The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. Is it a good choice for low-budget digital cinema filmmakers?

Updated 2018: (for the Pocket 4K)

Is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K be a good choice for DCP format productions?
How does the specifications compare to other cine cameras and the DCP format used in cinemas?

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Spec sheet
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera webpage

B&H Photo link

Price with Resolve studio license = USD 1295

13 stops of dynamic range. Dual native ISO 400 and 3200

It can record in 12 bit Blackmagic Raw 4096 x 2160 24/25 FPS .
12 bit Blackmagic Raw gives you more shadow and highlight details.

Digital cinema DCPs  uses 12 bit 2.6 gamma encoding which also gives you more range in the important darker regions of the picture.

Blackmagic Raw (BRAW)
Blackmagic RAW 4K 12:1  4096 x 2160 24 FPS 42,5 MB/s bitrate is similar to 4K DCPs which uses 250 mbps/31.3 MB/s intraframe jpeg2000 encoding in Scope 4096 x 1716 and Flat 3996 x 2160 .

2K DCPs also uses 250 mbps/31.3 MB/s intraframe jpeg2000 encoding in Scope 2048×858 and Flat 1998×1080 . Closest match in 2K is  1920×1080  Blackmagic Raw 3:1  24 FPS 41,5 MB/s

Using Blackmagic RAW 3:1  (4096 x 2160 24 FPS 167 MB/s) also in 4K  is recommended for digital cinema material. Especially if you are using high ISO or shooting in the forest and other places where high bitrate is essential.

Digital cinema DCPs uses 250 mbit jpeg2000 which is  good for shadow detail, high detail scenery like forests and water, film grain/preservering high ISO noise, fake film grain and added noise. Combined with 2.6 gamma and 12 bit encoding you can use more shadow detail than in 8 bit web videos.  


-Cinematic 25P/24P 180 degree shutter mode.

– Resolution DCI 4k 4096 x 2160
-I recommend using framing lines for 1.85 (3996 x 2160) or 2.39 (4096 x 1716) when making a digital cinema film.  Blackmagic 4K has framing lines for these aspect ratio. It also has framing lines for 1.78:1, 2.4:1 and 2:1

-DCPs uses these standard resolutions:
2K Flat 1.85: 1 1998×1080
2K Scope 2.39:1 2048×858
4K Flat 1.85: 3996 x 2160
4K Scope 2.39: 4096 x 1716
-Getting the resolution correct is important.
-Flat and Scope are the standard presets in all cinemas.
-1.78:1 (16/9) and 2.35:1 films can get image artifacts (trapezoid shape) in the cinema because the standard side masking presets are made for 1.85 and 2.39. The trapezoid shape is caused by off-axis/tilted projectors. It is not allowed to use keystone in cinemas so digital cropping/masking is used to adjust the picture to the side masking.
-Scope films are projected wider than Flat films in a common height cinema.
-A 4K DCP is compatible with both 2K and 4K projectors.
-Full container (C) 2048×1080/4096×2160 is not used by Hollywood feature films. Films made with these resolutions will probably be projected in Flat with cropping on the sides at most cinemas.

Frame rates
Up to 60 FPS in 4096 x 2160.  120 FPS in HD windowed
You can record in 60 FPS and 120 FPS if you want to use slow motion.
-Interop DCPs uses these frame rates: 24, 48
-Digital cinema equipment with updated software support SMPTE DCPs and can play these 2K frame rates: 24, 25, 30, (also allowed is 48, 50, 60, but these can cause problems), 4K frame rates: 24, 25, 30
-In Europe where many productions are 25 FPS = 25 SMPTE DCPs are common.

M43 Field of view (FOV)
The Arri Alexa SXT and other cine cameras often uses a super 35 sensor. The 4K Pocket camera has a M43 size sensor, but there is a lot of cine primes made for the M43 sensors. There are also MFT adapters for PL mount and other common Super 35 lens mounts. The M43 sensor is smaller than S35 so all S35 lenses can be used.  The smaller m43 sensor with smaller photosites is not as light sensitive as some s35/Vistavision cameras.

The FOV comparisor does not have the Blackmagic Pocket 4K camera, but you can use the GH5 to get an idea of how it compares to other cameras. (The sensor is a bit larger than the GH5 sensor)

The MFT  Pocket Camera 4K can use a Metabones speedboosters to achieve a larger FOV.

-Pocket 4K FILM TO REC2020 HLG
– and more

-It has Pro audio mini XLR connection with phantom power.

The Pocket 4K camera has similar specifications to some of the 4K cameras that are approved by Netflix for original content. But it is not approved. The 6.1 firmware lets you record in Cinema DNG 3:1 which is allowed on the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6.

The Pocket 4K camera compared to other cameras
The Panasonic GH5
Link: B&H Photo

-400 Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit All-Intra video internal recording
-Anamorphic mode

The Panasonic GH5s
Link: B&H Photo
-Better low-light performance than the GH5
-400 Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit All-Intra video internal recording
-Anamorphic mode

The Sony A7S II
Link: Sony

-Slog 3 capture in 8 bit XAVC-S.
-Good low-light capture
-Internal UHD capture
-Full frame
-Super 35 mm mode
-120 FPS 1080 mode
-Big sensor

Shogun Inferno Prores Raw Cameras:

Sony FS5 II ProRes RAW Atomos Kit
Link: B&H Photo
-super35 sensor
-internal ND filters

Canon C300 MKII
Link: Canon
-Good in low light
-XLR inputs
-Canon LOG 2 Gamma

Panasonic AU-EVA1 Compact 5.7K Super 35mm Cinema Camera
Link: Panasonic
-5.7K super 35 sensor
-Dual native ISO of 800/2500

More Expensive/Rentals

Link: RED
-High frame rate

Arri Alexa SXT  and Alexa LF
Link: Arri
– wide gamut and pre-made 3D LUTs to convert C-Log Prores or RAW footage to Rec. 709, P3 DCI, P3 D65.
-WCG (Wide Color Gamut) is rec2020 compatible

Panasonic Varicam LT
Link: Panasonic
-Dual native ISO,  800 and 5000
-DCI 4K prores 4444
-1 to 120 fps in AVC-Intra 2K422 and from 120 to 240 fps in AVC-Intra 2K-LT

Sony Venice
Link: Sony
-Full frame

Some notes on the “cinematic” look

-At short film festivals it is usually the film that has the best story/artistic vision that win the award/get noticed. 
-Having a good looking film can help getting noticed.
-Having a look that is different than others can also help.

 Fast cine prime lenses with shallow depth of field.
-Hollywood films often use fast vintage/modified cine prime lenses near open aperture to get shallow depth of field and nice bokeh.
-With adapters the 4K Pocket can use Super 35 mm film optics like the vintage Cooke primes and other cine prime lenses that have a cinematic look.

Warmer white
-Hollywood films seldom use clipped/blown whites if that is not what they intend to use.
-100 percent white is almost never used.
-White is usually warmer than video monitor white (D65), it is closer to traditional film projection (around D60).
-Shooting in Blackmagic Raw helps retain highlights.

180 degree shutter
-Hollywood films almost always use a 180 degree shutter. Films with 360 degree shutter have a lot of motion blur.
-The Blackmagic Pocket 4K lets you choose 24/25 FPS 180 degree shutter mode.

Is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K be a good choice for DCP format productions?
 A film made with cine cameras like the Pocket 4K, Vintage optics, 180 degree shutter, D60, ND filters/shallow depth of view and grain/noise can give the fim a “cinematic” look. You can also do something different to stand out. Either way the Blackmagic Raw 12 bit codec and using the correct framing aspect ratio for cinema are good building blocks if you are shooting for digital cinema. 

More info:
Cine Lenses
-are built for manual focusing with follow focus systems
-zoom lenses often lack “breathing” when focusing
-Prime lenses often come in matched sets

Cine lenses ( can be used with a PL adapter)
Cooke 21mm T2.2 Panchro/i Classic Prime Lens
bhphoto link

Cine lenses (MFT mount)
Rokinon 16mm T2.2 Cine Lens for Micro Four Thirds 
B&H Photo Link

Focusing with just about any still photo zoom lens will create a breathing effect that is simply an optical design characteristic. There is no adjustment for this flaw within the lens. It’s part of the optical-mechanical design and is taken into consideration during the development of a lens. Breathing is a bad thing in cinema because it really pulls the audience out of the scene. It changes the field of view of the lens and appears as though the lens is zooming in and out during even a small focus pull. This is why cinema lenses are designed not to breath and add substantially to the cost in order to do so.

Duclos: Why Cinema Lenses Cost So Much

Used lenses
KEH and ebay sells used lenses like the Zeiss Contax lenses
Link to contax lenses at keh

If you build a set of Voigtlander Nokton, Zeiss Contax, Leica R, Nikon Ais or Zeiss ZF.2 lenses, you can do the Duclos Cine-mod on them.
-80mm front with cap,
-focus gear
-de-clicked, damped aperture movement. Or just the declicked aperture.

5) What lenses work best with the Cine-Mod?
The lenses that benefit from the Cine-Mod the most would be Zeiss ZF.2 lenses and Leica R series lenses. Other lenses such as the older Nikon Ais series and Zeiss Contax lenses can also be used along with the Cine-Mod for cinema with great success.

Extra equipment

ND filters
For shallow depth of field in daylight.

ND filters and matte boxes:
Bright Tangerine Misfit Atom 4 x 5.65″/4 x 4″ 
B&H Photo link

Schneider 4 x 5.65″ Platinum IRND 0.9 Filter (3-Stop)
B&H Photo link

Professional shotgun microphone
Sennheiser MKH416
B&H Photo link

Field Mixer
Sound Devices 633 6-Input Compact Field Mixer and 10-Track Digital Recorder
B&H Photo link


Useful links:
Use this Angle of view/Field of view comparator to compare the field of view (FOV) on different sensors and find what kind of lens you need.

Contax Zeiss Survival Guide
Nick Morrison forum post

What is Angle of view/Field of view?

What is depth of field?

Some best common practice DCP color space workflows part 2

Recommended links :

Cinematic Color Motion-Picture Color Management

Real-Time Rendering – 2011 Color and Imaging Conference, Part II: Courses A

Arri Alexa – Working with HD – Color Grading

How to make 3D LUTs in Nuke



In commercial cinemas you may see your movie projected in different environments with too much or too little light.

Dark scenes without contrast can look grey in many cinemas, especially 2D movies projected on 3D silver screen with too much light.

If the movie is graded on a monitor with too much light, the movie will lack contrast when projected with less light in the cinema.

To avoid a video look, it is better to use conventional 35 mm film grading techniques.

Many Hollywood movies uses a Orange and Blue color scheme to get a picture with contrast.
See Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue

See also the videos at:

Check that your software uses the correct conversion to the DCP gamma encoded DCDM X’Y’Z’ color space.

Otherwise white would look pink.

Some people uses DCI white in mastering, but there is no point in using DCI White because it is greenish and DCDM X’Y’Z’ support other standard color temperatures like D60 or D65.

It is more important to get the contrast right than using P3 colors, you are allowed to use Rec.709 colors.

Workflow: Converting directly from Rec. 709 video to DCDM X’Y’Z’

I have done this color space workflow using Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator on film festival video material intended for cinema projection.

-Some of the other DCP software I have tested have picture artefacts.

-It is possible to retain the D65 white point of REC709 with white at 14 fL.
Use Rec 709 transform with no chromatic adaption.

-The REC709 colorspace fits inside the minimum color gamut of DCDM X’Y’Z’ which currently is DCI XENON P3/Virtual White (SMPTE RP 431-2:2011).


Workflow: Converting from source material to P3 and from P3 to DCDM X’Y’Z’
For a cinema look you could use the same workflow as high budget movies where they use a film stock 3D LUT that converts the source material to P3 with a film stock emulation, and then convert P3 to DCDM X’Y’Z’.

Easydcp Creator 2.2 includes a color transformation from P3 DCI WHITE to DCDM X’Y’Z and let’s you make custom transformations.
See this post

You could also go from LOG to P3 without baking in a film stock emulation.
Example: Alexa 3D LUT generator has both LOGC to REC709 and LOGC to P3 3D LUTS.

This way you could first look at the material on REC709 monitors
and then later get the more saturated colors and 12 bit grey scale range (in 2.6 gamma) that is possible when grading on a P3 grading projector.

Testing DCP software

To do a test for picture artefacts you could make a test image (with 8-bit values)like this in After Effects:
-make a solid layer with the color 2/255, (black is rarely 0)
-then add a circle with white at 255/255. Blending mode: Add.
-then add some noise. 1 percent.
-Run this through your DCP software with a rec.709 setting

you should end up with the blacks and noise a little bit higher (around 0-3/255)

and D65 white at around 242,247,255 in 8 bit. (12 bit = 3883, 3960, 4092)

When I tested some software solutions they raised the blacks to around 10/255.

These blacks will now look grey and the barely visible noise will be very visible noise.

It will also look this way in the cinema.

The reason some people do not notice the elevated blacks could be because of high light levels in the movie theatre.

Another software solution clipped some of the channels so white would be tinted. Others had the wrong white values.

Some of the others just used the max white value (255,255,255) which would make white go out of gamut and you would get tinted white. And if the projector is set up to map illegal values to the projector’s internal color space you would end up with a different tinted white. Usually this is seen as a red cast.

Another software solution crushed the blacks and removed the noise. To use this solution you could raise the blacks to a level where they are not crushed.

Before converting your video material to DCP you should check if the software is usable for your purpose.

Most software have a trial version and you can use the trial version of Easydcp player or use the trial version of the Easydcp plugin that is integrated in Resolve 10 to check the result.

Different p3 color spaces

4 different P3 color spaces are mentioned in SMPTE RP 431-2:2011 D-Cinema Quality Reference Projector and Environment:

P3 D55
P3 D61
P3 D65

These four will fit inside the color space of a P3/Virtual White digital cinema projector. Others white points will also fit, but these are the four mentioned.

If you want to move from REC 709 to P3, you could use P3 D65 to keep the 14 fL D65 white point.

You can use any artistic white you want in a movie.

You don’t have to use a chromatic adaption to the DCI WHITE white point.

But it is common to use the maximum RGB value for R, G, and B as white (Max 12 bit values are 4095, 4095, 4095) and calibrate it to the white illumination target (14 fL).

In P3 D55 the values 4095, 4095, 4095 will correspond to the D55 WHITE values 3893, 3960, 3838 in DCDM X’Y’Z.

In P3 DCI WHITE the values 4095, 4095, 4095 will correspond to the DCI WHITE values 3794, 3960, 3890 in DCDM X’Y’Z.

In P3 D65 the values 4095, 4095, 4095 will correspond to the D65 WHITE values 3883, 3960, 4092 in DCDM X’Y’Z.

In DCDM X’Y’Z the D55 WHITE, DCI WHITE and D65 WHITE have the same luminance (Y) level for all three white points. But the X and Z values are higher/lower for each of the three white points.

White (Y=3960) is 14 fL / 48 cdm2 for all three white points and is also the maximum allowed Y value.

Y values higher than 3960 are illegal and out of gamut, but the projector may have a setting enabled that fits illegal values inside the projector gamut.

Virtual White is described in SMPTE RP 431-2:2011
D-Cinema Quality  Reference Projector and Environment
which is based on the SMPTE Digital Cinema White Gamut Practices Study Group Report. It is also a PCF (projector configuration file) and a color calibration target on digital cinema projectors that can be used to calibrate the projector to comply with SMPTE RP 431-2:2011 instead of SMPTE RP 431-2:2007.

Going from different P3 color spaces to DCDM X´Y´Z´ is described in
SMPTE EG 432-1-10


Converting to DCDM X’Y’Z using 3×3 matrix linear algebra

Also see this post: How to calculate RP-177 3×3 matrices in Matlab

RP-177 math is implemented in this free python package:
Colour Science for Python

If you want use the 3X3 matrix linear algebra used in SMPTE EG 432-1-10  to convert to DCDM X’Y’Z, you should grade the material in a digital cinema reference environment.

SMPTE RP 431-2:2011 D-Cinema Quality  Reference Projector and Environment:


The mathematical transform from reference projector Rec.709 D65 WHITE to reference projector X´Y´Z D65 WHITE is available here:
SMPTE Digital Cinema White Gamut Practices Study Group Report

page 42


This transform is not automatically correct if you convert from monitor graded REC709 to DCDM X’Y’Z’ because:

-DCDM X’Y’Z’ is a display referred gamma encoded color space that is meant to be seen on a digital cinema projector with white at 14fL/48 cd/m2 in a dark environment ( and that meets all the applicable SMPTE Standards and Recommended Practices.)
-Monitor Rec 709 material is meant to be seen on a monitor with white at around 80-120 cdm2 in a dim environment.

Only when you grade the Rec 709 material in a cinema with 14 fL/48 cd/m2 will the mathematical transform be correct.

The example math uses:
-12 bit = 4095,
-maximum luminance = 48,
-the normalizing constant = 52.37,
-2.6 gamma
DCDCM X´Y´Z´ = 2.6 gamma encoded CIE XYZ 1931 with DCI primaries (currently P3) with 48 cdm2 maximum luminance and a normalizing constant of 52.37.

For more info see this post: How to make 3D LUTs in Nuke

More sources on color science and color space conversions:

Digital Color Imaging Handbook
google search: Digital Color Imaging Handbook


Digital cinema colors vs 35 mm colors

When using some film emulation 3D LUTs you can get a desaturated effect on video material because the colors that are not possible to show on 35 mm film can be mapped to 35 mm allowed values. But 35 mm can show very saturated dark colors.

Digital cinema can show bright colors that is impossible on film.

Digital cinema uses an additive color system while 35 mm film uses a subtractive color system.

-In an additive color system if you combine all the colors you will get white.

-In a subtractive color system if you combine all the colors you will get black.

-Some colors are not very bright on 35 mm film, because you have to combine layers of color to make them, and these layers stops light.

-The Xenon P3 color space was made for grading film and have more saturated primaries than REC709.

-P3 can show more of the saturated 35 mm colors, but it is also a additive color system that can show the brighter colors that was impossible with film.

-There are some films using brighter colors for dramatic effect. This is perhaps because the digital cinema version of the film is now usually the master that other versions will be made from. The 35 mm print would look different than the digital cinema version on these films.


REC2020. The future color space for digital cinema?

Today the reference projector for DCI XYZ  uses the Xenon projector P3 primaries. It is the current minimum Color Space Gamut.

The TV standard REC2020 have been standardized and there is a reference projector that can show the REC2002 laser primaries. This Super Hi-Vision color space can show 99 percent of the colors humans are able to see.

The DCI P3 RGB white point is not meant to be used as a mastering white point because it is greenish. You are supposed to use something like P3 D60, which is similar to the white Xenon light of a 35 mm projector.

The DCI X`Y`Z`standards can also be upgraded to REC2020 primaries in the future. If the minimum Color space gamut changes from Xenon P3 to RGB Laser REC 2020, the reference projector standard will change and all post production labs need to move to RGB Laser projectors.
The Xenon projectors still in use in cinemas will need some kind of mapping of REC2020 to P3, but would be able to use the same DCPs as the Laser projectors. Most likely there will be two different DCPs, one for Xenon and one for RGB Laser. The contrast ratio possibly with RGB laser projector is much greater.




Using FFMPEG to convert DCPs to other formats ?

Ffmpeg can read the MXF files used in DCPs and automatically apply a XYZ-RGB color transform when converting them.

This could be useful if a movie is only in the DCP format and you need to convert it and screen it on an ordinary projector and you have no time to get a replacement, use resolve or easydcp player.

Or you have no other way to check sync or 5.1 sound on a DCP.

You will also get an idea of the picture quality.

Note: the resulting video from FFMPEG will have crushed blacks. This is because it is difficult to do the color conversion from XYZ-RGB because a DCP is in a display referred color space called (DCDCM) X’Y’Z’ that is meant to be watched in a digital cinema projector enviroment. So you can’t use the same color transform that you would use to convert between TV/Monitor standards.

for more details on RGB-DCDM X`Y`Z`conversions see this post

Some FFMPEG tests I did:
With FFMPEG you can convert a DCP to a Prores file.
You can also convert to a TS file that you can play on a PS3.

You can even watch a low res version in real-time.


Belle Nuit: Use ffmpeg for dcp playback

Open Source DCP Player Proof of Concept

I tried to play a DCP with the newest build of FFMPEG for windows using this command in cmd.exe:

c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg -lowres 2 -i 1_j2c.mxf -i 2_pcm.mxf -c:a copy -c:v mpeg2video -f avi - | c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffplay -

I used proxy option 2 (0 is full quality) and full quality audio.
I tried it on a 25 FPS DCP and it played in realtime in low quality.

To get a better look at the DCP you can convert the DCP to other formats:

Converting a DCP to Prores 422 HQ Quicktime with FFMPEG

c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg -i 2_j2c.mxf -i 2_pcm.mxf -c:a copy -c:v prores -profile:v 3 -pix_fmt yuv422p10le -vf scale=min(1920\,a*1080):min(1080\,1920/a),pad=1920:1080:(ow-iw)/2:(oh-ih)/2

I copied the audio from the DCP: -c:a copy

I used Prores 422 hq: -profile:v 3.

You can also use:
Prores 422 LT = -profile:v 1
Prores 422 Proxy = -profile:v 0

I reversed the scaling/padding from here so 2048×858 and 1998×1080 will be scaled and padded to 1920×1080

FFMPEG prores files plays fine in VLC, but not in quicktime player. DNXHD is an alternative.

To play the DCP on a PS3 with 5.1 dolby digital sound you can convert it to a TS video file with this command:

c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg -i 3_j2c.mxf -i 3_pcm.mxf -c:a ac3 -ab 448k -c:v libx264 -preset slow -tune film -b:v 20M -pix_fmt yuv420p -vf scale=min(1920\,a*1080):min(1080\,1920/a),pad=1920:1080:(ow-iw)/2:(oh-ih)/2 test7.ts

It played fine on the PS3 with Dolby digital 5.1 sound. I used h264 compression with 20 mbit bitrate, -b:v 20M.


The converted files are a bit dark (crushed blacks).

Update: I tested the prores conversion again in 2014. See comments.
The prores is in 10 bit.
A test image with grey patches with original values around 11,11,11 in 8 bit did not get converted to 8 bit values in the prores. But the patches in the prores was off from 11,11,11, one patch had values 10,6,10.

Some DCP conversion software raises the blacks a lot.

DCPs with offsets on the MXF files can be out of sync.

DCPs with soft subtitles will not keep their subtitles.

To watch DCPs in better quality (10 bit) with offsets and subtitles use Fraunhofer Easydcp Player. It can also convert DCPs to quicktime files or 16 bit TIFF with better image quality and subtitles.

You could try to find the offset in the CPL XML file and cut away the frames from the start of the video/audio in a video editor and convert the subtitles to srt in Subtitle edit and load them in VLC.