In the old days of shooting film, the two main formats were 16mm for Television and 35mm for Cinema. In today’s digital age, the Pocket Cinema Camera keeps up the tradition by shooting Super 16mm whilst the Sony F5 and similar shoot Super 35mm.
At this point in time there isn’t really much info around about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera; apart from lots of cut-n-pasted web content. I’ll leave the others to rant about Pocket Camera negatives, while this blog looks at ‘whatever works for me’.
Everyone’s talking about lenses.
Although I have various primes from my DSLRs which I could use with my pocket camera, I decided to stick to vintage lenses that were made specifically for 16mm movie cameras. I really don’t see the point of using great big DSLR lenses on a tiny camera like this.
These C-mount primes are made by Cosmicar and perform surprisingly well without any vignetting. Lens barrels are machined alloy so a good solid design. Cosmicar Television lenses are commonly found on the old Bolex wind-up 16mm film cameras.
The 12.5mm f/1.9 on the right is a very useable wide angle that focuses down to around 12-inches; pretty sharp.
The 25mm f/1.9 is a good interview lens and can deliver a reasonable shallow depth of field; pretty sharp too. Expect to pay between £50-120 for these vintage lenses and around £10 for C-mount to M4/3 adaptors.
Variable ND Filter
Apart from using Neutral Density filters to get correct exposure, ND is essential for creating shallow depth of field. I went with Tiffen because I believe they are the best Variable NDs on the market; do your research and you will find the same. I’ve used Tiffen filters all through my career and trust them to deliver what they say. Don’t be tempted by cheap rubbish, just buy a few step-up rings for your other lenses and stick to a Tiffen.
Getting good sound from the pocket camera is a similar fix to the Canon 5D MkII. The secret is to make the cameras audio preamps work as little as possible. You achieve this by keeping the camera audio input level as low as possible, then compensating by driving a higher level into the camera. The higher input level can come from various devices like:
- Radio mic receiver
- A sound recordist mixer; if you have that luxury
- Beachtek, JuicedLink or similar pre-amp.
Once you find your ideal levels, you should get great sound every time. I’m presently using the Pocket as a second camera to shoot weekly TV interviews. I use the radio mic option and have never had any complaints from the station.
Note – The hissy noise in the headphone output does not record to camera.