Blackmagic Design 6K Pro Review : Image Quality Triumphs All
So this is the BlackMagic Design 6K Pro and I pretty much love and hate it at the same time. When BlackMagic Design released the BMPCC 4K, cinematographers all around the world lost their heads. Knowing how the top engineers who design and build cinema grade cameras made it accessible to average consumers.
But little to behold, it wasn't perfect. Especially concerning its battery life that was fitted with the LPE-6 batteries. Quite the let down when you can't even record more than 30 minutes on a single charge. Yet in some cases, image qualities somehow always triumph even the biggest of flaws.
So for better or for worse, cinematographers and camera enthusiasts alike understood that by rigging the BMPCC and adding external SSD's are the only way to go. And here we are a few years later, with the Blackmagic 6K Pro. What's the difference you ask? Well for one, 6K recording obviously and also built-in ND filters. So today we're gonna go through the experience using the BMPCC 6K Pro and how this camera could serve as your daily shooter but also how easily this could set you back on a shoot if you're not prepared for its demands. So let's dive in as to why I think this the best camera you can get for $2500.
For starters, the 6K Pro has the best frame rate options available on the market at this price range. Just like the 6K version, the 6K Pro can record up to 6K or 4K at 50/60fps, and 2.8K at up to 120fps. All of which can be done in RAW formats in 1 of 8 different compression options.
There's also ProRes recording, which takes the full 6K resolution and downscales it to 4K (UHD/DCI) at up to 60fps, or 1080 up to 120fps. Which gets highly useful if you need a tighter shot when shooting in ProRes, you can choose the native 6K sensor area or crop in up to 2.8K.
From an ergonomic standpoint, it really does take some getting used to but definitely has a nice updated display from the BMPCC 4K which had a fixed position. So viewing and changing settings with the new folding rear display is incredible to use, especially if you're coming from the older models.
There's also the option to add an EVF on the top of the camera for just $500 which should help in compositing your shots better in very bright daylight situations..
But let me get to the second most desirable part of this camera, which are it's built-in ND Filters. So you no longer have to carry those pesky filters around anymore. I mean, from my general knowledge for a camera that shoots raw AND has built-in ND's.. that's really hard to come by. To which you can choose between 2, 4, and 6 stops even while you're recording.
In front of those ND's we have a canon EF mount which allows you to control your lens functions but unfortunately like the other pocket cinema cameras, continuous autofocus isn't supported. The 6K Pro has a super35mm sensor with dual native ISO of 400 and 3200. This results in better dynamic range, and low light performance, which tops out at 25,600 ISO. But when you push it beyond 5000 ISO is when things start to get a bit grainy.
In the image quality department, things are looking great. Dynamic range is fantastic as shown from the Yoga shots we had in the opening sequence of this video, and the Blackmagic colour science version 5 is a dream to work with. Using some preset LUT's in-camera or in post is quite easy to work with, and the amount of control you have to manipulate colours is truly a video editor's dream, or nightmare if you don't have the right machine to process 6K footage
And now we've arrived at the parts where I just didn't like about the 6K Pro.
Starting off with the weight and size of this camera. The BMPCC 6K Pro weighs 2.73 pounds and while that's not much, the uneven shape makes holding on to this camera such a chore. Given how it doesn't have autofocus and while manual focus requires you to place your hand on the lens to rack focus, I often found my right hand taking on more of the weight as placing your hand on the body doesn't really help in stable footage. Which results in quick fatigue after just a couple of hours. I just felt exhausted after walking around the city with this camera and while rigging this up does help in capturing low to the ground footage, it didn't help with the extra weight added from the cage and top handle.
But the worst of all, is the battery life. Now it's no news as to how BMPCC cameras are notorious for bad battery life, but experiencing it in real life in this 6K Pro compared the 45 minutes to 60 minutes Blackmagic had advertised, it didn't really show anywhere near to those numbers. Weirdly I only got around 10 to even 15 minutes of 6K RAW recording.
My optimistic side would like to hope it's because of a faulty battery, but it still gave the same results after burning through 3 of the NP-F570's. So maybe, just maybe there's some power issues with this specific unit I have with me, but the obvious solution I could only think of was to use a D-tap dummy battery paired to a V-Mount to continue shooting. Not ideal if you're trying to go just handheld without further accessories to support basic functioning.
Written by Fitri Aiyub