Back in 2013, Blackmagic released the original Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC). It was a massive release, offering videographers the ability to shoot RAW video internally. This was an era when, if you wanted uncompressed video, you had to hack your Canon 5D MKII with Magic Lantern software and pray to the unforgiving camera gods you don’t brick the thing. The BMPCC 1.0 was a big deal. We were early adopters and loved it, despite all its challenges — and there were a lot of them. We were happy to make concessions and deal with difficult workarounds to get that beautiful image in a RAW format. Plus, you could actually fit the camera into your pocket. Now almost ten years later and living in a world of low-priced cameras that feature raw or at least 10-bit log video, Blackmagic Design has released Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2.
The Blackmagic legacy
With the latest generation of their Pocket Cinema Camera, the name has become not just dubious but comically inaccurate. Sure, it’s a similar shape as the original, still married to the loose design of a DSLR. Now, though, it’s several times larger and a lot heavier. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2, despite its name, is not a pocket camera.
This, however, is the first of many frustrating things about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 that boggles our minds. This camera is so close to being a stone-cold killer. It’s on the verge of being an incredible device that could give the RED Komodo a run for its money. But, like stepping on yet another rake, Blackmagic, once again, packed their camera in the most perplexing box possible. It’s not just the form factor; there are several other serious issues, but we’ll go over those later. Ten years and several generations later, they have updated the resolution and some features, but we still have to find workarounds to use the camera in a professional environment.
We imagine the majority of people reading this article could be split into two camps: aspiring filmmakers looking for their first cinema camera and seasoned veterans looking for a reason to feel smug about their cinematic superiority. We promise this review has something for both of you and everyone in between.
Like all Blackmagic cameras, there is a lot to love and a lot that confounds. Let’s dive in.
On paper, this camera is amazing. For starters, Blackmagic upgraded the previous 4096 x 2160 Micro Four Thirds sensor to a 6144 x 3456 Super Thirty-Five sensor. It’s a very welcome addition, and not because of the 6K resolution. With an MFT sensor, you’re getting a 2.0 crop factor, which means anytime you put a lens on an MFT camera, the focal length is double what that focal length would be on a full-frame camera. For example, a 35 mm lens produces an approximate 70-mm-looking frame on a Micro Four Thirds sensor. Being a Super 35 sensor means that the crop factor will be a bit smaller at 1.6, so that same 35 mm lens produces an image equivalent to 56 mm on a full-frame camera.
Resolution and recording formats
When it comes to recording formats, BMPCC 6K G2 is great; you can record RAW in 6K, 4K, 3.7K anamorphic desqueezed UHD and HD. Do we need 6K? No, absolutely not. For us, the real selling point is the oversampled RAW video recording. The camera records in Blackmagic Design’s proprietary RAW format, Blackmagic RAW (BRAW), which plays back with ease even on a crotchety old MacBook. In our experience, BRAW is one of the easiest RAW formats for playback in Adobe Premiere Pro.
For those you don’t know, RAW video is an uncompressed video format that retains all the information off of the sensor. When you record video in any format that is not RAW, the image is compressed, and certain things are baked in, such as ISO and white balance. Plus, there is compression applied to the image itself. By recording RAW, you get as much info off the sensor as possible. The only downside is the file size is a bit larger than others.
As we mentioned before, 6K is not necessary. Other than shooting VFX plates, there isn’t a practical purpose for 6K. We would much rather record an oversampled 6K sensor to 4K, which you can do with the BMPCC 6K G2. 6K is largely a marketing gimmick.
For frame rates, you get a few options. In 6K, you can go up to 60 fps, but if you are willing to bump down to 2.7K, you can record up to 120 fps. Sure, 240 fps in 2K or even HD would have been nice, but at this price point, it’s not something we would expect.
What we have come to expect with professional cameras these days is a dual-native ISO. Fortunately, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 delivers with native ISOs of 400 and 3200. While we will be getting into the details of what we think about the image later, this is handy, and we were able to get super clean footage out of both.
Setting up the camera is shockingly easy, even if you’ve never used a Blackmagic camera before. After spending thirty minutes with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2, you’ll know it inside and out. This is one of the major selling points; the physical buttons are simple and easy to acclimate to, but more importantly, the menu is one of the easiest to use of any camera we have played with. Every feature and setting is only a couple clicks away and easy to find; there are no unnecessary submenus.
As we expected, based on the design, the camera is a little unwieldy when going handheld. We took it out as a B-cam on a documentary shoot, and handheld was challenging. Even with a 24-70 mm IS lens, we still had those micro shakes that are commonplace with stills-style cameras. You absolutely need a rig when going handheld. However, as we’ll discuss, this is a design that is not suited to be rigged out, either. We found ourselves using the camera on a tripod more times than not.
For this review, we were also provided with the extended battery pack and EVF. However, after our first shoot, we removed both. The battery pack made the camera even heavier and way more unbalanced. The EVF has a great screen, but using it is not practical.
Honestly, this is the reason you buy the camera. The BMPCC 6K G2 produces a cinematic image that is competitive with cinema cameras that cost much more than the modestly priced BMPCC 6K G2. The highlight roll-off is natural and its very filmic skin tones look natural. Plus, the blacks are super clean. Also, you have plenty of dynamic range at 13 stops. There’s an intangible texture in the way Blackmagic cameras capture images that we find very organic.
An interesting feature that is unique to Blackmagic RAW is its highlight recovery option. When you go into the RAW settings either in DaVinci Resolve or Premiere Pro, there is a little box you can click called “Highlight Recovery. What this does is find data in other colors channels that aren’t clipped and tries to guess what it would look like in the channel that is clipped. This worked alright. More times than not, it ruined my highlight roll-off, but we could see ourselves using this feature if we messed up on something like a documentary shoot.
Blackmagic footage in either RAW or ProRes is super easy to grade with very little effort; you can manipulate the image in any way that makes you happy. For one project we were working on, we needed to push the colors to an extreme, and they held up beautifully without glowing. Working with Blackmagic footage is always a breeze.
Due to its slow sensor readout speed, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 suffers from rolling shutter. While it isn’t the worst rolling shutter we’ve seen, it’s nothing to sing home about. Any subtle movement from side to side will create a very obvious jello effect. Any vertical lines will wobble, and your whole image will look sloshy. It’s a bit of a disappointment, and something you should consider if you’re thinking of purchasing this camera.
About that autofocus? Sure, technically, it has autofocus, but it’s more old-school DSLR than a modern video camera’s autofocus. You have to press the record button halfway down, and the camera quickly racks back and forth until it finds focus, or press the autofocus button on the back, or touch the subject on the LCD screen that you want to be in focus. It’s not smooth or usable at all. It’s a letdown, especially when compared to the Sony FX30, which is priced at about the same price and has one of the best face-tracking systems on the market. So, while the BMPCC 6K G2 technically has autofocus, we cannot imagine a situation we would use it.
When taking it out of the box, the first thing you will notice is that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 has the exact same dumb design as the 4K. The biggest difference between the two is that the lens mount is wider and longer to accommodate the difference in flange distance between the MFT and EF lenses.
Strangely enough, Blackmagic also made the cosmetic choice to have the camera lean forward, making it look cool but not practical. The only way you could make this a worse camera design for filmmakers would be to make it a ball. As we stated, the form factor is one of the biggest issues we have with the BMPCC G2 6K and 4K. This camera is not designed to be used with accessories or on a professional production. We’re not saying you can’t use it in a professional production, just that the physical design of these cameras makes them challenging to rig out.
The back of the camera features a beautiful five-inch HD touch display, which despite it being in a dumb spot is really a pleasure to use. The large screen pops out a little and tilts. This is a bit of an improvement on the BMPCC 4K, which has its screen fixed to its rear. A little tilting to beat reflections is nice, but what about a fully articulating screen? There is such a demand for an articulating screen that you can buy aftermarket kits to modify your BMPCC 4K or 6K to do that.
Additionally, and more annoying, since you need that touch screen to navigate the menu, you cannot mount a brick battery — or any other hardware — to the back of the camera. V-mount and Gold mount brick batteries are the backbones of a professional camera kit. Not only do they power your camera, but most of the time, that brick is also powering accessories you need. To use standard production batteries, you have to move them back on the rails pretty far away from the camera. The functionality would be so much better if they just put the sensor and guts into a box like a RED or Z CAM with their nice touchscreen on the side.
For recording media, you have a couple of options. You can record to FCF 2.0 cards or to SD UHS-II cards, but you can also plug in an SSD directly into the camera via USB-C. This is our second favorite part of the BMPCC 4K and now the 6K; we love it.
SSDs are super cheap; we were using a Samsung SSD T5 1TB that we bought for a little over a hundred bucks. Not only is that crazy convenient, but it’s also probably the cheapest high-speed media you can buy. For reference, if you were to get a CFast 2.0 card for the camera, they start at over five hundred bucks for the same amount of storage, and they aren’t as widely available. All testing we did with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 was recorded to the T5; we had zero problems.
The camera also features an SD UHS-II slot, but you are limited on what you can record on it — basically, nothing that requires high data rates, such as RAW or higher frame frames in ProRes.
For some reason, Blackmagic decided to go with a Canon EF mount for their new camera, which, if this was five years ago, would be amazing. However, Canon is phasing out that mount; all their new glass is made with their new RF mirrorless mount. Third-party manufacturers are also slowly moving from it. We know what you might be thinking: “But, there are tons of used EF lenses for sale.” Yes, that’s true, but shouldn’t a new camera be focused on the future — not old tech that’s being phased out?
The battery life has improved over the previous cameras. While we won’t say it’s great, we’ll take it. The BMPCC 6K G2 uses standard Sony L series batteries. This is fantastic as they are super common and relatively inexpensive. We did a few tests; if the camera is sitting idle with the rear screen on a single battery, it will last about an hour and a half. However, if you’re recording, you’ll get about an hour. Again, that’s not bad and far improved from the original Pocket Cinema Camera, which got about 25 minutes if you were lucky.
That’s not the end of the story, though. While you can get an hour or so out of a battery, you have no way of gauging how much battery you have left. Very soon after popping in a fresh battery into the camera, the battery icon depletes to almost zero and turns red, then stays that way for up to forty minutes before the camera turns off. Unlike most other cameras that give you a percentage, the BMPCC does not.
Usually, this wouldn’t be an issue as we almost always use gold or V-mount bricks, which last a lot longer and have a percentage readout on the battery. However, due to the camera’s design, using a brick is not a convenient solution. This is another serious problem. The fact that we have to build weird and elaborate camera setups just to use a standard power source is unacceptable.
For inputs and outputs, it’s a mixed bag. On the plus side, you get a full-size HDMI, a USB-C to hook your hard drive up to, 3.5 mm microphone and headphone jacks, a 12V power supply and two phantom-powered mini XLRs. These are much better than your standard DSLR or mirrorless camera. But for a camera claiming to be a cinema camera, we’re disappointed in the lack of SDI output. It’s not a deal breaker, as you can get HDMI to SDI converter boxes if you need it, but standard cinema connections would be nice.
The silver lining in their horrid design is the physical buttons on the camera. We actually really enjoy that aspect of their build. On the top right, similar to a DSLR, you have a record button, ISO, Shutter, white balance and a stills button. At the rear of the camera, you have an iris button, a focus button, a button that turns on your high frame rate, a zoom button for focus, the main menu and playback.
But what we really like are the three function buttons that can control turning on a preset or toggle shooting assistants. We set ours to false color, focus assist and display LUT. This last one turns on a preset LUT or custom LUT just for the screen, not the recording. You have tons of other options to choose from, though. It’s hard to overstate how awesome it is to have the ability to quickly turn on false color or a display LUT as easily as it is on the BMPCC 6K G2. We found ourselves toggling false color constantly when shooting outside in an uncontrolled environment.
Who is this camera for
Blackmagic is clearly trying to attract low-budget filmmakers and aspiring cinematographers looking for their first cinema camera. However, despite the amazing image — and it is amazing — we’re unsure who would actually buy the camera with so many other options out there for the same price point.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 vs. Pro
The BMPCC 6K G2 and the BMPCC 6K Pro are priced $500 apart and are virtually identical. There is no difference in the image or record formats, no difference in the body. It is the same camera; the only difference that the extra five hundred buys you is the addition of built-in ND filters. That’s it. Yes, built-in ND is super convenient. We use it constantly when shooting on our Sony FX6. Personally, if we were trying to decide between the two and we were going to be using it to shoot short films, we would opt for the G2 and instead spend the extra money on a matte box with square filters.
The image out of the camera is amazing. The menu is easy to use, and we love the display. We just wish the form factor made sense. Ultimately, we don’t care what the camera body looks like; we just wish it would allow us to build it out into a workable cinema rig. The fact that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 is not built to be put onto a rig to be used in a professional cinema setup is a serious problem. Plus, with its rolling shutter issues, it may struggle in situations where the camera moves from side to side.
Look, the upgraded sensor is great, and the image continues to be stellar, but the fact that Blackmagic doesn’t improve upon the basic problems of the previous model is astounding. In the case of the rolling shutter, it’s worse than the previous model.
Cinematographers who buy this camera are likely doing so because of the terrific image in a RAW format and find creative workarounds to deal with its many flaws, but is that little extra image quality worth the hassle, especially when there are so many other options out there at similar price points? Whether the camera is worth the tradeoffs is up to you.
- Beautiful image
- Easy-to-use menu
- LCD screen
- Not built for rigging
- Rolling shutter
- Camera body
|Lens mount||Canon EF|
|Lens communication||Yes, with autofocus support|
|Sensor resolution||Effective: 21.2 megapixels (6144 x 3456)|
|Sensor type||23.1 x 12.99 mm (Super 35) CMOS|
|Built-in ND filter||None|
|Internal filter holder||No|
|Capture type||Stills and video|
|Shutter type||Electronic rolling shutter|
|ISO sensitivity||100 to 25,600|
|Shutter angle||5 to 360 degrees|
|Internal recording modes||ProRes 422/ProRes 422 HQ/ProRes 422 Proxy/ProRes 422LT|
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) up to 60.00 fps
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) up to 60.00 fps
1920 x 1080p up to 119.88 fps
6144 x 3456 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97/50 fps [49 to 483 Mb/s]
6144 x 2560 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [37 to 359 Mb/s]
5744 x 3024 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [40 to 395 Mb/s]
4096 x 2160 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97 fps [28 to 163 Mb/s]
3728 x 3104 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97 fps [36 to 265 Mb/s]
2868 x 1512 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97 fps [14 to 101 Mb/s]
|External recording modes|
4:2:2 10-Bit via HDMI
1920 x 1080 up to 60.00 fps
Raw via USB
6144 x 3456 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97/50 fps
6144 x 2560 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps
5744 x 3024 at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps
|Built-in microphone type||Stereo|
|Media/memory card slot||Slot 1: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)|
Slot 2: CFast
|Video I/O||1 x HDMI Output|
|Audio I/O||2 x mini XLR mic/line (+48 V phantom power) input|
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS stereo mic/line input
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS stereo headphone output
|Power I/O||1 x Weipu SF610/S2 (12 to 20 VDC) input|
|Other I/O||1 x USB-C (USB 3.2 / 3.1 Gen 1) control/video output|
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm (timecode) input (shared with mic/line input)
|Global positioning (GPS, GLONASS, etc.)||None|
|Monitor size||5 inches|
|Monitor resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Display type||Tilting touchscreen LCD|
|Focus type||Auto and manual focus|
|Operating temperature||32 to 104 degrees F / 0 to 40 degrees C|
|Storage temperature||-4 to 113 degrees F / -20 to 45 degrees C|
|Operating humidity||0 to 90 percent|
|Battery type||Sony L-Series|
|Tripod mounting thread||2 x 1/4-inches-20 Female|
|Accessory mount||1 x 1/4-inches-20 Female|
|Material of construction||Carbon fiber, Polycarbonate|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||7.08 x 4.84 x 4.41 inches / 17.98 x 12.29 x 11.2 cm|