Blackmagic cameras have always been loved for their features and despised for all the small drawbacks you need to deal with to maximize performance. The Pocket Cinema Camera 6K is no exception. While an amazing deal with incredible options for indie filmmakers, it absolutely requires a bit of due diligence to figure out the best accessories and settings to ensure you are actually getting the most from the camera.
It can take some time to learn all the nuances of such a device, or you can listen to someone experienced with the camera give their advice. Filmmaker and photographer Chris Franklin made a video about all the things he wish he knew when he first started shooting with the BMPCC 6K.
1. Extending the Battery Life
Canon’s LP-E6 is exceptionally common now, but it is far from ideal when it comes to shooting video for extended runtimes. Franklin’s solution is to use larger Sony L-series battery packs. He does it in a fairly unique way.
He has a battery he uses with his monitor that features a DC output, which he runs into a dummy battery for the Pocket Camera 6K. This gives you extended shooting times, makes use of another battery already in the system, and is much smaller than the go-to V-mount batteries many builds use.
2. Better Monitoring with a Better Screen
The Pocket Camera does have a large screen on the back, but it doesn’t articulate and isn’t the brightest out there. This has a straightforward solution – pick up a bigger, dedicated monitor.
Franklin recommends going with a 7”, specifically the SmallHD FOCUS 7. It’s big and bright so you can clearly see what is going on and what is focused even during the day.
3. Maximizing Dynamic Range
Blackmagic has a unique name for their profiles, it is simply dynamic range. For the flattest profile and, in theory, the most dynamic range you will want to use “Film.” So if you are up for post-production color grading and want the best possible image that is the setting to use.
4. Knowing the Native ISOs
The Pocket Camera 6K benefits from Dual Native ISO tech. This isn’t uncommon in new cinema cameras, but every camera handles it differently.
The Pocket 6K has its native sensitivities at ISO 400, where you get better highlight retention, and ISO 3200, where you get better shadow details. By knowing and sticking close to these numbers you can ensure the video comes out looking its best.
5. Accessing High Frame Rates for Slow Motion
If you are more familiar with mirrorless and DSLR cameras then some options may seem foreign to you. One of these settings is the Off Speed Recording function. If you don’t do this you won’t be able to adjust the frame rate beyond the project frame rate. This means if you are shooting at 24 fps, you are locked to 24 fps.
Turn this setting on, and you will be able to set your frame rate to whatever you want and then have it saved at your project frame rate. Meaning if you set the off speed rate to 120 fps with a project rate of 24 fps, you will get a video in 5x slow motion. You can set this to a preset for even faster access.
6. 60 fps at 6K Isn’t Free
You can shoot 6K at 60 fps with the Pocket Cinema Camera, sort of. The camera will have to crop the image to be effectively a widescreen 2.4:1 ratio image if you want to do it. Otherwise, full 6K maxes out at 50 fps. Or, you can go for 5.7K to get 60 fps shooting at a more standard 17:9 aspect ratio.
7. Adjust Settings During Filming
Unlike many other cameras, the Blackmagic offerings let you make plenty of adjustments while recording. This means if you realize you want to make a tweak to some levels or other settings you can go right into the menu and do it without needing to make a cut.
8. Dual Audio Recording
Finally, the last tip is that the Pocket Camera 6K can do dual audio recording since it can use both inputs simultaneously. The mini-XLR and 3.5mm inputs can be split to two different channels to capture multiple audio sources at once.
That is a good list of items to help you make the most of your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. Do you have any of your own tips?