05 Dec Stop apologizing for Pocket 4K battery
We all knew that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K was going to have worse run-time on the internal LP-E6 battery than virtually any other DSLR-like camera…even worse than the notoriously short-running Sony cameras. (The only thing worse is probably the original Pocket Cinema Camera.) When Blackmagic Design promised an hour of runtime, we all pretty much gave that optimistic estimate a mental haircut to 30 minutes before even touching the camera. Us early adopters were more or less prepared for battery life to be bad. What we didn’t know was that the situation was even worse.
Needing to change batteries that frequently is annoying, but manageable.
Not having reliable tools to know when to do so is pretty rough.
Batteries getting stuck, battery doors not closing and losing work because the battery dies without warning is downright unacceptable.
But because there is so much else to love about the camera, I’ve found myself, and others, twisting into knots overlooking glaring problems and making excuses for poor choices, bugs and manufacturing defects. But let’s be real. The situation is inexcusable.
There is no good reason that the camera doesn’t accurately track battery usage, warn when the battery is getting low, and politely shut-down before it dies completely. Every Panasonic GH camera I have shot with since the GH2 has done exactly this. (Not to mention running for a very long time on a smaller battery…but we won’t even go there.) Every other camera I can think of does exactly this. Yet I routinely read people on Blackmagic’s forum, as well as bmcuser.com, blaming users for attempting to use the battery indicator as a battery indicator. They scold people, admonishing them to read a voltage meter and guess when some number is too low. Really? C’mon. If we are not to use the percentage indicator, then why is it there? Why can other cameras do this?
The other common refrain is that users should use an external battery. While it is wonderful that the Pocket 4K gives the option of powering it via an external 12v connector, that’s a different way of working. One I’m glad to have, but in no way an excuse for the internal battery system to suck. The real beauty is having both options, the ability to go from a big rig to a stealthy “pocket” camera. Right now, one of those options is severely crippled, and instead of making excuses, we need to ask Blackmagic to fix it.
It’s totally reasonable to expect Blackmagic to do the following ASAP:
- The battery meter should actually work as a reasonably reliable indicator of battery life that a human being can intuitively interpret.
- The camera should display a warning before politely shutting down, properly closing Prores files in the process.
- Blackmagic needs to do to whatever they need to do to ensure batteries don’t get stuck and that the battery door closes reliably.
In the meantime, buy lots of batteries … and cross your fingers.