Balckmagic Pocket Camera: What would be good lenses for it?

So, I've been out of the filmmaking loop for a while (not that I was really ever in it :P ), but last I checked a DSLR gave you the best bang for your buck!

Now, today I learned about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and I'm simply blown away by the price and the image quality! Not so keen on the battery life, or that the SD cards it requires are God-awful expensive, but other than that it looks like a FABULOUS camera, and would serve me better than a DSLR would for sure!

My question, though, is that it uses an Active MFT mount, and I'm having some trouble finding some decent lenses for it. I found this Olympus one, but I would like a lens that could have more variety than just 17mm. Anybody have any good recommendations? I think I heard that the Pocket Camera can't use powered lenses but I'm not sure [UPDATE: On their site it says it can use electronic lenses, so yay!] - if anyone has any experience with this camera and lens type, please help me! :D

Also, what would be a good wide-angle lens? I can't remember how to tell focal lengths. Is it the smaller the number, the wider the shot, or reverse? :P

Thanks everyone!
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My point was just that it's not actually a side-by-side comparison of dynamic range at all. They were consistent with aperture/iso, but they didn't actually try to match the exposure between the two cameras.

Expose both cameras properly for the window and compare how well they both retain shadow detail inside, or expose properly for the interior and compare how far into the overexposure of the window they can retain highlight detail.

It'll take more than just shooting them consistently too - you'll need to grade both to see how much room there is for recovery in both highlights & shadows. That's the thing about the comparison video - it's entirely possible that in the grade you can recover the window detail on the BM clip (if it was raw I would expect that to be the case), in which case it would appear to have much better dynamic range. But they don't do that, so we have no way to know from watching it.

I suspect the difference we see in shadow detail between the two comes down primarily to the difference in picture styles - the BM has a very flat profile while the GH3 looks to have more contrast. That actually may be a limitation of the GH3, I don't know how much control you have over the color profiles. Of course even if you could match the pocket camera's profile you're still stuck with an 8bit codec which can't really make the most of a very flat picture profile.
Of course even if you could match the pocket camera's profile you're still stuck with an 8bit codec which can't really make the most of a very flat picture profile.

That's the key. I have a GH3 and you can adjust the color profile within limits, but shadows and highlights are tough to bring back - so, in uncontrolled situations, where lights are not an option, exposing for the windows loses the room and vice versa. Those are situations where I am hoping to be able to use the BMPCC.
That's cool, I haven't used one so I wasn't sure what kind of picture profile functionality it had. I figured it must have some - it seems like sony is the only company that has actually gone as far as disabling that functionality on some of their cameras (presumably to protect their higher-margin stuff).

There's more to it than just uncontrolled lighting situations though - under any given lighting situation you'll get better gradations in the midtones, which shows up in skin tones especially. That's one of the main reasons I'm interested in the BM cameras in general - raw is great for certain situations, but 10bit 4:2:2 ProRes is significantly better in almost any situation than any variation of 8bit 4:2:0 h.264.
Ugh. there are cameras coming back that were re-calibrated showing the same issue...

BMD seem to not be able to release proper products. :P Looks like I'm going with the GH3 permanently! I decided I need a stills camera anyway if I'm also wanting to get into Photography...

To be clearer, it had appeared that Blackmagic had fixed the terrible blooming sensor issue by recalibrating the sensor.

However, there has been footage from a couple of cameras that had supposedly been recalibrated, showing the issue again. In many cases, it was better, but it was still definitely there.

There are also many audio issues with the camera. No level meters, internal noise, pre-amps being too low, etc.,.

13 stops of DR sounds awesome, but when plagued with all these issues, I'll take the slightly less DR'd image of the GH3, even if it does cost around $100 more!
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I still think the images coming out of this camera are incredible, white orbs or not. I haven't been following the fixing of this issue, but I'm sure it will get hammered out soon enough.

Over on another discussion board, John Brawley commented to another guy about his shooting settings. And he asked if he was shooting raw or prores, then edit his comments, saying something like, oh yeah, you don't have raw yet. Which leads me to believe he's currently testing raw on his pocket camera. So we'll have raw in the pocket soon enough.

And with Adobe announcing the new upgrades (due in October) to premiere pro, adding cinema DNG raw to its capability. Editing raw will be as easy as editing anything else.

I can't wait to get my camera. But then again, I also own a canon 60 (for video and stills) as well as a panasonic gx1 (m4/3 for stills as well)
An interesting comparison, but again hard to draw many conclusions from it. The focus is all over the place in it - I was wondering why some pocket cam shots appeared so soft until one of the shots panned to something in the foreground and you could see it was in focus instead of the main subject of the shot. I wonder if that's a side effect of the peaking or something on the pocket cam, maybe it appears to be in focus when it's not.

In any case I'd say the G3 and pocket cam hold up pretty well in comparison, pocket cam probably does better in the highest dynamic range scenes but it's also clearly going to take a lot more work in post to get the most out of it. I think the 'best' choice will come down primarily to your workflow preferences more than anything else.
Wow, HUGE difference! So the fix seems to work for most people, maybe it just didn't work for that one guy's video I saw (where it definitely still showed up, albeit in a reduced fashion). That video, however, looks like it's all gone!

Probably helps that the image was exposed properly... :P

That's one thing I've noticed; even in some GH3 footage, I've started to notice "orbs", and realized that I've been so paranoid about their presence in the BMPCC that any *natural* bloom I've seen has automatically been deemed an orb by my brain. But as long as the image is exposed properly, the issue is mostly fine! Bloom is normal, just not to the original extent of the BMPCC. :P

That footage looks completely normal to me, and the low-light is incredible! Hate the audio issues with the camera, but an H4n is in my wishlist as well, so no big deal!
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I liked the fact that areas that were blown out with the 8 bit cameras were nicely exposed on the Pocket, while shadows that would need recovery on the 8 bit cameras already had nice detail.

For me, that seems to indicate less work in post, not more, for the BPCC.
OK, well the "fix" Blackmagic said worked, doesn't. And now the dreaded orbs are appearing on some 2.5K raw Cinema Cameras, too, indicating it's a big problem from the sensor manufacturer, but there's been no further word from Blackmagic.

So, I am definitely getting the GH3, and I have some quick questions!

First, since it is able to record audio, should I use it for audio rather than buying a separate audio recorder? If not, what audio recorder should I get, since the H4n is old and doesn't support Dolby Digital? Would you guys even recommend using the GH3 for audio?

Secondly, also about audio, what microphone should I purchase for the camera? Will a Rode VideoMic be a good start, or should I invest a little more money for a better mic?

Thanks for any thoughts/advice! :)
Where are you hearing this? I've seen nothing but incredible footage coming from the pocket cam, even with the issues. I have no doubt they'll be resolved soon enough. Frankly if you haven't ordered a pocket cam already, you might be better off getting something else, as it may be spring before back orders are filled.

Another great review
I'm hearing of the issues from the discussion on the Blackmagic forums.

On the previous page of that topic is where someone documents their troubles with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and other people showing their recalibrated cameras still showing orbs.

There's no denying the image quality is fan-freakin'-tastic from the Pocket Cam, but with the orb issue still very much present, it seems like it would be a better decision to purchase the GH3, even though it is more expensive.
Bluntly commented in his review, the orb issue is an issue, but to the untrained eye, they'd probably never see,the orbs, unless someone pointed it out. And if the untrained eye is picking up on the orb issue, then maybe the film maker needs to take a look at the content of what their filming.
Hi Yodaman - I currently shoot with a GH3, and, despite the forums, as soon as I get my Pocket Cam, the GH3 will be demoted to B camera. Vimeo user moribun has been key in that decision.

Here is moribun's before and after of the calibrated sensor:

And here is his excellent grade of a day at Yokohama Harbor:

My GH3 is a great camera, but the DR is a problem, for me, at least. At 2:13 into the video, it would have been a real challenge to hold exposure on the ship's interior without blowing the windows out.

That said, if you decide to go 8 bit, here are some thoughts on your GH3 audio questions.

Here is a mic test I did between an old Audio Technica AT-835b pro mic picked up on eBay and an Azden consumer mic - both recorded directly into the GH3:

For my purposes, the camera's pre-amps are just fine - but I would not use a 3.5mm unbalanced mic such as the $229 Rode Videomic Pro, especially with long cable runs.

Instead of the Videomic "Pro", I would get a real pro mic with a balanced XLR output and, if you can afford it, put it on a $169 boom close to the talent.

If the camera's preamps are not good enough for you, you can get an external preamp (e.g., the $899 Sound Devices MixPre D or a $329 JuicedLink RM222 Riggy Micro)

For folks who don't have the money to buy an external preamp or a boom, I recommend, at a minimum, a pro mic such as the $210 Audio Technica AT897, a wind screen, a mic muff, a $25 camera mounted shock mount and a $17 Hosa MIT-156 XLR to 3.5mm adapter/line transformer. That's what I used in the video, and it sounded good enough that it's now my standard setup.

Hope this is helpful!


P.S. just saw this well graded side-by-side of the BMPCC and the GH3 - both cameras look good, but please note how much better the BMPCC is at recovering the detail in the backgrounds, even in well-lit scenes:
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Thanks brunerww!

For recording audio, would you recommend the use of the Zoom H6 with its XLR inputs? I really would like to get the best audio I possibly can for my projects, and so far that H6 looks and sounds really good!

As for those videos, they look really good, but I can still see a lot of unnatural blooming. Definitely reduced, but on the part where it shows the the closeups of the black bars, you can see huge white orbs on the specular highlights. Manageable, but still an eyesore when you notice it. :P

Actually, I think instead of the GH3, I'm going to go with a cheaper camera from Canon so I can afford better sound equipment and proper lenses, too. I was thinking the T3i is more than capable for what I want to do with it (at the moment), and would provide me with plenty of options for learning how to shoot with a DSLR. The zoom H6 could even mount directly to the camera, and record audio straight to it to avoid the stupid AGC problems in the Canon DSLRs.

Another reason I want to go with Canon is because there are a lot more lenses to choose from, and almost every photographer I know shoots with a Canon, so it'll be easier for me to purchase older lenses from them. :P

And finally, the main reason for going with Canon is for the EF mount, so that if I ever upgrade to the 2.5K Cinema Camera, I can already have a library of lenses to use with it. Eventually, I do want that camera! But no way I can even come close to affording $2K right now. :P
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The 2.5k cinema camera comes in MFT mount too.. so.. its not active.. but depending on your lens choice that wont matter..

Im deciding between the 2.5k cinema and the pocket cam. The price difference isn't the issue for me, its the other stuff.. the SSD's, the pro monitor requirements (SDI, vs my existing HDMI), the need for a EVF. Im committed to MFT mount, as I have a great set of canon FD and screw mount glass that has sorta become my signature look in these parts. The cinema cam has a passive MFT, so my ONE kit lens would be useless, and I'd like to have that stabilization on the lens.. ah, what a wonderful problem to have! lol
Now that I am back in the world for a bit, I thought I'd get caught up current events for the BMD cameras. What I don't get about some of the "comparisons" being posted is that no one is putting up an identical shot across both cameras being compared. Hard to be empirical when one camera is looking at an MCU and the other is looking at a CU - for example. Also, very few take the time to comp the two shots into a single frame so we can pause and examine them side by side. And no one is using any chip or focus charts in them at all.

Serious nit-picking on my part, I know, but empirical testing is all about seriously picking the nits. I guess just be aware that the "tests" being posted so far aren't really that scientific in their method.

Honestly, I'm still waiting to see how the global shutter version handles motion/action.
OK, there was a firmware updatefor the BMPCC released today (according to the main thread I linked to), fixing the "black spot" problem, and then someone showed some screenshots from a new model they bought this week showing no unnatural blooming from straight white light!

Ok, forget it, I'll deal with the orbs. BMD are consistently fixing the issues (albeit slower than we all want :P ), but I have faith they can completely fix all issues. And even if they don't, I can think of some ways to hide the orbs - lens flares, blurred backgrounds, slightly underexposing the image (not the best solution, but it is an alternative!), etc.,.

13 stops of DR and the ability to shoot in ProRes are really AMAZING features for a sub-$1k camera! It would be kind of stupid for me not to go with it. :P

If I post saying "I changed my mind again!", someone please hit me round the head with a brick. I don't want to be a flake!
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