Learn the best methods of powering your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera to get the most recording time and efficiency.
How to Effectively Power Your BMPCC
The BMPCC range comes with a removable battery, a standard LP-E6 like Canon use. The problem with this alone is that it affords you very little filming time, particularly at higher resolutions. You'd get somewhere in the region of 20-40 minutes of shooting in Full HD.
Users of third-party LP-E6 batteries have reported that you get even less time out of them (some report a huge 75% drop in efficiency), so if buying extra batteries is your preferred option then go with a trusted brand like Canon or go via Blackmagic's site for trusted suppliers. We once made the mistake of buying cheaper third-party batteries and we discovered that, as the saying goes, ‘buy cheap, pay twice.’
Swapping out batteries is a pain, so a battery grip can be a great solution if you prefer to use them but don’t want to have to keep replacing them while filming. Battery grips for the 4K and 6K replace the LP-E6 battery with two L-series batteries.
The grips for the 4K and 6K are L-shaped with one part fitting into the existing battery slot and the other housing the two batteries. This significantly extends the filming time you can get using batteries and reduces the number of times you’d need to switch them out. You should get around two hours of shooting from one charge from a grip.
The grip for the 6K Pro is slightly different in that it fixes directly to the bottom of the camera, without the need to plug into the battery slot, and it takes two NP-F570 batteries with around three hours of use per charge.
Update Your Firmware
Keeping your camera’s firmware up to date is wise anyway, but can also have unexpected benefits, battery issues being one of the ones of recent years.
In the 6.1 version of the Blackmagic Camera Setup Software the update addressed power issues like the camera shutting off without warning while there’s still power in the battery, sometimes as much as 40% which obviously is a significant difference in battery efficiency.
Most professional gimbals will power the majority of popular cameras on the market. We use a Gudsen Moza Air 2 which boasts up to 16 hours of battery life with four Li-ion 18650 batteries. While I assume that that’s dependant on how you’re using your camera, we’ve not yet run out of power using it but it would be easy to have a spare set of batteries on hand if you were planning on particularly heavy usage and were unsure.
Blackmagic doesn’t really tout a V-Lock (or V-Mount) battery as one of the powering options on their site, but for us it’s been the best and most cost-effective solution. Many people report getting over five hours of on-off shooting with the V-Lock and while we’ve never needed to use it for that long, we’ve certainly had over three hours with no issues.
Adding a V-Lock battery is a little less straightforward than other methods and there’s no one agreed upon way, but once it’s on it’s pretty solid. It uses an adapter that looks like a dummy battery that goes into your battery slot in the same way as a battery grip would. You can also plug it into the 12v input instead of the dummy adapter.
We mount our V-Lock underneath the camera as the majority of work we do is on a tripod or gimbal so it’s easier to mount it directly onto the tripod and also simple to take off if we need to put the camera on the gimbal. Those who use shoulder mounts tend to favour having the battery behind the camera on the shoulder mount to help with balance, but the pitfall of that is it can block the screen. It’s less of a problem if you then use an external monitor, but remember you’ll likely still need the monitor's touch controls.
We have the quick release plate for the tripod permanently mounted on the bottom of the battery and a quick release plate shoe mounted on the top of the battery, with a quick release plate on the bottom of the camera, so it can slide on and off.
The V-Mount itself is on the bottom of the quick release shoe – this is so the camera stays the same for going on gimbal without the bottom needing to be unscrewed each time.
AC Power Plus USB-C Input
The BMPCC includes an AC plug so you can charge the batteries while you shoot if you’re staying in one place with access to power, effectively running off the mains.
There’s also the USB-C port that you can connect to a power source like a power bank or laptop, though the charging function will be slower than when connected to mains.
It’s really important that before you plug any power source into your camera (or anything, really!) that you check the voltage is compatible, because it’s entirely possible to fry it, and people have. If you’re unsure whether a power source is okay to use with your camera, you can contact Blackmagic and ask, they’re pretty good at getting back to you and letting you know if it’ll be okay.
Let's face it, the standard battery is nobody's favourite way of powering their Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, but thankfully there are a lot of good alternatives that you can research and choose based on your particular needs and setup. Hopefully you've found some of the suggestions here useful and can investigate them further, just remember that whatever way you choose to power your BMPCC, you have a backup too. It's worth holding onto the battery that comes with the camera—and keeping it charged—just in case of emergencies!
More Pocket Cinema Camera Tutorials
- How to Set Up the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera: Quick Start GuideMarie Gardiner30 Jul 2021
- How to Protect the BMPCC With a Cage and Add-onsMarie Gardiner30 Jul 2021