Introducing The URSA Mini
Looks like Blackmagic Design the most disruptive manufacturing company have stepped things up a gear at this years NAB.
As we have come to expect there are a raft of new products being announced today but I want to look closely at the expansion of the URSA family.
They have today announced 4 new models and 2 options on resolution including the introduction of a 4.6k model capable of 60fps in 4k and 160fps in 1080p
2 models of this compact and versatile looking camera system are UHD PL and EF models and then there is the 4.6k models with EF and PL options
Here's what BMD say about the new sensor
So with 15 stops of dynamic range this camera is starting to give Red a run for the money. In my experience 60fps in 4k is pretty useful and in 1080P anything over 100fps is a bonus.
It will also offer Global Shutter up to and including 30fps, beyond that it reverts to a normal CMOS sensor with rolling shutter but none the less pretty cool.
This seems to be also hot on the heels of the Sony FS7 with it's size, functionality and form factor.
The Camera System
Blackmagic seem to have answered calls from users for a modular camera system. The top handle, VF, and shoulder pad are all options so you can begin simply with the body and build up as and when you want to.
I've used the first generation URSA and the screen is fantastic but just a little big in my opinion. This new move towards a more compact system is welcome as I believe small is beautiful.
But I guess it must be popular because in addition to the Mini, BMD have also optioned the URSA with the new 4.6k sensor too. Interestingly if you already own an URSA you can upgrade to the new sensor for $1995 so its good to see that Blackmagic are offering an upgrade path for existing users.
Here's what Grant Petty had to say about the URSA
New Blackmagic URSA 4.6K Cameras
When we introduced our URSA high end digital film camera last year, it was designed to be user upgradable. The reason for this is we had secretly been working on a whole new generation of sensor technology that we wanted all URSA customers to have, without obsoleting the camera.
The great news is the millions of dollars we have invested in this new sensor have turned out wonderfully. It’s exactly as we hoped, the new sensor is 4.6K resolution and it has an amazing 15 stops of dynamic range. We have been shooting with the new sensor and have posted a video on the URSA page of our web site if you want to check it out.
The new 4.6K image sensor features a Super 35 size with a resolution of 4608 x 2592 at 120 frames per second. With an extremely wide 15 stops of dynamic range it really rivals most traditional 35mm film stock.
We are introducing 2 new models of Blackmagic URSA camera with this 4.6K sensor. The Blackmagic URSA 4.6K EF model will be available for $6,995 and the Blackmagic URSA 4.6K PL will be available for $7,495. Both 4.6K models will initially start with limited availability shipments in June and ramp up to full volume late July and into August.
If you already own an URSA, then you will be able to upgrade to the new 4.6K sensor for $1,995 for the EF lens mount and $2,495 for the PL lens mount. All you will need to do is purchase this “4.6K turret upgrade” and then you can replace the turret on your URSA cameras to get this new higher performance image sensor. This new 4.6K turret upgrade is also gives you the ability to choose between the EF or PL models if you want to change from the mount you currently own.
What’s exciting is we are also reducing the price of the current shipping 4K models of Blackmagic URSA EF and PL cameras by $1,000. This means if you don’t have an URSA, it’s now more affordable than ever. Plus currently the URSA 4.6K EF is the same price as the URSA 4K EF plus the 4.6K Turret Upgrade so that means you can get started at 4K and then upgrade later if you need the extra dynamic range!
These new Blackmagic URSA 4.6K EF and PL models will be available in late July. We will have some limited quantities of the new 4.6K sensor sooner but we would like to reserve them for current URSA customers who want to upgrade.
Also, please note we have just released a new update for the URSA 4K models that adds new features and frame rates. Please check out support page for details if you have an URSA camera.
Personally I'm all about the mini, because I like a camera that can be easily hand held without killing your back!
I'm genuinely excited to try this camera out. Since my first experience with the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera (see shooting on Southwold), I've loved the image, just not been mad about the design or usability. Prior to now you'd have to bolt on a load of third party accessories to get the camera into a comfortable shooting configuration.
But the mini with its options does look very interesting. and has a pretty impressive list of shooting resolutions from its Super 35mm sensor (25.34mm x 14.25mm)
Shooting Resolutions of the 4.6k are:
- 4608 x 2592
- 4096 x 2304 (4k 16:9)
- 4608 x 1920 (4k 2.4:1)
- 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD)
- 3072 x 2560 (3k Anamorphic)
- 2048 x 1152 (2k 16:9)
- 1920 x 1080
That is a pretty useful set of resolutions and I like the fact you can shoot native widescreen cinemascope
The addition of a Viewfinder is an important and welcome move. This is a 1920 x 1080 OLED EVF that is driven via the SDI connection so a big tick for a non proprietary connection there. There is also a sensor built into the OLED so it turns off when your eye is not near thus preserving the life of the OLED display. It simply bolts onto the front of the URSA camera and then the SDI and power plug into the sockets on the side. It’s adjustable for left and right eye use and there are built in overlays, focus zooming, focus peaking and a tally record light on the viewfinder as well.
The Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder will be available in July for $1,495 and fits both the URSA and the URSA Mini.
Here's the official Press release on the URSA Mini:
When we introduced our first Blackmagic Cinema Camera, we really designed it to be hand held, like how a DLSR is used, but its was a true digital film camera with wide dynamic range. Of course a lot of people wanted to use it shoulder mounted and tripod mounted and it was not as good for that kind of use.
Our URSA camera solved these issues, however URSA is designed for a larger crew so it has multiple screens, scopes, high performance and higher frame rates and more. This makes it larger and not as portable as the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
The result of all this work is URSA Mini. It’s a portable URSA based digital film camera, and while it does not have all the features of URSA, it has a lot and it uses the same sensors and core processing of URSA. It features magnesium alloy for its design so it’s very small and very lightweight which is perfect for portable and hand held use.
URSA Mini features the same 4K and 4.6K sensor options as URSA and is compatible with the new Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder. It features frame rates up to 60 fps, and it has a bright 5 inch full HD touch screen that folds out and angles. Like URSA, URSA Mini also has dual CFast card recorders so you can continue to record while changing cards and uses the same battery options.
URSA and URSA Mini shoot the same looking images so you can easily use both cameras on the same shoot and intercut the shots perfectly.
URSA Mini is a true digital film camera so it can be used on feature films, television shows, commercials, indies, documentaries, music videos and more. The stunning quality of the 4.6K sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range really lets you capture cinematic shots, while its small size is perfect for solo shooting or intimate handheld shots.
URSA Mini has multiple mounting points so it can be easily accessorized with lenses, rails, matte boxes and more. There is an optional Blackmagic URSA Mini Shoulder Kit, which features a shoulder pad with a quick release mount built into it so it can go from handheld to shoulder or to a tripod without changing any of the rig. The shoulder kit has been designed specifically for URSA Mini so when its used and the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder is added, this camera looks amazing!
It has an included side handle as standard that has a LANC based record, focus and iris buttons, however when the shoulder kit is used, you can relocate that handle to one of the front rosettes and really hold the camera well on your shoulder. It’s a great shoulder mounted camera rig!
There are 4 models of URSA Mini as there is two lens mounts and two sensor options. URSA Mini 4K EF is $2,995, URSA Mini 4K PL is $3,495. With the new 4.6K sensor, URSA Mini 4.6K EF is $4,995 and URSA Mini 4.6K PL is $5,495. URSA Mini will be available late July and a lot more information is available on our URSA Mini web site below.
Seems a lack of ND filters, so you're gonna be looking to invest in a Mattebox or Vari-ND filters for exterior work.
Otherwise what do you think?