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Pod Modified BMPCC 6K (Prototype) with Angelbird SSD2GO PKT MK2 1TB SSD and Kondor Blue USB-C Cable

Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera lineup offers three recording media options: SD, CFast and external media, connected to its USB-C port. These media options aren’t bad; but there’s pros and cons to each, so let’s take a closer look.

SD cards are available with a whopping 1TB of storage; not bad for a device that weighs less than 2.5 tic tacs. Unfortunately, the 500GB and 1TB versions of these SD cards have a read and write speed closer to that of a disk drive, so you’ll need a fancy UHS-II SD card like Angelbird’s AV PRO V90 or Sony’s Tough cards with 300MB/s read speed. These faster cards do support Blackmagic Raw in 12:1 compression, but only up to 30fps. There’s been plenty of reports of unstable and inconsistent performance using SD cards with the Pocket Cinema Cameras, as running the minimum compression and frame rate is still pushing the fastest SD cards to their limit. Basically, don’t buy an SD card.

Then there’s CFast. CFast media will typically read at a little over 500MB/s, which is plenty of speed for 6K 3:1 BRaw at 50fps. 500MB/s is the most common speed you’ll find in a portable SSD. The downside of CFast is the pricing - at about $1,200 NZD for 1TB of storage, CFast is 3 times more expensive than that 1TB SD card. Although expensive, these cards offer very stable performance shooting raw with the Pocket Cinema Cameras, and if you’re keen to avoid any cables attached your camera, CFast is a good way to go. But if you’re on a budget and don’t mind the mess, you can always plug in an SSD.

Again, your typical SSD will achieve about 500MB/s read, which covers all recording codecs and frame rates with the Pocket cameras. You’ve got to use a decent cable - many cheap, short USB-C cables don’t offer enough bandwidth. You’ll need a USB-C 3.2 cable minimum. Kondor Blue makes a 20cm USB-C cable (available in a braided black or blue finish) which makes a great fit for a Pod Modified Pocket camera. Just mount your portable SSD in a cold shoe mount adapter, slide it into the mount on the rear of the Pod Mod display, and you’re good to go.

Pod Modified BMPCC 6K (Prototype)

Of coarse, the added benefit of portable SSDs is their versatility. When you’re running low on storage for your computer, or you need to deliver footage to an editor, a high-capacity external SSD is a must-have, and their price-per-gigabyte makes them an easy buy; you can buy a Samsung T7 ‘Shield’ SSD in up to 4TB, and it’ll cost under $500 NZD, just slightly more than that 1TB SD card.. making this SSD over 10 times cheaper than CFast.

If you do intend to use an external SSD with your camera, you’ll just need to keep a very close eye on what’s stored on it. Using an SSD for both recording media as well as storing and sharing files can put both at risk of being overwritten, or accidently deleting important data while formatting a drive, so be sure to double-check your data and make backups whenever possible.

Any kind of media requires a thorough format monthly, because even data that has been deleted and erased from your ‘bin’ folder will leave traces of files clogging it up. Over time, this can build up and prevent even small files from being written to the drive. Blackmagic cameras have a thorough formatting procedure which erases far more data than, for example, Apple’s ‘Disk Utility’ app. It’s a good idea to format your drive both using both methods occasionally.

So, going for external SSDs is a far more appealing for the added versatility and to avoid the high pricing of CFast. But, you’ve got to be more aware of your data and where your projects are stored so as to avoid accidentely erasing important data. Plus, you’ll need to get used to a slightly more messy rig, the USB-C port of the Pocket Cinema Cameras can be easy to damage by bumping that plug. Overall, CFast is a more reliable and clean solution, which may just be worth the added cost.

15 NOVEMBER 2023

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Pod Tech

New Zealand

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