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URSA Mini Camera


Brian Drysdale
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The simple answer to this would have been to make the maximum speed 250fps.

The NTSC people would probably be happy to stick with 240fps whereas those of us in PAL world are not going to be happy about losing a huge 40fps by going down to 200fps.

 

The FS700 had exactly the same problem too. the maximum PAL frame rate was 800 vs 960 in 60hz. 160fps difference!

Again the top PAL speed should have been 1000fps.

 

Makes it seem like they only care about users in Japan (and maybe the US) or something.

 

Freya

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In my book, the FS7 and Ursa Mini are entirely different, non-compariable cameras.

 

The FS7 is more like an ENG camera, with ND filters built in, switches on the side to control things like gain, white balance, focus controls, etc. For documentary run and gun shooting with a zoom lens, it probably works pretty well. The down sides to the FS7 are huge however. Sony's steadfast commitment to MPEG based formats (XAVC/Long GOP) still blows my mind. These 8 bit compression algorithms should have been dead years ago after the invent of wavelet compression technologies. Sony still uses them because their editing software "Vegas", has been built around these compression standards. So you're basically buying a camera where the manufacturer has purposely limited the capability because they want you to use their software for post production. MPEG's are worthless for any other software, even FCPX has troubles working natively with these files, they're so GPU intensive, if you don't have a super fast computer, you're screwed. I understand you can spend many thousands more and get Pro Res capture, but what's the point?

 

The Blackmagic Designs Ursa Mini is a cinema camera. Kinda like a film camera with a built-in audio recorder and adjustable film stocks. It's not designed for run and gun shooting, it's designed to make cinematic looking images. Having owned blackmagic cameras for almost 2 years now, they still blow my mind away compared to any of the direct competition, most of which I've shot with at one point or another. Plus, codec is everything in today's digital age. Blackmagic's decision to go pro res and CInema DNG Raw, were outstanding because any Open GL graphics card, can playback Pro Res natively. So that mean's PC's and Mac's editing software with quicktime, can use the codec natively, except for Sony Vegas of course. The 10 bit 422 material coming out of my cameras, goes right into Avid, FCP7 or Premiere without any transcoding necessary, literally link to source and start editing. Plus, the Ursa Mini shoots 12 bit 444 as well, something that's nearly impossible to get with the FS7 unless you've got an external recorder.

 

So yes, the FS7 serves a different purpose entirely. I think for doc work, it probably works pretty well as having the absolute best quality, isn't necessarily the most important thing.

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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240 is an "NTSC" speed. In "PAL" mode you get 200. Therefore, going from 25 to 240 requires a reboot, or at least it did on the pre-release version I had.

 

Not a great moment in embedded systems design.

 

This is the norm unfortunately for many DSLR/MILC too (when the offer PAL/NTSC switchability!!! Which shockingly many many of them don't), to get 60fps (a common max for many DSLR/MILC) you need to switch out of PAL mode to NTSC otherwise you're maxing out at 50fps :-/

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240 is an "NTSC" speed. In "PAL" mode you get 200. Therefore, going from 25 to 240 requires a reboot, or at least it did on the pre-release version I had.

 

Not a great moment in embedded systems design.

 

If you had 600 fps, that would serve both 25 and 24 fps... 600 being the least common multiple...

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The Blackmagic Designs Ursa Mini is a cinema camera. Kinda like a film camera with a built-in audio recorder and adjustable film stocks.

 

I would not call them "adjustable stocks" if changing the sensor in the field is not a simple one minute procedure. As far as I know these cameras are never intended for changing the sensors back and forth every day, you just update it to a newer one when a better sensor arrives.

 

-------

As for the pal vs ntsc max speeds, why not just conform them to the desired end fps, you won't sync audio anyways when shooting high speed?

If it's a flicker problem you can eliminate it by changing shutter speed

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I would not call them "adjustable stocks" if changing the sensor in the field is not a simple one minute procedure. As far as I know these cameras are never intended for changing the sensors back and forth every day, you just update it to a newer one when a better sensor arrives.

 

Sure, you've got different ASA's, different resolution selections, different color balance, these are all things in the the past we'd have to change stocks to achieve. Sure, the sensor delivers a particular image, but so do ALL 35mm Kodak Vision 3 negative stocks. So the camera sensor will be like a brand and type of stock (Kodak vision 3 for instance) and the type of stock is adjusted within the camera. Lucky for me, I kinda like Vision 3. LOL :)

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  • 4 weeks later...
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The footage looks really nice. I'm a bit surprised for a demo that they would use a light diffusion filter on the camera for some of the shots, looks like (ironically) a 1/8 Hollywood Black Magic... I took a screen shot and cropped it to show the filter artifact in the bokeh:

 

bm1.jpg

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  • 3 months later...
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The 1080p OLED URSA Viewfinder is now out in the wild, and the news looks very good.

 

See this report from a new owner (temporarily connected the VF to a BMPCC) ...
http://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=39181

 

... and also this one (VF connected to a BMCC):

http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.php?14886-Blackmagic-URSA-Viewfinder-working-on-the-BM-Cinema-Camera

 

... and here's a brief customer video, using the VF on an URSA:

https://forums.creativecow.net/thread/367/1718

 

... and here's a URSA VF connected to a RED Dragon:

http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.php?14886-Blackmagic-URSA-Viewfinder-working-on-the-BM-Cinema-Camera&p=179075&viewfull=1#post179075

 

See also my previous post:
http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=67058&do=findComment&comment=428119

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I spent a day at IBC shooting with the 4K Ursa Mini, and on that basis I think it's worth making clear that most of the features that PVC mention in that review aren't, as I understand it, features of the viewfinder, they're features of the camera body. That's not to say that the viewfinder isn't good - it is, it has great fill factor, minimal lag, high sharpness and a reasonable optical setup. Used on another camera, though, it will just be a display, or at least that's what Blackmagic told me as far back as NAB. Blackmagic report that they have implemented a clever return data channel in order that the function keys on the EVF can control the camera's behaviour as regards viewfinder display options. This interpretation is supported by the fact that pressing the display button on the viewfinder also affects the flip-out on the camera. In general, though, I was told that the viewfinder will operate straightforwardly as an SDI display device.

 

Also I found that the automatic shutoff was way, way too trigger-happy. With the viewfinder up to your eye in normal operation, it's fine, but when shooting adventurous pans and tilts, which can involve leaning back a little, it's easy to have the thing fade out just as you get to the tricky part of your pan-tilt-focus-and-iris-pull combo.

 

The only other problems with the camera are the fact that the power button is hidden under the flip-out, which is a bit of a mistake. Here's hoping they can make one of the function keys (currently inactive) on the outside of the display into a power button. Other than that the whole thing is a pleasure to use and one waits for the new sensor with keen anticipation.

 

P

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According to new URSA Viewfinder owners, people who have it in-hand, with a few exceptions it's fully functional with any HD-SDI source. Including false colors, etc. For example, see the reports by BMPCC & BMCC owners in my previous post:

http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=67058&page=2&do=findComment&comment=435638

 

EDIT: The URSA Viewfinder's record tally light feature, and its Film to Video feature, are currently only supported by URSA & URSA Mini cameras. These features are toggled on/off via special control signals transmitted from an URSA camera to the VF via HD-SDI. In theory BMD might be able to add this functionality via a firmware update to cameras such as the BMCC & BMPC-4K, but unfortunately its unknown if this is either possible or likely.

 

An URSA cam's ability to communicate control data with the VF via SDI appears to add convenience, but it's not a requirement to get most of the VF's considerable benefits (1920 x 1080 resolution, OLED, low price).

 

As for the IR proximity sensor on the bottom of the URSA VF, until BMD adjusts the sensitivity of the p.sensor or its time-out function, myself I'd be inclined to put a gaf tape tab over the p.sensor -- and remove it when I want the VF to power off for an extended time.

 

From p.41 in the URSA user manual:

 

"The IR Sensor on your viewfinder automatically detects when you are near the eyepiece and turns on the OLED display. If you are away from the viewfinder for over a few seconds, the display turns off to conserve power and to extend the life of the OLED display. While the viewfinder will detect when you look into the viewfinder eyepiece, pressing any button on the viewfinder will also turn the display back on."

 

"Caution: Deliberately blocking or covering the IR sensor could cause the viewfinder's display to remain powered for prolonged periods of time. This could decrease the lifespan of the display and cause image retention if high contrast images or frame guides are displayed on the viewfinder. "

 

Even with that caveat in mind, gaf tape might still be useful at times.

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Nice review in Red Shark, Phil!

http://www.redsharknews.com/production/item/2903-review-blackmagic-ursa-mini-4k-the-most-interesting-camera-of-the-decade

 

Based on info recently posted by BMD's CaptainHook, I've added the following note to my previous posts in this thread:

 

EDIT: The URSA Viewfinder's record tally light feature, and its Film to Video feature, are currently only supported by URSA & URSA Mini cameras. These features are toggled on/off via special control signals transmitted from an URSA camera to the VF via HD-SDI. In theory BMD might be able to add this functionality via a firmware update to cameras such as the BMCC & BMPC-4K, but unfortunately its unknown if this is either possible or likely.

 

See CaptainHook's post here:

http://bmcuser.com/showthread.php?14886-Blackmagic-URSA-Viewfinder-working-on-the-BM-Cinema-Camera&p=179194&viewfull=1#post179194

 

-

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I would suspect that the push data to the EVF is probably just in the "ANC", that is, ancillary data in SDI frames, which could be straightforwardly sniffed by anything from an SDI protocol analyser to just reading it with test software on one of Blackmagic's own I/O cards. I would be astonished if any camera which wanted to couldn't implement it.

 

P

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  • 1 month later...

since they pushed back the release date once again who knows of a better camera at this price?

 

Do what I did some months ago, get a really cheap camera that you know will keep you happy for a year or so. Then after that you can pick up the URSA Mini for cheap once all its new kinks have been ironed out.

 

In my case, I picked up a Sony PMW-F3 for a crazy crazy low price of US$1.2K! (but you can easily find them secondhand for sub US$2k these days, with a bit of hunting). Rigged up with an external recorder it is a really really nice camera!

 

Even after I get an URSA Mini, my F3 will still have an advantage over BMD in that it has extremely good low light, internal ND's, and has an interchangeable mount (I can easily switch between Nikon F mount, and PL mount, or anything else that I wish).

 

I highly recommend checking out the F3, having one makes it very very easy to wait for the URSA Mini as you feel like you're in now rush at all now to get another camera :) :) The FS700 is also going very cheap second hand now as well, and you might even be tempted by getting the new Sony FS5 *instead* of the URSA Mini if your work is more in that direction.

 

with 4k 60fps or higher and global shutter up to 30fps

 

Yeah, nah. Not going to happen at BMD's price, at least not any time soon. Closest I'd consider is the KineFinity KineMax 6K, but that is much more expensive. Actually, getting the original URSA 4K would be the closest there is at an affordable price with those specs.

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  • 5 months later...

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