Yes, if you really know how to use a camera.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic- Yes. Yes, you can vlog with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC4K ).
Even though the manufacturer put an innovative second record button on the front of the camera just for vlogging most reviewers have said the same thing: “This isn’t a camera for vlogging.”
What they mean is “this camera doesn’t have some of the consumer oriented attributes that most vloggers have gotten used to and view as indispensable.”
The BMPCC4K doesn’t have any form of in-body image stabilization. While it has auto-focus for compatible lenses it isn’t really designed for manual focus. It also doesn’t have a flip out screen. Most vloggers tend to depend on (are spoiled by) these three attributes, and are a little lost without them. However, none of them are essential, and it’s not too difficult to get used to vlogging with a camera that doesn’t have them.
I was able to get BMPCC4K around a month ago, and have been going around Prague testing it out every since. I previously used the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and have grown used to its peculiar qualities and quirks. All cameras have personalities, and learning how to get along with them is just a part of the game. You and your camera are an odd sort of team — there are somethings that you may suck at that your camera can make up for and their are some things that your camera may suck that that you will need to learn to work around. These work arounds are what I’m looking for now with the BMPCC4K.
Surprisingly, there are not many. This is actually probably the easiest all manual cinema cameras that I’ve ever used. It may sound a little cheesy, but this camera is a joy to work with. It’s intuitive and there is no part of it that I would describe as being inherently challenging or frustrating — save for the battery meter not providing proper indications when you’re about to run out of juice.
I’m interested in is learning how this camera performs in real life, live filming situations. It’s one thing to test a camera on a formal, set-up shoot, and another to just take it out somewhere you’ve never been before and start filming whatever you find there. The kind of filming that I mostly do is run and gun news shooting, verite docs, or vlogging. This requires fast decisions and doesn’t provide any lag time to mess with around with camera settings, etc. So I took it out to the Kolbenova flea market on the outskirts of Prague to find out.
I had three questions that I wanted to answer:
1) Can I use this camera in an active, run and gun setting without a stabilizer?
2) Can I film myself and stay in focus?
3) Can I interview someone with the internal mics and have it be usable?
This is what I came up with:
1) Yes. Although there is one caveat: you must use a wide angle lens or one of the supported (Panasonic, Olympus) lenses that proved in-lens stabilization. I shot this video with a 10mm SLR Magic Cine lens. It did the job. However, when I use the 25mm SLR Magic Cine the results are a little more shaky … literally. If going for any focal length over 10 or 12mm I would highly recommend using a gimbal, shoulder rig, or just lock down on a tripod.
2) Yes. More often than not when I filmed myself I was able to get good focus. The shot of me on the tram was a little borderline, but this will improve as I continue working with the camera. Also, if I was shooting anything for more professional or important projects I would just use an external monitor. However, knowing how to get focus without a monitor is more or less essential, as you don’t want to be running around with a big screen perched on the top of your camera everywhere you go.
I will put up a post soon about how to focus on yourself when vlogging without an external monitor or auto-focus.
3) Yes, for YouTube. The audio of interview that I did with the photographer was captured with the camera’s internal mics. While they are not good by any means they are by far the best internal mics out of any camera that I’ve ever used. This doesn’t mean that I would ever plan to use them though. Generally speaking, you’re going to want to have an external mic plugged into this camera at all times.
The one that I most often use is a Zoom F1 Field Recorder. I just mount it on top of the camera and plug it in. I then record internally in camera, although I could make a backup recording in the field recorder itself. This audio recorder is decent, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it good. It has a pretty noticeable noise floor and recorders like the Zoom H5 blow it away. However, the H5 is also huge (although I sometimes will mount this on the camera instead of the F1, creating a truly ridiculous looking, but sweet sounding, set up).
While the BMPCC4K is a little more laborious to vlog with than, say, a GH5, the video quality and color science make up for it in a big way. This is a professional cinema camera; it’s made for people who know how to use a camera who generally use supporting gear like external mics, monitors, and stabilizers. However, it is also one mean vlogging machine once you get to know it a little.
Shop for a Zoom H5 audio recorder.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3657 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York
August 3, 2020, 7:39 am
Thanks for the article! Did you get round to writing the post about focusing on yourself while vlogging with the BMPCC? I had a quick look on your site but couldn’t find it.
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