What to Consider When Upgrading to the Pocket Cinema 6K
Pocket 4K vs. Pocket 6K? This article discusses the relevancy of both — as well as the price points and specs related to each.
Prices are rapidly dropping, panic is running amok, and conspiracies are rife. No, it’s not the next recession; it’s the Pocket 4K community growing frantic over the imminent arrival of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. The camera has drawn a lot of excitement and an equal measure of unease. Many Pocket 4K users are wondering if they should upgrade, or if they’ve been cheated out of their 4K investment.
While I can’t speak for the entirety of the Pocket 4K community, I do want to evaluate some of the concerns about the Pocket 4K now that the new model has seemingly replaced it (which it hasn’t).
(Note: this is not a critique of the Pocket 6K. The specs alone are mind-boggling.)
Don’t Undervalue the Pocket 4K’s Resale Price
Look, we’re not going to tell you what to do with your equipment—or how to sell it—but don’t devalue the camera just to get a quick sale. As Grant Petty said in last week’s live-demonstration, there have been a few setbacks with the electrical’s market, which has meant a delay in getting these cameras to retailers. Therefore, you have to consider that the Pocket 4K isn’t readily available to everyone. B&H continually dip in and out of stock, it feels like my UK retailer has never been in stock, and as a result, the camera is still in demand on the aftermarket. And until Blackmagic stops producing this camera, the Pocket 4K is far from obsolete.
Looking at recent eBay sales, the Pocket 4K has sold at $150 above the current RRP. However, in the camera’s social media groups, many are offloading this camera for as low as $750. Of course, there are various factors that justify a discounted price—hours used, cosmetic wear, missing original accessories, and so on. But still, so early into the life cycle of the model, there’s no real reason to undercut yourself when stores themselves can’t even fulfill orders.
Data and Battery Life
Recently I published a YouTube video titled How Much Does the BMPCC4K Actually Cost? The video breaks down the various factors that contribute to the overall cost of the camera. The 6K model is undoubtedly going to increase the price point, with expanded data storage and power options.
At the highest constant bit rate encoding option—3:1—the Pocket 4K clocks in with a storage rate of 135 MB/s. The Pocket 6K, however, will be bringing in 3:1 footage at a colossal 323 MB/s. Roughly, you’re looking at just under 19GB a minute. That 256GB CFast 2.0 card you have suddenly only stores fourteen minutes of footage when shooting at a max constant bit rate. However, I would imagine that with such high resolution, even shooting at 12:1 6K would still bring in favorable shots. And this reels in at 81 MB/s, which would give you sixty-five minutes with 6K recording.
Therefore, you have to acknowledge that, along with an extra $1000 for the new camera, you’re more than likely going to be buying more recording media, and more offline storage.
(Side note, there are currently no SSD cards on the market that can capture 6K 50fps, as retailer CVP points out in the following video.)
One thing does concern me, that’s the 50p data rate. So, if my math is correct, using Blackmagic’s data on the website, 6K 3:1 at 50fps would be 538 MB/s, and QO (their variable bit rate option) could go as high as 805 MB/s a second. Currently, you won’t be able to record that.
The fastest CFast 2.0 on the market taps out at around 500 MB/s. And while using the USB-C 3.1 port, you can connect an SSD that can reach 800 MB/s, the Pocket 6K uses a USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port, which taps out at 625 MB/s.
Likewise, if there was one constant issue that appeared in every review and every discussion video when the Pocket 4K first came out, it was the abysmal battery life. Since the release, we have had a firmware update, which increases the longevity of a single LP-E6 battery by fifteen to twenty minutes. However, with the new build, we’re back down to a forty to forty-five minute run time for a single LP-E6. Meaning (and I recommend not using LP-E6s anyway) that you’re going to have to grab a few more to err on the side of caution.
How Important Is the “Full Frame” Factor?
I would argue that the super 35mm sensor is more of a selling point for this camera than either the EF mount or the 6K resolution. Blackmagic’s Super 35mm (-ish) sensor is closer to 35mm film than the 4K’s MFT sensor; therefore, similar visual attributes, such as focal lengths, will be the same as 35mm film.
The issue with crop factor is that for cinema, Super 35mm is a standard. Whereas for stills, which bleed into digital video, full-frame is the standard, and anything smaller yields a crop factor. Meaning a 50mm on one camera may capture images at a focal length equivalent to 67mm on a full-frame sensor. As the photo and video world has seemingly blended into one another and borrowed terms, sometimes principles fall into a gray area of confusion. As with the Pocket 6K, you have a 1.558 crop factor. But again, that’s in comparison to a full-frame stills sensor, when in regards to Super 35mm film, there isn’t a crop factor.
That said, many do factor the crop factor as a detriment, and would prefer to be shooting as close to full-frame as possible. If that’s something you want to do, then although the Pocket 4K has a crop factor of 1.89, with the newly released Metabones Speed Booster specifically engineered for the BMPCC4K, you can reduce the crop factor to 1.43 with the Ultra 0.71x model — or with the XL 0.64x version, you can decrease the crop factor even further to 1.29. Therefore, if you want to capture as much of the frame as possible, the Pocket 4K and Metabones Speed Booster combo provide a better option.
There are, of course, many benefits to the 6K model. We can’t speak to all of them just yet, as we’ve yet to review the camera, the 6K resolution, the increased FPS, the anamorphic mode, the EF mount, and so on. But these new features don’t suddenly make the Pocket 4K model obsolete. You’re still getting 4K RAW for $1250—or $1000, if you remove the Resolve Studio license—and that, in itself, is crazy when just a decade ago 4K for $4K seemed like a dream.
Cover image via Blackmagic.
Looking for more articles on film and video gear? Check these out.
- The Dana Dolly: A Quintessential Cinematic Tool for Filmmakers
- 5 Documentary-Style Lenses for 5 Budgets.
- How to Mount the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on the Ronin-M
- BMPCC4K Tips: The Difference Between Constant Bitrate and Constant Quality
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