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The Blackmagic Pocket 4K might be the best budget camera that has ever existed, so does this mean we should switch?
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black magic has since 2012 been leading a wave of affordability to the entire video production industry from amateur video creators to indie filmmakers and even production professionals worldwide and one of the biggest disruptions in the camera space was the 2013 release of the original Blackmagic pocket Cinema Camera a camera that I personally bought and used for years so six years later can the pocket 4k be as disruptive as its predecessor was let's find out right after a word from our sponsor honey honey is a free web extension that will let you get the best promo codes on most shopping websites like Amazon eBay and more get it today at join honeycomb slash LTT before we begin a quick physical tourist in order here because unlike the original the pocket 4k well isn't really pocket bull at all and it also makes a departure from black magics customary above average build quality the body is made out of space-age carbon fiber polycarbonate composite which appears to be black magics way of saying unapologetically plastic the top of the camera has the standard layout of buttons for record ISO shutter speed white balance stills capture and three custom function buttons on the back of the camera you get a 5-inch 1080p display more on that in a moment and some very useful buttons for iris and focus along with a dedicated high frame rate button this makes switching framerate so much more convenient than the multiple menus you'd have to go through on something like a sony camera we've also got a shortcut for zoom in for focus menu and playback and then on the far right I'm very pleased to see dual media slots there is one slot for CFS 2.0 cards and another for SD cards I hope you're taking notes red and the pocket 4k is impressive recording options do not stop there you can also use small portable SSDs that plug directly into the type C port on the left of the camera for our testing our friends over in Joburg sent us this awesome match kit that they specifically created for the pocket 4k it comes with a 256 e @ c FS 2.0 card and a 512 getting portable SSD and both served me very well on extended shoot days that I tested this camera on being able to record directly to an SSD and then just plug that same SSD into my laptop to start editing was a very satisfying workflow that I got – over the last couple months I've been testing this camera it just makes sense finishing off the physical tour on the left of the camera we have a mic in headphone jack full size HDMI which you'd agree is important if you've seen how many micro HDMI s have worn out like we have a 12-volt lemo connector type C and mini XLR we're off to a very good start here and it gets way better let's talk about the sensor the pocket 4k sports a micro 4/3 sized sensor capable of shooting up to 60fps at 4096 by 2160 with 13 stops of dynamic range and an interesting dual native ISO of 432 hundred that's very impressive at this price point but as many of you already know modern camera formants is as much about software as it is about hardware fortunately Blackmagic has done a stellar job here as well and the images that come off the pocket 4k are outstanding I was able to put the camera through my usual variety of shooting scenarios and I was reminded of the difference a camera that is designed with filmmaking in mind can have compared to something made for stills and video from the likes of Sony cannon or Panasonic noise performance was surprisingly good at higher ISOs like 1600 and 3200 both read fairly clean in my tests which is not common for a camera with a sensor this size for documentary shooters I see this being a huge positive when you're dealing with lighting conditions that are constantly changing with no time to pause to adjust for lighting the pocket 4k also boasts 60fps at 4k and 120 FPS at windowed 1080p recording modes and while it is a loss in quality the 120 fps is totally usable and compared to the competition shooting internally at this frame rate the results are simply put excellent black magics menu is incredibly easy to navigate and while they feel a little mushy all the buttons are useful and efficient to use the main pain point with the image that I came across is the highlight we're all off in the pocket 4k still has a hard digital looking clip if you are unable to perfectly expose for the brightest parts of your image I was particularly impressed with black magics newbie raw recording format well it's not officially supported by Adobe there is a workaround to play B raw footage natively in Premiere and I was shocked at how easily the footage plays back in real time even on my LG work laptop that does not have much in terms of horsepower Blackmagic Raw like the red rod that we use every day gives the user the ability change ISO and white balance after the fact through metadata which is a huge plus when you're running and gunning and don't have time to get your settings perfect now let's get into usability I mentioned it doesn't fit in a pocket but it's a little worse than that overall the pocket for kit is a bit awkward in its size for example because of its width you might end up needing weird offset plates to balance it on a popular small gimbal like the Ronin s I did however manage to come up with a build that I quite liked made up of parts that we had around the office now you might look at this and wonder if we're fully taking advantage of the pocket for case small size but truthfully we didn't feel like we had much of a choice a lot of the bulk of this setup comes from needing to use a dummy battery plate which allows us to use larger female batteries that we use for our Reds because the pocket for Kay's battery life is a disgrace to cameras everywhere we honestly weren't even expecting that much given its predecessors bad battery life but with the standard LP e6 batteries I was getting less than 20 minutes of runtime on this camera that is not usable thankfully you have a lot of options to power it I decided to use an inexpensive LP e6 dummy battery to DTaP adaptor which allowed me to run the pocket for hours longer off a single V mAh battery this does make the setup larger but that is also a welcome thing for my use case because a heavy camera is a steadier camera just to try out we did spend a little time shooting handheld with the pocket 4k by itself this can be handy if you're trying to capture some high quality footage discreetly I totally understand the appeal by the way but it wasn't an ideal experience ergonomically the body with just a lens is just too lightweight to make for the best handheld work because of the points of contact this is a personal preference however so your mileage may vary now let's get back to that 5 inch display the touch screen is quite responsive and reacts similar to the red touch monitor that we use on our daily driver weapon but a key disadvantage is that it's fixed in one position while not being bright enough to use in daylight making an external monitor an essential part of any pocket 4k build audio was an interesting experience to me on this camera because it has a mini XLR port you can get an adaptor cable like this one to use full size XLR systems like our electro sonic wireless lab pack or sennheiser 416 shotgun mic from my testing it not only worked but it sounded surprisingly usable that was a really pleasant surprise given black magics historically poor in-camera recording quality over although I still recommend getting a separate sound operator or recording device for sound critical projects but if you're trying to save money on gear or need to travel light for a project this is a good option this brings me to my final point simply put the pocket 4k is unprecedented in terms of its quality for the price point no other camera on the market does what it can do for less money and the best part is unlike Blackmagic previous disruptors they are fewer obvious deal breakers that might for small crews to move up to something more expensive that being said the true cost of ownership will obviously be much higher than the $1,300 price tag but anyone just starting their career like I was when I bought my original pocket camera it's an incredible tool to learn from and improve your video and filmmaking skills so bottom line for anyone looking to get into video on a budget you have no excuses to not go out and shoot something great when a camera like this exists on the market Bravo Blackmagic I tip my imaginary hat to you on this one speaking of imaginary hats have you ever imagined having your own website but we're too intimidated to make it yourself well you could always check out our sponsors for today's videos Squarespace Squarespace is the all-in-one platform that makes it easy to get your website up and running quickly both Lynas media group comm and lt XCOM were built quickly using Squarespace you can choose from tons of different templates to find the ones that make the most sense for you and run with it if you need help Squarespace offers guides webinars and they have a 24/7 support team to help build your site so heads of squarespace.com /lt tea and get 10% off today special thank you to being h for loaning us the pocket 4k that we use to for this video and thank you guys for watching if this video sucked you know what to do but if it was awesome get subscribed hit that like button or check out the link to where to buy the stuff we featured in this video in the description below also linked in description is our merch store which has cool shirts like this one and our community forum which you should totally join