by Fabian Chaundy | 23rd March 2017
UPDATE: Unfortunately, this deal has now ended. You can still get the 2-camera kit for $8,990, though this doesn’t offer any advantages over the individual prices of buying the two cameras on their own. This deal on B&H offers the Blackmagic Design URSA 4K PL (AKA the big one) for just $500… well, at least in theory, as there is one little detail. You also just need to shell out a few thousand bucks for the brand new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro. Criticised by many due to its large size and weight, the original Blackmagic URSA 4K was quickly dethroned by its little sibling – the Mini – a couple of years ago. Now that the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro has stolen the show, it may leave many wondering why anyone would want the big ol’ original URSA in the first place. Well, a $500 price tag could be reason enough for many, with this deal offered by B&H. (Thanks to our reader Martijn Schroevers for the heads-up on this incredible deal!) For essentially the price of an entry-level DSLR, you are still getting a host of great features, such as 4K Super35 sensor, 12 claimed stops of Dynamic Range, ProRes and Raw recording, XLRs, SDIs and screens… oh, so many screens. Of course, this comes with the not-so-insignificant caveat that it is only available alongside the fresh-out-of-the-oven Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro. I don’t think we would be too far off the mark if we guessed this “cinema camera kit for 2-camera coverage” from B&H is an attempt to quickly flip their current stock of big URSAs ahead of the official release date of the Mini Pro. I think it’s safe to say that Blackmagic Design is going to be selling a lot of Mini Pros, so if you’re thinking of jumping on that bandwagon, you may want to consider paying a few more hundred dollars and going for this deal. Even if you don’t need it, the second hand value alone may be worth the extra effort. UPDATE: Unfortunately, this deal has now ended. You can still get the 2-camera kit for $8,990, though this doesn’t offer any advantages over the individual prices of buying the two cameras on their own. The B&H image for their 2-camera kit. Uhm… Image not to scale. Thinking of becoming the proud owner of a brand-old big URSA alongside an URSA Mini Pro? Let us know in the comments! Special Thanks to Martijn Schroevers for pointing this deal out to us.Read more
by Nino Leitner | 8th March 2017
Here’s my hands-on URSA Mini Pro Review – the newly released ENG / Digital Film / Streaming crossover camera from Blackmagic Design. But what have Blackmagic Design improved? Blackmagic Design just released a new camera – and to be very honest, in the past, these words caused a lot of excitement and doubt at the same time. On the one hand, Blackmagic really managed to shake up the camera industry by packing a lot of pro features like, for example, raw recording into their earliest cameras. With their raw support, they enabled low budget filmmakers to produce high-end quality previously only available from much more expensive cameras. On the other hand, until not so long ago, Blackmagic upset a lot of people by announcing too many cameras at the same time, not meeting their delivery dates or facing sensor issues with some of their cameras. Blackmagic Design learned their lessons I think it is safe to say that Blackmagic Design have now learned from their mistakes. In the past year, they have started to announce products only when they are already available, and have succeeded in stopping any significant leaks about their new products. The Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K and the new URSA Mini Pro side-by-side. A Definitive Second Generation Camera And here it is, the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro. It was only just announced, but was already shipping right after its introduction. It’s quite clear that this is a definitive second generation camera that offers huge usability improvements over the original URSA Mini 4.6K. Because it is the same sensor and optical performance is expected to be the same or similar, am focusing instead on the hands-on aspects of the camera in this review. Almost the same, but strikingly different: The URSA Mini Pro can take up to 4 different interchangeable mounts. Improvements and Differences to the URSA Mini 4.6K While with the original URSA Mini 4K and 4.6K you had to buy separate EF and PL versions, the PRO offers an interchangeable mount between EF, PL, B4 and Nikon, making this camera adaptable to almost any lens on the market. When compared side-by-side, the first thing to notice is the same-sized body. The new URSA Mini Pro is around 300 grams heavier according to our measurements, though. It’s not a super light camera, but I actually like it for this form factor, because it’s very evenly balanced and sits nicely on the shoulder. Weight Differences between the URSA Mini 4.6K (below) and URSA Mini Pro (above). What’s also new is the greatly reduced start-up time between the two generations of the camera. It was around 10 seconds for the URSA Mini 4K and 4.6K, and it’s now only around 5 seconds – something that makes a difference in everyday shooting scenarios. Startup time on the URSA Mini 4.6K Startup time on the URSA Mini Pro ENG-style New Features Improve Versatility Logically layout of ENG-style buttons on the URSA Mini Pro. As you can see, the outside of this new camera has changed significantly. Blackmagic have moved away from functional minimalism to providing many custom buttons for all kinds of functions, much like we have been used to from other cameras for many years now, particularly those in a broadcast-type form factor. This means less digging into menus and faster access to the functionality you constantly require. Immediate access to Iris, ISO, Shutter, White Balance, High Frame Rate recording, Audio settings and customisable buttons makes the URSA Mini Pro a valid ENG camera in addition to its “digital film” applications. There is now an easily-accessible wheel to adjust either the headphone volume or the aperture of the iris. Unfortunately, the audio knobs are still “infinite” and don’t have hard stops, which means that you will always have to look at the screen in order to see where your audio levels are – but the external display makes monitoring audio much easier. Finally: ND Filters Built-in In my opinion, one of the biggest shortcomings of the original URSA Mini 4K and 4.6K was the lack of built-in ND filters. This is something that’s essential in the ENG world, and considering that it was designed in this form factor, many people including myself were surprised that NDs were missing. Not any more, though – Blackmagic Design have added three steps of switchable, built-in ND to the URSA Mini Pro, at 2, 4 and 6 stops. It’s a rotating filter wheel just like the ones found on other similarly-sized cameras, such as the Sony FS7. There is just one minor design fault: the filter wheel shows the labels 1-2-3-4, with the filter enabled from setting 2 onwards. in my opinion, Blackmagic should have chosen the word “clear” instead of 1 for the sake of clarity. However, they do provide a printed explanation on the side of the camera for this. The filters work just fine and we couldn’t see any significant colour shift when using them on a quick test outside. Smaller Screen, Smart Idea The screen has shrunk. It’s now 4 inches across, which practically makes much more sense as a built-in screen rather than the 5-inch found in the original URSA Mini. Functions that you don’t constantly need to access have now been moved to the inside of the screen – specifically audio settings like XLR phantom power or playback functions. URSA Mini 4.6K next to the URSA Mini Pro, both with opened screen One small downside of the monitor: It still cannot be rotated 180 degrees like on many other cameras, which means you can’t do a “selfie” shoot or have the screen facing the side of your camera. Also, at some angles, it can block the small adjustment wheel that controls the iris. These are all minor issues, though. Screen size comparison between the two URSA Minis – with the new URSA Mini Pro on the right-hand side. Optional URSA Mini Viewfinder If you want to use this camera on the shoulder, I recommend getting the optional URSA Mini viewfinder, which offers a really high quality 1080p image, and has its own focus magnification and peaking controls. Be aware that peaking in the viewfinder also outlines the screen overlays it receives from the camera, which can be a bit distracting. Intuitive: The Operating System and Menu Structure The operating system found on the URSA Mini Pro is where Blackmagic demonstrates its knowledge as a company that has a lot of experience in software and interface design. First of all, the touch screen is super responsive, and while I am not a big fan of touch screens on cameras, I can really see this work just fine for most productions because of its speed and sensitivity. The layout of all the menu items and settings is very logical – this is something that many Japanese camera manufacturers traditionally struggle with. If you have ever looked for a specific function that you don’t need every day on a Sony camera, you know exactly what I am talking about. All that is much easier here – there are virtual touch buttons and sliders that use the available screen real estate effectively, and everything feels very self-explanatory. The only other camera menu as straightforward as this is probably the Arri Alexa, with RED cameras coming in as a close second. The URSA Mini Pro features an outside display with several brightness settings that shows the most important camera settings even when you have the screen closed. A very convenient feature, they clearly took note from other manufacturers who have built this into their cameras in the past. New outside display on the URSA Mini Pro. Recording: Now with SD Cards Next to CFast Cards Let’s move on to recording. The URSA Mini Pro features two CFast Card slots and now also dual UHS-II SD card slots. That means if you are not recording something data intensive, you can opt to record onto much less expensive SD and UHS-II cards, which are inexpensive, commonly available, and perfect for recording ProRes Ultra HD files or RAW HD files. And yes, the URSA Mini Pro records up to 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW, something that still no other camera in this price range can do. It also records up to ProRes XQ and all other flavours of ProRes. SD card slots now next to the CFast card slots. That’s it for the first-look review of the new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro! Stay tuned for more about this camera from us at cinema5D as we get to know it better.Read more
by Ollie Kenchington | 2nd March 2017
During their much anticipated live stream today, Grant Petty from Blackmagic Design announced the brand new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro camera, along with two new control panels for DaVinci Resolve. Looking essentially like a beefed up URSA Mini, the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro has several key updates over the original, making it a compelling new addition to their line up. Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro – Key Features Built in 2/4/6 stop, colour shift free, ND filters. 4.6K Sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range. Super wide color gamut and DaVinci color science Similar size and construction to the URSA Mini. Camera control, talk back and tally for studio work. 2 x CFast cards and 2 x SD cards built in. Cinema DNG RAW. Pro Res all the way up 4444XQ in 4.6K, UHD, and HD. Swappable EF, PL, B4 and Nikon lens mounts, the latter featuring a mechanical lens mount with a smooth iris aperture control ring on it (available later in the year). PL lens data communication support. EF lens control communication support. Built-in stereo microphone at the front, with lower noise and a wider, flatter frequency response. HFR (high frame rate) button for instant, one-push, slo-mo shooting. 4 channels of audio recording. Dedicated stills button (Features still in beta testing). Optional SSD recorder bolts on to the back and communicates over the 12G SDI to record straight from the sensor (Available “mid-year”). With the key features of swappable mounts, an affordable shoulder rig and accessories, built-in ND filters, and a wide choice of recording media ranging from a humble SD card for fast turnaround HD capture to more capable SSDs just to name a few, the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro certainly promises to be a flexible platform ideal for crossing the border between cinematic narrative productions and broadcast ENG-style ergonomics. In addition, Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty mentioned In the live stream that owners of the original URSA will be able to upgrade to a URSA Mini Pro for $3495. All you need to do is provide proof of purchase of your URSA. According to Blackmagic that $3495 price gets you a new URSA Mini Pro and you still get to keep your old camera” We will attempt to get clarification from Blackmagic if this deal is for the original URSA or URSA mini too. We can now confirm that this deal is for the original URSA only. Also, unlike previous Blackmagic Design announcements, the great news is that this new camera is shipping now! It is available from the links below for $5995. Lens mount pricing: PL mount $245, B4 mount $385, EF mount $175. Blackmagic Resolve Panels Blackmagic also announced two new small form-factor colour control panels for use with DaVinci Resolve – the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel. These panels are almost certainly going to make a major dent in the control panel market currently dominated by Tangent. Blackmagic Resolve Micro Panel The Mini Panel puts all the main primary colour tools from Resolve at your fingertips. The ergonomic design is optimised for comfort, despite its small size. Blackmagic see this panel being a travelling companion to colourists and DITs on sets, in post houses and in client studios. Their well-made die-cast aluminium body provides a premium feel in a small and compact device. Powered by USB-C, which is quite a feat, given it’s range of features, I can see the simple design and powerful features of this new hardware being very attractive to Resolve users. Here are some of the features it supports: RGB balance balls with RGB Luma adjustment rings around them. Buttons above the track balls allow switching between Log and Offset grading Knobs for making Y Lift, Gamma and Gain adjustments, plus contrast, pivot, MD (mid-tone detail) controls, colour boost, shadows, highlights, saturation and hue are also conveniently placed on the new panels. The knobs all have 4096 levels of control, which is the same as their advanced panel, just a little smaller. This allows for fine control and push resetting of parameters. Direct action transport buttons allow for next clip, previous clip, next node, previous node etc. Blackmagic Resolve Mini Panel The Resolve Mini Panel is a larger (though still compact) control panel that adds a second tier for screens and additional controls, like page displays, qualifiers, power windows, curves, sizing, etc. Basically a lot more controls for running almost all the parameters of DaVinci Resolve, just like the advanced panel can. The added features of the Mini Panel include: AC power input as well as 4-pin XLR power. 2 x Ethernet for loop through that support POE (Power Over Ethernet) USB-C port will charge your laptop while it’s connected. The Mini and Micro Panels are shipping now for $2995 and $995 respectively, and are available from the links below. What do you think? Have Blackmagic Design hit the nail on the head with today’s announcements? Let us know in the comments below!Read more
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