What’s Going On with this BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera?

I just recently received two BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Cameras earlier today. So I decided to unbox one and start shooting around, but noticed some very odd lines in the screen. When I played it back on my screen the lines were very apparent. They are so prominent even focus peaking picks up on the vertical lines. Here's a video explaining the issue.

I'm not new to this camera, in fact I shot for an entire week with a previous BMPCC. I looked through every setting, but because of the weird colors it is reproducing I can't imagine it being related to a simple setting in the menu. My fear is this camera has a bad sensor and just needs to be sent back and replaced. Or maybe i'm just a complete idiot and i'm just missing something.

I really want to love this camera, and was so excited that two of my orders arrived, but the hoops I have to jump through keep adding up. What do you guys think about this issue?

Here's a sample video from the camera and if you look closely you can see the vertical lines. You can also download the original video from Vimeo to playback in full ProRes on your system by (clicking here).





45 thoughts on “What’s Going On with this BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera?

  1. Im glad I didn't rush. Im still going to get one but lets all just wait till the smoke clears first and meanwhile get some lenses. maybe pick up on cooking. backflips.

  2. Steve M.

    My 2 cents, I think it's a testament as to how difficult it is to produce one of these cameras. Look at the difficulty RED had, look at the Bolex project, it's just not as simple as 123. What is apparent is the Japenese have this technology down. Sure, even they have had a few quirks, but for the most part, pretty solid technology. Mind you, this is not in any way a cut to Black Magic, or anyone for that matter, I applaud their efforts, but like many have stated, I too want to avoid as much hoop jumping as possible.

  3. Martin D

    @Apostolos ...I agree ...cut BMD some slack. The BMPCC hasn't been out long enough to be evaluated or reviewed for those interested. It may not be the camera for everyone, but it does have its uses for certain situations ...with the promise of providing 13 stops of dynamic range. I don't have the need for such a camera, but some artists might generate some interesting footage ...that I'd like to see.

    Also, I haven't seen anyone else reporting BMPCC sensor problems. Only time will tell. So far, Emm has suffered with one BMPCC ...and has one operating BMPCC. I'm waiting to see what Emm has to say about the BMPCC, in a couple of weeks or however long he sees fit for an honest evaluation. I will also be looking at other reviews.

    I'd say cutting BlackMagic Design some initial slack is a good idea. What other company is developing such a camera at the sales price offered? ...none. If none of the cameras work as advertised, then that's another issue ...but I doubt that's the problem.

    BlackMagic Design also appears to be having deadline/delivery issues with their 4K cameras as well click here. Give'em time ...it's a 1st generation 4K camera. I don't know of anyone in the USA that will be able to watch conveniently on a 4K monitor. This camera's footage will allow a lot of flexibility in post-edit as well ...and I'm curious to see what happens on a 1080 HDTV.

  4. hansd

    they fixed the blooming issue.
    If you already have a Pocket you need to send it in to the nearest BMD office, they can recalibrate it there.

  5. Hey Fabdex, I think you are forgetting that we are where we are today partially because of BMCC. I read about the 4k Sony camera, and it looks like Sony is trying to somehow salvage the small sensor video camera margins. BM is a small outfit -_compared to Sony or Canon-- that does not have the resources to make their own sensors, like the big guys, but it brought an incredible product to the market. I'm not an early adopter because I can't afford to be, but I'm going to cut them some slack, and then some more...

  6. FabDex

    Any camera that requires me to fix issues in post is a piece of shit. I'm sure the new 4K Sony will be perfect out of the box. Blackmagic has lost me as a potential customer.

  7. MN

    Gear heads are amusing. (in a good way) You want the bleeding edge but then cancel orders when you find that you are unwilling to stand on it.

    You're gonna get issues with new cameras from smaller companies. They're more creatively nimble than the big players, but that value they give comes with a trade off.

    Having issues with QC is one of the opportunity costs of supporting these kinds of businesses.

    As it stands, I personally want to thank those of you who are willing to help push the development and competition by buying the latest stuff.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Pops - The Cinema cameras aren't meant to be as simple as a DSLR. You have to be willing to put in extra effort with these cameras, especially in post. For that reason, I only use it for certain projects.

  9. Pops

    @EMM - Do you still have your original BMCC? Have you conducted any side by side tests? I'm still putting my newly purchased MFT through it's paces with the Metabones speed booster. It's impressive. However, I'm feel like in the future I will need to force myself to use it (because of the additional effort required). Did you find you ending up having similar feelings?

  10. Aron J Anderson

    I just canceled one of my orders. I still have another on order. But I may just cancel it as we'll and wait till this blooming issue is corrected. And maybe after Christmas if all is fixed order again.

  11. Joshua

    @Alex

    I feel you. While I was one of those people always talking about it, I have kinda been swayed little by little away. GREAT quality, just so many multiple hang ups, I'll pass this time. Yes, it may have better dynamic range than my 5DII, but too many hang ups so far.

  12. hansd

    FYI,
    Blackmagic obviously briefed all departments to not label the blooming issue as being a 'defect', 'issue' or even 'camera fault'. If you send it in to MAYBE get it fixed, they officially do it as a 'courtesy' and remind you several times that it is not a camera fault.

    They do this to be in a legally good position.
    If you have a Pocket and want to send it in, be persistent that it is a camera fault (and that they must pay shipping). Otherwise they can send it back, unfixed, without being bound to further look into it.

    Mention the blooming being a 'camera fault' everytime you communicate with them.

    It's VERY disappointing how things evolve around this camera and BMD.

  13. Gyoz

    Easy... BM has underestimated the complexity of building a dependable camera.

    Looks like the BMPCC is still in a Alpha stage. Incredible they have released it with such bad sensor calibration. I will stick with my Mark3 with raw and wait for 2.0 😉

    I bet they must have some serious issues also with the 4K.

  14. Martin D

    @Martin D – I would have loved to pack it up, but B&H might be closed until next week.

    Man! Oh! Man! ...you've got my luck. I got a chuckle out of your post ...couldn't help it. Yep ...Rosh Hashanah Holiday Closing at B&H ...they won't open again until Sunday 10am EDT. That's not so bad. Hopefully, they will have a new replacement BMPCC.

    I'd say you're batting a 1000 with this one camera. Step away from the defective BMPCC ...go tinker around with the other BMPCC that works. You're going to go crazy-nuts if you don't. Liquor may help deaden the pain.

  15. Aron J Anderson

    This just posted on Blackmagic forums.
    Hi guys,
    As promised, here’s an update on the ‘blooming’ sensor topic.
    All sensors, be it CCD or CMOS, will have a ‘blooming’ effect when during severe overexposure, the pixel is over saturated and excessive charges overflow to neighbouring pixels. It just looks different depending on the sensor type.
    We are not seeing this on some of our test cameras so it might be something that is calibration related. Please contact your nearest support office and we’ll run another calibration on the camera.
    regards
    Kristian Lam
    Blackmagic Design

  16. Aron J Anderson

    Yeah is raw,Prores and 13 stops dynamic range worth the visual issues this camera has. I think the blooming thing is the deal breaker for me.

  17. hansd

    The bad news don't stop. Obviously really bad QC at BMD. Plus the blooming issue that needs the Pocket to be sent back to factory - and then MAYBE get fixed.
    They overpromised and underdeliver...once again. I'm losing confidence in this company :(

  18. Martin D

    Emm,

    at this point, I would have already had it in the return package. I wouldn't waste anymore time with it. It's not worth the aggravation and blood pressure spike.

    Even if you got it working ...I wouldn't trust "this" one camera, on any future shoot. Get rid of it and enjoy the weekend.

  19. FabDex

    Soud issues... black spot issues... white halo "bubble" issues... now this. I've said it before, I'm saying it again: unusable.

    My money will probably go to one of the new 4K Sonys.

  20. Sounds like sensor meets image processing to me. I received my BMPCC about a week ago and did notice repeating vertical lines of noise (not color) but only in certain situations.

    Shooting 1600 ASA in very low light I'll see the same vertical lines of noise (again, not color as you have) in the shadows. I looked at this as a high ISO processing issue as the areas it becomes apparent are grossly underexposed. Since I've just been testing the cameras limits, and will never shoot this way in the real world, it's not a real issue for me. Just thought it bore mentioning.

    As a side note, shooting into the sun and letting it really blow out, I have not had any "black-dot" issues. I did update firmware for the camera immediately upon receipt since there is new firmware available and I recommend anyone getting theirs to do the same. Not saying this is a guaranteed fix, but I haven't had any problems thus-far.

  21. Ah that must be a major bummer. Good thing you did get a second one (lucky). There seem to be quite a few start-up issues with the Pocket.

    We now have the Black Dot issue (most likely fixable in a Firmware update). Then there's the audio-thing (status: unknown, but seems to have been fixed in newer batched). Then there are no audio meters (wish-list-item). Then there's the White Blooming Orb issue (according to Joe Rubinstein (from the Bolex D16) is a sensor calibration issue which can be fixed via a recall). And availability is not optimal (not an issue, but still, worth mentioning).

    Kinda considering a upgrade to a 2.5K model, which in theory, I can pickup in under 45 minutes 😉

  22. Marcos

    Thanks for these updates - really valuable for us potential customers.

    As for your issue, have you tried updating the firmware? The issue looks more software related than anything a physical defect and it's just possible that the new firmware might reset it? Hope it's that simple!

  23. Emm

    Post author

    @scott - These are brand new out of the box cameras. This is not the same camera from my previous posts. This is directly out of the box with a stock battery. With the weird colors and patterns it looks like a sensor problem, not a voltage problem.

  24. Martin D

    Forgot ...the only other item that I would inspect would be 'inside' the battery compartment on the camera. Take the battery out of the camera. Inside the camera's battery compartment, make sure all metal contacts are clean (no oil, debris, sticky labels ...etc.) and are not bent, dented or damaged.

    If I read correctly, then there should be a 12V input off of the charger. If possible ...try powering the camera off of that instead of the battery. If the sensor is still acting up, then you most likely have a defective sensor or some other hardware problem.

    There's just not too much one can do in this situation. Check the power supply, power connectors, factory reset ...cross fingers.

    I hate to see anyone go through this type of aggravation/misery.

    Sincerely ...Best of luck!

  25. Martin D

    Sorry to hear your BMPCC woes. I think you're correct about the sensor. It's probably bad or was mounted incorrectly to the circuit board inside the BMPCC and isn't functioning properly. Hopefully, this is a 'single' isolated incident/problem and not a batch of bad sensors ...or poor quality control on the assembly line. I don't know how well BM could absorb a BMPCC recall.

    I'm sure you've already tried this ...and I doubt it will work, but try to perform a 'factory reset' on the camera ...before you package it up and send it back. You've proven that the power supply (battery) is fine. Sometimes a 'factory reset' works, but it looks like you have a bigger problem. Even if a 'reset' worked ...I'd still send the camera back.

  26. rapheal

    It because you have 2 cameras. If you read the back of the box it says if you have two cameras then you have to give one of them away or one will malfunction.

  27. Aron J Anderson

    Sorry for so many post. I just remembered I had this issue with my second GH2 a few years back. I returned it to B&H after contacting Panasonic. Panasonic said they had this issue only with a handful of GH2.

  28. Aron J Anderson

    I ordered two as well. I guess I won't cancel and just return them if any come all crappy and stuff. I really want that dynamic range.

  29. Emm

    Post author

    @Paul - Thanks i'll check that firmware on the lens. At least one of the BMPCC cameras is working but it really sucks because I really wanted to start working with two.

  30. Aron J Anderson

    Well you wanted to give one away I guess you will be giving this one away, back to the factory.

  31. Aron J Anderson

    That is DOA. I don't have mine yet but I don't want to jump through hoops. I stated that my Gh3 works to good to be going through the hassle these cams seem to be giving you.

  32. Really bizarre. I'm not getting that on my BMPC that was delivered from B&H one week ago, and anyway, your video proves that it was a fluke of a manufacturing defect as occasionally happens, rather than a design issue.

    I did, incidentally, hear that annoying squealing noise from the internal mics create, which you reported and everyone else weirdly leapt to discount. Blackmagic also disclaimed it, but it might really be a design flaw. I don't think great on-body mics are especially valuable, but I will often be syncing with them to primary audio capture and I don't see why we should make excuses for something that could have been avoided -- and I wanted the cleanest audio for sync possible.

    BTW, on the 12-35mm f2.8 lens, make sure you check the firmware version using a Panasonic body ensuring that it's at version 1.2 from a couple of months ago -- dramatic improvement in terms of how it communicates with the BMPC.

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