How to Mount the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on the Ronin-M
Here’s how you can effectively mount a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to the Ronin-M with the CineMilled Dovetail Plate.
We’re approaching the anniversary of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s initial release. Thankfully, the market has developed several accessories and tools specially for this camera. However, we still lack compatible gimbals and stabilizers that work out of the box. Due to the camera’s wide design, which makes it more cumbersome on the side with the battery and side grip, most gimbals need additional counterweights to make the setup usable.
However, it looks like the MOZA Air 2 may be a good contender for the Pocket Cinema Camera. Let’s take a look.
The Ronin-M has become a fan favorite over the last few years due to its rugged nature, favorable load capacity, customization, external operating controls, and reasonable price. However, mounting the Pocket Cinema Camera onto the gimbal isn’t as easy as it is with other cameras — let alone balancing it.
Typically, you’d attach the DJI plate and mount the camera from the front. This is where we encounter our first problem. The camera is too wide. The DJI Ronin-M supports cameras up to 160mm, and the Pocket Cinema Camera is 177.8mm.
As we noted in our review, the ergonomics of the Pocket Cinema Camera accommodate handheld shooting. You have a sizable, five-inch screen and a large handgrip. This makes it excellent for comfortable handheld shooting. But when it comes to the Ronin-M, the camera doesn’t fit correctly.
We can simply reverse the DJI plate and slide the camera into position. However, this prevents you from using the lens support attachment. If you have a heavy cine lens, along with a remote follow focus attachment, you may be able to balance the camera from the offset. If you’re using a lighter stills lens, you’ll run into your first brick wall.
You can try to balance the tilt-axis adjustment all day long, but ultimately, the camera will be too back-heavy, and you’ll need to bring it forward, along the fore and aft adjustment. However, again, the camera is too wide to come frontward. Therefore, you’ll need to modify the roll adjustment parameter to slide the camera free of the carriage support and bring it forward until you can balance it. The camera will still hit the side of the carriage, which may scuff the grip.
However, this is somewhat fruitless because the camera will be too heavy on the left side of the balance, and you’re not going to be able to shift it back across because the camera is sitting flush against the support arm.
You bring the camera back, and you can’t balance it for the tilt axis. You bring it forward, and you can’t balance it on the roll axis. This is a significant problem. Thankfully, in 2019, if there’s a need for a tool, somebody will fill that void. CineMilled is that somebody.
CineMilled has created a variety of high-end rigging fixtures for almost any gimbal and stabilizer, including a professional-grade Dovetail Plate for the Ronin-M.
Unlike the standard plate, the CineMilled plate is longer and has threads to mount counterweights. As you can see in the video above, the plate generally accommodates larger cameras that are too front-heavy and need counter-weighting from the rear. As such, the threads for mounting the weights are at the back of the plate. However, like before, the Pocket Cinema Camera won’t fit when you place the camera on the carriage through the front.
So, you’ll need to reverse the plate and slide the camera onto the DJI carriage backward — this also positions the mounting threads at the front. But, this is what we Pocket Cinema Camera users need. It means that we can position the camera far back in the carriage, allowing us to move the camera along the roll axis without obstruction. The counterweights — which are available at weights of 96g, 159g, 326g, and 989g — will balance the roll axis.
Given the precision required to balance the camera, I don’t know if my balancing technique would be much help here, but I was able to adjust the camera best when I had two 159g weights in holes three and six.
After a few tedious hours of minute adjustments, I was able to get the camera correctly balanced and entirely functional — with no motor errors — with the DJI Ronin-M turned on. As you can see from my test footage above, it yields favorable results.
Unfortunately, we encounter another problem when connecting an HDMI cable. The cable brushes up against the side, which restricts proper balancing and tilting. The DJI manual suggests using soft HDMI cables to prevent this issue, but I’ve yet to find a suitable soft full-HDMI-to-micro-HDMI that clears the brace.
Again, you’d need to shift the roll axis to make sufficient space, and that’s going to throw off all of the previous balancings and likely require more weight on the CineMilled Dovetail Plate.
Looking for more on film and video gear? Check out these articles.
- How to Take Photos with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
- Building A Low Budget Handheld Rig For The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
- Viltrox vs. Metabones: Speed Booster for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
- New Filmmaker Tips For Using The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k
- Hands-On Review: The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K