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BMPC-4K: What’ll my kit weigh? [Updated]

July 16, 2013

blackmagic-production-camera-4k

BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

My take on the BMPC-4K.

UPDATE: For travel & backpacking use I bought a MeFOTO “RoadTrip” aluminum tripod (see details & photo below). I also cut my camera slider into 2 sections, one 11″ (so it fits inside my backpack), with the remaining 21″ to be used for longer moves in situations where weight & size aren’t an issue. I also carefully removed the factory-installed internal 11-ounce metal counterweight from inside my Voyager-Q drive dock. Now the dock weighs only 10 oz. (without its AC adapter or eSATA cable). The attached spreadsheet PDF has been revised accordingly. I’ve added new photos (see below).

I put together a spreadsheet (PDF) to help me figure out how much a Blackmagic Production Camera 4K “kit” will weigh when configured with various accessories. By itself, a BMPC-4K weighs 3.75 pounds. Of course, I don’t have my camera yet because as of this writing it hasn’t started shipping.

My typical “minimum” BMPC-4K configuration will include a small DSLR-type zoom lens or small prime lens, SSD, LCD sun shade, and screw-on filters (polarizer, ND & IR-cut), mounted on my 11″ slider (but no add-on mic or audio gear, such as when shooting b-roll footage). I sometimes put my a 90WH battery & plate in a backpack or fanny-pack, and connect the battery cable to the camera while shooting, disconnecting it between set-ups.

Or, when loaded-up with all the on-cam accessories I’ll often use with the camera (such as a mic mixer, one or two microphones, audio cables, carbon fiber shoulder mount, 9″ carbon fiber rods, Wooden Camera’s mini-baseplate or a mattebox) the total weight increases to 12-16 pounds total depending on the configuration.

There’s more info in a previous post about the rig components I plan to use with the BMPC-4K.

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Note: My BMPC-4K kit weight totals don’t include the weight of an on-cam external monitor or EVF (plus support bracket, battery and cable — plus a SDI-to-HDMI converter if necessary) since I haven’t decided which EVF/monitor I might use, if any. In the meantime, I plan to use the camera’s built-in 5″ LCD and this. I currently sometimes use a 21″ AC-powered, floor-stand mounted monitor when shooting indoors.

What prompted my research?

To help me decide which small, lightweight backpack/travel-type tripod to buy I needed to determine my actual typical camera kit weight(s). Every ounce counts, and they add up quickly!

I already own two sturdy tripods with video-type fluid heads (a Manfrotto 515MV/510 and Libec H50). A fluid head is necessary to do silky-smooth camera moves, especially diagonal moves, while recording. But these tripods are far too big & heavy for most “pack light” travel & backpacking situations. Diagonal moves are something I’m willing to trade off when the total weight of the gear is more important than that one single type of camera move. Of course, when a production requires it, a big tripod and fluid head will be brought along, and I’ll get paid to carry and transport it, too!

Tripods and tripod heads have maximum load capacity ratings. I suspect some of these ratings are wishful thinking on the part of the manufacturers, but often the published specs are all we have to go on.

I decided to purchase the small and lightweight MeFOTO “RoadTrip” tripod (the aluminum version). According to MeFOTO’s website, that model has a maximum load rating of 17.6 pounds. (See photo below.) I called MeFOTO for confirmation, and they said their tripod weight ratings are conservative and can be relied upon.

In the attached photo, a sandbag weighing 16 pounds hangs from the RoadTrip tripod legs (legs only). The 16 pound sandbag represents the maximum total amount of gear I’ll use with these tripod legs. I’ve removed the tripod’s center column and head to reduce the tripod’s weight. Without the center column & head, the legs are 49″ tall, weigh 2.5 pounds, and fold down to 15″ long. My 11″ slider or quick-release plate can easily be bolted to the top of the tripod legs. Just to be clear: I won’t be using this sandbag with this tripod when I have my camera gear mounted on the tripod!  🙂

MeFOTO RoadTrip tripod legs with 16 pound sandbag

By way of comparison, MeFOTO rates their “GlobeTrotter” tripod for a 26.4 pound weight limit. Their smallest tripod, the “BackPacker“, is rated for 8.8 pounds.

MeFOTO tripods are available constructed of aluminum or carbon fiber, and all can convert into a monopod, too. The tripods weigh a mere 2.6 – 4.6 pounds, and for storage fold down to a length of 16.1” or less depending on the model. They easily fit in airline carry-on type suitcases and in some backpacks.

MeFOTO tripod heads are primarily designed for use with still cameras. They’re not intended to enable silky-smooth, video-style diagonal moves. But they’re fine for static shots. Horizontal pans are semi-smooth. However, to further reduce the weight of the tripod itself, I often remove the MeFOTO head and center column — it’s designed to do this quickly and easily. This allows me to bolt a camera quick-release or my 11″ camera slider directly to the top of the tripod legs. Removing the center column and head reduces the tripod’s weight by 18-ounces, to 2.5 pounds for the legs alone (without the slider or bolt).

I bought a small Konova “fluid head”, but don’t recommend it for a camera that weighs as much as a BMPC-4K. The head’s quick-release isn’t secure enough for that much weight. The Konova seems OK for use with lighter cameras such as my GH3.

In addition to figuring out which tripod to buy, I also wanted to figure out how much my entire traveling equipment kit weighs — including items such as a spare SSD drive, spare 50WH battery, battery charger, two 4TB bare 3.5″ hard drives (for backups), drive dock, headphones, misc. cables, my GH3 digital stills camera kit, and so forth. Adding my 17″ MacBook Pro laptop to all of that, my travel gear weighs up to 42 pounds total.

One way to greatly reduce this total equipment kit weight is to pack as many blank SSD media drives as will be needed to record all the footage during the shoot/trip, and not erase any for reuse. As a result, you may choose not to bring a drive dock & its AC adapter & cables, or multiple 4TB hard drives for backups, or a computer. This saves a lot of weight, but of course SSDs aren’t inexpensive. You’d be able to view footage on the camera’s LCD during the shoot/trip, but you wouldn’t be able to make a backup of the footage until after you return to your home base. Note: This approach is risky because your SSDs aren’t backed-up while you’re traveling. It may also be less convenient, since a copy of the footage isn’t viewable or editable on a computer until later. But it can be appropriate for certain productions/situations. However, I’d require a client to provide advance approval in writing for such an arrangement before proceeding.

Below are some additional photos showing various accessories bolted onto my MeFOTO RoadTrip tripod legs, including a slider built from Igus parts, a SLIK DQ-20 quick-release plate, the RoadTrip head (without the center column), and a Wooden Camera BMCC baseplate, Vocas/Century mattebox, Berkey System carbon fiber rods, IKAN battery plate, and AB Dionic-90 battery. The last 2 photos show how I modified the Ikan battery plate and an old Vocas rod clamp to mount the plate perpendicular to my shoulder mount rails.

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My list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.

My words & photos: ©2013 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved. http://www.peterdv.com

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.

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