So this post is going to be slightly different from usual here. With our recent content on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, we've had the chance to test the camera out and get to know it a little better, and we really like it, the value for money you get with this camera is fantastic. But what we haven't had the chance to do (until now that is) is test the camera against other cameras. If you have a spare half an hour, then id encourage you to watch the video above, where we go into detail on our thoughts between the comparisons. We compared the BMPCC 4K to a range of cameras, in this test, we compared it to smaller mirrorless cameras such as the A7sII, A7R III, EOS R, GH5 & GH5s. We currently have a comparison against larger cinema cameras in the works, so keep an eye out for that.
We carried out three tests on all the cameras, a standard image quality one, where we shot the same scene, with the same framing and the same settings on each camera. Now, because of this, the BMPCC 4K had a slight edge, as we used this as the base for the settings for the rest of the cameras, so other cameras weren't running in their prime, as the Blackmagic was. The main basis for this test was to see how each camera would capture the same scene, with the same settings. The second of the tests was a dynamic range test, where we tested the highlight and shadow recovery of each camera, where we over and under exposed the cameras, by three stops. We didn't change the lighting for this setup and only changed the camera settings to get the same exposure. The third test, was a test of the usability of high iso's, specifically iso 6400, as this is a common, high, but often used iso. In this test, we didn't use any professional lighting. The only light which was hitting our subject, was the light from her laptop screen, the fairy lights behind, and what little daylight could creep its way in through the windows, which wasn't a whole lot.
Test One: Image quality
In the first test, it became apparent that the Blackmagic has a very 'cinematic' look. The image is very detailed, but not over sharp, the skin tones are very pleasing, and a little desaturated, following the ARRI mentality when it comes to skin tones. The internal 10bit 4:2:2 handled the colour of the bike in the background very well. We often get mixed results with this bike on different cameras, some reproduce the colour of the bike differently than others, and we find that cameras often struggle to get the colour true to life. Now the Blackmagic gets very very close with the bike, which we were very impressed with, its a little more magenta than the real thing, which could easily be corrected in post, but just with a simple contrast and saturation boost applied, it performed brilliantly. Now one point that I want to bring up is the difference between the Prores and the RAW. Side by side we could hardly see any difference between the two, which just shows how good the Prores really is, now, of course, you won't get the highlight recovery and the ability to push the image as much as you will with the RAW, but you really can be selective with which one you choose, and only use the RAW when you need that extra flexibility in the edit.
Test Two: Dynamic Range
We'll start off here with the overexposure. Straight off you can see that +1 and +2 stops are recovered brilliantly, even in Prores. But what's really interesting is +3 stops, there is a huge jump and large parts of the image are just straight up blown out. Now I really find this interesting, this could possibly have happened due to a very aggressive log curve on the high end. Or it could have something to do with the iso, as at iso 1600, the sensor will be working on the second iso circuit, which would have less dynamic range as the iso is not at its second native 3200. Now if this was shot in RAW, you would probably be able to recover most, if not all of that detail that is clipped.
Test Three: High ISO
There is no doubt, that the BMPCC 4K performed better than any other Blackmagic camera to date in this test. The camera is good, not A7s II good, but it holds up really quite well in this situation, the skin tones are really well reproduced, the noise levels are reasonable, no doubt due to the dual native iso. There doesn't seem to be any aggressive noise reduction going on, and any noise which is there could be cleaned up quite easily.
The lens we used for this test - Sigma 35mm T1.5 Cine
The adapter we used for this test - Metabones EF to MFT Speed Booster ULTRA 0.71x
Cameras we tested: