Making Your One Trick Pony a Workhorse – Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera – part 2

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In the aftermath of what was first a slightly challenging but GOOD experience with my Pocket Cinema Camera and another highly stressful but in the end successful experience, I realized that if I was serious about using this camera for documentaries, I needed to take care of the dual headed monster of short battery and record times.

I decided that being nostalgic about older filmmakers’ experiences of limited film reels and valuing your shoot time was a very important exercise for me to enact once, however it became apparent that it was not only impractical and potentially detrimental to my shoots when on the road, but it was no longer cost effective.

But was it worth rigging up further? I loved the way the BMPCC shot, especially when using my set of primes with the Nikon speed booster. I asked myself, what other “lower cost” alternatives to the image I was getting, were there? Maybe not the best comparison, but I thought… well, as long as it costs less than a C100 right?

Media and Battery comparison: 

My current media: 32 GB cards, 5x$50 = $250 for only 160 GB of space!

I chose to replace those 160 GB with 2 x 1 TB SDD/fusion drives for my Atomos Ninja 2! Each drive was about $100 x 2 = $100 (more on the Atomos hardware costs later).

My current power consumption costs: 7 EN-EL20 type batteries, roughly 30-50 mins. Depending on the battery and who knows? I swear they were all different.

At best, 350 mins but probably more like 210 minutes for all the batteries. Granted, you could possibly survive a day shoot if you were able to charge up all batterie before the shoot. But the problem really occurred on back to back shoots. I wasn’t able to charge all the batteries after the first, and couldn’t find anywhere to charge during the shoot either. Cost: $40 each for Nikon brand, and $15 each for the Wasabi power. That makes maybe $155 for 7 batteries

I chose to replace those 210-350 minutes with an iKan battery plate for L-series Sony batteries. I have 4 for around $40 each, and I don’t think I was able to use the entire battery during a 6 hour shoot a couple weeks ago. I don’t even know how long they last, but I have a main battery and a backup available. These batteries are also the same ones used on the Atomos Ninja 2 as well. DOUBLE WIN!

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All in all the rig consists of a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, Wooden Camera Pocket Quick Kit, Metabones BMPCC Speedboster, Zacuto Z-Focus v2, ikan battery plate for Sony L Series, Atomos Ninja 2 (refurbished), all for less than the price of a C100. While you could get the same 10bit 4:2:2 output the BMPCC does while also adding a Ninja 2 to the C100 (and you have the built in XLR audio connections as well that the BMPCC doesn’t have). I like how the BMPCC can be released from the rig and you could go all stealth with it if you wanted. I now have the options to do both.

Best of all, I have the ability for a long video record time, and with my Zoom H4N I have and a few extra accessories, I am still about $1000 under the base price of a C100 body for EVERYTHING. I suppose I could’ve bought the actual full 2.5k Blackmagic Cinema Camera (non-pocket).

I think I’ve created a pretty nice HD 1080p documentary kit! Even if I’m not yet shooting 4k, I’m pretty happy with my images!