Tuesday, April 09, 2013

a camera out of left field

Blackmagic Design's Pocket Cinema Camera caught me by surprise when I first read about it on Thom Hogan's sansmirror.com web site. Up until yesterday I was pretty well settled about not buying any new camera gear, until I came across this announcement. What's scary is that the $995 suggested price isn't a problem with me. My first line of defense, my inherent cheapskateness, has failed to protect me and my wallet.

What is remarkable (to me) about this camera is that it appears, on paper at least, to be a real digital cinema camera, not a stills camera with video bolted onto the side. I'm certainly no video expert, but I've been dabbling in video with the Pens as well as the NEX-5N. And I have not been particularly satisfied with the results. I'm now going to commit the timeless amateur photographer's sin by saying that I would get better results by buying a different piece of equipment. I'd be the first to look askance at anyone making that kind of claim, but for the following features on this particular camera;
  • Sensor: Super 16mm sensor, 12.48 x 7.02mm (3x crop)
  • Mount: µ4:3rds, active mount, supports autofocus and exposure information
  • Output: Video only, 1080P/23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30; Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) or lossless CinemaDNG raw format
  • Shutter: global electronic shutter
This camera, which looks like a cross between the NEX-5N and the E-PL1 on steroids, has video capabilities unmatched in total by either Olympus or Panasonic out-of-the-box. Well, I say that about Panasonic, and looking at the GH3's specifications the GH3 comes close, and the GH3 includes features not matched by the Pocket Cinema Camera. Except... the global electronic shutter. That means no rolling shutter artifacts. Or at least that's the claim.

Rather than run around like my hair's on fire saying how I just have to pre-order this camera, I'll sit back and see how it fares in someone else's more capable hands. That should make my wallet and my wife happy. I want to see output from this camera where there's movement, either the subject, the camera, or both. And not see rolling shutter.

I could see me owning this particular camera for my video experimentation. It would certainly be discreet enough (like the Pens) and fit in a very small pocket with the rest of my kit. And who cares if it uses a different battery (the Nikon EN-EL20 of all things)? Buy an extra battery or two and make sure they're always charged and I'm ready.

A highly-affordable cinema-class video camera in a Pen-sized body that takes all my µ4:3rds lenses. That's just awesome to think about.


  1. Yeah - had to show this to my brother, who's still interested in a video camera. Funny to think that my 14mm (or your 17mm) lens would be a "normal" on this, and a 30mm Sigma would be a 100$ short "portrait" tele.

    1. Or the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 as a 75mm short telephoto. Or the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 as a longer "classic" 135mm. Or my 40-150mm as a 120-450mm zoom. Things get interesting. My only complaint is that for wide angle, such as 35mm, I'd have to have either the 7-14mm (21-42mm) or a 12mm (36mm). We'll see...


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