With all the hype that surrounded the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K this year, it’s no surprise that many video shooters have put the camera on the top of their wishlist, trying to take advantage of its impressive capabilities and excellent price-performance ratio.
Despite the high demand, though, there are still some folks who want to figure out how well the camera can handle difficult shooting scenarios such as high ISO use and exposure recovery in a real-world environment. Greg Farnum of LensProToGo also looked for the answers by conducting a series of tests as he shares the results and his insights on the topic in the video below.
The first test evaluated the Pocket 4K’s performance at different ISO levels. From ISOs 100, 200 and 400 (native value), the BMPCC 4K produced extremely clean footage with balanced colors and no image artifacts whatsoever just as expected.
Moving up to ISOs 800 and 1600, there does seem to be some noise in the shot. However, the patterns are not colored and appear more like digital grain which means that you can still use the footage without any further post-production treatment.
Between ISOs 3200 and 6400, the noticeable color noise within the frame becomes more apparent, in addition to a present softening in the image. According to Greg, it’s still very possible to reduce and potentially remove the imperfections in post at this point.
Stepping up into ISOs 12,800 and 25,600, it’s clear that there is an abundance of color noise with an ugly magenta-green tint. In addition, the overall image has become too soft, making the clips unusable, especially when it comes to commercial productions.
The second test involved exposure recovery at the BMPCC 4K’s first native ISO (ISO 400). At one stop underexposed, the image from the Pocket 4K can be easily corrected in post with no loss in image quality. At two stops underexposed, however, there is already a significant amount of noise that shows an undesirable magenta and green tint.
Stepping down to three stops underexposed is where the image really starts to fall apart. At four and five stops underexposed, the things get even worse with appalling green-magenta noise and horizontal banding all over the frame.
The next part of the test aimed to show how the camera performs when overexposed at ISO 400. At one stop, the footage is once again usable and easily correctable in post.
At two and even three stops overexposed, the video is slightly blown out in the brightest parts of the image. However, most of the information is retained. At four stops overexposed, the footage starts to fall apart with clearly blown-out highlights as seen in the screen grab below.
The final two tests in the video reveal the exposure recovery capabilities of the BMPCC 4K at ISO 3200 – the camera’s second native ISO value. Again, at one stop underexposed, there is already a noticeable amount of color noise, though it could be corrected in post with a third-party denoiser. However, stopping down further than two stops leads to flat-out unusable footage consumed with noise and banding.
The overexposure tests at ISO 3200, yielded similar results as those at ISO 400. Between one and three stops overexposed, the resulting image was easily corrected, clean and retained most, if not all of the image information.
At four stops overexposed, you can already see some lost details in the very bright areas of the frame, even though most of the image can be still corrected. Finally, at five stops overexposed, the video falls apart completely mainly due to severely blown-out highlights.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Highlights/Features
4/3″ Sized HDR Sensor
Record DCI 4K 4096 x 2160 up to 60 fps
Dual Native ISO to 25,600
5″ Touchscreen Display
Active Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount
Record up to 120 fps Windowed HD
CFast 2.0 & SD/UHS-II Card Slots
External Recording via USB Type-C
13-Stop Dynamic Range, 3D LUT Support
Includes DaVinci Resolve Studio License
Price: $1,295 (body only)
Let us know in the comments if you find this type of tests useful and make sure you also check out the other insightful videos produced by LensProToGo on their official YouTube channel.