Turn your BMPCC into a serious filming camera for cheap.
I wanted to do a review of the Blackmagic pocket cinema camera (bmpcc) for quite some time now. I have had a love-hate kind of relationship with it but with a few cheap investments, it’s quickly becoming my favourite cameras. The bmpcc was Blackmagic design’s entry-level film camera. It was cheap and small but took amazing video. It boasted the capability of shooting RAW as well as ProRes.
Now there are somethings I have to warn you about. First off the battery life is horrible…like what the hell were they thinking bad. It comes with a small battery that, I kid you not, gets 15 min and If you aren’t used to the crop factor then you might have a crappy day. So here are some things I did to turn my magic pocket into a serious filming camera.
bmpcc crop factor
The bmpcc crop factor is a micro Four Thirds mount or MFT. This mount was introduced in 2008 and used by camera companies like Olympus and Panasonic. It’s a great mount if you want to get that 16 mm film vibe but if you’re use to a camera without a crop factor then it takes some getting use to. Basically the crop factor is x2. So if you are shooting with a 50mm lens it will feel like 100mm. This isn’t ideal if you are shooting inside because everything feels so close. The other issue is I have a bunch of canon and Nikon lenses but nothing that fits. So here’s a couple of upgrades I recommend to deal with the bmpcc crop factor.
Here is a short I shot with a 50 mm Nikon prime lens to give you an idea of bmpcc crop factor.
The first thing I did was buy a mount so I can use my other Canon and Nikon lenses. I mainly shoot with dslr’s so I wasn’t going to go out and buy a whole new lens collection. There are some really cheap mounts that work really well. I did end up spending a bit of money ( you don’t have to) on a metabones mount. I liked it because it does compensate a bit for the crop factor and I can also push my F stop farther. But I also picked up a $12 EF mount and it works great too.
Eventually, I did decide to invest in a good lens for the camera because I was filming lots and wanted a much ore simpler solution. So I did some research and decided to buy the Panasonic Lumix 20mm 1.7 lens. Let me say it’s now my main go-to lens with this camera. My favourite part is that it won’t break the bank and it feels like an expensive prime lens.
By far the worst part about this camera. the bmpcc recording time on a single battery can range anywhere from 15 to 20 min. Lucky when I bought my camera the person selling it also threw in 4 batteries. But that only buys you so much time. Lucky for us there are some great workarounds and I was able to create something that will last an entire shoot for under $100.
The first thing I did was buy LP-E6 batteries. These things are cheap and are also compatible with my Canon 60D so it was an easy investment.
These won’t go into a bmpcc so you need to invest in a plate of some kind that will plug into the magic pocket and use it as a power supply. I ended up buying the Pocketbase pro. It mounts right to the camera and holds 2 LP-E6 batteries. This bumped up my 20 minute recording time to 3 hours.
With these simple upgrades you won’t have to struggle with the cut corners Blackmagic did to bring us this camera. Remember it shoots RAW, ProRes and has a dynamic stop range of 13 so you will get amazing footage. It’s still way cheaper then getting their cinema camera, and there’s tons of other after market equipment you can invest in, viewfinders, shoulder mounts etc…