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Brian Drysdale

URSA Mini Camera

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Pretty cool stuff, they're finally making a camera that LOOKS like a camera!

 

I'm a bit depressed they didn't update the pocket camera. They spent all this time building an all-new camera with an even smaller form factor, but didn't bother updating the pocket.

 

Still the Ursa Mini 4.6k is absolutely on the short-list when it's available.

 

Rokinon released a few new cine primes as well, so EF mount it is! :)

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I'm a bit depressed they didn't update the pocket camera. They spent all this time building an all-new camera with an even smaller form factor, but didn't bother updating the pocket.

 

they clearly wanted to use the same body with the Micro Studio Camera, presumably to save in manufacturing costs (larger production quantities)

 

Also for example Panasonic and Canon do this a lot (GH4 has the same Mg body than the GH3, C300Mk2 seems to have the same front body than the original C300, BMPC and BMCC have the same Al body, etc..)

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Pretty cool stuff, they're finally making a camera that LOOKS like a camera!

 

I'm a bit depressed they didn't update the pocket camera. They spent all this time building an all-new camera with an even smaller form factor, but didn't bother updating the pocket.

 

Still the Ursa Mini 4.6k is absolutely on the short-list when it's available.

 

Rokinon released a few new cine primes as well, so EF mount it is! :)

 

There is the micro Cinema Camera, which I think had a price tag on the display of around $1200. But one would have to 'build up' a camera, as it was just a housing with sensor and lens mount... pictured as a 'drone cam'.

 

Now if they had just a 'view finder' app for an iPhone or Android...

 

As it was once I made a pass through the camera area, I headed over to see the Fusion demo on the Mac. If BMD continues the free tools concept, it may be for many people's needs, not worth it to by in to Adobe or the like...

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the micro cinema camera should be 995$ and the micro studio camera 1295$ according to Blackmagic Design site. preliminary prices however.

 

They are extremely similar looking because they seem to have the same base body, the main difference from outside is the sensor and the SD card slot in the place where the studio camera has DIN sdi connectors

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The viewfinder, in my view, is the most interesting aspect of it. I'm not sure if there are literally no other full-resolution EVFs, as it's impossible to prove a negative, but I suspect it's one of the first if not the first. I've been told it's usable as a general purpose viewfinder requiring only SDI and power, so it can, with a bit of mounting ingenuity, be applied elsewhere. Very interesting.

 

The camera itself is nice - shame about the lack of high frame rate acquisition. I'm told the limitation here is cooling, which seems a shame as the actual run time of most high speed shots is short. Dark thoughts abound about the need to retain at least some reason to buy a full Ursa.

 

The choice of CFast is unfortunate as the format remains stubbornly expensive (it probably adds $1k to the cost of the camera for a shootable package). The choice here was apparently about size - an SSD could absolutely have done the job but would of course have been larger. Frankly that wouldn't have bothered me - like FS7, the Ursa Mini is small enough that it'll be front heavy with almost any lens, especially a zoom, and will need things mounted on the back to balance it out. The only other problem is that there currently seems to be quite a bit of lag - several frames - between the camera and the viewfinder. I'm told this is a feature of the prototype and not to be too concerned, but I'll be looking out for it in future revisions. There is also no way of putting the menu in the viewfinder, meaning if you can't read the TFT on the side - due, for instance, to bright sunlight - you can't set up the camera. This is a scenario familiar to users of Blackmagic's other cameras and it isn't ideal. The feature request to put the menu in the viewfinder was well received and provoked an immediate and positive discussion about what buttons could be used to control it, Pocket-camera style, which one can only hope bodes well for the idea.

 

Otherwise it is a stern competitor to FS7, assuming a package including viewfinder and the grip and mounting package. The Sony doesn't do raw or ProRes without expensive addons, and Blackmagic's new 4.6K sensor may well compete with Sony's (we'll need to wait and see). Blackmagic's menu layout is better than Sony's and the chassis is tougher, the button layout friendlier, the viewfinder full resolution and the shoulder mount has VCT-14U-type quick release receivers which are actually better built than those on my old standard-def Panasonic broadcast camera. The Blackmagic does stumble in frame rate - the Sony will do much higher, and it has built-in NDs which the Ursa Mini doesn't. One could also argue that the E mount on the Sony, which is shallow like micro-four-thirds, is more flexible, and it's a bit of a shame that Blackmagic haven't done a MFT version of the Ursa Mini.

 

But otherwise, hmm.

 

P

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Phil, I think the Ursa Mini will do 150FPS @ 1080P, which isn't bad. My workflow would always be 2k or less anyway, so it's no big deal.

 

Blackmagic is clearly not interested in slow-mo and I don't blame them. They want to make a high end cinema camera for a price point and the moment you source more expensive, higher power processors, your price point goes out the door.

 

I'm anxious to see what the upcoming package deal costs on the Ursa Mini… They said by August/September, they'll have some special pricing.

 

I'm shooting a feature next year, I may convince my producers to pay me through buying two Ursa Mini's and some lenses! At that point, I could start a rental shop! LOL :)

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My understanding was 160fps in 1080p I could be wrong. However you will need to record on two CFast cards at once to record that.

On the upside if there is a problem with one of the CFast cards then you still have the other card and can playback the footage at half the frame rate you were expecting.

 

The other catch is that the Mini is only global shutter up to 60fps. Once you go above that it's wobblo-vision of the kind we are all used to at this point.

 

Freya

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Is a pity the initial leak was wrong of $3k for 4.6K and 15 stops of DR, as it is actually $3k for the old sensor. While the fully kitted out 4.6K version goes for nearly the same as a Sony FS7!!! And then you add on CFast media, which further jacks up the total cost sky high.
And while I don't really want the old sensor (the BMPC4K had rather little appeal to me at its price, because I've got a BMPCC), perhaps a decent case can be made for the cheaper option? Because I am giving serious consideration to the URSA Mini 4K plus BMD Video Assist plus 1x CFast card (only one because those cards are bloody expensive!).
Thus, I'll then be able to do a little bit of 4K or raw when I need to. But the rest of the time I'll have the internal card doing ProRes Proxy (as merely a worst case back up option) and the BMD VA recording ProRes HQ for me. (which simply uses my existing fast SD cards I already have for my BMPCC)
Thus for approximately $3k (because I'll be getting the BMD VA no matter if I go for the URSA Mini or not) I'll be getting a great 1080 ProRes HQ camera, seems like a great deal to me! With the bonus of a cheap "upgrade" to 4K and raw shooting once CFast prices have tumbled down.

If only it had ND filters, Micro Four Thirds mount, and a little better high ISO (such as GH3 level) then it would be the AF200 successor which I want! I'd even do something I've never done before.... pre-order an item!
Heck, even if it only had two out of those three things I'd still go for it at US$3K.

But as it is now... hmmm..... sitting on the fence. I suppose once reviews come out it will be clearer if this is a worthwhile idea for me.
Edited by David Peterson

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I like the idea of the PL mount and the ability to rent the best glass in the world but not sure how practical it is.

 

Somehow I've been able to avoid EF lenses. I was always a Nikon still camera guy and of course Canon kicked Nikon's ass in the early digital days (but they're doing great now).

 

I have a PL mount on my Arri 2C, SR2 and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera but very few lenses... just some old Arri Standard Mount lenses with PL adapters and a decent Zeiss 12-120 Super 16 Zoom.

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I still can't understand why it's so difficult for the manufacturers to add a cinema lock to their EF mounts so you could actually use it for cine use without supporting from the lens side?

 

there's a really good reason why all the current true cine mounts are breech lock NOT bayonet: with breech lock you can tighten the play out, with bayonet you, well, can't. (without adding the darn tightening "cinema lock" additional ring which must not be that expensive to manufacture. Are they using off-the-shelf Chinese bulk parts for the cameras or what could be the problem? :blink: )

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The viewfinder, in my view, is the most interesting aspect of it. I'm not sure if there are literally no other full-resolution EVFs, as it's impossible to prove a negative, but I suspect it's one of the first if not the first. I've been told it's usable as a general purpose viewfinder requiring only SDI and power, so it can, with a bit of mounting ingenuity, be applied elsewhere. Very interesting. ...

I'm also very interested in seeing how the viewfinder turns out. I might like to use it with my BMPC-4K, but there are many open questions. Among other things, it's not clear yet what capabilities the VF has when connected to a video source other than an URSA. The VF has a USB connector under a rubber flap for firmware updates, so that gives hope for the possibility for additional functionality over time. Maybe. Here's hoping.

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I asked about the buttons. Apparently, ex the Ursa camera, it's just a display. But I'm not sure how they're communicating with the camera. SDI doesn't have a back channel. I suppose they could be using the spare pins on the four-pin XLR, but that's slightly risky, so I'm not really sure what's going on. I'll double-check.

 

P

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Concerning their new 1080p OLED HD-SDI Viewfinder, Blackmagic employee "Captainhook" (who shot the URSA 4.6K demo footage) posted the following in a thread on BMCuser:

 

"... EVF has false colour in it (Wahoo!). If you're at NAB, check it out. Its in the EVF menus or you can assign it (or other functions) to one of the 3 buttons on the EVF. The overlays/frame guides and Film2Video are actually done in the EVF itself (as in generated). When you choose the setting on the camera, it tells the EVF via the SDI port what settings you chose, that way on the EVF the menu and setup is simple and you just turn on/off a feature on the EVF without having to set all your settings again on the EVF. Eg, set your guides on the camera 2.4:1 at 50%, and the EVF knows that so you turn on/off guides and the EVF generates them based on that setting. Set zebras on the camera to 80%, and again the EVF displays them as that. Because of that, you would turn off your overlays/guides/zebras on the front SDI out with our EVF, and also turn off the Film2Video conversion and let the EVF take care of it. This way, zebras and false colour etc are calculated from the log image rather than 709, but you still get to look at 709 in the EVF and have all the monitoring guides/overlays/etc. We can't talk back to the camera via SDI because it's a one way communication, but this meant we were still keeping it open for another EVF's on the market that use SDI while still being able to make our EVF "smarter" in a way and more useful. ..."

 

More at:

http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.php?13337-Blackmagic-URSA-Mini&p=162427&viewfull=1#post162427

 

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.

 

Hi-res image:

https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/press/images/blackmagic-cameras/blackmagic-ursa-viewfinder

 

ursaevf.jpg

post-3440-0-02674900-1429655359_thumb.jpg

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Well, that's very complete. I ended up getting partial answers and "hmm, we'll have to ask" about all that stuff. I wish these companies would disseminate information among their staff a little more effectively.

 

P

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Well, that's very complete. I ended up getting partial answers and "hmm, we'll have to ask" about all that stuff. I wish these companies would disseminate information among their staff a little more effectively. P

 

Agreed!

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That's awesome Phil! Welcome to Blackmagic land, where nobody seems to know anything until the product has been out for a year or more! ROFL!!!! :D

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I know someone who bought their 4k camera, Blackmagic seemed to be in a process of still getting it to a production firmware level. Perhaps this camera maybe different since a lot of that work has been done.

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This Mini seems to be the camera the Ursa should have been. Whilst I'm excited for it's release and to see how it actually performs, I'm still a little skeptical. Having just bought an FS7, I sweated a bit when I heard about it but on reflection, I'm still happy I got the Sony.

 

As others have pointed out, you'd need the 4.6K sensor to actually compete (the 4K is not great, 12 stops DR, poor ISO performance), plus the cost of the handle & shoulder pad, viewfinder, CFast cards and V-locks you're paying the same, if not more than the FS7 - which is usable out of the box (minus XQD cards).

 

No doubt for the price point the Mini will produce a stunning image - Blackmagic have always been able to do that - the original BMCC for instance, at it's price, there was nothing that could compete. However it's the usability and flexibility that BM have always fallen short. It's cinema on a budget - it's for the indie market.

 

With only four menus and limited options, BMs feel like more of a toy than something like the Sony - which feels more like a 'real' camera. Not only do you have vastly more options with the FS7 (enabling you to optimise the camera for cinema/film use, broadcast use or corporate use - the BM is really only for cinema/film), but it has more buttons and switches - as silly as that sounds - you can adjust the white balance or ISO on the fly whilst shooting, whereas the BM requires you to change it from within the menus.

 

The BMs can shoot raw or ProRes out the box which is an advantage over the FS7, granted, however XAVC is arguably as efficient if not more so than ProRes, plus it has a plethora of other shooting formats. Long GOP or even MPEG HD 422; whilst they're not 'as good' as ProRes, XAVC or raw, they're useful to have should the need for them arise (for several hours of shooting on limited cards or if the client requires it).

 

Other advantages the FS7 has over the BM include superior low light performance, built in NDs and an E mount - readily adaptable to almost any mount.

 

The short of it is I have no doubt the Ursa Mini will be a great camera - and I look forward to trying it - however I do not regret buying the FS7; I still think it was the right choice for me and ultimately that's all that matters - I'm sure for some people the BM will be the better choice.

 

 

 

The viewfinder on the other hand, that seems to excite a lot of people in this thread... myself included. Just need to work out a way to rig it!

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They're very similar in terms of capability. I must say that the complexity of the Sony menu is not a plus for me - having to reboot the camera to get from (say) 25fps to the fastest available 240fps is far from great design.

 

FS7 is certainly a great camera; the new Blackmagic has potential. It really depends how good Blackmagic's new sensor is. The FS7 certainly makes very nice pictures.

 

P

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Without the V-lock extension unit I can't comment on 240fps - does it require a full reboot? Without the extension and to switch between regular and high speed it only takes a few seconds...

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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.

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