Saturday, October 24, 2015

[11/25 UPDATE] More URSA Mini 4.6K on Vimeo!

Is the wait finally coming to an end for the URSA Mini 4.6K and 4K cameras? Six months after their introduction at NAB, there seems to be movement on both the 4.6K and 4K fronts. Please keep checking back for the latest news and footage!

[11/25 Update]

Vimeo version of Roman's Mini 4.6K video from yesterday. A lot better than the YouTube version:

[NEW 11/24 Update]

Finally!  Cinematographer and Blackmagic beta tester Roman Alaivi has posted an URSA Mini 4.6K 1080p ProRes test on YouTube. This isn't the typical "first footage" of flowers on the back yard. Roman challenges the camera with different skin tones, action, moving vehicles and low light. In my view, the camera does a pretty good job, but it will be nice to see footage that is not compressed for YouTube:

Roman also posted a pretty nice writeup over at bmcuser. He says:
"...The image is amazing. The video here doesn't even begin to show or do the camera justice, like I'm sure other footage will soon do. The color, weight, richness... just general mojo is f**king awesome. I'm really overly satisfied with the what's coming out of the Mini 4.6K."
If you're interested in this camera, it would be worth your time to head over to Roman's post and read it in its entirety.

[11/24 Update]

Looks like we're about to get a look at footage from the URSA Mini 4.6K! Tom Majerski has tweeted a couple of frame captures from the camera as he grades his shots:

Tom says of this picture, "You really feel the 15 stops of Dynamic Range on the URSA Mini 4.6K. Zero clipping in this frame."

Here he says, "Just a couple of nodes give me rich deep colour on the URSA Mini 4.6K...grading is so easy with it."

Really looking forward to seeing what this camera can do.

[11/23 Update]

More URSA Mini 4K tests as we await footage from the 4.6K camera.

Interesting comparison of URSA 4K and Mini 4K images from Chanho Shin in South Korea .  Not a side-by-side, but useful, nevertheless:

And some very nice 1080/120p slow motion snowfall from Ronald Huijskens, cinematographer at a production house called Lionatwork in the Netherlands:

Even with YouTube compression, the Mini 4K continues to impress.

[11/21 Update]

As more shooters get their cameras, the trickle of URSA Mini 4K test footage is turning into a flood.  Three new clips were uploaded overnight.  In one of them, we'll see how the Mini fares on a conventional counterbalanced stabilizer.

 Daniel Peters continues to produce great work with his new URSA Mini.  In #mydubai, he takes some time off from a Blackmagic Design resellers' event to shoot some beautiful city and desert footage:

Also, Blackbird Productions in New Zealand took their new Mini 4K out on a $549 Glidecam HD-4000 and got some very smooth results.  Looks like you won't need thousands of dollars and a fancy 3 axis brushless gimbal to fly the Mini:

And long time Blackmagic shooter Tyler Edwards took the Mini 4K, a tripod, and a couple of lenses out and came back with a nice little test video shot in RAW, ProRes and 1080/120p windowed mode:

The 4K continues to impress.  Even with YouTube (and Vimeo) compression, the camera does a good job and looks like a winner.

These tests are giving us a pretty good idea of what the 4K version of this camera can do - but (and I hate to sound like a broken record here), it has been 7 months since these cameras were introduced and potential buyers really need to see sample footage and reviews from the 4.6K before they decide which camera to invest in.

[11/20 Update]

Note Suwanchote takes the URSA Mini 4K EF down to the beach and flies it on a Letus Helix 3 gimbal.  The results left me wanting more.  It is almost unbelievable what a single operator can do with a $3000 Super 35 camcorder and a gimbal these days:

In his second review (and comparison with the original 2.5K BMCC), Note says, "the body of the Ursa Mini 4K is simply better in every way when compared to the BMCC except in weight."

He still likes the BMCC's dynamic range and gradability better, but also says, "I won't lie, the Mini 4K sensor has grown on me..."

Please head over to LightFormFilm for the rest of the story.

[11/18 Update]

Great new URSA Mini 4K EF review with test footage from Note Suwanchote at LightFormFilm.  Note is using the Mini 4K to balance his gimbal and plans to sell it soon and buy the Mini 4.6K  - but he took the time to go out, shoot some test footage and write down his thoughts on the camera for the community. 

Here's the test footage:

In the pictures accompanying Note's writeup, the $1499 SmallHD EVF-502 SDI Sidefinder looks like a good fit for the Mini - so if you already have the SDI version of the Sidefinder, you won't have to buy a new EVF.

Sadly, those with the HDMI version of the Sidefinder (or other HDMI EVFs) will have to buy something like a $295 Atomos battery powered SDI to HDMI converter in order to use their viewfinders with the Mini.

Note says he was "pleasantly surprised at how well the sensor performs." Please head on over to LightForm for the full review.

[11/17 Update]

Emm at Cheesycam got a loaner URSA Mini 4K from the DVE Store (I'm jealous!) and, in his own inimitable style, rigged it up with gear he had on the shelf.  I'll share Emm's pic - but for the rest of the story, you'll have to go over to Cheesycam.

For me, the most interesting part of this setup is the validation of the Mini's compatibility with the $949 Cineroid EV4RVW and its iPhone-like Retina display.

At $546 less than the $1495 Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder, this looks like a reasonably priced, high quality EVF alternative.

Looking forward to footage from Emm - and please subscribe to and support his blog  - he does great work for this community.

[11/16 Update]

Cinematographer/editor Norbert Bielan just posted a nice beach slow motion piece, shot with his new URSA Mini 4K and a Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens.

He recorded in ProRes HQ in UHD at 24 and 60 fps.  The slow motion shots were in 1080p crop mode at 120 fps:

Norbert has been shooting with the big URSA for a while, and was one of the first shooters to post 80 fps slow motion URSA footage almost a year ago:

He says URSA Mini still has some Fixed Pattern Noise (FPN) challenges, but is still, for the money, "the best camera in the world."

[11/14 Update]

Music video director Jake Stark just received his new URSA Mini 4K  - and has posted a quick review of the camera. Jake does a great job of answering some basic questions about the Mini in less than 4 minutes - and shows some 120 fps slow motion test footage.  Does the camera have a black hole sun problem like earlier Blackmagic products?  How do you set it up for slow motion?  Does it fit on a Ronin?  Watch the video to find out:

Once again, this camera really shines in good light and at 1080/120p.  Kudos and thanks to Jake - this quick look at the Mini is a real service to the community.

[11/13 Update]

Aussie filmmaker Mateusz Sliwinski took his new URSA Mini 4K EF out for a spin at the local coffee house with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 - here are the results:

Mat did a nice blog post on his impressions of the camera here.  Bottom line: nicely gradable footage - the LCD is good for indoor work, but the camera needs an EVF outdoors - and FPN is still an issue.

We knew this camera would inherit the FPN problem from the Production Camera 4K, so this isn't really a surprise - but it does beg the question - is Blackmagic working on a firmware solution?  Or is it something BMPC 4K, URSA 4K and URSA Mini 4K owners will just have to live with?

I hope not.  Sony's quick confirmation of and commitment to fix the A7s II PAL "black hole" problem might be a good example for Blackmagic to follow.

[11/8 Update]

It's been a few days, but we've finally seen another 4K test.  This time from Ryan Levenson on Vimeo - shooting ProRes at 2160/30p and 1080/120p at the University of Oregon:

Hopefully, we'll see 4.6K tests from John Brawley and Tom Majerski soon.

[11/3 Update]

Nicely graded UHD footage of Nanstein Castle in Landstuhl, near USAFE HQ at Ramstein Air Base in Germany - from Jsfilmz on YouTube:

[10/31 Update]

A quick review of the Mini 4K (and size comparison with the full size URSA) from Daniel Peters in the UK:

[10/30 Update]

John Brawley posted these BTS stills from his 4.6K shoot on October 30th:

4.6K News

Australian DP and long time Blackmagic tester John Brawley tweeted this picture of the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K on October 23rd.

If the pattern of previous Blackmagic releases holds, John gets one of the first production units and will post one or two videos a few weeks before the camera actually ships.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the camera can do in the hands of an experienced cinematographer and to comparing URSA Mini 4.6K footage with tests he's shot over the past few years with the Alexa - like this one, shot in ProRes:

And this one, internally recorded to ProRes 4444 and externally recorded to Arri RAW:

Hopefully, he'll write about the test and tell us now the camera measures up to his experience with Arri and RED.

On October 27, UK DP Tom Majerski tweeted this picture of his test URSA Mini 4K. He says he is "having fun" and "very impressed."  He also says "people will be very happy".

I'm sure they will be - when they finally get their cameras.

4K News

On the 4K front, we're starting to see test footage, first impressions and unboxings from shooters who have received their URSA Mini 4Ks.

Test Footage
On October 21st, with his second post of URSA Mini 4K footage, amateur shooter "J" at Jsfilmz has scored another first. As far as I can tell, he is the first end-user to post Ultra HD/60p slow motion footage from this camera.

Here's a graded short shot at 3840x2160p resolution and recorded to 10-bit ProRes with the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens:

J says he was rushed and didn't have a lot of time, but it's a nice grade and a useful demonstration of what UHD/60p looks like (taking YouTube compression into account).

First Impressions
Blogger Rich Lackey at Digital Cinema Demystified has received his camera and written a "First Impressions" post.  Click over to Rich's blog to read the whole post, but his bottom lines:
  • "I want to say how impressed I am with Blackmagic's industrial design team on this one. They have created a beautiful looking camera."
  • "I believe if Blackmagic Design follow the path they've started with URSA Mini in future products, they have a very strong future in front of them with far fewer design and ergonomic criticisms"
  • "...the URSA viewfinder is a work of art. It’s full HD, designed and built just as well as the camera and beats any third party EVF’s I’ve used. There’s no plastic in sight and it just feels like quality construction. I would consider the URSA viewfinder to be a must-have accessory for URSA Mini and I think it will take care of the situations where the 5″ monitor is not bright enough."
  • [On the 4K sensor] " most situations with enough light, using fast lenses it performs low natural light situations the 4K sensor's performance falls off...This is why the new 4.6K sensor is such a potential game changer."
Unboxing Video
I'm not a big fan of unboxing videos, but as an indicator that URSA Mini 4Ks are starting to ship, here's an unboxing posted by Mediacast Systems in Dubai on October 21st - so cameras are starting to arrive at dealers (in the Middle East, at least).

URSA Mini 4K Shoots First FCPeXchange Event
The first FCPeXchange Workshop was held at Abel Cine in LA on October 24th - and a freshly delivered URSA Mini 4K was used to record the event.  Here it is with a 50mm Canon Cine Prime:

The Mini looks like it will be a nice little handheld camera - even without the EVF. I will post footage as soon as it becomes available.

And please check back over the next few weeks  - I will keep this post updated as we start to see more URSA Mini 4K footage, hands on reviews and news.

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