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Australian Image (Ray)

BMPCC4K Optical Viewfinder Review

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As I can't comment on the Newsshooter website because Disqus won't work for me (on any forum), I thought I'd make a few comments on the review of the optical viewfinder (loupe).

First off, I've used these types of loupes (Hoodman) on DSLRs and mirrorless camera and have found them really awful to use. There's simply no way around it, these are a complete kludge and, when it comes to the likes of the BMPCC4K/6K, I think they are even worse. The physical size is simply outlandish. As for fitment, the BMPCC6K is exactly the same as the BMPCC4K, other than the lens mount, so there should be no fitting issue.

But on a completely different note, I think these comments are becoming tired old memes that really are unjustified:

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The BMPCC 4K and 6K are good cameras, but let’s face it, the ergonomics and usability are far from perfect. Both cameras have a rear 5″ screen that doesn’t articulate or move, and on top of that, the screens are not bright enough to use outdoors. Unlike a hybrid mirrorless camera there is no viewfinder, so you cant hold the camera up to your eye and shoot.

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The BMPCC cameras really are a catch-22 product. While they offer good image quality at an affordable price, the trade-off is that they have poor battery life and usability.

How many film makers go about filming with their Panasonic/Canon/Nikon cameras without any accessories whatsoever, just a lens attached? I suspect very few. Who really wants to do any sort of filming without a decent monitor attached? What about a microphone? Matte box? Why do accessory makers of all brands make accessories that enable you to rig these cameras up like a cine camera?

Is it a reflection of poor usability when film makers attach cages, plates, handles, monitors, EVFs, external batteries etc onto other cine cameras such as C500s, FS7s, Arris etc? Just because the BMPCC4K/6K has some resemblance to a DSLR/mirrorless camera, it's not a DSLR/mirrorless camera. It really a cine camera that can be used in many ways and allows more user options and customisation than possibly any other cine camera.

And when it comes to battery life, is this example really that much better: https://wolfcrow.com/important-quirks-and-features-of-the-panasonic-s1-for-cinematography/? The S1 gets 75 min when shooting 1080p and less when shooting 4K. I can get 50 mins shooting 4K DCI with just an OEM Canon battery in my BMPCC4K. A lot of people say that DSLRs/mirrorless cameras get battery life that's streets ahead of the BMPCC4K, yet when it comes down to actual real world use, that's usually not the case.

The problem is that these sorts of comments are not helpful at all to those who don't know much about cine cameras and are looking to up their game from a less capable camera.

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Personally, I couldn't imagine shooting without a BM5 on my P6K. It solves so many problems for, but I realise it depends on shooting style.

I've been using Kinotehnik's loupes since the 5D mk2. It's the first thing I buy when I get a new camera with a different screen size. Normally, the loupes gives you more than one frame, so you can use it on more than one body with one purchase.

I do some "production style" shooting too, with more of a rig, but my preferred way to shoot is more documentary style and this is where the loupe comes in. It keeps my setup light and nimble. 

I like that when using a loupe I get:

  • an additional point of contact stabilising the setup
  • a seal from external light. I set my screen brightness to a standard value that is calibrated to give me the same look that I will see on the computer later. This means that regardless of available light, what I see through the loupe is what I get. Having shot mostly on 5Dmk2, 5Dmk3, 1Dc and 1Dxmk2 plus now the P6K, I have learned that those screens all produce good, representative images of what I'm shooting.
  • a solution that is INSTANT on or off. No screws or kludge. The magnets lock in just right to avoid misalignments and it's easy to just pull it off and it then hangs around the neck in a lanyard.

My preferred setup is just camera, internal battery and CFast and loupe. This then rests on a monopod. Mini-rig with SmallRig cage, handle for T5 and microphone is OK. ND-filters are fix ND (no vari), stackable screw on.

I've been looking at some Komodo footage and we had a discussion about DR and general IQ things starting here, going forward.

I'm thinking of making a mini reel of some P6K footage that can serve as background for some further discussion.

Being active on a few forums, what I lack is actual images to support claims. It's easy to drop a few verbal bombshells that plays into what people "think they know". But how about we all start to show each other what we mean? One user will make some claims about the terrible, lacklustre image of one camera and rave about another. Then, if they post images saying: see what I mean? Some will go: wait, what? I don't even see a difference! WTF!?

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And the photo she took of me, with the BM5:

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I do understand how some like loupes, but after using (or trying to use) them, I much prefer an EVF (wish Blackmagic made a small less costly one) or now a separate monitor.

My shooting style is pretty much all between chest and waist-level, so a loupe would never be useful. Being able to cradle the camera in such a way means that I can get away without stabilisation in 95%+ cases.

This is where the design of the BMPCC4K becomes so useful, it's ergonomically ideal from the outset. If the camera was a box, I'd need an accessory handle to make it hand holdable and properly balanced.

It's good that there are choices and the ability to modify cameras to suit one's needs, else I suspect we'd all be in a rut.

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20 minutes ago, Australian Image (Ray) said:

I do understand how some like loupes, but after using (or trying to use) them, I much prefer an EVF (wish Blackmagic made a small less costly one) or now a separate monitor.

Yes. I'm actually kind of surprised that no effort has been made by BMD to make their EVF compatible with the latest Pockets. I'd be interested in that too.

I know there are lots of Pocket users who by that camera because it's the only one they can afford, but I think there is another branch of users that would happily send BMD some money their way in exchange for quality accessories.

I really hope they give us another Pocket in 2021 where they improve weather sealing, general button quality and make the sensor a wee bit bigger if new chips allow similar frame rates at a larger size. I'm not necessarily in the 8K camp, so I don't want more resolution, but I'd like to use more of the image circle from the EF (or upgrade to RF?) mount lenses.

If they do make a revision to the camera, I hope they feel less boxed in by the name "pocket" and just try to make a similar size camera that is a bit more compatible with stuff like the EVF.

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I too am kind of gobsmacked that Blackmagic hasn't made an EVF that is reasonably small and more affordable, so that is can be used effectively with all of their smaller, more affordable, cameras (so many have been calling for this). My guess is that there will be more micro cameras afoot and they too would benefit from a smaller (weather sealed) EVF. The environment has changed/is changing and I think that more accessories aligned towards the smaller cameras would be a great move.

I'm not sure that a weather-sealed BMPCC4K/6K would be feasible, but a weather-sealed micro camera could well be possible. I'd jump at such a thing, as not only would it be perfect for a gimbal, but also hand-held in adverse conditions. Even if not fully weather-sealed, it would be easier to cover than a BMPCC4K/6K (I'm still trying to figure out how best to do this). And as I have a number of fully weather-sealed Olympus lenses, they would make for an excellent combination.

I think an updated micro camera is needed, if for no other reason than to address the competition from Z-Cam and now RED.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Australian Image (Ray) said:

I'm not sure that a weather-sealed BMPCC4K/6K would be feasible, but a weather-sealed micro camera could well be possible. I'd jump at such a thing, as not only would it be perfect for a gimbal, but also hand-held in adverse conditions.

I don't think I need something that is "waterproof". Often times weather sealing mostly means seals and gaskets in the important places. I would for instance be happy with a "weather sealed" camera that has a vent for fans at the bottom, as long as the buttons and joins are sealed enough to withstand... I guess more dust and salty, moist air or mist.

I had my P6K on Miami Beach just before Corona and you only need to spend like 20 minutes in that environment before first signs are there that the buttons won't work all that long. Nothing stopped working for me, but things started to get grabby or sticky. That has never, and likely would never happen on my 1Dx mkII.

I get how someone can like the Micro. But if it hasn't got a handle for my hand or a viewfinder/screen it isn't a camera. Not a fan of need-to-rig cameras. Can-be-rigged is fine. But of course, as a support camera on a gimbal—sure. Just need to get my A camera in order first.

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I have an Olympus E-M1 MkII that I use in adverse conditions. I've been in our bush environment when it's been pouring rain and I've been saturated even with full rain gear, but the camera has just brushed it all off. A weatherproof micro with say a small LCD for composition would be great. But it would have to be a m43 mount, to take advantage of those weatherproof lenses (and size).

I, on the other hand, love to rig a camera and personalise it for my use. I wouldn't do this with a stills camera, but even my E-M1 was rigged until I bought my two BMPCC4Ks because of the video I wanted to do. I utterly hated to use the E-M1 like a mirrorless camera for video. I found the fixed EVF a pain and the 3" LCD miniscule for composition and focus. It baffles me how someone with say a Panasonic S1 can use it for more than a few minutes for video without any embellishment.

 

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In terms of rigging, which I mentioned isn't my go-to mode, I'll admit to having thought about relegating the P6K to a strictly 'film' camera.

For a while I've been trying to use it as my only camera (not bringing the 1Dx mkII on trips) to see how many bases I can cover. The thought being that the stills I pull from .braw are the same resolution as the Canon, and quality is great. But as it turns out, while filming gets me many potential stills to choose from, due to shutter time and many other factors, it's a different process to being immersed in my optical viewfinder on the 1Dx mkII and tracking something with AF and then go for that decisive moment. And it's also quite a bit different in 'post', of course.

And since I need to use my mk2 for Speedlites anyway, I'll keep that for photography. Since my wish has been to use one camera system for all my needs the 1Dx mk3 seems like an obvious option. But it's a bit of an investment and the video side isn't meaningfully better than a P6K. In many aspects worse.

Anyway, looking at the P6K as a video camera only, I'll admit to being tempted to dress it as such. Smallrig cage (already got that one) and maybe a Tokina 11-20 Cine zoom to cover the wide end...

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Considering and using the BMPCC6K as nothing but a cinema camera will take you out of 'stills camera mode' and force you to look at things from a different perspective. That's why I wanted the BMPCC4K, as it's solely a cinema camera and I don't even try to use it as a stills camera. I'm very happy with that separation of roles.

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Yes. The problem with that is that it is most likely taking me in the other direction and forces me to leave the P6K behind and go with the 1Dx mk2, or maybe the mk3.

The situations where I want to shoot video and take pictures are often the same. And not rarely away from home. But I'm not going to carry two systems/setups.

But for video... I really think the P6K (or P4K for those who prefer) is a huge deal for everyone starting out.

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