Ready to take your big boy camera to the skies? The DJI M600 is DJI’s latest flying platform and a heavy lifter that can even carry the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K. Check out this M600 review and see which things you should consider if you’ve got your eye on the latest toy in affordable drone and camera technology. The DJI M600 was first introduced to us during NAB 2016 in Las Vegas. It is a large hexacopter camera drone for serious professional aerial cinematography. What makes the DJI M600 so interesting for us is that it competes with other large camera drones and can lift heavy payloads, but is comparably easy to use (more on that later), affordable and integrates with DJI’s ergonomic flying solutions compatible with many camera types. DJI M600 Review – The Boss of the Skies Compared to DJI’s earlier large drones, the DJI Spreadwings S900 and S1000, the new DJI M600 can lift heavier weight, integrates the Ronin MX gimbal stabilizer for large camera compatibility and is easier to set up. It also uses DJI’s next generation A3 flight controller and Lightbridge 2, and can be upgraded with the D-RTK GNSS system for centimeter-accurate flight positioning. The A3 flight controller has a failsafe system and Lightbridge 2 delivers 1080 over a 5km distance. The M600’s wings can be collapsed downward The DJI M600 flies 65 km/h and up to an altitude of 2500. In this review I will not compare other large flying platforms, but rather focus on the differences, benefits and downsides in comparison to the much smaller DJI Inspire 1 RAW drone. I believe this will be helpful for those struggling to decide whether to upgrade their small flying platforms to a bigger form factor and use larger cameras like the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K. There are other reviews out there that discuss how the M600 stacks up against other large drones. Preparation When the DJI M600 and Ronin MX packages arrived at our office in Vienna, there was no doubt that there was a long process of preparation ahead of us before undertaking our DJI M600 review in Switzerland later that month. We had to assemble and test many parts because, as in any other production, you want to be ready for any eventualities when shooting begins. The M600 when the wings are folded away. This is as small as it gets unfortunately. That preparation time took longer than expected. I estimate it takes about 3-4 hours to assemble a DJI M600 with a Ronin MX for the first time. There are well made instruction videos on the internet, and if everything goes according to plan you’ll have a drone ready to fly by the end of it. In my case, the HDMI cable inside the drone was DOA, so it had to be replaced. Other than that, the software for the M600 and Ronin MX needed to be updated with a Windows computer, because software wasn’t yet available for Mac. I will not hold this against DJI, as I applaud them for bringing out new technology to the market so quickly, and I heard from other professional flyers that setup time is much quicker and easier in comparison to previous or competing platforms as everything comes readily integrated and setup with the M600. My ultra-light and flexible replacement HDMI cable. One thing is clear for me after setting up the DJI M600, though. This is not a product that’s anywhere near ready to be used out of the box. It needs time, care and a basic set of technical skills. It cannot be compared to a DJI Inspire 1 RAW, which you can just pull out of the box, switch on and fly. Looking at the charging process below is a good visual representation of the complexity between using an Inspire 1 RAW, and M600 with Ronin MX and URSA Mini 4.6K camera. Both can fly for about 15 minutes with these batteries: Charging the DJI Inspire 1 RAW battery and remote Charging the DJI M600, Ronin MX, URSA Mini batteries and remote Even though preparing to fly with a DJI M600 is a lot more time-consuming and difficult than with a DJI inspire 1 RAW, there are several reasons why you could decide to go with an M600 anyway. The simplest argument is that you can fly any camera, while the DJI Inspire 1 RAW restricts you to always fly the Zenmuse X5R, but more on that topic later. If you’re interested to find out how the DJI Inspire 1 RAW performs, you should check out these extensive reviews I did: How Does the Osmo RAW Compare to Professional Cinema Cameras? DJI Inspire 1 vs. Inspire 1 PRO vs. Inspire 1 RAW – See the Difference Shoot Aerial Video Like a Pro – Mastering Drone Footage – PART 1 Let’s fly that M600 beast with an URSA Mini 4.6K now, shall we? :) Working with the DJI M600 & URSA Mini 4.6K Getting the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K airborne on a DJI M600 turned out to be harder than expected. Installing the DJI Ronin MX on the M600 is a straight forward process, and the gimbal works just like it would on the ground. You don’t have to tune anything, if you did it all right, it should just all work together. In addition, you can easily control and manipulate settings on the Ronin MX via the DJI Go App and the remote that controls the M600 itself. Perfect! But then, I quickly found out that the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K with a small V-Mount battery is already on the brink of the weight limit of the M600, and only fits on the Ronin MX with some creative techniques. The biggest problem is the camera’s LCD is on a side of the camera body that can’t be accessed while it’s mounted on the Ronin MX. The second problem is that the camera’s power button is behind said LCD, meaning I needed to switch the camera on and then quickly assemble the gimbal before flight. Not ideal, but this is a problem specific to the combination of the URSA Mini and Ronin gimbal. The SDI signal was run through an HDMI converter into the drone, and the length of the camera was on the Ronin MX size limit by a few milimeters with the Canon EF-S 24mm pancake lens that I used. Ideally you would get the DJI wireless link to transfer the camera preview to the drone. I simply used the HDMI cable straight into the camera. Not ideal, but it works. It is probably easier to fit an Arri ALEXA Mini or a RED Epic on a Ronin MX gimbal, but none of them will deliver quality at the same price as the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K. This is why we tested with the latter. That said, if you plan to use an URSA Mini on this drone, be advised to use DJI’s Ronin MX camera battery solution, as you would not be able to fit any lens on it other than a pancake when using a heavy V-Mount battery, like I was. Also we hope Blackmagic Design will soon fix the magenta corner issue that was also apparent with the camera we tested (see video). Maxing out the weight (15kg takeoff weight) of the M600 proved to affect the flying behaviour to a certain degree. On the one hand, this powerful drone had no troubles to take off the ground easily, but I noticed that the heavy camera would make the whole gimbal construction swing on fast movements, which was sometimes visible in the footage. This is of course to be expected and nothing the drone can’t handle. Quite the contrary, the DJI M600 is a beast that flies with an understated warm sound and follows your input accurately, just like a DJI Inspire 1 would. The M600 is a little quicker and the Inspire is more agile. One thing that affected my test is that DJI could only provide 1 set of batteries at the time, so I had 15 minutes of flying time in the Swiss alps and I was not able to make that 10 hour travel a second time just for a reshoot. Unfortunately it started to rain in mid flight, so the flying time was reduced to just 8 minutes in total on two occasions. Ideally you would also make sure that not only the video feed, but also camera controls are connected to the flight controller, by getting the right remote controller suited to your camera. The Benefits of Working with the DJI M600 What is great about working with the M600 is that you have a very powerful drone that fully integrates with DJI’s Go App system and is upgradable with the D-RTK GNSS for centimeter accurate flying, added redundancy, etc. Basically you can mount whatever other accessories you like, not only to the drone, but also to the camera. And this is the most important argument for this drone. Besides incorporating the A3 failsafe functions and latest DJI technology, it can be used with any camera, lens and accessories you choose. You can use a camera as small as the Inspire 1 RAW’s very own Zenmuse X5R or a camera as large as the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K, and anything in between. If the Ronin MX is too large, you can use other mounting brackets for the Zenmuse cameras or the Zenmuse Z15 brackets for smaller cameras like the Sony a7 series. For me this is the kind of drone I would use to complement a project like a commercial or fiction film, where the highest quality and consistency is needed and where I have a safe and controlled environment to prepare and fly. I have not used a drone like the Freefly Cine Alta yet, and I’m sure it’s a great product if you have the money, but for $4,600 the DJI M600 is hard to beat: a heavy lifter that offers a lot of drone for little investment, and one that should certainly be considered by professionals. The Downsides of Working with the DJI M600 Having had the direct comparison to the DJI Inspire 1 RAW while testing the DJI M600, I noticed a few things you might want to consider before upgrading to a drone as large as this one. First and foremost, size makes a huge difference here… and not in a good way. After going through several days of reviewing the DJI M600, I can now fully appreciate the benefits of a small drone, and I can say with confidence that smaller is better when it comes to flying them. I have tested and used the DJI Inspire 1 RAW on several occasions now, and I’m still blown away by the quality of the Zenmuse X5R camera. Few other cameras reach this standard, and with an easy DaVinci Resolve workflow, this camera is, in my book at least, very hard to beat for aerial cinematography. There are many factors about a drone that can contribute towards getting the desired shots. The ergonomics and small size of the DJI Inspire 1, for example, allow me to have everything with me in a single box and be ready and flying within roughly 2 minutes after getting out of my car. Four batteries will last me an hour. I could climb a mountain with it and get those precious shots. The DJI M600 is much more limiting in this regard. I had the M600 and URSA Mini packed across six cases. You need an extra case for the M600. It was a lot of heavy luggage that took about 20-30 minutes to set up. Not to say that a large drone is not worth the extra effort, but the setup speed of smaller drones is an invaluable asset to getting great shots, especially when you’re a small crew or even on your own and out and about shooting special places. After all, it is all about content! Another lesson I learned is that a large drone greatly limits your flying possibilities in the public. Setting up and flying a DJI M600 is a lot scarier for passerby’s than a small drone and people get more and more sensitive to them too. Conclusion Making this DJI M600 review was a great experience for me. On the one hand, I was very impressed with how the DJI M600 and Ronin MX combo give me the freedom to use any kind of camera and accessories in order to achieve the shots I need at a relatively affordable price. This drone would be a great help on commercial shoots where we need to fly a certain camera or lens with a reliable and familiar system while still keeping costs to a minimum. On the other hand, I can now fully appreciate the ergonomics of smaller drones like the DJI Inspire 1, and especially that the possibilities that the DJI Inspire 1 RAW offers with the Zenmuse X5R camera and lenses will be more than sufficient for my creative vision on most projects. In future versions of the DJI Matrice series I hope DJI will work on making the large form factor easier to use. I certainly see room for improvement when it comes to foldaway size and use of less batteries. All in all, other user reports seem to suggest that DJI is once again ahead of the pack when it comes to the latest in drone flying technology. The price and eco system they have built continues to be probably their most compelling argument. My advice: only go for a larger drone if you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you do, the DJI M600 is an affordable tool that can get the job done and is worth considering. Music by: Art-List.io (Garden of Things – Two Third)Read more
The Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K is an affordable cinema camera that raises high hopes among cameramen and filmmakers. Blackmagic Design’s attempt at creating a new custom made 4.6K sensor with a global shutter is said to deliver impressive qualities. Our friend and fellow filmmaker Sebastian Wiegärtner had a chance to test the new Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K, shoot some crispy medieval footage and speak about his first impressions on the results. Like all other reviewers that were sent a 4.6K, unfortunately Wiegärtner was not allowed to share his observations about the camera itself. (Intro by S. Wöber) The Maxima gimbal by FoMa with the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K One camera. One lens. One gimbal. This was the challenge for our Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K test shoot: I did not want to shoot another landscape video, so I decided to team up with my director Andreas Schultze and we developed a quick idea within a few hours. Just two days later we had actors, costumes and everything we need for our improvised project. In two days we shot this little piece with zero budget, just two people behind the camera and three wild guys in front of the lens. We had no artificial light, just the camera and a Carl Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 15mm. All the shots in the short trailer were done with the help of the Sachtler Artemis Maxima Gimbal, which I normally use for my feature film projects. Size comparison: Red Dragon vs. Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K. The Ursa Mini is bigger, but it’s a powerhorse. I can’t say too much about the camera right now, but we were all amazed after looking at the footage in the editing room. This camera seriously has some skills and working with it was a pleasure. It’s always great when you can’t feel the camera and you can focus on your project. We had no problems. The whole post production process was a joy and working with the new ProRes 4444 XQ codec gives you so much freedom. For my next feature film project I’m using two ARRI Alexa Cameras for A and B camera and we always have a third camera for gimbal stuff with us. Guess which camera we are using this time? The Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K. — Shot on location in the Frankonian Swiss (Fränkische Schweiz – Heroldsbach, Bärenschlucht). Director: Andreas Schultze Director of Photography: Sebastian Wiegärtner Music and Voice Recording: Martin Le Mar YGGDRASIL starring Matthias Kellner, Jörg Martin, Chris Van VarenbergRead more
Blackmagic has published a short promo video shot on the unreleased URSA 4.6K. The URSA 4.6K footage sneak peak offers positive insight as to what the new camera offers as well as the much anticipated URSA Mini 4.6K that both feature an identical new sensor. The Blackmagic forums confirm this is shot on the Blackmagic URSA 4.6K, Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4 ART lenses, 4×4 Schneider Hollywood Blackmagic 1/4 & Formatt Firecrest ND filters, and graded in DaVinci Resolve. Words from the Blackmagic shooter: “Couple of things about the URSA 4.6k footage for some ‘background’. I shot this on a prototype so things were still in development and changing. This was also just me shooting solo with the URSA like previously and is “home movie” type stuff intended to be a quick first look. In fact, last time with my URSA beta video I had Danelle helping me to carry some gear but this time it was just me shooting some friends and around the city – definitely no crew or anything like that. For the kitchen shots and the drumming I set up some lights, everything else is 100% natural light, not even bounce. Grading on this video is purposely VERY simple. It’s really just a quick setting of white balance, then contrast and saturation. I didn’t tweak individual colours or even shift colours with Lift/Gamma/Gain because I wanted to show the great natural colour “out of the box”. This part is my personal opinion and obviously now that I work for BMD people will take it with a grain of salt (to be expected), but personally I think we’ve made a BIG improvement on colour – colour that I already really liked which led me to first purchase the BMCC as a customer. I think the improvement in colour is just as big as the improvement on dynamic range. With DR, so far in my experience I think it’s safe to say that whatever you rate the Pocket Camera to be, add roughly 2 stops. 1 stop in the highlights, and another stop in the shadows. I can’t wait for people to get this and go shoot some incredible footage with it!” Indeed the footage looks great. Reservation with any preview like this should be undertaken when studying compressed footage uploaded to web. Nether the less we’re seeing some nice, wide dynamic range and some lovely skin tones. Shooting on older Blackmagic cameras in the past, skin tones out of the box has been one of my major reservations. If this footage is indeed published with little image correction, these look like promising cameras for sure. The Blackmagic URSA 4.6K and Blackmagic URSA Mini were announced at this years NAB, both sport a new sensor 4.6k super35mm sensor with global shutter (URSA mini with 4K sensor option also). Unlike previous Blackmagic cameras that focus purely on impressive specifications, it seems the new cameras have more attention to image quality and much improved ergonomics. Check out our hands on of the Blackmagic URSA Mini in the below video: Source: http://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=34426Read more
What just happened? The AJA Cion just became one of the most affordable large sensor cameras around. With its price dropping from $9,000 to $5,000 this is one of the most significant camera price drops we’ve ever seen. In fact for a camera that started shipping roughly 2 months ago this is quite unbelievable! What’s the reason for this huge price-drop? With internal 4K recording in ProRes at up to 60fps the AJA Cion offers a powerful package in terms of technical specifications. The price-drop might be caused by the recent announcement of the Blackmagic URSA Mini which uses the same sensor as the AJA Cion and has very similar technical specifications and recording formats for an even lower price of $2,995. The official statement by AJA: “…with this new lower price we’re completely removing the barrier to entry for so many in the indie and commercial filmmaking market…” As a camera on paper the Blackmagic URSA Mini looks more interesting and capable than the AJA Cion and the new Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K has even more to offer at $4,995. The camera market is going crazy right now. Just last month Canon dropped the price on its Canon EOS C300 by a whopping $5,000. It’s hard for camera manufacturers to keep up with new developments and competition around every corner. For AJA the Cion was their first approach towards a camera design and their development took a lot longer than many other renown manufacturers like Blackmagic whose turnaround time has become very fast since they released their first camera. In our extensive review we recently took the AJA Cion into the field and found that it has some strengths and offers superb picture quality, but has some weak points in terms of ergonomics. Also check out our guide with 10 Important Tips To Help You Master the AJA Camera. If the AJA Cion was a camera you were interested in, now is a good chance to get it a highly reduced price. Before we can compare it to the new Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K it might be a good idea to wait though. Alongside the AJA Cion, the company also offers the KiPro Quad, Ki Pro and the Ki Pro Mini disk recorders at reduced prices.Read more
Yesterday we reported about the new Blackmagic URSA Mini that appears to be a big step up in terms of ergonomics to the previous Blackmagic cameras. We were particularly interested in how Blackmagic thought about the evolution of their cameras and we’re happy to see how they’ve put an effort into the new camera design. In this interview we talked to Simon Westland who took us through some of the ergonomic features with a special focus on the new OLED viewfinder they produced. I got a quick look through the viewfinder and while I’m surely reserved in the interview, I can tell you that the image is very impressive with no disturbing elements of the eyepiece or distortion as seen on other finders. For $1500 the Blackmagic OLED viewfinder will surely kill many other products in this market. It’s a steal and it might also work with other cameras (not confirmed). We then went on and also looked at the Blackmagic Video Assist. This is a small 5 inch monitor that takes SDI and hdmi signals, loops them through and records in ProRes onto an SD card. Fascinating, because other solutions of this kind cost 2x the $. For $500 Blackmagic seems to have another hit in terms of the specs at least. We’ll test all these products in depth when they’re out. For now we’re waiting for the items to be delivered as scheduled in late July. The Blackmagic URSA viewfinder is available for pre-order for $1,495 HERE The Blackmagic Video Assist is available for pre-order for $495 HERERead more
Blackmagic Design just announced over 30 new products. Among several new cameras is the Blackmagic URSA Mini, an ergonomic single-shooter shoulder camera with an all new 4.6K sensor and an impressive list of specs. We got our hands on the new Blackmagic URSA Mini, had a chance to play with it, see the images coming out of it and what we can tell you right now is that this is a camera to look out for. At $5000 for the 4.6K version and $3000 for the 4K version this camera is extremely competitive and worth considering. Please watch the video for an in-depth look and all the features and specs the camera has to offer. Stay tuned for more, much more. Here are the most important specs at a glance: New 4.6K Global Shutter Sensor Improved Dynamic Range and Low-Light-Sensitivity Ergonomic Design New OLED 1080p viewfinder ($1500) looks really nice internal 12-bit RAW / ProRes recording supports New ProRes 4444 XQ codec up to 60p in 4k up to 160 fps in 1080p windowed up to 30p with Global-Shutter built-in 5 inch 1080p monitor LANC control The Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K is already available for pre-order HERE This will be one popular camera for sure. The camera is said to ship in July starting from US$2,995 for the URSA Mini 4K EF, US$3,495 for the URSA Mini 4K PL, US$4,995 for the URSA Mini 4.6K EF and US$5,495 for the URSA Mini 4.6K PL models. The URSA Mini shoulder mount kit will be sold separately.Read more
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