-light performance

Tech specs

Lens mountLeica L
Lens communicationYes, with autofocus support
Sensor resolutionEffective: 24.6 megapixel
Image sensor36 x 24 mm (full-frame) CMOS
Image stabilizationNo
Built-in ND filterNo
Internal filter holderNo
Capture typeStills and video
Shutter typeElectronic rolling shutter 
ISO sensitivity range400 to 3,200 (Extended: 100 to 25,600)
Advertised dynamic range13 stops
Internal recording modesBlackmagic RAW 12-Bit
6048 x 4032
6048 x 3200 up to 48.00 fps
6048 x 2520 up to 60.00 fps
4096 x 3072 up to 50 fps
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) up to 60.00 fps
1920 x 1080 up to 120 fps
H.264
6048 x 4032
6048 x 3200 up to 48.00 fps
6048 x 2520 up to 60.00 fps
4096 x 3072 up to 50 fps
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) up to 60.00 fps
1920 x 1080 up to 120 fps
External recording modesNo
Fast-/slow-motion supportYes
Broadcast outputNTSC/PAL
Built-in microphone typeStereo
IP streamingNo
Media/memory card slotSlot 1: CFexpress Type B
Video I/O1 x HDMI (unspecified signal) output
Audio I/O2 x Mini XLR Mic/Line (+48 V Phantom Power) Input
1 x 1/8-inch / 3.5 mm TRS stereo mic/line input
1 x 1/8-inch / 3.5 mm TRS stereo headphone output
Power I/O1 x proprietary (12 to 20 VDC) input
Other I/O1 x USB-C (USB 3.2 / 3.1 Gen 1) control/video input/output
WirelessBluetooth control
Mobile app compatibleYes: iOS only
App Name: BlackMagic Camera Control
Functionality: adjust settings, remote control
Global positioningNo
Display typeTilting touchscreen LCD
Display size5 inches
Monitor resolution1920 x 1080
TypeOptional, not included
Focus typeAuto and manual focus
Operating temperature32 to 104 °F / 0 to 40 °C
Storage temperature-4 to 113 °F / -20 to 45 °C
Operating humidity0 to 90%
Battery typeSony L-Series
Power consumption30 W
Shoe mountNo
Accessory mounting threadNo
Material of constructionCarbon fiber, polycarbonate
Dimensions (W x H x D)7.08 x 4.8 x 3.7 inches / 17.98 x 12.2 x 9.4 cm
Weight2.65 lb / 1.20 kg
Nicole LaJeunesse is a professional writer and a curious person who loves to unpack stories on anything from music, to movies, to gaming and beyond.