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
by Tim Fok | 18th January 2016
So, firmware version 3 is imminent for the Sony FS7 (end of January) and one of the big features that will be included is Center Scan mode. There are many advantages of this feature. In this article, I will be running through the benefits that the FS5/FS7 B4 mount ENG lens combo will bring to the table—making it a viable solution for many filmmakers. AbelCine’s recent article on combining the Sony FS5 with an x17 B4 lens piqued my interest. Many have anticipated this feature for the Sony FS7. It is a feature that has made its way down from the more expensive F55 and F5. I wanted to clear the air on exactly how it works, as many are not sure on the mathematics. What is a B4 Lens? Those coming from a stills or video DSLR background may not have come across a B4 lens before—a lens format that was most popular in a time when equipment lasted longer than a moderately sized gobstopper. B4 lenses are designed for a 2/3″ sensor, much smaller than a typical super35mm format. There are so many B4 lens options, the smaller sensor—when compared to super35mm—made long zoom lenses much more accessible. Factor in the concept of time, since B4 zoom lenses have been around for a while, and you can pick them up fairly cheaply (relatively speaking). A moderate zoom, perhaps the modern day shooter’s version of a 70-200mm, would be around an x20 B4 lens. That would be the equivalent of 650mm or so on super35mm. Add to that a doubler, which a lot of these good zoom lenses have, plus servo zoom capabilities and you can see the appeal of such a conversion. What is Center Scan Mode? Center Scan—yes, the Brit inside me cringed, as we spell it centre—is the key to making B4 lenses compatible. Both the Fs7 and Fs5 are 4K cameras and to output 1080 or 2K (in the FS7s case), the camera downscales its 4K capture into its respective lower resolution (1080 or 2K). Rather than downscale a 4K image, in Center Scan Mode the correct resolution is simply taken out of the centre of the sensor. From around 1.08 minutes in, the video below gives a good visualization of Center Scan. Please note that this video is for the purpose of the Sony F5 and F55, so the lack of 2K on the FS5 or 4K pixel count will alter slightly for the Fs7 and FS5, but the overall principle is the same. Center Scan Mode crops into the sensor, giving us a more zoomed-in portion of the image by 2x times. This is great for extending the reach of our lenses, as the above video continues to explain, or we can harness that crop differently by attaching lenses designed for a smaller image circle: the B4 format. How Does The Adaption Work? Google>eBay>B4 to E Mount Adaptor> Buy>Done, right? Almost. Yes, there are many physical adaptors out there, but there is more to this adaption than simply making two mounts compatible. Firstly, there is a discrepancy between the image circle of 2/3″ and the end result of Center Scan Mode on the Sony Fs5 & Sony FS7. Center Scan Mode on both cameras converts the image to a Super 16 crop. Looking back at the diagram we shared earlier in the article, we can see that Super 16 (S16) is a bit bigger than 2/3″. A good adaptor will convert this discrepancy, enhancing the image circle of the 2/3″ lens to a super 16 format. Not only this, but we have to consider the change of format in sensor technology. The 2/3″ format almost exclusively relies on 3 chip cameras, the same way large sensor technology relies on single sensor cameras. The expectation of a B4 lens is therefore that light will pass through a beam splitter on the camera side; a good B4 to E-Mount adapter will correct for the lack of a beam splitter on a single sensor super35mm camera. MFT services make an adaptor that does just this. The principles have been around for some time for the F5 and F55 cameras, but an E-mount package has become available more recently for the Sony FS5 and FS7. How Do You Power A B4 Lens? In case you weren’t aware, B4 lenses with servo zooms require power in order to fully operate. On a 2/3″ camera, this is usually via a connection built into the lens mount of the body. A port of this kind is seldom required on a super35mm camera. There are a few options out there; most will convert the lens lanc cable to familiar P-tap or Hirose. The Cameo Lanc Cable is a very interesting solution, however. It splits in two on the camera side. One power (Hirose or P-tap) and the other a 3.5mm connector to plug into the camera. This enables start/stop via the lens that is always found on the grip; offering another handy feature of the ergonomically pleasing ENG lens format. If you’re not already powering your camera via V-lock or the FS7 Extension Unit, here are two solutions that get my recommendation, which will work directly with the Cameo Lanc Cable: Sony BPU-60T. These work on both FS5 and FS7 and simply offer up a 4-pin Hirose connection on the battery, in addition to powering the camera. Hawkswood Bloc. These are good if you don’t want to invest in new batteries and/or want to power other accessories like a wireless transmitter. They come in a variety of battery options, including Canon BP and Sony BP and NP-F. Sony FS7 B4 Combo Works Without Center Scan Mode We have an old B4 zoom lens and we’ve attached our MFT adaptor on it. This combo will now send a super 16mm sized image onto our lovely FS7 4K sensor. Without any Center Scan Mode enabled, we get this: So we’re just waiting around twiddling our thumbs until Sony enable Center Scan Mode in the next firmware update, right? Well actually, many setups will work already. As I mentioned earlier in the article, it’s common for a B4 zoom lens to have a built-in extender—many of which with x2 magnification. An extender like this will do the same thing Center Scan Mode does, crops into the image to eliminate the vignette. However, doing the crop optically will expose the blemishes of the lens and also lose light. Center Scan Mode simply utilizes a smaller portion of the sensor. In theory, it will yield much better results (although it would be nice to see the difference in good light between a stellar performing lens with an x2 extender, versus a more readily affordable zoom lens and Center Scan Mode). Sony FS5 B4 Combo Already Available Despite being the more affordable camera body, the Sony FS5 already has complete support for B4 lenses. As it is a newer camera body, Center Scan Mode is already available. Check out the AbelCine video below where they mount an x17 servo zoom B4 lens to the FS5. Note that with the addition of an x2 extender, with Center Scan Mode enabled, you can make further use of the optical x2 extender by getting even more range from your lens. Sony FS7 firmware 3.0 should be available by the end of the month, and with Center Scan Mode it will become a very powerful tool. B4 lenses have such a long reach in comparison to stills lenses, add to that servo zoom and parfocal optics (ie. focus does not change when you zoom) and you have a very versatile setup in your arsenal. Wildlife and Live Event filmmakers will benefit highly from this setup, now operators can benefit from all the comforts of an ENG style servo zoom lens, with all the fantastic new features a super35mm 4K camera like the Sony FS7 or FS5 can offer. Rather exciting, isn’t it?Read more
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