kortina.nyc / notes / devlog
20 Jun 2023 | by kortina

film devlog #4 // Shooting with Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras

A few years ago, I switch from shooting on a Sony A7iii to a bmpcc4k pro – mostly because my buddy Rob had one of these, we often shoot together, and we thought it would make sense to standardize on workflow and a shared set of lenses.

You can pickup one used for about $1000 US – often with a cage and a bunch of other addons.

The chief drawbacks of this camera are:

If you’re OK with that, it’s an absolutely amazing camera.

I decided to start a page similar to my Resolve Tips page to record what I’ve been learning about shooting with this camera.

bmpcc4k-rigged

Lenses

We mostly shoot on the absolutely gorgeous Voigtlander Nokton f/0.95 primes. Rob has a 10.5mm, 25mm, and 42.5mm and I have a 17.5mm (these equate to 20mm, 33mm, 47mm, and 81mm with crop factor).

I also have a Helios 44-3 58mm f/2.0 lens which I have been loving, a Canon FD 28mm f/2.8, and a Canon FD 50mm f/1.4. I haven’t shot too much on the Canons yet.

I made this spreadsheet to easily convert all the crop factors to the bmpcc4k pro sensor size with various speed boosters / lens adapters.

Exposure and False Color: Skin Tones

This video recommends using False Color to expose not for the whitest highlights or blackest shadows, but for skin tones.

Rule of thumb:

Recording Format

I have been using Constant Bitrate 8:1 most of the time (Jun 2023).

One issue I ran into a few months ago was absolutely huge file sizes without much benefit when using one of the higher quality Constant Quality settings (I can’t recall which).

Stabilize with a Camera Strap

I don’t have the steadiest hand in the world, so given the lack of image stabilization, I was looking for some additional ways to stabilize.

I tried gimbals, but these are quite a bit of overhead for quick stuff, and I eventually landing on just using a camera strap.

I got the Peak Slide. It’s got a great little quick release system to make taking it on and off quickly.

My only gripe is I wish the minimum length was a few inches shorter.

Handheld Tips

Blackmagic Camera iOS App

blackmagic camera ios Blackmagic Camera for iOS.

n Sep 2023, Blackmagic released a their Blackmagic Camera app for iOS.

For a long time, I’ve been on the hunt for the best video camera app for iOS – I’ve tried ProCam, Pro Camera by Moment, Filmic Pro, and probably a few others I can’t recall.

All of these are fine and give you easier access to some of the more nuanced controls that the native camera app buries, but to be honest, I never loved any of them nor spent enough time in any one of them to really feel like I had “mastered” the UI to the point where I felt as comfortable as I do in the Blackmagic UI.

Even little things like a different legend / color scheme for false color, for example, kind of make a difference.

Camera Name + Filename Convention

In settings, set Filename Convention to Blackmagic Camera and in Camera settings (page 2) set your camera name (and suffix with - or _) for filenames that easily identify footage from this device:

set camera name Set camera name.

Shooting with iOS Native Camera

Sometimes you can’t beat the ease / speed of getting to the native camera with a quick swipe from the home screen. Here are a few notes on the native camera app.

Tweak Default Settings

In the native Settings app, I set things like Record Video to 4k at 24 fps, Grid to On, etc:

camera settings

Is it possible to disable autofocus feature in native video camera (low lit locations)

Q from twofoursixeight on this Apple forum thread.

A from bengamin:

Kinda. There is an option to lock the focus. If you aim at a subject and hold your finger on the screen the focus aid will flash and then lock your focus on your desired subject. This will also lock the exposure. When this happens you should have AE/AF Lock displayed on your screen. Hope this helps.


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